Northern Inner Mongolia's largest city, Hǎilā’ěr (海拉尔) is a busy, rather ordinary place. Don't fret, the city isn't the draw: surrounding the town range the expansive Hūlúnbèi’ěr Grasslands, a vast prairie that begins just outside the city and rolls northwards towards the Russian and Mongolian borders, seemingly forever. Superbly lush and deeply verdent come July and August, the grasslands are a fantastic sight and the place in Inner Mongolia to saddle up a horse.
The immediate area around Hǎilā’ěr sees several inevitably touristy yurt camps where you can eat, listen to traditional music and sometimes stay the night. Although they’re not places where Mongolians actually live, you can still learn a bit about Mongolian culture, and the wide-open grasslands are a gorgeous setting.
For a more authentic experience, travel further away, although staying with local families in the grasslands is not easy to organise unless you speak some Mandarin (or Mongolian).