Ordos 鄂尔多斯

The Kangbashi New District of Ordos in Inner Mongolia has for the last decade been known as the world’s largest ghost town. I was really curious to see and explore this place after I heard stories about walking through completely empty office buildings and apartment blocks and shopping malls where all the elevators and lights work, yet there are no people around. It’s an overnight train ride from where I live and when I got there, I found that it could no longer be called a ghost town. Though the vast majority of buildings and streets in the New District are still empty (the nearby Dongsheng district of Ordos has never, to my knowledge, been empty), it seems people are slowly moving in to Kangbashi.


ordos kangbashi sign 2

ordos kangbashi sign

GenhisKahnflagGenghis Khan in Genghis Khan Square – the center of Kangbashi, Ordos.

mongol statueGenghis Khan Square

tourists under statueTourists in GK Square.

people near statues

twohorsesMongolian war horse statue in GK Square.

Animal statues


apartments across riverStill building…

Big river pieceMostly empty, but not completely unoccupied.

tourists by cup

Cup closeup


boys and flagKids playing at the top of Genghis Khan Square – massive government complex in the back.

boysplayingbballBoys playing basketball in the library court.



people at museum

umbrella man library

umbrella women library

woman at library

women at museum

Wulanmulun lake circlesMan-made Wulanmulun Lake at the bottom of Genghis Khan Square. Most events and nightlife happen around here.

Couple by fountainsDaily and nightly fountain shows at the lake.

Fountains day

Man by horse and fountain

man and horses

people by fountains

fountains day 2


Buddha and building

Buddha tele

buddha tele2

buddha at night

fountains at night 3

fountains at night 2

fountains at night

fountain close up

boy and dad at fountain

lakefrontThere were a couple thousand people here at Wulanmulun Lake on a Monday night.


pool hall

vendorsDoes this look like a ghost town?

boys in golf cart

boys at restoWe stopped for ice cream in this “Italian Ice Cream” shop. These boys were about to walk in but when they saw us they stopped. They huddled outside the door discussing what to do. They walked through the shop to the other side and asked the waitress where we were from. She told them she didn’t know. They finally asked us. They were stoked.


Girls walking up

Ordos FDOrdos Fire Department doing drills.

zheng yi bushy sidewalkWhile there was a decent flow of cars on the street, there were virtually no pedestrians. Per capita GDP in Ordos is said to be the highest in China and it seems most people have cars.

street heat waves

mass line sidewalk“Stay on the Mass Line, be intimate with the masses.”

city worker empty street

minzu road

police sign reject dirty

sign4If you lived in Ordos, you could be home by now!



shehuizhuyijiazhiguan“Socialist Core Value System – Wealth and Power, Democracy, Civilization, Harmony, Freedom, Equality, Fairness, Rule of Law, Patriotism, Dedication, Honesty, Friendliness.”

sign3“Conscientiously study and implement the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speech on his observations on Inner Mongolia and the spirit of the 18th 3rd Plenum.” Say that 3 times fast.

trust us

woman child and man big sign“I love my hometown’s civilized ways. Hand in hand collectively build a civilized city.”

minhe roadsign

bike and sign

china dream liquor adsAds for Ordos liquor everywhere.

double messageOne of the confounding things about Ordos/China in one bus stop. On the left you have a poster with a hammer and sickle saying “persist in carrying out the Party’s mass line. Serve the people with all your heart and mind.” Communism is a philosophy that operates on the collective ownership of land and the means of production. On the right you have a poster from the local government saying “strive to make a livable, workable, travel friendly city. Maintain property with the city. With property, the city prospers.”

busstop propaganda

bridge and buildings

crosswalk man ordos sign

crane ordos sign

Man bike ordos sign

man working high

man working up high 2

man working up high 3

river view 2Check out the huge murals along the riverbanks…

River view



women sitting by bridge


laughing fountain

horses on bridge

fu windowThis red 富fu character seemed to be in almost every occupied window.

giant fu

Good fortune

empty flatsMany building sites are still open enough to walk through.

empty flats 2

empty flats3

empty flat inside

guard dogGuard dog. He was small but loud. Too loud.

civilized neighborhoodOther neighborhoods such as “Civilized Neighborhood” here (文明小区) were bustling.

grafitti bridge

food court parkingThis food court was very busy…

mall…this mall next door was empty.

red band school“Red Neckscarf Street” – worn by the Young Pioneers. There’s a big primary/middle school to the right.

waiting for school 2Waiting for the bell…

waiting for school

kindergartenPrimary school.

kindergarten playground

help wanted signsHelp wanted, locksmith, for rent and for sale signs. Business is happenin’.

ordos museumOrdos Museum. Gunny’s remarks come to mind – “you’re so ugly you could be a modern art masterpiece.”

ordos theaterThe Great Theater of Ordos.

ordos theatre

happy and sad face

happy face

One thought on “Ordos 鄂尔多斯

  1. Whoa, amazing. People 20 years from now will remember ‘the good old days’ of Ordos when there was no traffic and you could still drive downtown….

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