[Photo Essay] Ordos, China: No Longer a Modern Ghost Town

The city of Ordos was founded on February 26, 2001. Home meant for over a million Kangbashi people of Ordos, Inner Mongolia has been in the spotlight for being the Modern Ghost Town as the luxurious apartments have all been bought out but the residents are nowhere to be seen. This photo journal entry is from my Halloween weekend trip to see this city of Ordos to see if it really was empty. As China's rapid development can be seen all across the country, there's not quite a place where over-development can be witnessed.Funded by a $585 billion stimulus package to bolster China's economic development, we can only hope that this investment will result in great returns. With its small population and regional wealth created by rich natural resources, Ordos is the second richest city, richer than Beijing, in per capita terms in China. Many questions remains in this unused and overdeveloped city but as witnessed from my journey, some residents have already moved in to the new Kangbashi district.

From Beijing, it's a13 hour over night train ride making stops at Hohhot, Baotou, and finally to Dongsheng, or Ordos in Mongolian meaning 'Palaces'.

Prior to arriving to Ordos, you can see the development and the massive construction taking place.

First look at an intersection in Kangbashi. Clean roads and luxurious apartments but where is everyone?

At the main square, again pretty empty for having such a luxurious symbolic statue in the middle of the new city.

The opposite side from the Horse Statue is the city government building. Most of the people I saw were mainly tourists here. It's interesting to see how the first half of my experience in Kangbashi witnessed mostly tourists and not many residents.

Still under construction, Ordos Museum resembles almost a pavilion at the Shanghai Expo.

The inside of the Ordos Museum, still under construction. The futuristic architecture amazes ones eyes but is it really necessary?

Another pavilion looking building is the Ordos Library. Ordos Highschool was also as elegant as this library. Ordos is the second wealthiest city in China behind Shanghai in terms of per capita income.

Massive projects continue to progress in Ordos with so little residents actually moving in.

Security guards were given training in the afternoon. But without people moving in there's no need for these guards.

Overlooking the largest construction site in Kangbashi. It's not common to see so many number of cranes as you can see here.

Construction continues in Ordos. Just because you built the city doesn't mean that people will automatically migrate to the city. There has to be a better reason than just the fact that they built the city. Same can be said for many other development projects across China.

Afternoon, I saw some more movement in this city as you can see lights in some of the apartments. We can conclude that there is some progress that has been made in the last couple months. Looks like some people have moved in already but It'll be interesting to see how the city looks like 5 years from now.

Creative Commons Licence
Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.

4 responses

  1. darrow

    awesome awesome photos. interior shot of the museum is what the apocalypse in 2065 will look like.

    November 2, 2010 at 7:26 am

  2. Excellent essay Go. Though sparse, this is a good way to add more color to what was painted as a “modern ghost town,” reported on some time ago and then let alone. This shows how things have evolved, however slowly.

    November 2, 2010 at 3:48 pm

  3. monicacute

    Im surprised to know that “Ordos is the second wealthiest city in China behind Shanghai in terms of per capita income”….

    Well, the following are info I’ve found on the website of Chinese National Bureau of Statistics. Actually Beijing ranks first and Inner Mongolia is the fourth in 2008. (Sorry, only data of 2008 is available:(( )


    9-15 Per Capita Annual Income of Urban Households by Sources and Region (2008)

    Region Disposable
    Income Total
    Income from Wages Net Business Income from Income from
    and Salaries Income Properties Transfers
    National Average 15780.76 17067.78 11298.96 1453.57 387.02 3928.23
    Beijing 24724.89 27677.94 18738.96 778.36 452.75 7707.87
    Tianjin 19422.53 21174.04 12849.73 863.52 256.87 7203.93
    Hebei 13441.09 14141.41 8891.50 1078.67 224.86 3946.39
    Shanxi 13119.05 13858.98 9019.35 983.21 202.31 3654.11
    Inner Mongolia 14432.55 15195.44 10284.43 1555.31 324.64 3031.05

    November 3, 2010 at 3:45 am

  4. Pingback: Singing Sand Ravine, Inner Mongolia « Go Katayama – Photo Journalist in Beijing

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