Mongolia, a land of vast open spaces and rich nomadic traditions, offers a plethora of unforgettable experiences for travelers. From exploring the rugged landscapes to immersing in the unique culture, Mongolia has something for everyone. In this guide, we’ll dive into the best things to do in Mongolia, showcasing its natural wonders, cultural gems, and adventurous pursuits.
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Discover the Mysteries of the Gobi Desert
The Gobi Desert, one of the world’s most captivating landscapes, beckons adventurers with its expansive sand dunes, rocky cliffs, and hidden oases. Take a camel trek across the desert, camp under the starlit sky, and witness the breathtaking sunrise and sunset over the endless horizons. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Flaming Cliffs (Bayanzag) and discover the fossil-rich grounds where dinosaur eggs were first discovered.
Encounter Przewalski’s Horses at Hustai National Park
Hustai National Park, located just a short drive from Ulaanbaatar, offers a unique opportunity to witness the remarkable Przewalski’s horses in their natural habitat. Take a guided tour through the park and spot these majestic creatures roaming freely. Immerse yourself in the park’s serene beauty, hike its scenic trails, and keep an eye out for other wildlife, such as marmots and gazelles.
Immerse Yourself in Nomadic Lifestyle
To truly understand Mongolia, you must experience its rich nomadic culture. Stay in a traditional ger (yurt) and live with a nomadic family. Learn about their ancient traditions, participate in milking yaks or sheep, and try your hand at traditional crafts such as felt-making or horseback archery. Engage in the hospitality of the locals, savor traditional delicacies, and listen to enchanting throat singing and morin khuur (horsehead fiddle) performances.
Unwind by the Tranquil Shores of Khuvsgul Lake
Nestled in the picturesque landscapes of northern Mongolia, Khuvsgul Lake is a true gem. Surrounded by pristine forests and snow-capped mountains, this freshwater lake offers a serene retreat for nature enthusiasts. Rent a kayak or hop on a boat to explore the crystal-clear waters, go fishing, or hike along the scenic trails. Experience the tranquility of the surroundings and camp by the lakeshore under a starry sky.
Step into History at Karakorum
Once the capital of the mighty Mongol Empire, Karakorum holds a significant place in Mongolia’s history. Visit the Erdene Zuu Monastery, the country’s oldest Buddhist monastery, and admire its intricate architecture and serene atmosphere. Explore the ruins of Karakorum, including the iconic Turtle Rock and the archaeological museum, which offers insights into the glorious past of the Mongol Empire.
Marvel at the Beauty of Orkhon Valley
The Orkhon Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, showcases Mongolia’s breathtaking natural landscapes and historical heritage. Explore the magnificent Orkhon Waterfall, hike through lush green valleys, and visit ancient Turkic and Mongol Empire archaeological sites. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the valley, camp under the starry sky, and witness the nomadic way of life in the surrounding countryside.
Gallop Across the Steppes on Horseback
Mongolia is renowned for its horse culture, and there’s no better way to experience it than by riding across the vast Mongolian steppes. Take horseback riding lessons from local nomads, embark on multi-day horse treks, and feel the exhilaration as you gallop freely across the endless grasslands. This immersive experience allows you to connect with nature and appreciate the bond between Mongolians and their horses.
Witness the Spectacle of Naadam Festival
If you visit Mongolia in July, don’t miss the grand spectacle of the Naadam Festival, the country’s largest and most celebrated event. Experience the thrill of traditional sports like wrestling, horse racing, and archery, which are deeply rooted in Mongolian culture. Immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere, cheer for the athletes, and witness the vibrant display of traditional costumes and cultural performances.
Conquer the Altai Mountains on a Trekking Adventure
The Altai Mountains, located in western Mongolia, offer breathtaking landscapes and thrilling trekking opportunities. Embark on a multi-day trek through the majestic peaks, traverse glacial valleys, and marvel at the snow-capped summits. Encounter unique wildlife, such as snow leopards and ibex, and immerse yourself in the pristine beauty of this remote mountain range.
Observe Wild Horses at Khustain Nuruu National Park
Khustain Nuruu National Park is home to the rare and endangered Przewalski’s horse, also known as the Takhi or Mongolian wild horse. Take a guided tour to spot these magnificent creatures up close and learn about the conservation efforts to protect them. Explore the park’s diverse flora and fauna, hike through its scenic trails, and appreciate the untouched beauty of Mongolia’s wilderness.
Uncover Ancient Rock Art at Khovd Province
Khovd Province is a treasure trove of ancient rock art, boasting thousands of petroglyphs scattered across its vast landscapes. Join a guided tour to discover these fascinating rock carvings, depicting scenes from ancient Mongolian history, hunting scenes, and shamanic symbols. Immerse yourself in the mysteries of the past and gain insights into the rich cultural heritage of Mongolia.
Retreat to Nature at Terelj National Park
Terelj National Park, located just a short drive from Ulaanbaatar, offers a picturesque escape into nature. Marvel at the unique rock formations, including the famous Turtle Rock, and enjoy activities such as hiking, horseback riding, and rafting. Visit the Aryabal Meditation Temple and find inner peace amidst the serene surroundings. Experience the tranquility of the park and stay in traditional ger camps for an authentic Mongolian experience.
Experience the Art of Eagle Hunting in Western Mongolia
Western Mongolia is renowned for its ancient tradition of eagle hunting, where skilled hunters use golden eagles to hunt foxes and other small game. Visit the Kazakh communities and witness a demonstration of this extraordinary practice. Learn about the bond between the hunters and their eagles, and gain insights into the unique cultural heritage of the Kazakh nomads.
Venture into Volcanic Wonders at Khorgo-Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur
Khorgo-Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park offers a captivating combination of volcanic landscapes and a stunning freshwater lake. Hike up to the Khorgo Volcano, explore the lava fields, and marvel at the panoramic views from the summit. Discover the beauty of Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake, go fishing, and enjoy the tranquility of this remote natural wonderland.
These are just a few highlights of the incredible experiences awaiting you in Mongolia. Whether you seek adventure, cultural immersion, or natural beauty, Mongolia promises an unforgettable journey filled with memories that will last a lifetime.