From breathtaking landscapes to rich historical sites that shaped the country, visiting Mongolia is an incredible experience. This Mongolia travel guide is designed to help you explore the untamed beauty of urban areas of this country and enjoy its most mesmerizing highlights. Delve into this unique land and immerse yourself in the rich culture of its ancient cities and the vast expanses of its pristine outdoors.
Best Things to Do in Mongolia
1. Gorkhi Terelj National Park
Located less than two hours from the capital, Ulaanbaatar, Gorkhi Terelj National Park is the perfect place to start your Mongolian adventure. This park offers an amazing experience of diverse landscapes, including range forests, vast steppes, and impressive rock formations.
Activities abound in the park, from hiking and horseback riding to simply soaking in the stunning vistas. Don’t miss the iconic Turtle Rock and the Aryapala Meditation Center.
2. Bogd Khaan Palace Museum
An important historical site, Bogd Khaan Palace Museum was once home to the last king of Mongolia. Located in Ulaanbaatar, the palace is a splendid example of Mongolian architecture and offers visitors a glimpse into the nation’s royal past. Explore the museum’s vast collection of gifts from foreign rulers, intricate wood carvings, and traditional Mongolian artwork.
3. Erdene Zuu Monastery
Founded in 1585, Erdene Zuu Monastery is one of Mongolia’s oldest and most significant Buddhist sites. Nestled in the ancient city of Kharkhorin, the monastery features 108 stupas that encircle its grounds. Inside its walls, you can explore vibrant temples adorned with colorful thangkas and statues that showcase Mongolia’s rich Buddhist art and culture.
4. Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park
For a taste of the iconic Gobi Desert, head to Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park. This expansive park is home to various unique landscapes, from dunes to towering cliffs, and offers a chance to experience Mongolian wildlife up close. One of the park’s must-see attractions is the Yolyn Am Gorge, known for its year-round ice, even in the heat of summer.
5. Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex
Standing 40 meters tall, the Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex is a striking monument to Mongolia’s most famous historical figure. Located about an hour’s drive from Ulaanbaatar, this impressive steel structure offers a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape from its viewing platform. The complex also features a museum exhibiting archaeological finds and the leather boots of Chinggis Khaan.
6. Gandantegchinlen Monastery
As one of the most important monasteries in Mongolia, Gandantegchinlen Monastery in Ulaanbaatar offers a unique glimpse into the nation’s spiritual heritage. Adorned with vibrant frescoes and intricate carvings, the monastery also houses a colossal 26-meter statue of the Buddha of Limitless Enlightenment, Migjid Janraisig. Take your time to explore the various temples and experience the peaceful atmosphere of this sacred site.
7. Zaisan Monument
Perched atop a hill overlooking Ulaanbaatar, Zaisan Monument is a tribute to the Soviet soldiers who lost their lives during World War II. Visitors can climb the 300 steps to the monument and be rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view of the city and its surrounding landscapes. The memorial features a striking mosaic depicting the friendship between Mongolia and the Soviet Union.
8. Orkhon Valley Natural and Historical Reserve
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Orkhon Valley Natural and Historical Reserve is a testament to Mongolia’s rich history, dating back to the era of the great Hunnu and Uighur empires. Discover the striking Orkhon Waterfall, ancient petroglyphs, and the ruins of the 8th-century city, Khar Balgas. The Orkhon Valley is also home to nomadic herders, with nomadic life offering an opportunity for visitors to experience their unique way of life.
Where to Stay in Mongolia
In Mongolia, accommodations range from traditional ger camps to modern hotels, offering unique experiences tailored to every traveler’s preferences. To help visitors choose the perfect place at a reasonable price, we’ve compiled a list of the ten best accommodations in Mongolia:
- Terelj Hotel & Spa: Located in Gorkhi Terelj National Park, this luxurious retreat blends Mongolian culture and modern comfort.
- Ulaanbaatar Hotel: A landmark of the capital city, this historic hotel combines traditional Mongolian hospitality with contemporary amenities.
- Shangri-La Hotel, Ulaanbaatar: Situated in the city’s heart, this upscale hotel provides exceptional service and luxurious facilities.
- Blue Sky Hotel & Tower: Known for its distinctive architecture, this hotel offers panoramic views of Ulaanbaatar and modern amenities.
- UB Guesthouse: Welcoming budget travelers, this guesthouse offers a comfortable stay and a homey atmosphere.
- Three Camel Lodge: Located in the Gobi Desert, this eco-friendly lodge provides an authentic Mongolian experience amid stunning landscapes.
- Orkhon Valley Yurt Camp: Surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, this camp offers visitors the opportunity to stay in traditional Mongolian yurts.
- HS Khaan Resort: This luxury resort in the heart of the Orkhon Valley features stunning views and exceptional service.
- Khuvsgul Lake Hotel: Overlooking the pristine waters of Khuvsgul Lake, this hotel provides a stunning retreat in nature.
How to Get Around in Mongolia
When it comes to exploring and traveling in Mongolia, there are several options. For those who want to truly experience the vast landscapes, renting a car is the way to go.
Visitors can travel independently and chart their course through the expansive Mongolian countryside. Mongolia’s road infrastructure is improving, but be prepared for occasional off-road adventures. RentalCars.com is a travel company and a great resource for booking reliable rental cars.
Travel Tips for Visiting Mongolia
Mongolia is a unique destination that enchants travelers with its rich culture, history, and astonishing landscapes. Here are five essential travel tips to help you make the most of your visit to this vast and mysterious land. Don’t forget to consider travel insurance from VisitorsCoverage.com to ensure a worry-free trip.
Acclimatize to the Altitude
Mongolia’s high elevation may pose challenges for some visitors, particularly those prone to altitude sickness. Give your body time to adjust by not pushing yourself too hard during your first trip or first few days in the country. Stay hydrated, and speak to a local doctor if symptoms persist.
Dress in Layers
Mongolia’s climate can be unpredictable, ranging from cold in the mornings to warm afternoons. Packing clothing that can be easily layered allows you to adjust your outfit to suit the changing weather conditions during international travel.
Learn a Few Phrases in Mongolian
While English is spoken in urban centers like Ulaanbaatar, venturing into rural Mongolia may require some basic knowledge of the local language. Learning key phrases like greetings and basic etiquette will help you connect with the locals and make your visit more enjoyable.
Delight in Mongolian Cuisine
Delicious foods like khorkhog, buuz, and khuushuur await you in Mongolia. Indulge your taste buds by trying traditional dishes with ingredients like lamb, beef, and vegetables. It’s important to keep an open mind and an adventurous palate when exploring the local cuisine and food.
Respect the Local Culture
Finally, remember to respect the local customs and traditions during your visit and onward travel back to Mongolia. This includes observing proper etiquette when entering someone’s ger or attending a ceremony. By showing respect and understanding, you’ll form deeper connections with the people and leave a lasting impression.