Best places to visit in MONGOLIA
Planning a trip to Mongolia and wondering what are the best places to visit in Mongolia?
Known as the “Land of The Blue Sky”, Mongolia has 250 sunny days a year. It’s a unique place to visit — it’s one of the last surviving nomadic countries with the culture you won’t experience anywhere else on the planet.
Mongolia is the 18th largest country in the world, yet it is one of the least densely populated countries on earth. Its vast size and unpredictable climate make it a difficult country to travel around, but, oh, it’s so worth it! You’ll be rewarded with stunningly beautiful landscapes and unique experiences.
Mongolia has diverse landscapes — it has taiga in the north, desert in the south, steppe in the east, and mountains in the west. There’s everything for anyone in Mongolia!
Sounds enticing? Want to come and explore? But what exactly to see in Mongolia? To help you with the task of planning we’ve created this list of some of the best things to do in Mongolia.
Check it out!
6 best places to visit in Mongolia
Ulaanbaatar is the capital and most populous city of Mongolia.
As the main (biggest) airport is located in Ulaanbaatar, it is where you’ll start your Mongolia trip, if you are flying into the country.
Ulaanbaatar is a very busy and chaotic city that will both amaze and shock you.
What to do in Ulaanbaatar? Explore Bogd Khaan Palace Museum. Once a Mongolian’s emperor’s palace, now it’s a museum complex comprising 6 Buddhist temples with Buddhist artwork and scripture. The museum also contains the emperor’s possessions and some 8600 exhibits.
Visit the Gandantegchinlen Monastery, a Mongolian Buddhist monastery that dates back to the 19th century. It features a statue of Avalokiteśvara (an incarnation of the Buddha), the tallest indoor statue in the world.
If you are interested in Soviet architecture, do not miss Zaisan Monument. It depicts scenes of friendship between citizens of Mongolia and the USSR. The monument is located on a hill and offers beautiful views of the city.
Gorkhi-Terelj National Park
Gorkhi-Terelj National Park is one of the most famous national parks in Mongolia.
The proximity to the capital, Ulaanbaatar, makes Gorkhi-Terelj National Park a very popular destination for local and foreign visitors alike.
The national park is known for its iconic rock formations and unspoiled nature. There are a number of hiking trails, too. Rock climbing and horse riding are very popular activities in the national park. Other attractions include Khagiin Khar Lake (glacial lake), Yestii Hot Water Springs and a Buddhist monastery.
Gorkhi-Terelj National Park is a great place to see Mongolian countryside in all its glory without venturing far from the capital.
Altai Tavan Bogd National Park
Altai Tavan Bogd is one of the most popular national parks in Mongolia.
Known for its mountainous landscape, the national park is one of the most beautiful and best places to visit in Mongolia.
The highest mountain of Altai Tavan Bogd National Park is the 4356 m-high Khüiten Peak which is also the highest point in Mongolia. The park is home to several glaciers and waterfalls.
Three beautiful freshwater lakes are located in the national park — Khoton, Khurgan, and Dayan. Petroglyphic Complexes of the Mongolian Altai, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located inside the national park, too. It’s a massive collection of ancient rock paintings dating from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age. These rock paintings are rich in numbers, expressiveness and subjects.
Gobi Desert is a large desert in East Asia.
A part of it is located in southern Mongolia, at the border with China. The landscape mostly is desert steppe, sand dunes, gravel plains, red-rock cliffs and unique rock formations.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in the desert is the Flaming Cliffs — an impressive, ancient sandstone cliff system. Important fossil finds have been made there.
Also do not miss Tsagaan Suvraga (also known as “White Stupas”) which are unique formations that were formed by wind erosion. Climb Khongor sand dunes, the tallest and most impressive sand dunes in Mongolia. If you are driving to the Gobi from Ulaanbaatar, stop by Baga Gazriin Chuluu on your way to the nature reserve. It is an exquisite granitic rock formation surrounded by a plain.
Gobi Desert is home to critically endangered animals such as the Gobi bear and wild Bactrian camel.
It is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Mongolia.
The Orkhon Valley is an important cultural region located in the central part of Mongolia.
The area is known for its pristine landscapes and important historical landmarks. The Orkhon Valley contains Buddhist monasteries, ruins of palaces and other historical structures. Due to historic and cultural importance, the Orkhon Valley was added to the World Heritage List by UNESCO.
The Orkhon River is the backbone of the Orkhon Valley. Most cultural landmarks of the area are located along the river banks.
Erdene Zuu monastery is one of the most important sites of the region. It is considered to be the earliest surviving Buddhist monastery in Mongolia. Adjacent to the monastery, lie Karakorum city ruins. This ancient city was the capital of the Mongol Empire from 1235 to 1260.
Another set of ancient ruins along the river valley is Khar Balgas, the ancient capital of the Uyghur Kingdom.
Lake Khövsgöl is Mongolia’s second-largest lake by area.
The lake has crystal clear waters, and because of that people often call it the “Blue Pearl of Mongolia”. Going on a boat trip on the lake is one of the best things to do in Mongolia. Also, kayaking is a very popular attraction there.
From the nearby hills, you can enjoy panoramic views of Lake Khövsgöl. The area around the lake offers a number of walking trails.
Mongolia travel tips
- You need to apply for a visa before travelling to Mongolia unless you come from one of the visa-exempt countries. Citizens of several European nations can get a visa on arrival.
- Due to the country’s vast size and lack of infrastructure, travelling in Mongolia is not easy. The best way to explore Mongolia is to join organised tours.
- There are hardly any roads in Mongolia. So, be ready for a bumpy ride!
- The most popular (and easiest!) time to visit Mongolia is the summer when the weather is nice and everything is open for tourists.
- If you are travelling in July, definitely attend the Naadam festival. It is the most widely watched festival, and it focuses on three traditional games which are Mongolian wrestling, horse racing, and archery. The festival is inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO.