If Mongolia is on your Bucket List, check out these 10 things to do when you arrive! The vast, awe-inspiring landscapes, unique traditions and nomadic culture are just a few reasons adventurous travelers choose to visit Mongolia. From exploring the capital city Ulaanbaatar and riding a camel into the Gobi Desert to staying in a Yurt and drinking Airag, here’s our pick of the top 10 things to do in Mongolia.
Top 10 things to do in Mongolia
If you are flying into Mongolia or entering via Trans Mongolian train, chances are that you will arrive at Ulaanbaatar. This city is a great place to begin your journey into the country. Here you will find a number of museums, monasteries and several places well worth visiting. I suggest staying a few nights in a reputable hotel here to become acclimatized and acquainted with this great city and it’s culture before moving onwards to the countryside.
Go Fly Fishing for Hucho Taimen
Every angler dreams of catching a big taimen. Mongolia is one of the rare places in this world where you can catch a taimen using a fly rod. Although Huchen has a huge population the increasing number of fishing expeditions means the species is in continual decline. If you get the opportunity to catch a taimen, lift it out of the water gently, take some pictures and put it back quickly.
Visit the Flaming Cliffs
The Flaming Cliffs site, also known as Bayanzag or Bain-Dzak, is a region in the Gobi Desert in the Ömnögovi Province of Mongolia, in which important fossil finds have been made. among the most significant places for dinosaur fossil hunters. In 1920s, dinosaur eggs were discovered for the first time here and a number of important fossils have also been excavated. Located in the Gobi desert, the Flaming cliffs glow with a fiery red light in the evening and are commonly known as the ‘Flaming Cliffs‘ thanks to the reddish tint in the soil that glows as the sun falls.
Stay in a Yurt
Yurts or Ger are the traditional nomadic houses that are still the accommodation of choice for many Mongolians. You can find several Ger districts on the borders of Ulaanbaatar. Staying in a Ger is one experience you would certainly not want to miss when visiting Mongolia. In the countryside, a number of families open their homes to tourists however there’s also lots of tourist Ger camps that provide you with the classic Ger experience combined with a regular hotel stay.
Visit Khustain National Park
Khustain National Park is about 100 km south of Ulaanbaatar. This park has a huge population of takhi, a Mongolian wild horse that was once believed to be extinct. Other than takhi, the park also has maral, the Asiatic red deer, boar, steppe gazelle, wolves, Pallas’s cats, lynx and a number of birds. Dusk and dawn are the best time for wildlife watching and so try to plan at least a one night stay here to see takhi and other animals.
Camel ride in the Gobi Desert
If you are traveling towards the countryside, you must visit the Gobi desert. Traveling to the desert might take some time but it is definitely worth the effort. Nothing in the world can compare with the peaceful expanse of no-man’s land. Apart from the famous camel rides, the desert has other tourist attractions such as the flaming cliffs of Bayanzag and the dunes in Khongriin Els.
Visit Genghis Khan Statue Complex in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Genghis Khan, is the fearsome Mongolian warrior who conquered half the known world in the 13th century. The Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue, part of the Genghis Khan Statue Complex is a 131-foot tall statue of Genghis Khan on horseback, on the bank of the Tuul River at Tsonjin Boldog. According to legend, this is where he found a golden whip, hence why the statue is located here. The statue is also symbolically pointed east towards Genghis Khan’s birthplace. When you visit Mongolia, you can’t leave without visiting this iconic landmark.
Enjoy a Tumen Ekh Song and Dance
A Tumen Ekh Song and Dance Ensemble is the most famous cultural show in Ulaanbaatar that features traditional dancers, singers and contortionists. It takes place in the State Youth and Children’s Theatre and you can get to see some beautiful costumes and hear khoomii aka throat singing. This spectacular hour long show takes place every day except during the winter months.
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Soak in the Waterfall
Hidden in the mountains in the north of Uureg Nur is a waterfall that flows over black rocks. After a strong rainfall the magnificent seasonal Orkhon Falls is one of the best sights to behold in central Mongolia. About 250m downstream from the waterfall you can climb down to the bottom of the gorge; it’s 22m deep and dotted with pine trees. To get there prepare for a 10km stretch from the shore of the lake to the beginning of the river valley, then you need to do a 4km hike to reach the waterfall. On your way, you’ll come across ‘love street’ which is the place where snow leopards mate.
Airag is a local Mongolian brew made from fermented Mare’s milk. The drink has a unique taste, expect to not like it! Drink Airag just for the experience of trying something new but beware… it has a very high alcohol content.
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There is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Plan ahead so that you can take your time exploring and be prepared to be flexible because sometimes travelers you meet along the way will have the best suggestions for undiscovered gems and awesome things to to do.
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