Top Tourist Attractions in Mongolia
Mongolia is not a country that most people think of as a tourist destination when traveling to Asia, but if you like wide-open spaces and the feeling of freedom, then Mongolia tourism has a lot to offer. It’s easy to reach – just a two-hour flight from Beijing to Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, and from there it’s easy to visit the best places in Mongolia.
If you are into hunting, fishing, camping or trekking, then you’ll definitely like some of these best things to do in Mongolia. It’s one of the world’s most unspoiled destinations and offers many opportunities to visit wilderness areas that are wild but safe.
For most of the year, Mongolia is a cold country – in fact, Ulaanbaatar is the coldest capital city in the world with temperatures dropping to 40 degrees Centigrade below zero in winter – but the summer months from June to August are a very pleasant time of the year to visit the best tourist places in Mongolia.
The ideal time to visit is when the Naadam Festival is held. The dates vary from year to year but are usually around the middle of July. When the Naadam Festival is on, there are events held all over the country in almost every city and town featuring horse races, wrestling matches and traditional Mongolian sports like archery.
The only downside to visiting during the Naadam Festival is that this is the busiest time of the year for Mongolia tourism and therefore airfares and hotel prices will be higher than at other times of the year. It’s also necessary to book ahead during the Naadam Festival, whereas at other times of the year it’s fine to arrive with just the first few nights’ accommodation booked in Ulaanbaatar and then book as you go.
Here is our pick of the recommendations that experienced travelers make on some of the top tourist attractions in Mongolia:
- Gorkhi Tereli National Park
Just a few hours from the capital, the Gorkhi Tereli National Park is often the most preferred tourist attractions in Mongolia that visitors head to for a taste of the country’s unique wilderness areas. There is a wide range of accommodation options ranging from budget to luxury hotels, but most adventurous types opt for a stay in one of the ‘gers’ – a traditional Mongolia tent-like structure that is used by nomads as they move around the country.
There are a number of tourist camps that offer accommodation in gers inside the national park with facilities like a western camping ground, or if you want a real wilderness experience you can book a trip with a private guide to stay in a ger on the steppes (the Mongolian name for the grassy plains where the nomads roam) outside of the national park.
Inside the national park, there are many easy treks available and also horse-riding and rock-climbing on offer in Mongolia tourism places. On the way to the Gorkhi Tereli National Park, you can visit the massive Chinggis Khaan Statue which is made from 250 tonnes of stainless steel – it’s an awe-inspiring sight. Trips to the national park or private tours to the steppes can be booked through any travel agent in Ulaanbaatar.
- Altai Mountains
For those who have the time to travel further out of the capital and experience some of the most isolated wilderness countries in Asia, the Altai Mountains in the extreme west of Mongolia offers some of the best off-road hunting expeditions on the continent. This part of Mongolia places to visit can only be visited with a guide and requires first a flight to the city of Ulgii and then travel by road and eventually off-road in four-wheel-drive vehicles.
The rugged mountain and lake scenery is stunning the further you go west and it’s a utopia for adventurous wildlife photographers as the region is home to wild deer, wolves and bears. In the winter months, snow lynx and snow leopards can be seen too. No wonder Altai mountains is recognized as one of the best places to visit in Mongolia during your upcoming vacation.
This is a part of Mongolia tourism where nomads roam the plains on horseback with golden eagles hunting hares and foxes. There are also opportunities for trekking and horse-riding during the summer but most go to the Altai Mountains to experience the harsh landscapes, isolation and solitude of the region.
- Lake Khovsgol
Although Mongolia Tourist Attractions are primarily summer destination for most overseas visitors, a few who don’t mind the sub-zero temperatures (and have the right winter clothing available) head to Lake Khovsgol in the north of the country for the annual Ice Festival.
In the summer, the national park that surrounds Lake Khovsgol is popular for trekking, horse riding and bird watching, and there are opportunities for fishing as well, but in the winter the lake freezes over and it is on the ice surface that most of the action takes place.
Around the end of February, the horse sled races that are held on the ice are an amazing sight, and there are musical and cultural performances that create a very festive atmosphere despite the cold. Lake Khovsgol requires a one-hour flight from Ulaanbaatar to Murun and then about 90 minutes by road from there.
Last but not least we should not forget that the capital itself has a lot to offer tourists. You’ll be arriving and leaving from Ulaanbaatar, so why not allow a few days at the start or end of your trip to look around the city. The city is an interesting mix of old and new buildings, old people in traditional clothing and young people in the latest western fashions.
The Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan and the Gandan Khiid Monastery are where most visitors head for a taste of Mongolia’s culture and history, and the country’s National Museum in the middle of the city is well worth a visit.
If you are lucky with timing you may be able to buy tickets for a performance at the State Opera and Ballet Theatre nearby. If you are not, then strolling around Ulaanbaatar’s massive central plaza known as Sukhbaatar Square is a pleasant way to spend an hour or two. And on the day before you leave, head to the Black Market about two kilometers away for some bargain-priced Mongolian souvenirs.
These four Mongolia tourist places will give you an excellent overview of the country from its modernizing capital to its most remote regions and provide you with insights into a culture that is thousands of years old dating back to when the Mongol Empire was the most powerful political entity in the world.
What’s next waiting for you?
The top tourist attractions in Mongolia mentioned above are some of the best in lot and you can definitely add more destinations in your itinerary if you are planning an extended holiday. If you are on mission to visit few more popular countries in Asia then don’t forget to check our other travel guides to get all the information.