Major Tourist Attractions: Gorkh-Tereli National Park, Erdene Zuu Monastery, Flaming Cliffs, Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park
Being the least densely populated country in the world, Mongolia is surely the easiest place to get off the beaten path. Actually, just going to Mongolia is literally traveling off the beaten path. This enormous country is little-visited, yet it has so much to offer, including infinite expanses of stunning natural sceneries, a healthy amount of wildlife, and part of the Gobi Desert – the fourth largest desert in the world. But, nature is not the only thing Mongolia has in hand. There’s also a great deal of history and culture, starting with the most famous of all Mongols, Genghis Khan.
The capital city of Ulaanbaatar might feel like a hybrid of an Eastern European and Central Asian city, but step just a few miles outside the city and you’ll see Mongolia’s true colors and traditional life; nomads living in their gers (portable tents), horse riders and hunters with their falcons, and herdsmen transporting their goods with camels.
In the capital, accommodation ranges from budget guesthouses to luxurious hotels, but head a bit out into the desert to have the opportunity of staying overnight in a traditional ger.
Outside the capital, infrastructure is poor and roads are still dirt tracks on the desert. Driving from town to town while crossing the desert feels like an adventure already, full of adrenaline and suspense since you never know if your car will make it all the way to the end. It is not uncommon to have a river crossing (without any bridge) or paths that seem completely undriveable, yet they are the only way to get to your destination.
So, if you’re a truly adventurous traveler, this is what you should not miss in Mongolia:
- Visit Genghis Khan birthplace on the northern part of Khentii province
- Camp in the middle of the Gobi Desert
- Go on a camel trek or hike along the ice-filled gorge of Yolyn Am. Here you can also find dinosaur fossils.
- Go horse riding like a Mongol nomad near Ulaanbaatar
- Visit Lake Khovsgol, the ‘pearl of Mongolia’, for fishing, hiking, camping, and horse riding
- Spend time in the National Museum in Ulaanbaatar to see Mongolia’s most prized archaeological finds and historical treasures
- Visit the 130-feet-tall Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue in Erdene
- Take some time to birdwatch. It’s so easy to spot vultures, falcons, eagles, cranes, swans, and more when you head out into the desert
- Stay overnight in a ger to experience the lifestyle and their delicious food and Yak cheese
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