Explore Mongolia Travel Blog: Adventure & Culture Insights to prepare the best Mongolia Tour


Ultimate Mongolia Travel Guide: Top Destinations & Tips for an Epic Journey

Embarking on Mongolia travel rewards you with unparalleled adventures from the Gobi Desert’s sands to the high-altitude steppes. This guide cuts through the vastness to deliver the essentials: preparing, navigating, and savoring every aspect of Mongolia. Here you’ll find the must-visit locations, advice on dealing with transport in rugged terrains, insights into nomadic life, and a taste of the hearty Mongolian cuisine. Equip yourself with practical tips and cultural knowledge to ensure a memorable journey.

Key Takeaways

  • Mongolia offers diverse itineraries tailored to personal interests, with key attractions including the Gobi Desert, Yolyn Am Canyon, and historic sites such as Erdene Zuu Monastery.
  • Adventure seekers can explore natural wonders like the Gobi Desert and Hustai National Park, engage with nomadic cultures, and attend local festivals for an authentic experience.
  • Visitors should plan for transportation and accommodation, considering options from self-driven tours to staying in traditional Ger camps, and savor local cuisines like buuz and khuushuur.

Planning Your Mongolia Adventure

Planning a trip to Mongolia requires careful consideration and preparation to ensure a rewarding and unforgettable experience. As this Mongolia travel blog will show, it is crucial to choose the right time for your visit. Whether you’re planning to embark on your journey in 2024 or 2025, Mongolia is a top destination for adventure lovers promising unique experiences like no other place.

A typical one-week itinerary in Mongolia includes:

  • Visiting the sandy expanses of the Gobi Desert
  • Exploring the central plains
  • Hiking through the breathtaking Yolyn Am Canyon
  • Visiting significant historical capitals

This itinerary offers a blend of natural and cultural exploration.

You’ll need to start your adventure in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital, where you can acquire the necessary equipment and secure a vehicle for your trip. Whether you’re considering a self-drive expedition or an organized tour with a local guide, be sure to choose a reliable tour operator to ensure a smooth and rewarding journey.

Another essential aspect of planning your Mongolia adventure is understanding the travel documents you’ll need for your trip. This includes obtaining a Mongolia visa and understanding the application process. Whether you’re an experienced traveler or embarking on your first international adventure, it’s crucial to be prepared.

Best Time to Visit

When planning your Mongolia trip, one of the most important considerations is the timing of your visit. Mongolia is known for its extreme weather, with summer temperatures sometimes exceeding +35°C and winter temperatures dropping to -40°C, underscoring the need for proper preparation.

The peak travel season in Mongolia runs from June to August, offering warm weather conditions ideal for outdoor activities and exploring the country’s beautiful places. During these months, you can expect to encounter more tourists, but the experience is well worth it. Imagine waking up in the morning to the sight of the sun rising over Mongolia’s vast landscapes - a sight you won’t soon forget.

Itinerary Options

One of the joys of exploring Mongolia is the flexibility of itineraries. Whether you have a week or several weeks to spare, there are plenty of options to cater to your interests and time constraints. For short one-week trips, you can focus on exploring the capital Ulaanbaatar, complemented by excursions to nearby natural attractions like the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park.

If you have more time to spare, consider a longer itinerary of two to three weeks. This can offer a deeper exploration of Mongolia, including:

  • The Gobi Desert’s vast landscapes
  • A visit to the ancient capital of Kharkhorin
  • A journey to the pristine Lake Khovsgol
  • Local festivals and historical sites like the legendary Erdene Zuu Monastery

The beauty of traveling in Mongolia is that the itineraries can be tailored to personal interests, whether you’re drawn to the vast steppe, mountain ranges, or cultural experiences.

Travel Documents

Traveling to Mongolia involves some paperwork. Before you can embark on your adventure, you’ll need to understand the visa requirements for foreign travelers. With some careful planning and preparation, the process can be smooth and straightforward.

To obtain a Mongolia visa, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the application process and identify the specific locations where you can submit your visa applications. While this may seem daunting, remember that every great journey begins with a single step. Once you have your visa in hand, you’ll be one step closer to experiencing the wonders of Mongolia.

Exploring Mongolia's Natural Wonders

Mongolia’s natural wonders are as diverse as they are stunning. From the world’s sixth-largest desert to pristine national parks, these landscapes offer a unique blend of beauty and adventure. Some of the must-see natural wonders in Mongolia include:

  • The Gobi Desert, with its magnificent White Stupa cliffs
  • The Singing Sand Dunes at Khongoryn Els, known for their enchanting melody
  • The stunning landscapes of Terelj National Park
  • The crystal-clear waters of Lake Khuvsgul
  • The dramatic canyons of Yolyn Am in the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park

These are just a few examples of the natural wonders that await you in Mongolia.

If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, Mongolia won’t disappoint. Here are some activities you can enjoy:

  • Seek out the elusive Snow Leopard in the country’s mountains
  • Venture into remote areas for a chance to encounter wolves and the majestic Altai Argali
  • If you’re visiting in winter, consider indulging in the Mongolian Winter Tour to visit the frozen Lake Khuvsgul and Reindeer tribes
  • Try your hand at fishing at Ugii Lake under the guidance of a local expert

Whether it’s the rolling green landscapes of Terelj National Park that captivate you or the vast expanse of the Gobi Desert that calls your name, each moment spent exploring Mongolia’s natural wonders will leave you with a deeper appreciation for nature’s grandeur and the rich tapestry of experiences Mongolia offers.

Hustai National Park

Nestled in the heart of Mongolia, Hustai National Park offers a unique wildlife experience - it’s the home of the Przewalski’s horse, known as ‘takhi’ in Mongolian. The Przewalski’s horse is considered the last true wild horse species in the world, making a visit to Hustai National Park a must for any wildlife lover.

While visiting during the day is possible, the optimal times for observing the wild Przewalski’s horses in Hustai National Park should be considered for a truly worthwhile experience. The best times to observe the horses are:

  • Early morning, when they are most active and grazing
  • Late afternoon, when they gather near watering holes
  • Evening, when they may engage in social interactions and play

Imagine the thrill of spotting these wild horses in their natural habitat, a sight that will undoubtedly be a highlight of your Mongolian adventure.

Terelj National Park

Terelj National Park, another gem in Mongolia’s crown of natural wonders, is renowned for its distinctive rock formations, such as Turtle Rock and the Old Man Reading a Book, also referred to as Praying Lama Rock.

In addition to its geological wonders, the park boasts a diverse array of wildlife, including brown bears and an impressive roster of over 250 bird species.

As a tourist-friendly gateway to natural exploration, the southern area of the park offers facilities for horse and camel rentals, making it a perfect base for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts. In addition to being home to souvenir shops, the area also features a state department store for visitors’ convenience.

Gobi Desert

The Gobi Desert, the world’s sixth-largest desert, is a landscape of extremes. It is characterized by:

  • A cold desert climate
  • Frost
  • Occasional snow on its dunes
  • Rapid temperature changes that can vary by as much as 35°C within a single day.

The desert straddles northern China and southern Mongolia.

But the Gobi Desert is more than just a harsh landscape. It’s home to distinctive animals such as black-tailed gazelles, marbled polecats, and the rare wild Bactrian camels. Moreover, conservation efforts, like the establishment of the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, are underway to protect the desert’s unique ecosystem and counteract its expansion and desertification.

Delving into Mongolian Culture and History

Mongolia is more than its landscapes. This country’s rich cultural and historical heritage, from the Mongol Empire established by Genghis Khan in the early 13th century to the ancient capital of Kharkhorin, is a testament to its resilience and unique identity.

The Erdene Zuu Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site, stands as a symbol of Mongolia’s significant historical and cultural preservation under the eternal blue sky. This ancient monastery offers valuable insights into Mongolia’s past and the enduring spirituality of its people.

Another intriguing aspect of Mongolian culture is its vibrant traditional customs, which continue to thrive in the modern era. From the Tsam Dance, a representation of Mongolia’s rich Buddhist traditions, to the nomadic lifestyle that is integral to the Mongolian identity, these cultural practices provide a fascinating glimpse into the heart and soul of Mongolia.

Ancient Capital of Kharkhorin

Kharkhorin, the ancient capital of Mongolia, holds a central place in the country’s history. Once the political and administrative center of the Mongol Empire, it governed over vast regions, including:

  • China
  • Russia
  • Central Asia
  • the Middle East

Today, Kharkhorin invites visitors to step back in time and immerse themselves in its rich history. The main attraction is the Erdene Zuu Monastery, which draws visitors with its historical and cultural value. A visit to this ancient capital offers a tangible connection to Mongolia’s past and its enduring influence on the present.

Nomadic Families and Ger Camps

A truly immersive Mongolian experience involves spending time with nomadic families and staying in traditional Ger camps. Mongolian nomads maintain a traditional lifestyle, moving seasonally across the steppes. As part of their nomadic existence, families set up portable gers as their temporary homes, which move with them.

For visitors, a stay in a Ger camp offers a unique opportunity to experience authentic Mongolian culture. From joining a nomadic family around a warm fire to waking up to a spectacular sunrise over the vast steppe, every moment spent in a Mongolian ger will leave you with precious memories of a fascinating way of life.

Genghis Khan and the Mongolian Empire

Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongolian Empire, is a legendary figure whose influence extends beyond Mongolia’s borders. He unified the Mongolian tribes to establish a strong state, which under his command, transformed into the largest contiguous empire in history.

The Mongol Empire orchestrated profound changes in the areas it touched, spreading innovations in various fields, and fostering widespread cultural exchange. The legacy of the Mongol Empire continues to influence various civilizations long after its peak, as the empire played a pivotal role in shaping geopolitical and cultural landscapes.

Genghis Khan himself implemented policies such as religious freedom and imposed laws that sought fairness for all subjects, including himself.

Navigating Mongolia: Transportation and Accommodation

Navigating Mongolia is part of the adventure. Whether you prefer to travel independently or join an organized tour, you’ll find a range of transportation and accommodation options to suit your needs. From the trans Mongolian railway to private tours, Mongolia offers various modes of transport that cater to different preferences and budgets.

If you’re considering self-driving in Mongolia, keep in mind that the country’s road infrastructure is rudimentary, with only about 5,000 km of paved roads. That said, rest assured that fuel stations are well-distributed around local towns and villages, with fuel predominantly imported from Russia.

When it comes to accommodation, Mongolia offers a wide range of options to suit diverse preferences and budgets. From luxury hotels in Ulaanbaatar to eco-camps in Terelj National Park, you’re sure to find a place that feels like home away from home.

Self-Drive vs. Hiring a Driver

For those who prefer to take the wheel, self-driving off road tours in Mongolia can be an exciting option. Travelers can rent new cars and 4x4 jeeps, like the Toyota Landcruiser, from rental companies such as Sixt and Avis for their adventure. Additionally, tour operators can provide valuable information and support for those embarking on this journey.

However, given the rudimentary road infrastructure in Mongolia, many travelers opt to hire a local driver, who is not only familiar with the terrain but can also serve as a guide. The choice between self-drive and hiring your own driver depends on your comfort level, experience, and sense of adventure.

Accommodation Types

In Mongolia, accommodation options are as diverse as the landscapes themselves. From luxury hotels in Ulaanbaatar to eco-camps in Terelj National Park, there’s something to suit every traveler’s preference and budget.

But for a truly immersive experience, consider staying in a Ger camp. These traditional yurt-like tents offer a unique opportunity to experience Mongolian culture first-hand, allowing you to live as the nomads have for centuries. Whether you’re watching the sunset over the vast steppe or waking up to the sound of birdsong, a stay in a Mongolian ger is an experience you won’t soon forget.

Language and Communication

While English is not widely spoken in Mongolia, don’t let the language barrier deter you. Digital tools like Maps.Me can be incredibly helpful for navigation, and translation apps can assist with basic communication.

Learning basic Mongolian phrases can also enhance your travel experience, allowing you to interact more effectively with locals. Even with language barriers, making the effort to communicate can lead to meaningful cultural exchanges and enrich your Mongolian adventure.

Mongolian Cuisine: Savoring Local Flavors

Mongolian cuisine offers a unique culinary experience. Primarily consisting of meats such as:

  • mutton
  • beef
  • camel
  • horse
  • sheep

Mongolian dishes are hearty and flavorful. Dairy products also play a significant role in the Mongolian diet, commonly consumed during breakfast and as snacks in various traditional forms.

Ulaanbaatar, the capital city, offers a wide range of ethnic cuisines, but it’s the traditional Mongolian dishes that truly capture the essence of the country’s culinary culture. Some of the must-try traditional Mongolian dishes include:

  • Buuz: meat-filled dumplings
  • Tsuivan: stir-fried noodles
  • Khuushuur: deep-fried meat pastry
  • Boodog: roasted whole goat
  • Aaruul: dried curd

Each bite offers a taste of Mongolia’s rich heritage and nomadic lifestyle.

Traditional Dishes

Among the traditional dishes, buuz stands out. These steamed dumplings filled with meat are a staple during the Mongolian New Year. Smaller but similar dumplings, known as bansh, can be boiled or fried and are equally delicious.

Some must-try dishes in Mongolia are:

  • Huushuur, a fried meat pastry
  • Khorkhog, a traditional Mongolian barbecue cooked using hot stones and an open fire pot
  • Tsuivan, a stir-fried noodle dish often savored with horse meat

Dairy products, such as aaruul (dried curd) and byaslag (cottage cheese), round out the gastronomical experience, offering a taste of Mongolia’s pastoral roots.


Embarking on a journey to Mongolia is an experience like no other. From the breathtaking landscapes of the Gobi Desert and national parks to the rich cultural heritage of the ancient capital of Kharkhorin and the nomadic lifestyle, Mongolia offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural richness. Whether you’re exploring on foot, by car, or on horseback, savoring traditional dishes or learning basic Mongolian phrases, every moment spent in Mongolia will deepen your understanding of this fascinating country and leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to go to Mongolia now?

Mongolia is relatively safe for foreigners, but street and violent crime are on the rise, particularly in larger towns and cities. It's important to be cautious.

What is the best time to visit Mongolia?

The best time to visit Mongolia is during the peak travel season from June to August when the weather is warm and ideal for outdoor activities. However, visiting during the shoulder seasons of April-May and September-October can also provide unique experiences with fewer tourists. Enjoy your trip without the crowds!

What are some popular itinerary options for a trip to Mongolia?

Consider exploring Ulaanbaatar and nearby natural attractions like the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park for a one-week trip, or plan a longer itinerary to include the Gobi Desert, Kharkhorin, and Lake Khovsgol. Have a great time planning your trip!

What travel documents do I need to visit Mongolia?

You will need to obtain a Mongolia visa before visiting. Be sure to research the application process and submission locations to ensure a smooth travel experience.

What are some traditional Mongolian dishes I should try?

You should try buuz, huushuur, khorkhog, and tsuivan, which are traditional Mongolian dishes. Additionally, don't miss out on the dairy products like aaruul and byaslag. Enjoy your culinary adventure!