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Kirti Panchal

Top things to do in Ecuador- A Backpacker’s Guide

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Known to be one of South-America’s top adventure destinations, Ecuador is every adventure junkie’s dreamland. From scenic landscapes and breath-taking view-points to exquisite delicacies and surf-friendly beaches, the country is a perfect amalgamation of adventure, scenic beauty, rich history and the thick Amazon rain forest which is the cherry to your cake while visiting Ecuador. With a largely intact Spanish culture, the country’s architecture represents a rich history and background of colonisation with the official language being Spanish.

When to visit Ecuador

Ecuador is a small sized country but has multiple weather conditions depending on the geographical location of the city. Thus, segmenting each area as per its own weather provides a better understanding of how one should go ahead with planning their trip.

Highlands: For travellers exploring the highlands – June to September is the best time in the year with clear and sunny days. Moving onto October & November, there are more rain showers but comparatively cooler temperatures which could be opted for, if preferred. The least suggested months would be from December to May when the rain showers are very heavy and the temperatures drop and make it unfavourable to visit.

Galapagos Islands: For travellers wanting to explore these islands and watch seals – the perfect weather is from January to May where the weather is suitable and the seas are not rough. Moving on from June to December, the weather gets drier and the seas become rougher which makes it difficult to surf and experience the marine life. 

Must Do Things in Ecuador

Banos – Swing at the end of the world

Who wouldn’t want to revisit their childhood memory by swinging from a tree, over-looking the end of the world? Sounds like a plan! This interesting swing could be found at the Casa de Arbol Park where one could take a ride on the swing while being zipped and photographed by a guide or your friend.  Just be sure to walk up the hill and choose to swing at the original swing which is huger and cheaper than the newer ones which have been recently set up for tourist attraction. There is similar swing situated at Papallacta which is less commercial and is a beautiful place to be!

Swing to the end of the World / Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

Laguna Quilotoa

This beautiful lake was formed by the Quilotoa Volcano that occurred around the 1200s and is now filled with clear turquoise water. Located at an elevated height of around 12000 feet, the lake remains to be one of the most loved and visited destinations in the country. Explorers and adventurers could trek to the mountain base with several break periods and cover it over a span of few days or could opt by taking the local bus and spending a day there. Laguna Quilotoa is one of the best sites for photography.

Laguna Quilotoa /Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

Cotopaxi Volcano

The Cotopaxi Volcano is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world and has a majestic aura of its own. Situated at around 19,347 feet above sea level the volcano is scenic from all of its ends and remains to be one of the most popular destinations in the country to visit. Popularly known for hikers who love to trek to its base, the volcano could be explored on foot or horse-back and one could prefer staying at the local hostel to enjoy the real nomadic life. The brownie points for trekking till the peak of the volcano is being able to view the 820 feet deep crater of the volcano!

The Cotopaxi Volcano /Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are a must-visit on your trip to Ecuador. Located far off, but with some of the most interesting wildlife only to be found on these islands makes it interesting. From Galapagos Penguins to humongous tortoises and Cormorants to Seals, the island has a rich variety of wildlife and flora that is explored by scientists from all over the world. Tourists are attracted not only to wildlife but other interesting water sports like scuba diving & snorkelling which ranks the highest. The islands have not been rated in the affordable category but should surely be visited once in your lifetime.

Sea Lions on Galapagos Islands /Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

View  Colonial Architecture at Cuenca

Cuenca is interestingly an UNESCO World Heritage site. Engulfed with over 50 churches in the city and beautiful historic buildings, a traveller could instantly fall in love with the city’s old world charm. From museums to Carnari structures, Cuenca has it all. The city is filled with a great social international community and a lot of American retirees as it has a high standard of living and favours a luxurious lifestyle. Tourists could also book a half-day tour to view the main important sites in the city!

The Cityscape of Cuenca /Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

Shop at Otavalo Market

Who doesn’t like to shop? For those interested in shopping from local markets and ones who want to experience the local culture by interacting with residents from the area, Otavalo Market is the perfect place to be! The market is located an hour away from Quito and opens up on Sunday. One could find trade goodies like fresh fruits & vegetables and farm animals. There is a tourist shopping market at the city centre which houses souvenirs, local knick-knacks and small artefacts which could be memorable gifts. 

Artistic paintings at the Otavalo Market /Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

Take a Boat Ride at The Amazon River

Everyone remembers the movie Anaconda right!? Well, anacondas live in the Amazon and the Amazon forest is known to be one of the thickest forests in the world with a combination of over 2000 kinds of animals and birds. One could opt to take a boat ride to the Amazon River while overlooking snow-capped mountains and exploring a variety of species in this lush jungle. This trip to the Amazon should definitely not be missed.

Boat Ride at The Amazon River /Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

Quito  – The Capital City

Ever fancied the idea of being at two places at the same time? Well, your dream just came true if you decide to visit Quito – the capital of Ecuador which is a city full of life! The city is an amalgamation of modern as well as historic structures and architecture which would interest travelers who visit the city. Travelers could take a ride in the cable car from the city to 13,779 feet above sea level which boasts of splendid views of the city and breathtaking nature scapes from above. Another interesting site in the city is to visit the ever famous ‘Center of the Earth’ named as Mitad Del Mundo which has a monument and museum. Strategically, there is a line drawn along the equator. One could strike a pose with two feet in different hemispheres and luckily be in two different places at the same time.

Quito – The Capital City /Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

San Rafael Falls in Baeza

For waterfall lovers, the San Rafeal Falls is the place to visit! Located a couple of hours away from Quito city in a town named Baeza which is quaint and quiet; the falls are 145m which is the largest in Ecuador. A bus ride journey could comfortably get you to the site, post which a short trail trek would lead you to the base of the falls. The San Rafael Falls are loud and thundering and worth its scenic view from all end of the jungle.

The stunning San Rafael falls /Photo Credit – Orange Smile Tours

Lava tunnels in Isla Santacruz

Visiting the Laval Tunnels is a surreal experience because one wouldn’t find something like this everywhere in the world. These extraordinary tunnels were formed by when the outer skin of molten lava solidified. They are based on a private property and are open to the public for viewing. Specially known to interest historians, the lava tunnels should be visited on your trip to Ecuador.

Lava Tunnels in Isla Santacruz /Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

Budgeting Right when in Ecuador

One of the most essential parts of planning a long term holiday is to understand the amount of money that you are willing to spend for activities based on your itinerary. Ecuador’s official currency is the US dollar. For travelers possessing foreign currency, it is best advised that you change it to the dollar before traveling to Ecuador as there are limited places where one could find a travel exchange office. As for tipping policies, it is best to give a five percent tip to waiters in their hand; tip cab drivers by leaving the change of the meters and tip a private tour guide with about ten dollars per day. For travels across Galapagos Islands, one could tip a little more to waiters and staff as per your own will. However, for a better understanding of the price ranges for various facilities in the country, we have drafted a detailed budget table which you could follow while visiting the beautiful Ecuador.

DAILY COSTS PER DAY

LOW-RANGE (30 $)

MID-RANGE (30 – 100 $)

HIGH-RANGE (100 $)

Dorm beds: $ 7 – 10; Budget Guest-houses: $ 10 – 15 per person

Double Room in Mid-Range Hotel: $ 40 – 60

Galapagos tour with a reputable operator: $ 300 per day

Set Lunches: $ 02.50 – 03.50

Dinner for two in a good restaurant: $ 18 – 30

Top Amazon Lodges: Around $ 250 per day 

One day bike rental for DIY trip from Banos to Puyo: $ 10

Climbing, Cycling and Bird-watching tours: $ 60 – 80 per day

Haciendas on Cotopaxi from $ 100 per day

Statistics Table Credit: Lonely Planet

With such a diverse flora and fauna along with the country’s beautiful history, a trip to Ecuador sounds like a given in one’s lifetime.

Author’s Bio

Kirti is an avid traveller & writer who is hoping to write a book one day. She is a media geek by profession and is a strong believer of Love, Faith & Hope. She is a scorpion at heart, who loves socialising and is a proud mother to an adorable Beagle puppy named Romeo!

Top things to do in the gorgeous, lively Cuba!

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Popularly known as the destination where the famous international sequel film – Fast & Furious was shot, Cuba remains to be an amalgamation of much more than just a movie destination and pretty beaches. Cuba is one of the largest islands among the Caribbean islands and is popularly known for its indefinable magic of culture, warm citizens, art and a homely feel. Increasingly becoming popular as a holiday destination for tourists, Cuba is seeing a higher rise in the numbers with every passing year. With innumerable museums, countless art galleries and tonnes of eateries to try out, the island remains to be one of the top-most chosen places to visit! We list down some of the most interesting & must-do activities that one should try during their holiday in the beautiful island of Cuba.

When to visit Cuba?

Cuba could be visited at any point of the year for adventure geeks who are up and about to travel and explore any place all year round. For the luxury traveller who is looking at a more favourable time of the year, should opt for visiting Cuba between November and March where the temperatures aren’t soaring high and the rains are comparatively less which would help one holiday stress-free!

Top things to do while in Cuba

  1. Drive in a Classic Vintage Car:

Your trip to Cuba is incomplete without taking a drive in a Classic Vintage Car all around the city of Havana. The modern colourful city has ample of sights to check out and local markets to explore! There isn’t any better way to drive around a classic beauty or be chauffeur driven in style! One could rent out vintage cars with or without drivers and move around the city, just like a local.

A Vintage Car in Cuba /Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

  1. Go for a sunset walk on El Malecon, Havana:

Every place in the world views a sunset. However, there are only a few places in the world where one could view a beautiful sunset along with the natural ambience. El Malecon in Havana is one such place where one could walk or jog along an 8 kilometre paved road which runs along the sea and has a range of rich historic buildings housed opposite the sea making it a pretty view to take in after a long day of being touristy!

The 8km paved road alongside El Malecon, Havana /Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

  1. Take in the rich history at Parque Céspedes, Santiago de Cuba:

Parque Céspedes is one of the most interesting areas in Santiago de Cuba. It is surrounded by romantic & colonial Cuban architecture which could have you immersed for hours. One could also visit the Bronze Bust of Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, the one who initiated the idea of independence for Cuba in 1868.

Soak yourself in the rich history of Parque Céspedes /Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

  1. Enjoy some Beach Time at Playa Maguana, Baracoa:

The imaginary picture of best beaches around the world would be clear water, white sands and exquisite corals and fishes to look at! Well, you shall find all of these at Playa Maguana which is one of the best beaches of Cuba. The beach is a heaven for swimmers who would love to explore the coral reef at a stone throw distance. For others, the beach is a perfect place for some sun-bath and you could walk around the coast for delicious street food.

Enjoy the beautiful beach of Playa Maguana, Baracoa /Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

  1. Learn Salsa Dance and Explore Water Sports in Trinidad:

Trinidad is known for some of the best beaches, unlimited mojitos and for those with two left feet who would love to learn some salsa dance! Sounds like a great combination? On your trip to Cuba, visiting Trinidad should be mandatory. One could easily spend a day in the town to engross into its interesting culture of night-life, visit the ‘outdoor museum’ which is a World Heritage Site and make the most of the beach by engaging in some professional water sports.

Explore Water Sports in Trinidad /Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

  1. Snorkel & Dive at Cayo Jutias:

Cayo Jutias is one of the best beaches in Cuba specially known for snorkelling and diving and viewing the Black Coral. The height isn’t more than 15 meters which makes it favourable for a starter who does not know deep sea swimming. The town also houses an interesting metal light-house which was constructed by the USA in the early 1900’s.

Enjoy some snorkelling time and dive into the Cayo Jutias /Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

  1. Smoke a Cuban Cigar

Smoking up a Cuban Cigar is a cherry on the cake to your trip. Even if you are a non-smoker, one should opt to just take a picture for memory sakes with a Cuban smoke. It is this majestic island where fine grade tobacco is grown and further processed into factories. If you are one who is interested in understanding the process, you could visit the Partagos factory which hosts organised tours to show tourists their business.

 

  1. Opt for a Home-stay with the Locals:

It is advised that on your trip to Cuba, for a few days in whichever city – one could opt for a home-stay with local Cuban families. Known to be extremely warm & friendly, the option remains to be an ideal one. Through your stay with a family, one could learn their culture, language and enjoy some home-made food & cocktails! It is best to choose your stay with the family while drafting your itinerary from your resident country to be able to share your plan and for them to be prepared for your arrival.

  1. Drink the Best Mojitos & Eat the Best Street Food in the World:

Interestingly, mojitos were invented in Cuba and so there isn’t a reason to not sip on one when you are in that country itself! For anyone trying out the drink, make sure to request you bar tender to add a little Havana Club Rum which is the authentic taste and way to enjoy a real Cuban mojito. As for street food, you could choose to eat Goat platters, Pork Burgers and Individual Hawaiian Pizzas which are drool-worthy. For those with a sweet-tooth, opting for some coconut pies and drinking some yummy fruit milkshakes remains to be the best and healthy option while in Cuba.

Drink up some local Cuban Mojitos with Havana Club Rum / Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

  1. Experience a silent day at Christopher Columbus Cemetery:

 The Cemetery is one of the most notable structures with exquisite architecture in all of Latin America. Designed by the famous Spanish architect Calixto de Loira y Cardoso, the cemetery’s construction was spread over a time-course of almost fifteen years. The monument sized cemetery is a living proof of how rich the country was in its culture & skill. It also importantly acts as final resting place for many notable Cuban and international residents. 

The gorgeous Columbus cemetery!

Budgeting right when in Cuba

Chalking out a budget especially for an international trip can be tricky but is helpful and easy once you get to the place. While planning a trip to Cuba, one must have an idea about the place, its currency and a rough estimate of the costs. The Cuban currency is known as Pesos and the costs involved for meals, stays and travelling are slated on a medium range. For travellers, one could opt for the option of paying by cash at all places but it is suggested to not keep too much cash handy for safety sakes.

To provide a wholesome idea of an approximate budget which you could follow while visiting  Cuba, we have drafted a detailed table for better understanding:

DAILY COSTS PER DAY
LOW-RANGE (CUC 70 $) MID-RANGE (CUC 70 – 140 $) HIGH-RANGE (CUC 140 $)
Low Budget Hotel: CUC $ 25 – 35 Mid-Range Hotel: CUC $ 50 – 100 Resort or Historic Hotel: CUC $ 200 – 300
Meal in government-run restaurant: CUC $ 10 – 15 Meal in private restaurant: CUC $ 15 – 25 Car Hire or Taxi: CUC $ 60 – 70
Museum entry: CUC $ 1 – 5 Víazul Bus Travel from Havana to Trinidad: CUC $ 25 Evening cabaret: CUC$35–60

Statistics Table Credit: Lonely Planet

Lastly, Cuba is one of the most serene and pretty islands in the world, especially for its warm people, colourful culture and pristine beaches. With innumerable activities and places to explore, Cuba is a country that will surely surprise you in every way possible and will keep you wanting to visit it again.

Author’s Bio

Kirti is an avid traveller & writer who is hoping to write a book one day. She is a media geek by profession and is a strong believer of Love, Faith & Hope. She is a scorpion at heart, who loves socialising and is a proud mother to an adorable Beagle puppy named Romeo!

Exploring St. Petersburg, Russia

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The ideology of a super power nation is what Russia depicts. While that stands true, the country is much more than just armies, snow and vast unoccupied land. With many famous cities within it, Russia is growing towards becoming one of the most famous countries in the travel list of tourists. Focusing on St. Petersburg which is a city built on swamps; the place has gradually been transformed into a modern mecca of rich art and culture.

St. Petersburg is an imperial capital of the country which is prosperous in Russian culture and interestingly houses some of the best classical concerts and musical festivals. Known for its world class ballet and opera sessions, the city remains to be one of the oldest historic metropolises which are rooted into its culture. Hereby, we map out travel essentials like the best time to visit, a list of places and activities that one must do and a brief idea on budgeting right while on your trip to this wonderful city.

Time Frame of Visiting St. Petersburg

The time frame of visiting St. Petersburg is best during the months of May and September. For travel loners who dislike crowds and love their own space, it is best to visit the city in early May or September where the crowds decrease in numbers. These months are also favourable for tourists who would love to experience the white nights wherein the sun hardly sets down, thus giving you a lifetime experience of enjoying your nights in broad daylight. With longer days and minimal nights, travellers get to experience the city and all the activities to the maximum of St. Petersburg.

Must Visit Destinations in St. Petersburg

Art and Architecture

  1. State Hermitage Museum 

State Hermitage Museum 

It is one of the most magnificent museums in the world. It fascinatingly houses over three million items spread across hundreds of rooms in the structure. It is suggested to plan your visit by focusing on your areas of interest in order to complete your tour in a planned & efficient manner. With its enormous size and never ending things to see, the museum would always leave you wanting more!

  1. Russian Museum

Russian Museum 

The Russian Museum is the next popular historic house after The Hermitage. Situated in the centre of the city, this one is known for lesser known treasure arts of the country. With permanent and temporary based exhibitions housed at the museum, travellers could have a perfect piece of their historic pie while visiting this beauty.

  1. Church Of The Spilled Blood

Built and structured in the loving memory of Alexander II, the church is one of the most stunning beauties of St. Petersburg. The church imbibes fundamentals of the pre-historic period and also took a lengthy span of over twenty-four years to build. The spot being a tourist favourite is something which should not be missed.

 

  1. Grand Palace

 

Grand Palace 

With a rich background history, the Grand Palace is known to have been reconstructed by the modern government after it was left in complete ruins post the World War II. However, the palace houses original paintings, furniture and beautiful chandeliers within it which are worth looking out for.

 

History and Culture

  1. Cruiser Aurora

 Cruiser Aurora 

The historic Cruiser was launched in the nineteenth century and played a significant part in the Communist Revolution. Unfortunately it sunk during the World War II. Currently being restored for tourism purposes, one could view the crew quarters and live a historic moment in the gigantic cruiser.

  1. Kirov Museum

 

Kirov Museum  

The museum has been created in the house of Sergei Kirov who was one of the most powerful men in the country during the nineties. The house is being redesigned to show his lifestyle and interesting artefacts of what he used. The most interesting thing to view is the real clothes he was wearing when he got shot by rivalries. The museum is hauntingly real and fascinating!

 

  1. Marrinsky Theatre

Mariinsky Theatre 

This theatre is surely a must-visit place in St. Petersburg. Named after Maria Alexandrovna, the wife of Alexander II, the theatre was made in the eighteen hundreds. Being one of the most loved and respected institutions, the theatre stages the world’s best ballet and opera. It houses a two thousand seat audience and has six stages for the perfect historic performances.

 

  1. Mechta Molokhovets

This is a heaven for every food lover. Mechta Molokhovets covers all the Russian traditional cuisine and hosts the classic dishes to taste. From fish pies to goose breast and rabbit meat, the restaurant is a classic favourite for every tourist who is looking to dine in the Russian way!

Budgeting Right when in St. Petersburg

While planning a trip to a foreign land, it is always useful to be aware of that country’s currency, their tipping policies and most importantly drafting an approximate budget for yourself. That way, you could plan your overhead expenses and be assured to not go overboard.

The Russian currency is known as Russian Ruble and it equals to Rs. 1.14 in the Indian Rupee. For tourists looking at changing their currency, St. Petersburg houses banks and exchange offices everywhere. One can also find ATMs at every pit stop!

During the trip, one could pay by cash or card at restaurants and malls. However, it is suggested to keep some cash handy as smaller boutiques or takeaway restaurants might not have card facilities. As for the tipping policy at public places, it is best to pay a 10% tip at restaurants if the service is good and R50 per bag at hotels.

To provide a wholesome idea of an approximate budget which you could follow while visiting         St. Petersburg, we have drafted a detailed table for a better understanding:

DAILY COSTS PER DAY
LOW-RANGE (50 €) MID-RANGE (50 – 200 €) HIGH-RANGE (200 & ABOVE €)
Dorm Bed: 12 € Double Room at a Standard Hotel: 60 €

Four Star Hotel with Double Room: 150 €

Supermarket & Business Lunches for Food Two Course Dinner with Wine: 50 € Two Course Dinner with Wine: 100 €
Cheap Theatre Ticket: 15 € Theatre Ticket : 30 € Best seats at The Mariinsky Theatre: 125 €

 

With many more sights to see and numerable theatres and classics to view, St. Petersburg is there to surprise you! Despite every traveller who prefers Moscow, considering its commercial popularity, this place is the new and upcoming destination that you wouldn’t want to miss. The city has grown from swamps to a wonderful revamp and houses some of the best classical music in the world.

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Statistics Table Credit: Lonely Planet, Russia

Author’s Bio

Kirti is an avid traveller & writer who is hoping to write a book one day. She is a media geek by profession and is a strong believer of Love, Faith & Hope. She is a scorpion at heart, who loves socialising and is a proud mother to an adorable Beagle puppy named Romeo!

Where to travel and how much to spend in Mongolia in 30 days

By | Blog, Mongolia | No Comments

The idea of vast landscapes and humongous grasslands with beautiful horses instantly gives you a destination recall of the famous country, Mongolia. While the idea stands true, the country is much more than that. Mongolia is a nomadic adventure destination with its nature & landscapes being unfiltered and gorgeous, its culture being rich and historic and its people being warm and accommodating.

Mongolia is a large country in size and there are many must-visit places that one should cover. With a comfort of activities catered to different ages and areas of interest, we list a number of places and activities that should be covered on your trip to the fantastic nomadic countryside.

Must Visit Destinations in Mongolia

 

Ultan Bataar: For the Urban & Tradition Lovers

Being the capital city of Mongolia, Ultan Bataar holds maximum of the country’s population in it. The city is filled with urban tradition and has a perfect blend of modernity cusped into traditional lifestyles which might be interesting for travellers to notice. With sky-scrapers and apartments built in a modern format, the city also consists of sites like the National Museum which houses pre-historic elements and mind-boggling dinosaur findings & The Narantuul Market which offers traditional daily Mongolian goodies. Ultan Bataar has striking and contrasting lifestyles ranging from being a chaotic city with a loud night-life to calm and composed crowds following Buddhism in the beautifully built monasteries. The city is a must-visit for every urban traveller who is looking out for the perfect blend on their vacation.

National Museum of Mongolia, Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Bogd Khan Mountain: For the Adventurers & Park Lovers

Termed by UNESCO as the Oldest National Park in the world, Bogd Khan National Park was established by the government in the 1700s with a purpose to conserve its natural beauty and wildlife. The magnificent Bogd Mountain range runs through the southern side of Ultan Bataar, also being one of the prime locations within the park to be visited. For all the adventurers and park lovers, Bogd Khan Mountains are definitely worth the journey from the capital city.

Bogd Khan National Park, Photo Credit:Wikimedia Commons

Gandan Khiid: For the Spiritual Travellers

Mongolia is known for Buddhism and significantly Gandan Khiid – the translated meaning being ‘the great place of complete joy’ is one of the most important and biggest monasteries in the country. During the 1900s military regime, this monastery was lucky to survive the blasts as compared to all the other important monasteries which were ruined and demolished later. The Gandan Khiid which interestingly contains temples within it for important ceremonies and its walls being carved with images of Buddha sculptures also houses almost six hundred monks in it. A trip to this monastery is definitely a must for every spiritual traveller.

Gandan Khiid Monastery, Photo Credit:Wikimedia Commons

Gobi Desert: For the Explorers & Nomadic Lifestyle Seekers

The desert is a humongous and vast space which occupies a great chunk of the country. It is naturally divided into different sections like the Mountain Ranges, the Valley of Vultures, the Flaming Cliffs and the Famous Sand Dunes. For travellers doing a long term travel, it is advised to not miss out on this one. One could specially chalk out a week’s plan to the desert with a local guide and a personal car with driver who could provide you with an experience of camel rides, local cuisine and most importantly living in a ger camp with local nomads. Known for hot temperatures, travellers are advised to carry sun-blocks and cotton clothing with hats & sun-glasses.

Gobi Desert, Photo Credit:Wikimedia Commons

Chinggis Khaan Statue: For the Historic & Sight-seeing Tourist

A lost emperor in literal sense who interestingly discovered the stretch from Asia to Venice in the early days, also called as The Great Khan is known to be one of the most powerful warriors of the country. The majestic 190 feet silver statue of Chinggis Khaan proudly stands in Nalaikh area near the capital of Ulaanbaatar. Noticeably seen from a far distance, the statue is now one of the most visited tourist spots in Mongolia. The site is a must-visit for anyone travelling to Mongolia.

Chinggis Khaan, Photo Credit:Wikimedia Commons

Naadam Festival: For the Party-Goers & Bold Vacationers

The Naadam festival takes place in different parts of the country with the capital section being the best. Usually taking place in the month of July, the festival is based upon the idea of celebrating sports. The festival consists of three major sports which is Horse Riding, Wrestling and Archery. Nadaam is an old tradition and ritual believed by the locals to thank the gods. The festivities are colourful and interesting to watch and be a part of. For long term travellers, it is best to plan your trip in such a way that the month of July is fitted in, so that enjoying the festival could be a part of your itinerary.

A Mongolian archer displays her abilities Naadam Festival, Photo Credit:Wikimedia Commons

Budgeting Right While Visiting  Mongolia

Budgets are always an integral part while mapping out a holiday. Spending less for better quality or spending more for a luxurious vacation depends on an individual’s choice. However, it is always advisable to understand the local currency and have an idea about the costs of activities and basic necessities in order to chalk out an approximate budget for your whole trip.

The Mongolian currency is called as Tugrik. It is available in the notes of T5, T10, T20, T50, T100, T500, T1000, T5000, T10,000 and T20,000. For tourists looking at changing their currency, the banks in Ulaanbaatar are a safe bet. However, it is advised to change back your local currency from Tugrik before leaving Mongolia as the currency has no value elsewhere in the world.

During the trip, one could pay by cash, card or US dollars in case you do not have Tugrik (preferably for larger amounts) but it is always advised to have some local currency for smaller activities like food bills, travelling around the city or buying souvenirs. As for the tipping policy at public places, the Mongolians do not usually believe or adopt tipping as a social tradition but over the years, the locals have gotten used to tourists tipping them. It is best to pay a 10% tip if you like!

To provide a wholesome idea of an approximate budget which you could follow while visiting Mongolia, we have drafted a detailed table for a better understanding:

COSTS PER DAY

LOW-RANGE ($50) MID-RANGE ($50 – $140)

HIGH-RANGE ($140+)

Dorm Bed: $50 Double Room at a Standard Hotel: $75 High-end Hotel or Ger Camp:   $150 and above
Double Room at a Guest House: $20 – $45 Ger Camp with Room & Board: $40 Meal at a fancy restaurant: $25 – $40
Countryside Camping: Free Meal at a Restaurant in the city: $8 – $14 Horse trek with a professional per day: $200 – $400
Meal at a simple Restaurant: $4 – $7 Land Cruiser with Driver per day: $150+
A 650km bus-ride: 20 US $

With activities costing from a low to high range, one could choose their preferred budget and book their itineraries accordingly. Even if the costs shoot up and it pinches your wallet, Mongolia as a country is worth every bit considering its natural beauty and a feeling of being a part of a pre-historic world, also being a part of the nature closely, experiencing the life of a nomad and living the raw life of a local which you might not get in any other part of the world!

Author’s Bio

Kirti is an avid traveller & writer who is hoping to write a book one day. She is a media geek by profession and is a strong believer of Love, Faith & Hope. She is a scorpion at heart, who loves socialising and is a proud mother to an adorable Beagle puppy named Romeo!

 

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