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)||
|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!
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!