If you’re headed to Mongolia, you might be tempted to stay in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, and tour around the Eastern region of the nation for the duration of your trip. We vote, explore beyond! There are a wealth of things to do in Western Mongolia, like observing the ancient practice of eagle hunters or scaling the country’s highest peak.
You’ll get to dive deeper into Mongolia’s culture and enjoy a one of a kind experience while touring the other side. So without further ado, here are our favorite things to do in Western Mongolia!
Watch Eagle Hunters
One of the most unique experiences you can have in Mongolia is witnessing the careful craft of eagle hunting.
For the Kazakh people of western Mongolia, eagle hunting dates back for centuries, and is a cherished part of their culture.
With this sport, eagles, tethered to their human captors by rope, are used to hunt and kill other animals, often small game like rabbits and foxes.
You can observe this sport during the annual Golden Eagle Festival or the Altai Eagle Festival. Venture to the towns of Bayan Olgii or Sagsai, respectively, for each event to witness eagle hunting in-person.
Keep on eye on the calendar for September and October dates, as this is when the festivals are usually held, and be sure to bring along a camera to capture this incredible once in a lifetime experience.
Climb Mount Khuiten, Mongolia’s Highest Mountain
If hiking, climbing, and mountaineering are your most cherished pastimes, then of all the things to do in Western Mongolia, this one should really rock you.
Mount Khuiten, the country’s highest peak, towers at 4,374 meters, peering over the border into China.
Scaling it is no amateur task, as it requires that the climber be in excellent physical shape, accustomed to long climbs, and prepared mentally for the journey.
Along your hike up Mount Khuiten, you’ll spot glaciers, such as Potanin, the country’s largest. Your only human contact will be with the local Kazakh community, where you will be able to observe their culture and traditions.
And as the peak is located on the outskirts of Altai Tavan Bogd National Park, the surrounding landscape views of the Altai Mountain range will take your breath away.
The remoteness of the journey is sure to make you feel like you’re on the edge of the world. Plus, how many people can say they’ve conquered the highest mountain in Mongolia?
Explore Tsenkheriin Agui
Now that you’ve climbed up Mount Khuiten, try exploring beneath the surface. Tsenkheriin Agui, also known as Khoit Tsenkher, is a cave situated near Khovd, and it’s one of the many adventurous things to do in Western Mongolia.
On your descent into the earth, you’ll get to see firsthand Palaeolithic petroglyphs, or ancient drawings and paintings illustrated on the cave walls.
You can go with a tour group or trek the excursion unguided, but either way, don’t miss out on this opportunity while you’re on this side of the world! It is one of those impressive experiences that will make you stop and consider the vastness of human history.
Visit Altai Tavan Bogd National Park
Mongolia’s national parks are scenic, historic, and cherished, and Altai Tavan Bogd National Park in the western region of the country is no exception.
Bordering China, this park is as far west as one can get in Mongolia, and it’s home to many popular attractions and enjoyable activities.
You already know about Mount Khuiten, but in addition to Mongolia’s highest peak, you can also venture around for more outdoor fun.
Head over and see two scenic lakes, Khoton and Khurgan, famous for their reflective surfaces and fishing opportunities.
You can also try camping on their shores for a holistic outdoor experience and epic sunrise over the mountains.
If you missed Tsenkheriin Agui, there’s also petroglyphs to be seen on the mountain of Sheveed Uul in Altai Tavan Bogd.
And if you would much rather hike at your own pace and see what you find, you’ll come across waterfalls, rock formations, unique wildlife, like the Ibex, and plenty of other picture perfect moments.
Learn About Kazakh Culture
Most of these things to do in Western Mongolia fall under the category of adventurous, but don’t forget to get acquainted with the unique culture of your destination.
Experiencing a new way of life can be one of the most rewarding aspects of traveling to a foreign land.
We’ve already been briefly introduced to the Kazakh people through the sport of eagle hunting and exploring Mount Khuiten, but there’s much more to be observed about their ancient history and culture.
With Turkish origins, the Kazakh people reside in Eurasia, and, mainly, western Mongolia. Other than the Golden Eagle Festival, you can get acquainted with their way of life through a visit to Bayan Olgii.
Here, you can take in beautiful Kazakh artwork, traditional music, and unique foods. Exploring the local community will take your trip to Western Mongolia to the next level.
Khovd Aimag Museum
Every adventure needs a rainy day plan! If you can’t get enough of local history and culture, check out the Khovd Aimag Museum. Strolling through the exhibits and observing artwork and artifacts that are dear to the people of the region will help you better connect with your surroundings.
Located in Khovd City, one highlight of this museum is the traditional clothing on display. If you had trouble spotting the cave drawings at Tsenkheriin Agui, there are duplicates here.
Plus, it’s this museum’s team that handled a 1500 year old mummy discovered in 2016, one which appeared to be wearing Adidas shoes. History and current trends certainly come together at Khovd Aimag Museum.
Now that you’ve got a handy, detailed list of things to do in Western Mongolia, it’s time to set out and check this destination off your bucket list.
From mountaineering to exploring a foreign culture, you’ll never get bored, and we know you’re going to have a memorable and rewarding experience.