We tried to travel to the Orkhon waterfall that first summer I visited Mongolia. It seemed a short distance from Karakorum and we asked about swapping out the customary visit to the Erdene Zuu Monastery for a day trip to the waterfall. However, our guide and driver were quick to say that this was not a possibility as the road to the waterfall was, in their words, “a very bad road.”
Beyond your Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, or other travel guidebooks you might want to spend some time reading, listening, or watching various media about Mongolia. Part of the fun, for me, in travel is the research, planning, and anticipation that precedes the actual trip. This list is not exhaustive! There are plenty of resources out there, these are simply some that I can personally recommend.
Mongolia offers some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes that a person could hope to experience--desert, steppe, rivers and lakes, taiga forest, and mountains. However, travel within Mongolia is not at all what one might assume it to be. When I initially came as a tourist, I came with far too many assumptions and mis-expectations. In the hopes of better preparing future visitors, I’d like to share a few insider tips and observations to ease your travel and make your preparations more intentional.
I’ve traveled through more than half of Mongolia’s 21 aimags (provinces) and while I’ve seen much, in many ways I’ve only scratched the surface of this vast and extraordinary country (19th largest in the world by area, but also the most sparsely populated). Of all the places I’ve visited there is one that I wish I had the time to return to--Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur, or the Great White Lake.
A trip to Mongolia is not complete without a visit to the Gobi Desert. As travel in Mongolia includes a lot of time in a vehicle, my father and I chose to fly from Ulaanbaatar to Dalanzadgad (capital of South Gobi aimag or province) when we visited the Gobi.
There was something in my father’s pictures that called me to Mongolia. The horizon in the distance, the openness of the steppe, the wildness of the nature. In 2010 we hatched a plan to travel to Mongolia together--it would be his second trip, my first. In 2014 we spent three weeks traveling around Mongolia (and I’ve since spent 3 years living and traveling in the country). While we journeyed many miles and visited numerous sites, it was our time spent in Khustai Nuruu National Park that made my initial dream--to put my hiking boots on the great Eurasian steppe--feel complete.
Never underestimate the importance of where you stay when you’re on the road. It’s much more than a place to crash for the night between your daytime adventures - accommodations can either make or break your trip. If you’re headed to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital city, for a vacation, you’ll be glad to know that there’s a range of styles and prices for accommodations, making it easier for you to find the right place that fits your needs. But with so many options, it can be hard to weed out the best ones. So we’ve done the research for you and made a list of the best accommodation to stay in Ulaanbaatar. Read on to see our picks!
If you are planning a trip to Mongolia, you must be looking forward to having adventures in the Gobi Desert, exploring ancient history at the Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue Complex, and observing traditional Mongolian customs, like eagle hunting. But, while you are traveling in this delightful country bordered by China and Russia, do not skimp out on your meals! Food can be just as much of a cultural experience as going to a museum or taking an adventure tour in the countryside. It gives you a taste of ethnic cuisine and allows you the opportunity to interact with the local community. Knowing what food you need to try in Mongolia is tough if you’ve never visited the country, so, we have done all the taste testing for you. Below is a list of the food you need to try in Mongolia!
You are counting down the days until you leave for Mongolia, and it is finally time to start packing. Whether you are traveling in winter or in summer, in Ulaanbaatar or in the countryside, there is a lot that you will need. You definitely shouldn’t wait until the last minute to get started, but if you have, we’ve put together the perfect packing list for Mongolia to make sure you don’t leave any important items behind. Of course, versatile clothing for varying temperatures, comfortable walking shoes, and personal toiletries are a must no matter where you go. But what items are unique to traveling in Mongolia? We’ve figured it out for you. Here is the perfect packing list for Mongolia!
The Naadam Festival is a national event in Mongolia showcasing excellence in the three games of the country: archery, wrestling, and horse riding. The origins of the festival date back hundreds of years to the ancient times of Genghis Khan, and, today, it’s celebrated across the nation every July to mark Mongolia’s independence from China. As Mongolia's premier holiday, the Naadam Festival attracts tourists curious about the nation’s history and culture. And since it’s so widely celebrated, it can be hard to pinpoint the top spots to take in the event. So, we’ve compiled a list of the best places to see the Naadam Festival in Mongolia for your reference as you plan your adventure to China’s northern neighbor.
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