Posted by Selena Travel / 03 02, 2024
A little wilder, greener, and more densely forested than the usual treks around Central Mongolia; the Northern provinces are a great destination. You can see eagles bigger than your pet dog, pristine lakes and even stay in a teepee.
Many of these destinations are not too far away from Ulaanbaatar, making them a little easier to plan for your travels to Mongolia.
Situated in a province named after the lake, Lake Khuvsgul is truly a treasure of Mongolia. With a variety of activities in all seasons, you won’t be bored. However, the nature surrounding you is deeply relaxing. Whether it’s hiking, or taking a ferry ride, or a bike ride, the summer is a great time to visit.
There’s also a winter Ice Festival. You can watch games on the frozen lake, and walk all the way to the northern end of the lake. When you come back, you can warm up with a wood fire in a cozy ger.
There are many ger camps and even teepees to stay in. There are a number of camps in the largest town, Khatgal. There are also camps that line the lakeshore. Mosquitos can be an issue, so pack your bug spray. However, once you see the night sky filled with stars over the lake, you’ll be glad you came.
This is one of the three largest monasteries located in Mongolia. The name means “monastery of tranquil felicity”, and its scenic buildings and location will bring you joy too. The monastery is almost 300 years old, and managed to survive the Communist purges, though it did not escape unscathed. After the overzealous destruction of much of Mongolia’s Tibetan Buddhist history, only a few central buildings from the original 40 were left. It was a blow to the Buddhist community.
There has been steady reconstruction since 1988, though. UNESCO has contributed money to help rebuild some of the buildings in the monastery, and Indian NGOs have donated statues as well. The monastery happens to be the final resting place of Zanabazar, the renaissance monk that helped create a lot of Mongolia’s Buddhist art. The monastery, or Khiid, is about 60 km northeast of Erdenet. Go and enjoy this part of Mongolia’s cultural history, and be taken in by the charm of this place.
Take a trip to the less populated eastern side of Lake Khuvsgul to the picturesque village of Chandman Ondor. The village is tucked between tree-lined mountains, larch to be exact. You won’t find the typical ger resort here, it’s nearly all log cabins. This is part of the stretches of the taiga that extends all over Russia. The forest is home to many animals, and provides some great bird watching and hiking.
Photo credit @TUGULphotographer
The village can be challenging to get to, but getting there is your reward. Taking a horse tour is particularly fun. When you get to the village, you can enjoy alpine meadows and wildflowers. The crystal-clear streams offer good fishing as well.
Erdenet is an interesting city with a unique feel to it. This mining town separated from the rest of Bulgan province. Its economy has been fueled by mining and strongly supported by the Russians. The city feels like a combination of a Mongolian and Russian city, and for a long time there were many Russians living there.
Don’t let that scare you though. This bustling little city in Northern Mongolia offers some of the best dining in the area. There are a number of quality restaurants including a Modern Nomads, a Korean restaurant called Arirang, and even a pizza place! There’s also a ger camp that offers extreme activities, Extreme Mongolia. There you can zip line, paraglide, ride an ATV, do rock climbing and more.
Another valley located in Khuvsgul province, this one is relatively remote and inaccessible. West of Lake Khuvsgul, the Darkhad Valley is one of the least populated areas outside of the Gobi. You will not be disturbed here. However, there is the annual Darkhad Valley ride, which is documented in the movie Darkhad Valley. This ride brings motorcycles to the park rangers who help protect the natural beauty of the region.
The Darkhad Valley is also home to the Tsaatan, or reindeer people. They are able to continue their traditional style of life in this secluded and beautiful valley. Mountains and rugged terrain mean this won’t be an easy trip, but it will be rewarding. It also has a high number of traditional shamans as well.
In the end, wa are happy to share Robbie Frederick's video, one of our clients who had travel with us. This amazing video takes a visual deep dive into what travelers can see, hear, and experience on Selena Travel Mongolia’s iconic tour, Journey Through Northern Mongolia:
Plus: Here are three ways to explore Northern Mongolia: