Selena Travel

5 Most Popular Tourist Attractions in Mongolia

Posted by Selena Travel / 06 15, 2024

Mongolia is a country filled with gorgeous sites and memorable adventures. From dry deserts to snow capped peaks, and historical museums to cultural interactions, there’s so much to see and do while visiting here that will help you grow as a traveler and as a person.

It helps to know the best attractions in Mongolia before you plan your trip. That way, you can be sure you’re hitting all the right marks on your journey, and you can come prepared for the activities.

So, here are the five best tourist attractions in Mongolia and what there is to do there.

1. Gobi Desert

The world famous Gobi Desert, one of the coldest in the world, is also one of the largest. Spanning four provinces in Mongolia and two of the largest in China, the desert is home to many unique creatures. There’s domestic and wild camels, two distinct species, and a number of rams and wild sheep.

While visiting the Gobi Desert, you can watch scientists search for fossils, and if you find one you may get to name it! You can visit some of the ancient Silk Road cities, and see some amazing geological features.

One of the coolest experiences is sleeping in a ger, while watching the stars come out at night. There are a number of reasons why the Gobi is famous, you should see it yourself!

2. Naadam festival

This “Mongolian Olympics” is a showcase of skill and talent for three traditional sports. Competitors see who in all of Mongolia is best at archery, horseback riding, and wrestling. Each sport has a unique Mongolian aspect to it.

The archery style can vary on which ethnic group is shooting, but the distances are farther than in Olympic shooting. There are usually piles of targets lying on the ground, and so long as a competitor knocks one of them off, they get a point. The wrestling has no weight or age classes, and no time limit. It’s a little like sumo, in that you have to wrestle your opponent to the ground, but matches can take hours to finish as each wrestler tries to gain an advantage.

The horseback racing is performed by children, as they are the lightest jockeys. Since many have been riding since they were 3 years old, they are quite capable with driving horses over the open steppe.

The games date back to before the time of Chinggis Khan. They were used to see which warriors were best, and to train troops to prepare to conquer. Naadam is celebrate in the middle of July in the capital, but there are countryside Naadams that you can see if you can’t get a hold of a coveted ticket in Ulaanbaatar. 

3. Monasteries

Mongolia has a long history of practicing Tibetan Buddhism. The religion came in waves, but the last one was in the 18th and 19th centuries, when many of the surviving monasteries were built. Visiting them, you can easily start to experience the calm and meditative state of monks, and some places even offer meditation services. In Ulaanbaatar alone, there are several pleasant monasteries, but the Gandan Monastery looms over them all. It’s the largest in the country, and hold the largest indoor statue in the world.

Amarbayasgalant is another monastery in the north of the country. There, you can pay respect to Zanabazar, a monk whose artistic vision led the way to a Mongolian cultural renaissance.

Unfortunately the vast majority of monasteries were destroyed during Mongolia’s time under Communism. Many monks were killed and monasteries destroyed in pursuit of the Communist utopia. The surviving monasteries have either been maintained through time as museums of the pas, or rebuilt after religious restrictions loosened.

4. Horseback riding

Whether you’re a seasoned rider, or someone getting on a horse for the first time – Mongolia is an epic place to ride a horse. There are many options throughout the country. Mongolians love their horses, and keeping herds of horses has become something of a status symbol for wealthy Mongolians. There are numerous references to it in their culture, particularly the horse-head fiddle.

Herders don’t use them as much as they used to, though you can occasionally see horses in the capital. Almost any ger camp can arrange some horseback riding with enough warning. Of course, some provide more than others; kids famously race bareback. The experience of it is unlike any other. You can ride out on the steppe and feel truly connected to the culture. You can easily set up multi-day tours, or just take one out for an hour long excursion.

5. Staying in a Ger

These traditional homes are one of the coolest parts of Mongolian life. They are made to suit the ancient nomadic lifestyle. They can be set up in a couple of hours, taken down in a couple of hours, and fit on a couple of ox-drawn carts to take with you to your season’s grazing grounds.

While the nomadic lifestyle is still thriving, you will also see more stationary gers in cities and towns. There’s a lot of symbolism in the way gers are traditionally set up. There’s a male and female side, and the stove in the center is deeply important to a family. The roof forms an eye to see the eternal blue sky as well.

Staying in a ger is the best way to experience Mongolian culture. There are a variety of gers, from simple ones with the bare necessities, to luxurious ones with heated floors, lovely linens and wall mounted windows. You will get the true Mongolian experience staying in one, and they are suitable for all seasons – nothing is quite like a toasty ger in the winter!

I hope you decide to visit Mongolia and see at least these five travel attractions. They are unique and quite charming. There are many more cool things about Mongolia, but the best way to experience them is to experience them yourself!.

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