Posted by Selena Travel / 03 02, 2024
The town of Kharkhorin is a wonderful place for travelers to escape to while visiting Mongolia. Centrally located in the country, Kharkhorin is easily accessible from Ulaanbaatar, the common point of entry for international tourists, but far enough away that you’ll get a true Mongolian countryside experience.
And from the mini Naadam Festival to the ancient ruins of Karakorum, you’ll never be bored out in the province of Uvurkhangai.
There are plenty of things to do in Kharkhorin, and it’s never easy to pick and choose the best activities when you’re new to the area.
So we’ve uncovered the most unique and fun attractions in Kharkhorin to help you have an incredible experience during your visit.
Celebrate the Naadam Festival
The Naadam Festival is a cultural event celebrating Mongolia’s independence from China and featuring three main events for spectators to view: wrestling, horseback riding, and archery.
National Naadam takes place at the National Sports Stadium in Ulaanbaatar from 11 - 13 July every year, and the event comes equipped with a massive crowd of people, making it a difficult task to acquire tickets.
That’s why visiting a mini Naadam Festival is one incredible thing to do in Kharkhorin. All the cultural markers of this event will be present, from the three sports to the ethnic outfits, just on a smaller scale.
And here, the tinier crowd and closer setting will yield a more intimate experience, allowing you to get nearer to the action. Plus, you won’t need tickets, meaning you won’t have to bite your nails worrying over whether or not you’ll be admitted.
The Naadam Festival happens mid-July, so keep an eye out for official announcement dates for Kharkhorin.
Visit the Erdene Zuu Monastery
One of the most popular things to do in Kharkhorin is to explore the village’s ties to ancient history.
Formerly the capital of the Mongol Empire, the village once known as Karakoram now possesses historic sites that recall the country’s past and are an important part of present day culture. One such site is Erdene Zuu Monastery.
Erdene Zuu Monastery is thought to be the country’s first Buddhist monastery, with its doors opening back in 1585.
Under the communist regime, the monastery operated as a museum, but today it’s back to being a place of worship. It is notable for its stunning architecture and its spiritual and cultural significance in Mongolian history.
You can take tours to visit Erdene Zuu Monastery, but, as it has resumed its status as an active spiritual site, please be respectful of those there to worship.
Spend an Afternoon at Karakorum Museum
If you simply can’t get enough of Kharkhorin history, then spending an afternoon at Karakorum Museum is sure to satisfy your need for more information. Here, you can learn more about what Kharkhorin was like back when it was Karakorum, the capital of the Mongol Empire.
You will be able to examine ancient artifacts recovered from archaeological digs nearby, check out a replica of the ancient village itself, gaze at artwork, and see more cultural and historical markers.
Some tours will include both admittance to Erdene Zuu Monastery and a ticket to the Karakorum Museum wrapped up together in one awesome package. Otherwise, the museum is open daily, with less hours during the winter.
It is easily accessible from most Kharkhorin accommodations, making it a convenient stop during your stay in this countryside village.
Stay in a Ger Camp
Ger camps are one of our favorite things for fully immersing yourself in the Mongolian way of life. On the outside, a ger looks like a simple little round home comprised of canvas held up by latticework, which it actually is.
But inside this circular structure, you’ll have a comfy bed, quaint furniture, cooking facilities, heating, and a proper bathroom.
Camps typically also have a restaurant on site and a shop. So you’ll enjoy all the amenities you would in a hotel or guesthouse, but with the added appeal of a cultural experience.
Kharkhorin has some options in the ger camp department. A few you can check out are Munkh Tenger Ger Camp, Anar Ger Camp, or Gaya’s Guesthouse. And in addition to just being a really cool accommodation for your trip to Mongolia, one of the best things about ger camps is the insider knowledge you’ll get from the owners.
No matter which ger camp you choose to stay at, you can always ask for tips or get help booking tours and other attractions.
Explore Further in Orkhon Valley
Nearby to Kharkhorin is the Orkhon Valley Natural and Historical Reserve. A visit here is a wonderful thing to do in Kharkhorin. It’s got the picturesque Ulaan Tsutgalan waterfall, the winding Orkhon River, and scenic landscapes all around.
Escaping here for a day is one way to get more acquainted with the Mongolian countryside, to meet its rolling hills, unique wildlife, and nomadic people.
To explore more of Orkhon Valley, you can take horseback riding tours. Or you can travel out to the Orkhon Valley Natural and Historical Reserve and hike around to take in the sites. Either way, you’ll love delving deeper into the countryside from Kharkhorin.
Stop at Khustain Nuruu National Park
On your journey between Ulaanbaatar and Kharkhorin, make time to stop on the way at Khustain Nuruu National Park. Also known as Hustai National Park, this area boasts some unique plant and wildlife.
The golden eagle is a favorite for tourists to seek out, but probably the most popular animal in the park is the Takhi wild horse.
This endangered species can only be found in a handful of locations in the world, with Khustain Nuruu National Park being one of them.
This is a stop best arranged if you have the freedom of your own vehicle. It’s a natural stop if you’re headed from Ulaanbaatar to Kharkhorin, or vice versa. It will be a bit difficult to execute this trip if you don’t have your own means of transportation.
There you have it! This handy list of things to do in Kharkhorin will be a wonderful reference for you during your travels to Mongolia. Have an amazing time!