Selena Travel

Naadam Festival and the Gobi Desert tour 2023

Naadam Festival opening ceremony | wrestling first round | Naadam Festival and Gobi Desert Tour


Tour grade: Easy

Style: Traveller

From: US$ 2,240
  • The Great Naadam Festival - UNESCO World Cultural Heritage
  • Gobi Desert experience
  • Ride two-humped Bactrian camels on sand dunes
  • Flaming Cliffs, also known as the ancient cradle of dinosaurs
  • Authentic cultural experience with real nomadic families
  • Staying at Mongolian Traditional Ger/Yurt
  • Meet people and make friends! You will be part of a group of 4-8 people during the tour as it is a group departure.

Tour Overview

  • Traveling overland in safari style, you will visit the vast expanses of the Gobi Desert, where a three-day circuit explores the lofty sand dunes of Khongoriin Els, the glacial canyon of Yolyn Am, and the red cliffs of Bayanzag, where the world’s richest deposits of dinosaur fossils are found. Every day, we travel to new places for new attractions and adventures, such as gentle hiking in the wilderness, paying a visit to local nomadic families, riding horses in vast steppe and riding camels in the Gobi Desert.
  • One of the highlights of this tour is attending the exciting “Great Naadam Festival of the Mongols” that the nomads have cherished for thousands of years. Naadam Festival originates from the era of the Hunnu state, the first nomadic state in Central Asia and the ancestors of the Mongols. The Festival is comprised of the world’s second old Olympic Games “Three Sports of Men” namely Archery, Horse racing, and Wrestling.

Tour map

Naadam festival and gobi desert tour map  | tour map Mongolia Naadam festival & Gobi desert tour

Brief itinerary

  • Day 1: Jul 06. Arrival in Ulaanbaatar
  • Day 2: Jul 07. the Gobi Desert - The Flaming Cliffs / Bayanzag
  • Day 3: Jul 08. Khongor Sand Dunes
  • Day 4: Jul 09. Yoliin Am Gorge aka Lammergeier Gorge
  • Day 5: Jul 10. Ulaanbaatar city
  • Day 6: Jul 11. Naadam Festival Day : Opening Ceremony
  • Day 7: Jul 12. Horse racing of the Naadam festival
  • Day 8: Jul 13. Departure from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
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Tour images

Full Itinerary

Day 1:

Jul 06. Arrival in Ulaanbaatar

You will meet your tour guide and driver at the airport after custom formalities. Transfer to the hotel and check-in. The city tour of Ulaanbaatar takes you through some of the principal sights of this unique city. You visit the Gandan Monastery, the Genghis Khan Monument on Sukhbaatar square, and the Museum of National History. Welcome dinner at Mongolian Restaurant.  



  • Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar Hotel 4* or similar /standard check-in time is 2 pm/

Meals Included

  • Dinner

Day 2:

Jul 07. the Gobi Desert - The Flaming Cliffs/ Bayanzag

Today you will take a local flight to south gobi for about one and a half hours. Upon our arrival, you will be greeted by the local tour guide and driver. Then lead your way to the Bayanzag- the Flaming Cliffs. Enjoy the wilderness and unique natural formations. Transfer to a ger camp. Lunch, and enjoy hiking around beautiful Flaming Cliffs and walking in the rich saxaul forest. Moreover, we will visit the Khavtsgait Petroglyphic Complex. The Flaming Cliffs are known to be one of the best places in the Gobi Desert to see the sunrise/sunset as well as the night stars.   



  • Gobi Tour ger camp or similar

Meals Included

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch 
  • Dinner

Day 3:

Jul 08. Khongor Sand Dunes

Today we drive to the Khongor sand dunes – Mongolia’s longest and most beautiful sand dunes that stretch over 180km in the arid Gobi Desert. The drive to the dunes at Khongoriin takes some 3-4 hours from ger camp, passing through vast desert badlands that span out into the furthest distances, where remote mountains line the horizon. Lone gers and nomads on camelback hang suspended in the mirages, whilst the desert floor is strewn with a range of colorful rocks and unusual minerals. This is the Gobi at its stark best - there are many opportunities to stop and take photographs of the landscapes and people. Visit the sand dunes and enjoy a short camel ride at a nomadic camel breeder’s family. Enjoy your stay at the ger camp nearby. 



  • Gobi-Erdene ger camp or similar

Meals Included

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch 
  • Dinner

Day 4:

Jul 09. Yoliin Am Gorge aka Lammergeier Gorge

On this day, we will drive to Yolyn Am Gorge in the “Three Beauty” national park. Upon arrival, we will do 2 hours of gentle hiking in the valley while watching wildlife including pika, other bird species, and plants with a picnic lunch. Enjoy optional horse riding around the national park. In the early evening, we will transfer to the ger camp and rest.



  • Khanbogd ger camp or similar

Meals Included

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch 
  • Dinner

Day 5:

Jul 10. Ulaanbaatar city

Today, we will take a local flight back to Ulaanbaatar. Upon our arrival, we will visit the Giant Chinggis Equestrian monument which is the tallest equestrian statue in the world and one of the must-see things in Mongolia. Lunch at the local restaurant. After lunch, check into the hotel then there is free time for you in the afternoon to do some souvenir and cashmere shopping if you wish or simply rest at your hotel. Rest and prepare for the Great Festival of the next day. This is a lifetime experience indeed and everyone wants to take part in it. The Mongols have the saying “If you be healthy, you will see the Naadam”. In the early evening, enjoy a traditional folklore concert from the magical Tumen Ekh ensemble.



  • Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar Hotel 4* or similar

Meals Included

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch 

Day 6:

Jul 11. Naadam Festival Day : Opening Ceremony

See the fantastic Grand opening ceremony of the Naadam festival that consists of a colorful parade, lots of music and dances, as well as a speech by the President of Mongolia. Then in the Central Stadium, you will watch the first round of Wrestling, and then the Naadam Archery and Ankle bone shooting competitions held nearby the Central Stadium. Then we visit the Bogd Khaan’s Palace Museum – the residence of the last king of Mongolia and the Buddha Park. Meals at restaurants and hotel overnight.


PS: You may join a big group for the Naadam festival. Because Naadam organizers had never given us our booked tickets and permission for the vehicle in 100%. If we don't have enough permission (only vehicles with permission can stay around Naadam stadium & horse racing field), you will be asked to join for bigger group during the festival between Jul 11 to 12. 



  • Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar Hotel 4* or similar

Meals Included

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch 
  • Dinner

Day 7:

Jul 12. Horse racing of the Naadam festival

Early in the morning, we’ll drive to Khui Doloon Hudag field for the horse racing competition. You will be able to see the horse racing near the stop line with locals. After the horse race, we will drive to Ulaanbaatar and visit the newly opened Chinggis Khaan Museum and then visit The Central Museum of Mongolian Dinosaurs. Enjoy farewell dinner and transfer to your hotel.



  • Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar Hotel 4* or similar

Meals Included

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch 
  • Dinner

Day 8:

Jul 13. Departure from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

You are transferred to the airport after breakfast and checkout from your hotel (standard checkout time applies, 12 pm), and say goodbye to Mongolia. 


Meals Included

  • Breakfast

Date & Price

Tour Dates 2023:

July 6-13


If you would arrange a private or customized tour just click the "Customize this tour" button at the bottom of the page. One of our travel advisors will get back to you shortly regarding your booking.


Tour Price:

Pax 4-12 US$ 2240 per person
Single supplement charge US$ 300 




Included Services

  • Full-time services of your English speaking local guide(s) throughout the tour
  • Sightseeing and entrance fees according to the itinerary
  • Private transfers (4WD Japanese minivan in the Gobi & Van/ bus in Ulaanbaatar during festival)
  • Airport transfers
  • Twin/double share at good 4* hotel – 4 nights
  • Twin/double share at tourist ger camps - 3 nights
  • Gobi- ULN RT flight ticket + tax (10+5kg free including carry on)
  • Meals as listed (B-breakfast, L-lunch, D-dinner)
  • 1 hour of camel riding fee in Gobi
  • Naadam Festival tickets and arrangements
  • 0.5 l x 3 bottled water per day
  • Visa support invitation letter where applicable
  • Exclusive Naadam and Gobi desert tour souvenir!

Not Included in the Service

  • International Airfare/train tickets + Tax
  • Travel insurance & Visa fees
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks, camera or video fees at any sites etc. 
  • Tips for your guide and driver (discretionary).
  • Optional activities: horse riding, archery, & camel riding etc.


  • For children of a family (0 – 3 years old) is 100% free of charge
  • For children of a family (4 – 12 years old) is 40% free of charge
  • Discount for courier bringing min 3 pax
  • More attractive prices for groups of 12 and more people!
  • 1 free space for every 16 PAX 


Tour Background

Accommodation on Selena Travel tours 
Ulaanbaatar: Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia has many hotels ranging from basic 1* to high-end 5*. Some international hotel chains have opened such as Kempinski, Ramada, and Best Western to name a few. Some of Selena Travel Mongolia tours do not include hotel accommodation in Ulaanbaatar, where clients are advised to take care of their own accommodation in Ulaanbaatar. Please refer to your tour program (Included services and Exclusions section) for more details. 
Your Selena Travel advisor is happy to assist you with hotel booking on your request. Below you will find some suggested hotels in Ulaanbaatar:  
  • Best Western Gobi Kelso ***
  • Springs hotel ***
  • Ramada hotel ****
  • Kempinski Khan Palace ****
  • Best Western Premier *****

Outside Ulaanbaatar: Please take in mind that traveling in the countryside of Mongolia is often tough, a trip is conducted in remote areas where there’s no hotel and paved roads exist.

Outside of Ulaanbaatar, tourist Ger camps are the best accommodation for travelers. A Ger is Mongolian traditional dwelling made of felt layers and wooden construction, and the Mongols have lived in Gers since the time immemorial. Tourist Ger camps offer comfortable Gers with 1-4 beds with good bedding, and also have western style showers and WCs (mostly shared). A few Ger camps offer en-suite Gers at additional charge (please ask your Selena Travel advisor for this). Due to remoteness some tourist Ger camps may not excel in service, so travelers may not always expect high pressure showers, bubble baths or gourmet food etc. 
Food on Selena Travel tours 
During your tour in Mongolia you will be eating in good restaurants in Ulaanbaatar, we have a great variety in restaurants in the capital city. Once you are outside the capital, Ger restaurants in Ger camps and local cafes in the small towns and villages will be the places where you will be eating. Ger restaurants often have set menu, but their food is usually very good (Ger camps provide mostly continental breakfast, lunches consist of salad, soup, main course and dessert, whilst, dinners are usually salad, main course and dessert).
During your longer driving days you will take packed lunch from Ger camps (often vegetable salad, main course such as fried chicken/noodles/dumplings and a chocolate bar etc). Vegetarians are well taken care of both in Ulaanbaatar restaurants and tourist Ger camps.
Luggage allowance on Selena Travel tours 
When you travelling overland in a vehicle (minivan & jeep), it would be suitable if you have 20kg luggage per person (max). However, please kindly note that domestic flight luggage allowance per person is 15 kg (10 kg for the check in luggage and 5 for the carry on luggage). For 1kg extra luggage you pay US$2 - 5. 



The Naadam festival is the biggest and most joyful celebration of the Mongols. It takes place on the 11-12th July annually. 

Why to take a Naadam festival tour? Naadam festival tour includes the Mongolia Great Naadam Festival Holiday that takes place in mid July once a year. Naadam festival tours are the highlight of Mongolia and the Naadam festival itself is a fantastic event. We invite you to our Naadam festival trips in Mongolia. 
More info about Naadam festival: Mongolian Naadam Festival is the highlight of all these festivals and events that this country holds. The Naadam festival is held in mid July annually and the Mongols show off with this festival. The Naadam festival, or eriyn gurvan nadaam, is the biggest festival of the year for Mongolians. Usually occurring in July, it runs for three days in all parts of the country and highlights the greatest athletes in horse racing, archery, and wrestling: Mongolia's most popular sports. During the festival women participate in all but the wrestling category. The word Nadaam means game or competition in Mongolian. Competitions take place days on the first two and merry-making is reserved for the third.
The Naadam festival has been held for centuries as a form of memorial celebration, as an annual sacrificial ritual honoring various mountain gods or to celebrate a community endeavor. The festivities kick off with a colorful parade of athletes, monks, soldiers marching in perfect uniformity, musicians performing powerful military tunes, and Mongolians dressed in Chinggis-style warrior uniforms. It is the most widely watched festival in the country, and is believed to have existed for centuries in one fashion or another.
The Great Naadam festival is lots of music, dances and sports and very colorful. Naadam festival's competitions were originally called "the three manly sports" and, thus, restricted to men. But over time, and under the influence of the former communist rulers' insistence on female equality, the horse races and archery were opened to all comers. Only wrestling remains a "manly sport". The best parts of the Naadam festival are the Naadam festival opening ceremony, Mongolian wrestling, Traditional Mongolian archery and Mongolian horse racing. Naadam wrestling, archery and horse racing are very famous as hundreds of participants participate in them.
The Mongols wear their colorful clothes on the Great Naadam Festival day and go to the Naadam stadium to take part in it. Selena Travel organizes wonderful Naadam festival tours and we invite you to spend your holiday in Mongolia taking one of our Naadam festival trip. Travel to Mongolia and see Great Naadam festival of Mongolia!
The Gobi Desert
The Gobi desert is the most mysterious place on earth The Gobi invites you to reveal its secrets. This region is famous for its unique natural formations, many places where you can dig and find real dinosaur fossils, flora and fauna not found anywhere else in the world. Ride the 2 humped Bactrian camels and discover the Gobi!
Bayanzag (Flaming Cliffs) is internationally famous for its fossilized dinosaur remains. Dinosaur nests with eggs were found here as well as whole fossilized skeletons.
The Khongoriin Els sand dunes extend along the northern side of Sevrei and Zuulun mountain ranges. These dunes are 180 km long, 15-20 km wide and up to 200m high. There is a small oasis near Khongoriin gol stream, which flows along the northern edge of the dunes. The scenery here is simply spectacular.
Yoliin Am (Vulture's Gorge) is a narrow valley located in the Zuun Saikhan Mountain range, with thick pieces of ice almost all year around hidden in its depths. This area is home to rare animals such as the Argali (wild sheep) and Ibex as well as Vultures and other large birds. 

Tour Map

Tour Reviews

Aug 10, 2012. Gobi & Karakorum Explorer tour Our recent "The Gobi & Karakorum Explorer" tour with you was excellent, everything exceeded our expectations! It was a super trip in our lives and we loved our Mongolia holiday so much. Our guide Joe was kind, well organised, accurate and informative, polite and caring and always provided us with timely information. And our driver Jack is super, very friendly, professional and always on time. We are wild travelers, having been to many places in the world - but Mongolia is still truly unspoiled and uncontaminated. Selena Travel's services were perfect right from the very first email. We would like to thank Selena Travel, our guide and our driver for having made this Mongolia experience a truly beautiful one with so many wonderful memories.

Rafaella, Benedetta, Lidia

Sending you some of our nicer pictures. Some are chosen for their beautiful scenery while the rest are just us happily playing and goofing around. There are a couple of shots of us doing some Mongolian wrestling, as suggested by Oyuna since we missed out on the mini-Naadam festival. She said since we missed it, we might as well organise our own festival by playing some Mongolian games. Haha... We had so much fun playing those games!!! :)OK, I hope you like the pictures we send you. Best regards to everyone at Selena Travel and thank you once again for all your assistance.

Margaret Suganda

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