Mongolia, the land of the big blue sky and certainly off the beaten track of the usual vacation spots. Mongolia, the land of Chinggis Khan (the correct way to say Genghis Khan), may not be one of the most developed or well-traveled countries of the world, but it still has much to offer to the intrepid traveler.
Things You Need To Know Before You Travel To Mongolia
Now, I would not recommend Travel to Mongolia to the faint hearted who enjoys high end hotels, and easy access to tourist destinations. However if you don’t mind roughing it a bit, and enjoy the great outdoors, then Mongolia is the place for you.
A vacation to Mongolia is going to take more time, and be a little more involved than a typical Asian getaway and I recommend blocking off at least 10 days for your trip.
This is a necessity as very few airlines, (MIAT (Air Mongolia), Air China, and Korean Air) offer flights to Mongolia from only a few locations. Thus it can take up to two days simply to travel to Ulaanbaatar (Capital of Mongolia).The airport is very small, but serviceable, and it won’t take you too long to navigate through customs and the baggage claim.
A word of advice, try to arrange the taxi to your hotel before you arrive, because while it will be easy to get a taxi at the airport you will more than likely be over charged a bit. Chin is a guide I have used twice in the past (once for a countryside tour, and once for a city tour) and I have found him to be very knowledgeable and his English is excellent. I recommend him to anyone looking to explore
Since you have taken the time to come all the way to Mongolia, I would take the time to see the sights around Ulaanbaatar. There are not that many, so I would not allocate more than a day to this task.
Sukhbaatar Square- Ulaanbaatar
The heart of the city and the location of the Mongolian Parliament building
Winter Palace of Bogd Khan
This was the palace of the final king of Mongolia, and also its first museum. A little run down, but it does have a nice selection of artifacts. It can be found on the way to Zaisan from Sukhbaatar Square.
It is a bit of a climb to get to the top, but it is worth it for the view. I also recommend having lunch or dinner at the Zaisan Gate hotel located at the bottom of the hill.
Half way up
It was the only Buddhist monastery allowed to remain after the purges by the Soviets and communist government of Mongolia in the 1930s.
National Museum of Mongolia
National Museum of Mongolia – The museum’s exhibits are arranged in such a way to give you a step by step run down of Mongolian history from its prehistoric past to the present day.
Real Reason – Countryside
Now the real reason you came to Mongolia is to see the countryside. Any traveler who makes his or her way to Mongolia and does not explore the countryside is simply wasting their time and money. The easiest way to explore the countryside is to hire a driver or join a group tour that is heading to the countryside. While it is possible to rent a car, it is much easier and cheaper to hire a car and driver. Not to mention with the state of the roads in Mongolia, it’s next to impossible to figure out where you are going sometimes. Um where am I going again? – It is worth it even if just for the fantastic views of the night sky with no clouds and zero light pollution.
Terelj National Park
Terelj National Park is a short 90 minute drive from Ulaanbaatar, and offers all of the outdoor activities you can ask for, hiking, biking, camping, and even horseback riding.
Chinggis Khan Statue
Chinggis Khan Statue– It is located near Terelj National Park, and several tourist companies offer horseback riding tours from the statue to the park. The statue has a small but well run museum located in the base with a variety of artifacts. Yes the horses are tiny, but they are quite powerful, and well behaved. It was more than up to the task of dragging the big American around the countryside.
Gobi Desert, Mongolia
Gobi desert– A highlight of Mongolia for sure but it is not located close to Ulaanbaatar so an in country flight or a multi day car ride is needed to reach it.There are a number of companies offering a wide variety of countryside tours, and here is one that I have used in the past (http://mongoliansecrethistory.mn)I was on their Tsagaan Sar (Lunar Moon) holiday trip and found it to be very well run, and feel comfortable recommending any of their tours.
PS – Google translate doesn’t work on Mongolian so here are a few words (spelled phonetically)
Sen ben no – Formal hello
Sen no – Informal hello
Bi cla – Thank you
Air rag – Fermented mare’s milk (not recommended)
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