Wide, empty landscape, stunning rolling hills and grasslands. Natural lakes and rivers, beautiful horses, ancient dinosaur fossils in Gobi desert and of course warm and hospitable people. Also known as „The land of blue sky“, Mongolia is a true undiscovered paradise for backpackers. 1.6 million km2 free campground. Where ever you go you will experience the way of life of true Mongolians and their traditions.
Activities- where to go
Ulaanbaatar is the best place to start your journey in Mongolia. All the main tourist sights are close to each other, so you can walk to visit Ganda Pagoda, Sukhbaatar Square, Dinosaur museum, Bogd Khan’s Summer Palace etc. You can also book all your travel destinations, tours and guides here.
2. Gobi desert
Gobi Desert is one of the five largest deserts in the world and is the biggest desert in Asia. Gobi is also one of the coldest deserts in the world. In winter, it is shrouded in thick fog and the mountain tops are covered in snow. The temperature can drops under -30°C. It is warmer in summer. A distinctive feature of the Gobi Desert is rapid changes of temperature, creating different seasons within a single day.
3. Dukha Reindeer Herds
It will take about 3 days hopping on a horse from Khovsgol National Park to Dukha Reindeer Herdes of Taiga in northern Mongolia (also known as Tsatsaan). It is also possible to access by van.
Dukha Reindeer Herds are the last surviving reindeer herders in the country and they are disappearing fast. Be sure to go with a reputable guide to ensure minimum impact on this sensitive and dying culture. A trip to the Taiga is real cultural experience and will likely be a highlight of your trip.
4. Olgii. Golden Eagle Festival
The Eagle Festival takes place in the first week of October. The festival takes place in an open area that is very windy and if you do not dress properly you will be miserable. The Eagle Festival is a tournament of falconers who hunt with trained eagles. Once a year they gather together from their home villages to mesure their skills. There are all ages of competitors, but according to the tradition no girl or woman can participate.
You haven’t been in Mongolia, if you haven’t done horse riding. There are many different options and routes for that. If you really love horseback riding you can make a week long tour and discover Gobi desert, Khovsgol National Park or other beautiful destinations in Mongolia. You can also make shorter day trips to see this wonderful landscape.
NB! If you have never done horseback riding, then make sure you ask how it’s done before you start your journey. Don’t expect them to teach you. For Mongolian people it’s like inborn skill. Children probably learn horseback riding before they start walking. So make sure you ask them to teach you before you go.
The accommodation in Mongolia includes hotels, motels, ger camps, guest houses and B&B. There are also few couchsurfing options in Ulaanbaatar. In capital there are many options that are nice and clean and where people can speak English. Hotel room rates start from 50€/per night and you can find nice guesthouses starting from 10€/per night. There are fewer options in rural areas and smaller citys. In countryside hotel prices start from 20€. It’s more common to stay in ger camps. Ger is Mongolian traditional small house made of wooden construction and felt layers. Mongolians are very happy to share their traditional houses with travellers to make your trip unforgettably beautiful.
You can enter Mongolia either by plane or train. Mongolia has the world famous Trans-Siberian railway running across the country. So more adventurous people can take the legendary train to enter the country. The most popular way to travel inside the country is renting a van. Very often it comes with the guide, if you are lucky he can speak some English. If you prefere to travel like a local, there is a big Dragon bus terminal in Ulaanbaatar where you can catch busses to all over the Mongolia. Expect to pay 1€/per 100km. Because of the poor infrastructure and old busses that needs some repairing stops during the ride, take into account that it will take some time to get to your destination.
1. Staying with a local host family
Mongols are one of the most hospitable nation I have ever met. Hostin is a deep part of their culture and more like a honour for them. They have very simple homes but you should follow certan rules when you enter a ger. For example family lives on the right side of the ger and it is a little personal space for them. You shouldn’t sit there unless they ask you to do so. Left side of the ger is for guests and you are very welcome to make yourself at home there. Be grateful and toast ayrag to your new mongolian friends.
2. Shared tours
Share your cost and find more people to join with you to your tour. Connect with local couchsurfing or facebook travel groups. Very often solo travellers or pairs are looking for more people with who they can share the tour. It’s always a lot cheaper when the group is bigger. And also more fun to share your experiences with other.