Bucket List: Top 15 Best Things to do in Mongolia


Mongolia Bucket List: 15 Best Places and Activities to do in Mongolia

Mongolia is a landlocked country in Central Asia and is one of the highest countries in the world. Being one of the largest landlocked countries, although not bordered by the sea, Mongolia’s mountainous landscapes and total otherworldliness more than makes up for it. Because tourism is still in its infancy, it can sometimes be hard to travel around. A lot of travel companies don’t even have sites on the internet! But don’t let that stop you from having a once in a lifetime experience.

Here are some of the Top Things to do in Mongolia:

Explore Ulaanbaatar

Equestrian statue of Genghis Khan in sunny weather. Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar photo via Depositphotos

When traveling to Mongolia, chances are you’ll be arriving at the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. A great place to start your journey through Mongolia! From museums to monasteries, this city boasts a handful of attractions that can keep you amazed for the duration of your visit.

During your stay, some locations to visit are the Genghis Khan Statue Complex, the National History Museum, a handful of parks, and more. Stay for a while and get to see the local attractions before moving out to the countryside.

Take a stroll through Gorkhi-Terelj National Park.

Gorkhi-Terelj National Park in Mongolia photo via Depositphotos
Gorkhi-Terelj National Park in Mongolia photo via Depositphotos

One of the most coveted areas to visit when traveling in Mongolia is this National Park. Many activities can be performed in this area. Adventure awaits as activities such as hiking, rafting, horseback riding, camel riding, and staying with families in Gers.

Activities listed below can mostly be done here and admire the view of the alpine scenery and how could we forget the 24-meter high turtle rock.

Hike up Ariyabal Meditation Temple

The Aryabal Buddhist Meditation Center In Terelj National Park by Zazaa Mongolia via Wikipedia CC
The Aryabal Buddhist Meditation Center In Terelj National Park by Zazaa Mongolia via Wikipedia CC

Not so far from Ulaanbaatar’s capital city, this temple hidden in the mountains can be traveled to, surrounded by areas full of attractions, granite formations among the view of the hills and valleys with a river surrounded by trees.

The journey to the top may be challenging, but the picture at the top will all be worth it as it is also a ritual to cleanse your sins.

Travel via Horseback

Mongolian man wearing a wolf skin jacket, riding his horse in a steppe of northern Mongolia photo via Depositphotos
Mongolian man wearing a wolf skin jacket, riding his horse in the steppe of northern Mongolia photo via Depositphotos

Now for traveling the vast landscape of Mongolia, horseback riding. Horseback riding may not excite you as it can be done anywhere else globally. Still, horseback in Mongolia is a whole new experience. Having the freedom to roam around through various landscapes inaccessible to modern cars is one of its perks.

As well as looking for campsites wherein you can set up camp for the night under the stars as it does not require a permit! Having the ability to stop where you want and stay where you want is perfect.

Stay in a Ger

Yurt Villages of Mongolia photo via Depositphotos
Yurt Villages of Mongolia photo via Depositphotos

After staying at hotels in Ulaanbaatar, why not try visiting the night in a Ger? Gers, also known in Yurt, are portable circular dwellings, the country’s traditional nomadic housing style. Some of the Locals may even invite you to stay with them to open their houses to travelers.

If you’re not into that, though, you can still experience the Gers through tourist camps set up around the area.

Drink/Tryout Ayrag

Ayrag or Airag is a fermented horse milk in Mongolia photo by Evgeni Zotov via Flickr CC
Ayrag or Airag is a fermented horse milk in Mongolia photo by Evgeni Zotov via Flickr CC.

Are you feeling parched? Why not try the local brews! The traditional national beverage of Mongolia, made from horse milk and brewed into alcohol Airag or Ayrag. When staying with a family in Gers, they may offer Airag.

It is considered rude when declining a sip from the beverage as the family passes a bowl around. It has extremely high alcohol content, so you must be careful as it may catch you off guard.

Stop by Ovoos

Ovoo, traditional Mongolian monument worshiping the cult of mountains and sky, usually in the shape of a pile of stones, Inner Mongolia photo via Depositphotos
Ovoo, traditional Mongolian monument worshiping the cult of mountains and sky, usually in the shape of a pile of stones, Inner Mongolia photo via Depositphotos

Along the top of mountains and high places, Ovoos are found. These are sacred stone heaps used as altars for worshiping of Heaven and lesser gods. You may encounter some of them along the way to the countryside. In that case, stop by it and circle it three times.

It is said that doing so will ensure a safe journey, though if unable to, honking three times will suffice.

Camel Riding through the Gobi Desert

Desert landscape, Gobi desert, Mongolia photo via Depositphotos
Desert landscape, Gobi desert, Mongolia photo via Depositphotos

If horseback riding isn’t your thing, then why not try riding a camel? The Gobi desert is a vast barren region around Southern Mongolia and Northern China. Being the 6th largest desert globally, there are many sights to be seen in this area.

From the Khongoryn Els dunes to the red “Flaming Cliffs” of Bayanzag, the Gobi desert has much to offer for your next Instagram post.

Stay the night at a Monastery.

Buddhist Monastery in Mongolia photo via Depositphotos
Buddhist Monastery in Mongolia photo via Depositphotos

There are countless numbers of monasteries around Mongolia, and visiting them around the day may not be enough. So why not staying at one? Spending the night in these quiet scenes can help you relax and find zen. As Mongolia is still a predominantly Buddhist country, picking a monastery to stay at will not be a problem.

Simply ask your tour guide for help planning your stay or just go up to the monasteries and ask to remain as very few will turn you away.

Experience the Naadam Festival

Naadam Festival Archery Man Pulling Bowstring Aim photo via Depositphotos
Naadam Festival Archery Man Pulling Bowstring Aim photo via Depositphotos

The largest festival in Mongolia, Naadam is also known as “the three games of men” or locally as “eriin gurvan naadam” is hailed as the “second-oldest Olympics” in the world. In this festival, the Mongolians get to see their favorite athletes compete in fierce games to win. There are three main games at this festival: archery, horseback riding, and wrestling.

Although there are plenty of other events that you can enjoy, such as the traditional dance, and have the opportunity to try all sorts of conventional Mongolian food!

Go Skiing!

Skiing Mongolia photo by Steven Scheffler via Flickr CC
Skiing Mongolia photo by Steven Scheffler via Flickr CC

The Altai Mountains, although Mongolia may not be the first place you thought of when planning to go skiing. However, there’s only one skiing resort within the country, but it has vast mountain ranges, clean and untouched lines.

It can be a way to get off the grid during the winter season and have fun!

Explore the Ruins of Karakorum

Ruins of Karakorum by Exsanguinator photo via Wikipedia CC
Ruins of Karakorum by Exsanguinator photo via Wikipedia CC

The old capital of the mighty Mongol Empire now a UNESCO world heritage site. One of the most important cities in the history of the Silk Road. You can explore the ruins of the former capital though small in size.

A lot can still be visited within the area, such as the Silver Tree Fountain of Karakorum.

Travel to Tsagaan Suvarga (White Stupa)

Canyons Tsagaan suvarga in Mongolia photo via Depositphotos
Canyons Tsagaan suvarga in Mongolia photo via Depositphotos

It is located in the southwest of the Dundgobi province. It is a sheer slope that was created over millions of years. As the hill faces eastwards, it is interesting to see. That is why it was called the “White stupa.”  Two famous caves may be worth visiting as well.

They are called Khevtee Bosoo agui or “Lie and Stand Cave” it got its name because some areas of the cave are so narrow that you need to lie down, and some are big enough to stand.

Bask in the Sunlight Beside the Lake

Forest and mountains at Lake Khuvsgul photo via Depositphotos
Forest and mountains at Lake Khuvsgul photo via Depositphotos

Known as the “Blue Pearl of Mongolia,” the Khuvsgul Lake is the second largest water source in Mongolia. As Ulaanbaatar is known for its cold weather during the winter, that does not mean it’s cold all year-round.

The weather at the lake during the summer is warm. The right temperature to take a dip in. if you’re not into swimming, then just admire the view of the lake under the sun is highly comforting.

Enjoy the Food!

Buuz is a type of Mongolian steamed dumpling filled with meat photo via Depositphotos
Buuz is a type of Mongolian steamed dumpling filled with meat photo via Depositphotos.

The one reason why some people travel around the world is food. Of course, Mongolia also has its fair share of beautiful delicacies. Some of these are Byaslag, Mongolian cheese made from cow or yak milk, Tsuivan, a Mongolian noodle dish, Bansh, a soup with Mongolian dumplings, and of course, Buuz, the traditional Mongolian steamed dumplings.

There is more to this list, but why ruin the surprise? Don’t be afraid to try something new. You might find a new favorite dish after eating some of these delicacies.

Mongolia Travel and Tour Packages

To help you plan out your vacation to Mongolia, we listed places to visit and other amazing activities in Mongolia. We also listed some of the best travel deals and tour packages and excellent flight deals and accommodation.

Searching for the best hotels, resorts, and affordable flights in the nearby Cities? Check out our list of affordable Mongolia hotels and resorts via Agoda, Booking, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

Want more updates about new package tours and tourist spots in Mongolia? Follow #TeamOutofTown, on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, Bloglovin, and Pinterest for more travel ideas.

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