Mongolia travel guide

One of life’s great freedoms is adventure, a privilege most of us take for granted and that isn’t always compatible with our organised, routine lives. A trip to Mongolia represents the ultimate adventure and a chance to experience true wilderness. People might misconceive Mongolia’s wilderness for desolate wasteland; it isn’t.
Staring at the wide open horizon in the untouched land of the nomads, there is no first meeting more captivating than an introduction to Mongolia
Instead, it is an entire country of undiscovered beauty – a sea of rolling steppe, unimpeded but for the shadow of clouds for miles; a collision of mountains, forest and snow-capped peaks; and a vast golden desert of towering sand dunes and camps below the stars. There are more horses than people in Mongolia, and five times as many sheep and goats; it has almost nothing man-made to attract tourists and is an outdoor country with a strong personality, a traditional heritage that’s still very much alive, and a gentle and friendly people – exactly why everyone who visits it is instantly captivated.
Mongolia Is/Isn't

Mongolia is…

a true wilderness experience

Mongolia isn’t…

about WiFi, webcams and staying connected

What we rate & what we don't

UNDERRATED

Mongolian hospitality

Historically, the Mongolians are a very welcoming people and their …

The Great Outdoors

Picture your ideal ‘great outdoors’ scene, now remove any hedges, …

Western Mongolia

You cannot get more rugged and remote than Western Mongolia, …

Warrior training

Come on, who doesn’t want to be a Mongol warrior? …
RATED

Ger Camps

Gers are the circular, felt-lined homes of more than half …

Horse trekking

About as off-the-beaten-track as you can get, Mongolia’s landscape is …

Gobi Desert

The Gobi Desert might be arid, but it is awesome …

Festivals

Racing, wrestling, archery and of course the warrior spirit of …
OVERRATED

Lake Khovsgol

Known as the Blue Pearl, Lake Khovsgol holds 380 billion …

Independent travel

Mongolia may be growing in popularity, but it’s not quite …

Flaming Cliffs at Bayanzag

Unless you’re a budding paleontologist, a visit to the Flaming …

Naran Tull Market

There is nothing appealing about Ulaanbaatar's Naran Tull Market, a …

Food, shopping & people

Eating & drinking
Vegetarians take note: if it derives from cattle, sheep, horses or yaks, Mongolians eat it; so-called ‘vegetable soup’ is full of meat, but for one green ingredient.
Airag = Mongolian moonshine. Strong and dangerous, but it beats another cup of salty tea.
Tsagaan idee are traditional dishes made from dairy as the inclusion of milk in Mongolian food denotes kindness.
Boodog is a speciality made by cooking a whole carcass usually of a goat, from the inside using hot stones.
People & language
When you meet a Mongolian stranger, smile, nod your head and say “sain bain uu?”
Rural Mongolians are among the last semi nomadic people in the Northern Hemisphere. As well as ethnic Mongols, there are over 20 subgroups including the Khalkhas and the Kazakhs, who all happily co-exist, mainly due to the peace-loving Buddhist religion that unites them. Mongolians speak Mongolian as well as ethnic languages. Older Mongolians tend to speak Russian, many younger people now speak good English, French or other Asian languages.
Mongolians meeting one another will not kiss on the cheek; instead the elder person will grasp the head of the younger and smell their hair or face.
14 million more people live in the Netherlands than in Mongolia, but you could fit the Netherlands into Mongolia 37 times.

Our top Mongolia Vacation

Mongolia adventure vacation

Mongolia adventure vacation

Off the beaten track adventure through spectacular Mongolia

From US $2518 to US $3855 23 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2019: 1 Jun, 20 Jul
Helpdesk
Hello. If you'd like to chat about Mongolia or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.
Gifts & shopping
New Way Life in Ulaanbaatar is a quilting and design centre established to help unemployed poor women how to quilt – purchase one of their unique pieces and you’re directly supporting local enterprise.
Mary & Martha is the only recognised Fair Trade shop in Mongolia and sells beautiful local handicrafts made from cashmere and felt.
Nomadic herders let no part of their beloved cattle go to waste; you can pick up intricate bone art and inscribed leather purses and wallets from local tribes for as little as £1.
No one knows what Genghis Khan looked like; flattering myth has made him tall with a flowing head of hair and a bushy beard
How much does it cost?
Bus ticket: 20p
Kilo of fruit: 95p
Basic lunch: £1.25 - £2.50
Bike rental: £9
Bottle of beer: 95p

A brief history of Mongolia

Spanning 5,000 years, the history of Mongolia is anything but brief, but the bones are that until 1206 when Chinggis Khan (who we know as Genghis) founded the Mongol Empire, large numbers of ethnic tribes had inhabited the country, factions of which occasionally formed confederations that rose to prominence. Read more
Written by Polly Humphris
Photo credits: [Page banner: Bernd Thaller] [Mongolia Is/Isn't: Zabara Alexander] [Mongolian hospitality: The Wandering Angel] [The Great Outdoors: Chelsea Marie Hicks] [Western Mongolia : Mark Robinson] [Warrior training: François Philipp] [Ger Camps: Michael Eisenriegler] [Horse trekking: Pia Waugh] [Gobi Desert: Sarah Lachise] [Festivals : Seba Della y Sole Bossio] [Lake Khovsgol : travelmag.com] [Independent travel: John Pannell] [Flaming Cliffs at Bayanzag: John Ibarra] [Naran Tull Market: yeowatzup] [Food: François Philipp] [Quote: Deglee Degi] [People & language: Jeanne Menjoulet] [Gifts and Shopping: Michael Eisenriegler] [Fast Facts: JP Bennett] [How much does it cost?: SoniaT 360.]
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