Mongolia attracts tourists with wide plains, endless steppes, beautiful rivers and lakes.
Things to do in Mongolia
The ancient state of Mongolia is an interesting tourist destination in East Asia. People come here to see Buddhist monasteries, graceful palaces, archaeological sites, visit museums with a rich historical heritage.
Mongolians value traditions and treat their culture with care. The nomadic lifestyle is still popular here. Many people, especially those involved in cattle breeding, live in yurts — light portable tents made of wool. Tourists can visit their sites and get acquainted with the life of modern nomads.
The capital Ulaanbaatar is famous for its colorful holidays:
- In July, the Nadom festival, called «Men’s Games», starts. On the agenda — archery, horse racing, traditional Mongolian wrestling. On holidays, the city hosts a military parade and a fair, and the streets are filled with fans and tourists.
- The Mongolian New Year, which is counted according to the lunisolar calendar, is celebrated no less magnificently. The spring holiday is a symbol of renewal and unity with nature. People put on elegant clothes, go to visit, give gifts and have fun.
Beautiful nature remains the main attraction of Mongolia. The country offers many options for outdoor activities. Through the wide steppes and picturesque mountains, cycling, motorcycle, walking, car and horse routes are laid, designed for people with different levels of training.
The north of Mongolia is famous for its turbulent rivers and mountains. Sports rafting, fishing, skiing and snowboarding, hunting for wild goats and mountain sheep are especially popular here.
Mongolia attracts lovers of adventure, exotic and ecotourism. In national parks and reserves, parking lots are equipped for guests who go to live far from civilization, watch animals and birds, and meditate. But in the cities, travelers are waiting for comfortable hotels, restaurants and entertainment for every taste. Tourists should go to the National Park of Culture and Leisure in Ulaanbaatar, take a walk along the main square of the capital, and admire the beautiful monuments.
Palace of the Bogd Gegen
In the southeast of Ulaanbaatar is the residence of the Bogdo Gegen VIII, built in 1893 in the traditional Chinese style. Initially, the architectural complex consisted of four buildings, but only the main house has survived to this day. The rest were destroyed during the Mongol revolution.
Tourists can see the front gate with two dragons, Buddhist temples and the Winter Palace. In the inner chambers there is a museum illustrating the life of the Bogd Khan and his wife Dondogdulam. The exposition includes symbols of power, ceremonial costumes, personal belongings and furniture of monarchs, as well as paintings by Mongolian artists.
In the center of Ulan Bator there is a square named after the famous revolutionary D. Sukhe Bator. The square area is lined with stone tiles. Along the perimeter are the Palace of Culture, post office, city administration, opera and ballet theater.
The dominant architectural ensemble is the Government Palace. The facade of the house is decorated with a colonnade. Inside there is a monument to Genghis Khan. In general, there are many attractions on the square: a statue of Marco Polo, a pavilion in the Chinese-Mongolian style, a stele with the text of the national anthem.
Karakoram is the capital of the great Mongol Empire, founded in 1220. Here was the main camp of the khan, in which he received foreign ambassadors and left his family, going on campaigns. When the capital was moved to another place, Karakorum fell into decay, but avoided complete destruction and became part of the city of Kharkhorin.
New areas are closely adjacent to the ruins of Buddhist monasteries and palaces. Among the ruins one can see Turkic statues and stones with Orkhon runic inscriptions. The territory is a cultural heritage site and is under the protection of UNESCO.
Not far from Karakorum, it is easy to find the remains of the capital of the Uyghur Khaganate — Khara-Balgas. A thousand years ago there was a city with stone houses, surrounded by a powerful fortress fence 12 meters high. In 840, it was captured and destroyed by enemy tribes. Fragments of streets, temples, palaces, watchtowers have survived to this day. Next to the pagoda there is a large stele inscribed with Chinese and ancient Turkic scripts, decorated with a dragon image.
Statue of Genghis Khan
The largest equestrian statue in the world depicting Genghis Khan, the founder of the ancient Mongol Empire, is installed in Tsongzhin-Boldog. The monument is located on a hill, a wide stone staircase leads to it. The 40-meter monument, covered with stainless steel, weighs 250 tons.
The sculpture of the Great Khan, proudly sitting on a horse, stands on a round two-story pedestal. Inside there is a restaurant, a souvenir shop, a museum of nomadic peoples and an art gallery.
Temples and monasteries
There is a large Buddhist monastery in Ulaanbaatar, erected on the instructions of the Bogd Gegen V two hundred years ago. The architectural complex is one of the religious centers of Mongolia. 150 monks live here permanently.
People from all over the world come to the monastery to admire the huge statue of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. The monumental sculpture was created at the beginning of the last century on the initiative of the 13th Dalai Lama. The relic is cast from copper, covered with gold leaf and encrusted with precious stones.
Erdeni-Dzu Monastery, founded in 1585, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located in the valley of the Orkhon River and consists of 17 temples built according to the canons of Tibetan architecture. The main relic of the monastery is the sculpture of Buddha Ih-Dzu. Inside it are kept the relics of the spiritual teacher Buddha Shakyamuni.
The temple has eight bodhisattvas, six arhats and four maharajas guarding the cardinal directions. There is a round platform in the yard, on which, according to legend, there was a yurt of Abatai Khan and a stone tortoise brought here from Karakorum.
Choyzhin lamyn sum
The Chinese-style temple complex is made of wood and stone blocks. Its external and internal walls are finished with silver, the facade is decorated with intricate carved ornaments. The temple ceased to hold services in 1936, now it houses a museum of Mongolian religious art.
Tourists are shown Buddha statues of the 18th century, ceremonial masks, ancient books, monks’ cells. On the street there is a chapel in the form of an old Mongolian yurt and a platform for tantric rituals.
In a mountain valley on the banks of the Selenga River, you can find the monastery of Serene Joy, dating back to 1726 — Amarbayasgalant. The current temple complex is one of the largest in Mongolia. Its appearance is dominated by Chinese architectural style.
The buildings are located symmetrically to each other. The main temple is made of wood and has two floors. Numerous Buddha statues are installed inside. On the territory of Amarbayasgalant there is a tomb of Bogd Gegen Zanabazar.
National History Museum
In 1924, in the center of Ulaanbaatar, the Folk Museum opened its doors, storing ethnographic, archaeological and historical exhibits. The collections presented here illustrate the development of the Mongolian state from antiquity to the present day.
Visitors are shown bows, arrows, swords, religious objects, ceramics, coins from the time of Genghis Khan. The archaeological collection made up of things found during excavations of the tomb of Bilge Khan Bogyu is very popular.
Museum named after Zanabazar
In the middle of the last century, a museum of fine arts opened in the Mongolian capital. The spacious two-storey building has 11 halls with permanent exhibitions. Tourists can see clothes, tambourines and masks for shamanic practices, musical instruments, early printed books, fabric applications, cast sculptures of Buddhist figures, as well as gouache paintings on canvas.
Mongolian Dinosaur Museum
An interesting natural history museum opened in Ulaanbaatar in 2013. It presents the skeletons of dinosaurs found outside the territory of Mongolia. Popular collections include: «Bataar Comes Home», «Walking Dinosaur», «Wonders of the Cretaceous». The modern building is equipped with interactive panels that provide detailed information about the exhibits. The museum hosts temporary exhibitions dedicated to new scientific achievements.
Mongolian costume museum
The traditional attire of the Mongolian nomads is a long dress made of wool or silk with a high bright collar and a wide belt. A short jacket with a fastener on the side is usually worn over the dress. The ensemble is completed with boots made of thick leather, decorated with embroidery or appliqué.
The purpose of the museum is to popularize the Mongolian national costume among local youth and foreigners. Among the exhibits are outfits of different ethnic groups, made at the state costume factory.
During excavations in Karakoram, scientists found a huge number of objects that shed light on the ancient history of this place. A museum was built in the city of Kharkhorum to store them. The permanent exhibitions are divided into three sections.
Tourists can see Stone Age artifacts, Bronze Age finds and relics of the Mongol Empire. The model of Karakorum with well-designed streets, palaces, and temples stands in a place of honor. The museum has a library, a lecture hall, an antiques restoration workshop and a souvenir shop.
Natural attractions and parks
Through Mongolia lies the third largest desert in the world — the Gobi. Most of it is not sand, but weathered rocky plateaus and rocks. Salt marshes, dunes, picturesque oases, deep depressions and hills are found here. Depending on the color prevailing in the landscape, there are Black, Red and Yellow Gobi.
A unique natural attraction strikes with wildness and beauty. Travel companies offer to explore the lifeless territories with a guide. Camels, horses, motorcycles, jeeps are used for transportation.
Gorkhi-Terelj National Park is located 80 kilometers from Ulaanbaatar. The length of the reserve is 2,931.68 km². A significant area is occupied by the Khentei mountain ranges, from the tops of which numerous streams and rivers flow. The slopes of the mountains are covered with lush forests and picturesque valleys, where animals and birds listed in the Red Book live.
Tourist bases and rest houses operate within the park. Travelers climb high into the mountains, ride horses, go rafting and fishing.
The deep freshwater lake Khubsugul can be found near the Russian border in northern Mongolia. Its length is 262 km, width — 36 km. The lake is filled with the purest water, in which rare species of fish are found. Around Khuvsgul, the Asian steppe mixes with the Siberian taiga, forming a natural zone favorable for brown bears, mountain goats, wolverines, sables, foxes and wolves.
Near the lake is the village of Hang. There are tourist bases, hotels, children’s attractions and cafes.
In the capital of Mongolia, there is a Buddha park, decorated with Buddhist sculptures from different countries. On its territory there is a zoo with an area of 200 m², where more than 100 animals live. Adults and children can see elephants, kangaroos, giraffes, wolves, snakes.
An artificial lake has been created for waterfowl. Predators are in enclosures, and artiodactyls are in spacious pens. The zoo has carousels for children and a cafe.