What to See in Mongolia

By | July 18, 2022

Ulaanbaatar is the capital of Mongolia and the largest city in the country. It is located in the north-east of the central part of Mongolia in the valley of the Tola River at an altitude of 1300-1350 m. Until recently, Ulaanbaatar looked little like a capital city. Now modern buildings are being built in the city, but still more than half of its population lives in yurts.

The center of the modern city is Sukhbaatar Square. It was named after the national hero Sukhbaatar, who declared the country’s independence from China in 1921. On the square there is an equestrian statue of Sukhbaatar, the mausoleum of Sukhbaatar, a monument to Genghis Khan, the House of Government, the House of Culture, the State Opera and Ballet Theater, the National Museum of History Mongolia and Museum of Natural History. The main street of the city passes through Sukhbaatar Square – Mira Avenue, on which there are the main retail outlets of the city, as well as many restaurants, cafes and bars. The excursion program in Ulaanbaatar necessarily includes a visit to the most important Buddhist monastery in the country – Gandantegchinlen-Khid (Gandan) of 1840, the wooden Choyzhin-Lamyn-Sum monastery of the early 20th century, the Winter Palace of the last Chinese emperor of Mongolia, Bogdykhan, and the Zaisan memorial, which was opened in honor of the Soviet soldiers who died in World War II.

According to Top-mba-universities, Ulaanbaatar is the starting point for travel countrywide. From here you can go to the vast steppes, the Gobi Desert, the mountains of Khentei, Khangai and the Mongolian Altai, as well as to the “Blue Pearl” of Mongolia – Lake Khubsugul.

To the north of Ulaanbaatar lie the majestic Khentei Mountains . The mountains of Khentei are considered sacred, as the great conqueror Genghis Khan was born and raised here. The local places are perfect for those who love nature. There are many campsites in the mountains. 70 km northeast of Ulaanbaatar, on the slopes of Mount Bogdykhan (2256 m), there is a national park of the same name. In its vicinity, the Manzushir Monastery built in 1733 is of interest. The monastery was completely destroyed in 1932, today one of its churches has been restored, now it houses a museum. The monastery is open to the public from May to October. At this time, tourists are offered hiking and horseback riding on Mount Bogdykhan. In addition, in late autumn, performances with ancient Buddhist dances Tsam are arranged near the monastery. Also in the Khentei mountains are the sacred mountain Burkhan-Kaldun (it is believed that Genghis Khan was born and buried in these places) and Terelzh National Park (one of the best places to relax in this region).

From the west, east and south of Ulaanbaatar are bordered by endless steppes, where safaris are arranged on jeeps, camels and horses. During excursions in the steppe communities, you can see red wolves, foxes, hares, wild boars, gazelles, saigas and Przewalski’s horses. Khustai National Park is located 85 km southwest of Ulaanbaatar in the steppes, the history of which is associated with the restoration of the population of Przewalski’s wild horses. The eastern part of the steppe zone is home to a large population of Mongolian gazelles. In addition, Ganga Lake is of interest here, where migrations of the whooper swan take place in October, Mongol-Dagur Reserve with many lakes inhabited by spoonbill birds and five species of cranes, northern regions bordered by mountains, the slopes of which are covered with Manchurian forests, and the lowest place in Mongolia – Khukh-Nur Lake (Blue Lake) (552 m).

The steppe regions in the southern part of Mongolia pass into the Gobi Desert – the largest desert in Asia, which occupies 1/3 of the territory of Mongolia. The Gobi is not a “classic” desert: it consists of 33 different ecosystems, mostly of a semi-desert type. Only 3% of its territory is covered by sands, and the rest is occupied by semi-deserts, steppe communities and mountains. The most interesting is the northwestern mountainous part of the desert, where the spurs of the Altai Mountains enter – the Gurvansaikhan ridge (heights reach 4000 m). On the eastern slopes of the ridge, the Gurvansaikhan National Park with an area of 27,000 square meters was created in 1993. km. This is the largest protected area in Mongolia.. In addition to its natural uniqueness, the Gobi desert is known as one of the most extensive dinosaur burial sites in the world. Dinosaur skeletons and eggs dating back about 80 million years have been found here. The most famous burial is a place called Bayanzag. In addition, it is worth visiting the yurt camps of nomads in the desert, who change the place of their dwelling in order to find new pastures for livestock. During such excursions, you will get acquainted with the culture of the Mongolian people and their traditions, as well as taste the dishes of the national cuisine. Desert trips start from the city of Dalanzadgad and most often take the form of jeep or camel safaris.

No less interesting is the central part of Mongolia, where the ruins of an ancient Karakorum – the capital of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century. Karakorum was founded in 1220 by Genghis Khan and completed by his son Ogedei. The city stood on the northern branch of the Great Silk Road and was one of its most important posts. In 1264, Khan Kublai moved the capital of Mongolia to Khanbalik (now Beijing), from that moment the decline of Karakorum began. The ruins of the Karakoram are located in the vicinity of the modern city of Kharkhorin. The 400×400 m walls and the first Buddhist monastery of the Mongol Empire Erdene Zu have survived to this day from the ancient city, which contains a gilded statue of the great Buddhist saint Padmasambhava of the 17th century, fragments of paintings and sculptures. In addition, in the vicinity of Kharkhorin It is worth visiting the banks of the Chultyn-Gol River, where rock paintings of the Neolithic and Bronze Ages were discovered, and the hot mineral springs of Khudzhirt.

To the west of Kharkhorin lies the mountainous land of Khangai. In the local mountains there are such natural attractions as the Khorgo Terkhin Tsagan-Nur National Park with the freshwater lake Tsagan-Nur (White Lake), which is surrounded by lava fields formed as a result of the eruptions of the Khorgo volcano (2240 ​​m), and the Eight Lakes region (Naiman- nur). Also in the region it is worth visiting the Japanese balneological resort Tsengre, based on local mineral springs, and heading to the Taihar stone, which is an 18-meter granite block. The stone is inscribed with inscriptions in different languages relating to the Stone Age.

In the northern part of the Khangai Mountains on the border with Russia is the Darkhad Basin, where about 200 lakes are located. Among them is the deepest lake in Mongolia and all of East Asia – Khubsugul (area – 2760 sq. km, depth – 262 m). The water in it is so transparent that you can see what is happening up to a depth of 20 m. Lake Khuvsgul is called the “brother” of Baikal. It was formed about 5 million years ago as a result of movements of the earth’s crust. Lake Khubsugul is located at an altitude of 1645 m. In 1992, a national park of the same name with an area of 840,000 hectares was opened on its shores. The main settlement of Lake Khubsugul is the village of Khatgal, which is located on its southern shore. You can get to the village from the city of Muren, where from Ulaanbaatar paved highway. In the village of Khatgal, there are several dozens of campsites. From it to the northern shore of the lake, where the village of Khankh is located, there is a ferry. You can also travel on the lake on the Sukhbaatar cruise ship. There are no roads in the vicinity of Khuvsgul, so you can only explore the surroundings of the lake on horseback. Of the sights of this region, the most popular are the Amarbayasgalant monastery of 1736, which at the time of its appearance was the second most important monastery in the country after Erdene-Zu, the Dayan-Derkhin cave with ancient rock paintings, the extinct volcano Uran-Ul and the communities of nomads Dukkha living here. Nomads are engaged in reindeer herding, in summer they live in the mountains, and in winter they descend to the plains. These are the southernmost peoples in the world engaged in reindeer herding. In total, about 500 nomads live here. The Mongolian Altai mountains stretch along the northwestern border of Mongolia. Here are the highest peaks of the country, covered with glaciers. The journey through this region starts from the city of Ulgii. Basically, tourists are offered long hiking trails that pass through AltaiTavanbogd National Park, Silkkhemiin-Nuru Reserve and Tsambagrav-Ul National Park. All these protected areas are designed to protect mountain forests, the argali, ibex, red deer, elk, stone martens, snowcocks and golden eagles living in them, as well as vast glaciers.

Between the Mongolian Altai mountains and the Khangai mountains is the valley of the Great Lakes. Here, at an altitude of 743 m, the country’s largest lake is located – Ubsu-Nur. The length of the lake from north to south is 160 km, the maximum width reaches 60 km, and the total area is 3350 square meters. km. The water in the lake is very salty, its salinity is 5 times higher than that of sea water. As a result, there is no life in it. The lakes Khara-Us-Nur, Khara-Nur and Dorgon-Nur located to the south are protected by the state. On their banks in 1997 the Khara-Us-Nur National Park was created. with an area of 850,000 hectares. Most of the park’s territory is occupied by wetlands, among which are the most extensive reed thickets of Central Asia. This is a great place for bird watching. In addition to its nature, the Great Lakes region is known for the numerous burial mounds, deer stones, petroglyphs and runic inscriptions that were left here by the ancient nomadic Xiongnu tribes. The most popular are petroglyphs and drawings of Khovd vicinities .

What to See in Mongolia