Fun things to do in Mongolia

  • Gandan Monastery, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
    Gandan Monastery, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
    by happyhourkid
  • Gandan Monastery, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
    Gandan Monastery, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
    by happyhourkid
  • Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
    Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
    by happyhourkid

Most Viewed Things to Do in Mongolia

  • hayward68's Profile Photo
    4 more images

    Nomadic Life

    by hayward68 Written Jan 20, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I highly recommend taking the opportunity to stay with a nomadic family. We stayed with two different families on our trip, the first family was the first day out of Ulaanbaatar. We eventually found the family after driving around for a while in the general area the guide and driver knew them to be. We were the first ones of the season so they weren't too sure where the family actually was, , so we drove around and around until we found them, after all they are nomads so they move around.
    This family had a flock of goats and sheep and a small herd of horses. We also saw one cow with a calf. The family consisted of a father and his two grown sons, both whom were married with children. There were two family gers and one storage ger with the pen for the animals in the middle. The horses roamed freely.
    We stayed in the ger of one of the sons, he and his wife and son stayed in the other family ger that night, which meant that we slept in their beds.
    It was a fascinating experience, seeing how they lived and cooked, what their belongings looked like. This family had electricity from a generator which was used to work the lights and the television. It was quite amazing to see satellite dishes out in the middle of nowhere.
    The other family we stayed with were camel herders in the Gobi Desert by the Khongoryn Els. They had a large herd of camels as well as goats and sheep. That family consisted of a mother, daughter, son and his family. They also had two gers, the mother and daughter in one and the son and his family in the other. They seemed a bit more affluent than the previous family. Their belongings seemed of higher quality, they had motorbikes and they had wind power to power their electricity. They too had the ever-present satellite dish. The animals were set away from the gers which was a blessing as camels are noisy creatures, grunting and groaning away all night long.
    The second family also had a pit toilet, the first had the wide open desert landscape at your disposal ;-)

    Related to:
    • Desert

    Was this review helpful?

  • hayward68's Profile Photo
    4 more images

    Erdene Zuu Khiid

    by hayward68 Updated May 6, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The complex is Mongolia's oldest Buddhist monastery and was founded by Abtai Khan in 1586. In it's heyday there were about 100 temples and a thousand monks living on the premises. Today there are only five temples, tombs, stupas and a few small buildings.
    This monastery is one of the few to survive the obliteration of the religious buildings in the 1930s. During this time many valuable artworks and sculptures were destroyed and many monks were either shipped to Siberia or killed. The monastery was pretty much empty of religious life from 1941-1990. Although it did become a museum in 1965, there were no monks living here. It was in 1997 that the government decided that the monastery should be restored.
    Four large walls surround the complex and there is a gateway in the middle of each wall. The three temples are filled with Buddhist artwork and statues. It's quite a feast for the eyes to see all the colours and gold, quite a change from the desert outside.
    Also in the complex are the gravestones of Abtai Khan and his grandson, T?sheet Khan Gombodorj, who happens to be the father of Zanabazar, a monk who was born in 1635. He became the religious ruler of Mongolia and was the first to have the title "?nd?r Gegeen (High Enlightened One). He is also famous for his his artwork and sculptures, often covered in gold, some which can be seen here at Erdene Zuu.
    There were a number of people with goods for sale at the far end from the entrance. Some interesting things to be had if you're in the haggling mood. I bought a small carved turtle pendant well worth the $1 I paid.
    Admission to the monastery grounds is free but it costs T3000 to view the temples, but this does include a guided tour. It will cost you extra to take pictures though it's worth the extra payout.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • iwys's Profile Photo
    1 more image

    Visit the lamas

    by iwys Updated Apr 6, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Some of the most beautiful buildings in Mongolia are the Tibetan-style lamaseries. The biggest is Gandan, in the suburbs of U.B. Entrance is free.

    Walk around and turn every prayer wheel that you see. You will send someone's prayer to heaven. People attach their prayers to the wheels on little pieces of paper.

    Related to:
    • Adventure Travel
    • Archeology
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • hayward68's Profile Photo

    Karakorum

    by hayward68 Updated Mar 22, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    At one time Karakorum was the capital of Mongolia, built by ?g?dei Khan, the third son and successor of Genghis Khan (known as Chinggis Khan in Mongolia). People from all over came to this great capital. There was an imperial palace which was known as "Palace of the World". The city was located along a major trading right, right at the crossroads of several actually, making it an excellent stop for merchants and nomads.
    Unfortunately the city lost its significance when Kublai Khan moved the capital to Beijing in 1264. The city was destroyed by Manchu forces in 1380 and stones from Karakorum were used to build Erdene Zuu which, I believe, sits on the site of Karakorum.
    What do remain are two stone turtles of an original four which once marked the boundaries of the city. The turtles are symbols of eternity. This one sits high on a hill from which you have an excellent view of Erdene Zuu.

    Related to:
    • Archeology
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • hayward68's Profile Photo
    4 more images

    Tovkhon Khiid

    by hayward68 Updated May 7, 2008

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Tovkhon Khiid monastery is quite remote atop a mountain at an altitude of 2312m, reached by traversing a heavily forested, rough road. Our van couldn't quite make it to the top so we walked partway, I think we only had a mile or two to walk after the van gave up.
    This monastery is where Zanabazar lived for 30 years, though this was on and off. It's thought that he created much of his artwork here. It originally built around 1650 but was largely destroyed by the Communist forces in the 1930s. Restoration work has been done and there are temples to visit.
    You emerge from the trees to a sort of plateau and see a few gers. To your left is a quite impressive ovoo made up of branches, from what I could see. It was completely covered in blue prayer flags.
    To reach the temples you climb a narrow path further up the mountain. This area offers stunning views and is quite a peaceful place. A perfect spot for some quiet contemplation. In fact, further past the temples and up a short climb is what is known as the 'womb cave' where Zanabazar did his meditations. Our guide told us he actually lived in the cave but I'm not quite sure if that is accurate or not.
    As we were leaving the monastery our guide informed us that we'd be giving one of the monks a lift to the next big town, he's in one of my pics as we head back down to the van.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Archeology
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • hayward68's Profile Photo
    1 more image

    Khongoryn Els

    by hayward68 Updated Mar 22, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    These sand dunes are absolutely stunning and are known as the "singing sands'" because of the sound they make when the wind sweeps across them. You could really hear it when you are on the dunes and a small avalanche would happen, as the sand ran over itself it would make a really weird sound, hard to describe but can be quite loud when the winds blow. The colour of the dunes changes as the light does, making for some excellent picture opportunities.
    The dunes reach 800m at their highest and cover an area that is 6-12km wide and 150km long. We couldn't wait to climb the dunes though it is extremely hard, I gave up trying to reach the top but my friend made it all the way. I did get to use a snowboard on them though and that was tremendous fun. I kept falling down though so eventually used it as a sled and slid my way to the bottom.
    Their is a water supply by these dunes so there are several families who live by them permanently and there are also tourist camps nearby. We sat high on the dunes and watched a herd of camels make their way across the desert to the water, have their fill and move on.
    My friend's pictures from the top of the dunes showed me how impressive these dunes really are, they stretch out for quite a distance.

    Related to:
    • Desert

    Was this review helpful?

  • hayward68's Profile Photo
    2 more images

    Yolyn Am

    by hayward68 Written Jan 20, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Otherwise known as Vulture's Gorge (or Valley or Mouth, depending on what you're reading), this peaceful place is located in the Gurvansaikhan Mountains and is a 40km long canyon. A river flows through it and and the winter the ice builds up so thickly that in some years ice remains throughout the year. The sheltered and shadowed gorge keeps the sunlight from reaching the furthest areas. When we visited it was early spring so the river was still mostly frozen but the top was quite slushy. We walked a few kilometres into the canyon but when the slush became ankle-deep in spots we decided to turn back. It is a beautiful spot and I would like to see what it's like with the river flowing through it.
    It's a great place to do a bit of hiking but my friend climbed up into the rocky hills and came down with ticks on him so I would beware of this and dress appropriately and check for ticks when you finish.
    We spotted some mountain goats on the hills as we were leaving and tried to follow them but they move just too darn quick!
    There's supposed to be an entrance fee for the park but everything was closed when we arrived so we just drove in. There's a museum at the entrance of the road into the gorge.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking

    Was this review helpful?

  • iwys's Profile Photo

    Stay in a yurt

    by iwys Updated Apr 6, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Most Mongolians really do live in yurts, known locally as gers. They are warm and snug. There is a central stove, fuelled by dried animal dung, as there no trees on the steppes.

    Even around the capital city there are yurt suburbs.

    You can rent a yurt at South Gobi Tourist Camp, if you really want to get away from it all.

    If you find that you just can't live without one, it is possible to buy one, ship it back home and erect it in your back garden. A friend of mine did that.

    Related to:
    • Adventure Travel
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • hayward68's Profile Photo
    4 more images

    Bayanzag - Flaming Cliffs

    by hayward68 Updated Jan 20, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Bayanzag is known as the Flaming Cliffs because of its beautiful red sandstone which changes to a dark red as the sun sets. This area is where American paleaontologist Roy Chapman Andrews first discovered dinosaur bones and fossils in the early 1920s. It is thought that the animals were buried by landslides.
    We wandered around the cliffs for over an hour watching the colours change during sunset. You can have a look for fossils and dinosaur bones, good luck, but do remember that if you do find anything, you can't keep it.
    There is a tourist camp nearby which has showers but it wasn't open when we were there. Instead, we stayed in the guest ger of our guides friend. He was a bit of an entrepreneur, a young Mongolian man who lived with his mother and owned a herd of camels. He was setting up his own gers for use by tourists. For a small fee he'll even take you for a ride on one of his camels, which I of course had to do as I absolutely love camels. If you'll notice in the extra pictures, I'm wearing my Virtual Tourist ball cap. The man on the camel beside me is the young man that I mentioned.

    Related to:
    • Desert

    Was this review helpful?

  • Saagar's Profile Photo

    If you haven't seen a volcano - see this one!

    by Saagar Written Apr 26, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Khorgo Uul volcano in the Tsherkin Tsaagaan Nuur national Park in Arkhanghai province is not only beautiful as a monument to nature's forces, it is also easily accessible.
    As part of a (worthwhile) trip to this area and national park only, or as part of the loop UB-Hövsgöl-Tsherkhin Tsaagan Nuur-Kharkhorin-UB, a side trip up to the volcano crater should not be missed. It is extinct (since 8000 yrs), but still warm so the snow will not stay inside it during winter, and some sulphuric gases emerge from it. The surrounding lava fields and mountains harbour another 10-12 smaller craters.
    It is easy to reach from a rough road where the vehicle will take you if your are on a tour, and if you have the chance, you should definitely circambulate the crater rim, and take in the view and the pioneer plant community that is there.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park

    Was this review helpful?

  • iwys's Profile Photo
    1 more image

    Karakorum

    by iwys Updated Apr 6, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Karakorum was the capital of the Mongol Empire and the site of the country's first Buddhist temple and lamasery.

    Although it is believed that Ghengis Khan had his main tented encampment there and that he proposed the idea of building a great city, there is no concrete proof of that. The city was actually founded by his son and successor, Ogedei Khan in 1229.

    It temporarily lost its importance when Kublai Khan moved his capital to Beijing, but later khans reaffirmed its preeminence.

    The great lamasery of Erdene Zuu was established there in 1586.

    It was reduced to rubble by warring tribes, but it is still the most important archaeological site in Mongolia.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Archeology
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Tulka's Profile Photo
    4 more images

    Horse trekking

    by Tulka Updated Apr 10, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    it's impossible to imagine Mongolia without horse! if you leave this country without doing horse riding at least few hours, It's just a same as You leave the river without watering your thirsty Horse !!!
    Those people seems were born on a horse, Mongolian horses are quite smaller than Europeans probably seems like Ponies but don’t tell them about it,
    Horses were the main transport means in Mongolian for thousand of years. In recent decades quite many herders have motorcycle, and Russian jeep. But most Mongolians still use horses for transportations, Migrations, and daily life. Mongolia is big country it’s not easy to see many different areas traveling by horse unless you have much time ,so the best way is to get places by jeep or plane and arrange the horses from the local for couple of days and longer ( The price of renting a horse and local guides are defferent depending on the area For example Central part of Mongolia, Khangai, Khentii regions are rich of horses it costs 6$ and 20$ for the horse and local guide. But in a Altai Mountain region Bayan Olgy province horses cost more expensive than other places Only because of the less number of horses that they have. Most of the tour operators and travel agencies organize a horse riding trip all around Mongolia.,

    Related to:
    • Mountain Climbing
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Horse Riding

    Was this review helpful?

  • Saagar's Profile Photo

    Abandoned cities

    by Saagar Written Apr 28, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Not exactly what you had in mind for your Mongolia travel, perhaps, but seeing an example of communism's industrial and collectivist remains may be an eye-opener.
    Ruling over the independent people of the steppe was exceedingly difficult, thus animal ownership became illegal, and collective operations of animal husbandry forcefully carried out. Industries and agricultural kholkoses were set up and people settled in more or less artificially located cities.
    Many of these industries and cities themselves are now abandoned, fully or partly, and agricultural industry production centres left for rusting dot the aimags. Many people lost their jobs when the old regime collapsed, and now dream of better times past, but economically and socially, these cities did not give much sense.
    The photo shows such a city on the way between Tsetserleg and Kharkhorin. The most famous cities of this kind are probably Choir and Sainshand in the Gobi on the Trans-Mongolian railway toward the Chinese border - big suburb-like housing blocks, factories and power plants and all - just abandoned.
    An interesting, but very sad part of Mongolia's history.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Road Trip

    Was this review helpful?

  • iwys's Profile Photo

    The Gobi Desert

    by iwys Updated Apr 6, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    You can fly down to the Gobi Desert from Ulaanbaatar and stay in a yurt at South Gobi tourist camp. Male travellers, however, should not attempt to ride the two-humped, bactrian camels, whilst wearing tight jeans.

    Most of Gobi is a hard gravel plain, which you can drive across in a jeep. As well as the camels, you may see coveys of sandgrouse.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Adventure Travel
    • Desert

    Was this review helpful?

  • Saagar's Profile Photo

    Erdene Zuu Khiid

    by Saagar Written Apr 28, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This once-great monastery was and still is the highlight of Buddhism in Mongolia. Now experiencing a recovery after the collapse of communism, it rises from the ashes. It shows a variety of styles and influences.
    It is very interesting to see, and also to learn about its recent history, and well worth a long stay. A full day is perhaps too much unless you are religiously inclined, but I'd give it up to half a day.
    Many guidebooks go into details on this place, so I just want to add my recommendation: a good place to soak up history and resurgence of a nation.
    What is not often said, though, is that the building materials for Erdene Zuu Khiid came from the site of Karakoram, the city of Dhjingis Khan before he abandoned his Mongolian capital for Beijing.
    Of the original Karakoram (Kharkhorin, modern lingo), next to nothing is left, and that's probably why the guide took you here to Erdene Zuu Khiid when you asked to see Dhjingis' capital...

    Was this review helpful?

Mongolia Hotels

See all 34 Hotels in Mongolia

Top Mongolia Hotels

Ulaanbaatar Hotels
293 Reviews - 853 Photos
Hovsgol Nuur Hotels
4 Reviews - 18 Photos
Harhorin Hotels
9 Reviews - 71 Photos
Gatsuurt Hotels
See nearby hotels
Erdene-Dzuu Hotels
22 Reviews - 140 Photos

Instant Answers: Mongolia

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

101 travelers online now

Comments

Mongolia Things to Do

Reviews and photos of Mongolia things to do posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Mongolia sightseeing.
Map of Mongolia