Mongolia in the winter is incredibly cold, but this can make Mongolia a real adventure
Some roads in the Mongolia winter, are blocked and you can’t exactly camp.
But, with the lack of tourists in Mongolia in the winter come some extra perks and hidden gems to explore. In fact, it might be the best time of year to travel for many.
This is what you need to know, about visiting Mongolia in the winter.
1. The snowy excursions on the Steppe
The best snowy landscapes are outside Ulaanbaatar. You don't need to travel far, though. Even surrounding the capital and easy to reach Tov province provides outstanding winter scenery.
2. Chinggis Khaan State Complex
Just a few miles out of Ulaanbaatar you find the Chinggis Khaan State Complex, a 40-meter high monument of the leader's likeness forged in stainless steel. The sight is stunning as you approach the statue with the rays of the bright winter sun shining upon the former emperor's fierce gaze.
3. Gorkhi-Terelji National Park
The park is another quiet and incredibly scenic place during the wintertime. It is just a 15-20 minutes’ drive from the Chinggis Khaan statue and about 2hrs from Ulaanbaatar. The park offers you several natural sights such as the Turtle Rock; a turtle shaped rock formation that stands out against the sky and rocky mountain ranges beyond.
Those are just examples. In fact, Mongolia has many more fascinating destinations to offer in winter. Drop us a message to learn more.
4. Khustain Nuruu National Park
Another exciting place, we would recommend for excursion, for Mongolia in the winter, is Khustain Nuruu National Park. The home of endangered Przewalski's Horses is easy to access even in January. It offers an opportunity of observing wild animals and experiencing a splendid winter scenery. Staying overnight is possible.
5. What to Eat in Mongolia in the Winter
- Mongolia may not be famous for a variety of cuisines but its hearty specialties hit the spot during wintertime.
- The Mongolians eat a lot of meat and fat in the winter to stay warm. Mutton dumplings called buuz and thick fried noodles, tsuivan, are great for heating the bones in Sub-Zero temperatures.
- You will enjoy the music especially if you are a meat-lover. Mongolians serve plenty of meat based dishes in winter.
- Cold days and evenings s are warmed up with a rich milk tea cold suutei tsai. Occasionally, guests may be treated to local vodka.
- If you want to indulge in a true local cuisine without living Ulaanbaatar I suggest you visit one of a small local restaurants such as Khaan Buuz or Bayalag Buuz. For more upscale experience try Modern Nomads. You will find a wide variety to choose from.
6. Woolly Winter Shopping in Ulaanbaatar.
- If you are willing to brave outside temperatures, Narantuul Market in Ulaanbaatar is an excitedly cheap place to find everything Mongolian from traditional felt boots, vest and mittens, houseware, assortment of hats including 1980's -style and one-piece ski suits.
- Be aware though that this market requires awareness and street smarts as prices are never listed. It is up to you to do a bit of due diligence when bargaining to get the best price.
- Narantuul is largely an open air market. If you are looking for something indoor head to the nearby Dunjingarav Shopping Center.
- If you are looking for well-known brands visit the State Department Store or Shangri-La Mall. You will find plenty of warm clothes there.
- Mongolia is a producer of over a third of the Worlds cashmere. You can bet it is extremely affordable here. But, more then that we recommend buying yak wool products. They are equally comfortable and warm, but cheaper and more environment-friendly than cashmere.
- Cashmere socks, sweater, long underwear, winter Parkas, leather and fur boots are available all year round but near the end of the winter season they go on sale at very inviting prices.
7. Wildlife in Mongolia in the winter.
- In the Mongolian winter, a number of rarely seen animals are easy to spot. Keep your eyes open for black vultures, red foxes and jackals, grey wolves, rabbits, deer, and Mongolian gazelles.
- You will also have a chance to indulge in dog-sledding, a popular winter entertainment that provides an exciting advantage for seeing the frosty landscape up-close.
- A number of local service providers offer dog- sledding excursions.
- Dog sledding will definitely be a great way for you to immerse yourself in the wintry Mongolian countryside uncrowded.
- After an eventful afternoon of racing across icy glimmering frozen rivers and other paths of snow and rock, a ger camp will make a welcoming respite, with warm ger tents, cups of hot Mongolian suutei tsai (salty milk tea) and heaps of buuz ready to warm you up.
8. Khovsgol Lake Ice Festival, Mongolia in the winter
- The "Blue Pearl" or Khovsgol Ice Festival is one of the finest, colourful and full of events in Mongolia. The festivity takes place in the north part of the country on the frozen surface of Lake Khovsgol.
- You can have a tour company organise for you a Mongolian ice festival tour and enjoy the various ice competitions, such as the ice sledding race, ice shooting competitions, a selecting the most stylish, traditionally dressed Mongolian people, Mongolian winter fashion show, horse-sled competition and a contest of incredible ice sculptures.
- In the evening you will get to enjoy the bonfire Festival and see the Shamanic ceremony.