Looking for the best-rated tourist attractions in Mongolia?
Boasting an endless list of top attractions, things to see and do, and points of interest to explore, a vacation in Mongolia is certainly a great investment of time and money.
Discover the best 15 places to visit in the country with our list of the top-rated tourist attractions in Mongolia
1. Search for dinosaur bones at Bayanzag / Flaming Cliffs
- Bayanzag is a famous palaeontological site that was first excavated in early 1920s by team of an American naturalist, Roy Chapman Andrews.
- Andrews gave Bayanzag its nickname, Flaming Cliffs, due to an unusual colour the site had at the sunset. In Mongolian Bayanzag means “rich in saxaul,” a name owned to a large number of Haloxylon ammodendron plants growing in the area.
- The area is most famous for yielding the first discovery of dinosaur eggs. Other finds in the area include specimens of Velociraptor and eutherian mammals.
- Bayanzag has a classic desert look of red sand, scrubs, rocks under striking vast emptiness which makes it extremely attractive sunset site.
2. Ride Camels at Khongor Els Sand Dunes
- These are known to be the largest and most eye-catching dunes in Mongolia.
- The rise up to 300m with a width of 12kms and almost 100kms long making them a popular location for organizing camel treks.
3. Visit Eagle Hunters in Bayan-Olgii Province
- Kazakh Eagle Hunters are representatives of one of the most unusual professions in the World.
- Those courageous hunters chase their prey on a horseback dispatching specially trained, massive Golden Eagles to capture it.
- Hunting with eagles take place during cold season from late Autumn to early Spring. Homestay with eagle hunters allow you a deeper understanding of their culture and traditions.
- You can also admire their skills during several festivals organized in the Autumn and Spring. The most popular, the Golden Eagle Festival, takes place on the first weekend of October.
4. Climb Malchin Peak in Altai Tavan Bogd National Park
- Altai Tavan Bogd National Park is home to Tavan Bogd the highest mountain of Mongolia (4374 m).
- Tavan Bogd sports five peaks among which one called Malchin (4,050m) allows a none-technical climb.
- Exploring Malchin grants incredible mountaineering experience and fantastic view of the surrounding landscape, including Mongolia’s longest glacier – Potanin.
5. Ride Horses in the Orkhon River Valley
- Orkhon River Valley is one of the most beautiful places in Mongolia. Covers with green meadow and abundant in water, the area has been a cradle of numerous nomadic civilisations.
- In the 13th century it was the site of the legendary capital of the Mongol Empire – Karakorum.
- Today, riding horses in the valley allows you not only to experience its lavish beauty while exploring the archaeological remnants of the ancient cultures.
6. Seek Spiritual Guidance at Erdene Zuu Monastery
- This was the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia founded in 1586.
- At its peak the complex consisted of 62 temples and was inhabited by up to 1000 monks.
- The monastery was site up at the site where once stood the capital of the Mongol Empire - Karakorum. Stones from the ruins were used to construct the temples.
- The monastery was greatly damaged during the anti-religious purges ran in the 1930s by the communist government of Mongolia.
- Only few temples survived the initial onslaught and by 1944 became a showpiece for international visitors to prove that the communist regime allowed freedom of religion.
- After the fall of the communism, Erdene Zuu regained its religious function and today remains one of the most important sacral sites in Mongolia and a witness to the country’s turbulent history.
7. Jump Into Freezing-Cold Khovsgol Lake
- It is the second largest lake in Mongolia surrounded by a beautiful National Park, with an ecstatic view of gorgeous mountains and amazing valleys.
- This freshwater lake is frozen for almost half of the year and it's said that the water is drinkable and needs no treatment.
- The giant 136 kilometres long and 262 metres deep reservoir holds almost 70% of Mongolia's fresh water.
- Khovsgol is one of seventeen ancient lakes in the world. It’s more than 2 million years old and connected to Lake Baikal through Selenge River.
8. Look for Przewalski's horses in Khustain Nuruu National Park
- Try your luck in finding some of these rear horses as they gallop over the rock ridges of the Khustain Nuruu National Park.
- They are one of the most iconic creatures in the steppes.
- Extinct in the wild they were bred in the captivity and reintroduced in the 1990s at Khustain National Park.
- Today there roughly 2,000 Przewalski’s horses (or Takhi as they are called in Mongolian) live in various places around the Globe. But Khustain Nuruu remains the place with the largest population of over 400 animals.
9. Climb to the top of the Chinggis Khaan Equestrian Monument
- This enormous monument stands only an hour away from Ulaanbaatar. This statue is bigger than you can imagine- standing 40m tall. The view from the top of the statue is worth the trip.
- The statue stands on the bank of the Tuul River in a place where according to legend, Chinggis Khan found a golden whip.
- The statue is symbolically pointed east towards Deluun Boldog where the khan was born.
- Visitors walk to the head of the horse through its chest and neck to a view deck offering panoramic view of the area.
- Touring inside the statue you will also find a museum, a small souvenir shop, and photo station where you can take pictures in different Mongolian costumes from the Chinggis' era.
10. Contemplate Life in Amarbayasgalant Monastery
- This Old Monastery was built in the years between 1727 and 1737 by the Manchu Emperor as a burial site of Zanabazar, the first spiritual head of Mongolian Buddhism.
- For centuries Amarbayasgalant was one of the most important religious sites in Mongolia.
- The complex suffered greatly during the 1930s communist purges. Only 28 temples survived in various state of decoy.
- Beginning 1988 a series of restoration works began with the funds provided by UNESCO and private sources.
- Today, the monastery is slowly returning to life as a religious centre. Its long, turbulent history, and spectacular location in the heart of the Iven River Valley, makes is extremely alluring.
11. Get Energized at Khamar Monastery
- Founded in the 1820 by a charismatic Buddhist monk called Danzanravjaa, Khamar Monastery was believed to standing on source of a powerful spiritual energy.
- The complex was destroyed in the 1930s but the legend survived. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, local people began to restore the temple.
- Today the area sprouts a new, growing temple and an energy centre called Shambala. Thousands of Mongolians visit the site each year to pray and receive the spiritual energy radiating from the earth.
- A visit to Khamar Monastery is an excellent opportunity to explore the lesser-travelled part of the Gobi Desert with sand dunes and camel rides.
12. Follow The Traces of Chinggis Khan in Khentii Province
- Khentii Province in the north-east Mongolia is considered to be the land of Chinggis Khan. The great conqueror was born here in 1162 and here he spent large part of his life lying bedrock for his future empire.
- It’s said that he is also buried in Khentii, somewhere on the Burkhan Khaldun Mountain.
- If you travel with a knowledgeable guide, you will be able to follow Chinggis Khan traces, visiting sites connected the Mongol Empire. Some are the thing of legends but other have been declared authentic based on scientific research. All of them are however extremely scenic and worth your time and effort.
- On top of exploring sites related to Chings Khan, Khentii offers also spectacular Switzerland-like landscape, fantastic bread made by Buriad ethnic minority, and some great opportunities for horse riding.
13. Hike in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park
- It is a popular national park well known for its picturesque scenery full of pine-studded mountain valleys and sculpted rock formations.
- It is an amazing paradise for outdoor adventures which include hiking, horse riding, rock climbing, and rafting. You can also do dog sledding during the core of winter.
- Depending on your fitness level, you can focus on short-one day hikes or try a longer overnight trek including camping.
- The park is also an excellent place for exploring Mongolian herders’ traditions and lifestyle. The best way get a deeper insight is a homestay with a nomadic family.
- And if you are looking for a more comfortable solution, the area houses also several excellent camps and a luxurious hotel.
14. Watch Mongolian Opera in Ulaanbaatar
- Watching opera in Mongolia is a one in a life time experience. That’s because Mongolian people do not only play European classic but also perform plays written by Mongolian authors that fit into Mongolian culture and traditions.
- There are many Mongolian operas that you can watch. One of the most famous is the classic
“The Three Sad Hills” written by prominent Mongolian poet, writer, and playwright D.Natsagdorj. But the choice it’s much broader.
- National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet of Mongolia is where you get to experience outstanding performances with top-notch acoustic.
- Mongolians are avid listeners no matter age and gender. Expect to see plenty of children and teenagers enjoying the opera together with adults.
- Watching opera in Mongolia is an autumn to spring experience. In summer the opera in closed for holidays.
- Fun fact! Mongolians are not strangers to Western Opera. Not only are European classic played often and on a very high level in Ulaanbaatar, but one of the rising stars of the modern opera, Ariunbaatar Ganbaatar, is a Mongolian born in a headers family.
15. Experience Every Day Life of Mongolian herders While Staying With the Nomads.
- Almost third of Mongolian people still leaves traditional nomadic lifestyle. While they often utilize modern technology such as mobile phones or solar panels, many of their ways follow centuries-long traditions.
- Nomadic lifestyle is not an easy one. Nomads live in traditional felt dwellings called ger (yurt) and migrate depending on the season and weather.
- To get at least a minimal understanding of their daily routines, hardships and joys they experience every day, you should try to stay a couple of days with a nomadic family.
- You will get involved in daily duties, learn to care for domestic animals, cook Mongolian food, and perhaps even pick up some Mongolian vocabulary