What to see in Mongolia

What to see in Mongolia – 10 unmissable posts

10 dream places in Mongolia that you must not miss and tips for organizing your trip

Among the countries in the world where nature expresses itself in all its strength, there is certainly Mongolia. A plurality of different environments, from the steppe to the Altai chain, from the northern forests to the Gobi desert, passing through volcanoes and glaciers.

Mongolia is a true natural paradise, immense spaces where a population of nomadic breeders still lives, almost imperceptible in the immensity of the spaces. If you love silence, wind and infinite horizons, welcome to Mongolia.

Find out what to see in Mongolia but also how to best organize your trip to avoid mistakes that could make you miss out on some special places.

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10 wonderful places to travel in Mongolia 

Wedged between Russia and China, Mongolia is a bit peripheral to traditional tourist circuits in Asia. This only makes this incredible country even more fascinating, giving the land of Genghis Khan an extra touch of mystery. If you are thinking of a trip to Mongolia, its charm has already struck you, all that remains is to organize a splendid trip to discover a country that boasts among its attractions above all splendid natural environments.

In Mongolia, in fact, cities are few. In fact the only city worthy of note is the capital (Ulanbatar), where ancient and modern blend together. Here you will have the opportunity to discover Mongolian history and culture in the museums, religion in the temples and cuisine in its restaurants.

Once you leave the capital there will be unpaved roads, nights in gher and Spartan life, totally immersed in the cycle of the seasons. You will admire livid sunrises, fiery sunsets and herds of horses free in the steppe. However, doing it yourself may be difficult.

dune di khongoryn els

What not to miss during your trip to Mongolia

Mongolia is probably not among the most visited countries inAsia, it is no coincidence that the government is investing in promotion, but it is certainly among those whose myth echoes the loudest. As mentioned, the main attractions of the town are naturalistic, with almost unpronounceable names. Places like Khongoryn Els or Tsagaan Suvarga will literally leave you breathless. Finding these goals is not easy if you don’t have adequate means and tools at your disposal.

Theobjective logistical difficulty of Mongolia, namely non-existent roads, lack of urban centers and reference points limited to cardinals brings us to the second reason that pushes many travelers to make this complicated journey. We are talking about contact with the life of the nomadic population. An irreplaceable source of help in a country hardened even by harsh weather conditions. In Mongolia you can sleep in a gher and discover the nomadic culture.

Among the various regions that make up Mongolia, the west dominated by the Altai mountain chain stands out for its particularity. The . hunting with eagles lives here, which is ethnically and culturally distinct from the rest of the population. Among their typical activities isKazakh minority

By continuing to read you will surely fall in love with the idea of ​​Mongolia, and then set off to discover it and fall in love with it completely. Under a sky of unparalleled blue.

after seeing

Traveling alone for the first time in Mongolia

It is essential to know that traveling alone in Mongolia will certainly be an adventure, which risks being very expensive. If the majority of visitors who reach this incredible country do so with an organized trip, there is a reason. The conditions of the roads, the geography, the very low population density (a country five times the size of Italy and four million inhabitants, two of which in the capital) and the climate make a trip very difficult solo

The climate is not an indifferent factor, in winter temperatures in Mongolia can drop several tens of degrees below zero. And the Mongolian winter is not only harsh but also very long, so much so that there aren’t many months available to visit it, roughly from May to September. 

The risk, if you decide to travel alone without organizing your trip very well, is that of being stuck in the capital, missing out on the wonders of the country, or having to pay on the spot to rent an off-road vehicle with a driver, < /span>Mongolian slopes are dangerous for those who don’t know them.

panorama mongolia

The regions of Mongolia

Formally Mongolia is divided into 21 provinces or aimags, of varying size. For the convenience of travelers we will divide it into five major areas, to which we add the capital.


Most likely your first stop in Mongolia. Ulaanbaatar, the capital itself is nothing special, but you can spend a couple of days admiring its Tibetan-style temples and interesting museums. Here tradition and modernity coexist, it is not uncommon to see farmers in traditional dress entering banks built in the most modern styles. The heart of Mongolia, where half of its population lives.

Central Mongolia

The region around which every trip to Mongolia centers, an expanse of treeless rolling steppes. The population here is dedicated to cattle breeding, in an environment where naturalistic attractions combine with the presence of important monasteries such as that of Erdene Zuu, among the oldest in the country. Central Mongolia is essential in any self-respecting program.

Gobi region

Located close to the border with China, this steppe and desert area is among the driest in the world. Yet its beauty is incontestable, as you can only confirm by admiring the dunes of Khongoryn Els, the breathtaking landscapes that you will reach from Bayanzak oasis and the rock formations of Khermen Tsav. A region that is logistically challenging but of astonishing beauty.

The Altai

Dominated by the Altai mountain range, the western part of Mongolia is where the Kazakh minority lives, particularly in ;aimag by Bayan-Ölgii. This region offers a plurality of natural environments, each with its own characteristics. Lake systems, steppes, deserts and mountains, over which eagles soar. Ideal place if your idea of ​​Mongolia corresponds to adventure.

Northern Mongolia

This corner of Mongolia, the southern end of the Siberian taiga, is also connected to the concept of adventure. Especially when the area becomes very muddy with the thaw. Most travelers reach the remote northern provinces to meet the tsaatan, reindeer herders among whom the traditional shamanic culture and Lake Khuvsgul are still deeply rooted. >.

Eastern Mongolia

Perhaps the part of Mongolia least touched by international tourism, yet there is no shortage of elements of interest. The wealth of rivers and the Khentii chain offer splendid natural environments, although less harsh than in the rest of the country. But, above all, this is the region of Mongolia most linked to the life and myth of Genghis Khan, who is said to be buried somewhere right here.

Mongolian horses and traditions

10 destinations not to be missed in Mongolia

A fascinating place like few others in the world, Mongolia will truly captivate you with the majesty of its nature. The different environments make thelandscape varied and always surprising, all in silence interrupted only by the screeches of some birds of prey. You will then be able to immerse yourself in the discovery of nomadic culture and its traditions, meet shamans and respect the spirits of the earth,

It’s difficult to say which place is more beautiful than another in Mongolia, whatever itinerary you decide to undertake, being left speechless in the face of so much beauty. From the remote lake of Terkhiin Tsaagan Nuur to the active monastery of the capital, Mongolia will conquer you. Here are the 10 places to visit in Mongolia and which I advise you not to miss.


Still known by its old name of Ulan Bator, and for those who use the more confidential name of UB, Ulaanbaatar will certainly be yours starting point to discover Mongolia.

You don’t need many days to visit the whole city, a couple will be enough. You can visit Gandantegchinlen, the largest monastery in the country, or get a panoramic view of the city from the Zaisan Mausoleum< /span> where the parliament stands, at the entrance of which stands an enormous statue of Kublai Khan. Don’t miss the interesting National Museum to learn more about the history of the country and its population. In UB you will find numerous typical and international restaurants, as well as clubs and shops for shopping.Sükhbaatar Square. The heart of the Mongolian capital is

Erdene Zuu

Popular tourist destination and place symbol of Mongolian culture, this monastery was built on the remains of what was the capital of the empire Mongolian in the 13th century, i.e. Karakorum. Erdene Zuu is most likely the oldest monastery in the country, whose history was tragically marked by the Mongolian communist regime. Now partly restored, with the 108 white stupas surrounding its perimeter (the same number as the beads of the Buddhist rosary) it symbolizes the rebirth of religion in Mongolia . Located a few kilometers from the city of Kharkhorin, Erdene Zuu is part of the UNESCO world heritage site, together with the Valley of ;Orkhon of which it is a part. A first trip to Mongolia should definitely consider this beautiful place.

Erdene Zuu

Monastero di Amarbayasgalant

The Amarbayasgalant monastery is among the few monasteries that survived the communist period, it is one of the largest and most important places of worship in Mongolia. Located in the northern province of Selenge, this Buddhist monastery dates back to the 18th century, being built with traditional Chinese architecture, with Mongolian and Tibetan influences, characterized by imposing wooden structures.

Today this monastery has been almost entirely renovated and is universally recognized as one of the most beautiful and significant places in Mongolia’s religious life. The place is also notable from alandscape point of view, thanks to its location at the foot of the Büren-Khaan mountain, in the Selenge river valley. The monastery is dedicated to the figure of Maitreya, the Buddha of the future.

Monastero Amarbayasgalant

Lake Khuvsgul

Moving north-west we find Khuvsgul lake, the second largest lake in the country, as well as one of the deepest freshwater lakes in the world reaching up to 260m depth. We are near the border with Russia, where the Siberian taiga borders on Mongolia, a land of forests where the Tsaatan minority lives =5>originating from the Russian region of Tuva.

This ethnic minority, of Turkish origin, is few in number but well known both for their main activity, namely reindeer herding, and for their traditions still strongly linked to shamanism. The views surrounding Khuvsgul are enchanting and make exploring this particular part of Mongolia, so different in terms of environment and population from the rest of the country, even more fascinating.

lake Khuvsgul

Khongoryn Els

We now move to the opposite side of Mongolian territory, to the south characterized by the presence of the Gobi desert. It is a spectacularexpanse of sand dunes, which reach heights of up to two hundred meters. This is also an unmissable destination on any first trip to Mongolia, the dunes can be climbed, a quite challenging activity, so you can admire the panorama below from their summit, including the oasis that lies at their feet.

Particularly fascinating is the spectacle of the dunes at dawn or at sunset, when you can admire amazing plays of light. The singing of these dunes is also famous, a phenomenon due to the wind which makes the grains of sand slide over each other thus producing the typical sound. 

dune di khongoryn els

After seeing

We are still in the south of Mongolia in an area, that of Bayanzag, rich in attractions linked to the prehistoric past of what is today the Mongolian territory while it was once ocean floor. In this corner of Mongolia you will find the so-called Flaming Cliffs, pyrotechnic rock formations with a bright red color that is millions of years old.

The area is also rich in dinosaur fossils, for example remains of Velociraptors have been found and Protoceratops, proving to be a true paradise for lovers of paleontology, so much so that real paleontological tours are organised. Of particular interest, from this point of view, is also the paleontological museum of Bayanzag. The Bayanzag area is also perfect for admiring the stars at night.

Bayanzag Mongolia

Khermen Tsav

Still in the Gobi, even the remote area of ​​Khermen Tsav offers unique views thanks to its rocky conformations, characterized by earthy colors that can go from red and orange to darker shades, giving a truly remarkable chromatic effect.

In addition to the excavations for the search for fossil remains, here you will also find a natural park for the conservation of numerous animal and plant species which they are adapted to life in a desert environment. Furthermore, one of the favorite activities of travelers who reach Khermen Tsav is camping. You will therefore be able to totally immerse yourself in the natural environment of Mongolia, enjoying a& #39;wild atmosphere of freedom and tranquility, thanks to this area not being among the main tourist routes.

Tsagaan Suvarga

Also called “white stupa” is the last place on our list which is located in Southern Mongolia, to be precise in the province of Dundgovi. In this case the color of the rocks is white, hence the name by which it is known, while the underlying layers have stripes of different colours.

This gives the site a decidedly evocative appearance, as well as being an important source of knowledge regarding the geological history of the region. The destination of Tsagaan Suvarga is much loved by travelers who wish to haveoutdoor experiences, including through guided excursions. In the surrounding area, nomadic communities live through which they can come into contact with the local culture and daily life, perhaps even enjoying the truly characteristic meat-based cuisine.

Tsagaan Suvarga

The Altai

And here we are in the west of Mongolia, where lives the Kazakh minority dedicated to hunting with eagles. Here the inhabited centers are more numerous, especially along the road that leads from the border with Russia to Ulaanbaatar. The westernmost reaches of the Gobi meet here with the peaks of the Altai chain, creating a multifaceted natural environment.

You will realize that you have arrived in the area where the Kazakh minority lives thanks to the different shape of the gher, less round due to the fact that in this part of Mongolia it perhaps blows less vigorously. The mountainous region in fact offers gorges and valleys in which local communities can find greater shelter from the fury of the elements. In the west, where four countries border each other, you can experience a different Mongolia than usual.

Lago Terkhin Tsaagan Nur

We close the list of ten unmissable destinations for a first trip to Mongolia, returning to the northwest in one of the most remote areas of the country. It is a true natural wonder surrounded by steppes and mountains, whose origin is volcanic. In fact, nearby is the Khorgo volcano, whose lava flows have shaped the landscape of the area, included in a natural park that takes its name from the volcano same.

The Lake Terkhiin Tsaagan Nuur, also called white lake, is a wonderful nature reserve rich in flora and fauna, where you can go fishing and numerous water sports, not to mention that several nomadic communities live on its banks.

Lago terkhin standing in the light

How many days for a trip to Mongolia

This is a question that is always difficult to answer, everyone has their own travel pace. Even more so in a country like Mongolia where the unexpected is just around the corner, even in an infinite expanse of treeless grass. About two weeks, 14-16 days, is a good number of days to get a first impression of this wonderful country, through a route that starts from Ulaanbaatar and winds through central Mongolia. 

How to get around Mongolia

This is certainly the most problematic point of any trip to Mongolia done independently, underestimating the issue of travel in Mongolia is a good point departure to ruin the trip. Public transport exists, of course, a network of buses and minibuses. The problem is the inhabited centres, which are few and generally very distant from each other.

Mongolia has a railway network, and it is also heavily used. The main branch of this network is in fact the Mongolian section of the Trans-Siberian, called Transmongolica, which crosses the country joining Russia and China. The local network, however, is quite limited and connects the capital to the cities of Darkhan, Sukhbaatar and Erdenet, as well as to Zamyn-Üüd.

There is also internal air transport, most provincial capitals have their own airport but departures are often seasonal and with scheduled times sometimes a little approximate.

As seen above, traveling to Mongolia independently can be difficult.

Transhumance - Zavkhai

Useful tips for traveling to Mongolia

  • Plan carefully: this is not a trip to be taken lightly
  • The best time to visit Mongolia is from May to September, but if you don’t like the cold, focus on the period from June to August
  • Bring suitable and varied clothing, temperatures can change suddenly
  • Don’t forget supplies, as it will be difficult to find supplies in more remote regions
  • Make sure you have some cash in local currency with you, withdrawing or using credit cards may not be possible
  • Learn a few words of Mongolian, you will need it in the most isolated areas
  • Remember that in Mongolia there are practically no roads, unless you are an expert off-road driver, do not get behind the wheel
  • Respect local traditions: Mongolian culture is deeply symbolic, wrong attitudes could lead to bad spirits and bring unpleasant consequences
  • Mongolian cuisine is mainly based on meat and derivatives, take this into account if you are vegetarian or vegan. You may encounter difficulties
  • Bring everything you need for spectacular photos and videos, including extra batteries.
famiglia kazaka

Travel to Mongolia – The most frequently asked questions

  • What language is spoken in Mongolia? The official language is Mongolian, but among the minorities Kazakh, Russian and Tuvan are also spoken
  • What is the currency used in Mongolia? The official currency of Mongolia is the Tugrik
  • Do you need a visa to enter Mongolia? For citizens of many countries, including Italy, a visa is not needed for a stay of less than 30 days 
  • Is Mongolia safe for tourists? Mongolia is a safe country for tourists, with a low crime rate. However, remember to always use common sense and take normal safety measures 
  • What is the best time to travel to Mongolia? The best time to visit Mongolia is from June to August
  • What absolutely shouldn’t be missed in Mongolia? You absolutely must not miss the beauty of its landscapes and the discovery of its nomadic culture
  • What do you eat in Mongolia? Mongolian cuisine is based on meat, typical are “Buuz” (steamed dumplings), “Khuushuur” (fried turnovers), and the rich stews called “Khorkhog”
  • What to know about Mongolian habits and customs? Traditional culture is still very much felt, it respects Mongolian rules of behavior.
  • What is the religion of Mongolia? Tibetan rite Buddhism is practiced in Mongolia, but the influences of the shamanic tradition are still very present. The Kazakh minority is Muslim.
  • How much does a trip to Mongolia cost? Participation in a tour organized by a local operator lasting two weeks costs around €1800 per person (flights excluded).
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