5 Most Unique Experiences in Mongolia
Written and contributed by Trip101
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A vast untouched and undiscovered wilderness is the perfect way to describe much of Mongolia. Off the beaten track for many, tourism still provides an authentic taste of nomadic culture, stunning nature, and vibrant festivals. Some areas are so remote that you can be the only person within miles! If you want a travel experience that will stay with you for years, Mongolia is the country for you.
Source: Image by Erdenebayar Bayansan from Pixabay
In this post, we’ll take a look at the 5 most unique experiences in Mongolia. Hopefully, it’ll help you to plan your trip and really make the most of what’s on offer in this beautiful country!
Take the Grand Trans-Siberian train to Ulaanbaatar
The Grand Trans-Siberian express is the perfect way to visit Ulaanbaatar from either Moscow or Beijing. You’ll travel in opulent luxury, then when you disembark the train you’ll have the chance to try all of the below and more.
Source: Grand Trans Siberian Express
No trip to Mongolia is complete without visiting the country’s fascinating capital city, Ulaanbaatar. It’s home to the country’s only international airport and railway line, so to be honest, it’s impossible not to visit! But don’t just see it as somewhere to stop off, it’s a really fascinating city. Two to three days is enough to see the main attractions of one of the few urban centres for miles and miles around. The bright lights and hustle and bustle are something to behold.
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Learn about the country’s history at the National History Museum, try traditional Mongolian fare at excellent restaurants, and find peace at the temples which are dotted throughout the capital. To get a view of it all, head to the Zaisan Monument viewpoint. It’ll give you the best panoramic of the unique Ulaanbaatar skyline, some of which is made up of yurts!
Experience a traditional Mongolian homestay
Mongolians are a nomadic people and what better way to learn more about the culture than staying in a traditional homestay? A ger is a tent style home made of skins and felt, and it’s both a symbol of traditional Mongolian heritage and a unique opportunity for travellers. You have loads of options too – you can either stay in a ger as part of an organised tour, go on an independent hike and hope to come across one, or head to a specific tourist camp. What you should choose depends on your travel style: tourist camps are generally more comfortable, but you won’t have the experience of meeting a local family!
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A single door opens up to the yurt’s interior, which is warm in winter and cool in summer. Heat from the stove escapes through a hole in the top. Mongolian families are known for their kindness and hospitality, so make sure you show plenty of respect and sample everything that is offered to you. This is an unforgettable and unique Mongolian experience!
Witness the spectacle of the Naadam Festival
Mongolia has several festivals throughout the year, and what a spectacle they are. There’s the Golden Eagle Festival, which celebrates the relationship between Kazakh hunters and eagles, but the real jewel in the crown is the Naadam Festival, the festival of Mongolia’s national sports. That’s right, where most countries have one national sport, Mongolia was indecisive. So, this is a celebration of wrestling, archery, and horse racing!
Source: Image by Enkhtamir Enkhdavaa from Pixabay
It’s a three day event which takes place in July across the whole country, though the main event is in Ulaanbaatar. The sports were initially intended to scout out the military for Genghis Khan’s army. Nowadays, it’s a celebration of national heritage, but it’s taken no less seriously than it would have been all those years ago! Naadam is now known as the “three manly games”, although there’s nothing stopping females participating in these sports!
Head out into the Gobi Desert
The Gobi Desert is the 5th largest desert in the world, covering over 1.3 million square kilometres. That’s a lot of pristine opportunity for hiking, camel riding, and photographing otherworldly landscapes and sunsets!
Image by hbieser from Pixabay
In fact, photography is one of the top reasons to visit the Gobi Desert. Not only will you get awesome sunsets, but unforgettable sunrises, and if your cameras good enough, a sky full of stars too! You can even find tours specifically focused on photography.
Source: Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash
If you don’t want to hike through the Gobi Desert, another option is riding a camel. Another exciting Mongolian festival takes place in March each year called the Thousand Camels. It celebrates the Gobi Bactrian camel, and you’ll be lucky enough to see camel parades, camel polo, and a number of other cultural events at this intriguing festival. Check out a range of Gobi Desert Tours to find the one best suited to your interests!
Get up close and personal with bird of prey
We’ve already mentioned the Golden Eagle festival, and it’s the perfect way to round off our list of unique experiences in Mongolia. Head to the Western Province of Bayan-Ölgii to learn more about the relationship between man and eagle in one of the world’s most riveting and unusual festivals. At the festival, you can see such awards as best turned out eagle and owner, and best eagle at locating prey!
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Of course, the festival isn’t all about the birds of prey. It’s a fantastic opportunity to find out more about this remote province’s culture, customs, and traditional foods and dress. It’s a three-hour flight from Mongolia and again, it’s probably best to arrange a tour than attempt to organise it yourself. However, you’re very welcome to try! The festival takes place every October! If you can’t travel during October, the Western provinces are still a great place for birdwatching.
So, now that you have a better idea of how to make the most of your trip to Mongolia…
You’ll probably want to get booking your trip! Remember, Mongolia is miles and miles of remote wilderness, so unless you’re really confident and brave, you’ll probably want to book an organised tour. Check out Sedunia Travels to see what’s on offer or for further advice on travelling to Mongolia!