The mountains, plateaus, and lakes of Mongolia give way to the Gobi Desert in the South, an empty wasteland of sand and gravel. Mongolia bakes in the summer and freezes under snow in the winter. A country that is located high above the sea level; it prides itself for its extremely cold weather more specifically on its capital city, Ulan Bator. Discover a great mix of culture, tradition and history with influence of nearby countries like Russia and China.
Here are top ten of the most visited attractions in Mongolia.
Tumen Ekh Ensemble
If you want to have a glimpse of how interesting and talented the people of Mongolia is, go to a concert of national Mongolian songs, music and dances of theTumen Ekh Ensemble in Ulan Bator. The concert happens everyday at 18:00 local time and lasts about two hours. Hear and see the marvelous throat singing performances, playing the traditional Mongolian instruments while garbed in gorgeous colorful costumes coupled with their unique traditional dance. The Mongols are very musical, artistic, and cheerful people and they effectively convey it to their audience. Some dances include a short skit about history and cultural awareness that always receive a lot of positive emotions.
The costumes are beautiful and you will be amazed by the songs and the contortionist performance. The evening show is usually held at the extraordinary National Opera and Ballet Center of the Mongolian capital. It provides a great opportunity to discover the Mongolian art of singing performed by the cast of “National Song and Dance Ensemble” Tumen Ekh. Enjoy the show of the masked dancers that represents the legendary characters and important rituals of Tibetan Buddhism. They symbolize the good and bad influences on how to eliminate and win over evil. Be sure to go to this concert in order to better understand the culture and spirit of the Mongolian people.
Terelj National Park
The Terelj National Park near Ulan Bator is recommended especially for those travelers who have little time for an extended trip to the “inside” of Mongolia and must therefore be limited to one-or two-day trips. It is located just before the gates of the city. It has huge steep landscapes, overgrown hills and the Gers (camps) of the inhabitants. Mongols live in the traditional gers. These round tents or camps have a frame of wooden slats covered with thick felt. Some gers are usually set up by the locals to solve the shortage of local housing.
Typical local scenes can be admired as you take a hike on this beautiful landscape. You can see men or women farmers wrapped up warmly against the cold wind bringing in hay on board a Bactrian (two humped camels) drawn cart. There is very little land in Mongolia that is ideal for cultivation. Even so, the government encourages farmers to grow grain, potatoes, and vegetables to reduce food importation. It is a small impression of the vastness of Mongolia on the outskirts of Ulan Bator.
The park is located about 40 kilometers from the outskirts’ of Ulan Bator. Getting there is worth all the effort because you have to take a very tedious and non paved track, and continue its path on a steep trail! But the show is worth the trip, the landscape gradually changes to the approach of the Ovor Gorski Valley.
The overall landscape is charming. You can admire a geological formation and attraction called the Turtle Rock. The park offers walkers many hiking paths that are lost through spectacular granite blocks as the “Turtle Rock”, a sacred animal among the Mongols appear into view. But the highlight of the tour is the small Monastery of Gunji, a center of spirituality. To get there you have to take a well laid path, spanning a small wooden bridge and climb near the hundred steps leading to the temple. Also notable is the Monastery Aryabal, a convent that is embellished with beautiful and colorful carved wooden structures.
Genghis Khan Statue Complex
The Genghis Khan Statue Complex is off the beaten track and is very impressive due to the size and represents the pride of the Mongols on their forefather. Genghis Khan is omnipresent and everywhere in Mongolia. The monument is located near the entrance of the Terelj National Park. At the foot of the statue is a museum where you can also wear historical Mongolian robes.
It is here in Tsonjin to Boldog, at the age of 15 years old on the bank of the Tuul River, which according to legend Genghis Khan had found a golden whip. Now, it has the largest equestrian statue in the world. Made of stainless steel with a height of 40 meters and raised on a circular base of 10 meters in height that is firmly supported by 36 pillars symbolizing the 36 kings who succeeded Genghis Khan from Ligdan to Khan. It was symbolically turned to China and erected in 2008 by sculptor D. Erdenebileg and architect J. Enkhjargal. The complex was built on supposedly the place where Genghis Khan found the whip that gave him the power to become invincible and great. From Ulaanbaatar to go about an hour, taking into account traffic jams in the city. The road is bad, but the view of the beautiful open prairie and the complex itself is impressive.
Needless to say, it shines in the sun. To get there, one must climb a broad staircase. Inside the base, the orange and burgundy boot over 8 meters in height is a museum dedicated to the history of the Mongols during 12, 13 and 14th centuries, as well as numerous small objects for the most part. There are bronze utensils for everyday use, belt buckles, knives, sacred animals, etc. An elevator (there is also a staircase) provides access to the back of the horse, and then a final staircase runs along the neck that leads to the top of the head. Be sure to go inside and climb to the top until you find yourself “in the head of a horse” which offers even more stunning views of the entire landscape surrounding the museum complex. You can stand on a platform where the panoramic view of the city Ulan Bator is very beautiful and can be solemnly admired.
Hustai National Park
The Hustai National Park is located 95 km from Ulan Bator and can be accessed through the paved road to Banyhankangai. The trail that leads to the park entrance is located 13 kms from the city. This track stretches in the grassy steppe of the Western Mongolia, and leads to the camp-hotel scientific observatory. This course crossed the four quarters of very chaotic paths. Once you reach the wildlife area it is the right moment to bring out binoculars, camcorders and cameras primarily to make your photo-safari experience truly unique. Take time to observe not only the wild Thaki horses, but also species of marmots, deer, hares and other vultures in a beautiful environment in its natural habitat.
It is an interesting park to learn about all the exhaustive efforts and the work that has been done to prevent the extinction of the Mongol-Thaki horses-and see the wildlife park property. Also, you can tour the archaeological site of the graves and the evidence of Mongolian artifacts that is over 3,000 years old. It is recommended to see the wildlife as early as 6 am to see the herds of wild in all its glory.
Each herd is led by a stallion that safely guards his mares and ensures that no other individual younger stallions get dangerously close to the herd. Designated park rangers accompany tourists because they know best where the horses gather most for better observation and photographs. There are a total of 20 herds that reside in the park and is scattered by moving on every open plains. If you’re lucky, you can watch the animals at close range. A pair of binoculars is a valuable tool to discover the horses in the mountainous terrain. Overnight accommodation is located at the camp near the entrance of the national park.
Choijin Lam Temple Museum
The Choijin Lam Temple Museum is located in the center of Ulan Bator and is surrounded by modern skyscrapers. Within the various Temple buildings one can find true art like dance masks made of coral and beautiful Buddha statues. At first glance, it looks like a big temple but inside it is a profusion of Buddha images, fabrics and especially statues. It is a solemn and beautiful place that is fragrant with incense. The visitor can check from room to room to discover more ancient treasure collection display.
Included in the admission price is a guided tour in English by young locals who care for the stranger in a rare kindness and dedication. Built in 1908, the complex was until 1937 a convent in which the younger brother of the last Mongolian king Bogd Khan embodied the spiritual head or the state oracle. It has a wonderful temple architecture, colorful ancient masks and historical exhibits that show proof of ancient Mongolian culture and illustrate Mongolian Buddhism. Visit can be done in one hour.
Zanabazar Museum of Fine Art
The Zanabazar Museum of Fine Art is a very interesting museum where you can find several tankas made with colored silks rather than paintings. It is an amazing piece of artwork from the Monaco born artist Zanabazar that can never be seen anywhere else around Mongolia.
The museum is very well constructed. The guided tour begins with a visit to the prehistoric art section, and finally ends up with the current masks which are explained in multilingual videos. There is a small souvenir shop that can be found downstairs.
National History Museum
Many tourists visit Mongolia, mainly because of the undoubtedly impressive landscape and the emerging capital of Ulan Bator is worth a visit. The best way to know more about it is a visit to the National History Museum in the central Sukhbaatar Square.
It is a very intelligent little stop to see and understand the history of this country beautiful collection of Petro glyphs and the Paleolithic era collection of artifacts.
Bogd Khan Palace Museum
It is dubbed as the palace of the last Mongolian ruler. The palace is now a museum, erected in honor of the last Mongol ruler Bogd Khan the 8th in 1903. The whole facility consists of six temples, pagodas and the double-decker Winter Palace. The large pagodas contain interesting Buddhist paintings, idols and statues. The double-decker Winter Palace, however, contains many personal items of the 8th Lama and his wife, throne and beds, gifts from other statesmen, a library and a collection of stuff exotic animals from Hamburg.
The buildings are beautifully restored. The objects and painted on silk Buddhist images are interesting and beautiful. You can also see some personal items this ruler issued in his winter quarters.
Walking through the square that is the commercial hub of the capital, you will be watched over by Genghis Khan who is enthroned between the columns of the front of the presidential palace. All around the square stands the offices of banks and companies, shopping areas, the most beautiful buildings of the city, banks and theaters and the adorable Parliament Building.
The Sukhbaatar Square is a good starting point for visiting the most important museums and parks of the city. The main square is always full of events and a great promenade area where you can also rent bicycles and electric cars for your children.
The Yol Valley is a very narrow and deep valley that is about 10 km long, surrounded by vertical rock that is almost 200 meters in height. Its most outstanding feature is despite being in the middle of the Gobi desert it still retains summer in the valley but you can still find huge masses of ice on its idyllic landscape.
It is more known as the ice valley because it lies nestled in a beautiful landscape frozen canyon located within a natural park.