Mongolia

Define Mongolia from a backpackers perspective. Feel free to edit existing content or add your own.

Top 10 destination

1. Altai Tavan Bogd National Park The rugged beauty of Bayan-olgii aimag with its pointed mountain points reaching for the sky and vast valleys crisscrossed with meandering streams has always stood out of the western aimags of Mongolia. Bayan-olgii is the home to the second largest ethnic group-the Khazakhs with their unique culture who continue to hunt with trained golden eagles besides herding goats. The Altai region is  abundant with significant archaeological sites dating back to Paleolithic era, evidences of human habitation as far back as 40,000 and 12,000 years ago. The Altai mountain range stretching for 900km across Russian, Mongolia and China and the Tavan Bogd National park have always stood out from any other part of Mongolia. The highest mountain peak, the Khuiten Uul at 4374 meters flanked by four other peaks along with the Potanin river, the source of a massive glacier, are commonly known as Tavan Bogd or the Five Saints.

2. Great Bogd mountain There are three high mountain ranges in Mongolia called Altayn range, Hangayn range and Khenteyn range. Khenteyn and  Hangayn range lie on central and northern Mongolia. Altayn range consists of Mongol Altayn range and Govi – Altay sub ranges with 1500 km length. Ikh Bogd Snow capped Mountain is the highest peak of Govi-Altay sub range and 3900m high above sea level. People from Government and locals worshipped the mountain building hill stone on the top. There is a Salty Lake called Orog in mountainside. Ikh Bogd sacred mountain had broken into gorge and partially collapsed by earthquake in 1957.  The gorge is 100km long. Other notable attractions include Bichigt Khad, a world-class petro glyphic, whose rock paintings date back to the Bronze age. The nearby Tsagaan Agui (White Cave) is believed to be the place of the earliest human inhabitance in Mongolia, with evidence of human presence dating as far back as 700,000 years ago.

3. Yolin Am The Yolin am or the Vulture’s mouth established to conserve the regional birdlife became a favorite place to visit for its dramatic and unusual natural landscape shaped by a towering mountain gorge in the middle of the Gobi desert with thick ice all year-round.

4. Tsagaan suvarga Tsagaan suvarga is an area of 30-m high white limestone formations and a beautiful part of the desert. We will drive to a set of eroded limestone cliffs, from where you have fantastic view over the desert floor down below, which bore colors from white and yellow to pink and deep red.

5. Bayanzag In 1921, American paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews fount the dinosaur eggs and put Mongolia on the map of international adventure seekers and explorers. The origin of ancient seabed, Umnugovi has a treasure package of late Crafeceous dinosaurs located in Bayanzag or the Flamming cliffs the rocks give off orange and red colors that seem to glow at sunset.

6. Khorgo-tekh national park Surrounded by extinct volcanoes the Terkhiin Tsagaan lake at an altitude of 2060 m covers an area of 61 sq.km. the spectacular geology of Khorgo volcano lying east of Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake certainly adds to the pleasure of visiting Arkhangai aimag. Near the crater there are dozens of small caverns with stalactites hanging from the ceiling and walls. In the middle of the lake there is a volcanic island covered with bird nests made of the fragrant grass Samkhan.

7. Eigth Lake Naiman nuur or the Eigth Lakes is another area worth visiting located 70 km south-west of the Orkhon waterfall. The lakes were created by volcanic eruptions and are a part of the 11,500 hectare of Khuisiin Naiman nuur Natural Reserve.

8. Khuvsgul Lake Khuvsgul Lake- the Dark Blue Pearl of Mongolia is surrounded by lush green hills, mountains reaching for the sky, and dense alpine forests of taiga. 96 rivers and streams empty into the lake that was created 2.5-3 million years ago by tectonic activities. The majestic clear-watered lake contains 65 % of all the fresh water of Mongolia and furthermore, 1% of the world’s fresh water supply. Khuvsgil is the land of the Tsaatan reindeer herdsmen, a branch of the Turkic-speaking Tuvinian or Dukha ethnic group. This small group of 42 families possesses a social and material culture which has remained unchanged since the Ice Age. Shamanistic or totemic rituals and symbolism are central to the social organization of the Tsaatan.

9. Kharkhorin-Erdenezuu monastery Kharkorin ancient capital of Mongolia was established by Chinggis Khan in 1220 in the Orkhon valley. For 140 years Kharkhorin served as the capital of the united Mongol tribes until it was destroyed by the Chinese troops in 1391. The remains of the capital that stood at the crossroads of the Silk Road are extensive underground archaeological assets and two granite turtles that ocne stood at the main gate to the city. Four of these turtle sculptures used to mark the boundaries of ancient Kharkhorin, acting as protectors of the city. In 1586, Erdenzuu, the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia was built on the ruins o f the 13th century capital. Vast walls of 400m in length with 108 stupas surround the monastery, symbolic of Kharkhorin.

10. Orkhon valley heritage The Orkhon Valley covering an area of 1220 square kilometers is one of the most important cultural regions in the world and was recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage as a cultural landscape in 2004. The extensive area encompasses the pastureland on both banks of the Orkhon river and includes numerous archaeological sites dating back to the 6th century. The Orkhon Valley Cultural landscapes includes sites such Khakhorin, the 13th century capital of Chinggis Khan’s Empire. First and foremost it was the center of the Mongolian Empire; secondly it reflects a particular Mongolian variation of Turkhish power; thirdly the Tuvkhun hermitage monastery was the setting for the development of a Mongolian form of Buddhism; and fourthly, Khar Balgas  reflects the Uighur urban culture in the capital of the Uighur Empire.

UB top destination

1. Sukhbaatar square If cities have a heart, and they certainly do, then the heart of Ulaanbaatar is Sukhbaatar square. This sprawling plaza situated in front of the capital building, is the place where residents and visitors gather for celebrations, exhibitions and concerts, or just for a leisurely stroll with friends.

2. Gandan monastery Gandantegchilen monastery, the only functioning Buddhist monastery that stood test of time and was allowed to carry out services on a daily basis during the Communist years symbolizes the spiritual past of the Mongols. One of the temples hosts the tallest standing Buddha statue in central and East Asia- the Megjid Janraisag, the Buddha of Future. The intricate rooftops of the monasteries depict the artistic techniques polished by the ages and that have been passed through generations.

3. Zaisan hill memory The tall, thin landmark on top of the hill south of the city is the Zaisan memorial. Built by the Russians to commemorate unknown soldiers and heroes from various wars, it offers the best views of Ulaanbaatar and the surrounding hills. The enormous tank at the bottom of the hill-part of the Mongolia People’s Tank Brigade-saw action against the Nazis during WWII2

4. Bogd khaan’s winter palace museum The palace and temple complex built from 1893-1903 served as living quarters of Mongolia’s last leader of theocracy and state, the Eight Bogd Javzandamba Hutagt. The museum displays religious and cultural artifacts dating from the 17th century to the beginning of the 20th century.

5. National museum of Mongolia The museum was established in 1924. Currently it has seven halls with exhibits depicting the history of the Mongolians since the first arrival of humans from the Eurasian steppes. There are more than 46.000 archaeological, historical and ethnographic exhibits.

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