Uncover Mongolia’s Wild Beauty: Vast Landscapes, Few Souls.
Explore Mongolia, the world’s most sparsely populated country, covering 1.55 million sq. km. and home to 3.5 million people. From deserts to grassy steppes, mountains to semi-deserts, only 0.8 percent is arable land. Landlocked between Russia and China, Mongolia’s recent growth beckons travelers to discover its untamed allure. Venture into the heart of nature, where simplicity meets boundless beauty.
Dive into the vibrant history and captivating facts of Mongolia, where every step reveals tales of a legendary past and a country teeming with extraordinary secrets.
Ulaanbaatar’s Rich Tapestry:
The bustling capital, Ulaanbaatar, or Ulan Bator, derives its name from “Ulayanbayatur,” meaning “Red Hero,” a nod to its historical significance.
Founded in 1639, the city embarked on a fascinating journey, relocating 28 times before settling along the Tuul and Selbe rivers in 1778.
Mongolia’s Unique Charms:
Embrace the vastness of Mongolia, the world’s most sparsely populated nation, where only 4.3 people inhabit each square mile.
With a total area slightly smaller than Alaska, Mongolia stands as the second-largest landlocked country globally.
Unearth the intriguing origin of the term “Mongoloid” and its evolution from a description to a discriminatory racial designation.
Before Ulaanbaatar, the capital was known as Urgoo, a name derived from the Mongolian word “örgöö,” signifying the flap of a ger or yurt.
Delight in the tantalizing theory that Mongolian horsemen might have pioneered ice cream during Gobi desert journeys, spreading its delicious legacy across China.
Land of Legends:
Experience the grandeur of the Mongolian National Wrestling Match, a record-breaking event in 2011 with 6,002 participants, securing its place in the Guinness World Records.
Witness the majesty of Mongolia’s wildlife, from native snow leopards to the iconic two-humped Bactrian camel, celebrated at the annual Thousand Camel Festival.
Explore the historical significance of Inner Mongolia, where the Great Wall of China was erected in the 6th century A.D., revealing the profound impact of Mongolian history.
Chinggis Khan’s Legacy:
Step into the legacy of Chinggis Khan, born in A.D. 1162, whose empire stretched from Beijing to the Caspian Sea and earned him a spot among Time magazine’s “25 Most Important Political Icons of All Time” in 2011.
Dinosaurs of the Gobi:
In 1922, American Roy Chapman Andrews unearthed dinosaur bones from the Cretaceous period in Mongolia’s Gobi desert, a feat that some say inspired the iconic character Indiana Jones.
The Rise of the Mongols:
The name “Mongol” surfaced during China’s T’ang Dynasty, with the Uyghurs influencing Mongolian history in the 8th century. Their reign continued until 840, shaping the region’s destiny.
Yurts and Cultural Bridges:
In 1962, William Coperthwaite introduced the modern yurt to the U.S., inspired by Mongolian gers showcased in National Geographic. A bridge of cultures, echoing the nomadic spirit.
Genghis Khan’s Enduring Legacy:
Harold Lamb’s 1927 book, “Genghis Khan: Emperor of All Men,” remains a bestseller, shedding light on the life of the legendary Mongolian warlord.
Genetic Echoes of Conquest:
Geneticists trace a variant of the Y chromosome, linking 17 million Central Asian males to a common ancestor from the 13th century—a testament to the enduring impact of Genghis Khan’s lineage.
Mongolian Wrestling Tradition:
Bökh, the enduring sport of wrestling, takes center stage in Mongolia’s Independence Day tournaments, crowning champions with titles like “arslan” and “avrag.”
Nomadic Traditions and Yaks:
Experience Mongolian nomadic life, where gers still dot the landscape. Yaks, large bovids, contribute to the unique Mongolian cheese known as Byaslag.
Mongolia’s New Beginnings:
On November 26, 1924, the Mongolian People’s Republic emerged as the world’s second Communist country, setting the stage for a new chapter in history.
Culinary Delights and Unique Wildlife:
Savor Buuz, Mongolia’s steamed dumpling, and marvel at takhi, the last truly wild horses on the planet.
Explore the Erdene Zuu Monastery, Mongolia’s oldest surviving Buddhist monastery, and witness the grandeur of Mongolia’s Lunar New Year celebration, Tsagaan Sar.
Symbols and Traditions:
Uncover the significance of the hadag, a silk scarf, and the traditional Mongolian stamp, tamga, linking past and present.
Frequently asked question
Is Mongolia a safe destination?
Absolutely! Mongolia boasts one of the world’s lowest crime rates, making it a remarkably safe destination comparable to the US and Europe. Embrace the warmth of Mongolian hospitality as locals welcome you with open arms.
How do I get to Mongolia?
Embark on your Mongolian adventure via air or train! MIAT Mongolian Airlines offers year-round flights to Europe and Asia, including Berlin, Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo and Istanbul. Foreign carriers like Air China, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, Air Busan, Aeroflot and Turkish airline.
What’s the weather like in Mongolia?
Contrary to popular belief, Mongolia isn’t the coldest corner of the world. Winter lasts from November to March, with the most frigid temperatures occurring only in mid-December to January. Summer brings cool winds, and the best time to visit is from mid-June to mid September for sunny days and lush landscapes.
When Is the best time to visit Mongolia?
Plan your visit during the Mongolian summer, from mid-June to the first week of September, for optimal weather. Experience sunny days and lush steppes, ensuring a safe and enjoyable journey.
What are the roads like?
Driving in Mongolia often means off-road adventures, especially outside Ulaanbaatar. While main travel destinations have paved roads, remote areas like the Altai Mountains, the far west, and the Gobi attractions may require off-road driving.
What’s Mongolia’s Currency?
Mongolia uses the tugrik. Exchange rates have been stable, ranging between 3420-3500 Mongolian tugriks against 1 USD. Exchange currencies at banks in Ulaanbaatar, as countryside options may be limited. Credit cards work in major city establishments, but having tugriks is advisable for smaller shops and rural areas.
What Kind of Plugs Are Used?
Mongolia uses a 220V standard, with most sockets accepting round twin forks. Bring an adaptor for devices with flat forks, available at most international airports.
What About Internet and Postal Services?
The central post office offers reliable postal services. Mobile services are widespread, especially in central towns, using GSM and CDMA networks. Mobile phone signal is quite good in Mongolia, although coverage may be patchy in remotest areas. The main carriers are Mobicom,Unitel, Skytel and G-Mobile. Mobicom and Unitel operate on GSM (Global System for Mobile communication). G-Mobile and Skytel are both on the CDMA network.
Can I Speak English?
While Mongolian is the official language, English is increasingly spoken, especially in urban areas. Learning basic Mongolian is appreciated, and a phrase book can be handy for communication.
Where Should I Stay?
Enjoy 3-4 star hotels and motels, guesthouses in Ulaanbaatar and unique accommodations in the countryside, from tourist camps to nomadic families. Immerse yourself in local culture by staying with nomadic families, providing a rich cultural experience.
Can I Follow a Special Diet?
Absolutely! Mongolia caters to various dietary needs. Notify your tour operator in advance, and vegan and vegetarian options are available, even in remote areas.
What Transportation Options Are Available?
Explore Mongolia in 4×4 vehicles, covering 100-430 km per day. Domestic flights are excluded in programs, and horses or camels may be used for trekking in inaccessible areas.
Are There Baggage Restrictions on Domestic Flights?
For domestic flights, the weight limit is 10 kilograms for checked baggage and 5 kilograms for hand luggage. Be mindful of overweight charges, approximately $2.5 per pound.
How Much Should I Tip?
While tipping is not mandatory, it’s recommended and fair to local partners. Tipping amounts vary based on trip factors.
What Should I Pack?
Pack light, using squashy, lockable, and waterproof bags or backpacks. A day pack for essentials and a smaller bag for trek storage are advisable.