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A First-Timer's Guide to Mongolia

| Words by Ashley Diterlizzi |

Mongolia is an adventurer’s paradise steeped in tradition and culture. Known as the land of the blue skies, the country’s nomads dwell in the wilderness and deserts, upholding rugged traditions. Jagged mountains pierce the clear blue skies and wildlife wander the sandy dunes of the Gobi. This in Mongolia.

Map of Mongolia

1. Live as a nomad

Spend the night in a traditional herder’s ger. The yurt is a tent-like structure made of a wooden frame covered with felt. The portable round tents are light enough to transport by camel. Once the indoor stove is lit, the warmth creates a very comfortable stay. Many nomads invite visitors inside their gers for food.

2. Discover the countrysiude on horseback

Mongolian’s are considered some of the best horsemen in the world. Jump on horseback yourself and trot through the beautiful landscapes and varied terrain of the Mongolian countryside. Locals, including children, are more than happy to teach you the ways of the saddle.

3. Explore the ruins of an empire

The ruins of the Mongol Empire still stand in the ancient capital, Karakorum. The ruins lie on the upper Orhon River in the central north of the country which was the headquarters of the great Mongol conqueror, Genghis Khan. Remains include the site of Ögödei’s palace and a 12 century Buddhist shrine.

4. Camel ride across the desert

Mongolia is home to the Bactrian two-humped camel which is much rarer than its one-humped cousin. Ride through some of the country’s largest sand dunes on a trek through the expansive Gobi Desert.

Camel ride in the Gobi Desert

5. Explore the country's capital

Ulaanbaatar is a fusion of tradition and modernity, home to many varied museums and temples which offer valuable insights into the past. Soviet-style apartments and glassy skyscrapers line the streets. Visit the Genghis Khan statue or venture out to nearby Hustai National Park.

6. Celebrate with the locals

Naadam is celebrated throughout the country in mid-July and is popular with tourists for the glimpse it offers into Mongolian culture. The festival showcases the country’s national sports of horse racing, archery and wrestling.

7. Visit the country's national parks

From lakes and nature reserves to volcanoes and glaciers, Mongolia’s countryside is a vast and beautiful thing. The Tuul River runs through Hustai National Park, dividing mammals and flora. Altai Tavan Bogd National Park located in the remote west of the country is home to the Tavan Bogd Mountains and Potanin Glacier. Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake, also known as White Lake, sits in the Khangai Mountains in central Mongolia. The Khorgo Volcano gives the park Suman River springs.

8. Stop off at the Flaming Cliffs

Bayuanzag is a region in the Gobi Desert where dinosaur bones and eggs have been found. The name Flaming Cliffs refers to the way the sandstone cliffs become a red and orange color at sunset.

9. Marvel at the Uushgiin Deer Stones

TArchaeological treasures of Mongolia, the deer stone complex is comprised of 14 stones, dating back to the Bronze and Iron ages. The megaliths are carved with ancient symbols and animals, mainly reindeer, from which the stones get their name.

10. Admire the natural beauty at Lake Khovsgol

Known as the Blue Pearl among locals, the fresh water lake stretches into the Siberian taiga. Surrounded by a national park of pine trees and green flats, the lake is the second largest in Mongolia but it is the deepest in the country.

Mongolian landscape

Tips and tricks

Where to stay

For the best hotels in Mongolia, check out our latest Mongolia brochure.

Getting there

Flights do not operate directly between Australia and Mongolia. Many flights stopover in China or Korea.


Mongolia has an extreme continental climate with long, cold winters and short summers. The country is also very dry. Winter averages across the country range from below zero to minus 40 degrees between November-March. Summer temperatures vary between highs of 33 and 45 degrees.

Mongolia's climate

When to go

Mongolia gets around 260 days of sunshine each year, but the climate is not warm. Winters are long and cold. Summer (June to August) is the best time to visit. For more information, read our guide on when to visit Mongolia.


The currency used is the Mongolian Tögrög.

Did you know?

Between 30 and 40% of Mongolia’s population is nomadic.

Top Tip

Mongolia has very few roads which means a lot of travel is done via extremely bumpy and off-road 4x4s. Consider packing motion sickness pills.

Experience Mongolia now on one of our small group journeys or check out our range of private tours.