Top 10 Things to do in Mongolia

If you truly want to go where very few folks have gone before, a trip into the middle of Mongolia is for you. We loved our time in this fascinating country of the Khans! Genghis made his mark in the world. Click through to find out how to begin planning a trip to this amazing Asian country. | things to do | yurt | Mongolia tour | Genghis Khan | travel planning | travel tips | Ulan Baatar ~ReflectionsEnroute

If you are looking for an adventure on your next vacation?  You can’t get any more adventurous than Mongolia!  Exotic, completely different, wonderful and friendly people, and even some food all add up to the trip of a lifetime.  Once, I don’t know, because quite frankly I’m ready to go back!

Top 10 Mongolia

Here’s our top 10 things everyone who visits this truly off-the-beaten-path country needs to do!

Top 10 Mongolia

One – Find yourself a company that will take you on a trip in a Russian van!  This is one country that I wouldn’t recommend driving yourself, mainly because just outside of the capital city the road ends, and if you are lucky, you will be on dirt tracks.  Other times, you are completely at the mercy of your driver, and his navigational, mechanical, and linguistic skills as he takes you places you would never find by yourself.

Have you ever wanted to ride the wide open steppes of Mongolia, following in the footsteps of the Great Genghis Khan? We did, and we loved the stunning landscapes, the friendly people, and staying in gers such as this one. Click through to find out all the fun you can have on a trip to wild Mongolia! .......................itinerary | world heritage | guide | travel tips| guide | things to do | yurt | Mongolia tour | travel planning | travel tips | Ulan Baatar~ReflectionsEnroute

Two – Sleep in a ger!  The Mongolians are still largely nomadic and during our time there, we saw more than one family tearing down, putting up, or just transporting their entire home and load of possessions on a truck.  We stayed in different gers each night, but they were all comfortable.  Fitted out with beds, a wood stove, and decorated in lively colors and traditional patterns, it was a nice bridge between tenting and a hotel room.  The biggest downside was the hike to the outside toilet, which we dubbed the “slit-trines”.

Top 10 Mongolia

Three – Stop along the way and get to know the locals.  The summertime is also shearing time, and we saw many families working hard, using hand shears, and willing to let us watch and even ask questions.  It was a fine balance, because summer is short, and they have a lot to do, so we tried to be as unobtrusive as possible.  This family loved having us there, and even shared some fermented horse milk with us.  Yum!

Top 10 Mongolia

Four – Ride a Mongolian pony!  If you have heard anything about Mongolia at all, it is that they are and always have been master horsemen.  We made sure before we took off to let our driver know that one of the things we wanted to do is ride horses, and we stayed overnight with the family that owned these beauties.  It’s hard to tell from this shot, but the ponies are very short, and I laughed every time I snuck a glance at Jim, whose feet were just about dragging the ground.  The ride itself was so much fun and through the most gorgeous countryside.

Top 10 Mongolia

Five – Try your hand at living the Mongolian nomad life.  This family was so welcoming, and by the time evening milking hour approached, Mom knew I would be there armed with my camera.  She showed up in her prettiest outfit and even wore pearls!  She offered to let me try and milk the yak and the goats. Needless to say, I would starve.  I couldn’t get anything from those beasts.

Have you ever wanted to listen to an authentic Mongolia throat singer? This man visited us in our ger and put on a show. Mongolia was full of cultural experiences, and if you click through you can read all about our top ten things to do in the land of Genghis Khan. ..................................... itinerary | world heritage | guide | travel tips| world music | guide | things to do | yurt | Mongolia tour | travel planning | travel tips | Ulan Baatar ~ReflectionsEnroute

Six – See a show!  If you look behind the throat singer, you will notice we are not in an auditorium.  We are in the ger that we were spending the night in.  Our hostess asked us if we wanted to see a throat singer and some acrobats, and how cold we say no?  We had our own private show, and the family was so proud to tell us all about it.

Top 10 Mongolia Top 10 Mongolia

Seven – Visit the exotic Gobi desert and ride a camel!  This was not my first camel ride, but it might have been one of my most fun!  First of all, on a Bactrian camel you get to sit between two humps.  This, I have to tell you, is a lot more comfortable than riding in front of the one hump of a Dromedary.  You don’t feel like you are going to fall off.  On this ride, the girls got us situated, then their little brother who was about eight years old took us out on the trail.  Just him.  No one else.  It was a blast. We were completely in charge of making our camels do what we wanted them to do.  So much fun and the views!  The views were magnificent.

Top 10 Mongolia

Eight – Visit Karakorum.  As far as tourist sites go, there just are not that many in this wind-blown country of nomads.  Karakorum was the old capital and today you can visit the walls and a few buildings that mostly belong to the Buddhist temple.

Top 10 Mongolia

Nine – Take advantage of any restaurant you drive by!  Sleeping with local families in their gers was fantastic, but let’s face it they do not have a lot of extra food so the meals were quite spare.  Jack, our driver, quickly learned that every town that has an eatery was going to be visited by us.  This was a fast food ger serving traditionl Khuushur, and a better snack I’ve never had!  There were not many restaurants, but we tried every one we passed and found good wholesome food.  Eat out!

Top 10 Mongolia Top 10 Mongolia

Ten – Wander around the capital city of Ulan Bator.  It certainly isn’t the prettiest city, with its Soviet buildings, dilapidated infrastructure, and of course the ubiquitous Irish Bar or two, but don’t pass up the chance to do some shopping, eat at a restaurant, and stay in a hotel with running water.  I suggest you do this at the end of your trip; you will appreciate it so much more!

Top 10 Mongolia

And Bonus! – Ballroom dance at sunset with your hosts and their guests!  Yep!  These young girls cranked up the generator and out blasted some Tchaikovsky which they deftly danced to.  I could have watched them for hours.  Out in the middle of Mongolia, you have to make your own fun!

Have you ever thought of going to Mongolia?  Wouldn’t you just love dancing in the Gobi?

17 thoughts on “Top 10 Things to do in Mongolia”

  1. Visiting Mongolia is way up on our list, but as much as we want to go, I have some reservations. You do really make it look like fun. Also, we fell in love with throat singing earlier this year when a troupe of throat singers from Mongolia came in 2nd on Asia’s Got Talent.

    1. Karen, I have to say, Mongolia is definitely an adventure. If you are a luxury traveler, it may not be for you, however, if you can camp go for it! The throat singing was amazing, especially since it was a private show!

  2. Phoebe @ Lou Messugo

    Your photos took me back to my trip to Mongolia in 1994! There were no foreigners driving Russian campervans back then but my friend and I hitched a ride in a Russian jeep, having flown across the country in the dodgiest plane ever, to Hovd, from where we trekked with horses, camels and yaks staying with local nomadic families. It really was the adventure of a lifetime, though just like you, I’d love to go back! UB certainly didn’t have an Irish pub back then!

  3. I was captivated by every word and your photos. Mongolia wasn’t even on my bucket list before reading this, and now I really want to visit. Everything you described and the images, so interesting. I love your expression on the camel. What a beautiful and unique place. A few of the photos remind me a bit of the Bedouin camp we visited in the Sahara, but the other image is are so different. I am wondering what language is spoken, as you mentioned people are happy to talk to you.

    1. Rhonda, They speak Mongolian and Russian, but like everywhere else English is spreading quickly. I never let language slow me down. I am adept at hand gestures and smiling…I think!

  4. Hi Corinne,
    What great tips! I’d really like to go to Mongolia and it is actually one of the next places I’d like to visit. I was thinking of going next year for 10 days or so. Do you think that is an adequate amount of time to get a taste of the country? It seems absolutely fascinating and I’d like to go for more time but, since it is also a priority destination for my boyfriend and he gets very little time off work, I have to make it work with his schedule too.
    Great photos too.

    1. Erika, We went for a nine day trip around the country and two days in UB. It was adequate and we saw a lot. I would definitely book it. If you read my other Mongolia posts, it tells you who we went with, and I would highly recommend you contact them as well. They’ll do everything for you!

  5. Hi Corinne.

    wow, great post! Brought back memories from my trip to Mongolia in 2004. I absolutely adored riding the Mongol horses and had a blast on a riding competition with the locals! Ulan Bator /Ulaanbaatar sure looked different back then, I’m sure. The “Grand Khaan” Pub wasn’t there, either. ;) Would love to visit again someday!

  6. Wow! You really got up to some big adventures in Mongolia! Riding a camel looks like fun (we did that in Egypt). But running out of the tent at night to the outside biffy – don’t know about that :-).

    1. Janice, Mongolia is great. One thing I’ve learned while traveling is that I can handle anything, like outdoor toilets, for a limited amount of time. It was well worth it.

  7. Okay, this is amazing.
    #1: We almost moved to Mongolia to work at an international school in UB. Now, I am kinda sad we decided to stay in Taiwan.
    #2: I am DYING to visit Mongolia, but we missed our opportunity to this summer and winter seems like a terrible time to visit.
    #3: I want to do everything you listed, but especially the driving/pony riding!

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