5 reasons why Mongolia travel should be on your bucket list
Before you visit Mongolia
Mongolia is a country steeped in history and culture, waiting to be explored. If you’re after an adventure and wanting something off the beaten path, visiting Mongolia will not disappoint. Because of the harsh climate, location, and remoteness, Mongolia is a country often missed from the average traveller’s bucket list. But this is exactly one of the things that makes it one of the must-travel countries.
This vast, diverse land is waiting to be undiscovered.
And here are our top reasons why you shouldn’t miss a chance to visit Mongolia during your travels.
Diverse landscapes, all untouched
Mongolia is unparalleled when it comes to diverse and unique landscapes. From the depths of the Gobi desert to running a marathon on the frozen Lake Khuvsgal, there is something for everybody in Mongolia - and you’ll only be left wanting to explore more of this vast, untouched expanse of land. Hit up some of the most remote parts of Mongolia and give yourself the ultimate adventure as you find yourself travelling through fierce terrain, glaciers, and mountains.
Travelling Mongolia, the first thing that hits you is how peaceful it is. With a population of just 3 million and most of those living in the capital, you won’t get stuck in traffic jams or queues here. You can finally relax, breathe, and chill out - surrounded by breathtaking landscapes that appear to be never-ending.
This makes for epic road trips, adventurous camping trips, and a time you’ll certainly not forget too quickly.
Put that phone and camera away, and say hello to a nomadic lifestyle as you embrace nature, culture, and history in Mongolia.
The word Naadam in Mongolian simply means festival. The Naadam festival is the biggest of the Mongolia holidays in the Mongolian calendar, and can be likened to the Olympics. It is celebrated over a week-long period of national holidays, where nomad families and friends get together and celebrate the occasion.
The main aspects of this Mongolian celebration are the events of the three manly sports of Mongolia. These three sports are Mongolian wrestling, archery, and horse racing. These events take place over a few days, in various different towns, cities, and settlements throughout Mongolia.
The best way to enjoy these festivities is out of the capital of Ulan Bator. This way, you’ll get a much more unique, traditional experience, celebrating with local townsmen and villagers. The events are also much more traditional, and much more importance is put on the actual events, and the outcomes - rather than advertisements and politics.
Off the beaten path (or right on it!)
Travel Mongolia and it’s pretty difficult to get off that “beaten path”. This is for two reasons. 1. Mongolia travel means you’re already pretty much off the metaphorical “beaten path”. 2. Mongolia travel means you’re always going to be on the “beaten path”... In the true sense of the word. Mongolia is rarely travelled, and because of this, the infrastructure isn’t the best. You’ll find yourself on roads that aren’t really roads, or just trying to drive through rivers like it’s the norm.
This is the best time to travel Mongolia - before it gets “discovered” and Western culture starts to creep in.
“Mongolia is an amazing gem and one of my favourite places on earth both for landscapes and people. I have always felt that when I leave this region the sky never seems as blue, the mountains never as beautiful and the people never as interesting.”
Fan of wild camping? How about wild camping with thousands of acres in front of you to choose from..? It is free to camp in Mongolia, but it is best to make sure to do your research before you head into the great wide open. Mongolia is a country with vast and diverse landscape and weather that can change pretty quickly. As long as you do your research well, there is no reason why you should encounter any trouble. The best way to make your most out of the experience, however, is by travelling with a tour group who have years of experience in the country and know the best spots to see, as well as how to be safe in the country.
Camp like a local nomad and try out a night in a Mongolian Ger.
Visiting Mongolia is a different experience for everyone. The country is so vast and diverse, with far too much to explore. But something all travellers visiting Mongolia agree on is that Mongolian people are some of the most hospitable you will ever meet. Warm yourself up in a Mongolian nomad’s Ger whilst they offer tea and even have yourself a nap after a long day of exploration. Falling asleep in someone’s home is a sign of good hospitality!
The nomadic lifestyle in Mongolia is very unique, unlike no other culture in the world. 40% of Mongolians still live a nomadic lifestyle, whilst the rest of the small population mainly live in the capital city Ulaanbaatar. Head outside of the city and you’ll experience traditional life unlike you’ve ever known it before. Families do everything for themselves. Life is very ‘hands-on’, busy, and hard - but at the same time, very rewarding. This is how life should be. Plus, Mongolian people are very welcoming. You can have a chance at staying in a Mongolian Ger family Mongolian tent, or help a family put up their Mongolian Ger whilst in passing!
Almost as important as people, animals/livestock play a big part of family life in Mongolia. You’re sure to come across a lot of incredible people in Mongolia who will make your experience unforgettable, but aside from this, you’re also bound to have an encounter, or several, with some of the Mongolian wild animals. Expect to meet camels in the South of Mongolia, and meeting a reindeer or two in the North is not unusual. Eagles can also be found throughout the West of Mongolia. With such a diverse range of wildlife, it is a must for animal lovers! However, when it comes to meal time, being an animal lover doesn’t help much at Mongolian meal time…
Whilst Mongolian food may not be the most famous of cuisines, and certainly not the friendliest for animal lovers, it has a surprising amount to offer. And can be pretty darn yummy! Fruits and vegetables are few and far between, with milk and meat being the main staples. And, unusually, the cheapest thing around! Perhaps a vegans’ worse nightmare. So, if you have any specific dietary requirements before coming to Mongolia and trying out the Mongolian food, make sure to tell us so we can help you to prepare.
Despite it not being the most vegetarian/vegan-friendly cuisine, you shouldn’t let this put you off visiting Mongolia. Our tours to Mongolia often include a chef that travels with us providing a mix of Western and Mongolian cuisine, catering to all dietary requirements!
Common meats in Mongolian food include mutton, goat, and horse. Sheep’s milk and sheep’s cheese is also a big part of the cuisine, and you can be sure to find a variety of noodle dishes, stews, and pastries including these ingredients. Hearty and heartwarming of a cold Mongolian night, full of protein, and bursting with flavour - Mongolian food may be lacking in your 5-a-day.
Whilst backpacking and travelling Mongolia by yourself can be fun, make sure to get the most out of your experience. Spend your time in Mongolia experiencing real Mongolian life, celebrate the Naadam festival like a true local, or even spend the night in a traditional Mongolian tent, a Mongolian Ger, with a Mongolian nomadic family.
Contact us for more information on group or bespoke independent tours, tailored to the avid adventurer’s individual needs.