Just put a hill or two between yourself and Ulaanbaatar before the undulating landscape of softly rolling golden steppe and looming hills unfold before your eyes. Make no mistake – this is the big country, a place to reinvigorate oneself with the energy of the great outdoors and enrich your sense of self… and wonder.

This is the Mongolian heartland, with tiny gers dotting your vision as you look out to the verdant swaths of land and endless natural beauty. Apart from historical sites like Kharkhorin city and the hulking ruins of Erdene Zuu Monastery, you can get a true taste of the wild by watching Przewalski horses frolic in their natural habitat or by horse-trekking the Khangai Mountains while birdwatching.

Welcome to Central Mongolia.

Key Activities: Cultural Sights, Temple Visits, Horse-Trekking, Camel-Riding, Camping, Hiking, Family Stays

Key Highlights

  • Khustain Nuruu National Park (Przewalski Wild Horses)
    Located 100km west of Ulaanbaatar, this park is home to a vast variety of wildlife, including the Przewalski horses ("takhi" in Mongolian), the world's last truly wild horses. Once extinct in the wild, these beautiful creatures now flourish in their natural habitat, thanks to a successful breeding programme. The park is also home to other species like the red deer, Mongolian gazelle, grey wolves and golden eagles.
  • Bayangobi
    Located at the extreme north of the Gobi, Bayangobi is a particular part of the desert that features caramel-coloured sand dunes stretching over an impressive 200km against the dramatic backdrop of Bat Khaan mountain, which towers at 2,178m above sea level.
  • Khögnö Khan National Park
    The steppe and taiga meet here in this natural park in Bulgan Province, making the ecosystem of this area particularly diverse. Spanning over 470-sq-km, with historical monuments scattered across the arid terrain of granite formations and forests of silver birch trees, you can spot exotic wildlife here, like ibexes and wolves.
  • Kharkhorin
    In the 13th century, Kharkhorin was the flourishing capital of the Mongol Empire until it was destroyed by Manchurian soldiers in 1388. But what draws visitors are the remains of the Erdene Zuu Monastery and a town museum - both of which offer evocative insights into the region's history - as well as the Phallic Rock statue, stone turtle sculptures and the Great Imperial Map Monument.
  • Erdene Zuu Monastery
    Founded in 1585 by Abtai Sain Khaan, a Khalkha-Mongolian prince, this temple is the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia. Located in Övörkhangai Province, it serves as an active monastery for worshippers, as well as a museum displaying artefacts like thangkas and tsam masks salvaged from the Stalinist purges.
  • Orkhon Valley
    Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, driving through this vast nothingness is where you'll encounter flocks of goat and sheep, and the occasional ger. You'll also find Turkish memorials that date back to the 6th and 7th centuries, and the Khar Balgas ruins that was formerly the Uyghur capital in the 8th and 9th centuries within this stunning steppe landscape.
  • Tövkhön Khiid Monastery
    Founded in 1653 by Zanabazar, the first Jebtsundamba, this is where he lived, worked and meditated at for 30 years. Perched on Shijvee mountain in Shireet Ulaan, this scenic temple comprises of several temples and a cave within its vast complex. It's also one of the major pilgrimage sites in Mongolia.
  • Eight Lakes (Naiman Nurr)
    Created as a result of volcanic eruptions centuries ago, the Naiman Nurr area is a pristine environment of coniferous forests, alpine meadows and volcanic stones dominating the valleys to the north of the park. As the region is environmentally fragile, local communities are trying to ban cars from driving through the grasslands, so visiting here by horse is advised.
  • Tsetserleg
    With its namesake translating to "garden" in Mongolian, it's no wonder that Tsetserleg is a charming haven for nature lovers. With an abundance of monasteries and a mild climate, travellers can enjoy the area's hiking trails and camping spots. Flanked by the Khangai Mountains, it's the capital of Arkhangai Province and one of the more pleasant aimag capitals in the country.
  • Tsenker Hot Springs
    If you have time for a detour, soothe your muscles and mind in a healing, relaxing bath. The water is sourced from the nearby Arkhangai volcanoes, which flow all-year long and is pumped into splash pools at the ger resorts built around the springs.
  • Chuluutin Gol Gorge
    This river intricately winds through the valleys of the Khangai Mountains and is great for fishing and canoeing. If you have time to indulge in a local legend, the story goes that if you spend a night under the branches of an ancient tree that's covered with blue khadags (ceremonial scarves) located nearby, you will remember where you misplaced a lost item.
  • White Lake (Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur)
    This stunning lake in the Khangai Mountains was supposedly formed by lava flows from an eruption of the now-extinct Khorgo volcano, which can be climbed for stunning views of the surrounding landscape. A freshwater lake, it's home to many species of fish and is an ideal camping spot.

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