My name is Belinda and I was born and raised in Germany. Welcome to my Mongolia travel guide. Eight years ago I moved to Switzerland for my job. I work as an Operating Room Nurse in Zurich. I’ve always needed a balance between work like and free time. So I found this balance in travelling.
The passion of getting to know different cultures, food and the diversity of this planet fascinates me. I started taking photos while travelling to keep these experiences and moments captured in the best way possible. One of the most incredible places I have ever visited was Mongolia in 2018.
Mongolia was on my list for a while. It seemed so far away though. Not just distance-wise but also in the ‘way of travelling’. I am used to travelling by myself and meeting new people in hostels, taking long bus rides, etc. But how would I do that in a country with no tourism development?
That was also the main point of why I wanted to visit. It seemed untouched, unexplored and therefore more adventurous. So I found myself a group of friends and made it happen. My first impression was just how untouched and unexplored the country was. I looked forward to the adventure ahead!
Two Incredible Weeks in Mongolia
The trip took place in August 2018. This month is the best time to go since it’s generally warmer. I went for around two weeks. We hired a van with a driver since there are hardly any proper streets outside of the cities. We wanted to be able to find our way and also support a driver.
After that we flew from Ulgii to Ulaanbaatar (capital of Mongolia) and drove down south until we reached the beautiful Gobi Desert. We saw the most fascinating rock formations, lush canyons, blue lakes and much more.
Highlights of my Trip to Mongolia
I found the people of Mongolia to be amazing and one of the highlights of my trip. They were so welcoming, warm and open-minded. I got the chance to stay one night in a traditional Yurt with a family of eagle hunters.
It was extraordinary to see how they live, how they go hunting with their eagles and for us to dive into nomad life (even if only for a short time). They cooked for us, showed us around and we were allowed to interact with eagles. Not many people get to experience something so unique.
Most of the time tourists stop by, take a picture with the eagle and keep going. But we spent two days and one night with them – for sunset, sunrise, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even though communication was not easy (our driver was our translator) we felt like part of their little community.
My second highlight was the sunrise above the rock formation called White Stupa. This is a beautiful cliff located in Ulziit in the Gobi Desert. The landscape here is so breathtaking that I will never forget that moment. I would recommend the White Stupa for every Mongolia travel guide.
Mongolia Travel Guide: 5 Must-Do Experiences
Mongolia is rugged and untouched. Travellers can enjoy an incredible array of different experiences here – from encounters with nomads to jaw-dropping desert landscapes and roaming wild horses and camels. My top 5 must-do experiences for this Mongolia travel guide are the following:
1. Stay a Night with the Kazakh Eagle Hunters
The Kazakh eagle hunters of Western Mongolia live in one of the most untouched regions of Asia. They have been connected with eagles for centuries in a fascinating relationship between humans and wild animals. Staying overnight with the eagle hunters is an unforgettable experience.
2. See the Flaming Cliffs of the Gobi Desert
The desert cliffs of the Gobi Desert known as the ‘Flaming Cliffs’ light up at sunset in a fiery red colour. Watching this landscape come to life as the sun sets is a magical experience. These cliffs are an example of what’s known as Djadochta Formation – an arid habitat of sand dunes with little fresh water.
3. Admire Sunset Views of the White Stupa
Tsagaan Suvarga translates to White Stupa. This scarp in the Gobi Desert looks like a white stupa, hence the name. It’s 400 metres long and 60 metres tall. The view of the White Stupa at sunrise is astonishing. There’s also a little cave to check out nearby called Hevtee Bosoo Agui.
4. Sleep in a Traditional Mongolian Yurt
The Yurt is called a ‘Ger’ by Mongols and is a traditional dwelling for nomads. Half of the Mongolian population live in these homes. Sleeping in the Yurts in the middle of nowhere really is a unique experience. There are many tour operators who can organise your stay in a Yurt.
5. Discover the Camels and Horses of the Gobi Desert
Not only are the landscapes of the Gobi Desert awe-inspiring but also the wild animals are a highlight too. You can discover the rare and endangered Przewalski’s horse and the Bactrian camel with its two large humps. Both of these animals are unique and incredible to see up close in person.
Mongolia Travel Guide: Food Scene
The food scene in Mongolia was not great to be honest. A huge part of the local cuisine is mutton. I don’t like it very much but you find this almost everywhere. The alternative is chicken and beef which was good.
There is a huge gap of vegetarian/vegan cuisine. For example, one of my friends was a vegetarian and she ordered a soup. When she asked for a vegetarian version, they just picked the mutton out and that’s it! In general, I have to say, the dishes from locals in Yurts were better than restaurants.
Mongolia Travel Guide: Female Experience
Travelling as a female in Mongolia was easy. There were three of us girls on the road and we felt safe everyday during the trip. In Ulaanbaatar you would find some sketchy spots but you find that everywhere in the world.
I recommend not staying in Ulaanbaatar for more than one night. One problem you could find along your journey is the lack of English. Since it’s not developed as a touristy country, the language could be an issue. So just bring a bit of patience and body language and you will be fine.
What you Need to Know Before you Go
I spent two weeks in Mongolia and to be honest it wasn’t enough time. I didn’t see everything I wanted to see. The perfect amount of time would be three weeks. I prefer to travel slow though. So if you are willing to travel faster and change places every night, you could see a lot in two weeks.
The way you choose to experience Mongolia is totally up to you. There are so many sights to see, people to meet and experiences to have along the way! Thanks for reading my Mongolia travel guide. I hope it has inspired you to visit this untouched and rugged Asian country. Happy travels!