Mongolia is an unusual destination, so it can be difficult to anticipate what to expect. To help bring this magnificent country to life, we sat down with our Asia + The Middle East and Australasia Destination Expert, Auriole Potter, for the lowdown and to bring you a luxury Mongolia travel guide.

What to expect when you visit Mongolia

Mongolia is pure adventure. It has a magical quality that is different from so many well-trodden destinations. If heading into the wilderness and being exploratory and pioneering is your idea of a holiday, then nothing beats it. That said, it is a challenging place, but go with the right attitude, and I promise you will get as much as you give. 

The minimum for any itinerary is two weeks. Ideally you would spend longer because there are a few must-see elements, and the country and travel distances are so vast. Equestrians will get a huge amount out of a visit to Mongolia, but you don’t need to be a rider by any means. There are plenty of other things to keep you occupied. It’s also a fantastic destination for adventurous families. 

Where to go in Mongolia

The capital city, Ulaanbaatar, has so much more to offer than meets the eye. We’ve developed a street art tour to take advantage of the excellent graffiti, there’s an amazing costume museum – we suggest twinning this with a trip to a local tailor, who can create bespoke clothing inspired by traditional Mongolian designs – and cashmere is produced here too, so there’s lots of knitwear to see and buy in the workshops. Children love the toy and puzzle museum, and we can arrange a meeting with a bow and arrow maker, who will help them create a set of their own. 

Central Mongolia or the ‘Heartland’ is made up of rolling grasslands also known as the steppe. It’s here that you spend time with a local nomadic family and immerse yourself in their unique way of life. You can get involved with as much or as little as you like, from making dumplings to hacking out on horseback to round-up the sheep. There are also some historical sites of interest, such as the ancient Mongolian capital, with its little museum and temples.

The Gobi, in the south, is an incredible place. Filled with huge sand dunes that change colour with the light and amazing rock formations, it’s also home to wildlife such as camels, snow leopards, and even the remains of dinosaurs – fossils, skeletons and eggs.

In the north is Khövsgöl, the largest freshwater lake in Mongolia. This part of the country is much greener, covered in scenic forests and mountains with lots of activities to explore, such as kayaking, bike riding and hiking.

Way out west on the Kazakhstan border are the rugged and dramatic Altai Mountains. It’s here that you can expect to see tribes that still hunt using golden eagles. On my visit we were lucky enough to meet the Eagle Huntress, Mongolia’s first female eagle hunter, about whom a documentary has been made.

What to know before you go

Late spring and summer are a lovely time to go as the weather has warmed up. Calendar dates worth planning a trip around include the Nadaam, a festival in the Heartland every July, filled with entertainment such as wrestling, horse races and archery contests, and the Eagle Festivals in the Altai, every September and October. 

Mongolian cuisine is simple and hearty – think dumplings with meat or vegetables, noodle soups and lots of grains. One of the things we can do is pre-stock the vehicles with specific requests for snacks and drinks so clients never go hungry and can indulge in some home comforts on their journey.

The warmth and hospitality of the people is inspirational. Welcoming travellers has a special place in nomadic culture: turn up at a family’s ger, and you will always be invited to eat and sleep over, because as all Mongolians know, journeys here are long and arduous. Locals extend the same embracing hospitality to foreigners as well.  

Where to stay in Mongolia

You have to be open to an element of ‘roughing it’. While there are some incredible camps and exclusive options, most clients stay in gers, traditional Mongolian yurts comprising a wood-burning stove, a bed and a cabinet with a sink for washing your face. The more luxurious camps include sheepskin rugs, a mirror, fairy lights and memory foam mattresses. Some come with an ensuite bathroom tent, with a bucket shower and hot water, others have a bathroom block. 

For ultimate opulence, we always recommend Three Camel Lodge. This sustainable eco-lodge in the Gobi appeals to clients who want luxury on a more ‘traditional’ level. We are also able to arrange moveable gers, which can be erected anywhere, totally tailored to you, including the likes of a private chef that will cater for you in the wilderness. 


Chat to an expert to start planning your trip

Get in touch and one of our luxury travel experts will answer any questions you may have and help create your dream tailor-made holiday.

Auriole Potter
Venetia Stanley
Charlotte Winter

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