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Saturday, May 15, 2021

My Mongolia Wish List

I know Mongolia is a large country. At roughly a quarter of the size of the continental U.S., it may be difficult to see everything you want in one trip, but maybe not, if you plan strategically. The country doesn't really have a good tourism network yet, which means you'll likely be one of very few tourists wherever you go, you may have to wait until you arrive to arrange tours and tickets.

I know Mongolia is a large country. At roughly a 25% the size of the continental U.S., it may be difficult to see everything you want in one trip.
Photo by Batgerel Batkhurel on Unsplash

Yes, I enjoyed learning more about Mongolia at home, but nothing beats actually traveling and engaging with local people, eating local food, and learning your way across a city or country. Here's my wish list of things I want to do when I finally plan my trip. 

Photo by Amit Gupta on Unsplash

Yak tour

This is actually the number one thing I'm excited for in Mongolia. The Yak Trek is basically you following yaks pulling wagons carrying supplies. you can walk or ride a horse, and you make camp each night, eat outdoors, and meet nomads along the way. Knowing that I hate hiking and camping, this 3-day walk across the wilderness sounds pretty amazing. 

There are also yak-riding tours, which I'm also 100% in for, despite probably having major allergies by being so close to them. I'm willing to suffer for this amazing experience though, so maybe I'll just hope for the best, where I'm not allergic to horses or farm animals, and carry a lot of hand sanitizer and extra meds to be safe.

Photo by Tuguldur Baatar on Unsplash

National Museum of Mongolia

Located in Ulaanbaatar, the largest museum in Mongolia will walk you through the entire history of the country and everything else you need to know. Discover how Mongolians live in daily life and how they have evolved over time through permanent exhibits and rotating, temporary exhibits like Mongolian Traditional Dishes, which focuses on utensils and textiles and household items, including furniture, luggage, and serving trays.

Photo by Jéan Béller on Unsplash

Ghengis Khan Statue Complex

Found approximately 30 miles from Ulaanbaatar, this complex is actually topped by the world's largest statue of Ghengis Khan. Say what you will about him in regards to his grisly and dictatorial methods, but he was all for freedom of religion and created the largest contiguous empire in history. He also united many nomadic tribes across the area. He solidified Mongolia's space regarding politics and culture and created quite a far-reaching lineage of his bloodline. 

At the complex, you can learn more about Khan, try on traditional Mongol costumes, and even eat at the restaurant upstairs. The museum is also in an area that has fantastic birdwatching, plus you can meet a golden eagle or vulture, which you know I'm all about.

Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash

Stay in a Ger

Gers, or yurts, are the traditional nomadic dwelling. You can find these all over, including near the large cities, because people want to live in the traditional way, but still have the convenience of city living. You can rent one near Ulaanbaatar, with internet access, for under $60/night.

Photo by Usukhbayar Gankhuyag on Unsplash

Visit the Gobi Desert

Honestly, I never knew where the Gobi was, but the photos are beautiful and I'd love to visit for the day to see what it's like. You can ride camels here, which may or may not be for me, so I'll see when I get there. 

There's a great less-desert-y area called Yolyn Am in a gorge of the Gobi where you can just enjoy the views and yaks grazing.

Photo by Lightscape on Unsplash

Try Airag

While I'm not one to drink that much alcohol when I travel, I always look for unusual foods and drinks and want to try everything at least once. Airag is one of those things. So, what is it exactly? It's fermented mare's milk. Yeah, maybe it'll be gross, but I'll never know if I don't try it. Maybe it's one of those things I like that other people aren't a fan of, like haggis. 

Photo by Lightscape on Unsplash

Visit during the Bayan-Ölgii Eagle Festival

Falconing is one of my favorite things and I greatly enjoyed when we did it in Scotland. If you ever get the chance to do it, I highly recommend it. Eagles and other raptors are amazing birds, who are smart, and have great relationships with their handlers. This festival happens in late September or early October every year and includes different events. There are even opportunities to meet eagles up close and personal. 


The original capital of the Mongolian Empire, Kharakhorum was founded by Genghis Kahn in 1220. This once cosmopolitan city is no longer thriving, but it is home to a great museum, the first Buddhist monastery in the country, and a handful of temples. 

I think there are plenty of other awesome things to do in Mongolia, but I feel like many of those things may be found while traveling around the country, which will be part of my travel plan. That'll be interesting, since I almost never go anywhere without a full plan, but I look forward to getting in a car and exploring as much as possible. 

Have you ever wanted to visit Mongolia?

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