In the harsh conditions of Mongolia, the tourist gets to enjoy the untouched nature and the hospitality of the nomadic people who have preserved their traditional way of life.
Short for MN by abbreviationfinder, Mongolia, which created an empire that stretched to Europe in the 13th century, was a satellite state of the Soviet Union for much of the 20th century and quite isolated from the rest of the world. With the break-up of socialism, Mongolia has opened up rapidly to tourists, and more and more people are traveling to the country to experience exotic natural and cultural experiences.
The world’s least populated country
Inland, bordering China and Russia, Mongolia is the least populated country in the world. One-third of the country’s approximately three million people still live as nomads who change their place of residence according to the seasons. On the other hand, another third live in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s slowly modernizing growth center.
Immediately outside Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s infinitely felt, tree-free steppes begin. In the midst of immense emptiness, the only signs of life are herds of animals and Mobile Shepherds’ Huts.
In the footsteps of Genghis Khan
The Mongols have lived as peaceful nomads forever, but have once combined their forces into a ferocious army. In the 13th century, Genghis Khan assembled an army of superior riding skills, whose empire extended all the way to Eastern Europe.
The Mongols are proud of their glorious history. With the help of the Genghis Khan, Mongolia is marketed as a travel destination, and the legendary warlord is a popular figure in local popular culture.
Traditional sports skills, horseback riding, wrestling and archery, are held in high esteem in Mongolia. The descendants of the warrior people compete fiercely in the sports, especially during the traditional Naadam festival every July 11-13. day.
Mongols – a cavalry nation
The horse has always been a key element in the Mongolian way of life. The animal has allowed people to move around and provided good meat to eat. Riding is an honor for the Mongols. In the country, even five-year-olds can be skilled and experienced riders.
For a tourist, riding in the Mongolian steppes together with the locals is a unique experience. Eating and sleeping in a yurt also often become highlights of the Mongolian trip.
Special food and drink
For a Westerner, there may be an accustomation to Mongolian food, as traditionally the diet consists mainly of meat and dairy products. There has been little availability of vegetables in barren land.
Mongolian drinks in particular are memorable in their strangeness. Tea, which is served throughout the day, is mixed with plenty of milk and often butter and salt. Rubber, a traditional alcoholic beverage made from horse milk, is also an exciting acquaintance.
After Kazakhstan, Mongolia is the largest landlocked country in the world and has an extreme continental climate. It can be scorching hot in summer and freezing cold in winter. Winter lasts a long time, from November to the end of April. Measured by average temperatures, Ulaanbaatar is the coldest capital in the world.
The average winter temperature in the whole country is -20 ° C and in summer + 20 ° C. The variation in temperatures is strong. Even on summer nights, the temperature can drop to near zero.
Mongolia season in summer
The best time to travel to Mongolia is summer, from June to September. May and October are also months to consider, especially if you want to avoid the biggest tourist flows.
Most tourists in Mongolia are in July, when the traditional Naadam Festival is held.
Tourism in Mongolia is also possible in winter, but you should be carefully prepared for cold weather. There are fewer opportunities to organize activities in winter than in summer.
FLIGHTS, ACCOMMODATION AND MOVEMENT IN MONGOLIA
Most tourists arrive in Mongolia by train, as part of a Trans-Siberian trip. Most often, the stop is the capital Ulan Bator, from where you can easily arrange excursions to other parts of the country.
It is therefore possible to reach Mongolia by train from Helsinki. Without stopovers, you can travel to Mongolia from Moscow and Beijing a few times a week. In summer, train tickets should be purchased in advance, as Trans-Siberia is a particularly popular route at the time.
Flights from Moscow
There are no direct flights from Finland to Mongolia, but the exchange will be successful in Moscow, from where Aeroflot and the Mongolian airline MIAT will fly to the capital Ulaanbaatar. Travel time from Moscow is about six hours. A Russian visa is not required for the exchange. Flights can be remarkably expensive.
A Finn needs a visa to Mongolia. The nearest Mongolian Honorary Consulate is located in Stockholm and issues different types of visas to the country. The application can be mailed or made on site.
Sleep in yurts and inns
Ulan Bator’s range of accommodation is unmatched by the world’s metropolises. Large hotel chains have not found their way into the city, and there is little choice, especially in hotels.
Most hostel-type accommodation is available. Ulaanbaatar’s numerous guesthouses provide tourists with affordable sanitary facilities shared with basic rooms. The same operators also usually organize excursions outside Ulaanbaatar. Indeed, planning a larger trip to Mongolia is often easily done with the accommodation of your choice.
In the countryside and villages, yurts rented by locals are practically the only place to stay. The yurts are furnished with normal furniture such as beds and tables, but your own sleeping bag or bedding is usually necessary. Meals are often served to tourists. Hosts may also host other programs, such as traditional throat singing.
TRAVEL DESTINATIONS IN MONGOLIA
The capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbataar, or Ulan Bator, is on the one hand charmingly lively, on the other hand like a pioneer village whose suburbs grow uncontrollably as vague rows of yurt.
The actual sights in Ulaanbaatar are enough for a few days. The most important of these are Gandan Monastery, Sükhbaatar Square with its buildings and the Natural History Museum.
Shopping opportunities are provided by the state department store and market areas.
Ulaanbaatar’s nightlife is quite lively, and eating and drinking are cheap fun for Westerners. At night, however, caution should be exercised, as robberies and fights are regrettably common.
Stunning nature in national parks
The real Mongolia only opens up outside the capital. Ulan Bator’s Guesthouses and numerous travel agencies organize organized excursions to different parts of the country according to the wishes of the tourists. The trip is by car or minibus, depending on the size of the group. The guides are the driver and possibly the interpreter.
Good places to visit are the country’s national parks, such as Gorkhi-Terelj and Hustai. The national park offers a wide range of natural attractions as well as activities such as horse riding and mountaineering.
One of the classics of nature attractions is the diverse Gobi Desert, where there are many special things to see and tours can also be arranged.
The cultural landscape of the Orkhon Valley
Covering an area of 1,220 square kilometers, the Orkhon Valley is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The area is a traditional residential area for nomads and includes varied nature as well as a wealth of archeological sites such as the ruins of Karakorum, the ancient capital of Mongolia.
According to countryaah, Mongolia’s second UNESCO site is Uvs Nuur, the northernmost closed depression in East Asia.