Mongolia is one of the least densely populated countries on the planet. At last count, it had just 1.9 people per square kilometre. Thanks its natural beauty and fascinating nomadic culture, Mongolia is becoming popular as each year passes. Going off the beaten track and enjoying a truly authentic experience is still possible, despite the country’s rising popularity.
Mongolia is a land of extremes and experiencing life outside of its capital, Ulaanbaatar is a must on your upcoming trip. What you’ll get in return is an experience filled with beauty, authenticity, and adventure. Discover the off the beaten track destinations to add to your itinerary.
Baga Gazryn Chuluu
Baga Gazryn Chuluu has long been a site of religious worship in Mongolia. Modern-day locals make pilgrimages to the rock formations, which are thought to have once been a stomping ground of Genghis Khan during the Khalkh-Oirat Mongol conflict. During the 19th century, the rocks were home to two monks. Remnants of their stay can be seen on the rocks courtesy of historic drawings.
Baga Gazryn Chuluu is the perfect stop off as you journey through to Mongolia’s greatest natural wonder, the Gobi Desert.
Once you’re in the Gobi, make sure you check out Yolin Am, a stunning canyon which was once an ice valley. The hike up to Yolin Am offers magnificent views from all angles. Although little of the glacier remains, the rock formations left behind are a sight to behold.
Another canyon that’s well worth a visit is the Bayanzag Flaming Cliffs. It is considered the Mongolian version of the Grand Canyon, and you’ll see why when you visit. Look a little closer and you may just discover some prehistoric relics. Dinosaur fossils and eggs are abundant in the region.
Another off the beaten path must-see are the Khongoryn Els sand dunes. Based in the seemingly never-ending Gurvan Saikhan National Park, Khongoryn Els is considered home to the best and largest sand dunes in the world. They measure in at a staggering 300 metres high and 62 miles long and are the largest in the northwest.
As well as opening your eyes to the beauty of the giant dunes, you should also open your ears. The Khongoryn Els dunes are known as the Duut Mankhan or the ‘Singing Dunes’ to locals as the sand makes a whistling sound as it’s dispersed by the wind. You can take in all the sights and sounds of the dunes by foot or by camel, whilst a stay at a local ger camp is highly recommended in this spectacular part of the world.
During the 1930s many of the monasteries in Mongolia were invaded and destroyed due to the rise of communism. Visit one of the last remaining monasteries in Mongolia by travelling to Ongi Monastery at the foot of the Saikhan Ovoo mountain. Destination Mongolia explains why a visit to Ongi Monastery is vital on your trip:
“Formerly one of the largest monasteries in Mongolia, Ongi monastery was founded in 1660 and consisted of two temple complexes on the north and south banks of the Ongi River. The older southern complex consisted of various administrative buildings as well as 11 temples. The northern complex built in the 18th century, consisted of 17 temples-among them one of the largest temples in all Mongolia.”
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