A country with a unique and fascinating history, Mongolia is an amazing travel destination for those up for a one-of-a-kind experience. See sights unlike anywhere else in the world, where children’s schoolbooks are put to life. See the best of this thrilling, exotic country with our 9-day luxury Classic Mongolia itinerary.
|Have the once-in-a-lifetime experience of riding a camel through the Gobi Desert Relax in a riverside sauna in a ger||
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Sit back on a short flight from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar. Arrive before lunchtime to begin enjoying what this Soviet Era-style capital has to offer. Meander through Sukhbaatar Square, named for the country’s hero, and spot the Parliament Building, the Mongolian Stock Exchange and the Royal Ballet House. Stand in awe at the famous larger-than-life Tyrannosaurus Bataar skeleton that was found in the Gobi desert and is now on display in the square. Later that day, go see the traditional and unusual Naadam games outside the city. The games are similar to horse races but with 6- to 12-year-old jockeys. Return to the city for dinner at City Nomads restaurant and you may be lucky enough to enjoy traditional music and dance performances. Catch some shut-eye at your modern hotel, the Blue Sky Tower. The blue glass exterior is shaped like a sail.
If you are in Ulaanbaatar during midsummer, you’re in for a cultural treat! The yearly Naadam festival is the most important in Mongolian culture. The three central games are traditional wrestling, horse racing and archery. If you’re traveling outside of this time frame, it’s the perfect day to tour the impressive Gandan and Choijin Lama Monasteries. The monasteries contain important pieces of cultural artwork. Sample traditional Mongolian barbeque in the town center and people watch near the main square before you call it a full day.
If you’re in the city during the Naadam games, it’s highly-recommended that you attend the games for two days, to ensure you don’t miss out on any of the events. For those of you traveling outside this time frame, walk up to the Zaisan Memorial commemorating the Mongolian soldiers who fought in WWI and WWII. The memorial offers a stunning view of the city below. The Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts offers art dating all the way back to the Stone Age. Feel free to pamper yourself with an inexpensive massage that can be found in any of the numerous spas on Peace Avenue.
Depart Ulaanbaatar to Dalanzadgad, and then drive one hour into the Gobi Desert. Set up camp at the Three Camel Lodge - awarded the prestige of being one of the top 50 eco-lodges in the world. This is luxury camping with a private double Ger and private connected toilet. Take a drive to Bulgan Soum, a small town built near a natural spring. Fruits and vegetables grow plentifully in this area. Enjoy a fresh, local and organic meal back at the lodge, prepared from all nomadic family farms.
Step off the map and take a full-day excursion to the Yol Valley. The valley is a deep, narrow gorge etched through the Saikhan Mountains in the Southern Gobi. Sometimes the gorge is coated in a slab of ice. If you’re lucky you may spot a Lammergeier or Bearded Vulture. The valley is one of the only homes for this rare species.
Have the experience of a lifetime as you cast eyes upon the incredible Petroglyphs at Havtsgait. The rock carvings are estimated to be between 5,000 to 6,000 years old and are worth the steep climb to the top. Next, take a drive out to Bayanzag. Bayanzag is also referred to as the Flaming Cliffs or the Southern Gobi. The red rocks jut into the sky sharply, and are an incredible sight in the tangerine sunlight. The day continues as you visit the Moltsog Els sand dunes at the edge of the cliffs. On your way back to the Three Camel Lodge, visit a camel herding farm and chat with the local family. Climb aboard your new humped friend as the family takes you on a trek through the neighboring sand dunes.
Savor your last morning in the Gobi desert before departing for Khaan Khentii, a strictly-protected, lush, green area in Eastern Mongolia. This sacred area is three times the size of Yellowstone National Park. Get comfortable at your authentic private Ger camp set up by a local family. This special, unique experience is rare to come by!
Find your adventurous streak and go “yak-cart rafting” in the Tuul River. Your yak will pull you to Arctic Ocean. Take a quick dip in the Tuul River where the water is considered sacred by Mongols. Hike to the lookout point at Hifte Gatsaa and gain an aerial view over the river you just swam in! End the day with a soak in a personal jacuzzi provided for you by your guide.
Spend your last day in Khaan Khentii exploring the Naran Tuul Market where you will find almost any good your heart desires. The market is also called the “Black Market,” but have no fear, this is simply referring to the mass array of goods available - not any actual foul play. Learn more about Mongolian culture and tradition at the National Museum of History. Pick up cashmere treasures at the local shops before hopping a flight back to Beijing. You will spend the night at the luxury Hilton Beijing Capital Airport Hotel before flying home the next day.
This five-star contemporary hotel is situated in the city’s business district and more interestingly in Ulaanbaatar’s tallest building. The hotel, decorated in a classic European style, has many top quality facilities including an indoor pool, gym, wellness centre, sauna and a business centre. There are many services on offer to make your stay as comfortable and convenient as possible such as 24-hour room service, car rentals, currency exchange, laundry services, luggage storage, safety deposit boxes and a 24-hour front desk. Diners will be spoilt for choice with the Cantonese, Japanese, Korean and western food on offer at the hotel’s restaurants. The rooms feature free WiFi, flat-screen TVs with cable channels, en-suite bathrooms with a bathtub and shower facilities as well as a minibar luxury toiletries, hairdryers and slippers.
The Three Camel Lodge was constructed without nails from Siberian timber and local stone using traditional techniques, and is situated within view of the Gobi Desert's stunning Gobi-Altai Mountain Range. Built under environmentally and culturally sustainable guidelines, energy for the lodge is drawn partially from solar and wind power; the main building has a large shaded porch and remains cool and comfortable even on hottest desert days. The staff is a group of well-practiced folk musicians who don beautiful costumes and play the horse-head fiddle and other traditional instruments in the evening. Guest rooms are in 30 gers (yurts), made from latticed structures covered by layers of felt and canvas and heated with wood-burning stoves. The beds and furniture are hand-painted in vivid colors. The main lodge has a bar with a selection of beers, wines and spirits, a gift shop with local crafts and artwork and a business facility including fax service. Meals of traditional Mongolian cuisine are served in an over-sized ger, with ingredients fresh from local farms. There is no fitness center but you will not want for physical activities: a number of expeditions are possible, including hiking in the foothills of the Gobi-Altai Mountains, camel trekking through sand dunes, horseback riding through mountain valleys to local springs, and excavating dinosaur fossils at the Flaming Cliffs under the guidance of a paleontologist from the Mongolian Academy of Sciences. The Three Camel Lodge is 1.5 to two hours from the airport in the provincial capital of Dalanzadgad (DLZ).