Sadly, while Karakorum was destroyed by Chinese troops in 1388, a series of scattered ruins remain, testifying to the former grandeur of the city. Additionally, under previous Mongolian prime ministers, parts of Karakorum, including the monastery of Erdene Zhuu, were rebuilt. Today, Karakorum, as a part of the nearby Orkhon River Valley, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A handpicked selection of experiences endorsed by our experts. If you can’t see what you’re looking for, let us know, as our extensive network of local contacts can open many doors.
Mongolia’s oldest monastery, Erdene Zuu was built in 1585, the year the Mongolia embraced Tibetan Buddhism as the official state religion. The structure consists of 108 brilliant, white stupas that stretch out across the grassy plains - many of which were built with stones from the ruined city of Karakorum. While Erdene Zuu was nearly destroyed by Mongolian Communists when they rose to power, following the fall of Communism in Mongolia, the monastery was returned to lamas; today, it once again rings with prayers and meditative chants.
One notable feature of the monastery is the Kharkhorin Rock, a stone phallus that is said to keep the sexual desires of resident monks in check, thus ensuring them of their celibacy.
The ancient capital of the Uyghur Empire, Khar Balgas was once a large, prosperous town surrounded by a wall, gate, and several watchtowers. Founded by the Uyghur peoples, a collection of nomadic tribes who rebelled against their Turkish overlords, Khar Balgas contained fortifications, stables, a well-defined commercial district, and a series of palaces and temples.
After falling into a long, slow decline, Khar Balgas was sacked by an army of rival Kyrgyz tribesmen. Today, little remains of the city save for a series of stones, and faded, rectangular outlines where myriad buildings once stood.
Some of the most historically significant sites within the Orkhon Valley are a series of stone steles engraved by leaders of the Gokturk confederation. A loose collection of nomadic Turkic peoples who held sway over much of northern China, Mongolia, and Central Asia, the Gokturk Empire was a powerful, prosperous realm that alternately warred, feuded, traded, and befriended neighboring Chinese dynasties, Korean kingdoms, and other Central Asian powers.
The steles were inscribed by two brothers, Bilge Khan and Kul Tigin, who respectively served as ruler and commander-in-chief of the Gokturk army. Much of the stele’s content concerns the achievements and accomplishments of the two brothers, who consolidated a wide swath of territory from rival Kyrgyz and Tangut tribes, as well as the influence of Tang China – seen by the two as a malignant, if seductive influence that threatened to dilute Gokturk culture.
While parts of this monastery was destroyed by the Mongolian Communists in their religious purges, Tuvkhun Hermitage sits atop a high hill that stands 8,530 feet (2,600 meters) above sea level. Fortunately, much of the monastery remains intact to this day, in the form of blue-roofed, wood-walled buildings. Additionally, its location offers commanding views of the green, lush pastureland of the Orkhon River Valley.
Explore in-depth information, experiences and highlights by navigating to specific regions using the links below on the right.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
Choose somewhere you’d like to visit, something you’re interested in, and when you’re planning to travel and we’ll suggest sample itineraries to inspire your bespoke journey.
An Asia-focused magazine brought to you by Remote Lands – a platform for adventure, luxury, and authenticity from experts and explorers around the continent.
Find out why so many riders are choosing the steppes of Mongolia for their Asia adventure on two wheels.
There’s a lot one might do on the Mongolian plains, but the Genghis Khan Riding and Adventure Camp offers some truly unique experiences.
Seven days and 250 kilometers over the Mongolian steppes – the grueling Gobi March is coming to the tracts of Ghengis Khan this summer for a race like never before.
Here is a small selection of the kind words our guests have said about us, as well as features by journalists and travel writers.