The untamed beauty and stark remoteness of Mongolia has captured the imagination of adventurers for centuries. Humble monks and curious nomads occupy a landscape dotted with yaks, camels and the occasional ger. To be immersed in a culture and way of life completely different from most, simply head to the far-flung magic of Mongolia.
ULAANBAATAR AND ITS SURROUNDING ATTRACTIONS
Nearly 90 percent of tourists coming to Mongolia visit Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, where 40 percent of the country’s population resides. Ulaanbaatar is a rapidly developing, fast changing city with an exciting folk, classical and modern cultural life. Theaters, museums, galleries, shops, clubs, parks are favorite places for the city’s guests and youth, and the cuisine choices will remind you that Ulaanbaatar is a truly an intersection of East and West.
Ulaanbaatar is a historic place. The Tuul River’s willow forests was famously mentioned several times in the Secret History of the Mongols, the 13th century account of Mongol history, and it was said that a young Temuujin (later Chinggis Khan) visited this area to ask for his first military assistance from Van Khan Tooril when his wife Borte was kidnapped by the Mergid tribesmen. A remain of what may be Van Khan Tooril’s palace is located in Khan-Uul district of Ulaanbaatar and has not yet been fully studied.
Ulaanbaatar was historically a nomadic city and home of Mongolia’s last religious and state ruler, Bogd Khaan Javzundamba. Until it was named Ulaanbaatar, it went by many different names through an interesting history of which you can learn from the Ulaanbaatar City Museum and Bogd Khaan Palace Museum and Bogd’sKhaan’s brother- Chojin Lama Museum.
One of Ulaanbaatar’s cultural heritage sites is Gandan Monastery. Its daily religious activities can be observed.There are, as well, as many other Buddhist, Shamanist and religious and worship ceremonies conducted in the city. Today, as always in Mongolia’s history, religious tolerance is practiced.
A visitor who comes for a few days of business can still find plenty of countryside experience right outside Ulaanbaatar. The horse race area of Ulaanbaatar is a nomadic open space called HuiDoloonHudag. During the naadam days, this empty steppe turns into a lively thriving tent-city where thousands of horsemen and horse-boys become the center of attention. The temporary city will have all the necessary services and cultural shows for the naadam viewers’ needs, but it will disappear before your eyes as soon as the naadam days end. Like a magic, the HuiDoloonHudag will again become open grassland. This is the nomadic feature of Ulaanbaatar. And HuiDoloonHudag is open for anyone to organize festivals and events. The Mongol Naadam Company of Ulaanbaatar city manages this open space.
Other countryside experiences are found in 20-50 kilometers radius outside Ulaanbaatar. The most famous places are Gorhi-Terelj National Park area (plenty of tourism camps and attractions there), Manzushir monastery, and tour camps in the west, north and south-west directions of the city that are reach-able in less than 2 hours.
A famous day-tour out of Ulaanbaatar is a visit to the giant Chinggis Khan monument. The local name of the area is TsonjinBoldog, and this steel monument of the mounted Khan is frequently featured in news about Mongolia. It takes 8-10 hours to visit the Statue and come back to a downtown hotel. And that includes a visit to the impressive museum at the base of the monument.
The other places you should see:
LAKE KHUVSGUL (HUVSGUL),DARKHAD VALLEY AND THE TSAATAN COMMUNITY
KHUSTAI (HUSTAI) NATIONAL NARK
BAYAN-ULGII PROVINCE AND THE KAZAK COMMUNITY
FESTIVAL AND EVENT HOSTING AREAS
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