Many tourists may not consider the vast desert country of Mongolia as a particularly luxurious destination, however with advancements in their infrastructure and a variety of high-class hotels (and more alternative forms of accommodation, as you’ll discover) becoming available, this beautiful country should certainly be on the to-do list of any discerning traveller.
There are a number of major tourism centres across this huge country, including the capital Ulan Bator, the vast Gobi Desert and the unspoilt natural beauty of Terelj National Park. Accommodation available includes luxury hotel complexes, but why not try something a little more traditional? Numerous “Ger Camps” have sprung up all over the country, allowing tourists to experience how locals have lived for hundreds of years. Owing to their nomadic heritage, a Ger is a large tent with beds around the outside edge and cooking facilities in the middle. Many of these camps offer accommodation to a very high standard and can be just as comfortable and luxurious as many of the hotels, with some camps even offering an “en-suite” bathroom tent adjoined to your main Ger. For the traveller looking to experience something a bit different, this could definitely be of interest!
Ulan Bator, Mongolia’s majestic capital, is a bustling metropolis with a population of over 1,000,000 people. There are a wealth of things to see and do here, and if you’re travelling around the country you can easily justify spending at least 2 full days in the city. You can start your day with a city tour, taking you round the city’s most popular districts to get a flavour for the rich history this country has to offer. Expect a lot of stories about Genghis Khan (known as Chinggis Khan there) and the once vast Mongol Empire. Highlights of the city include a 75 foot high Buddha statue in the Gandan Monastery, as well as an impressive Natural History Museum. Many of the world’s best preserved and earliest dinosaur fossils have been found in Mongolia so there’s plenty to see in this respect.
The Gobi Desert is a vast, arid region spanning a total area of 1,295,000 square kilometres, much of it in Mongolia. Once entirely conquered by the Mongol Empire, the region went on to spring up a number of important “Silk Road” towns and cities. The Mongolian part of the desert can be explored on your journey here, with many natural wonders to experience such as the flaming cliffs (so named for their distinct glowing orange colour) as well as a variety of wildlife including wild horses, camels and birds of prey.
Terelj National Park is situated to the north east of Ulan Bator and is quite a contrast to the desert just a few hundred kilometres to the south! Lush and verdant, the rolling green hills are surrounded by stunning rocky bluffs creating an extremely dramatic landscape. Key things to see here include the impressive Turtle Rock, a vast array of wildlife and incredible scenic views of the region from the variety of hiking opportunities.
To conclude, Mongolia really is an up-and-coming tourist destination with a lot to offer the more adventurous traveller. As more and more tourists find their way there, the standard of accommodation and variety of food available has steadily increased over the years and now has a burgeoning high-end market, giving you comfort and security as well as the experience of a lifetime!
Kristi Rorison is Director of Outgoing Business at IntoRussia.