Pack your hiking shoes, as this 14-day highlights tour takes you to some of Mongolia's best landscapes. Start with two days in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar before heading into the countryside to traverse the Elsen Tasarkhai dunes atop a camel. Take a city break in Kharkhorin, then hike up a mountain to admire the Tuvkhun Monastery. You'll also discover the unique rock formations of Tsagaan Suvarga and Baga Gazariin Chuluu on foot and horseback before ending back in the capital.


  • Observe endangered takhi horses as you explore Hustai National Park
  • Discover the ancient ruins of temples, marketplaces, and palaces in Kharkhorin
  • Watch the Flaming Cliffs transform into fiery reds and oranges at sunset
  • Have lunch with a nomadic family and learn how to prepare a traditional drink

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, Explore the City at Your Own Pace Ulaanbaatar
Day 2 Full-Day Tour of Ulaanbaatar Ulaanbaatar
Day 3 Transfer to Argalant, Watch a Mongol Nomadic Show Argalant
Day 4 Visit Hustai National Park, Transfer to the Elsen Tasarkhai Sand Dunes Rashaant
Day 5 Explore the Elsen Tasarkhai Sand Dunes Rashaant
Day 6 Transfer to Kharkhorin, Half-Day City Tour Kharkhorin
Day 7 Transfer to Bat-Ulzii, Trek to Tuvkhun Monastery  Bat-Ulzii
Day 8 Transfer to Bayanzag, Watch the Sunset over the Flaming Cliffs Bayanzag
Day 9 Day Trip to the Khongor Sand Dunes Bayanzag
Day 10 Transfer to the Yolyn Am Canyon, Explore by Foot & Horseback Yol Valley
Day 11 Transfer to Tsagaan Suvarga, Trek up the Limestone Cliffs Tsagaan Suvarga
Day 12 Transfer to Baga Gazariin Chuluu, Visit a Nomadic Family Baga Gazryn Chuluu
Day 13 Transfer to Ulaanbaatar, Guided City Tour, Folklore Performance Ulaanbaatar
Day 14 Depart Ulaanbaatar  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, Explore the City at Your Own Pace

Visit the capital's attractions, such as Bogd Palace Museum, at your own pace

Welcome to the bustling capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar! Meet your driver at the airport and transfer to your hotel, where you can stay to relax and fight off jet lag or venture out to explore the area on your own. A good place to start is Bogd Khaan's Palace Museum to learn about the country's last monarch, who ruled from 1911 until 1924 when Mongolia declared independence from the imperial Qing dynasty of China. Wander through the palace's well-preserved chambers to discover the array of artifacts, royal belongings, religious instruments, and intricate Buddhist artwork. 

Continue to the Mongolian National Modern Art Gallery to browse the eclectic mix of paintings, sculptures, and multimedia art from local and international artists. Don't miss the installations that explore social issues, cultural identity, and the intersection of Mongolia's nomadic history with the complexities of contemporary life. In the evening, visit one of the city's rooftop bars to unwind with a cocktail or beer and enjoy panoramic views of the cityscape. If you're up for it, there are plenty of clubs in the city as well, so you can dance the night away before returning to your hotel. 

Day 2: Full-Day Tour of Ulaanbaatar

Visit the Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex and head to the top for panoramic views of the countryside

Spend a full day exploring Mongolia's capital, starting at the impressive Gandan Monastery, one of the largest and most important Buddhist monasteries in the country. Admire the 85-foot (26 m) tall gilded statue of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, then visit each of the intricately decorated temples, all adorned with religious artifacts. Next, head to the National Museum of Mongolia to learn more about the country's culture, history, and heritage. Browse the exhibits and array of artifacts, from intricately crafted traditional clothing and ceremonial objects to ancient tools and weapons.

Continue to the Chinggis Khan Museum to discover the comprehensive collection of Mongolian artifacts, relics, and interactive exhibits, all dedicated to the founder of the Mongol Empire. In the afternoon, enjoy a stroll through Sükhbaatar Square before sitting down for lunch at a traditional Mongolian restaurant. After refueling, drive an hour out of the city to the Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex to see the largest equestrian statue in the world, standing at 131 feet (40 m). Climb up to its head for panoramic views of the surrounding countryside to end the action-packed tour.

Day 3: Transfer to Argalant, Watch a Mongol Nomadic Show

Watch nomads perform traditional music on horsehead fiddles at a cultural heritage center

Leave the city behind this morning as you transfer three hours west to a nomadic camp in Argalant. After settling into your ger, a traditional Mongolian tent, head to the Mongol Nomadic Cultural Heritage Center to learn about the nomadic way of life that has shaped the country for centuries. As soon as you enter, you'll be greeted by an array of colorful costumes and spirited music from the horsehead fiddlers. Sit down for a nomadic show to watch displays of archery prowess, horseback acrobatics, and traditional wrestling.

Immerse yourself in the experience by trying your hand at the ancient art of thumb archery or sampling traditional food and drink, such as airag, an alcoholic beverage made from fermented mare's milk. If you're feeling adventurous, try to milk a goat or sheep yourself, then watch as it's transformed into different dairy products, like a fresh cheese called byaslag. Before you leave, learn how to play traditional games with shagai, sheep or goat ankle bones that are painted and used as a type of dice. In the evening, thank the nomads for their warm welcome, then return to your ger for the night.

Day 4: Visit Hustai National Park, Transfer to the Elsen Tasarkhai Sand Dunes

Watch the endangered takhi horses roam free in Hustai National Park

Enjoy a nourishing breakfast at camp, then set off on a two-hour drive to Hustai (Khustai) National Park, nestled in the Khustai Mountains. Upon arrival, stretch your legs and set off down one of the paths to discover the park's rolling hills, rocky outcrops, and expansive steppes. Look out for the majestic takhi horses, which you can only find in Mongolia. These beautiful creatures are critically endangered, but the park has successfully reintroduced over 300 to the ecosystem to roam freely in their natural habitat.

Watch them graze and gallop across the lush landscape before returning to the entrance to explore the small museum. Learn about the park's ecosystem and its successful conservation efforts as you browse the interactive exhibits, informative displays, and engaging presentations. Jump back in the car to drive three to four hours to the Elsen Tasarkhai sand dunes, also known as the "Mini Gobi." Settle into your lodge, where you can enjoy a delicious dinner and relax for the rest of the night.

Day 5: Explore the Elsen Tasarkhai Sand Dunes

Explore the Elsen Tasarkhai dunes on foot and atop a camel

Spend the morning exploring the dunes of Elsen Tasarkhai on foot, then atop a camel to enjoy panoramic views of the golden sand and the surrounding Khongo Khan mountain range. As you traverse the sandy terrain, relish the tranquility of the desert and connect with nature. If you're feeling adventurous, try sandboarding to add an extra layer of excitement to your visit. Stand on the board and glide down the dunes, allowing the wind to guide you. In the afternoon, head to the nearby ruins of Erdene Khamba Monastery built in the 17th century.

As you approach the monastery, admire its ornate architecture and vibrant colors against the backdrop of the vast Mongolian steppe. Explore the intricately decorated temples adorned with Buddhist symbols and murals and immerse yourself in the tranquil atmosphere. Visit a nomadic horse-breeding family next to meet the family's prized horses and learn about their day-to-day life. Discover the art of crafting airag, a revered Mongolian drink made with fermented mare's milk, and try your hand at the age-old practice of milking a horse. In the evening, head to camp for dinner.

Day 6: Transfer to Kharkhorin, Half-Day City Tour

Admire Erdene Zuu Monstery's grand outer walls adorned with 108 stupas

Bid farewell to the dunes this morning as you set off on a two-hour drive to Kharkhorin, the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire, nestled in the UNESCO-listed Orkhon Valley. When you arrive, settle into your ger, then sit down for a delicious lunch. After refueling, venture into the city for a guided tour, starting at the Erdene Zuu Monastery, established in 1586, making it one of the country's oldest monasteries. Step inside the grand outer walls, adorned with 108 stupas, and admire the ancient temples, prayer wheels, and vibrant religious murals.

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Discover the three main temples housing religious artifacts and ancient thangkas, and listen to the rhythmic chants of the monks engaged in prayer. Continue to the nearby Karakorum Archaeological Museum to learn more about the Mongol Empire. Browse the exhibits spanning eras of the empire to see the array of artifacts, including manuscripts, tools, remnants of ancient buildings, and everyday items. Stroll into the city center next to see remnants of temples, marketplaces, and the Khan's palace. When you're done exploring, return to camp to rest and enjoy dinner with your group.

Day 7: Transfer to Bat-Ulzii, Trek to Tuvkhun Monastery 

Trek up the Khangai mountains to get to the UNESCO-listed Tuvkhun Monastery

Get ready for an early wake-up call as you set off on a two-hour transfer to Bat-Ulzii, a small town in the province of Arkhangai. Upon arrival, settle into your lodge and lace up your hiking shoes to trek up to Tuvkhun Monastery, nestled atop a scenic peak in the Khangai mountain range. Head up the mountain along a rocky path for two hours, looking out for wildlife like argali sheep, the world's largest wild sheep. When you arrive at the UNESCO-listed monastery, founded by the renowned Buddhist scholar and leader Zanabazar in the 17th century, admire the vibrant red and green exterior.

Enter the complex to discover the prayer halls, living quarters, and caves where Zanabazar is said to have engaged in profound contemplation. Take in the intricate woodwork and sacred symbols adorning the structures, reflecting a harmonious blend of nature and spirituality. Before you leave, look out at the rolling hills, then trek back down the mountain along the same path. Return to your camp in Bat-Ulzii to rest after your early start and enjoy dinner with your group. 

Day 8: Transfer to Bayanzag, Watch the Sunset over the Flaming Cliffs

Watch the Flaming Cliffs transform into blazing shades of crimson and orange

Set off early this morning for a big eight-hour drive. Jump in the car and start the journey south to the Gobi Desert to see the Flaming Cliffs in Bayanzag, renowned for the striking red sandstone formations that seem like they're on fire during sunset. Break up the drive with a visit to the Ongi Monastery Ruins, a once-thriving Buddhist complex that was destroyed during the political purges of the 1930s. Walk among the remnants of the temples, stupas, and living quarters scattered across the arid plains, then sit down for a picnic lunch before continuing the trip.

Once you finally arrive at your camp in Bayanzag, leave your bags in the ger, then settle down for dinner. After refueling, head to the nearby Flaming Cliffs to watch the sunset over the towering sandstone formations. Wander across the cliffs, looking out for dinosaur fossils and eggs that provide a glimpse into the region's prehistoric past. As the sun begins its descent, it paints the desert floor in shades of orange and crimson, allowing you to see how the cliffs earned their name. When darkness starts to fall, return to camp to rest for the night. 

Day 9: Day Trip to the Khongor Sand Dunes

Traverse the dunes of Khongor on foot or atop a camel

Spend another day exploring the Gobi Desert, this time in the Khongor sand dunes. Drive three hours west to get to the beginning of the dunes, which span 124 miles (200 km). Once you arrive, enjoy a nourishing lunch, then explore the surrounding mounds. Try to climb the colossal dunes and listen to the unique sound they produce when the wind sweeps across the surface, granting them the nickname the "singing sands."

Then, mount a camel for a two-hour ride across the desert. Enjoy panoramic views of the vast Gobi from the elevated perch of the camel's back and admire the ever-changing hues of the sand. Listen to the rhythmic sounds of the camel's footsteps and the whisper of the desert breeze to fully immerse yourself in nature. In the evening, return to your ger in Bayanzag, where you can relax and end the night with a delicious meal.

Day 10: Transfer to the Yolyn Am Canyon, Explore by Foot & Horseback

Yol Gorge of Gurvan Saikhan mountain
Trek across the lish Yolyn Am Canyon on foot and horseback
Set an early alarm to watch the Flaming Cliffs transform into a fiery blaze—this time at sunrise—then return to camp for breakfast. Once you're nourished, set off on a 2.5-hour transfer to the Yolyn Am Canyon in Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park. On the way, stop at the Khavtsgait Petroglyphs to see the ancient images carved into the mountainside. Admire the petroglyphs depicting scenes of daily life, hunting expeditions, and the diverse fauna that once roamed these lands before completing the drive to the canyon.
When you arrive, settle into your campsite, then follow your guide on a trek down the canyon's winding trails, partly on foot and partly on horseback when the rugged terrain becomes too challenging. Look out for wildlife, like vultures, argali sheep, and even snow leopards, if you're lucky. Stop at the Yolyn Am Nature Museum to see its collection of dinosaur fossils and remains that have been found in the area. Learn about the canyon's distinct geological formations and the nomadic communities that reside here. In the evening, return to camp for the night, where you can enjoy a delicious dinner.

Day 11: Transfer to Tsagaan Suvarga, Trek up the Limestone Cliffs

Trek across the towering limestone cliffs of Tsagaan Suvarga 

Head deeper into the Gobi Desert this morning to Tsagaan Suvarga (White Stupa), towering white limestone cliffs that have been sculpted over centuries by wind and water erosion. Enjoy the four-hour scenic drive, settle into your ger, then follow your guide to the cliffs to trek up and down the 98 to 196 feet (30 to 60 m) tall cliffs.

While you walk, look out for fossilized remains of marine animals in the rocks, as the area used to be covered in water millions of years ago. As the sun sets, the geological formations become even more enchanting, transforming into vibrant red and orange hues. When darkness starts to fall, return to camp for dinner.

Day 12: Transfer to Baga Gazariin Chuluu, Visit a Nomadic Family

Climb the imposing granite rock formations of Baga Gazariin Chuluu

Trade one unique rock formation for another as you transfer two hours north to Baga Gazariin Chuluu, granite geological wonders that are sacred to the local nomadic communities. Head to a nearby nomadic family's homestay first for a delicious lunch prepared by your hosts. After refueling, set off on a hike to discover the imposing rocks. Navigate the massive boulders and enjoy views of the rocky terrain while you look out for ancient petroglyphs and inscriptions. In the afternoon, return to the homestay to learn how to make airag, an alcoholic drink you may have tried already.

Immerse yourself in the experience by milking a horse yourself if you're visiting in July. Or, just enjoy sampling the tart national drink. Then, explore the open terrain by horseback to discover remote areas around the surrounding granite giants that are challenging to reach on foot. In the evening, sit down with the nomadic family and learn how to play more traditional games with shagai pieces to connect with the family. Enjoy dinner with the nomad family before settling in for the night. 

Day 13: Transfer to Ulaanbaatar, Guided City Tour, Folklore Performance

Climb up Zaisan Hill to see the Soviet memorial and enjoy panoramic views of the city

Return to the capital this morning on a three-hour transfer. After refreshing at your hotel, venture out on a short tour, starting at a Mongolian cashmere store if you want to do some last-minute shopping. Learn how the coveted material is made and browse the array of cashmere clothing and accessories you can take home to remember your trip. Visit Zaisan Memorial Hill next, on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar, for panoramic views of the city. Admire the monument dedicated to the Soviet soldiers who fought alongside the Mongolian forces during World War II.

The day will end with a folk performance by the Tumen-Ekh ensemble, one of the most well-known musical groups in the country. As the group takes the stage, listen to the rhythmic beats of traditional instruments resonating through the venue. Watch the dancers, adorned in elaborate costumes inspired by Mongolian history and nature, move with grace and precision, depicting stories of nomadic life, heroic tales, and spiritual rituals. Following the performance, enjoy a delicious farewell dinner of traditional Mongolian cuisine, then say goodbye to your guide and return to your hotel.

Day 14: Depart Ulaanbaatar

Browse the stalls in Narantuul Market and sample the local steamed dumplings

As your two-week Mongolian adventure comes to a close today, spend your last few hours in the city exploring on your own. If you want to pick up some last-minute souvenirs, head to Narantuul Market, one of the largest markets in the city. Navigate the labyrinthine alleys and discover the treasure trove of handmade goods to find souvenirs. Sample some delicious street food, like buuz, steamed dumplings filled with lamb or beef, onion, and garlic. When it's time, return to your hotel to grab your bags and meet your driver to transfer to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Active Adventure Across Mongolia's Epic Landscapes - 14 Days
Map of Active Adventure Across Mongolia's Epic Landscapes - 14 Days