See the highlights of Mongolia on this five-day tour, starting in ancient Kharkhorin, where you'll visit what was once the world's largest Buddhist university and overnight in a yurt under the stars. Then, you're off to ride camels through the Gobi Desert and hike the ravines of the Yol Valley's "Vulture's Mouth." Finish in Mongolia's capital city of Ulaanbaatar for shopping and sightseeing before heading home.


  • Tour the ruins of Ongi Monastery, once the world's largest Buddhist university 
  • Learn to build a traditional Mongolian ger (yurt) and camp under the stars
  • Ride camels across the famed "singing dunes" of Khongoryn
  • Trek amid the geological wonders of Yolyn Am Gorge

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Kharkhorin, Sightseeing & Ger Camp Kharkhorin
Day 2 Transfer to Saikhaan-Ovoo, Tour Ongi Monastery, Build a Yurt Saikhaan-Ovoo
Day 3 Transfer to Khongoryn Els, Camel Ride Across the Dunes Khongoryn 
Day 4 Transfer to Yolyn Am Gorge, Hiking & Horseback Excursion Yol Valley
Day 5  Transfer to Ulaanbaatar, Depart  
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Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Kharkorhin, Sightseeing & Ger Camp

Visit the impressive Erdene Zuu Monastery in Kharkhorin

Welcome to Mongolia! Bordered by China and Russia, this vast country is known for its rugged mountains, deserts, and nomadic culture. Upon arrival, you'll be met by your driver and start your immersion into Mongolian history with a visit to the ancient city of Kharkhorin.

Also known as Karakorum, Kharkhorum, Qara Qorum, and Harhorum, the city served as the capital of the Mongol Empire between 1235 and 1260. While none of the original city stands above ground today, a UNESCO museum on-site explains its history and showcases some of the most exciting archaeological discoveries.

Next to the museum is the 16th-century white-walled Erdene Zuu Khiid Monastery, which still functions as a working center for lamas and Buddhists from around the world. Nowadays, Kharkhorin itself is a rather nondescript Soviet-style town, but visiting the museum and the monastery will make you feel like you've taken a step back in time. Afterward, you'll head to your ger (desert camp) to spend the night in traditional, well-equipped yurts. Enjoy a delicious dinner at camp, then rest up for tomorrow's adventures.

Day 2: Transfer to Saikhaan-Ovoo, Tour Ongi Monastery, Build a Yurt

Camp under the stars after you build your own yurt at a ger camp

The day starts early as you journey to Ongi Monastery in Saikhaan-Ovoo. Founded in 1600, this temple was once the world's largest Buddhist university, with four separate colleges sitting on the banks of the River Ongi. Today, the ruined temples are a haunting reminder of the anti-religious purges of the 1930s. Tour the ruins along the river and in the surrounding hills, then visit the newly founded temple to learn about the four lamas who are working to revive the temple's ancient traditions.

This afternoon, head to your next ger camp, where you'll learn how to build your own traditional yurt! For dinner, enjoy a hearty supper of khoorhog (roasted goat) under a starry night sky in this beautifully wild and rugged landscape.

Day 3: Transfer to Khongoryn Els, Camel Ride Across the Dunes

Trek the singing sand dunes of Khongoryn Els

After breakfast, head out with your guide, driving south across the desert steppes and Altai Mountain range to reach the legendary Khongoryn (Hongorïn) sand dunes. Stretching more than 120 miles (200 km) through the arid Gobi, the dunes are Mongolia's largest, with high peaks that offer incredible views against ever-shifting white sands, and they've even earned the nickname "singing dunes" due to the melodic sounds they make when the wind blows the sand. 

The drive takes you across the badlands, where you'll see lone gers and nomads on camelback, all of which seem mirage-like against the desert sky. The desert floor is also scattered with colorful rocks and minerals, adding to the otherworldly atmosphere. At the dunes, do a meet and greet with local camels, then mount up for a ride through the shadows of the shifting dunes and windswept landscapes. After your ride, settle in for the evening with a local family for a homestay and traditional Mongolian meal. 

Day 4: Transfer to Yolyn Am Gorge, Hiking & Horseback Excursion

Explore the flora and fauna of Yolyn Am Gorge

Your next destination is the Yol Valley and Yolyn Am Gorge. Located in the Southern Gobi, this picturesque valley is renowned for its dramatic rock formations, crystal-clear streams, and plentiful flora and fauna. The gorge, whose name translates to "Vulture's Mouth," is a narrow canyon with walls that tower at more than 650 feet (200 m) and a deep ravine that stays frozen through most of the year. 

Here, you'll embark on a guided trek that takes you out to the gorge, traveling both on foot and by horseback. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as ibex and argali sheep, and learn about the geological and historical significance of the park and its importance for biodiversity conservation. You'll also stop at the park museum, which has information on the region's wildlife, as well as dinosaur fossils and remains found in the area. This evening, enjoy one last night at a ger camp before heading back to civilization the next day. 

Day 5: Transfer to Ulaanbaatar, Depart

Get in some last-minute sightseeing, then depart from the capital city of Ulaanbaatar 

Sadly, it's time to say goodbye to Mongolia. In the morning, your driver will transport you from camp to the capital city of Ulaanbaatar for your flight home. If you have time, you can squeeze in some sightseeing around the city, or do some last-minute souvenir shopping before you head to the airport. Safe travels! 

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Map of Highlights of Mongolia: Monasteries, Mountains & Desert Dunes - 5 Days
Map of Highlights of Mongolia: Monasteries, Mountains & Desert Dunes - 5 Days