- See ancient Buddhist artifacts at Ulaanbaatar's Choijin Lama Temple Museum
- Camp under the stars in a traditional Mongolian yurt
- Tour Amarbayasgalant Monastery and learn about its fascinating history
- Visit the magnificent equestrian statue of the infamous Genghis Khan
|Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, Explore the Capital
|Visit Aglag Buteel Monastery, Overnight at a Ger Camp
|Transfer to Amarbayasgalant, Tour Amarbayasgalant Monastery
|Scenic Drive to Khatgal, Homestay Experience
|Horseback Tour & Sledding on Lake Khuvsgul
|Transfer to Bayan-Agt, Discover Uran Togoo National Park
|Transfer to Argalant, Hiking in Khustain Nuruu National Park
|Transfer to Terelj National Park, Visit Chinggis Khaan Statue
|Terelj National Park
|Return to Ulaanbaatar, Guided Sightseeing Tour
Day 1: Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, Explore the Capital
Welcome to Mongolia! Your flight lands in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's largest city and capital. Originally a nomadic Buddhist center, it became a permanent site in the 18th century, serving as a trade hub between China and Russia until Outer Mongolia declared itself independent. In 1924, the city was renamed Ulaanbaatar, which means "Red Hero." Modern Ulaanbaatar is known for its interesting architecture, museums, and historic sites.
A private driver will collect you from the airport and transport you to your hotel. Once you've had a chance to settle, you're free to head out and explore the city. A good place to start is the National Museum of Mongolia, which showcases the country's history and culture, featuring artifacts from ancient times and exhibits on traditional nomadic life. Then, visit the Choijin Lama Temple Museum to see the collection of Buddhist art and artifacts, including intricate thangka paintings and ornate sculptures. End the day with dinner at a local restaurant before returning to your hotel to rest up for tomorrow's adventures.
Day 2: Visit Aglag Buteel Monastery, Overnight at a Ger Camp
The day starts early as you meet your guide and make the three-hour drive from Ulaanbaatar to the stunning Aglag Buteel Monastery. Founded by Purevbat Lama and built using donations from all over the world, the monastery houses an impressive collection of Buddhist art. Upon arrival, you'll leave the car behind and make a short hike up the mountain to the temple's main building, where you'll have time to walk through the monastery and see the unusual artifacts housed within. There are also several trails around the area that are worth exploring.
Afterward, continue to a local ger (yurt) camp, where you'll spend the night. Mongolian ger camps offer accommodations in the traditional nomadic yurt roundhouses, which are heated and can include everything from attached private bathrooms, game rooms, and shower facilities. Enjoy dinner under the stars before settling down in your room for the evening.
Day 3: Transfer to Amarbayasgalant, Tour Amarbayasgalant Monastery
After breakfast, head out for a visit to Amarbayasgalant Monastery. During socialist times, many of Mongolia's Buddhist temples were demolished, with a few notable exceptions—Amarbayasgalant being one of them. Otherwise known as the "Monastery of Tranquil Felicity," this is one of the three largest Buddhist monastic centers in Mongolia. Home to practicing Lamas, it's also the final resting place of Zanibizar Lama, sometimes called the da Vinci of Central Asia. Learn about the temple's fascinating history, then spend the night at a nearby ger camp.
Day 4: Scenic Drive to Khatgal, Homestay Experience
Your next destination is Khatgal, a small village in the Khuvsgul region that sits on the shores of Lake Khuvsgul. You'll depart early in the morning for the long drive, which takes approximately 10 hours and takes you through some of the most spectacular scenery in the country, including mountains that rise against the sky, expansive plains, and massive rivers. If you're lucky, you may even encounter a bear in the distance or wolves running alongside the road. Arrive in time for dinner, overnighting at a local family's homestay accommodations.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Horseback Tour & Sledding on Lake Khuvsgul
Spend the day discovering the beauty of Lake Khuvsgul, the largest freshwater lake in Mongolia, encompassing more than 1,065 square miles (2,760 sq km) and the source of much of the region's drinking water. Nicknamed the "Blue Pearl of Mongolia," the lake is incredible year-round, with greenery and nesting birds on the lake's four islands in summer, and glass-like ice that's perfect for skating or sleigh rides in winter.
Depending on the time of year you're here, you'll have the option of taking a guided horseback ride around the lake, hike the various trail networks, or take a horse-drawn sleigh ride across the lake ice. You can also meet a local shaman and learn more about Mongolian culture or go sledding if there's snow on the ground! This evening, enjoy a traditional meal of khorkhog (whole sheep cooked with red-hot stones) with a local nomadic family.
Day 6: Transfer to Bayan-Agt, Discover Uran Togoo National Park
Meet up with your guide this morning and begin the drive south, back toward Ulaanbaatar, taking things at a leisurely pace over the next few days. Make your first stop at Uran Togoo National Park, a national protected area in the Bulgan province. Here, you'll visit Uran Uul, an extinct volcano that expands more than a mile (1,686 m) across the park. Active more than 20 million years ago, the lava that once flowed here has left rich soil and an abundance of varied plant life and animals.
Hike along a footpath to the crater, noticing the lush vegetation and plentiful birds and insects. There's also a small lake at the bottom of the crater, adding to the picturesque beauty of the region. Tonight, spend the evening with a nomadic family at their homestay, enjoying a traditional Mongolian meal and learning more about local culture.
Day 7: Transfer to Argalant, Hiking in Khustain Nuruu National Park
The journey back to Ulaanbaatar continues, taking you to Khustain Nuruu National Park, which is located in the Khustai Mountains and home to the endangered takhi horse, otherwise known as Przewalski's horse. The park was declared a protected area in the 1990s after an initiative went through to reintroduce the horses to the region, and encompasses 195 square miles (506 sq km) with wide-open expanses of grasslands and hills.
In addition to the takhi, there are more than 55 species of mammals and 223 species of birds that live in the park, many of them endangered. After relaxing a bit at tonight's ger camp, you'll head out with your guide for a twilight hike, searching out the elusive wild horses in their natural habitat, as well as other wildlife.
Day 8: Transfer to Terelj National Park, Visit Chinggis Khaan Statue
Make the final leg of your drive today, traveling back to and through the capital city to Terelj National Park. Here, you'll visit the magnificent Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex. Towering at an impressive 150 feet (46 m), this equestrian statue of Chinggis Khaan (Genghis Khan) on horseback is the largest of its kind in the world. You can walk to the head of the horse for panoramic views, while the attached museum has items from the Bronze Age and Xiongnu cultures, as well as an exhibit on the Great Khan period.
Afterward, head deeper into the park for a relaxing final evening in nature at your ger camp, enjoying dinner and lively conversation under the star-carpeted skies. If you're traveling between December and February, you might even have the chance to take a guided dogsled tour around the park.
Day 9: Return to Ulaanbaatar, Guided Sightseeing Tour
This morning, you'll return to Ulaanbaatar, where your driver will drop you off at your hotel for check-in, after which you can make the most of your last full day in Mongolia with a guided city tour. Visit the Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan, the palace where Mongolia's eighth living Buddha lived for two decades and a wonderful place to see traditional Buddhist paintings and sculptures.
You'll also have the opportunity to visit the newly opened Chinggis Khaan Museum and marvel at its collection of archaeological artifacts from the Mongolian Great Empire, led by the legendary ruler. Visit local shops for some last-minute souvenir shopping, then end the day with modern Mongolian cuisine at one of the city's many excellent restaurants.
Day 10: Depart Ulaanbaatar
It's time to say goodbye to beautiful Mongolia today. After breakfast, your private driver will transfer you to the airport to catch your flight home or to your next destination. Safe travels!