Mongolia is the ultimate backdrop for an adventurous trip to discover its culture and nature. Do you look for a great venturesome holiday destination, but only have 2 weeks in Mongolia? I have a sample Mongolia itinerary and give you my top 10 things to do in Mongolia in 2 weeks.
Top 10 things to do in Mongolia in 2 weeks
I have made things super easy for you with the below list of the things to do in Mongolia in 2 weeks, but you can also download my free sample Mongolia itinerary that I have made for you. Just click here and start the download.
See the map of Mongolia below with a mark for the location of the things to do in Mongolia
If you have more time, you can spend as much time as you like in Mongolia (or as your visa permits it). As not many people have endless amounts of time, I kept this Mongolia itinerary down to 2 weeks. This will allow you to see the highlights of Mongolia and get a taste of the country.
1. Things to do in Ulaanbaatar Mongolia
Most likely, Ulaanbaatar will be your start point for your Mongolia itinerary. It is the capital of the nation and the Trans Mongolian train from Russia or China arrives here. The Chenggis Khaan airport has connections to its neighboring countries Russia and China. After arrival you’ll probably need a day or 2 to settle in. What are the things to see in Ulaanbaatar? You can visit the National Museum of Mongolia. Mainly focused on Mongolian history, it also displays some dinosaur fossils and meteorites found in the Gobi desert.
You can also visit the Boddhisattva Avalokiteshvara at Gandantegchinlen Monastery. This Tibetan Buddhist Monastery is a great place to wander around and burn a butter candle. You can explore more Buddhist sites and discover the main religion of the country.
2. Visit the Nadaam Festival
The Nadaam festival is at the top of the things to do in Mongolia because it is the main tourist attraction of the country. It’s a 3 day festival in the middle of July. Mongolian men compete against each other in their 3 main sports: wrestling, archery and horse riding. They gallop across the green plains of Mongolia and put up quite a show. The Nadaam festival is celebrated across the country in all villages and small towns. All Mongolian people dress up in their tradition clothes and it’s a great way for them to meet up with remote relatives and friends.
The Nadaam festival is every year around the National Holidays, usually the main events take place from 11th till 13th July. Different regions across the country have different dates for the festivities. So even if you can’t travel to Mongolia on those exact dates, you can still experience the games of Nadaam.
3. Go Horse riding in Mongolia
Mongolia is inseparable connected with horses and horseback riding. Mongolian children know how to ride a horse before they can walk. The horses in Mongolia are short and sturdy. This makes them well suited for the rough terrain and for climbing in the mountains. What are better things to do in Mongolia than go horse riding through the country?
Not far from Ulaanbaatar lies Gorkhi Terelj National park where you can go horse riding for an hour or a day. Are you are interested in going on a multiple day trekking across the country? Then options are limitless because everywhere in Mongolia you can ride for days on end. Horses are smaller than we are used to, but it’s a great way to explore the country.
I took up 2 occasions to ride one of the sturdy animals across the wide open Mongolian steppe. The first time I had a white little horse called Bor, who had the most fluffy ears I have ever touched. The second time was in the Hustai National park and the first time my horse went into a steady gallop. As I had no idea what to do, I just did what came natural: laugh my ass off.
4. Stay with Nomads in a Ger Camp
The Ger tent is the traditional home of the Mongolian nomadic people. It’s a round wooden structure covered with canvas. Inside they are decorated with colorful blankets and the Ger tent usually has a bright colored door. The nomads can pack up their Ger tent and move on along with their herd. However many nomadic people have a summer camp where you can stay.
If you decide to stay with Mongolian nomads in a Ger tent, you will ride out to the Ger camp and will stay in these traditional tents. You will help around the camp. This way you will experience the life of a nomad family first-hand. One of the things to do is help herd the goats, or help prepare the lunch in the kitchen tent. I have stayed with a nomadic family for 2 nights and I highly recommend it as one of the top things to do in Mongolia because of its authentic experience.
Playing with the children outside the tents, help cook in the main kitchen tent and try to ‘talk’ with the Mongolian nomads is an experience I will never forget. At night, the host played traditional Mongolian music for us and we went stargazing afterwards.
Read more: Stargazing in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
5. Explore the Gobi Desert in Mongolia
The Gobi Desert is roughly 1,295,000 km2 (500,000 sq. mi) and it is the fifth-largest desert in the world. It stretches from Mongolia into the north of China. The Gobi Desert varies between loose sand dunes and sturdy bare rocks. You can take a tour around the Gobi Desert in Mongolia where you will drive into the desert in an old Russian 4×4 vehicle.
You can explore Eagles Valley on horseback or even visit the “glacier” in the middle of the desert. Due to large difference in temperatures and the huge amount of shade between some rocks, this patch of ice never melts and forms a “glacier” in the Gobi Desert. You can trek on camels across the sand dunes or stay with a nomadic family in the south of the Gobi Desert. My tour of the Gobi Desert was an amazing experience and the highlight of my Mongolia itinerary.
Like deserts? Find the best place to see the desert in Iran.
6. Visit Dinosaur Country in Mongolia
Approximately 100 km/ 62 miles from the southern city of Dalanzadgad, lay the Flaming Cliffs of Bayanzag. Millions of years ago, this was once the bottom of the ocean. Now it holds petrified bones and some dinosaur eggs from over 60 million years ago. Remains of 8 of the 12 predatory dinosaurs were found in this valley and it’s worth a visit for all dinosaur buffs.
The cliffs are rich in iron-oxidide and especially during the sunsets, the cliffs look like they are on fire. Definitely a sight to stick around for.
7. Karakorum and the Erdene Zuu Monastery in Kharakhorin
The Erdene Zuu monastery is Mongolia’s oldest surviving Buddhist monastery from approximate 1585. The 108 white stupas are an impressive site. Inside the walls, you are surrounded by an atmosphere of calm and serenity. Erdene Zuu has an active Buddhist community but the sight also houses a museum and a teaching centre.
Karakorum used to be the capital of the Mongol empire and seat of the ruler Genghis Khan and his successors. You can visit the excavated site and try to envision how they lived in ancient times.
8. Hustai National Park Mongolia
This national park of 50,600 ha protects the almost extinct Takhi, better known as the Przewalski horse. It also protects other indigenous plants and animals like the Mongolian gazelle, wild boar, grey wolfs and golden eagles to name a few. You can stay at the National Park resort or campsite and take guided tours around the park to see if you can spot the animals and plants.
As a storm was coming in at the time of my visit, all our pre-booked tours were cancelled. That is why I don’t have pictures of the Hustai National Park. Instead, we went for another horseback ride across the fields. Not on Przewalski horses of course, but on normal Mongolian horses. It was quite an impressive experience with the sun setting that turned the valley into gold.
9. Visit Khangai Mountains
The Khangai Mountains are a mountain range in central Mongolia and are home to a vast area of green forest-steppe with many waterfalls, rivers and lakes.
The Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur, also known as the White Lake, is a great place to go fishing, hiking or camping. This is the green lush Mongolia of the North, opposed to the bare and harsh Gobi in the South.
10. Climb Khuiten Uul, the highest mountain in Mongolia
If you are in for a true adventure and you have climbing experience, you can head to the Tavan Bogd Mountains on the border of Mongolia with China and Russia. Khuiten Uul is Mongolia’s highest mountain with its summit at 4,374 meters (14,350ft.) above sea-level. If you want to take things easier, you can head to Khuiten Uul basecamp and enjoy the sweeping vistas across Russia and Mongolia.
Read more: Independent trekking in the Altai Mountains
Free Download with Mongolia Itinerary
To make things super easy for you, I have now made a FREE download where you can download my proposed sample itinerary for things to do in Mongolia in 2 weeks! Doesn’t that sound nice? Just click the image below and you’ll be redirected to the download page. Please provide me with your e-mail address so I can send you the details for the download. Don’t worry, I do not like those spammy e-mails either.
What are your top things to do in Mongolia? What is your favorite activity to do in Mongolia? Please share it with me in the comment section below.
When is the best time to go to Mongolia?
So when should you plan those 2 weeks to go to Mongolia? Mongolia is a landlocked country and therefor has harsh weather conditions. Winters are grueling and summers are scorching hot. If you have a thing for cold weather and like those harsh conditions, by all means, go ahead. There are places you can glacier hike and even ski in Mongolia!
But it will not be possible to stay with locals as the move closer to the cities.
Summer on the other hand is hot. And crowded. Summer is the time that the world thinks to travel to Mongolia. Especially around the Nadaam festival, flights, trains and hotel might be fully booked. But it would still not be like crowded Paris or Rome, so enjoy it!
It traveled to Mongolia around mid September. The weather was mild, not too hot. We had a few thunderstorms when we traveled across Mongolia. One morning, as we woke up at our Ger camp, there was ice on the tent. That night was particularly cold (because they forgot to close the flap at the top of the tent). But nothing you can’t handle with a good jacket and a pair of gloves. I can imagine June will be the same. My suggestion would be late spring and early autumn to travel in Mongolia for 2 weeks and experience life with the nomads.