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Places to visit in Mongolia | The complete 8D7N itinerary

The complete 8 day 7 night itinerary to Mongolia

Hello everyone, we recently returned from an eight-day, seven-night trip to Mongolia. This summarizes all the places we should visit in Mongolia during our trip.

Why did we choose Mongolia? This country has always seemed mysterious to us. We know little about Mongolia’s history, culture, and lifestyle. We only have a vague idea that it’s a place with few nomads living in gers and many livestock such as sheep, horses, yaks, and cows, with deserts and vast grasslands where the horizon seems endless.

This vague understanding of Mongolia makes us even more eager to uncover and experience its mysteries.

We decided to join a guided tour organized by Go Holiday 360 Sdn Bhd because we were unfamiliar with navigating Mongolia. The trip is 8 days and 7 nights, departing from Kuala Lumpur with a direct flight to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

This article summarizes our complete itinerary. I will outline each day and expand in the following sections to provide further details. Whenever possible, I will also provide links to videos and other articles related to the places we have visited so that you can gain a deeper understanding of them.

Day 1|Malaysia – Ulaanbaatar
Direct flight from Kuala Lumpur with Mongolian Airlines.
Day 2|Mongol Nomadic – Karakorum
a. Private Mini Naadam Festival
b. Khyyor Zagal Lodge
Day 3|Karakorum – Elsentasarkhai
a. Elsentasarkhai
b. Karakorum Museum
c. Erdene Zuu monastery
d. King’s Monument
Day 4|Karakorum – Ulaanbaatar City Tour
a. National Museum of Mongolia
b. Sukhbaatar Square
c. Have Khorkog for dinner
Day 5|Ulaanbaatar – Terelj National Park
a. Old wooden bridge
b. The Turtle Rock
c. Eagle flying
d. Aryabal Meditation Temple
e. Horse riding and visiting a Mongolian family.
Day 6|Terelj Natonal Park – Ulaanbaatar City Tour
a. Local costume
b. Chinggis Khan Statue Complex
c. Zaisan Memorial Hill
d. The traditional Mongolian hot pot
Day 7|Ulaanbaatar City Tour
a. Gandan Monastery
b. Buddha park
c. Bogd Khaan Palace
d. State Department Store:
e. Enjoyed the traditional songs and dance performance
Day 8|Flight back to Malaysia

We took a direct flight from Kuala Lumpur with Mongolian Airlines that lasted about 7 hours. Upon our arrival in Ulaanbaatar, it was already late at night. The local guide greeted us, and we immediately boarded a coach headed to our hotel, the Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar.

The drive from the airport to the hotel lasted about an hour, and we had some sandwiches on the coach since it was too late for dinner. Upon reaching the hotel, we quickly checked into our rooms and slept, all feeling very tired.

While Day 1 was for travel, Day 2 marked the beginning of our proper visit.

a. Private Mini Naadam Festival

Places to visit in Mongolia | The complete 8D7N itinerary

We started the day with a buffet breakfast at the hotel before heading to the Mongol Nomadic Camp to attend the mini Private Mini-Naadam Festival.

The Naadam Festival is a significant national holiday in Mongolia, celebrating the country’s independence, historical anniversaries, and national integrity. Although the festival only takes place in July, our tour agent has specially arranged a mini festival for us. This allows us to enjoy the same festive environment and learn about and witness all the local people’s traditional sports, culture, and activities.

The festival features three main events: horse racing, wrestling, and archery. With a history dating back to the time of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire, the festival has been celebrated annually since 1922

As the opening ceremony approached, we gathered at the front of the restaurant. Locals riding horses, as well as yaks and camels, slowly approached us. We were given the chance to take photos with them before being led to visit a typical Ger, where we observed the daily activities of the nomads.

The locals welcomed us to the Ger with self-made wine and traditional snacks. We took photos with the local children and learned about their work, including showing us some sheep less than a year old, making dried meat similar to jerky, demonstrating the process of making local wine, and playing a local game called knuckle shooting by throwing a stone to hit a target.

The locals also treated us to a mesmerizing musical performance using local instruments and showed us how they moved the Ger from one place to another.

The day’s highlight was the main performance, featuring dance, archery, wrestling, and horse-riding competitions. We concluded the day by enjoying a traditional lunch at the restaurant, which included stewed lamb as the main dish.

🎞️ Watch our video shot during the festival 👇👇

Read our in-depth story about places to visit in Mongolia: Mini Naadam Festival.

b. Khyyor Zagal Lodge

Places to visit in Mongolia | The complete 8D7N itinerary

We stayed at this lodge tonight. The location of the lodge is far from the city and the main road. It is situated on a large grassland stretching to the horizon. 

Dinner was around 7:00 in the restaurant located at the lodge’s main building. They mainly serve meat, consisting of lamb, chicken, beef, and some vegetables. The cooking method is straightforward, but the taste of the meat is really good, as most of the animals here roam freely and are not fed with commercial animal feeds.

a. Elsentasarkhai 

Elsentasarkhai, Places to visit in Mongolia | The complete 8D7N itinerary

Elsen Tasarkhai is part of the Mongol Els sand dunes, also called the mini Gobi. We came here to ride camels in the morning.

The camels displayed surprisingly calm behavior. They squatted down, making it easy for us to climb on. With a simple command, they stood up, and we set off into the desert. The entire ride lasted approximately 20 minutes.

b. Karakorum Museum

Places to visit in Mongolia | The complete 8D7N itinerary

The Karakorum Museum, located in Mongolia, is dedicated to preserving and displaying the extensive history and heritage of the Mongol Empire.

Established in 2010, the museum received non-refundable aid from the Government of Japan.

The museum houses various fascinating artifacts from different historical periods, including the Hunnu period, the Uyghur Khaganate, the Mongol Empire, and the Rouran Khaganate. The collection includes over 3,128 items, with archaeological discoveries comprising more than 80% of the total.

c. Erdene Zuu monastery 

Erdene Zuu monastery , Places to visit in Mongolia

Our driver dropped us off at the main entrance to the Monastery, which was only a brief two to three-minute drive away.

We had a local guide at the Monastery who provided detailed explanations, and our tour guide assisted by translating everything into English for us.

Before departing the Monastery, we took a brief walk to the alternative entrance where the stone turtle is situated. Stone turtles were strategically positioned around ancient Kharkhorin to safeguard the city from floods and are revered as symbols of longevity and eternity.

🎞️ Watch our video shot at Erdene Zuu monastery  👇👇

Read our in-depth story about places to visit in Mongolia: Erdene Zuu Monastery.

d. King’s Monument

King’s Monument, Places to visit in Mongolia

The day’s final destination is to see the King’s Monument in Kharkhorin, Mongolia.

This structure commemorates the three significant empires that resided along the Orkhon River.

The monument comprises a large stone cone-shaped formation with nine poles extending from the apex, placed on a stone-and-concrete base. It is encompassed by three circular walls, each decorated with vibrant mosaics illustrating maps of the three empires that inhabited the area: The Xiongnu Empire, The Turkic Khaganate Empire, and The Mongol Empire.

The monument is on a hilltop, offering a wide-ranging view of the town and the Orkhon River.

a. National Museum of Mongolia

Places to visit in Mongolia , National Museum of Mongolia

The museum is huge, featuring 9 primary exhibition halls that encompass Mongolian history, traditional attire and accessories, and the contemporary culture of Democratic Mongolia. During our hour-long visit, our guide concentrated on presenting us with the main attractions and offering enlightening interpretations.

b. Sukhbaatar Square

Sukhbaatar Square, Places to visit in Mongolia

After visiting the museum, we proceeded to Sukhbaatar Square, located in the heart of Ulaanbaatar. The weather was sunny, and there were few people in the vicinity.

Our guide, Enerel, accompanied us and provided insights into the nearby buildings and the history of the square. Discovering the square’s significance and learning about its history was really interesting.

The square features a large bronze statue of Sukhbaatar on horseback, with statues of leaders from the Mongol Empire, including Genghis Khan, positioned on either side.

🎞️ Watch the video shot during our trip to Sukhbaatar Square and the National Museum of Mongolia👇👇

Read our in-depth story about places to visit in Mongolia: Sukhbaatar Square and the National Museum of Mongolia.

c. Have Khorkog for dinner

Khorkhog Mongolia's specialty food

We plan to dine at Modern Nomads to sample the authentic Khorkhog. The Lamb Barbeque “Khorkhog” involves cooking mutton, lamb, or goat with vegetables and hot stones in large metal containers.

We traveled from the city to Terelj National Park, where we stayed overnight at Alungoo Ger. Today’s itinerary was the most productive one as we covered the most places of all the days. This is because these places are all close to each other, saving us lots of travel time.

a. Old wooden bridge

Old wooden bridge, Places to visit in Mongolia

The first destination was the ancient wooden bridge that stretched across the tranquil Tuul River. The river’s water sparkled in a mesmerizing blue hue, reflecting the clear sky above. 

b. The Turtle Rock

Turtle Rock, Places to visit in Mongolia

The turtle rock stands prominently on a flat expanse of land, resembling the shape of a turtle when seen from the front or the side. This distinct natural formation reaches a height of 24 meters (79 feet). The rock’s one-of-a-kind form is a product of the gradual effects of wind and rain over time. Geological activities have molded it into its unique likeness of a turtle.

c. Eagle flying experience

eagle flying experience in Mongolia

Alongside Turtle Rock, there is a local who has eagles tied to a post. We have the opportunity to hold the eagle and take photos. Shaking the eagle forwards and backward will make it seem to understand the command and spread its wings. The cost of this experience is approximately 8000 Tugrik per person.

d. Aryabal Meditation Temple 

Aryabal Meditation Temple , Places to visit in Mongolia

Aryabal Meditation Temple is a Buddhist temple in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, approximately 56 km from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The temple was constructed in the 1810s by Mongolian and Tibetan artists. 

108 white steps and eight black steps lead to the main temple, symbolizing humans’ mundane and insignificant existence. Surrounding the temple are 108 prayer wheels containing three million Buddha mantras. Those who rotate the wheels are believed to discover happiness and satisfaction.

The scenery from the temple is magnificent, featuring mountains, forests, meadows, and layers of mountains set against the backdrop of the azure sky.

e. Horse riding and visiting a Mongolian family.

Mongolian family

Our final activity for the day was horse riding. Those who did not participate opted to mingle with a few young kids. The native family was incredibly welcoming, inviting us into their Ger and offering us some traditional snacks. The children even taught us archery techniques and played basketball with us.

🎞️ Watch the video shot during our trip to Terelj National Park 👇👇

Read our in-depth story about places to visit in Mongolia: the Gorkhi Terelj National Park.

a. Trying the local costume

Local costume

After breakfast, we put on the local costume for photography. 

b. Chinggis Khan Statue Complex

Chinggis Khan Statue Complex

The world’s largest equestrian statue of Genghis Khan is located here. It stands on a 10-meter-high base surrounded by 36 columns representing the 36 kings of Mongolia, from Genghis Khan to Ligden Khan. The statue faces east, towards Genghis Khan’s birthplace.

Inside the complex, the highlight is the 9-meter-high Mongolian boot, known as “gutal,” a significant symbol of Mongolian culture and history. There is also a museum in the basement showcasing archaeological findings from the Bronze Age and artifacts related to the Xionglu Empire.

The highlight of the visit was getting a close-up photo of Chinggis Khan’s statue at the head of the horse.

Read our in-depth story about places to visit in Mongolia: the Chinggis Khan Statue Complex.

🎞️ Watch the video shot at the Chinggis Khan Statue Complex 👇👇

c. Zaisan Memorial Hill

Zaisan Memorial Hill

The Zaisan Memorial is dedicated to honoring Mongolian and Soviet soldiers who lost their lives during World War II. It showcases a large circular mural portraying camaraderie and collaboration between the Soviet Union and Mongolia, including the triumph over the Japanese Kwantung Army at Khalkhyn Gol in 1939.

We had to ascend 300 steps to reach the summit of the memorial hill.

At the peak, a sweeping viewpoint offers a panoramic vista of Ulaanbaatar and the Tuul River.

d. The traditional Mongolian hot pot

Mongolian hot pot

We tried the Mongolian barbecue known as “Khorkog” two days ago. Tonight, we are trying another local cuisine, the Mongolian hot pot.

Today is our last day visiting Mongolia. We’ll be heading back to Kuala Lumpur at midnight tonight.

a. Gandan Monastery

Gandan Monastery

Gandan Monastery is the most important monastery in the country. The monastery was established in 1809 by the fifth Javzandamba, the highest lama in Mongolian Buddhism. During communist times in Mongolia, the monastery was one of the few that wasn’t destroyed. Today, about 900 lamas live there, and it has schools for traditional medicine and astrology.

The most significant attraction in this monastery is certainly the Janraisig Temple. This temple houses a 26.5-meter (87-foot) high statue of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion.

Later, we visited another temple to watch the morning chanting performed by the monks.

b. Buddha park

Buddha park at Ulaanbaatar

Buddha Park, also known as the International Buddha Park, was built in 2007 and is right next to Zaisan Hill. The is an 18m golden Sakyamuni figure at the center. The park has a peaceful garden vibe, and the Buddha statue creates a serene atmosphere. It’s a great spot to chill out, take in the cityscape, and enjoy some fresh air.

c. Bogd Khaan Palace

Bogd Khaan Palace

The Bogd Khaan Palace, also known as the Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan, holds great historical importance. For around 20 years, it was the winter residence of the last emperor of Mongolia. The Winter Palace itself is a two-story European-style building designed by Russian architects.

The palace is renowned for its remarkable collection of gifts from foreign dignitaries, such as a pair of golden boots from a Russian tsar, a robe crafted from the pelts of 80 foxes, and a ger (traditional yurt) lined with the skins of 150 snow leopards.

Following the death of Bogd Khan in 1924, the palace was transformed into a museum. 

d. State Department Store:

In the afternoon, we have some free time to visit the State Department Store, the largest department store in Ulaanbaatar. It offers a variety of products and consumer goods for tourists, and many of us have to pick up some souvenirs.

e. Enjoyed the traditional songs and dance performance

Traditional Mongolian music performance

The final activity before we returned to Malaysia was watching a traditional song and dance performance by the local people. I enjoyed the Mongolian songs and dances. I have a video that includes a part of the performance at the end if you want to hear and watch the performance.

🎞️ Watch our video shot in Ulaanbaatar 👇👇

Check out from the hotel. Transfer to the international airport for your departure point. Say `Bayartaiy’ (goodbye) to the Land of The Eternal Blue Sky and depart to your home country full of adventure and great memories.

So, the above is our complete itinerary from our time in Mongolia. We covered all the important places to visit in Mongolia, and I hope these articles will help you plan for your next adventure.

Our tour is organized by Go Holiday 360 Sdn Bhd. You can contact them by visiting their website.