Travel overland from Ulaanbaatar across the fascinating plains of Mongolia.

Discover the magic of Mongolia on an overland tour through this remote country. Beginning in Ulaanbaatar, travel to Mongolia’s colourful towns, ancient ruins and stunning national parks. Learn about the conquests of Genghis Khan, bathe in effervescent hot springs and spot bountiful wildlife as you traverse this epic country's great plains. Tucked away between Russia and China, Mongolia remains one of the world’s enigmas, a true Intrepid destination with a fascinating mix of cultures and landscapes. See ancient Karakorum, quirky Ulaanbaatar and the legendary grasslands on an unforgettable overland journey through Mongolia.

Start
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Finish
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Countries
Mongolia
Themes
Overland
Code
CDOM
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 4 Max 22
Carbon offset
861kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Visit the fascinating Erdene Zuu Monastery.
  • Take in the phenomenal natural beauty of the Orkhon Valley
  • Soak in the Tsenkher hot springs.
  • Take a guided tour of Ulaanbaatar's and see the best sights.
  • Overnight in traditional Ger Camps.

Itinerary

Border information: If you are joining in Ulaanbaatar, you will most likely enter Mongolia at Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan International Airport (IATA code: ULN).

There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting, but please do not be alarmed if the note is not there as this is often a travel day for the tour leader and they may arrive in the afternoon. If you arrive early, the rest of the day will be free to explore the Mongolian capital!

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Ulaanbaatar before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Ulaanbaatar.

In Ulaanbaatar we will stay in a comfortable local hotel. 

Hotel for the night: Zaluuchuud Hotel
Zaluuchuud Hotel
l Baga Toiruu 43
Sukhbaatar District
Ulaanbaatar
Mongolia
Tel - +976 1132 5544 

About Ulaanbaatar:
Mongolia's capital, Ulaanbaatar (affectionately known as UB), is a city where new meets old as elderly Mongolians in traditional dress mingle with the nation's young business elite. Mongolia's former close relationship with the USSR is evident in the Soviet-style architecture and city layout. Explore the city's many museums to learn about the country's turbulent history, including the reign of the most famous of Mongolian historical figures - the feared and respected Genghis Khan. One of the most fascinating is the Intellectual Museum where you can learn about the history and culture of this intriguing country through puzzles, toys and magic tricks! There are plenty of things to do and see in Ulaanbaatar, visit the Museum of Natural History with its excellent dinosaur display, the Fine Arts Museum with its impressive selection of local art and traditional works or the Winter Palace Museum of Bogd Khan, which is stocked full of fascinating artefacts. Mongolia's largest and most important monastery, the lively Gandan Khiid, is well worth a visit to learn about Buddhism, the main religion of Mongolia. 
This morning we head out on a guided tour to see some of Ulaanbaatar's best and most treasured sights, including the Gandan Monastery and the National Museum.

This afternoon we will spend a few hours exploring the Black Market. This huge market contains every single item a Mongolian may need, so a trip here will certainly give visitors a fascinating insight into people's lives, whether they are nomads or urban apartment dwellers.

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES

Take a guided tour of the Gandan Monastery, the largest Buddhist Monastery in Mongolia : Included in Kitty

Visit the infamous Black Market in Ulaanbaatar, and explore the traditional clothes stalls and saddle markets within : Included in Kitty

Explore the incredible history of the country from the Neolithic era to the present day, at the National Museum of Mongolia : Included in Kitty

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES 

Head out for a cultural show or a performance from a traditional folk band, featuring the unique art of throat-singing : USD 12

Visit the intriguing International Intellectual Museum, dedicated to puzzles and games made by local artists  : MNT 3000

Discover a remnant of Mongolia's imperial past at the Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan : MNT 6000

See the superb collection of paintings, carvings and sculptures at The Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts : MNT 5000

Discover the unique showcase of religious art and learn about the Buddhist history of Mongolia at the Chojin Lama Temple Museum : MNT 5000

Visit the Grand Chinggis Khan Square and see the statue of Damdin Sukhbaatar, one of the leaders of the struggle for independence in the 1920s : Free

Climb to the Zaisan Memorial, an interesting remnant of Mongolia's communist past that affords incredible views over Ulaanbaatar : Free
Today we drive out of the city and into the vast plains of Mongolia. We hope to arrive at Khar Bukh Balgas ruins in the early afternoon.

Khar Bukh Balgas was built during the Kitan period in about 1000CE, and was part of a chain of fortresses that were used to govern and control the northern region and borders of the Kitan state. Upon arrival at the site, we will explore the ruins and learn about the various kingdoms that dominated Mongolia during that era. 

After our visit to the ruins we will drive to Ögii Lake where many nomadic families spend their summer. The Lake is famed for it's great bird watching opportunities where it is not uncommon to spot at Swan Goose, White Spoonbill and Dalmatian Pelicans.

In Ögii Lake we will stay in a local nomadic ger-tent camp set up for guests. These are large gers, each usually containing 2 or 4 beds.

Please note that we cannot give any accurate drive time estimations for our Mongolia trip as the journey times are heavily dependent on the state of roads, which is in turn heavily dependent on the weather. The roads in Mongolia are mostly dirt tracks in very poor condition, which means that an even greater degree of flexibility is needed for this trip in all regards. 

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES 

See the ancient Orkhon Inscriptions, two large monoliths with inscriptions in Old Turkic script : Included in Kitty

Explore the ruins of the 10th-century Kitan fortress of Khar Bukh Balgas, an interesting slice of Mongolia's pre-Genghis Khan history : Included in Kitty

About Ögii Lake:
Ögii Lake is a shallow freshwater lake in central Mongolia, well known for its fish and birdlife. Almost half the lake is less than 3m deep. 
Today we have an early start as we head to Mongolia's earliest capital, Kharkhorin (otherwise known as Karakoram).

Our first stop on the way to Kharkhorin will be at the Kultigen Monument. This massive stone tomb was built in honour of a Turkic prince and warrior killed in a nearby battle. We then continue on a fairly short drive to Kharkhorin.

Kharkhorin was famed throughout Asia at the capital of the Mongol Empire. We will visit the ruins of the old city, the Erdene Zuu monastery, and other historical monuments in the area.

In Kharkhorin we will stay in a ger camp. 

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES 

Visit the huge monastery of Erdene Zuu, Mongolia's oldest Buddhist monastery to survive the purges of the 1930s : Included in Kitty

Learn all about Karakorum, the former capital of the Mongol Empire that once stood here, at the Kharkhorin Museum : Included in Kitty

About Kharkhorin:
The fabled city of Kharkhorin (otherwise known as Karakorum) began life as a command point for Genghis Khan’s military conquest of China, but later became the capital of his son, Ögedei Khan in 1235 CE. Under Ögedei and his successors, Karakorum became a major site for world politics, and the famous Silver Tree of Karakorum was constructed the city centre - a large tree sculpted of silver and other precious metals rose up from the middle of the courtyard and loomed over the palace, with the branches of the tree extended into the building, silver fruit hung from the limbs and it had four golden serpents braided around the trunk, while within the top of the tree was placed a trumpet angel. Unfortunately the Silver Tree no longer exists, but we will be sure to visit the Erdene Zuu Monastery - built in 1585 CE out of the ruins of the old city, it was the first great northern Mongolian monastery. Surviving the destruction of the communist purges of the 1930s, the monastery is the oldest Buddhist temple in Mongolia and is now a museum as well as a working monastery. 
" Day 5 to 6 "

Today we head south, driving into the stunning region of the Orkhon Valley.

We will drive to the beautiful volcanic canyon that runs along the Orkhon River and we can take an easy hike along the canyon ending near a pool at the bottom of the Red Waterfalls where we can take a cool swim! We will wild camp in a remote area of the Orkhon Valley tonight.

The following day we will continue our journey through the Orkhon Valley to the Tuvkhon Monastery, which we can embark on a two and a half hour trek to visit (the first hour will be uphill!). This monastery was established during the 1650s by Zanbazar, one of Mongolia's most respected religious leaders. The monastery's wooden buildings are integrated with a natural system of caves perched near a hilltop, from which you have beautiful views of the Orkhon Valley and the surrounding pine forests.

After our visit we will wild camp nearby.

Please note that on occasion it is impossible to rech the Tuvkhon Monastery due to river flooding or the ground being impassable - the roads are in a particularly bad state here and are very susceptible to being rendered impossible to drive on if there has been rain recently. Although we will do our best to make this visit, your understanding is appreciated if we cannot.

Please also note that the order of our visits to the 2 main highlights in the Orkhon Valley is interchangeable, depending on the road conditions. 

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES 

Explore the stunning volcanic and forested landscapes of the Orkhon Valley and see Ulaan Tsutgalan, Mongolia's largest waterfall : Included in Kitty

Hike up through the forests to the beautiful Tuvkhon Monastery on the summit of Ulaan Uul mountain : Included in Kitty

About Orkhon Valley:
For one of the best examples of Mongolia’s legendary natural beauty, a journey through the Orkhon Valley is unbeatable. The stunning valleys, volcanic rocks, waterfalls, forests, streams, wild yaks, and nomadic ger tents dotted around the landscape make for an unbelievably scenic trip. The valley also home to the Tuvkhon Monastery - one of Mongolia’s oldest Buddhist monasteries, Tuvkhon was first established in 1648 CE by the 14-year-old Zanabazar, the first spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia on his return from his studies in Tibet. 
" Day 7 to 8 "

Today our trip heads north, crossing the Khangai Nuruu Mountains through a series of passes until we reach an area that Mongolians call 'The Paradise of the Horse Herders' due to its lush grasses and open valleys.

We drive to the Tsenkher hot springs, where water flows out of the ground at 82°C, and where we can enjoy a relaxing soak.

The following day we will take a short, easy walk to meet one of the many nomadic families that spend their summers in the region. The afternoon is free to explore the valley and surrounding hills either by foot or by horseback.

In Tsenkher we will stay at a ger camp.

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES 

Walk around the surrounding valley and visit one of the local nomadic families to learn all about their way of life (if available) : Included in Kitty

Enjoy a relaxing soak in the natural hot springs : Included in Kitty

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES 

Head out horse riding through the incredible forest scenery surrounding Tsenkher (if helmets available) : USD 32 

About Tsenkher:
The Tsenkher hot springs, on the edge of the Orkhon Valley, are a set of naturally-heated springs in a beautiful forest-lined valley in central Mongolia. There are many nomadic families here in the summer living a traditional life in their gers, which we hope to be able to visit while in the area. It is also a superb area for short walks and horse riding. 
This morning we drive to Tsetserleg, the provincial capital, where we will make a short visit to the local market. If time permits, we will also visit the provincial museum.

We will then continue our journey north past the Tamir river, and will wild camp tonight. 

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES 

See the huge rock monolith of Taikhar Chuluu, covered in inscriptions in a myriad of different scripts dating from the 6th century to the modern era : Included in Kitty

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES 

See a variety of fascinating exhibits about the Mongolian way of life at the Arkhangai Aimag Museum in Tsetserleg (if time allows) : MNT 5000 

Today we continue North past Taikhar Chuluu (a massive rock which is connected to local mythology) and the Chluulut Canyon to arrive at our ger camp near the Khorgo volcano.

In Chuulut Canyon we will stay at a nearby ger camp. 
This morning we will take a hike to the top of the Khorgo Volcano and take in the incredible views over its perfect crater. From the top of the volcano we continue our hike though fields studded with pine trees, stopping off en route at the Yellow Dog Cave, an interesting volcanic phenomenon.

We will then return to the truck and continue our journey north. We will aim wild camp tonight in the remote plains north of Khorgo. 

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES 

Explore the incredible volcanic landscape of Khorgo and Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake by foot : Included in Kitty 

About Khorgo:
Khorgo (sometimes referred to as Taryatu-Chuulutu, meaning "rocks of Tariat"), is an extinct volcanic field on the northern slopes of the Khangai Mountains. The volcano is notable for its solidified lava bubbles, which the locals have named "basalt yurts". 

" Day 12 to 13 "

Over the next few days we continue driving north on one of Mongolia's most beautiful routes, crossing high mountain passes, vast grasslands, and small creeks! We will pass by the beautiful alpine Lake Zuun en route.

We hope to arrive at Mörön, the provincial capital, the following afternoon. We will visit the local market, Danzadarjaa Monastery and the local museum. If we don't have time on this section of the trip, then we can visit the town after coming back from Khövsgöl Lake.

We will aim to wild camp near Zuun Lake and near the town of Mörön. 

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES 

Discover the mysterious ancient Deer Stones near Mörön, erected by Bronze Age nomads over 3000 years ago : Included in Kitty

About Mörön:
Mörön is the capital of northern Mongolia's Khövsgöl province. It is famous for its nearby mysterious Deer Stones - ancient megaliths carved with symbols, most commonly depictions of flying deer. These ancient stones are found throughout in Siberia and Mongolia and very little is known about the people that carved them. 
" Day 14 to 15 "

This morning we will drive out to an ancient burial site featuring Mongolia's mysterious deer stones, these are memorial stones representing important leaders and warriors, carved with deer motifs. After visiting the site, we continue our trip northward to one of the world's biggest fresh water sources, the stunning Khövsgöl Lake.

Khövsgöl Lake and its amazing surroundings are home to several of Mongolia's ethnic minorities as well as a refuge for a wide variety of wildlife. One of the most interesting ethnic groups living near the lake is the Tsaatan, also known as 'The Reindeer People'. A small tribe of Tsaatan consisting of about 40 families lives with its herds of reindeer in the forests around the lake. These graceful animals provide the tribe with all its basic needs - milk, meat and transportation. As there are very few Tsaatan left and this is a mobile population, we may meet them but there are no guarantees - however, the scenery of the area is well worth the exploration.

The following day we will take a hike around the forests and meadows near the lake. Lying at about 1650m above sea level, surrounded by mountains rising above 3100m, the waters of Khovsgol are deep and spectacularly clear and pure. We will hike through thick pine forests carpeted with flowers and explore the setting of Mongolia's 'Blue Pearl'.

In Khövsgöl Lake we will stay at a ger camp. 

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES 

Walk through the beautiful area of Khovsgol and try to meet the local Tsataan Reindeer Herders (if available) : Included in Kitty

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES 

Take a horse ride through the incredible Siberian forest scenery surrounding Khövsgöl Lake (if time allows) : MNT 10000 

About Khövsgöl Lake:
The spectacular Khövsgöl Lake is in the far north of Mongolia, near the Russian border. It is the second largest freshwater lake in Asia and holds around 70% of Mongolia's fresh water supply, The lake has some of the most magnificent scenery in all of Mongolia, with beautiful hills and forests surrounding the area. The lake is also home to the reindeer-herding Tsaatan people, as well as being an area of unique wildlife such as ibexes, elks, wolves, and sables. 
" Day 16 to 18 "

We will spend the next 3 days crossing central-northern Mongolia on our way back to wards the capital of Ulaanbaatar. The long road offers diversified landscapes, from vast, open steppes to beautiful sand dunes. 

We will aim to wild camp in the plains east of Mörön on the first day of this journey, by the Selenge River on the next day, and on the outskirts of the town of Bulgan on the day after that. 

This morning we will try to visit the Amarbayasgalant Monastery. Built between 1727 and 1736 by the Manchu Emperor Enkh Amgalan, Amarbayasgalant is among the largest monasteries in Mongolia to have survived the purges of the 1930s. With about 60 monks living and studying here, the monastery functions today as one of Mongolia's central religious institutions, and consists of 29 different temples, all built in the classic Tibetan style.

Tonight we will wild camp near the monastery.

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES 

Visit the Chinese-style Buddhist monastery of Amarbayasgalant near the Selenge River : Included in Kitty

About Amarbayasgalant Monastery:
The Amarbayasgalant Monastery is one of the largest Buddhist monastic centers in Mongolia, located in the remote Iven Valley near the Selenge River. The monastery was established in 1736 CE to serve as a final resting place for the remains of Zanabazar, the first spiritual head of Buddhism in Mongolia - his remains were interred there in 1779 CE. Fortunately, Amarbayasgalant was one of the very few monasteries to have partly survived the devastation of the 1937 communist purges. 
Today we have a full day drive from northern Mongolia back to the city of Ulaanbaatar. This evening is free to relax and explore, and to have a wellearned final meal and drinks in one of the city's many restaurants!

In Ulaanbaatar we will stay in our comfortable joining hotel. 
Border information: If you are leaving in Ulaanbaatar, you will most likely exit Mongolia at Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan International Airport (IATA code: ULN).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Ulaanbaatar. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below. 
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
n/a
Transport
Overland expedition vehicle
Accommodation
Camping ( 10 nights ), hotel / hostel / lodge / cabin ( 10 nights )

Dates

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Important notes

1. Please note that this trip requires minimum numbers to depart, and may be cancelled up until 56 days prior to departure. The places showing on the dates and availability page are an indication only so please contact Intrepid to check if your preferred date will depart before making any final arrangements, such as booking non-changeable flights.
2. Please note this Intrepid trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Your departure will be run in a Dragoman vehicle with a Dragoman crew.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Mongolia Overland trips score an average of 4 out of 5 based on 3 reviews in the last year.

Mongolia Overland , July 2016

Mongolia Overland , May 2015