Known for dramatic mountains, sparkling lakes, traditional nomadic culture and ancient Buddhist sites, Mongolia is an amazing travel destination. Here are some travel tips for the capital of Ulan Bator, surrounded by the Khan Khentii Mountains; the area near Murun, capital of the Khövsgol Province; and the Gobi Desert, Mongolia’s southernmost province.
Tops spot to see Buddhist artifacts: Visit the Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum. Named in honor of Zanabazar, the first Buddhist leader of Mongolia and renowned sculptor, artist, and politician from the 17th century, the museum displays one of the world’s best collections of Buddhist art and artifacts, including many of Zanabazar’s original works.
Great place to view contemporary art: Encounter modern-day culture at the 976 Art Gallery, founded in 2012, featuring Mongolian artists. Not far from the city center, the gallery also has a small café where visitors can buy an excellent cup of coffee.
Fascinating historic site: At the Bogd Khan Winter Palace, built between 1893 and 1903, see the elaborate robes and personal effects of Gobd Jebtzun Damba Hutagt VIII, Mongolia’s 8th Living Buddha. A unique feature is the main gate to the temple, constructed without a single nail.
MURUN & KHÖVSGOL PROVINCE:
Attractions in Murun: Although the city of Murun doesn’t have as much to see as Mongolia’s capital of Ulan Bator, there are a few attractions. These include the municipal theater and Town Hall in the Central Square, the Aimag Museum and the Wrestlers’ Stadium.
Remarkable things to see nearby: Experience the beauty of the area, where Lake Khövsgol stretches 85 miles in length and 18 miles in width. Be sure to stop at the site of the Uushgiin Deer stones, considered to be the best preserved deer stones in the region. Deer stones are ancient megaliths carved with symbols that can be found predominantly in Siberia and Mongolia. Continue north to the site of the Hyadagiin Deer Stones, some of which are an extraordinary nine feet tall.
Sleep under the stars: A ger (also known as yurt) is a round tent consisting of a wooden frame and felt walls that has been traditionally used by nomads in Central Asia for thousands of years. Even today, more than 75 percent of Mongolians sleep in the circular dwellings. One of the more remarkable travel experiences in Mongolia is staying overnight at a rustic lakeside ger camp.
Amazing desert lodge: Built in the heart of the Gobi, the award-winning Three Camel Lodge has 20 deluxe gers that “include a private bathroom with a toilet and sink, a king-size bed and amenities such as felt slippers, Mongolian-styled bathrobes and locally produced toiletries and camel milk moisturizing lotions.” At the Dino House, guests can enjoy music and dance performances in the evening. The hotel’s restaurant serves up dishes made from locally grown organic produce, dairy products made by local nomadic families and meat from free-range livestock.
Best place for dinosaur fanatics: Visit Tugrigiin Shiree, the site where the famous “Fighting Dinosaurs” fossil of a Protoceratops and Velociraptor locked in combat was discovered in the 1970s. Continue to the legendary Flaming Cliffs, named for the orange glow of the rock at sunset. It was here in 1923 that Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews and his exploration team from the American Museum of Natural History found the first nest of dinosaur eggs the world had ever seen. Although not obvious to the untrained eye, the red sandstone of the Flaming Cliffs is rich in dinosaur fossils, and paleontological expeditions continue to make significant discoveries at this site.
Interesting spot for hikers: Drive to Yol Valley National Park, cradled in the foothills of the Altai Mountains. Located in the northern part of the Gobi, this surprisingly green valley was carved by an ancient river, and its remnant streams create ice formations at the base of the valley that sometimes persist as late as July. Hiking through this deep desert valley leads to the habitat of indigenous Lammergeiers, unusual vulture-like birds.
Discover Mongolia’s rugged landscapes and nomadic culture during the summer of 2014 on “Nomads & Buddhas: The Artistic Traditions of Mongolia.” For additional details, please visit our website or call us at 800-221-1944.