Mongolia is far-flung and hardly well trodden, but don’t let that put you off. There is so much to see and do in this sizeable Central Asian country, from the stunning scenery and wildlife of mountains and deserts to the emerging luxury hotels and restaurants of capital Ulaanbaatar.
In the ancient land of Mongolia, history buffs and culture vultures will find plenty to keep them entertained. Outside the main cities many Mongolians continue to hold on to the traditional life of the malchin, or herdsmen. Transporting their goods by camel and residing in portable felt and canvas tents, the nomadic lifestyle of modern-day Mongolia would still be recognisable to Ghengis Khan, the most famous Mongol of them all.
Mongolia’s vast areas of wilderness, from the sprawling Gobi desert to the snow-peaked mountains of the Bayan-Ölgi, offer plenty of scope for adventurous outdoor enthusiasts. Fishing, jeep tours, horse and camel riding, mountain biking and birdwatching are but a few of the activities on offer. The most intrepid visitors will find numerous temples and ruins to explore.
While infrastructure remains underdeveloped in vast swathes of rural Mongolia, elsewhere the country is racing headlong into the 21st century. The capital Ulaanbaatar is transforming at a pace that any returning visitors will find dizzying. In a relatively short space of time, the city has turned into an ultra-modern metropolis with international restaurants, five-star hotels, shopping malls and glass tower blocks – a sure sign of Mongolia’s status as an up-and-coming Asian travel hotspot.
While there’s plenty of nightlife and excitement in Ulaanbaatar, don’t visit Mongolia without exploring the wild, largely unspoilt landscapes and traditional lifestyle of its inhabitants. Leaving the capital doesn’t mean being stranded from civilisation. Internet is now available even in small villages and it’s not uncommon to see nomads toting mobile phones. It’s perhaps this contrast that makes Mongolia such a fascinating destination to visit today. Get planning your trip now before the tourist hordes inevitably catch on.
1,564,116 sq km (603,909 sq miles).
3,006,444 (UN estimate 2016).
Head of state:
President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj since 2009.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg since 2014.
230 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style plugs with two round pins are standard.
Last updated: 13 March 2017
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
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