Mongolia is a land-locked nation steeped in history. The Mongol Empire was the largest empire the world had ever seen. Do you the famous landmarks in Mongolia?
If you are looking for answers to the questions below, you have landed on the right page.
- Where is Mongolia?
- Where are the seven major landmarks in Mongolia?
- What are the official languages of Mongolia?
- Which food is Mongolia famous for?
- Is Mongolia Worth Visiting?
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Mongolia
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means, that if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please read my Disclaimer Policy for more information.
Where is Mongolia?
Mongolia is between Russia and China. This country is one of the least populated countries with a population of 3.3 million people in 2021. About 30% of its population maintains their nomadic lifestyles. Here, horses play a major role in daily life.
Origin of Name
No one knows how Mongolia got its name. The Mongolian word for Mongolia either means “river” or “mountain”. The name may have come from Mugulu who was the founder of the Roran Khaganate tribe.
Temujin or Genghis Khan was the last leader of the Khamag Mongols tribe. By the 13th century, “Mongols” was an umbrella term for tribes under Genghis Khan. According to the Constitution of Mongolia, its official name is Mongol Uls or Mongolia.
Mongolian history is divided into prehistoric, ancient, medieval, Qing dynasty, and modern.
The extinct homo erectus lived in Mongolia about 800,000 years ago. This is based on stone tools found in the Gobi desert. The prehistoric sites are Khoid Tsenkheriin Agui and Tsagaan Agui in Bayankhongor Province.
The main feature of the Bronze Age and the early Iron Age in Mongolia is the discovery of slab graves in northern, eastern, and central Mongolia.
The beginning of Mongolia began in the 3rd century BC with the formation of the Xiongnu Empire. This empire is the amalgamation of several tribal communities.
The written records of this tribe were in the 5th century when they repeatedly invaded the smaller kingdoms in North China. This led to the building of the Great Wall of China. The nomadic tribes of Xiongnu, Xianbei, Rouran Khaganate, Turkic Khaganate, Uyghur Khaganate, and Liao Dynasty once ruled the plains of Mongolia.
This was the time of tribal rivalries. Khamag Mongol is a federation of Mongol tribes in the region. The chief of this confederation was Yesukhei, Temujin’s father. After a series of tribal conflicts, Temujin successfully consolidated the tribal communities of Mongolia.
The Qing Dynasty ruled Inner and Outer Mongolia in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Altan Tobchi or Golden Chronicles was written in this period. This book is the second most revered book after The Secret History of the Mongols.
The Mongolian Revolution of 1990 was a turning point in the nation’s history. This peaceful hunger strike overthrew the Mongolian People’s Republic that paved the path towards a democratic nation.
Mongolia attained independence on 29th December 1911 from the Qing Dynasty. This was after the Xinhai Revolution where Bogd Khan was the Head of State. It was the fall of the Soviet Union and the establishment of the democratic Mongolian People’s Party that shaped the political landscape of this nation.
Mongolia’s immigration requires all visitors to have a valid visa upon entry. The official visa is from the Mongolia Immigration Agency. The list of visa-free countries is provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Additional information on Business and Tourists Visa is on the Business and Tourist Visa Permit page.
Alternatively, you can apply for a Mongolian visa through iVisa which guarantees a simple and speedy process, fantastic support, and 24 hours customer service.
Where are the seven major landmarks in Mongolia?
Genghis Khan Statue
The first of our famous landmarks in Mongolia is the statue of Genghis Khan. This statue stands tall at a height of 40 meters and is 34 miles east of Ulaanbaatar. Genghis Khan sitting proudly on his horse is symbolically pointed to his face towards his birthplace.
This legendary horseman is wrapped in 250 tonnes of stainless steel. This statue is believed to be where Genghis Khan found a golden whip. The statue is historically significant as it was opened in 2008, exactly 800 years after his major conquests.
Who is the most famous person in Mongolia?
Temüjin who was later known as Chinggis Khan was born between 1155-1162 in Delüün Boldog which is located near the sacred mountain, Burkhan Khaldun. Since there were no written records, no one knows his actual birthdate or burial place.
Temüjin to Genghis Khan
The turning point in young Temüjin’s life was the rescue of Lady Börte, his first wife. Lady Börte was the Grand Empress of the Empire. She was kidnapped by a rival tribe leader on their wedding night. Temüjin’s life as a conqueror began with the rescue of his wife.
They had nine children together and it was their bloodline that significantly expanded the Mongol Empire. In 1206, he united the Merkits, Naimans, Mongols, Tatars, and Uyghurs tribes under his rule. After unifying the tribes, he became “Genghis Khan” which meant Universal Ruler.
Descendants of Genghis Khan
The descendants of Genghis Khan were instrumental in creating dynasties across Asia, Russia, and East Europe. In Asia, the Yuan Dynasty, the Hulaguids of Persia, the Golden Horde, the Shaybanids of Serbia, and the Astrakhanids of Central Asia are all from his lineage.
The Timurid Dynasty which founded the Mughal Empire in India is also related to Genghis Khan. The Wang Clan of Korea’s Goryeo Dynasty is through the marriage of King Chunyeol and the daughter of Kublai Khan.
In Russia, the Belosselsky-Belozersky family consolidated the power of Tatar-Mongols and Belozersky by marrying into the Mongol Empire. The first prince in this family, Gleb married the great-great-granddaughter of Genghis Khan.
Erdene Zuu Monastery
The second of our famous landmarks in Mongolia is Erdene Zuu Monastery. The earliest monastery is located in the ancient city of Karakorum. This monastery is part of the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site. It was Abtai Sain Khan that ordered the construction of this monastery after he met the 3rd Dalai Lama.
The head of this monastery is Baansuren Handsuren. He is an English-speaking monk who entered monkhood at the age of 14 years. Stalin saved this monastery as he wanted to show foreign dignitaries what Mongolian monasteries looked like.
The unique feature is the 108 stupa wall that surrounds the complex and is visible from a mile away. The idea behind this stupa wall is to mimic the beads on a rosary.
Interestingly, on the grounds of this monastery lies Kharkhorin Rock. A local story goes that there was once a monk who swore celibacy, but he was a womanizer. The monks placed a large stone phallus as a constant and explicit reminder to stay celibate.
For the women, local legend states that women would be blessed with children. We may never know which one of these stories is true, but one thing is for sure, stopping by Erdene Zuu Monastery is a must-visit on your trip to Mongolia.
The third of our famous landmarks in Mongolia is Lake Khovsgol. This is the largest freshwater lake in Mongolia. And, it is at the foot of the Sayan Mountains. This lake is one of the ancient lakes in the world. It is so clean that you can drink from it without any treatment.
The Wooden Boy Island is at the center of the lake. This island is uninhabited and covered in dense forest. This lake is the meeting point for the Khövsgöl Ice Festival. A festival that connects Mongolians from different tribes and communities in an event to celebrate their shared connection.
In winter, this lake freezes for 6 months and is strong enough to hold people, livestock, and vehicles.
The fourth of our famous landmarks in Mongolia is the Flaming Cliffs. Roy Chapman Andrews named this area in the 1920s after dinosaur eggs were discovered here. Flaming Cliffs were named orange or red color of the cliffs at sunset.
The Mongolian name for the Flaming Cliffs is Bayanzag which means “rich in saxaul bushes”. These bushes are the only plant life that can survive the extremes of the Gobi. While these bushes are dangerous for humans, they do not affect camels.
Where are the flaming cliffs in Mongolia?
These cliffs are located about 62 miles from Dalanzadgad, near the small village of Bulgan. Only 60% of the journey is on the tarmac. There are no signposts or rest areas here to ask for directions, it’s best to take a guided tour from Ulaanbaatar to get here.
How were the flaming cliffs formed?
The flaming cliffs are the exposed rocks of the Djadochta Formation which are highly fossilized geological formations that date back to the Late Cretaceous Period which is about 71 million years ago.
What was the most important scientific fossil discovery at the Flaming Cliffs?
The most important scientific fossil discovery at the Flaming Cliffs was a fossilized dinosaur nest full of eggs. The eggs belonged to an oviraptor. During Andrews’s last trip, mastodon fossils were discovered.
The other fossils found at Flaming Cliffs are Pinacosaurus, Protoceratops, and Archaeornithoides.
Did You Know?
That Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews was the inspiration for the Indiana Jones movie series. Read Roy Chapman Andrews: A Real-Life Indiana Jones to know more.
Gorkhi Terelj National Park
The fifth of our famous landmarks in Mongolia is the Gorkhi Terelj National Park. This is the 14th largest national park in Mongolia with the largest being the Altai Tavn Bogd located within the Altai mountain ranges.
Gorkhi Terelji is the closest to Ulaanbaatar as it is just 44 miles northeast of the capital city. A small portion of the park has tourist facilities such as souvenir shops, restaurants, horse and camel rentals, and yurt camps.
How do I get to Terelj National Park?
The cheapest option is a public bus that leaves Ulaanbaatar city center at 4 pm daily. The journey takes about 2 hours and the trip is comfortable. The bus usually passes through the main park entrance without stopping.
The most convenient option is either self-drive or joining a tour group, or taking a taxi to the entrance to the park. The taxi ride should not cost more than US$35 per person.
How much is the entrance fee to Terelj National Park?
The entrance fee to Terelj National Park is ₮3,000 ($1) per person.
What is the turtle rock in Mongolia made of?
Melkhii Khad or Turtle Rock is a granite formation carved by wind and rain throughout the centuries. The rock stands at 24 meters tall and was once known as Mungud Khad or Money Rock.
Legends mention that Oirad Khan Galdanboshigt hid his treasures behind this rock after suffering heavy losses in a battle against Manchu soldiers. Since then, locals began paying respects to the rock in good faith that it would bring them a fortune.
The sixth of our famous landmarks in Mongolia is the Government Palace or the State Palace at Sukhbaatar Square. This building houses the offices of the President, Prime Minister, and the Parliament of Mongolia.
On the western side of the building, you can find the seated statue of Ugedei Khan, Genghis Khan’s third son. And, on the eastern end, the seated statue of Kublai Khan, the founder of the Yuan Dynasty.
The main staircase at the front of the structure leads to the seated statue of Genghis Khan, with two general warriors, Muqali and Borchu on horseback guarding the founder of Mongolia.
Although the interior of the palace is not open to the public, you can walk around the building and take a few photos as the area makes for a good photo stop.
Why is Ulaanbaatar called Red Hero?
Ulaanbaatar was named Red Hero to honor Mongolia’s national hero, Damdin Sukhbaatar who liberated Mongolia from the Ungern Von Sternberg’s troops and the Chinese Occupation with the help of the Soviet Red Army.
Where does the President of Mongolia live?
The President of Mongolia lives at Ikh Tenger Complex within the protected mountainous regions of Bogdo Uul.
The seventh and last of our famous landmarks in Mongolia is Khongoryn Els or the “singing sands of the Gobi”. These dunes are also known as Duut Mankhan. The dunes are about 111 miles from Dalanzadgad and the only way to reach here is by private vehicle or part of a tour.
The northern side of the dune borders green meadows with the Sevrei Mountains towering above the dunes on the southern side. While the western edges meet another 50 miles of dunes, the eastern side borders the Bayan Bor Nuruu mountains.
These dunes are located in Mongolia’s remote and unforgiving regions, so make sure to stock up on fuel, food, water, and have an experienced driver available to drive you there.
What are the official languages of Mongolia?
The official language is Mongolian. Mongolian is from the Mongolic family of languages. About 85% of its population speaks the Khalka dialect. The other dialects are Oirat and Buryat. Russian is also spoken as Mongolia was once a communist nation.
How do you read a Mongolian script?
This script is from the Old Uygur alphabet system. This is the only script in the world that is written vertically from left to right. The government has approved a national program to promote the usage of this script in legal papers and official documents beginning 2025.
How do you greet in Mongolian?
The traditional Mongolian greeting is Zolgokh. In this greeting, two people hold their arms out and grasp each others elbows. This greeting is accompanied by the phrase, Amar mend üü which means “Are you well and peaceful?”
Hello is Sain baina üü. Good morning is Öglöönii mend and good afternoon is Ödriin mend and good evening is Oroin mend. Thank you is Bayarlalaa. Check out how you can learn the 30 most important words in Mongolia before planning your trip there.
Which food is Mongolia famous for?
This barbeque dish is made by cutting pieces of lamb and cooking the meat together with hot stones. The hot stones and steam would cook the meat in the pot. The dish is ready once the stones have turned black and absorbed the fat of the pieces of lamb.
For an ultimate experience, eat it with your fingers. Only use a fork and knife when you want to cut the pieces of meat into smaller chunks.
The recipe for this dish is on 196 Flavors.
This dish is prepared on special occasions and consists of barbequed meat inserted into the carcass together with heated stones. The unique feature of this dish is that the carcass is used as a cooking vessel.
This dish combines noodles, meat, and vegetables in a single dish. Handmade noodles are steamed with vegetables which makes this a healthy meal. This is the perfect one-pot dish. Traditionally, horse meat was used in the past. However, mutton or any other meat can be used.
The recipe for this dish is on Tara’s Multicultural Table.
Kumis is similar to kefir. This drink is popular in Central Asia. The drink is made by fermenting raw unpasteurized milk over a few days. Herodotus described the process in his book, Histories. The traditional method is on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
What does Airag taste like?
This slightly sour dish contains 2% alcohol. Interestingly, lactose-intolerant people can take Airag as the fermentation process converts lactose into lactic acid, ethanol, and carbon dioxide.
Gambir is a Mongolian pancake that can be eaten with or without toppings. This dish is also known as Qatlama and is a staple food in Central Asia. Unlike cake, butter and sugar are added to dough when making this dish. This results in a doughy texture. The recipe for gambir is on All Mongolian Recipes. Gambir is on 17 Easy Pancakes From Around The World.
What is Mongolia famous for?
The five landmarks that Mongolia is famous for are the Altai Mountains, the Gobi desert, Mongolian yurts, the eagle hunters, and Bactrian Camels.
The next in our famous landmarks in Mongolia is the Altai Mountains. This mountain range is between Central and East Asia. The mountainous regions are ethnically diverse with Russians, Mongols, Kazakhs, and the Altais.
These mountain ranges bring Russia, China, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia together before meeting the Sayan Mountains in the northeast.
It is in this region that the people of Kazakh nurture a special bond with the Golden Eagles. Eagle hunting is a source of pride for the community.
The next of our famous landmarks in Mongolia is the Gobi desert. This desert is the largest desert in East Asia. It has China on its north and northeast, and Mongolia on its south. This desert is a rain shadow desert. This means that the Tibetan Plateau blocks precipitation from the Indian Ocean from reaching the Gobi desert.
The desert consists of 5% dunes while the rest is rocky outcrops. The wildlife crossing at the Trans-Mongolian Railroads for the first time after 65 years is another historical development.
This portable round tent made is a place of residence for the nomadic tribes of Mongolia. The name “yurt” is from the Turkic word which means “dwelling, abode”.
These yurts take 2-hours to assemble. The felt is from sheep. And, timber is from the valleys. The yurts are easily dismantled which makes them essential for nomadic tribes.
Do you know that the first written record of yurts was by Herodotus?
He described yurts as the homes of the Scythians, a nomadic nation that lived in the Black Sea and the Central Asian region from 600 BC to 300 AD.
Although this isn’t a landmark, other famous landmarks in Mongolia are its eagle hunters. Eagle hunters are from Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China. These hunters transfer their knowledge orally from one generation to the next.
Claire Thomas shares the lifestyle of the Kazakh in her article, On Horseback Among Eagle Hunters and Herders of the Mongolian Altai. Her story teaches us about relationships with their animals.
The story of a teenage eagle hunter, Aisholpan Nurgaiv went viral in 2014. Although female eagle hunters have been around since the 10th century, Aisholpan was the first female to participate in the Golden Eagle Festival.
What Do Eagle Hunters Do?
Eagle hunters harness the eagle’s vision and razor-sharp beaks to hunt and catch prey. Golden eagles are aggressive birds of prey. This tradition dates back to Kublai Khan. He hunted with “thousands of birds and falconers“.
The specialized skill is berkutchi. It is a rite of passage for Kazakh men. The connection between the eagle and man is strong. These men receive guidance from their fathers to harness the power of the eagle at a young age.
With increased modernization, this skill faces extinction. These eagles have been trained since they were young chicks. Hence, they would never hurt their masters.
The other famous landmark in Mongolia is the Bactrian camels. These camels are native to Central Asia. These migratory camels are adaptable to their habitats. They can survive arid deserts or rocky mountain cliffs.
These camels can withstand hot and cold temperatures and can go without water and food for months. However, they can drink up to 57 liters of water at once. It was these camels that traversed the Silk Road.
Why You Should Make That Trip
Check out the 9 Reasons to Visit Mongolia and the 22 Cool and Unusual Things To Do In Mongolia before planning your trip there. Check out the 10 Best Restaurants to Try in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. And, The Best Food To Eat in Mongolia.
For hotels in Ulaanbaatar, check out:
Frequently Asked Questions on Mongolia
These are answers to some frequently asked questions about Mongolia. From tourist facilities to the sports created in Mongolia, read on to know more.
With private sector tourism in Mongolia relatively new, there are at least 403 travel agencies, 320 hotels, and 647 resorts and tourist camps throughout Mongolia. Mongolia is known for its trekking, hiking, horse riding, and overland motorcycle tours.
According to Travel Safe Abroad, Mongolia has the lowest crime rate in Asia. However, basic precaution is necessary as you explore remote regions with no signs of life. This is Mongolia’s charm, unexplored and undiscovered.
The best time to visit Mongolia is during the summer months of June to August. The central and southern regions are dry while the mountains and northern regions can be cold in August.
The Mongolian Naadam Festival is in July and is a must-see if you visit in summer. The festival is known as “Eriin gurvan naadam” which translates to three games of men which are archery, horse racing, and wrestling.
The autumn months from September to October bring nature to its best with lush landscapes and temperate weather. It would be wise to pack your fleece, scarf, gloves, and waterproof shoes. Look out for the Golden Eagle Festival that falls between September and October.
The winter months are from November to February when the weather is extremely harsh and cold. If you are looking for a winter wonderland with clear blue skies and white-leave trees, these are the months to go.
If you are going during winter, pack plenty of woolen and warm clothes. The two major festivals in winter are Tsagaan Lar or the Lunar New Year and the Winter Horse Festival where unique and rare breeds of horses can be found.
Spring comes in March and lasts until May and you can expect dry, sunny weather with the occasional rainfall.
Spring is when life begins after the harsh winter and what better way than to explore the Ice Festival at Lake Khovsgol, the 1,000 Camel Festival at Gobi Desert, and visit Terelj National Park and witness the bloom of flowers, wildlife spotting, and grassland turning green with spring in the air.
Yes, Mongolia is safe for solo female travelers. However, as with any destination, precautions are necessary such as walking alone at night, petty theft, and pickpocketing. Also, avoid the riverbank area as that’s where the drunken local men hang out.
While Mongolia has about 50,000 kilometers of roads, only 20% or about 15,000 kilometers (9,300 miles) are paved tarmac roads. Once you are out of Ulaanbaatar, the paved road becomes gravel dirt roads.
Citizens of the United States who are visiting Mongolia for less than 90 days do not require a visa. However, the passport needs to have at least 6 months of validity from the date of arrival.
Yes, British citizens need a visa to enter Mongolia. A visa is required before arrival and is valid for stays up to 30 days. British citizens can extend their stay for another 30 days, once within 6 months.
There are three “manly” sports created by the Mongolians which are Mongolian wrestling, horse-riding, and archery. The Naadam Festival combines these three sports into a single event during the National Holiday in Ulaanbaatar City.
There is no other country that loves horses as much as Mongolia. Horses are not only a form of transportation, they were also used by Genghis Khan to expand his empire. Hence, it is not surprising that Mongolians name their horses once the horses reach 2 years old.
Yes! Mongolia’s beauty will give you an off-beat experience. After all, Mongolia is the only country in the world where a nomadic lifestyle is prevalent and wild horses roam free. I know I want to go there, wouldn’t you?