You’ve asked for it for years and now you’ve got it. For the first time this summer, YPT takes you to the quintessential land of wilderness, Mongolia, one of the last former soviet republics we haven’t done tours to! This trip is a great introduction to a country that can often take a lot of time and effort to visit. Not only will you get to scratch off the list all the activities which Mongolia is renowned for, but you will also get the chance to see one of the world’s most interesting cultural events, Naadam Festival.
The tour starts in Beijing for a 26-hour train ride to the capital of Mongolia, Ulan Bator, or you can start the tour on day 2 in Ulan Bator. The moment we arrive we’ll head to visit both the Mount Khogno natural reserve and Terelj National Park, both famed for their wildlife and unforgettable trekking opportunities. We’ll ride camels in the dunes and horses on the steppes before heading back to Ulan Bator right in time for the festivities of Naadam. Naadam is centered around 3 main sports – horse riding, wrestling and archery. After taking in the festival, we will spend a day checking out all the highlights of the capital. It wouldn’t be a YPT tour without checking out massive Soviet monuments and political museums.
Naadam is the biggest event in Mongolia, attracting massive crowds. We can expect accommodations and tickets for the festival to be sold out months in advance. Don’t be left out, book now!
Arrive in Beijing. Meet up for dinner with your traveling companions and guides and head out for a few beers.
Overnight at the Zhong Gu Hotel.
Saturday 6th July – Train
Departure by train K23 at 7:23 as we embark on our journey to the land of the Khans.
We’ll spend a relaxing day looking at the different vistas of northern China and bonding over drinks and instant noodles.
20.18 arrival at the border town of Erlian, for a stop of “technically” around 4 hours, for border formalities, customs and immigration. Previously, it was possible to leave the train at this point, but most likely we will be kept on board for immigration formalities. Departure at around 1am.
Sunday 7th July – Train/Ulan Bator
Arrival in the middle of the night at the Mongolian border town of Dzamyn Ude, for second set of immigration and customs formalities usually lasting about two hours. Again, we may remain on the train or will possibly be allowed to get off.
After a bit of sleep we’ll get lunch on the train, we’ll need a full belly to start our exciting time in Mongolia.
14:35 arrival into Ulan Bator, capital city of Mongolia and our base for this trip.
For those starting the tour in Ulan Bator meet no later than 3pm at our hotel lobby.
Dinner where we will get to know our new members of the group and have our first look at the nightlife of Ulan Bator
Overnight in Ulan Bator
Monday 8th July – Mount Khogno Khan Natural Reserve
Up early as we have to drive to Mount Khogno Khan Natural Reserve, 250km away from the capital. This park contains a bit of all landscapes iconic of Mongolia, with sand dunes, the steppes and the taiga. Its ecosystem is extremely varied, with birds, gazelles and deer.
Our cook will prepare us a delicious lunch in the park.
In the afternoon, we’ll get the opportunity to do some more hiking or go camel riding in the nearby dunes.
Dinner and overnight in a traditional Mongolian family Ger, where we will sample Mongolia`s legendary nomadic hospitality.
Tuesday 9th July – Terelj National Park
Up early again. Today, our day is dedicated to driving to the Terelj National park. On the way, we’ll stop by Turtle Rock or Melkhii Khad, a rock formation that bears a striking resemblance to its namesake animal.
Lunch prepared by our cook
We start exploring the National Park trekking around accompanied by our expert guide. The park is famous for Khagiin Khar lake and the Tuul River which flows through it. We will also get the opportunity to visit a traditional Mongolian Buddhist temple.
Dinner and overnight once more in a traditional Mongolian family Ger,
Wednesday 10th July – Terelj National Park
It wouldn’t be a Mongolian adventure without a horse ride so we’ll ride around Terelj National Park like the Khan meant it to be.
Lunch with our personal cook
We start making our way back to Ulan Bator. On the way back, we’ll stop by the enormous statue of Genghis Khan, which we’ll be able to climb to appreciate the view.
Arrival in Ulan Bator for dinner and overnight before the big day!
Thursday 11th July – Ulan Bator
TRIP HIGHLIGHT We partake in the first day of the Naadam Festival. Spirits will be high all across town as Mongolians reunite for the event of the year, showcasing their culture through a competition involving the three main sports: wrestling, archery and horse racing.
We attend the opening festival ceremony. The nine tribes of Mongolia are escorting a horse tail of Genghis Khan to the stadium, accompanied by horsemen, monks and dancers.
We will attend the first rounds of the horse racing competition. Races can include thousands of horses with child riders and span over more than 10 kilometres.
Head back to our hostel to try a traditional meal of Khuushuur, a deep fried meat pie which we will rinse down with fermented mare’s milk, like the true Mongolian warriors we’ll be by then.
Friday 12th July – Ulan Bator
Wake up nice and early for breakfast
We go and spectate the second day, this time watching wrestling in the stadium. Mongolian wrestling is unique in that the wrestlers are not divided by weight and compete all together. We will get the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the special costumes the wrestlers wear.
Lunch on site
We head outside the stadium to see the archery competition. Here, we’ll witness archers shooting arrows over a distance of 75m using the infamous Mongolian Compound Bow which was instrumental in Genghis Khan’s conquest of the world.
For dinner, we’ll head to a Mongolian hotpot restaurant to gorge on delicious lamb meat and then head out to check out Ulan Bator’s night life.
Overnight in Ulan Bator
Saturday 13th of July – Ulan Bator
Up early for our city tour of Ulan Bator
After breakfast, we’ll head slightly out of town to visit the enormous Zaisan Memorial which will not only offer the best view of the city but also an enormous fresco commemorating the sacrifices of the Red Army which came to liberate the Mongolians from the Japanese. On our way down, we will see a tank memorial.
We head back into town to visit the Memorial Museum of Victims of Political Persecution. Here, we will learn more about the dark side of the Soviet rule of Mongolia and the impact its omnipresent secret police had on the locals.
Lunch at the nearby Chojin Temple Restaurant.
We head to the Gandantegchinlen Monastery, one of the most important site of Mongolian buddhism. During the communist reign, it was the only monastery allowed to function even though it only did so as a token homage to Mongolian culture while most others religious sites were destroyed and their lamas executed.
We head slightly north to the Sukhbaatar Square, place where the very iconic statue of Genghis Khan, most famous Mongol of all history and terror of the western world, is located.
We go to the outskirts of town to visit the Military Museum of Mongolia. Warning: Soviet tanks galore!
Dinner in a restaurant nearby our hostel.
Overnight in Ulan Bator
Sunday 14th July
End of tour, YPT can assist with transport to the airport or train station and the city is well connected with international flights, or you can get the train back to Beijing! Those carrying on to our Irkutsk and Lake Baikal Tour board train 305И to Ulan-Ude at 15:22 and arriving the next day in the early morning.
– Accommodation on twin share basis (single supplement available)
– Entrance Fees
– Naadam Stadium Tickets
– All transportation to complete tour
– Local Guide throughout and cook for the last two days
– Horse and Camel rides
– Transport to Beijing/Ulan Bator at the start of the tour and out of Ulan Bator at the end of the tour
– Visa fees if applicable (YPT can provide visa support for both China and Mongolia)
– Single Supplement (€360)
– Meals in Ulan Bator
– Drinks and personal spending
– Price for showers outside of Ulan Bator
– Tips for the driver, guide and cook
We have expert guides ready to help answer any questions you may have.