Mongolia is a land of vast, unspoiled wilderness, for a long term known as the 'end of the earth'. A country where 30% of the population live in nomadic tribes, from the mountains of the north to the Gobi Desert's "Singing Sands" in the south. If you've ever wondered 'What is Mongolia Known For?' - here is our introductory A to Z of the fascinating country. Tours and Holidays to Mongolia have become very popular over the years.
A traditional Mongolian drink made from fermented mare’s milk, airag is believed to have medicinal benefits, perhaps because over time it turns into a potent alcoholic wine-like mixture! To reach its best quality it is said that it must be stirred no less than one thousand times a day.
Popular nickname for this plaza in the capital city, there is a monument to the boys here, playing homage to a time when groups of Mongolian teens would gather to strum and sing along to Beatles songs, listening on contraband records smuggled in through Eastern Europe.
Chinggis is the Mongolian name for Genghis. Genghis Khan founded the Mongol Empire by uniting many nomadic tribes of Northeast Asia and became its first emperor.
Buddhism is the largest religion in Mongolia and this Buddhist Monastery in the city of Hohhot is the largest and best-preserved temple in the city.
Erdene Zuu Monastery
Probably the earliest surviving Buddhist Monastery in the country, it was built from the remains of the ancient city of Karakorum, a capital of the Mongol Empire. Here you can get astrological signs read, hear monks chanting every morning and view a beautiful collection of temples in different styles surrounded by 108 stupas.
A region of red-orange sandstone cliffs in the Gobi Desert where the first dinosaur eggs were discovered. As well as a velociraptor and eutherian mammals.
The Mongolian equivalent of the Turkic word yurt, gers translates simply as home and is the classic building type of the country. Marianne introduces the range of ger camps in Mongolia.
We’re going to double up on Gs as we cannot exclude the dramatic
A ‘rain shadow’ desert formed by the Himalayas blocking rain-carrying clouds from the Indian Ocean from reaching this territory, it is home to the Gobi bear, several important cities along the Silk Road as well as ginormous sand dunes, ice-filled canyons and dinosaur fossils.
Hustai National Park
Spot famous wild horses, Takhi, and stay in ger camps in this specially protected park, with the Tuul River running through it.
When Lake Khovsgol freezes over – it goes hard. Forming ice five foot deep, winter is celebrated with this festival involving races and games over the ice, including skating, wrestling (any excuse), tug-of-war, dog sledding and horse-sleighing.
No, she isn’t Mongolian. But she recently enjoyed ‘being spanked by a Mongolian shaman’ for a television Trans-Siberian Adventure.
This ancient town was the capital of Gengis Khan’s Mongolian Empire until the old city was left to fall when his grandson, Kublai Khaan moved the capital to present day Beijing. The governing Khans showed great tolerance with mosques, churches and Buddhist monasteries built almost side by side here.
Again, two Ks so as not to omit the unforgettable Khoomii – The traditional and unique Mongolian throat singing, using the impressive combination of vocals, tongue, teeth and palate, rendering instruments redundant.
The country is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Or Lapsha – a popular Mongolian noodle dish.
Founded by Genghis Khan in 1206, it became the largest connecting empire in history. Originating on the steppes of Central Asia, at its peak it stretched all the way from Central Europe to the Sea of Japan, extending north into Siberia and south into the Indian subcontinent. (show map of land covered!).
The traditional highlight of the Mongolian summer, this festival involves all the key ingredients of a good time to be had by all: vodka, ballads, traditional games and a BBQ sheep’s head.
Along the banks of the Orkhon River, Mongolia’s longest river, the valley is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for representing the evolution of nomadic pastoral traditions spanning more than two millennia. Here find 8th century Turkic memorials; ruins of an Uyghur Empire capital with evidence of shops, temples and a palace and the formidable Orkhon Waterfall: ten metres wide and twenty metres high and surrounded by volcanic rocks.
Innovate Mongolians attach wooden electricity poles to a concrete base otherwise the pole would snap from the pressure of the freezing ground!
This was the last Chinese dynasty to rule in Mongolia, it was in view of its imminent collapse that Khalka Mongol princes conferred and decided to seek independence for Mongolia.
Mongolians traditionally practiced Shamanism, worshipping the Blue Sky, until the 16th century when Tibetan Buddhism was introduced. Today, Buddhism is practiced by 53% of the population, Islam by 3%, Mongolian Shamanism by 2.9% and Christianity by 2.1%.
Salt Milk Tea
What it sounds like, really, tea with milk and salt. In Mongolian it is ‘Suutei tsai’, a traditional beverage said to provide both protein and electrolytes, essential strength for herders. May be a bit of an acquired taste for non-Mongolians, but you’ll have to try it to know. Here’s a recipe.
But also Mongolia’s Steppe –endless landscape of vast countryside under massive skies, empty of people save for the occasional nomadic herder and populated by 30 million sheep, goats, cows and camels, the steppes is probably what Mongolia is best known and loved for.
A small community of reindeer herders in the north, known as ‘reindeer people’ or the Dukha. They are one of the last groups of nomadic reindeer herders in the world. Only about 40 families continue the tradition today.
Mongolia’s capital and largest city, the bustling metropolis is home to over 1.3 million people, which is about 45% of the population!
The famous Mongolian brand of vodka is Chinggis, so you can toast to Genghis himself with every shot.
Known as Bokh, meaning durability, this is Mongolia’s most popular sport and the highlight of the ‘Three Manly Games’ of Naadam, (alongside horse-racing and archery) with a national competition historians believe has been going for 7000 years!
With ‘Xilitu’ meaning ‘Holy Seat’ in Mongolian, this palace lies 100 metres away from the Dazhao Temple and was built in the reign of Emperor Wan Li of the Ming Dynasty for Dalai Lama III and IV to commemorate the Lamas. Lama is a title for a teacher of the Dharma in Tibetan Buddhism, similar to the Sanskir term ‘guru’. The palace is the largest surviving Lama temple in Hohhot.
What the Mongol dynasty was renamed as in 1271, when it proceeded to set up Chinese-style administration. It was then that Beijing was made capital and made new cultural achievements, such as developing the novel as a literary form.
Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts
Located in the capital, a brilliant collection of paintings, carvings and sculptures including Zanabazar’s himself, who was the first spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism and also dubbed the “Michelangelo of Asia”. The museum houses rare religious exhibits such as scroll thangka, Buddish statues and tsam masks. The building itself tells another tale from history, as an old Chinese Bank which Soviet troops stayed in and later becoming the city’s first State Department Store, before settling as an art museum in 1966.
Now that you know a bit more about what Mongolia is known for, it's time to check out this fascinating country for yourself. Wild Frontiers are well known experts for providing group tours and tailor-made holidays to Mongolia. We currently offer 7 Different Mongolia Tours & Holidays each of which provide a different perspective on this great country.