Chasing Lost Trails of the Khan: A road trip through the best of Mongolia

Written By Anjali Dedha


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Mongolia, a land of vast open spaces and untamed beauty, holds a special place in the hearts of adventurous travelers. Any person fortunate enough to wander through its sweeping landscapes and experience its rich culture will attest to the magic that this country exudes. We are no different.

Imagine endless grasslands stretching as far as the eye can see, dotted with nomadic gers and grazing herds of horses and yaks. The rugged mountains rise dramatically on the horizon, their peaks kissed by the sky. This is Mongolia—a place where time seems to stand still and the slow pace of life makes you appreciate every moment as if there is no tomorrow.

Exploring this country means that you are simultaneously experiencing the present and the past by retracing the footsteps of Genghis Khan in the dust.

The more you discover about this country, the more you will fall in love with it. So, let’s delve into the specifics of the must-visit destinations in Mongolia and tell you more about this enchanting yet extremely underrated land.


As the former capital of the Mongol Empire, Kharkhorin holds a special place in the annals of history and hence remains one of the best places to visit in Mongolia. No one could’ve possibly imagined that the empire that was laid by Genghis Khan here would stretch across continents and endure for centuries. It is a timeless testament to the Emperor’s vision and ambition. The moment you step into the city’s perimeter, you are greeted by remnants of towering walls and imposing gates that once served as protective barriers for the heart of the empire. To wander through the ruins of ancient temples and palaces is like stepping back in time, right where the bustling city once stood at the crossroads of empires.

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Erdene Zuu Monastery

One of the most significant places that should be added to every Mongolia road trip itinerary is the Erdene Zuu Monastery which is the oldest Buddhist monastery in the country. The ornate architecture and sacred relics are one of the few things that make this 16th-century structure as fascinating as it is. The monastery is not just a spiritual sanctuary but also a symbol of Genghis Khan’s complex relationship with religion. Though he was known for his military conquests and fierce reputation he also embraced the teachings of Buddhism, leaving behind a lasting legacy of tolerance and cultural exchange.

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Yol Valley

Nestled within the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, Yol Valley, also known as the Valley of the Eagles, is a breathtaking gorge carved by the once mighty Khongor River. Here, towering cliffs of sheer rock rise high above the valley floor, casting deep shadows that provide refuge for a variety of wildlife making it truly one of the best places to visit in Mongolia. As you hike along the winding trails, keep your eyes peeled for the elusive snow leopard and the graceful ibex that call this rugged terrain home.

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Gobi Desert

No road trip to Mongolia is complete without experiencing the otherworldly beauty of the Gobi Desert. As the largest desert in Asia, the Gobi stretches across vast expanses of arid plains, sand dunes, and rocky outcrops. Spend a night under the stars in a traditional ger camp, and wake up to the sight of the sun painting the desert landscape in hues of gold and crimson. Exploring the ancient fossil beds of Bayanzag, where the remains of dinosaurs lay preserved for millions of years, truly makes you marvel at the resilience of life in one of the harshest environments on Earth.

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Ongiin Monastery

Tucked away in the heart of the Mongolian steppe lies the haunting ruins of Ongiin Monastery, a testament to the country’s rich spiritual heritage. Once a thriving center of Buddhist learning and meditation, Ongiin Monastery was tragically destroyed during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s. Today, the crumbling walls and weathered stupas stand as silent witnesses to a bygone era, inviting visitors to contemplate the passage of time and the impermanence of all things. The ruins of the monastery are both remnants of the past and a spectacle of the present. It is one of those places that make you look at life from a different perspective.

In conclusion, Mongolia is a land of contrasts and contradictions—a place where tradition and modernity coexist, and where the natural world still holds sway over the hearts and minds of its people. Whether you’re drawn to the rugged beauty of its landscapes or the rich tapestry of its history and culture, a journey through Mongolia is sure to leave a lasting impression on your soul. And, we at Adventures Overland are here to help you embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

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Published On: 5th March 2024


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