Mongolia has so much to offer travelers who are looking for wide open spaces, adventure and culture. Squeezed between Russia and China, Mongolia might seem hard to reach, but its doors are open thanks to a tourism campaign that has eased visa restrictions through 2025.
Want to feel what it is like to travel to Mongolia? Check out this video from our Lonely Planet team.
I caught up with our creative director Annie Greenberg about what it was like behind the scenes.
Give me a bit of a perspective what it was like filming in Mongolia — like how many days did you film, how many locations, how long were your days?
For this production we were lucky enough to be the guests of a Nomadic Road expedition, which, in addition to facilitating jaw-dropping overland journeys for guests from all around the world, provided the architecture of our trip and allowed us to see so much of the country. Not to mention, it allowed us to see it in ways we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. We filmed for over a week, with nonstop driving and production days from sunrise through sunset. Because so many of the locations we covered were incredibly remote, we drove for up to thirteen hours a day, droning or filming out the window. We adapted our shooting schedule and style to suit this type of roaming production, leaning into gimbal work and drone footage.
What are your most valuable takeaways from the shoot?
Two memories that will stick with me for a lifetime: Witnessing sunrise on the “singing sands” of the Khongoryn Els and trailblazing in an off-road vehicle across fragrant plains of wild onion as far as the eye could see.
Part of travel to Mongolia is immersing yourself in its deep cultural traditions. What did you experience?
Nomadic Road set up a private cultural festival for us with wrestling, horse racing and archery that allowed us to interact with the nomadic people that call these rich cultural traditions their own. I learned just how important these rituals are to them, even to the younger generations, who are dedicated to keeping them alive for centuries to come. It was a privilege not only to witness these in person, but to get to speak to the local nomadic children who are so proud to carry on these traditions. And too, in Ulaanbaatar, our guides were the incredibly capable Travel Buddies, our Elsewhere by Lonely planet local experts in Mongolia, who facilitated a tour of the Gandan monastery, to witness the Buddhist monk ceremonial chantings, just as they have been doing for centuries. It felt truly sacred and special to be able to be so close to this spiritual event. I was even more honored and humbled to be able to speak with one of the monks to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to him.
Any memorable anecdotes or people you met during the trip?
The travelers who journeyed along the Nomadic Road expedition came from all walks of life and from all around the world, from India to Singapore. They are people we never would have met, and we felt so lucky to have this common experience. Because we all value adventure and getting out of our comfort zones. But, truly, the most memorable stories come from the moments we got to meet and speak with the locals as they went about the routine of their daily lives. We were invited into a nomadic Ger (a round, portable tent-like dwelling) to drink camel milk, to play soccer with a nomadic child and to ride on the back of a motorbike of a modern-day nomadic shepherd.
We hope properly honor their hospitality with this video, which we made with the single intention of celebrating and appreciating every person we met.