Must see attractions in The Gobi

  • Top ChoiceSights in Ongiin Khiid

    Ongiin Khiid

    The bend in the river here marks the remains of two ruined monasteries which are today considered one vast complex known as Ongiin Khiid. Bari Lam Khiid was built in 1810 on the north bank, the same side of the river as the area's tourist ger camps. Khutagt Lam Khiid was built in 1760 on the south. It was formerly one of the largest monasteries in Mongolia, and home to over a thousand monks.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Gurvan Saikhan National Park

    Khongoryn Els

    Khongoryn Els are some of the largest and most spectacular sand dunes in Mongolia. Also known as the Duut Mankhan (Singing Dunes – from the sound they make when the sand is moved by the wind), they are up to 300m high, 12km wide and about 100km long. The largest dunes are at the northwestern corner of the range. From afar the dunes look painted on the south horizon in front of those gorgeous granite mountains.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Ikh Nartiin Chuluu

    Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve

    This 670-sq-km nature reserve, only a four-hour drive from Ulaanbaatar, at an elevation of 2200m, is home to hundreds of ibexes (mountain goats), argali (big-horn sheep), gazelles, black vultures, wolves and other wildlife. There are 10 nomadic herder families living in the park, which is studded with spectacular glacial rock formations, their winter corrals built into red cliffs. Aside from the remote location, one of the reasons there is so much wildlife here is because of the water.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Gurvan Saikhan National Park

    Yolyn Am

    Yolyn Am was originally established to conserve the region's bird life, but it’s now more famous for its dramatic rocky cliffs and narrow, heavily shaded canyons that allow sheets of blue-veined ice to survive well into the summer in what is known as Yolyn Am Gorge. Yolyn Am is in the Zuun Saikhan Nuruu range, 46km west of Dalanzadgad (return taxi T100,000, one to two hours).

  • Top ChoiceSights in Ömnögovi

    Gurvan Saikhan National Park

    Gurvan Saikhan National Park (20,000 sq km) offers a wealth of sand dunes, canyons, dinosaur fossils and mountainous terrain. Desert wildlife includes argali sheep, ibexes and snow leopards. The most visited sights in the park are Yolyn Am and Khongoryn Els.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Gurvan Saikhan National Park

    Yolyn Am Gorge

    A pleasant 2km path leads from the parking area to this gorge filled with blue ice, one of the park's can't-miss sights. You can hike, bike or hire a horse and ride here. Along the way, you'll see herds of shaggy yaks and, if you're lucky, an ibex. You'll have to dismount your horse or mountain bike near where vendors gather to sell handicrafts in order to walk far enough for photo ops of the stunning glacier.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Khamaryn Khiid

    Shambhala

    In 1853 Danzan Ravjaa told the local people that he would die in three years but that they could forever come to this place and speak to his spirit. Indeed, he died three years later and the site was marked by an ovoo. Shambhala is now surrounded by 108 new stupas (‘108’ being a sacred number in Buddhism).

  • Sights in Baga Gazryn Chuluu Nature Reserve

    Tsorjiin Khureenii Khiid

    An unusual sight is the half-hidden stone ruins of the 200-year-old monastery, Tsorjiin Khureenii Khiid. Concealed among the rocks, and shaded by a grove of aspen trees, some of the rooms at the back of the now roofless complex still have traces of blue paint on their crumbling walls. The granite path to and from the ruins is lined with aromatic sage and stinging nettle; the isolated location is stunning and would make a terrific campsite.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Ömnögovi

    Bayanzag

    The so-called Flaming Cliffs are a Gobi highlight and an important palaeontology site first excavated by Roy Chapman Andrews in 1922. Even if you are not a ‘dinophile’, the eerie beauty of the surrounding landscape is a good reason to visit. It’s a classic desert of rock, red sands, scrub, sun and awesome emptiness. The cliffs look to be formed by great rifts in the earth, like a layer cake torn open, offset by the surprisingly green valley below.

  • Sights in Gov-Altai

    Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area

    Split in two for management purposes, but considered one protected area, together they form the fourth-largest biosphere reserve in the world. It protects habitat home to wild ass, Gobi bears, wild Bactrian camels and jerboas. It's divided into 'Gobi A' (Southern Altai Gobi) and 'Gobi B' (Dzungarian Gobi). Gobi A protects 44,000 sq km in the southern part of the aimag; Gobi B protects 8810 sq km in southwest Gov-Altai and neighbouring Khovd. There are no tourist services in either reserve.

  • Sights in Dundgovi

    Baga Gazryn Chuluu

    Like a miniature Joshua Tree National Park, this granite-rock formation in the middle of the dusty plains sheltered Zanabazar during conflicts between the Khalkh and Oirat Mongols. Later it was home to two 19th-century monks who left rock drawings in the area. Locals who sometimes make pilgrimages here worship the rocks. Naturally, there is a legend that Chinggis Khaan grazed his horses here.

  • Sights in Dundgovi

    Ikh Gazryn Chuluu

    Travellers descend on this remote Gobi nature reserve to wander the boulder-strewn moonscape scenery, clamber around and over abstract rock formations and crawl through small caves. You'll need wheels to explore the region effectively. It's possible to hire a jeep from Mandalgov, though most book transport from Ulaanbaatar.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Dundgovi

    Tsagaan Suvarga

    A 400m-long jigsaw of white-sand cliffs, striped pastel shades of purple, orange and red. That's the scene awaiting you at Tsagaan Suvarga, a sight similar to Bayanzag, but with much more colour and a sliver of the tourism footprint.

  • Sights in The Gobi

    Khermen Tsav

    Way off the beaten track; you are likely to have this complex of canyons all to yourself. Some say they are even more spectacular than Bayanzag. Be sure to have well-maintained transport and a driver who knows their way around.

  • Sights in The Gobi

    Sevrei Petroglyphs

    These petroglyphs depict herds of animals including deer, ibexes and gazelles; 20km from the town of Sevrei.

  • Sights in Gurvan Saikhan National Park

    Khavtsgait Petroglyphs

    If you take the main route from Dalanzadgad to Khongoryn Els, keeping the mountains to your left as you go, you can stop and hunt the hills for this exceptional collection of petroglyphs dating from between 8000 BC and 3000 BC. From the parking area trail head, a rocky path gains 120m in elevation (1822m) as it winds up a ridge littered with art. In under an hour you'll see petroglyphs aplenty.

  • Sights in Baga Gazryn Chuluu Nature Reserve

    Süm Khökh Burd

    The ruined 10th-century temple Süm Khökh Burd sits on an island in the middle of a seasonal lake, and was built from rocks that can only be found more than 300km away. It was abandoned and left in ruins a few centuries later and 300 years ago a palace was built in its place. When that too fell into disrepair, the writer Danzan Ravjaa built a stage here. Makes sense. The setting is that dramatic.

  • Sights in Dornogovi

    Khamaryn Khiid

    The main hall at this new-build compound that rises from blonde desert sands is an impressive ger-like structure with a golden tower. It can be reached by the sand-covered path lined with white stupas. The circular walls are engraved with the likenesses of the mythical masters from the Sutras, alongside vivid descriptions in English. There's also a shrine to the Dalai Lama where you can make offerings.

  • Sights in Mandalgov

    Byamba's Tree Nursery

    Retired forest engineer and local conservationist Byamba Tseyen helped establish, and now maintains, this small tree-planting nursery on the edge of town, in an attempt to fend off desertification from the Gobi's shifting sands. She and her family have planted more than 10,000 trees and shrubs here, and you can help their cause by planting one of your own. The equivalent of US$10 will get you lunch at their family home, and a sapling, which they will then help you plant.

  • Sights in Gurvan Saikhan National Park

    Dugany Am

    If you are headed from Yolyn Am to Khongoryn Els, an adventurous and rough alternative route takes you through the Dugany Am, a spectacular and narrow gorge barely wide enough to allow a jeep to pass through that eventually leads to some spectacular views and a small stupa (GPS: N 43°29.115’, E 103°51.043’) that has been built on the remains of a former temple.