Stepping out into the vast desert of the 13th Century Complex in Mongolia was very surreal. It was like being transported back into the time when Genghis Khan was still the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire. Immense, beautiful, serene, unexplored mountains and wildlife looked like paintings hanging on the walls of a gallery. The only difference is that what one sees is real to the human touch. It is like being in a place where time does not exist because every now and then you find yourself in the “middle of nowhere”. But once you realize the massive yet captivating charm of the place, all you could do is worship the powerful God and stand in awe of His greatness and wonder how He could have made this wonderful place to live in.
Although in recent times, Mongolia has slowly been opening its arms to Western culture, still the country has preserved its heritage and has remained one of the few countries in the world that has not been widely influenced by modern technology. Apparently, 30% of Mongolians still live in ger (tent) and during winter, they still use a lot of coal for heating. The country has very little inhabitants compared to its size, such that, lots are freely given by the government to its citizens once they reach the age of 18.
For those who love to travel off the beaten path, I believe now is the best time to visit Mongolia. Not only it is still cheap, but it is not your usual menu of modern-day tourist spots; and to top it all, it’s VISA-FREE for Filipinos.
P.S. – One of my readers suggested that I include sample itinerary and contacts for tours that I feature. So, here it is….
For this tour, we did it DIY online, which made it cheaper than booking the entire tour package through a local travel agency. We directly booked our hotels through AGODA ; air ticket through EXPEDIA and land tour through a Mongolian travel company named AMICUS TRAVEL . And here’s a sample of our itinerary:
Day 1 – Arrival
Day 2 – Hustai National Park
Day 3 – Terelj National Park , Ariyabal Meditation Temple and Nalaikh Settlement (Kazakh family visit to explore the lifestyle of the ethnic minority)
Day 4 – Bogd Khan Mountain, Manzushir Monastery Ruins, Tsetsee Gun
Day 5 – Genghis Khan Statue Complex, 13th Century Compliex
Day 6 – Aglag Buteel Temple
Day 7 – Free time
Day 8 – Mongolia Nomad Tour
Day 9 – Ulaanbaatar City tour
Day 10 – Free time
Day 11 – Departure
Oh yes, we allotted two free days for shopping in Mongolia because aside from the usual tiyangge (called the Black Market) which is well-known among tourists, it has an entire building – ala 168, where the locals actually go. We went to both. And believe me, you need one day for each! And by the way, you can find (overruns) designer brand items in both areas.