Mongolia: national customs, holidays, events
The Mongols have always been a nomadic people. Even today, around 40% of the Mongols still live as nomads. The yurt (ger), a round tent that consists of a light, collapsible wooden frame, which is covered with several layers of thick felt mats, still serves as their home. Inside, the yurts are adorned with colorful carpets and in the middle is the stove, the smoke from which is drawn off through a round opening in the roof. The traditional festive clothing of the Mongols is the “del”, a long silk tunic that is held together by a colorful sash around the waist.
Typical of traditional music is Mongolian overtone singing (khumi), in which specially trained male voices emit harmonic overtones from the depths of the throat, producing several tones at the same time.
Everywhere in the country you can find the so-called ovoos, heaps of stones with sacrificial bones or with strips of fabric tied together. They serve the Lamaistic worship of local spirits or the marking of a holy place. Speaking loudly, lighting a campfire and cooking food should be avoided at these points.
|January 1||New Year|
|1st new moon after the winter solstice and the following 2 days||Tsagaan Sar (The White Month), Mongolian New Year|
|June 1||Children’s and Mother’s Day|
|July 11-13||Naadam festival (national holidays) with wrestling matches and horse races|
|November 26||Independence day|
Source: Countryaah – Mongolia Holidays
Every year from July 11th to 13th, the residents of Mongolia celebrate the centuries-old Naadam Festival, especially in Ulan Bator. During the national holiday and the two following days, mainly sporting competitions in the disciplines of wrestling, riding and archery are held, with the competition traditionally being held by four to twelve year old children.
Another event is “Tsaagan Sar” (The White Month) on the new moon after the winter solstice. The beginning of the new lunar year and the rebirth of nature are celebrated for at least three days with various culinary arts, singing and sporting events.
Regular cultural events in the country are:
|January||Festival of the Camel (Ajmak Umnugobi)|
|June||International festival of live music (in Ulan Bator as well as in Ajmaken of the Gobi desert).Festival of “Owoo” worship|
|July 27-28||Tschingis Khan Festival (Ajmak Henti)|
|August||Yak festival (Ajmaken Arhingaj and Tariat)”Mini-Naadam” festival (Gobi desert)|
|September||Religious ceremony “Dance of the Masks” (Ulan Bator)|
|October||Festival of the Hunting Eagle (Altai)|
There are also several theaters and theater ensembles in Ulan Bator, including the state opera, ballet, the state theater and the folk song and dance ensemble.
In Mongolia the traditional sports of horse racing, wrestling and archery are cultivated. In addition, the Mongolian super marathon around Lake Uvs Nuur takes place every year on a day in June from sunrise to sunset.
Mongolia has a semi-arid continental highland climate with short, warm and relatively rainy summers and long, very cold and dry winters, which last approximately from October to April. Sometimes there are snow storms. Spring and autumn usually only last six weeks.
Since no protective layer of snow forms in the winters, the frost penetrates several meters deep into the ground, so that the summers are not sufficient for complete thawing. That is why the permafrost zone in Mongolia extends extremely far to the south.
The ideas of what is meant by a particularly favorable travel climate depend on a number of factors. Pure cultural travelers certainly see the climate differently than people who want to spend a pure beach holiday, for example. The state of health or age can also play an important role. Therefore, our travel time recommendations are divided into the following two categories:
people who are not sensitive to the sun and for whom the sun does not cause problems, the following months are particularly recommended for a stay in Mongolia: June to August (especially in the south of the country).
For people who prefer a temperate climate
People who prefer a temperate climate and lower temperatures should better use the following time to stay in Mongolia: May and September (or rather the higher elevations).
|month||average number of rainy days||mean maximum temperatures in (°C)||mean minimum temperatures in (°C)|
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Presents the way that MN stands for the nation of Mongolia as a two-letter acronym.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Uvs Nuur Basin
The Uvs Nuur Basin – with an area of 1,068,853 ha = 10,688.53 km – is the northernmost closed basin in Central Asia. Located 760 m above sea level, it is home to migratory, water and sea birds, including eagles, hawks, black storks and vultures. The largest lake in the country is located in the basin – the low saline Uvs-Nuur with an area of 3,350 km² and an average depth of around 6 m . The landscape of the Uvs Nuur National Park is best explored on foot or in an off-road vehicle. Since the lake has no drain, its banks are often muddy and often difficult to reach.
The adjacent mountains are important habitats for snow leopards, wolves, giant wild sheep and Asian ibex, among others.
The Uvs-Nuur Basin also belongs to Russia in the northeast.
The basin was added to the UNESCO list in 2003 as a cross-border world natural heritage site.
Orkhon Valley cultural landscape
It is not clear why this valley in particular developed into a settlement area at that time. Stone Age tools and storage areas for hunters and gatherers were found here. Tombs from the Bronze and Iron Ages were also found here. Medieval memorials with Turkish and Chinese inscriptions were also discovered here. In the Orkhon Valley, Chinggis Khan established the capital of Mongolia in 1235. He had a magnificent palace built in a huge complex. From here the Mongol Empire was ruled for a while. It spread from the Pacific to the Mediterranean. The Orkhon Valley cultural landscape was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2004. It crosses borders with Russia
Rock paintings of the Altai Mountains
The Altai Mountains belong to four countries – China, Russia, Kazakhstanand to Mongolia. The heights of the mountains are covered with eternal snow. Long before the birth of Christ, numerous different tribes settled in the area, as evidenced by archaeological finds such as megalithic sculptures. Numerous archaeological finds from the Bronze Age and the times of the Huns and Turkic peoples have been made in the high-lying province of Bayan-Ölgii in Mongolia. In the province there is also the mountain “Shiveet Khairkhan”, which is holy for the tribes living there. Here you can see the rock painting of the Huns – made around 200 BC. The largest rock paintings, ancient burial sites and stone monuments can be found along the Goloog River. In recent years, in this poorly industrialized region, natural tourism has increased as an important economic factor.
The rock paintings of the Mongolian part of the Altai Mountains were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2011
Xanadu – the former capital of the Mongol ruler Kublai Khan
Xanadu was the headquarters of Kublai Khan for a while and is also called ShangdÅ «. It is located about 350 km from Beijing in Inner Mongolia. The city was laid out roughly square with sides of about 2.5 km.
There was an inner city and an outer city. The palace area was about 550 m. You can still see the remains of an earth wall, a round column platform and the center of the inner enclosure.
The architect Liu Bingzhong, who lived from 1252 to 1256, designed this city.
Around 100,000 people lived in the city during its heyday. In 1369, the Ming Army occupied Xanadu and eventually burned it down.
Nowadays all that remains are the ruins of the city walls surrounded by grassy mounds of earth.
Kublai Khan was born in Beijing in 1215 and also died in Beijing in February 1294. He was a grandson of Genghis Khan and became Emperor of China in 1260. Kublai Khan spent his youth in Mongolia. In later times he made Buddhism the state religion in Mongolia. Its rise has been accompanied by many skirmishes, riots, wars and intrigues. However, after 300 years of division of the empire, he managed to reunite it.
He proclaimed the Yang Dynasty in 1271.
Marco Polo’s descriptions paint the following picture of Xanadu:
The palace is said to have been made of marble. The interiors are said to have been decorated with exquisite murals, and the park surrounding it is said to have had beautiful statues and artistically designed fountains.
Blooming plants of all kinds are said to have stood by small streams and rivers everywhere. Kublai Khan’s hobby was breeding falcons and hawks. He kept a lot of wild animals for this hobby, some of which were used to feed the birds. When riding out, he took his leopard with him, which he chased on the animals to distract himself from everyday life.
Xanadu was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2012.
Holy Mountain Burkhan Khaldun
The 2,445 m high holy mountain Burkhan Khaldun (Burchan Chaldun) is said to be the birthplace and burial place of Genghis Khan.
Genghis Khan’s son Tolui Khan was also buried here – more than 800 graves were found around the mountain.
The mountain is located in the eastern part of the Chentii Mountains in northern Mongolia and had great spiritual significance for the Mongolian Empire, which essentially existed in the 12th and 13th centuries.
It should be mentioned that the worship of sacred mountains and springs was and still is an important part of Mongolian culture. The ancient rituals of the shamans were later expanded to include teachings and practices from Buddhism.
As almost untouched landscapes, the sacred mountains also play an important role in the preservation of threatened animal and plant species.
The holy mountain Burkhan Khaldun was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2015. In addition to the Burkhan Khaldun, six other holy mountains were added to the World Heritage List.
Daurien is a mountainous landscape that stretches from eastern Mongolia to Russian Siberia and northeastern China. It represents the ecosystem of the Daurian steppe in a unique way. Due to the climate change with pronounced dry and wet periods, a large variety of species and ecosystems of global importance has arisen here.
The local wet meadows, forest steppes and steppe lakes are the habitat for rare animal species such as white-naped cranes and great bustards as well as for millions of endangered or threatened migratory birds. It is also an important region for the migrations of the Mongolian gazelle (Procapra gutturosa).
The Daurian landscapes, which border on Russia, were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List at the UNESCO meeting that took place in Krakow, Poland, from July 2 to 12, 2017.
Ulaanbaatar (Ulan Bator)
Ulaanbaata r is the capital of Mongolia and has an estimated 865,000 residents.
Other cities are:
The city with around 82,000 residents
Darchan with around 75,000 residents. The city was founded in 1961 as an industrial center for the north of the country. Tschoibalsan with around 42,000 residents
with around 31,000 residents
with around 30,000 residents
with around 29,000 residents
Neolithic and Bronze Age rock carvings on the banks of the Chultyn-Gol River
Rock paintings in the canyon of the Chulut River
Namagetu Mountains in the Gobi Desert
This is where most of the dinosaur skeletons in Mongolia have been found.
Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan in Ulan Bator
Ruins in the valley of the Orkhon River
Here are the remains of the capitals of various steppe and ancient Turkish empires as well as several tombs of ancient Turkish khans.
Ruins of Char Balgas in
the Orkhon Valley The capital of the East Uyghur Empire was built between 744 and 840 AD.
Ruins of Karakorum (Qara Qorum) near Harhorin
The former residence of Genghis Khan and his successors was built in the 13th century and is considered the birthplace of the Mongolian nation state. It was completely destroyed by the Chinese in 1388 and rebuilt from 1415. It finally fell into disrepair in the late 16th century, and the Buddhist monastery Erdene Zuu was demonstrably built from its remains in 1586.
Ruins of Sangiin Herem on the outskirts of Chowd (Western Mongolia)
The former Chinese settlement was built around 1762 during the Manchu Dynasty and destroyed in 1911.
Stone statues in the Churgurin Chundii valley in the Süchbaatar Aimag
The meaning of the more than 10 stone figures from the 10th to 13th centuries is controversial.
Ruins of Cherlen Bars Choto in Sumon Tsagaan-Owoo (southeast of the country)
They are among the oldest buildings in Mongolia.
Natural history museum in Ulan Bator
In addition to numerous objects on the geography, flora and fauna of the country, there is a palaeontological section worth highlighting with two completely preserved dinosaur carcasses that were found in the Gobi desert.
Museum of Fine Arts in Ulan Bator
The collection dates from before the 1921 revolution.
National Library in Ulan Bator
Unique Sanskrit manuscripts from the 11th century are exhibited here.
Monasteries, temples and mosques
Choyjin Lama Temple
Monastery of the Living Buddha in Ulan Bator
The former seat of the Buddhist head of Mongolia now houses the “Zanabazar Art Museum” and the religion museum with thangkas and Buddha statues that are well worth seeing.
Gandan Monastery in Ulan Bator
Erdene Zuu Monastery (“Hundred Treasures) near Harhorin in Central
Mongolia The Abadai Khan founded this first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia in 1586. The building, which was partly built from stones from the old capital Karakorum, housed numerous within its square outer walls, each 400 m long Temple in the Sino-Mongolian mixed style and developed into one of the most important Buddhist centers in Asia. A large part of the complex later fell victim to communist rule. In addition to the imposing wall from the 17th century, crowned by 108 stupas, four temples were preserved, some other buildings have since been restored, and there are three large stone turtles near the monastery.
Amarbajasgilant Khiid Monastery
The second most important monastery in the country is located in the north of Central Mongolia and was built in 1737 by the Manchurian Emperor Kazsu in honor of the great Mongolian Buddhist and sculptor Zanabazar.
Shant-Hid Monastery, Central Mongolia
Zomud Monastery on the “Holy Mountain”, Central Mongolia
Mosque of Ölgii
Since the building was oriented precisely towards Mecca, it stands at an unusual angle in the urban fabric. It houses the Islamic center of the country.
Manzshir Chiid near Zuunmod in the Bogdkhaan Uul National Park.
The monastery, which was founded in 1733, was largely destroyed by the communists in 1932. The now restored, remaining temple houses a small museum.
Around 40% of the Mongols still live as nomads – especially in the south of the country, which are worth visiting. These nomads move – as if time had stood still – on camels and horses through the vastness of the Mongolian steppes, while they live in large round tents, a yurt. Human animals include goats, cows, yaks, and horses – and numerous dogs. The animals provide the raw material for the production of dairy products such as butter, sour milk or cheese, but also for skins for the production of clothes and shoes.
Younger people can even live with a nomad family for a while – at least a month. Information on this at:
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Tavan Bogd National Park
The approximately 6,000 km2 park south of Olgon Tenger Uul, Mongolia’s highest mountain, is home to various high-alpine animal species such as ibex, red deer, elk and Argali sheep, stone marten, golden eagle and ptarmigan. The lakes Choton, Churgan and Dajan are also located here.
Uvs Nuur National Park in the north of the country
At an altitude of 2,760 m, in the middle of mountains, coniferous forests and meadows with grazing yaks and horses, the Uvs Nuur Lake is located. It is the deepest lake in Central Asia and one of the 14 most important freshwater reservoirs on earth. Over 220 species of birds are counted in this region, including numerous rare and endangered species such as the black stork, osprey and sea eagle, whooper swan and black-headed gull. The desert and mountain regions of the 10,688 km² biosphere reserve are home to rare animals such as the Mongolian gerbil, the polar cat, the endangered snow leopard, the wild sheep and the Asian ibex. The region is designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
Terchin Tsagaan Nur (“The White Lake”)
The “White Lake” is located in Archangai-Aimag – in the middle of an old volcanic landscape with bizarre rock formations.
Tsambagaraw Lul National Park
The approximately 1,000 km ² large park, located on several glaciers, is home to the rare snow leopards.
Choch Serch reserve
Siilchem Nuruu National Park
Develiin Aral Nature Reserve
At the confluence of the Lsan Chooloi and Chowd rivers is the island of Develiin. Pheasants and beavers live here
Gurwansajkhan National Park in the Gobi Desert
Sights in this mountainous area include fossilized dinosaur bones, huge sand dunes, unusual rock formations and a valley that is always snowy. In addition, around 200 species of birds live here, including the Mongolian desert mountain finch, the desert warbler and birds of prey. The mammal species that occur include the gazelle, ibis, ibex and various wild camel species.
Bogd Khan National Park
The protected area, founded in 1778, also includes the 2,260 m high Tsetseegum mountain peak, one of the four mountain peaks in the vicinity of the capital, which the Mongolian population traditionally consider sacred. The national park is located south of Ulan Bator.
Chustain Nuruu National Park
From 1993 onwards, the original wild horses Takhi (Przewalski’s horse) were released again. The national park is located southwest of Ulan Bator.
Gorki-Terelj National Park
The park covers part of the Chentij Mountains and, in addition to its alpine landscape with larch and pine forests and mountain streams, has special rock formations such as a rock that looks like a giant turtle.
Steppe landscape of the Süchbaatar Aimag
Large populations of Mongolian gazelles live here, but also wild animals such as foxes, wolves, marmots and wild cats.
Schiliin Bogd Berg in the Süchbaatar Aimag
From the summit of the 1,778 m high mountain, over 200 extinct volcanoes can be seen.
Nömrög National Park
Lkhachinvandad Uul Nature Reserve
Taliin Agui lava cave
This spectacular cave is over 200 m long and has seven chambers. The entrance is frozen over for a large part of the year and it can usually only be entered from August.
This approximately 250 km² large dune area is located in the south of the Somon Ongon and Dariganga. It is surrounded by several small lakes, including Lake Ganga, and is protected by shrubbery.
Every autumn thousands of cranes and other migratory birds gather here.
40 hot medicinal springs in the Changai mountain region
The Gobi desert is a huge dry area and a total area of 2.5 million km². Gobi, as well as the East Gobi or Mongolian Gobi in Southeast and East Mongolia. A number of further partial deserts are distinguished within these desert regions.
The Gobi Desert is bounded in the north by the Altai and Changai Mountains, in the east by the western edge of the Da Hinggan mountain range, in the south by Qilian Shan and Bei Shan and in the west by the eastern foothills of the Tian Shan. Characteristic of the Gobi Desert are the extremely dry and mostly stony and barely sandy deserts in China, as well as the more life-friendly, wide steppes in Mongolia.
Although they are connected to the Gobi desert by the Hexicorridor, the sandy deserts of Kumtag, Lop Nor and Taklamakan to the west do not belong to the Gobi. They are separated from it by the Kuruktagh and Beishan mountain ranges.
The Hexi Corridor, also known as the Gansu Corridor, is located in the Gansu Province on the northwest bank of the Huang He in China. As part of the Silk Road in ancient China, the approximately 1,000 km long and 100 km wide corridor was the most important connection to Xinjiang as well as to Central Asia and Central Asia.