The ideal Mongolia travel season starts in May and hits its highest peak in July, during the Naadam holiday, and in August when the weather is most favorable for traveling. This is the best time if you like the culture and can bear the crowds of other tourists. It is not a good time if you want to get away from your busy lifestyle because you will experience traffic, busy schedules, waiting in lines, etc.
September is also a very good time to visit, and October is not too late to travel to Mongolia. It is still warm during the days but a bit chilly during the nights. In the autumn, Mongolia is not very crowded, and this is time for late-comers and last-minute, unplanned trips. You will get to sightsee, enjoy the culture, and taste mare's milk, a bitter and at first somewhat unpleasant drink, throughout the country.
For visitors not afraid of cold or fermented mare's milk, traveling to Mongolia from November till the Lunar New Year is still an option. Winter tourism is a developing area of the Mongolian tourism industry.
The most rewarding experience will be visiting the nomads, as this is the time when you will experience their culture first-hand during "Tsagaan Sar" or the traditional Lunar New Year celebration.
Travellers will have the opportunity to watch lots of cultural activities: singing, dancing, wrestling, and winter horse racing.
Mongolia is known to have 250-260 sunny days throughout the year, so you will need good UV protection. During winter, protect your eyes, and during summer, protect your skin.
Holidays and festivals
Mongolia is home to the "three manly sports": wrestling, horse racing, and archery, and these are the same three sporting events that take place every year at the Naadam festival.
Naadam is the National Holiday of Mongolia celebrated on July 11-13. During these days all of Mongolia watch or listen to the whole event which takes place in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar through Mongolia's National Television and Radio. Many other smaller Naadam festivals take place in different aimags provinces around the country throughout the month of July, and it is at these Naadam festivals that you are able to get a much closer look at the action.
It is believed that Naadam celebrations started with the rise of the Great Mongolian Empire as Chinggis a.k.a. Genghis Khan's strategy to keep his warriors strictly fit. After the fall of the empire, the contests were held during religious festivals, and since the communist revolution it was celebrated on its anniversary.
The legend says that in old times a woman dressed like a man won a wrestling competition once. That is why open chest and long sleeve wrestling costumes, called "zodog", are meant to show that every participant is male. Wrestlers wear short trunks, "shuudag", and Mongolian boots, "gutal". The yellow stripes on the tails of wrestlers' hats will indicate the number of times the wrestler became a champion in Naadam.
Only Naadam gives official titles to the wrestlers. Mongolian wrestling tournaments have 9 or 10 rounds depending on the number of 512 or 1024 wrestlers registered for the competition that year. If the wrestler wins 5 rounds, he will be awarded the title "Nachin" bird, 6 rounds - Hartsaga hawk, 7 rounds - Zaan elephant, 8 rounds - Garuda Eagle, 9 rounds - Arslan lion and 10 - Avarga Titan.
In 2006, Zaan Elephant Sumyabazar won 9 rounds that made him Garuda but that year 1024 wrestlers had 10 rounds which he won all. This entitled him to Avarga. Or Arslan Lion must win 2 in a row to become Avarga Titan. The titles are for life. If Avarga Titan keeps winning at Naadam more and more attributes will be added to his title.
There is no weight categories in Mongolian Wrestling tournaments but there is a time limit of 30 minutes, if the wrestlers can not overthrow each other, referees use lots for better position which often settles the match. One who falls or his body touches the ground loses the match.
Mongolia Wrestling matches are attended by seconds whose role is to assist their wrestlers in all matters and to encourage them to win by spanking on their butts. They also sing praise songs and titles to the leading wrestlers of both wings, west and east, after 5 and 7 rounds. The referees monitor the rules but the people and the fans are the final judges. They will speak and spread the word of mouth about who is who till the next year.
Recorded history of Ancient Mongolia dates back to third century BC when the Xiongnu came to power among many other nomadic tribes.
Due to illiteracy and nomadic lifestyle, little was recorded by Huns of themselves. They first appear in recorded Chinese history as "Barbarians" against whom the walls were built. Those walls later became known as the Great Wall of China.
There have been several Empires in Mongolia after the Hun Nu. For example, the A Tureg Empire around 650AD, with its capital approximately 110km north of Har Horin Kharkhorum. There was also the Uighur Empire, with its capital Har Bulgas Khar Bulgas or Xar Bulgas near Har Horin. The Khitans who controlled North China around 1000AD as the Liao Dynasty had an administrative center Har Bukh 120km to the northeast. The Government of Turkey has been promoting some Turkish Empire monuments and there is a museum full of artifacts at the Bilge Khaan site.
The struggle for mere existence and power over other tribes kept going until the time of Genghis Khan. Chinggis Khan, as he is known in Mongolia, came to power and united the warring tribes under the Great Mongol Empire in 1206. He was proclaimed Genghis Khan Chingis Haan, meaning ruler of all Mongol tribes. The Mongolian Empire was extended all the way to eastern Europe under Genghis Khan. His grandson, Kublai Khan, subsequently conquered much of China, to establish the Yuan Dynasty. The Mongols were, however, driven back to the steppes by the Chinese Ming Dynasty under Emperor Hongwu. They were later conquered by the Manchurian-Chinese Emperors Kangxi and Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty.
An independent Mongol nation would only emerge again in 1924 but was not recognised by China until 1945, as the Chinese were forced to grant independence to Outer Mongolia by the Soviet Union, in exchange for Soviet assistance in fighting the Japanese invasion. Thus, the historic region of Mongolia was split into two, with Outer Mongolia becoming the independent nation of Mongolia, while Inner Mongolia remained a province of China. Since that time, Mongolia has had a close relationship with the Soviet Union and Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Mongolia even replaced its traditional script with the cyrillic alphabet. The traditional script, however, continues to be used by ethnic Mongols in China. As Inner Mongolia was the more populated area before the partition, to this day the number of ethnic Mongols living in China outnumbers the population of Mongolia.
The Secret History of the Mongols is one of the great recordings of Mongolian history. Every Mongolian reads the book in the modern Mongolian language. This is one of the the oldest books in the Mongolian language. There are vivid similarities with the Bible in literary style, wording and story telling. It is speculated that the author could have been a Christian or at least was very knowledgeable about the Bible. According to Hugh Kemp, Qadag pp 85-90, Steppe by Step is the most likely candidate for authorship of Secret History of the Mongols. He writes about the history of ancient Mongolia and connects the modern reality with the ancient world. Even though the book is about the history of Christianity in Mongolia, it paints a view of ancient Mongolia from the height of 21st century. The "History of Mongolia" by B. Baabar is a good source for the Modern History of Mongolia.
On the trail of Marco Polo covers some travel through the Mongol Empire in the time of Genghis' grandson, Kublai Khan.
Mongolia is more than twice as big as Texas and nearly the same size as Alaska. Its area is 1.6 million square kilometers 603,000 square miles, four times the size of Japan and almost double that of Eastern Europe.
This makes Mongolia the sixth-largest country in Asia and 19th in the world, but the population is only 2,727,966 as of 09 November 2009, which makes Mongolia one of the least densely populated areas in Asia.
If you consider that 40% of the population lives in the capital city of Ulan Bator or Ulaanbaatar that leaves lots of room for you to travel in the outback. Of course, Gobi is even less dense.
Almost another 40% of population are scattered all over Mongolia with their 56 million head of sheep, goats, cattle, horses and camels. There are 21 provinces, called aimag. Each aimag has a central city or town and about 15-22 sub-provinces called soum, so you will know which aimag and which soum you are in.
70% of Mongolia is under the age of 35. The gender ratio is close to 1:1. Ethnicity: 84% Khalkha Mongols, 6% Kazakhs and 10% other groups.
More than 50% will say they are Buddhists which is very much mixed with Shamanism, close to 10% will claim to be Christians of all forms and 4% follow Islam, the remainders will say that they are atheists.
With only 1.7 people per square kilometre, Mongolia has the lowest population density of any independent country, and it is this vast and majestic emptiness that is the country's enduring appeal, bringing the traveler, as it does, into a close communion with nature and its nomadic inhabitants. Mongolia is entirely landlocked, between China and Russia. The country is nicknamed the "Land of Blue Skies," and with good reason. There is said to be about 250 sunny days throughout each year. The weather is bitterly cold during the winter, dropping down to -40Âº in some parts. With many types of terrain--from desert to verdant mountains--the weather during the summer varies from region to region, but is generally hot. Outside of the Gobi desert, this time of year is marked with many rains in some areas, and it can become quite cool at night.For several letters, the ISO 9 standard transliteration of Cyrillic is not widely used and there is no consensus either in Mongolia nor in Wikitravel. Specially, the same Cyrillic letter "Ñ " is transliterated "h" or "kh", the letter "Ó©" is transliterated "Ã´", "Ã¶", "o" or "u", but Latin "o" is also the transliteration of the Cyrillic "Ð¾", and Latin "u" is also the transliteration of Cyrillic "Ñ" and "Ò¯" the latter should be transliterated "Ã¹" according to ISO 9, but this is rarely done. So, if you can't find a name as you wrote it, try other spellings.
See also: Mongolian phrasebook