From Genghis to Kublai Khan
Discover the extraordinary landscapes and unique culture of Mongolia, one of the world’s last travel frontiers. Explore the true heartland of the Khanate in the former capital of Karakorum and see the contrast between traditional and modern in the capital of Ulaanbaatar.
Explore the pristine wilderness of the Mongolian countryside in Terelj National Park and experience how nomadic peoples have lived in this area of the world for centuries.
Enjoy visits to Ulaanbaatar’s many museums, galleries and monasteries as well as a private performance of Mongolian throat singing and traditional shamanic dance.
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Depart Australia or New Zealand on suggested Korean Airlines flights to Ulaanbaatar via Seoul. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements.
Arrive in Ulaanbaatar in the late evening and transfer to the hotel (transfer included in tour price).
In the mid-morning enjoy a welcome briefing and talk by Iain, followed by a special welcome lunch in a nearby restaurant.
After lunch enjoy a guided tour of the Gandantegchinlen Monastery. It was here that the 13th Dalai Lama stayed in 1904, and the monastery is one of the only Buddhist temples in the country to escape the destruction of the Mongolian Communist government and the country’s forced collectivisation under Joseph Stalin.
The interior of the main temple contains a gilded Avalokiteśvara, a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. Featuring 2,286 precious stones and standing at over 26m high, the Avalokiteśvara is the tallest indoor statue in the world.
Then, visit Sükhbaatar Square. The square is home to the Mongolian parliament, other government buildings and a monument to Genghis Khan, the famed founder of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century.
Begin the morning with a guided tour of the Bogd Khan Palace Museum. Built between 1893 and 1903, the Bogd Khan Winter Palace is the only surviving residence of Mongolia’s last theocratic ruler, who was both the king and spiritual leader of Mongolia until his death and the emergence of the Communist state. The palace now houses one of the largest collections in Mongolia, featuring the Bogd Khan’s collection of art, ceremonial ger, throne, bed and a pair of boots given to him by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.
After lunch, enjoy a private guided tour of the Mongolian National Modern Art Gallery. The museum exhibits modern contemporary Mongolian artworks and serves an important role in documenting the social, historical and cultural evolution of Mongolia.
Check out of the hotel in the morning and walk to the Choijin Lama Temple Museum. Originally a Buddhist temple complex, it was closed in 1937 at the height of the repression of the Buddhist religion by the Communist party. The temple escaped destruction through its conversion into a museum, which it remains today. The temple now houses a collection of religious instruments, thangka paintings, silk embroidery, wood carvings, statues and a large collection of cham dance masks.
Then, travel into the Mongolian countryside to the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park to spend two nights in this beautiful natural environment where the clouds almost appear to touch the earth. Check in to the ger camp in the afternoon, followed by a talk by Iain.
The remainder of the afternoon and evening is at leisure.
Discover the vast wilderness of Mongolia, with a full day of exploring in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. Characterised by picturesque alpine scenery, the park is a small part of the Great Steppe, an area of grasslands stretching across the Eurasian continent, from Manchuria to Bulgaria.
Depart the ger camp in the morning for a visit to Turtle Rock, a 26-metre-high granite outcrop in the shape of a turtle. Then travel to the home of a local nomadic family to see how centuries-old traditions are still in use today and how these ancient practices have been affected by the modern age.
After lunch there will be an option to visit the Aryabal Buddhist Meditation Centre, nicknamed the “Elephant Monastery” by the local people. Nestled in the foothills of the mountains surrounding the steppe, it contains beautiful Buddhist scenes and sutras painted into the mountainside in an old Mongolian script.
Check out of the ger camp in the morning and travel to the Genghis Khan statue and museum. Located near the Tuul River, the statue is made of stainless steel and is the largest equestrian statue in the world. The museum contains artefacts from the time of Genghis Khan including traditional Mongolian costumes and weapons. The statue and museum are built on the site where, according to legend, Genghis Khan found his golden whip.
Then return to Ulaanbaatar; the remainder of the day is at leisure.
This morning enjoy a talk by Iain before checking out of the hotel and traveling to Kharkhorin, the modern city built over the ruins of Karakorum, the former capital of the Mongolian Empire.
En route visit the Erdene Zuu Monastery, the oldest surviving Buddhist monastery in Mongolia. Founded in 1585 by Abatai Khan, a decedent of Genghis Khan, the monastery lies adjacent to the ruins of the former capital and remains an active place of worship. The temple and surrounding Orkhon Valley area were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004.
Check in to the hotel in the late afternoon; dinner this evening will be in a local restaurant.
This morning enjoy a visit to the archaeological site of old Karakorum, former capital of the Mongolian Empire. In 1218–19, Genghis Khan rallied his troops for the campaign against the Khwarezm Empire in a place called Karakorum, but the actual foundation of the city is said to have occurred in 1220.
Then enjoy a visit to the Kharkhorin Museum. The museum contains items from the 13th and 14th centuries, as well as artefacts from nearby archaeological sites, including ancient Karakorum. On display are religious items, pottery, bronzes and stone inscriptions as well as a half-excavated kiln sunk into the museum floor.
After lunch, travel outside the city to the archaeological site of Khar Balgas. Established in the year 744, the site was once known as Ordu-Baliq, meaning “the city of the army”, and served as capital of the Uyghur Khaganate. Located on the Silk Road, the city contains ruins of a royal residence and numerous temples which are all surrounded by the remains of a series of fortified walls, arranged in concentric circles around an administrative district.
Return to Kharkhorin in the late afternoon.
Check out of the hotel in the morning and return to Ulaanbaatar, stopping en route in the scenic Hustai National Park for a boxed lunch. The park is known for its population of Przewalski’s horses, an endangered species of horse native to the Eurasian steppes considered by some to be the only ‘true’ wild horse in the world. While at one point Pzewalski’s horses disappeared entirely from the wild, a successful reintroduction project has helped to re-establish free colonies along parts of the Mongolian Steppe.
Arrive in Ulaanbaatar in the late afternoon and check in to the hotel.
This morning enjoy a visit to the Fine Arts Zanabazar Museum. The museum has a superb collection of carvings, paintings and sculptures, including many by the revered sculptor and artist Öndör Gegeen Zanabazar.
After some free time for lunch, enjoy a guided tour of the National Museum of Mongolia. The first museum in Mongolia, it houses a collection which spans from pre-history to the modern age.
Then, transfer to the Tumen Enkh Ensemble for a private concert of Mongolian traditional performing arts. Enjoy performances by musicians, dancers and Mongolian throat singers, as well as a demonstration of Mongolian shamanic ritual dance.
Enjoy some free time in the afternoon, followed by a special farewell dinner with Iain and fellow travellers.
After dinner enjoy some time in the room to freshen up before transferring to Ulaanbaatar airport in the late evening.
Tour arrangements conclude on arrival at Ulaanbaatar airport for suggested Korean Airlines flights to Australia or New Zealand via Seoul. Renaissance Tours can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including any extra nights’ accommodation, either before or after the tour.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Room category upgrade available on request; please enquire with us.
Final payment due
07 April 2020
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions.
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australia and New Zealand passport holders require a visa to visit Mongolia. The visa will be obtained by Renaissance Tours and is included in the tour price.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in centrally-located 4- and 5-star hotels (or best available) with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including wine with welcome and farewell dinners
- Lectures and talks throughout with your tour leader, Iain Shearer
- Airport/hotel transfers on arrival and departure
- Comprehensive sightseeing including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation throughout on comfortable air-conditioned coaches
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Airport porterage
- Items of a personal nature including telephone, laundry, taxis, minibar, drinks, room service etc.
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Ulaanbaatar – Shangri La*****
Terelj National Park – Terelj Lodge Ger Camp***
Kharkhorin– Ikh Khorum Hotel****
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.