This When to Travel to Mongolia article was written by Stephen Bugno of BohemianTraveler.com who spent a year teaching English in Ulaanbaatar.
Mongolia is a country of vast steppes, ancient nomadic traditions, and endless landscapes attracting travelers from around the world. The timing of your trip to Mongolia is ever important due to the calendar of cultural events and most importantly, the country’s harsh climate. The time of year you travel is a crucial factor in shaping your experience there.
In this guide on when to travel to Mongolia, we’ll explore the various seasons in Mongolia and help you determine the best time to travel based on your interests and preferences.
Spring in Mongolia marks the awakening of nature from the harsh winter. Temperatures gradually rise and the landscape transforms into the verdant grasslands dotted with wildflowers where sheep and other animals pasture.
Spring is ideal for those seeking to avoid the tourism rush of summer and explore the Gobi Desert in more moderate temperatures. Witness the nomadic herders prepare for the upcoming grazing season of summer.
Summer is the high season for travel to Mongolia, offering warm to hot temperatures, clear skies, and the full bloom of the countryside. This is the perfect time for outdoor and cultural enthusiasts as well as those seeking to explore the iconic Mongolian landscape.
Summer is the time to witness the traditional Naadam Festival, featuring horse racing, archery, and wrestling. It is a great way to experience Mongolian traditions firsthand. Each community has its own Naadam celebration, and the biggest of them all is in the capital, Ulaanbaatar. It is generally held in early to mid-July.
The summer is the most common time to make the epic drip to the Gobi Desert. Here you can savor the famous towering sand dunes, meet nomads, ride camels, and stay in a traditional ger. Others like to embark on horseback riding and trekking adventures in the picturesque Khangai Mountains.
As summer winds down and temperatures start to cool, Mongolia transitions into Autumn.
The countryside dons a golden hue with the changing colors of the steppes and forests. Autumn is a quieter time to visit, offering a more personal experience and opportunities for unique cultural interactions.
The focus of autumn travel is undoubtedly the spectacular Mongolian Golden Eagle Festival. This highlight of when to travel to Mongolia takes place in Western Mongolia. Its popularity has grown in recent years and now more eagle festivals have been put on the schedule. Traveling at this time will give you great insight into the Kazakh culture and introduce you to the ancient art of falconry.
Closer afield to Ulaanbaatar, you can enjoy the tranquility of the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park as the crowds of summer disperse.
Make no mistake, winter in Mongolia is long and cold. But in its harshness, there is beauty. The landscape becomes covered in a blanket of snow. While temperatures can be extreme, winter offers a unique and serene experience for those seeking a different side of Mongolia.
Explore the natural terrain of Terelj National Park covered in snow. Experience the winter migration of nomadic herders with their herds. Attend the Ice Festival on Khuvsgul Lake, featuring traditional winter games and ice sculpting.
Weather: Summers are warm and dry, making it ideal for outdoor activities. Winters can be extremely cold, so proper preparation is essential for those seeking a winter adventure.
Festivals and Events: The Naadam Festival in July is a major highlight, offering a glimpse into Mongolian culture. Other events, such as eagle hunting festivals and cultural celebrations, vary throughout the year.
Wildlife: Spring and autumn are excellent times for birdwatching and spotting wildlife, including wild horses and gazelles.
No matter when you travel, you will learn a lot about Mongolia. Choosing when to travel to Mongolia is a decision that hinges on your preferences and the type of experience you seek.
Whether you opt for the vibrant renewal of spring, the peak adventure of summer, the golden landscapes of autumn, or the frozen wonders of winter, Mongolia offers a unique and unforgettable journey. Consider your interests, weather preferences, and the cultural events you’d like to experience to ensure that your visit to Mongolia becomes a truly immersive and enriching adventure.