Beijing to Ulaanbaatar

Asia is the continent where overlanding all started, and Dragoman has been the leading operator there since our first trucks went through in the 1980s - take advantage of our years of experience and come with us as we include all the must-see attractions as well as heading into the wilds, well away from the usual tourist trail. A trip through Mongolia is one that is guaranteed to be memorable, eventful, and an unforgettable adventure! Mongolia is one of the last unspoiled travel destinations in the world, where nomadic herders still tend to their flocks amongst vast grasslands, gers remain the accommodation of choice and it's still possible to to travel for days without meeting another human being, let alone fellow western travellers. The country is an overlander's paradise, with challenging roads, stunning scenery in which we can wild camp anywhere we like, and a unique and welcoming culture. Whilst Mongolia has come a long way since the days of Genghis Khan, its landscape of desolate rolling plains, glistening lakes and beautiful forests has made this adventurous destination an outdoor lovers' dream. We start in the incredible Chinese capital of Beijing and journey up through the vast plains of southern Mongolia to arrive at the busy city of Ulaanbaatar. From there the adventure truly begins, and we will head west through the central region of Mongolia, past the fascinating Erdene Zuu monastery to the phenomenal natural beauty of the Orkhon Valley and the Tsenkher hot springs. We then make the stunning journey north to the remote and spectacular Khövsgöl Lake before heading back towards the capital. Join us on this epic and truly unforgettable overland experience in Mongolia - this is the trip that overlanding was made for!

  • Duration: 25 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of: Trekking, Hiking, Parks & Nature Reserves
  • Physical rating: Demanding
  • Accommodation standard:   Budget%
  • Traveller Tour Rating: 80.0%  
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Supplier Tour ID: EBU1/158188
  • Starts: Beijing, China
  • Finishes: Ulaanbaatar,
You will Visit
  • Beijing
  • Erlian
  • Sainshand
  • Ulaanbaatar
  • Ögii Lake
  • Kharkhorin
  • Orkhon Valley
  • Tsenkher
  • Tsetserleg
  • Tamir River
  • Chuulut Canyon
  • Khorgo
  • Mörön
  • Zuun Lake
  • Khövsgöl Lake
  • Bulgan
  • Selenge River
  • Amarbayasgalant Monastery



Day 1: Beijing

Border Information: if joining in Beijing, you will most likely enter China at Beijing Capital International Airport (IATA code: PEK).

There will be a short group meeting today at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting. The rest of the day will be free to explore the incredible city of Beijing!

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Beijing before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Beijing.

In Beijing we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.


Day 2: Erlian

Today we leave the Chinese capital behind us as we begin our overland journey towards Mongolia. Today will be a long drive day to reach the border town of Erlian.

We will either wild camp outside Erlian or stay in a basic local hotel, depending on weather conditions and group preferences.

Estimated Drive Time - 10-12 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).


Day 3: Sainshand

Border information: Exit China at Erlian, enter Mongolia at Zamyn-Uud.

This morning we cross the border into Mongolia. Please be aware that border procedures can take around 5 hours here. Once we have made it into Mongolia we will continue our overland journey north.

We will aim to wild camp near the town of Sainshand tonight.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.


Day 4: Ulaanbaatar

This morning we may have the opportunity to visit the Dechinchoinkhorlin Monastery in Sainshand before we continue our drive to Mongolia's vibrant capital of Ulaanbaatar (please note this is not always open for visitors).

In Ulaanbaatar we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.


Day 5: Ulaanbaatar

Border information: If you are joining in Ulaanbaatar, you will most likely enter Mongolia at Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan International Airport.

There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting, but please do not be alarmed if the note is not there as this is often a travel day for the tour leader and they may arrive in the afternoon. If you arrive early, the rest of the day will be free to explore the Mongolian capital!

In Ulaanbaatar we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.


Day 6: Ulaanbaatar

This morning we head out on a guided tour to see some of Ulaanbaatar's best and most treasured sights, including the Gandan Monastery and the National Museum.

This afternoon we will spend a few hours exploring the Black Market. This huge market contains every single item a Mongolian may need, so a trip here will certainly give visitors a fascinating insight into peoples lives, whether they are nomads or urban apartment dwellers.


Day 7: Ögii Lake

Today we drive out of the city and into the vast plains of Mongolia. We hope to arrive at Khar Bukh Balgas ruins in the early afternoon.

Khar Bukh Balgas was built during the Kitan period in about 1000CE, and was part of a chain of fortresses that were used to govern and control the northern region and borders of the Kitan state. Upon arrival at the site, we will explore the ruins and learn about the various kingdoms that dominated Mongolia during that era.

After our visit to the ruins we will drive to Ögii Lake where many nomadic families spend their summer. The Lake is famed for it's great bird watching opportunities where it is not uncommon to spot at Swan Goose, White Spoonbill and Dalmatian Pelicans.

In Ögii Lake we will stay in a local nomadic ger-tent camp set up for guests. These are large gers, each usually containing 2 or 4 beds.

Please note that we cannot give any accurate drive time estimations for our Mongolia trip as the journey times are heavily dependent on the state of roads, which is in turn heavily dependent on the weather. The roads in Mongolia are mostly dirt tracks in very poor condition, which means that an even greater degree of flexibility is needed for this trip in all regards.


Day 8: Kharkhorin

Today we have an early start as we head to Mongolia's earliest capital, Kharkhorin (otherwise known as Karakoram).

Our first stop on the way to Kharkhorin will be at the Kultigen monument. This massive stone tomb was built in honour of a Turkic prince and warrior killed in a nearby battle. We then continue on a fairly short drive to Kharkhorin.

Kharkhorin was famed throughout Asia at the capital of the Mongol Empire. We will visit the ruins of the old city, the Erdene Zuu monastery, and other historical monuments in the area.

In Kharkhorin we will stay in a ger camp.


Day 9-10: Orkhon Valley

Today we head south, driving into the stunning region of the Orkhon Valley. We will drive to the beautiful volcanic canyon that runs along the Orkhon River and we can take an easy hike along the canyon ending near a pool at the bottom of the Red Waterfalls where we can take a cool swim!

We will wild camp in a remote area of the Orkhon Valley tonight.

The following day we will continue our journey through the Orkhon Valley to the Tuvkhon Monastery, which we can embark on a two and a half hour trek to visit (the first hour will be uphill!). This monastery was established during the 1650s by Zanbazar, one of Mongolia's most respected religious leaders. The monastery's wooden buildings are integrated with a natural system of caves perched near a hilltop, from which you have beautiful views of the Orkhon Valley and the surrounding pine forests.

After our visit we will wild camp nearby.

Please note that on occasion it is impossible to rech the Tuvkhon Monastery due to river flooding or the ground being impassable - the roads are in a particularly bad state here and are very susceptible to being rendered impossible to drive on if there has been rain recently. Although we will do our best to make this visit, your understanding is appreciated if we cannot.

Please also note that the order of our visits to the 2 main highlights in the Orkhon Valley is interchangable, depending on the road conditions.


Day 11-12: Tsenkher

Today our trip heads north, crossing the Khangai Nuruu Mountains through a series of passes until we reach an area that Mongolians call 'The Paradise of the Horse Herders' due to its lush grasses and open valleys.

We drive to the Tsenkher hot springs, where water flows out of the ground at 82°C, and where we can enjoy a relaxing soak.

The following day we will take a short, easy walk to meet one of the many nomadic families that spend their summers in the region. The afternoon is free to explore the valley and surrounding hills either by foot or by horseback.

In Tsenkher we will stay at a ger camp.


Day 13: Tsetserleg

This morning we drive to Tsetserleg, the provincial capital, where we will make a short visit to the local market. If time permits, we will also visit the provincial museum.

We will then continue our journey north past the Tamir river, and will wild camp tonight.


Day 14: Chuulut Canyon

Today we continue noth past Taikhar Chuluu (a massive rock which is connected to local mythology) and the Chluulut Canyon to arrive at our ger camp near the Khorgo volcano.

In Khorgo we will stay at a nearby ger camp.


Day 15: Khorgo

This morning we will take a hike to the top of the Khorgo Volcano and take in the incredible views over its perfect crater. From the top of the volcano we continue our hike though fields studded with pine trees, stopping off en route at the Yellow Dog Cave, an interesting volcanic phenomenon.

We will then return to the truck and continue our journey north. We will aim wild camp tonight in the remote plains north of Khorgo.


Day 16-17: Mörön

Over the next few days we continue driving north on one of Mongolia's most beautiful routes, crossing high mountain passes, vast grasslands, and small creeks! We will pass by the beautiful alpine Lake Zuun en route. 

We hope to arrive at Mörön, the provincial capital, the following afternoon. We will visit the local market, Danzadarjaa Monastery and the local museum. If we don't have time on this section of the trip, then we can visit the town after coming back from Khövsgöl Lake.

We will aim to wild camp near Zuun Lake and near the town of Mörön.


Day 18-19: Khövsgöl Lake

This morning we will drive out to an ancient burial site featuring Mongolia's mysterious deer stones, these are memorial stones representing important leaders and warriors, carved with deer motifs. After visiting the site, we continue our trip northward to one of the world's biggest fresh water sources, the stunning Khövsgöl Lake.

Khövsgöl Lake and its amazing surroundings are home to several of Mongolia's ethnic minorities as well as a refuge for a wide variety of wildlife. One of the most interesting ethnic groups living near the lake is the Tsaatan, also known as 'The Reindeer People'. A small tribe of Tsaatan consisting of about 40 families lives with its herds of reindeer in the forests around the lake. These graceful animals provide the tribe with all its basic needs - milk, meat and transportation. As there are very few Tsaatan left and this is a mobile population, we may meet them but there are no guarantees - however, the scenery of the area is well worth the exploration.

The following day we will take a hike around the forests and meadows near the lake. Lying at about 1650m above sea level, surrounded by mountains rising above 3100m, the waters of Khovsgol are deep and spectacularly clear and pure. We will hike through thick pine forests carpeted with flowers and explore the setting of Mongolia's 'Blue Pearl'.

In Khövsgöl Lake we will stay at a ger camp.


Day 20-22: Bulgan

We will spend the next 3 days crossing central-northern Mongolia on our way back towards the capital of Ulanbaatar. The long road offers diversified landscapes, from vast, open steppes to beautiful sand dunes.

We will aim to wildcamp in the plains east of Mörön on the first day of this journey, by the Selenge River on the next day, and on the outskirts of the town of Bulgan on the day after that.


Day 23: Amarbayasgalant Monastery

This morning we will try to visit the Amarbayasgalant Monastery. Built between 1727 and 1736 by the Manchu Emperor Enkh Amgalan, Amarbayasgalant is among the largest monasteries in Mongolia to have survived the purges of the 1930s. With about 60 monks living and studying here, the monastery functions today as one of Mongolia's central religious institutions, and consists of 29 different temples, all built in the classic Tibetan style.

Tonight we will wild camp near the monastery.


Day 24: Ulaanbaatar

Today we have a full day drive from northern Mongolia back to the city of Ulaanbaatar. This evening is free to relax and explore, and to have a well-earned final meal and drinks in one of the city's many restaurants!

In Ulaanbaatar we will stay in our comfortable joining hotel.


Day 25: Ulaanbaatar

Border information: If you are leaving in Ulaanbaatar, you will most likely exit Mongolia at Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan International Airport.

Today is a free day to further explore the city of Ulaanbaatar.

Please note that if you are leaving in Ulaanbaatar, today is the last day of the trip and there is no accommodation included tonight.


      Tour Staff
      • 2 Dragoman crew and 1 local crew
      • 45% Camping - 55% Hotels
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    Reviews (3)
    Sophie C Posted on: 

    Really well organised trip, nothing went wrong, or if it did the crew sorted it out without the group realising,

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    Matthew W Posted on: 

    The multi-night stays at both the Tsenkher Hot Springs and Khovsgol Lake broke up the trip nicely and both settings were beautiful. Other than that, my favourite parts of the trip were quite simply the long, empty drives. It was also fantastic to see the truck in proper off-road use and get so much opportunity to use the roof seats.

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    Matthew W Posted on: 

    Personally, I would enjoy even more camping, but I don't think this echoes the same sentiment of some other members in the group, so overall the current setup is probably a good balance.

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