Terelj National Park is the third largest protected area in Mongolia, and it may be the most popular tourist attraction in the entire nation. If you find yourself in the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, spending a day (and night) in this neighboring national park is a must. The park is about 80 km (50 miles) outside of Ulaanbaatar, and it’s easy to arrange cheap transportation there and back. Before going, talk to people around the city – your hostel manager, the tourism center, or a neighborhood restaurant owner will be able to give you advice on what to do in the park.
1. Overnight in a traditional Mongolian ger. There are dozens of camps hosted by local families who take in tourists for the night and provide freshly cooked food, plenty of tea, in the comfort of a mountainside ger (known to Westerners as a yurt). Your hosts may play traditional Mongolian music for you, or invite you to sing karaoke. Oddly enough, most of these gers feature karaoke.
2. Visit Turtle Rock. “Melkhii Khad” is a 80 ft. tall granite formation you’ll pass on your way into Terelj, where most people stop for a photo opp. This rock, obviously, bears a striking resemblance to a turtle.
3. Go horseback riding. The family we stayed with included horseback riding in our entire sleepover + meal package. We had to read a number of rules before mounting our horses, most of which hammered in the fact that “these are wild Mongolian horses” who don’t always listen to human instruction.
4. Take the challenging trek to Aryabal. This impossibly tiny and out-of-reach Buddhist temple is tucked between a rocky mountainside and looking out at the entire park. Getting there is the real test – you’ll cross the “Bridge to Heaven,” a long, swinging suspension bridge, and trek up 108 impossibly steep steps to the temple itself. Enjoy the views, and (do) look down.
5. The Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue, part of the Genghis Khan Statue Complex is a 40-metre (130 ft) tall statue of Genghis Khanon horseback, on the bank of the Tuul River at Tsonjin Boldog (54 km (33.55 mi) east of the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar), where according to legend, he found a golden whip. The statue is symbolically pointed east towards his birthplace. It is on top of the Genghis Khan Statue Complex, a visitor centre, itself 10 metres (33 ft) tall, with 36 columns representing the 36 khans from Genghis to Ligdan Khan.
Transfer to Terelj National Park. Visit Turtle Rock. . Lunch in a restaurant. Drive deep into the park to Aryabal Buddhist temple. Return to the base camp and stay overnight in a tourist ger camp (L/D)
After breakfast visit Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue and drive to Ulaanbaatar. Transfer to the hotel.