Popular cities in Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, is a thriving metropolis nestled between rugged mountains and endless steppe. With a population of over 1.4 million people, it is the largest city in the country. Ulaanbaatar has a fascinating history dating back to its establishment in the 17th century as a nomadic Buddhist center. Today, it serves as the economic, political, and cultural heart of Mongolia. However, its rapid urbanization has resulted in challenges such as traffic congestion and air pollution. The government is actively working on implementing sustainable transportation solutions and investing in renewable energy to address these issues.

Situated in the southern part of Mongolia, Dalanzadgad is the capital of the South Gobi province. This city has gained significant importance due to its proximity to the massive Gobi Desert and the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine, one of the largest mining projects in the world. Dalanzadgad serves as a gateway for tourists exploring the vast and mesmerizing landscapes of the Gobi Desert. It has witnessed a surge in tourism, with the government focusing on sustainable tourism practices to preserve the fragile ecosystem. Additionally, measures have been taken to ensure the well-being of the indigenous nomadic herders who rely on the land for their livelihood.

Darkhan, located in northern Mongolia, is the second-largest city in the country. It was founded in 1961 as an industrial center and has since played a vital role in Mongolia’s economic growth. Darkhan is renowned for its steel and construction industries, contributing significantly to the country’s development. The city has also experienced a boost in entrepreneurial activities, with start-ups emerging in various sectors. This entrepreneurial spirit has led to the opening of co-working spaces and business incubators, promoting innovation and fostering a vibrant business community.

Erdenet, situated in the northern part of the country, is known as the “Copper Capital” of Mongolia. It holds one of the largest copper mines globally and has a well-established mining industry. The city’s economy heavily relies on copper production, and it is a crucial source of revenue for the country. With advancements in mining technologies and sustainable practices, Erdenet continues to contribute to Mongolia’s economic growth. Efforts are being made to diversify the city’s economy by developing tourism and attracting investments in sectors beyond mining.

Mörön, the capital of the Khuvsgul province, is nestled in the pristine wilderness of northern Mongolia. It serves as a gateway to the stunning Khuvsgul Lake, known as the “Blue Pearl” of Mongolia. The city has increasingly become a popular destination for ecotourism, drawing visitors from around the world who seek untouched nature and unique cultural experiences. Mörön is also a center for nomadic herding communities, with reindeer herders and their traditional way of life existing in close proximity. The government has implemented initiatives to safeguard the environment and preserve the distinctive heritage of the region.

These cities in Mongolia play vital roles in shaping the country’s economic, cultural, and environmental landscape. From the bustling urban center of Ulaanbaatar to the industrial hubs of Darkhan and Erdenet and the natural wonders surrounding Dalanzadgad and Mörön, each city has its own story to tell. As Mongolia continues to develop and navigate the challenges of modernization, preserving its cultural heritage and protecting its unique natural landscapes remains a key priority.

Popular cities in Mongolia

What Are the Most Popular Cities in Mongolia?

Discover the top destinations in Mongolia and embark on a thrilling journey through its vibrant cities. Mongolia, a landlocked country in Central Asia, is known for its breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and nomadic traditions. From the bustling capital city of Ulaanbaatar to the historic wonders of Kharkhorin, these popular cities offer a unique blend of ancient history and modern development. Delve into the wonders of Mongolian cities in the next part of this article, where we explore their unique attractions, landmarks, and cultural highlights in depth.

Ulaanbaatar: The Bustling Capital of Mongolia

As the capital and largest city of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar is a must-visit destination for travelers. With a population of over 1.4 million people, this vibrant city offers a unique blend of modernity and traditional Mongolian culture. Its name translates to “Red Hero,” symbolizing Mongolia’s revolution in the early 20th century.

Ulaanbaatar is home to numerous attractions that showcase Mongolia’s rich history and heritage. The Gandantegchinlen Monastery, one of the most important Buddhist monasteries in the country, is a serene sanctuary amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. The National Museum of Mongolia provides a deep insight into the country’s past, from the era of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire to the present day.

The city also boasts fascinating architectural landmarks, such as the Gandan Palace, which served as the residence of the last Mongolian king, and the Zaisan Memorial, a monument commemorating the Soviet soldiers who died in World War II. For those interested in shopping, the State Department Store offers a wide range of traditional Mongolian products, from exquisite cashmere garments to handmade crafts.

Kharkhorin: The Ancient Capital of the Mongol Empire

Situated in the Orkhon Valley, Kharkhorin holds great historical significance as the former capital of the Mongol Empire. Established by Genghis Khan in 1220, it served as the political, economic, and cultural center of the empire until it was destroyed by invading forces in the late 14th century.

Today, ruins of Kharkhorin’s ancient past can still be explored. The most prominent landmark is the Erdene Zuu Monastery, the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia. Built in the 16th century, it showcases a unique blend of Chinese, Tibetan, and Mongolian architectural styles. Visitors can admire the beautiful temples and stupas adorned with intricate artwork while immersing themselves in the peaceful ambiance.

Kharkhorin also offers opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. The Orkhon Waterfall, located just outside the town, is a breathtaking natural wonder that attracts many tourists. The surrounding countryside is perfect for horseback riding, hiking, and camping, allowing visitors to experience Mongolia’s pristine landscapes firsthand.

Darkhan: The Industrial Hub of Mongolia

Nestled in the northern part of Mongolia, Darkhan is a rapidly developing city known for its industrial prowess. Established in 1961, it was designed to be a center for heavy industry and manufacturing, contributing significantly to the country’s economic growth.

Despite its industrial nature, Darkhan also offers cultural and recreational attractions. The Darkhan-Had Square is the heart of the city, lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes. The Darkhan History Museum provides insights into the city’s past, showcasing archaeological artifacts and historical exhibits.

For nature lovers, the Amarbayasgalant Monastery is a must-see. Located about 60 kilometers from Darkhan, this stunning monastery is surrounded by picturesque landscapes, making it a popular spot for photographers and spiritual pilgrims alike.

Darkhan’s strategic location also makes it an excellent base for exploring nearby natural wonders, such as the Khangai Mountains and the Taikhar Rock.

Statistic: Urban Population in Mongolia

As of 2021, the urban population of Mongolia stands at approximately 79.12% of the total population. With the rapid growth and development of cities like Ulaanbaatar and Darkhan, urbanization continues to shape the landscape and culture of Mongolia.

FAQs about Popular cities in Mongolia

1. Which cities are considered popular tourist destinations in Mongolia?

Some of the popular tourist destinations in Mongolia include Ulaanbaatar, the capital city, as well as cities like Kharkhorin, Erdene Zuu, Karakorum, Gobi Desert, and Lake Khovsgol.

2. What is there to see and do in Ulaanbaatar?

Ulaanbaatar offers a range of attractions including the Gandantegchinlen Monastery, Sukhbaatar Square, National Museum of Mongolia, Bogd Khan Palace, and Zaisan Memorial. Visitors can also explore traditional markets, enjoy the local cuisine, and witness cultural performances.

3. Are there any historical sites to visit in Kharkhorin?

Kharkhorin, the ancient capital of Mongolia, is home to several historical sites such as Erdene Zuu Monastery, which dates back to the 16th century. Other attractions include the Museum of Kharkhorin, Karakorum ruins, and the iconic Turtle Rock.

4. What can I experience in the Gobi Desert?

The Gobi Desert offers unique experiences like camel riding, exploring the Flaming Cliffs (Bayanzag), visiting the Yolyn Am Valley, and discovering ancient dinosaur fossils. You can also witness the breathtaking sunset and the stunning starry night sky in the desert.

5. How can I make the most of my visit to Lake Khovsgol?

Visitors to Lake Khovsgol can enjoy various activities such as boating, fishing, horseback riding, and hiking in the surrounding mountains. Camping along the lake and experiencing the nomadic lifestyle are also popular options.

6. Are there any traditional festivals or events held in Mongolia’s popular cities?

Yes, Mongolia hosts several traditional festivals throughout the year. Some notable events include Naadam Festival (held in Ulaanbaatar), the Ice Festival on Lake Khovsgol, and the Camel Festival in the Gobi Desert.

7. How can I travel between these popular cities in Mongolia?

You can travel between cities in Mongolia by using domestic flights, trains, buses, or private transportation. Domestic flights are a convenient and time-saving option, especially for longer distances.

8. Is it necessary to hire a guide to explore these cities?

While it is not mandatory to hire a guide, having a local guide can greatly enhance your experience and provide valuable insights into the culture, history, and landmarks of these cities. Guides can also assist with language barriers.

9. What is the best time of the year to visit Mongolia?

The best time to visit Mongolia is during the summer months of June to August when the weather is relatively warm and favorable for outdoor activities. However, each city may have its own specific peak seasons and climate conditions.

10. Are there accommodation options available in these popular cities?

Yes, all the popular cities in Mongolia offer a range of accommodation options including hotels, guesthouses, yurts (traditional Mongolian tents), and campsites. It is advisable to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.


In conclusion, Mongolia boasts several popular cities that offer a unique blend of culture, history, and natural beauty. Ulaanbaatar, the capital city, stands out as a vibrant metropolis with a thriving arts scene, numerous historical sites, and a bustling market. It serves as the gateway to the rest of the country, allowing tourists to explore the vast nomadic landscapes and experience traditional Mongolian customs. Additionally, Kharkhorin, the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire, is a fascinating city that showcases the rich history and legacy of Genghis Khan. Visitors can marvel at the Erdene Zuu Monastery and the remains of the once-grand palace, gaining insight into the nation’s glorious past.

Furthermore, cities like Darkhan and Erdenet offer opportunities to witness Mongolia’s industrial, mining-driven side. With their modern infrastructure and urban lifestyle, they provide a different glimpse into the country’s development. The serene city of Khovsgol, on the other hand, surrounded by the picturesque Lake Khovsgol, offers breathtaking landscapes and a chance to immerse oneself in nature. For adventure enthusiasts, the southern city of Dalanzadgad is a gateway to the stunning Gobi Desert, where activities like camel trekking and exploring ancient dinosaur fossils await.

Overall, the popular cities in Mongolia offer a diverse range of experiences, catering to both history buffs and nature lovers. The country’s unique cultural heritage, combined with its awe-inspiring landscapes, make it an appealing destination for travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure.

Read more about backpacking in Mongolia