Gorkh-Terelj National Park – Classic Mongolian Countryside!

Gorkh-Terelj National Park – Classic Mongolian Countryside!

It being a mere 55 or so km away from UB, the pristine green slopes and clustered boulders of the Terelj National Park make for an ideal and easy day trip away from the Mongolian capital, and the sights that are available amongst the obvious natural draw of the landscape itself are numerous enough to ensure you will have an eventful enough day.

If you’re limited in time and don’t have your own set of wheels, then going with a tour company is your best bet. I on the other hand took advantage of my host family’s generous offer to take me there for the day, as well as a couple of people who were volunteering in country alongside me, resulting in a great day out with fine company.

Our first port of call actually bypassed the national park itself all together, instead heading further east to nearby Tsonjin Boldog and the famous Chinggis Khan Statue.

Chinggis (or Genghis to most outside of Mongolia) Khan is undoubtedly the most famous Mongolian in history, and his potent reputation within the country casts a spell over not only its inhabitants but all visitors too. This stainless steel monument, at 40m high the tallest equestrian statue in the world, symbolically represents his dominant presence in the narrative of the country and its collective consciousness, and is an arresting sight indeed at first glance and beyond.

Obligatory snaps aside, horse riding and eagle-falconry opportunities are available, and I naturally couldn’t resist an opportunity with the latter; hey, I was missing out on the Eagle Festival so this was the next best thing! Once that’s done, you can visit the complex beneath the statue, to read up a bit more about Chinggis himself, the legacy of his successors (mostly not so good, with some notable exceptions, such as his grandson Kublai Khan), and browse some finds and exhibits of arms, armour and other trinkets in the so-so museum.

It’s all about the statue, really, so climbing up the horse’s neck to get a closer look at Chinggis’ stern and forbidding face is not to be missed. Some decent views of the surrounding area are an added bonus.


We headed in to the park itself next, for some enjoyable scenic driving through effortlessly beautiful scenery in all sides, albeit more developed than you would get in some of the more remote rural areas. This culminated by arriving at the most famous rock formation in the area, Turtle Rock, which really does look like a turtle when viewed from a certain angle!

A steep but super quick scramble up the side of the rock takes you to a little chasm which leads to an alcove where it is traditional to offer up prayers. Naturally, the vantage point offers great views of the surrounding hills and valleys too, so it is worth the physical exertion.


The same can be said of the climb necessary to reach the nearby Aryapala Initiation and Meditation Centre, which is also nestled within a picturesque setting. The temple is the most aesthetically pleasing thing to see here, and on the way up you’ll be accompanied by signs revealing to you pearls of wisdom that apply to you, depending on how you spin the fortune telling wheel about two thirds of the way up the hillside!

Climbing the sacred 108 steps to the temple gets you to probably the most spectacular view in the area. The temple itself is not the biggest or most awe inspiring you will see, but it’s worth a look regardless, and even with the above average crowds you would get for an equivalent Mongolian monument, the place has an aura of Buddhist calm that is perfectly in tune with its setting, summing up just why the Terelj area is seen as the ideal getaway for harassed UB’ers of all persuasions!

12 Comments

  • Medha

    December 7, 2017 at 4:03 am Reply

    I love how peaceful Buddhist temples are. Climbing 108 steps to get there sounds like a lot but doable. Your pictures are great- the vistas from the top are worth the climb it seems 🙂

    • Joe

      December 7, 2017 at 6:27 am Reply

      Thanks Media, and yes, the views were great 🙂

  • Melanie

    December 7, 2017 at 5:56 pm Reply

    That is an incredible statue… I had no idea it existed. Makes me want to go visit it, though! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • arvin

    December 7, 2017 at 8:42 pm Reply

    I was still borderline deciding to go to Mongolia, now after reading your blog and seeing the amazing countryside, I have decided to go, Will take the train from Beijing in March.

    • Joe

      December 8, 2017 at 5:58 am Reply

      Great! Have a fantastic trip 🙂

  • Panchami

    December 7, 2017 at 9:22 pm Reply

    I am astonished to see such a huge steel statue on top of the building! Genghis Khan is so famous all over the world!:)
    I loved the temple nestled in such a calm and peaceful area.

  • amit

    December 8, 2017 at 2:37 am Reply

    I think I mentioned in your previous post how much I’ve always wanted to go to Mongolia, and this post is just making me want to go even more – Not only have I always wanted to travel Mongolia but I’ve always had fascination with Ghengis Khan, so to see that enourmous statue would be something special, It would be so cool to climb up on the horses neck to get up close and personal – Am I right in saying they don’t know his true burial place as they kept moving it after he was originally buried?
    amit recently posted…Backpacker hostels – Different types.My Profile

    • Joe

      December 8, 2017 at 6:00 am Reply

      I do hope you get to go, it really is an awesome and unique destination 🙂 You’re absolutely right about his burial place – remains a mystery to this day!

  • Stefanie

    December 8, 2017 at 6:42 am Reply

    Wow! First of all, fantastic pics! I can’t believe the size of that incredible sculpture! And it’s so cool that you can go up on the horse’s head for a better view of the face! Also, that eagle-falconry pic is epic! Also, the countryside looks beautiful. I really hope to make it to Mongolia soon. I’ll definitely have to check out Terelj National Park if I go! Thanks!

    • Joe

      December 8, 2017 at 7:24 am Reply

      You’re welcome 🙂 Epic and beautiful are definitely two words that are often associated with Mongolia!

  • Ritika

    December 8, 2017 at 7:43 am Reply

    Magnolia is in our bucket list for long.. Buddhist temple looks interesting .. Climbing 100 + stairs were easy ? What’s the best time to visit manglia?

    • Joe

      December 8, 2017 at 1:54 pm Reply

      Hahaha, climbing 100+ stairs is never easy, no matter how physically fit and active you are. Not sure when the best time to visit Mongolia is, though definItaly not winter, when it gets bitterly cold…

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