Lake Khövsgöl (Хөвсгөл нуур) is located Northwest of Mongolia near the Russian Border. Famously known as “Blue Pearl of Asia “, Lake Khövsgöl is one of the 17 ancient lakes worldwide with an estimated age of almost 5-million years old. This pristine lake is 136-kilometres long and 260-meters deep, making it the second-most voluminous freshwater lake in Asia. It holds almost 70% of Mongolia’s fresh water and 0.4% of all the fresh water in the world! Untouched by industry and modern urban life, Lake Khövsgöl’s water is crystal clear and unbelievably clean. This area is paradise for outdoor adventurers with plenty of room for activities like hiking, birding, fishing, horseback travel and kayaking.
The comfort way: There are flights twice a week from Ulaanbaatar to Mörön for about US$100 per way. The journey takes about 90-minutes.
The budget way: There are buses leaving daily at 8 am, 3 pm and 6 pm to Mörön (Мөрөн) from Dragon Bus Terminal. The journey will take about 15-hours on paved straight road and costs 32,000 MNT (US$12).
There is no sleeper bus in Mongolia and no proper toilets along the way. The driver will stop along the roadside when someone requested to. Be prepared for overloaded bus as the driver will pick up random locals on the way and you might find people sitting next to you on the aisle.
The nearest village to Lake Khövsgöl is Khatgal (Хатгал). To get there from Mörön, you can get a shared taxi/van that should cost about 15,000~20,000 MNT (US$5-US$7) for less than 2-hours journey. I would recommend taking the 6 pm bus from Ulaanbaatar as the drivers might willing to lower the price since it is the last bus to arrive at Mörön.
We took a 3 pm bus and arrived Mörön at about 6 am. At first we agreed on US$10 per person since there were only 2 of us and we wanted to go straight to Lake Khövsgöl (another 30-minutes from Khatgal). Once we were out of town, the driver announced that he wanted extra because getting to the lake is dirt road hence more petrol will be used. Angrily, we asked to pull over and refused to pay him any money. He drove off and left us in the middle of nowhere.
We waited patiently by the road for any car to pass by. After 45-minutes, a car stopped and willing to take both of us for 25,000 MNT (US$4.5 for each person).
Upon reaching at Khatgal, you can either stay at one of the guesthouses in the village or stay by the lake in a yurt. We chose a luxury option of staying at Toilogt Tourist Camp to pamper ourselves before going separate ways on our own.
It costs us 50,000 MNT (US$18) each for one yurt by ourselves. There are a few smaller camps scattering along the lake which cost cheaper. The only difference is, Toilogt Tourist Camp has a clear view of the lake right outside the Gers whereas the rest doesn’t has such view. The next day, we moved to another yurt which cost us US$10 per night and it’s as comfy as well.
Most travellers stay in Khatgal Village and do a day-trip hike to Lake Khövsgöl. It’s about 6-kilometres one way and you’ll be awarded with some awesome views.
Chill by the lake
You may do fishing but a permit is needed from tourist office in Khatgal, or kayaking on the lake. If not just chill and enjoy the peace away from everything else.
We did horseback riding as Tammy had not done it before. A 2-hours of horseback riding cost 15,000 MNT (US$5) each, with a guide.
Meet the Tsaatan Tribe
The province of Khövsgöl is some of the last reindeer herders in the world. It will require advance planning if you want to hop over and visit the Tsaatan reindeer herders. We were lucky to have met a family near the village.
Lastly, if you want to keep a track of all my photos and travels, remember to follow @wanderrsaurus on Instagram!