Gorkhi-Terelj National Park (Горхи-Тэрэлж) is the third largest protected area in Mongolia, and the nearest national park from Ulannbaatar. Located about 80-kilometers northeast of Capital, Terelj National Park is a popular attraction for both locals and tourists.
Don’t Miss: 13 Best Things To Do In And Around Ulaanbaatar
How to get there?
- Bus: Bus number XO:4 leaves daily at 4 pm from the bus stop opposite Narantuul Hotel, and takes about 2.5-hours to get to Terelj Village, next to Turtle Rock. Coming back, the bus leave Terelj Village at 8 am and 7 pm. The bus costs 2,500 MNT (<US$1) per way.
- Tour: Tour charge about US$150-US$180 for single traveller. It will be much cheaper (~US$50-US$80 per person) if you can ask another 2 or 3 travellers to join you.
- Private car: Tammy & I hired a driver who charged us US$10/hour. We considered this is the best option as it’s flexible and we can take our time to explore. We paid US$60 in total for his service.
As this is the first trip out of Ulaanbaatar, I was awed by the countryside’s scenery. This is also the first time I realized how blue the sky was, no doubt Ulaanbaatar’s air quality is truly polluted.
Halfway along the drive, we stopped for a “tourist-trapped” eagle photo-taking. It costs 4,000 MNT (US$1.50) for a few shots, so why not?
Gorkhi-Terelj National Park
You absolutely can’t miss the Turtle Rock just right at the entrance of National Park. It is a 24-meters granitic rock formation that shaped like a turtle. The fun part it, you can actually hike up the rocks. Just make sure to wear appropriate footwear to prevent you from slipping and falling.
Arayapala Meditation Temple
From Turtle Rock, you can hike (45-minutes) or drive (3-kilometres) to the gate of Arayapala Meditation Temple. Either way, from the gate it’s a 1-kilometres walk along an uphill path lined with 144 signs quoting Buddhist teachings. You will then arrive to the bottom of temple after crossing a suspension bridge. To enter the temple, you will have to climb 108 stone steps up. 108 is the number of beads on Tibetan Buddhism prayer beads.
Genghis Khan Statue Complex
The Genghis Khan Statue Complex is not in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, but close enough that you can include a visit (45-minutes drive). Unfortunately, there is no public bus to the complex from Ulaanbaatar or Terelj Village. If you’re on your own, the easiest way to go from Terelj Village is to hitchhike a ride from locals.
The whopping 40-meters tall stainless steel statue (50-meters including the base) was built in 2008, supposedly on the spot where Genghis Khan found a horse whip, an auspicious symbol that worked out well for Genghis. If you are wondering where he’s looking at, he is actually pointing East towards his birthplace.
The complex has two Guinness Book of World Record awards – Tallest Equestrian Statue and Tallest Boot. It also has 2 museums which exhibit the archaeological cultures during Bronze age and another during the Great Khan period. Once you’ve admired the overly large boot and go through the museums, climb the stairs (or ride a lift if you’ve the patient to wait) to the top of the horse’s head for a countryside view.
Entry fee: 7,000 MNT (US$2.50).
Lastly, if you want to keep a track of all my photos and travels, remember to follow @wanderrsaurus on Instagram!