Cultural Tours in Mongolia

The culture of a country is defined by its traditions, music, dress, history, art, festivals, language.... in fact everything about that country. So many aspects of Mongolian culture relate to the land itself: the wild and dramatic landscape and the extreme climate, which have led to the development of a nomadic culture which has been possible despite the harsh conditions.

music, nomadic lifestyle, the Naadam festival and buddhist religion

All the tours we do will give visitors an insight into Mongolia's fascinating culture, but the trips we specifically label "Cultural" aim to show all these different aspects by meeting with local nomadic people and visiting places of cultural significance. Perhaps you will get the chance to ride horses or camels, help to milk the sheep, goats, horses or cows, and walk around some of the beautiful Buddhist temples and monasteries. Apart from the religious community, the population of Mongolia was nomadic until the twentieth century and most of the architectural sights are Buddhist monasteries built in either Tibetan or Manchurian style.

Annual Naadam Festival Mongolia

Naadam Festival

go to Naadam Festival Tour page here...
Family Adventure Tours

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go to Gobi Desert camel trek page here...
Tailor - Made Tours in Mongolia

Family Adventure Tour

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Overladn Adventure Tour Mongolia

Overland Tour

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The music of Mongolia's nomads

Music is an integral part of Mongolian culture. Among the unique contributions of Mongolia to the world's musical culture are the long songs, overtone singing and morin khuur, the horse-headed fiddle. The music of Mongolia is also rich with varieties related to the different ethnic groups of the country: Oirat, Hotogoid, Tuva, Darhad, Buryat, Tsaatan, Dariganga, Uzemchin, Barga, Kazakh and Khalha.

Mongolia's Nomadic Culture

30% of the population live a nomadic lifestyle.

Even today, many Mongolian families still live a nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyle, moving several times a year with their herds of animals to find better pasture. Their lives are dependent on and interwoven with the nature that surrounds them: the sky (weather), mountains and rivers, wild animals, etc. and their music is a reflection of this. Many traditional songs are praise to their beautiful country and some singers and instruments imitate wild birds, the sound of horses or the wind. The horse, having been domesticated about 4000 years ago, is the most important of the "Mongolian's 5 Animals" which are camels, horses cows / yaks, sheep and goats.

In winter temperatures plummet to minus 30 degrees Celsius and survival is a matter of skill, hard work and luck. In summer life thrives: grass and flowers grow, the animals get fat, delicious milk products are plentiful and children don't have to go to school.

To celebrate summer, everyone gathers in their nearest village, town or city for the Naadam Festival. It is a sporting event with horse racing, wrestling and archery. Everyone dresses up, rides their best horse, drinks airag (fermented mare's milk) and eats khushuur (fried meat pasties). It is great.

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Naadam Festival

Naadam is the biggest annual festival among Mongols, and is believed to have existed for centuries in one form or another. Naadam begins with an elaborate introduction ceremony featuring dancers, athletes, horse riders, and musicians. After the ceremony, the competitions begin. Naadam has its origin in the activities that followed the celebration of various occasions like weddings or spiritual gatherings. The activities would typically include military parades and sporting competitions - archery, horse riding and wrestling.

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Annual Naadam Festival Mongolia

The main summer Naadam festival is held on 11th and 12th July in Ulaanbaatar. Other towns and villages are usually around this time, but the exact date is decided at the beginning of the summer by the local Governor and can be changed right up to the last moment. The people and horses prepare well in advance with a very strict training regime. It is a great honour to be a winner at the Naadam festival and the prizes nowadays are quite substantial, for example a jeep !

Horse Race

Mongolian horse racing as featured in Naadam is a cross-country event, with races 15–30 km long. The length of each race is determined by age class. For example, two-year-old horses race for ten miles and seven-year-olds for seventeen miles.


Mongolian traditional wrestling is an un timed competition in which wrestlers lose if they touch the ground with any part of their body other than their feet or hand. When picking pairs, the wrestler with the greatest fame has the privilege to choose his own opponent.


In this competition both men and women participate. It is played by teams of ten. Each archer is given four arrows; the team must hit 33 "surs". Men fire their arrows from 75 meters away while women fire theirs from 65 meters away.

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Buddhism in Mongolia

Mongolian Buddhism began with Genghis Khan and his sons, and the special relationship that they established with the Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism. Indeed, Genghis' grandson Kublai Khan went so far as to have his Tibetan Lama teacher, Chogyal Pakpa (known to Mongols today as Pakpa Lama), create a special form of the Tibetan Buddhist script for use in all territories under his rule.

Family Adventure Tour

Buddhism in Mongolia

Mongolia's Buddhist Heritage

Traditionally, the ethnic religions of the Mongols involved worship of the eternal blue sky, ancestor-worship and the ancient northern Asian practice of Shamanism in which human intermediaries go into a trance and speak to the spirits that are responsible for human luck or misfortune. Although Tibetan Buddhism had been influential under Genghis Khan, the Mongols returned to their old Shamanist ways after the collapse of their Empire. Then in 1578 Altan Khan, a Mongol military leader with ambitions to unite the Mongols and to emulate the career of Genghis Khan, invited the Tibetan leader of the rising Gelug lineage to a summit. They formed an alliance that gave Altan Khan legitimacy and provided the Buddhist school with protection and patronage. He founded Erdene Zuu in Kharkhorin, a large monastery surrounded by 108 white stupas. During the Socialist era of the twentieth century, Mongolian buddhists suffered greatly and most monasteries were destroyed during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s. However, following the peaceful revolution of the early 1990s, religious freedom is again allowed and monasteries are being rebuilt. Buddhism is the most popular religion in Mongolia.

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 Off The Map Tours (UK Representative)
20 The Meer
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  + 44 (0) 116 2402625 (GMT + 0)

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 Off The Map Tours
Khan-Uul District
1st Microdistrict
  + 976 95145291 (GMT + 8)


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