A Guide to Karakorum City (Kharkhorin) – Ancient Capital of Mongolia

A Guide to Karakorum City (Kharkhorin) - Ancient Capital of Mongolia

Explore the timeless allure of Karakorum City, also known as Kharkhorin, the ancient capital of Mongolia. Nestled amidst the vast Mongolian landscape, Karakorum beckons travelers with its rich history and cultural heritage. Discover the legacy of the Mongol Empire as you wander through historic sites like Erdene Zuu Monastery and the Kharakhorum Museum. Embark on a journey back in time and unravel the mysteries of this storied city with our Mongolia package, offering a curated experience of Karakorum’s top attractions.

Quick History of Karakorum Mongolia

Karakorum, once renowned as the illustrious Karakorum city, stands as a pivotal chapter in Mongolia’s rich historical tapestry. It was here, in 1220, that the visionary Chinggis Khan laid the foundation stones for what would become the capital of the mighty Mongol Empire. Serving as a bustling hub along the ancient Silk Road, Karakorum city became a melting pot of cultures, where traders and artisans from distant lands converged to exchange goods and ideas.

Under the enlightened leadership of Chinggis Khan’s successors, particularly Ogodei Khan, Karakorum flourished into a vibrant metropolis. Its streets bustled with merchants hawking goods from across the known world, while craftsmen adorned the cityscape with architectural marvels. Tales of this ancient capital of Mongolia grandeur spread far and wide, immortalized in the writings of famed travelers like Marco Polo, William De Rubruk, and Rashid Ad Din.

History of Karakorum Mongolia

However, Karakorum’s golden age was not destined to last. With the shift of the Mongol Empire’s capital to Beijing by Kublai Khan in the early 1270s, Karakorum gradually faded into obscurity. Despite fleeting moments of revival, including a brief resurgence under the reign of Khubilai Khaan, Karakorum’s glory days were numbered.

Tragically, in 1379, the city faced a devastating blow when it was ravaged by the Ming Dynasty’s army, leaving much of its once-proud structures in ruins. Yet, even in its decline, Karakorum’s legacy endures. Today, archaeological excavations and museum displays offer glimpses into its storied past, reminding us of its pivotal role as a beacon of civilization along the Silk Road.

Top 10+ Things to do in Karakorum Mongolia

Visit Erdene Zuu Khiid – Mongolia’s Oldest Monastery

Erdene Zuu Khiid - Mongolia’s Oldest Monastery in Karakorum

Situated in Karakorum city- ancient capital of Mongolia, Erdene Zuu Khiid stands as the country’s oldest monastery, dating back to the 16th century. Visitors can immerse themselves in the serene atmosphere of this sacred site, exploring its impressive architecture, including 108 stupas that encircle the monastery. Activities here include attending Buddhist ceremonies, exploring the museum showcasing religious artifacts, and marveling at the intricately carved stone turtles and dragons scattered throughout the complex. The monastery’s location amidst the picturesque Orkhon Valley adds to its allure, offering visitors a peaceful retreat to connect with Mongolia’s spiritual heritage.

Explore Tovkhon Monastery in Karakorum Mongolia

Visit Tuvkhun Monastery on your Mongolian Vacation

Perched atop the sacred Shireet Ulaan Mountain lies the revered Tovkhon Monastery, a cherished gem among the top attractions in Karakorum, Mongolia. Established in 1653 as a retreat for Zanabazar, Mongolia’s inaugural spiritual and political leader, this Buddhist sanctuary exudes tranquility amidst breathtaking panoramas.

Journeying to Tovkhon Monastery demands a challenging yet rewarding hike through rugged terrain, lasting about an hour. The arduous trek is eclipsed by the serene ambiance and awe-inspiring vistas awaiting travelers at the mountain’s summit.

Upon arrival, visitors are greeted by fluttering prayer flags and an aura of serenity. The monastery complex, a testament to traditional Mongolian architecture, boasts interconnected buildings adorned with vibrant paintings and intricate woodcarvings. Within these hallowed halls, visitors can partake in traditional rituals and ceremonies led by resident monks, offering a profound glimpse into Mongolian Buddhist customs.

Beyond spiritual enrichment, Tovkhon Monastery’s surroundings beckon adventurers with lush forests and rolling hills, inviting leisurely hikes and tranquil picnics amidst nature’s splendor. Wildlife enthusiasts may even encounter native fauna, adding to the area’s allure.

Visit Kharakhorum Museum To Learn about Mongol Empire

Visit Kharakhorum Museum on Your Trip to Karakorum MongoliaDive into the history of the Mongol Empire at the Kharakhorum Museum, located in Karakorum. Here, visitors can embark on a journey through time, learning about the rise and fall of the ancient capital of Mongolia through a diverse collection of artifacts, archaeological finds, and interactive exhibits. Explore the remnants of the ancient capital of Mongolia’s glory days, including relics from the Great Khan’s era and displays detailing the city’s role as a cultural and economic center along the Silk Road. Activities at the museum include guided tours, educational programs, and hands-on experiences, offering a comprehensive understanding of Mongolia’s rich historical legacy.

Learn about Mongolian Calligraphy at Erdenesiin Khuree

Learn about Mongolian Calligraphy at Erdenesiin KhureeDiscover the art of Mongolian calligraphy at Erdenesiin Khuree, home to some of the country’s best calligraphists. Located in Karakorum, this cultural center provides visitors with an opportunity to witness the intricate craftsmanship behind traditional Mongolian script. Activities here include attending calligraphy workshops, where experts demonstrate various styles and techniques, and purchasing unique pieces of calligraphic art as souvenirs. Visitors can also engage with local artists, gaining insight into the significance of calligraphy in Mongolian culture and its role in preserving the nation’s heritage. Whether admiring the skillful strokes of a master calligrapher or trying their hand at writing in Mongolian script, Erdenesiin Khuree offers a captivating glimpse into Mongolia’s artistic traditions.

Visit Monument for Mongol States

Visiting Monument for Mongol StatesPerched majestically atop a hill, the Monument for Mongol States stands as a silent witness to Mongolia’s rich history. Located near Karakorum, in central Mongolia, this monument offers visitors a serene spot to take in the breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The gentle breeze whispers tales of the Mongol Empire’s past, inviting contemplation and reflection. With its sweeping vistas and tranquil ambiance, it’s a perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Camping on Orkhon River

Camping on Orkhon River Near Karakorum MongoliaSituated close to Karakorum city, this camp offers a unique opportunity to experience the Mongolian way of life firsthand. Guests can explore the vast expanse of the countryside on horseback, traversing ancient trails and discovering hidden gems along the way. As the sun sets, the camp comes alive with the crackling of the campfire and the sound of traditional Mongolian songs. It’s a place where memories are made and bonds are forged under the vast Mongolian sky.

Visit Shankh Monastery​

Visiting Shankh Monastery​ while you are at Karakorum MongoliaEmbark on an unforgettable journey to Shankh Monastery, located amidst the breathtaking countryside near Karakorum. As you drive through Mongolia’s vast landscapes, you’ll be enchanted by the rolling hills and majestic mountains surrounding the monastery. Shankh Monastery offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, inviting visitors to explore its temples and sacred grounds from the ancient capital of Mongolia. Wander through the monastery’s serene gardens, adorned with colorful prayer flags fluttering in the breeze. Take in the peaceful ambiance and immerse yourself in the spiritual energy of this sacred site, making memories to last a lifetime.

Spend the night in Space Yurt​

Spend the night in Space Yurt in Karakorum City

Experience the nomadic way of life firsthand with a night spent in a Space Yurt, a unique accommodation nestled in the heart of Mongolia’s wilderness. Tucked away amidst the sweeping grasslands, the Space Yurt offers a cozy and intimate retreat under the starlit sky. Gather around a crackling campfire with fellow travelers, sharing stories and laughter late into the night. As the evening unfolds, retreat to the warmth of your yurt and drift off to sleep to the soothing sounds of nature outside your door. Wake up refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to embrace another day of adventure in the Mongolian countryside.

Visit Gokhturk Museum

Delve into Mongolia’s rich cultural heritage with a visit to the Gokhturk Museum at Khoshoo Tsaidam, a captivating journey through the region’s storied past. Located just a stone’s throw away from Karakorum, this museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of the Gokhturk Empire, one of Central Asia’s great nomadic civilizations. Explore the museum’s diverse collection of artifacts, from intricately carved stone monuments to ancient relics dating back to the Gokhturk period. Immerse yourself in the empire’s rise and fall through interactive exhibits and informative displays, gaining insights into Mongolia’s ancient traditions and customs.

Visit Khar Balgas Ordu Baliq

Visiting Khar Balgas Ordu Baliq in Karakorum city Mongolia

Step back in time with a visit to Khar Balgas Ordu Baliq, an ancient city steeped in history and mystery. Nestled in the picturesque Orkhon Valley, Khar Balgas Ordu Baliq was once the bustling capital of the Uyghur Khaganate, a powerful nomadic empire that flourished over a thousand years ago. Explore the ruins of this ancient metropolis, marveling at the remnants of its grand palaces, temples, and fortifications. Wander through the archaeological site, tracing the footsteps of ancient rulers and inhabitants who once called this city home. Admire the intricate carvings and inscriptions that adorn the city’s stone walls, offering tantalizing glimpses into its rich cultural heritage. With its captivating allure and historical significance, Khar Balgas Ordu Baliq promises an unforgettable journey through Mongolia’s past.

Explore Turtle Rock (Mongke Tengri)

Explore Turtle Rock (Mongke Tengri)

Turtle Rock, or Mongke Tengri in Mongolian, stands as a majestic testament to the captivating allure of nature in the heart of Karakorum, Mongolia. This iconic rock formation, located just 8 kilometers west of the ancient capital city, beckons travelers with its remarkable resemblance to a giant turtle resting amidst the vast Mongolian steppe.

Rising impressively to a height of approximately 24 meters, Turtle Rock offers visitors panoramic vistas of the surrounding landscape, inviting them to connect with the serene beauty of Mongolia’s wilderness. Hiking trails of varying difficulties weave through the area, allowing adventurers to explore at their own pace while encountering diverse flora and fauna along the way.

But Turtle Rock is more than just a geological marvel; it holds deep cultural significance in Mongolian folklore and tradition. Locals believe it harbors spiritual energy, leading to the performance of shamanistic rituals and ceremonies at its base. Visitors have the opportunity to witness these ancient practices, gaining insight into Mongolia’s rich history and customs.

When venturing to Turtle Rock, travelers should come prepared for the ever-changing Mongolian weather, with sturdy shoes, sun protection, and ample hydration. Accessible by road from Karakorum, a short journey of around 20 minutes unveils this enchanting site, where a small entrance fee contributes to its preservation.

Where to stay in Karakorum Mongolia

Gaya’s Guest House

Gaya's Guest House - Best place to stay at Karakorum Mongolia

Situated conveniently close to attractions, Gaya’s Guest House is renowned for its excellent service in arranging tours and transportation for guests. Travelers appreciate the comfortable accommodations and clean rooms provided by the guest house. Moreover, Gaya’s Guest House offers opportunities for immersive local cultural experiences, making it a popular choice among visitors to Karakorum.

Family Tour Guesthouse

For a unique lodging experience, guests can opt to stay at the Family Tour Guesthouse, where they have the chance to sleep in gers, traditional Mongolian tents. This accommodation option allows travelers to immerse themselves in the local culture while enjoying the comforts of cozy ger accommodations. The central triple ger serves as a communal space where guests can socialize with fellow travelers and indulge in affordable and high-quality meals prepared onsite.

Munkhsuuri Guest house/Ger camp

Set against the backdrop of breathtaking plains and skies, Munkhsuuri Guest house/Ger camp offers a serene retreat for travelers seeking tranquility and natural beauty. The camp provides cozy accommodations at an affordable price, allowing guests to unwind and relax in the midst of nature. Visitors can look forward to hot showers and occasional live music performances, adding to the charm of their stay in Karakorum.

Munkh Tenger Ger Camp

Staying at Munkh Tenger Ger Camp in Karakorum Mongolia

Renowned for its warm hospitality, Munkh Tenger Ger Camp is a popular choice for travelers seeking a cozy retreat in Karakorum. The camp takes pride in providing clean and comfortable gers, ensuring a pleasant stay for guests. Visitors can indulge in ample hot water showers, rejuvenating after a day of exploration in and around Karakorum. With its welcoming atmosphere and attentive service, Munkh Tenger Ger Camp offers a memorable accommodation experience for those discovering the charms of Karakorum.

Family Guesthouse & Tours

Beyond offering comfortable accommodations, Family Guesthouse & Tours goes the extra mile to enhance guests’ experiences in Karakorum City. The guesthouse organizes enjoyable barbecues, providing opportunities for travelers to socialize and connect over delicious meals. Additionally, guests can rely on the guesthouse for local transportation arrangements, making it convenient to explore the attractions in and around Karakorum. With its focus on fostering a sense of community and facilitating travel logistics, Family Guesthouse & Tours ensures a memorable and hassle-free stay for visitors.

Anar Ger Camp

Staying at Anar Ger Camp in Karakorum City

Standing out for its friendly staff and well-maintained facilities, Anar Ger Camp promises a delightful stay for guests in Karakorum City. The camp prides itself on extending a warm welcome to visitors, creating a welcoming and inviting atmosphere for travelers. Guests can expect clean and comfortable accommodations, with the camp’s gers providing a cozy retreat after a day of sightseeing. With its commitment to guest satisfaction and attention to detail, Anar Ger Camp offers a peaceful haven for travelers exploring Karakorum and its surroundings.

Ikh Khorum Hotel

With its modern amenities and comfortable accommodations, Ikh Khorum Hotel provides a convenient option for travelers visiting Karakorum Mongolia. Guests can expect well-appointed rooms equipped with essential facilities for a comfortable stay. However, feedback from some guests highlights issues with customer service, suggesting a need for improvement in hospitality standards. Despite these concerns, Ikh Khorum Hotel remains a viable choice for those seeking a contemporary lodging experience in Karakorum.

Secret of the Silk Road Camp

Nestled amidst stunning natural landscapes, Secret of the Silk Road Camp offers a tranquil escape for visitors seeking relaxation in Karakorum. The camp provides a serene ambiance, allowing guests to unwind and immerse themselves in the beauty of their surroundings. At the on-site restaurant, visitors can savor delicious meals while enjoying panoramic views of Karakorum Mongolia. With comfortable ger accommodations and a peaceful setting, Secret of the Silk Road Camp offers an idyllic retreat for travelers exploring Karakorum and its environs.

Asa Land Resort

Despite minor issues, Asa Land Resort provides well-equipped rooms and bathrooms, ensuring a comfortable stay for guests in Karakorum. Travelers can expect cozy accommodations and essential amenities to enhance their lodging experience. Additionally, the resort’s convenient location allows guests to explore nearby attractions and landmarks, adding value to their stay. While there may be some room for improvement, Asa Land Resort offers a suitable option for visitors seeking comfortable accommodations in Karakorum.

Monkhsuuri Guesthouse and Tours

Offering a specialty bed and breakfast experience, Monkhsuuri Guesthouse and Tours strive to provide a comfortable and memorable stay for guests. While limited reviews are available, the guesthouse ensures essential amenities and personalized service to meet guests’ needs. With a focus on hospitality and attention to detail, Monkhsuuri Guesthouse and Tours aim to offer a pleasant lodging option for travelers exploring Karakorum.

Best time to Visit Karakorum Mongolia

The best time to visit Karakorum, Mongolia, is during the summer months from June to August. During this period, the weather is relatively mild with warm temperatures, making it ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing. Visitors can explore historical sites such as Erdene Zuu Monastery and enjoy outdoor adventures like horseback riding and trekking in the surrounding countryside. Additionally, summer brings vibrant festivals and cultural events, providing travelers with opportunities to immerse themselves in Mongolian traditions. However, it’s essential to note that Karakorum experiences cold winters with temperatures dropping significantly, so summer offers the most comfortable conditions for travel.

Karakorum City, also known as Kharkhorin, stands as a timeless testament to Mongolia’s rich history and cultural heritage. From its days as the illustrious capital of the Mongol Empire to its present-day status as a revered archaeological site and cultural destination, Karakorum continues to captivate travelers with its ancient charm and enduring allure.