Usually written off by visitors due to its perceived inaccessibility, East Mongolia is worth any extra legwork. The largely uninhabited landscapes encompass forests, desert, volcanic peaks and grasslands, all presided over by pure, blue skies. Moose, Siberian musk deer and brown bears inhabit the forests while thousand-strong herds of white-tailed gazelle bound across untouched grasslands. The East is also the historical heartland.
Experience a little of Mongolia’s history with visits to Genghis Khan’s alleged birthplace, Dadal, or track down his remote coronation site, the beautiful lake at Khokh Nuur (you’ll need a guide). Explore the eerie remains of the 300-year-old Soviet-sacked Baldan Baraivan monastery that was once home to an estimated 8,000 monks (although only a handful remain) or wander among the scattered relics and monuments of the brutal 1939 battle with the Japanese at Khalkhin Gol.
Further north, the extinct, forested volcanoes in the Khan Khentii Mountain National Park (or Strictly Protected Area as they’re often known in Mongolia) are ideal for a hike or horse trek. The crystal waters of the Tuul River sweep through the mountains providing excellent rafting, fishing and wild camping. Choibalsan (2hr flight from Ulan Bator) and Ondorkhaan (5hrs by road) are good place to hire guides/vehicles for expeditions.