The Orkhon Valley is a beautiful region located in central Mongolia, known for its stunning landscapes and rich cultural history. The valley is home to a number of interesting sights and attractions, and is a great destination for those interested in exploring the outdoors and learning about Mongolian culture.

We traveled to the Orkhon Valley during our Gobi Desert trip, one of the different trips of our Mongolia travel.

What to See in the Orkhon Valley

The Orkhon Valley - The Heart of Nomadic Mongolia // Stunning Colors of the Orkhon Valley

Stunning Colors of the Orkhon Valley

Orkhon Falls

One of the main attractions in the Orkhon Valley is the Orkhon Falls, a beautiful waterfall that is located about 50 kilometers from the city of Kharkhorin. The falls are a popular spot for tourists, and offer a great opportunity to take in the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

The Orkhon Valley - The Heart of Nomadic Mongolia // Orkhon Falls

Orkhon Falls

Karakorum and Erdene Zuu Monastery

Another popular attraction in the valley is the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to a number of important cultural and historical sites. The cultural landscape includes the ruins of the ancient capital city of Karakorum, as well as the Erdene Zuu Monastery, a historic Buddhist monastery.

The Orkhon Valley - The Heart of Nomadic Mongolia // Erdene Zuu Monastery Surrounding Walls

Erdene Zuu Monastery Surrounding Walls

Turkic Memorials

These 8th-century Turkic memorials, collectively known as the Orkhon monments are stunning reminders of the nomadic impact of the First Turkic Khaganate. The Kul Tigin steles are memorials featuring inscriptions in both both Chinese and Old Turkic in honor of two Turkic brother princes, Kul Tigin and Bilge Khagan.

Tuvkhun Monastery

Also spelled Tövkhön Monastery, the monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist temple founded in 1648, by the 14-year-old Zanabazar, and is one of Mongolia’s oldest Buddhist monasteries.

The Orkhon Valley - The Heart of Nomadic Mongolia // Tuvkhun Temple

Tuvkhun Temple

Orkhon Valley Horseback Riding

If you’re interested in the outdoors, the Orkhon Valley offers a number of hiking and horseback riding trails, as well as fishing and rafting opportunities. The valley is also home to a number of national parks and protected areas, including the Tsenkher Hot Springs and the Orkhon National Park, which are great places to explore the natural beauty of the region.

The Orkhon Valley - The Heart of Nomadic Mongolia // Nomadic Life in the Orkhon Valley

Nomadic Life in the Orkhon Valley

Orkhon Valley: The Heart of Mongolia’s Culture

The Orkhon Valley is a historical and cultural region that has played a significant role in the development of Mongolian civilization. This region is known for its rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty, and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here is a brief overview of the history of the Orkhon Valley.

The Orkhon Valley is believed to have been inhabited by nomadic tribes for thousands of years. The first major civilization to emerge in the region was the Xiongnu Empire, which rose to power in the 3rd century BCE and dominated much of northern Asia. The Xiongnu were eventually replaced by the Turkic Khaganate in the 6th century CE, which was in turn conquered by the Mongol Empire in the 13th century.

Under the Mongol Empire, the Orkhon Valley became an important center of political, cultural, and economic power. The empire’s founder, Genghis Khan, was born in the valley and established his capital there. After Genghis Khan’s death, the empire was divided among his descendants, with the Orkhon Valley serving as the center of the western Mongolian state. This state became the basis for the future Mongolian Empire, which eventually expanded to cover a large part of Asia and Eastern Europe.

During the period of Mongolian rule, the Orkhon Valley was a hub of economic and cultural activity, with cities and trade routes connecting the region to the rest of the empire. The valley was also home to several important cultural and religious institutions, including the Karakorum, the capital of the Mongol Empire, and the Erdene Zuu Monastery, one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in Mongolia.

In the late 13th century, the Mongol Empire began to decline, and the Orkhon Valley was eventually conquered by the Chinese Ming dynasty in the 14th century. The region was later incorporated into the Manchu Qing Empire, which ruled over China and Mongolia for nearly three centuries.

After the fall of the Qing Empire in the early 20th century, Mongolia declared independence and became a communist state. During this time, the Orkhon Valley was largely isolated from the rest of the world, and its cultural heritage was largely neglected. However, in the 1990s, Mongolia transitioned to a multiparty democracy, and the Orkhon Valley has since become a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from around the world who are interested in its rich cultural and historical heritage.

Today, the Orkhon Valley is a protected area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and efforts are being made to preserve its cultural heritage and natural beauty for future generations. Visitors to the valley can explore its many historical sites, including the Karakorum and the Erdene Zuu Monastery, and hike in its scenic valleys and mountains.

In conclusion, the Orkhon Valley is a rich and fascinating region that has played a critical role in the development of Mongolian civilization. With its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, it remains an important and popular tourist destination for visitors from around the world.


The Orkhon Valley - The Heart of Nomadic Mongolia // Shamanism in the Orkhon Valley

Shamanism in the Orkhon Valley

How to Get to the Orkhon Valley

To get to the Orkhon Valley, you can fly into Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, and then take a bus or hire a taxi to travel to the valley. The valley is located about 300 kilometers from Ulaanbaatar, and is easily accessible by road.

Overall, the Orkhon Valley is a beautiful and fascinating destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or the outdoors, there is plenty to see and do in this amazing region. So why wait? Plan your trip to the Orkhon Valley today and discover all that this amazing place has to offer!

If you are looking for more trip ideas in Mongolia check out our Mongolia travel blog posts. For other Asia travels, see some of the destinations we visited and wrote about:

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