Looking for somewhere different to take your family on vacation? Somewhere unique? Somewhere you’ve never been, and not too many others have either? Yet somewhere that is packed full of culture, history, diverse landscapes, hospitable people, once in a lifetime experiences, and a huge range of activities? Look no further. Mongolia is a perfect destination for families, whether it is for a family with young children, or a family with teenagers or young adults.
In recent years, the number of families travelling to Mongolia has increased. Not only because of the increased awareness of what Mongolia has to offer, but also as Mongolia is one of the safest countries in Asia to take your family. In fact, in the 2018 Global Peace Index rankings, Mongolia sat above popular destinations including the United Kingdom, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, France, Peru, Greece, Cuba, China, Thailand and many more.
Family Trips with Goyo Travel
Here at Goyo Travel, we pride ourselves on our attention to details, flexibility, and our expert knowledge. With offices in the UK and Mongolia, we have a great cross-cultural perspective that combines the subtle nuances, and extra touches that discerning global travellers appreciate, including families of all ages. Many parents are a little apprehensive when they first inquire about bringing their family to Mongolia, however, there really is no need – Mongolia has something for everyone. Children run wild in the grandiose open spaces, love the huge variety of animals and become instant friends with kids at nomadic homestays whilst parents get a chance to go completely ‘off-grid’. There is a range of activities that everyone can get involved in such as rafting, camel and horse riding, wildlife/dinosaur walks or archery contests. For infants, we are usually able to provide a car seat and/or travel cot to save you bringing your own. Activities can be tailored to suit your family and our guides are great at being proactive in offering flexibility when it is needed on the road, you leave the logistics to us. In addition to this, we understand that some children may be a little fussier when it comes to food and drink. Whilst Mongolians eat a lot of meat and use lots of dairy products, we are very proactive in ensuring all of our guests are comfortable with the variety of food and drink on offer, whether it is down to personal preferences, or dietary and allergy requirements.
We have a variety of group and private tours, many of which are suitable for families. Whether you want a short taster of what the country has to offer, a 2-week adventure, or a 3 week grand tour, we can tailor an itinerary to suit you. One of our most popular tours is our Family Adventure private trip. On this tour, you will start by visiting the famous Gobi Desert in southern Mongolia, where you can ride camels, dig for fossils, keep an eye on the sky for vultures soaring above the clifftops, and sled down the huge sand dunes. Afterwards, you travel by UAZ (a Russian van with a lot of personality that your family will fall in love with) up to central Mongolia. Here, families are entertained by a plethora of cultural, historical and natural highlights. From the breath taking Orkhon Waterfall to the historical city of Kharkhorin and the ancient remains of Erdene Zuu Monastery. From helping a nomadic family milking their livestock, to visiting the giant Chinggis Khaan Statue and 13th Century Camp, which is sure to get the entire family’s imagination going as you picture what life was like during the Mongol Empire.
One of our guests highlights when visiting Mongolia, is meeting the children of the families they visit. We work with nomadic families in most parts of the country and have become close friends with these hospitable people. The families we visit often have children, ranging from 2 or 3 years old up to young adults. For many of our family tours, we will also specifically try and find nomadic families with similar aged children to yours, so that they have a little more in common and can play games and do activities they’ll all enjoy. Despite the language barrier, our clients’ children often make good friends with their hosts and leave with memories they will cherish forever. As you can imagine, children living out in the Mongolian countryside haven’t grown up with technology. They entertain themselves with simple games, activities, and helping with family chores such as tending to the animals. One custom of Mongolia is that Mongolian children don’t get their first haircut until they are 4 or 5 years old. It is then cut in a ceremony called Daah Urgeeh, symbolizing the end of “babyhood” – which is important and a cause for celebration in Mongolian culture.
Getting away from mod cons
During your journey you have the opportunity to stay with some wonderful local families at their homestays. Private guest gers are provided with with beds, linen, stove, and sometimes a small wash stand. Facilities during the homestay are basic – a bowl of hot water, or the river, can be used for washing, and there is a long-drop compost loo. There will be no electricity, but you can charge your devices using the car chargers provided. This level of basic facilities may come as a shock to some, but it is getting away from mod cons such as television, phones, games consoles and so on that make families love our tours and Mongolia in general. It is perhaps one of the only times throughout the year that a family can spend good, productive time together, creating incredible memories without the distraction of technology. It is purely you and the countryside, the fantastic sites and activities.
One way that many Mongolians and their children keep busy is a traditional Mongolian game called shagai. Shagai (or ‘Ankle Bones’) is a traditional game played using the ankle bones of sheep or goats that have been cleaned and polished. The game is somewhat of a national pastime and is enjoyed by everyone, young and old. In fact, the game can be taken so seriously that there are even national tournaments, usually around the time of Naadam in July. In these, the most skilled players must flick the ankle bones at a target around 10 metres away!
To give a taste of what a Mongolian family adventure with Goyo Travel looks like, check out this video, made by previous clients Jamie, Nicole and their boys who took on an epic family adventure in Mongolia with our guide Tuya and driver Bilgee.
Unique experiences and activities
Archery was one of the essential skills held by Chinggis Khan’s renowned warriors and today it features in the Naadam celebrations as one of the ‘three manly sports’. We try as much as possible to send a bow and arrow set on all trips, thus you will have the chance to try your hand. The traditional sets are surprisingly hard to shoot but no doubt your drivers or the locals will be more than happy to show you how it is done.
Kayaking is a great way to experience the wild natural landscapes of Mongolia, while also being exhilarating and active. Our kayaks are robust, and of top commercial outfitter quality. We also provide lifejackets, dry bags to keep your personal equipment in – cameras etc. – and water shoes.
Cookery lessons are a great way to mingle with your homestay hosts and understand a little more about their daily life. Some of the greatest insights and memories are made as you sit on stools crimping buuz alongside the women of the family. Typically, you’ll help rustle up some traditional everyday fare such as huushuur (fried dumplings), buuz (steamed dumplings) or Tsuivan with homemade noodles and the best bit is you’ll get to reap the rewards for lunch or dinner.
During your time in Mongolia, you may also get the chance to learn how to erect a ger, with the help of the locals and/or your host family of course.