Whether you’re a new or advanced  rider, touring Mongolia by horse is one of the best ways to learn about the unique cultures and landscapes that make Mongolia a top travel destination. Mongolian horseback tours offer opportunities to explore the wide variety of landscapes in the central Asian nation - from hot springs to deserts and mountains. You can also meet and learn from nomadic tribes across the country and see firsthand how the horse is integral to daily life in Mongolia. Unique cultural festivals and events like the Naadam Festival also highlight the strong role that horses play in sporting and cultural life in Mongolia.White horse eating grass in a field in Mongolia

Horse Culture in Mongolia

Mongolia’s history is closely linked to its strong relationship with horses. The Mongolian nomadic lifestyle has always relied heavily on horses for transportation, hauling supplies, and food (from horse milk and meat). Horses played a pivotal role in the rise of the Mongol Empire, allowing for rapid military expansion and communication across long distances. The iconic 13th-century warrior Genghis Khan was a renowned horseman, and his horseback riding legions could ride up to 80 miles a day across deserts and mountains, expanding the Mongol Empire.

Throughout times of war and invasion, horses enabled the Mongols to remain independent and evade intruders. Horses also played an important role in daily life for Mongolians. Even today, the people of Mongolia are semi-nomadic, and the horse is their foremost resource. Horses are used for travel, herding, hunting, and sport in Mongolia, and they are esteemed as the most valuable animal in Mongolian society.

Mongolian horse breeds are known for their great strength and stamina. Mongolia wild horses, also called Przewalski’s horse or the Takhi, are considered a national treasure, symbolizing the freedom and well-being of the nation. The Mongolian wild horse is an endangered species that is not descended from domestic horses (unlike mustangs and wild horses in other parts of the world). You can see the powerful, awe-inspiring Takhi in their native habitat while horseback riding through Mongolia.

Mongolians are renowned for their horsemanship skills, which is evident in the country’s horse racing and other sports. Horse care and training in Mongolia are central to the livelihood of the country, and horse caretakers are highly respected in the pastoral nation.

Mongolian man with a horse

Naadam Festival and Horse Races

The Naadam Festival is a national event that occurs every year from July 11 to July 13. The festival celebrates the nomadic civilization of the Mongols and includes three main cultural events - horse racing, wrestling, and archery.

Horse racing is a central part of the festival. The thrilling competitions include longer courses than most Western horse races. Mongolian horse racing is a cross-country event, with race courses that stretch 9.3 to 18.6 miles (15 km to 30 km) long. The length of the race depends on the age of the horse, with races categorized by the horses’ age and sex, with separate races for geldings, stallions, and pacing horses.

Traditional Mongolian dress and ceremonial practices are included in the races, giving spectators a deeper understanding of Mongolian culture. People come from around the world to witness the excitement of Mongolian horse racing at the Naadam Festival. The Naadam races focus on testing the stamina and endurance of the horses instead of speed alone.

Best Locations for Horseback Riding in Mongolia

Mongolia offers a rich variety of landscapes to explore by horse. Mongolian horse trails traverse natural wonders like the desert, mountains, and hot springs. All levels of riders can find stunning horseback riding opportunities in Mongolia. Exploring the country by horse offers the opportunity to learn more about the geography of the country as well as connect with the strong horse culture and traditions that are central to Mongolian life.

These are some of the best locations for horseback riding in Mongolia:

Altai Mountains

The Altai Mountains offer pristine natural beauty, with breathtaking peaks, glaciers, and remote backcountry riding. You may see unique wildlife like snow leopards and ibex while Mongolia horse trekking in the Altai Mountains. The mountains are ideal for experienced riders seeking adventure and panoramic views of the countryside.

The Altai Mountains Trail ride will take you through the stunning landscapes of Western Mongolia as you embark on an unforgettable experience. See the highest mountains in the country and learn from locals, including the Eagle Hunters.

Man on horseback crosses a river in the Altai mountains

Gobi Desert

You can ride through one-of-a-kind landscapes in the Gobi Desert, with sand dunes, rocky canyons, and unique desert wildlife like camels and antelopes. Explore ancient ruins and experience the sweeping vistas of the desert. Gobi Desert horseback tours are suitable for all riding levels.

The Gobi Desert and Orkhon Valley ride is a moderate-level tour that includes the distinct, arid landscape of the Gobi Desert and the beautiful steppes and grasslands of the Orkhon Valley.

Orkhon Valley

The vast natural beauty of the Orkhon Valley in central Mongolia includes archaeological and historic sites, including ancient tombs, monasteries, and the ruins of ancient empires. Horseback riding through the Orkhon Valley offers an unforgettable experience and a chance to connect with the nomadic cultures that have called the valley home for thousands of years.

The Orkhon Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site that includes Khar Khorum, the famous capital of Chinggis Khan, and sacred sites with Orkhon inscriptions, Turkic monuments, and Buddhist monasteries like Erdene Zuu.

Tours in the Orkhon Valley suit a variety of experience levels, with beginner-friendly rides along flat terrain and advanced, multi-day rides with faster paces and more varied terrain.

Gorkhi-Terelj National Park

Gorkhi-Terelj National Park offers endless places to explore on horseback. The stunning park includes sprawling, rolling steppes covered in wildflowers, towering granite peaks, the winding Terelj River, and lush valleys. Rides in the park cater to all experience levels, and some also offer opportunities to meet with local nomadic people and learn about their culture.

The National Parks Holiday tour includes majestic scenery and witnessing the Mongolian wild horses (Takhi). You’ll also visit a nomadic family and learn about their lifestyles and traditions on the culturally immersive tour.

National mongolian horse riders

Tsenkher Hot Springs

Tsenkher Hot Springs is a natural hot spring that draws visitors from around the world for its healing properties. The thermal mountain spring is the perfect ending to a ride through the scenic meadows, forests, and mountains surrounding the hot springs. You can soak in the natural hot springs after a day’s riding adventure. The volcanic landscape offers unique scenery and wildlife sightings. The area is best for relaxed riding and nature lovers.

The Sand Dunes and Hot Springs Adventure ride includes a ride through the remarkable Gobi-Elsen Tasarkhai sand dunes and relaxing in Tsenkher Hot Springs. The four-day ride is challenging, so it is best for intermediate and advanced riders.

Hustai National Park

Embark on a horseback riding adventure to spot endangered Mongolian wild horses (Przewalski’s horses) and other wildlife in the protected area of Hustai National Park. Support conservation efforts while enjoying scenic grasslands and mountains. The park is ideal for beautiful views, wildlife lovers, and all riding levels.

Horses on a pasture in Mongolia

Making the Most of Mongolian Horse Culture

As you can see, Mongolia offers a wide range of landscapes and adventures for horseback riding at all levels. You can book a tour to explore the iconic landscapes and cultures that make Mongolia a riding paradise. Mongolians have a deep-rooted love of horses and horseback riding, and you can experience the strong ties between nomadic cultures and horses that pulsate through the pastoral nation.

Cultural festivals like the Naadam Festival showcase the central place that horses play in Mongolian life and traditions. You can witness the thrill of Mongolian horse racing at the Naadam Festival, talk to local nomadic people who live side by side with their horses, and learn about the strong role that Mongolian horses play in the country.

If you want to learn more about Mongolian horseback riding tours, Horse Tours Club has a comprehensive database of horse riding tours. Explore horseback riding experiences in Asia and around the world with our extensive listings.