Explore Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape & World Heritage Sites and Surrounding Areas in Kharkhorin

Picture of Visit the World Heritage Site of Orkhon Valley & Kharkhorin

Orkhon Valley and surrounding area are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s a must-visit place in Mongolia with abundance of history, attractions and natural beauty. The area is located near the Orkhon River, 320km west of the capital city Ulaanbaatar in Central Mongolia. The geographic area encompasses the southern tip of Arkhangai and the northwestern tip of Uvurkhangai provinces.

The area around Orkhon Valley is most famous for Kharkhorin (Karakorum), the ancient capital city of the Mongolian Empire and Erdene Zuu, the oldest surviving Buddhist monastery. In ancient times, it was the site Xiongnu, Goturk and Uighurs empires, where you will find Turkic stone inscriptions called Kul Tigin steles (Orkhon Inscription) and Kharbalgas, the ancient capital of the Uighur empire.

Things to see and do in Orkhon and Kharkhorin

Kharkhorin & Erdene Zuu Monastery

Journey to Kharkhorin and discover the ruins of the ancient capital city of the Mongol Empire, step inside the mesmerising temples of the Erdene Zuu Monastery and marvel at ornate statues, stupas and the outer walls.

Staying in Kharkhorin for 2-3 days is recommended and it is good stepping point to see nearby attractions in Orkhon and onward to other travel areas. You will get the chance to explore and take amazing photos of Erdene Zuu, the earliest surviving Buddhist monastery in Mongolia, at your own pace when there are less tourists.

Kharkhorin Museum

Located 8-10 minute walk from the Erdene Zuu Monastery, the Kharkhorin Museum is dedicated to preserving Mongolia’s history and culture. The museum collection includes detailed information and many artefacts from past empires and khaganates including Hunnu, Turkic, Uyghur, Liao dynasty, Rouran, and the Mongol Empire.

The museum opened in 2010 with the help of the Japanese Government, and since then it has become one of the best museums outside of Ulaanbaatar.

Orkhon Inscriptions

Visit the Gokhturk Museum of Khosoo Tsaidam to see the earliest known Old Turkic language inscribed on two monuments known as Kul Tigin steles. These monuments were erected by the Gokturks in the early 8th century to honour the Turkish princess, Kul Tigin and Bilge Khagan. The museum was built in 2010 and other collection include stone turtles, historical artefacts and human statues.

It is located about 47km (45min drive) north of Kharkhorin & Erdene Zuu at the UNESCO world heritage site of Orkhon in the Arkhangai province.


Explore the remains of Kharbalgas (Ordu-Baliq), the ancient capital of the Uighur Empire. The city was built on the former site of Gokturk Khagan in the mid 8th century until it was destroyed by the Yenisei Kyrgyz in the mid 9th century.

It is located in the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site in the Arkhangai province and it is roughly 27km northwest of Kharkhorin and 387km from Ulaanbaatar.

Orkhon Waterfall

Orkhon Waterfall (Red Waterfall) is the most famous waterfall in Mongolia due to its proximity to Kharkhorin and Ulaanbaatar. It is not the highest waterfall but the rugged gorges and the surrounding area of trees and mountain make it one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Mongolia.

The waterfall is usually calm during the dry summer season and you can swim at the basin at most times. However always take precaution and check the weather as sudden strong currents occurs from time to time.

It is located 120km (3.5 hours) southwest from Kharkhorin and 460km (8.5 hours) from Ulaanbaatar.

Shankh Monastery

Visit the 17th-century Shankh Monastery founded by Zanabazar, the first Jebtsundamba Khutuktu. The monastery is one of the earliest surviving and historically important monastery in Mongolia. It is located only 25km south of Kharkorin and 384km from Ulaanbaatar in the Uvurkhangai province.

Tuvkhun Hermitage Monastery

Another historical monastery founded by Zanabazar and built around the same time as Shankh Monaestery in the 17th-century. It stands 2300 meters above sea level on top of a Shireet mountain with scenic views of the Khangai Nuruu National Park.

It is located 47km southwest from Kharkhorin, between the border of Arkhangai and Uvurkhangai province in a lush pine forest.

Places to stay in Uvurkhangai

ASA Land Resort

Stay at the newly opened futuristic-looking resort along the scenic area of the Orkhon River during your visit to Kharkhorin and Erdene Zuu in Uvurkhangai. It is only 5km (10min drive) west of Erdene Zuu Monastery. Rooms include wooden chalets,  futuristic gers with ensuite bathroom and master suites. Facilities include a restraurant, business & event room, outdoor pool, free wi-fi, free parking and more.

For more information visit: http://asaland.mn/

Khujirt Spa and Wellness Resort

Stay at Khujirt Spa Resort to reboot and energise yourself with a spa and a variety of therapies. The resort offers 5 different room types, including standard & superior rooms, standard & junior suites, and family suites.

Other amenities include a restaurant, conference hall, swimming pool, meeting rooms, mini cinema, kids play area, pool billiard and culture & events hall.

It is located 25km south of Kharkhorin and Erdene Zuu Monastery, and for more information visit: https://khankhujirt.mn/

How do I book this tour?

Tour Packages

If you are looking for short tour & holiday itineraries then you can contact us. We will  find you reliable and safe tour operator for all budget types.

Travel Independently

  • Hire a car with or without a driver for the ultimate freedom and comfort. We highly recommend SIXT Mongolia and Avis Mongolia for the international standard of service.
  • Get in touch with us to book entrance tickets in advance for Discover the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape & World Heritage Site and Surrounding Areas. Or pay for it upon arrival at the attraction.
  • Most camps don’t require pre-booking to use the restaurant service but during weekends and peak season it is advisable to call and pre-book your preferred camp/resort.