Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, Mongolia

Photo: Römert (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Glamping tents. Gers. Yurts. It doesn’t matter what they’re called. The structures are environmentally friendly and portable. In many places, they’re traditional. They even make for great social media posts. But you’re over them. You need a real hotel. You prefer solid walls and your own bathroom when you fall asleep at night. Even when you travel to Mongolia.

Gers are ubiquitous in Mongolia. The landlocked Asian country was ruled by nomadic empires for centuries. The circular structures—made with wooden frames and wool felt—could easily be dismantled and moved by yaks as the weather changed, the food supply migrated, or invaders arrived. Though Mongolian culture has slowly modernized, gers haven’t been forgotten. People who live in Ulaanbaatar now use gers as retreats from the modern capital.

One of the most popular escapes from Ulaanbaatar is Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. The southern end of Mongolia’s third-largest protected area is only one hour northeast of the city. The vast park was created in 1993. Larch and pine forests, edelweiss-filled meadows, sparkling rivers, and glacial lakes are found among the Khentii Mountains. Brown bears, wild boars, and wolves roam the mostly uninhabited land. You’re going for the rock formations and the adventure activities.

Photo: Terelj Hotel

Luckily, there’s a real—and luxurious—hotel in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. Terelj Hotel has a perfect setting overlooking the Khentii Mountains and the Terelj River. Mongolian antiques and contemporary art fill the lobby. Cashmere blankets and silk cushions decorate your junior suite. There’s a tea lounge, a cigar lounge, and an indoor pool surrounded by heated floors. The Tereljmaa Spa is perched above the river. Breakfast is served on a terrace beside it, as well.

So, now that you’re comfortable, it’s time to have fun. Hikes lead to well-known rock formations, including Turtle Rock and the Old Man Reading a Book Rock. You can jump in glacial Khagiin Khar Lake or soak in the Yestii Hot Water Springs. You can visit a Buddhist monastery or try to find the 100 Monks Cave, where monks hid during periods of repression. Rock climbing, horseback riding, and whitewater rafting trips are available, too.

At the end of the day, you’re sweaty and completely exhausted. First, you’re going to turn on the jets in the jacuzzi and get a stone therapy full-body massage. You’ll take a long, hot shower and sip a glass of champagne before dinner. Then you’ll plan your next adventure and fall asleep in your quiet room. This is when you need hotel perks the most.


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