Gorkhi – Terelj National Park –

Reachable by Public Transport!

Mongolia is not yet much explored by tourists because of its short summer season and quite the remoteness. Therefore, there’s a lack of information on how to reach places; what are the prices and opening times of tourist attractions. It was surprising and a bit disappointing to read through blogs suggesting the easiest and the most expensive option: “Just take the tour!” “You can’t reach the place without the guide!” That’s just ridiculous! Actually, you CAN move around like locals do in Mongolia, too! You just need some patience and a little bit more time, but it’ll save you a lot, and you’ll get a more authentic experience that real travelers are looking for!

Why visit Gorkhi Terej National Park?

First, let’s see why to visit this national park in Mongolia.

For us, the first reason was simply its proximity to the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. And then – the pictures we saw taken by other park visitors. They were just stunning! When we reached the park, we got to see this beauty with our own eyes – massive rock formations that sink in wildflower meadows and groves of trees inhabited by red deer, wolves, bears, and so many more wild animals! No wonder it’s one of the most visited national parks in the country! The park consists of three areas – one is a strictly protected area for scientific research, and then there’s a restricted area purely for local nomads. You’ll be able to get to the third one which is meant for tourists and environmental activities.

How to get to Gorkhi Terelj National Park?

Most tourists take the Terelj National Park Day tour and are ready to spend around 100 US dollars while we got to the park for just 1 USD. Isn’t this crazy? Yeah, we also read that Gorkhi Terelj National Park is not reachable by public transport but it’s pure falsity. It’s just that nobody tried. But we did.

Ulaanbaatar to Gorkhi Terelj National Park by Public Transport!

First, you have to reach the capital city of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar. You’ll see there is the main road, called Peace Avenue. Along this street, there are several public bus stops. You have to take a bus that goes to the East of the city, to Офицеруудын ордон station (or Tenger Plaza – as location). Just ask locals, and they’ll point you at the right bus and tell you whether the specific bus goes as far or not. Google shows only a couple of buses that go there but in reality, there are so many more. The ticket (per person) is 500 Mongolian Tugrik.

So the first step – from Ulaanbaatar centre get to the East of the city. Peace Avenue, AH-3 road.

Next step – next bus. From your last stop near Tenger Plaza (Офицеруудын ордон station) get on the next bus to the closest town to Ulaanbaatar, named Nalaikh in Mongolian. Mongolian people would pronounce this differently but still – you can use the map on your phone to show the driver your destination. Remember, you’re already at the last stop of the city public bus route. Now the only thing you need to do – is get the bus that goes outside Ulaanbaatar. Intercity buses are also quite frequent, and this last stop of the city buses is their first one on their way to Nalaikh. There will always be somebody around to help you get on the right bus, so don’t worry! This will be a bit longer ride, so the price of the ticket is 1000 Mongolian Tugrik.

Third and the last step. Getting from Nalaikh to Ghorki Terelj National Park. If you tell the Nalaikh city bus driver you’re going to the park (mention the park’s name), he’ll drop you by the Налайх зах худалдааны төв marketplace. Behind this shop complex (on the right side of it), there’s a parking lot. Sometimes taxi drivers gather there. And one white van will be waiting for passengers to bring them to the town of Terelj. If there’s no van, it has already left and you’ll need to wait for the next one. Remember, traveling by bus takes a little bit more time, but it’ll save you quite a lot of money!

Ask the driver of the van to let you out by Turtle Rock Rd or Dino Park (Dine Park is on the roadside, you will have to walk from there to Turtle Rock by Turtle Rock Rd which is just there). Everything’s easily reachable by walking. And this last ride will cost you 1500 Mongolian Tugrik.

To sum it up: three buses, two hours, 3000 Mongolian Tugrik which is around 1 USD. Yeah, instead of 100 USD which the tour would cost. We started to travel in the afternoon, got to the park, and still hiked to the temple. So yes, Gorkhi Terelj National Park is reachable by public transport. Three buses, 2 hours, 1 USD.

What to see in Gorkhi Terelj National Park?

The main attraction of the park is Turtle Rock – a 24-m tall cliff that resembles a turtle. This is the first attraction you’ll see if you follow our suggested route. You can actually climb this rock, just be careful, no safety fences are there! The legend, written on a big poster by the rock, says that at the time when Western Mongolian Khan lost in some battles, he retreated all the way here. This was the place where the big Khan prepared to flee from the enemy back to the West. And he hid his silverware and other treasures in the vicinity of the rock. Since then, this place has been called not only Turtle Rock but also Silver Rock. However, many have tried to find the jewels here and failed. No fee to see Turtle Rock.

Around the rock, you’ll see small shops and souvenir houses. No worries – they are open late and quite a variety of products are available. So, no need to shop in Ulaanbaatar.

Another main Gorkhi Terelj National Park attraction is Ariyabal Meditation Temple located about 1 km from Turtle Rock. You’ll be able to see the temple on the hill from the rock. The walk to the temple is not too long, in less than an hour you’ll reach it.

First, you’ll need to pay the entrance fee for the temple complex which is 8,000 Mongolian Tugrik. The complex is open every day from 9 AM to 6 PM.

The very way to the temple is covered with wooden plates with 144 Buddhist teachings written on them, it’s worth walking slowly and reading them all. After these signs, you’ll need to walk across a rope bridge and climb 108 steps. You’ll hear locals chanting “Om Mani Padme Hum”, a significant Buddhist mantra, to pure the mind and body. The scenery of this place is spectacular, do not miss it!

Where to stay in Gorkhi Terelj National Park?

So many yurts/ger complexes surround Turtle Rock. The closest ones will be a bit more pricey, just walk further away and you’ll get the deals of 100,000 Mongolian Tugriks. Staying in a yurt is the way to experience Mongolian Nomad culture. Sometimes these yurts or gers can be heated. The toilet will probably be outside in a separate house which would be common use. Most yurt complexes will offer to try archery which is another way to get that authentic feel.

Mongolia is a beautiful country and Gorkhi Terelj National Park is one of the most beautiful places we saw here. Do not miss it because they say – “only reachable to those who come with a lot of money in their pocket” which is not true! We hope this article will help you to get to Gorkhi Terelj National Park and enjoy it for real!


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