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Mongolia’s Ancient Mysteries & Modern Marvels - 2020

Seoul, South Korea • Ulaanbaatar and Gobi Desert, Mongolia
  • $499
  • 13
  • 26
Moderate Deluxe
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It is a country of sweeping landscapes and deep history; of impossibly wide skies and captivating nomadic tribes. The mere mention of Mongolia evokes images of Genghis Khan and his hordes, yet this land of the “Eternal Blue Sky” offers so much more than just its most famous and ruthless denizen. On Mongolia’s Ancient History & Modern Marvels, you’ll get a 360-degree view of one of the world’s least densely populated — and most enigmatic — countries.

This Mongolia tour was already a remarkable value, and we’ve enhanced it with an additional day and four new features! Traveling in your small group, you’ll get up close and personal to both the Mongolian landscape and its famously welcoming people, as well as learning about its lesser-known history and its notoriously itinerant culture. You’ll listen to the famed “singing” sands of the Khongor Dunes, marvel at the otherworldly beauty of the Gobi Desert and its titular glacier, seek out its distinctive wildlife, and see its rapidly changing capital, Ulaanbaatar, before it is transformed. You’ll be introduced to the culture here as well, as you get to know some nomadic people to learn about their way of life, not to mention listening to a special performance of Mongolian throat singers, and a special Vantage-exclusive cultural performance by local children. To truly complete your immersion, you’ll even enjoy a stay in a traditional ger tent in the heart of the Mongolian countryside.

Seeing just this fascinating country would make for an unforgettable experience — yet, you’ll also explore the South Korean capital of Seoul. This city is pulsing with a high-tech energy, yet it retains deep roots to its past, as you’ll see when you visit its antique temples, palaces, and hanok villages. This is such a different culture and experience, it will feel as though you’ve received an extra bonus trip!

On this epic journey, you’ll experience 26 included features and Cultural Discoveries as well as one UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can enhance your already unbeatable value by adding an extension to Beijing, where you can admire another 4 UNESCO sites in one of the world’s most interesting cities. Traveling solo? Enjoy free or low-cost Single Supplements to save big.

Follow in the footsteps of Genghis Khan and delve into a world far from the usual. Experience the blue skies, spectacular steppes, intriguing history, and singular culture of this nation on this behind-the-scenes, small-group adventure in Mongolia.

What memories will you bring home on this adventure? Check out our photography page for inspiration, tips and tricks, and more. Explore now!

Seoul Round-trip

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Beijing, China

FROM: $1599 PER PERSON | 5 DAYS | $320 PER DAY
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DAY 1:

Depart home

Board your flight to Seoul, South Korea today.

DAY 2:

Arrive in Seoul, South Korea

We arrive in Seoul tonight and transfer directly to our deluxe hotel in the heart of South Korea’s capital. An evening arrival affords us the luxury of settling in and getting a good night’s rest before beginning our discoveries.

DAY 3:

Visit UNESCO-listed Changdeokgung, enjoy a BBQ lunch, and visit a hanok village

We’ll begin our adventures with a Welcome Briefing and Reception at the hotel, followed by some afternoon exploring. Our focus will be Changdeokgung, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Korea’s “Five Grand Palaces.” The entire complex of halls, pavilions, gardens, gates, bridges, and shrines was designed to harmoniously blend with the park-like setting.

You’ll also savor a special lunch which will introduce you to this country’s famous barbecue dishes. Korean barbecue, or galbi, has become immensely more popular around the world, and you’ll get to see (and taste!) the reason why during this delicious meal. While enjoying some of the delectable dishes that have garnered such fame for this east Asian cuisine, you’ll also learn more about their preparation and prevalence in Korea. Delve further into traditional Korean life when we walk through Bukchon, a historical hanok village of antique houses, courtyards, and alleys that is nestled between two royal districts. This evening, after joining your fellow travelers for a Welcome Dinner at a traditional Korean restaurant, take in sweeping views of the city from N Seoul Tower.

Included Features:

  • Visit the UNESCO-listed Changdeokgung Palace
  • Stroll through Bukchon Hanok Village
  • Visit N Seoul Tower
Cultural Discovery:
  • Galbi Korean barbecue lunch

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 4:

Discover the Largest of the “Five Grand Palaces” and learn about traditional Korean life

Built in 1395 as the main residence of the ruling Joseon dynasty, but abandoned for nearly 300 years after the Japanese destroyed it in a 1592 fire, Gyeongbokgung has undergone several restorations as well as repeated destruction during WWII and the Korean War. But the splendor of what remains is enough to explain why Gyeongbokgung is called “the palace greatly blessed by Heaven.” While here, we will visit the onsite National Folk Museum where you will learn about everyday Korean life through the ages, admire costume and crafts displays, and try your hand at using everyday implements.

We’ll then proceed to the Insadong neighborhood, a popular enclave of shops and old tea houses where you’ll get to sample a cup of the local brew. We conclude our explorations today with a Western Buffet dinner at local restaurant.

Included Features:

  • Full-day tour of Seoul, including a visit to Gyeongbokgung Palace
  • Visit the National Folk Museum
  • Walk around Insadong neighborhood
Cultural Discovery:
  • Hands-on Korean folk arts class at the National Folk Museum
  • Experience a traditional tea ceremony at Insadong

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 5:

Experience the Demilitarized Zone in South Korea and fly to Ulaanbaatar

Today’s excursion will be both electrifying and sobering, as we travel to the world’s most heavily armed border, the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea at roughly the 38th parallel. The DMZ was formed in 1953 when the North and South Korean governments agreed to an armistice (with prodding from their respective Chinese and American allies). On average, the buffer zone is about 2.5 miles wide and though it is lined with troops, electric fences, land mines, and tank traps, it has also become a pristine nature reserve. When the two Koreas need to negotiate, they enter the DMZ at the village of Panmunjom and confer at the JSA (Joint Security Area). Heavily armed North and South Korean soldiers standoff here in a tenuous truce, and this is as close as you can get to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (aka North Korea). You will also have the chance to enter one of the four tunnels beneath the DMZ that were secretly dug by the North Koreans and later discovered.

Also featured is the Dorasan Station Observatory, where you can peer through binoculars across the border into the North. You’re going to want to have your camera or GoPro ready — the entire experience is thrilling and is filled with opportunities to take great photos to show friends and family back home — a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience! We’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant here, and at the end of our tour, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Ulaanbaatar.

Included Feature:

  • Full-day tour of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 6:

Explore Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, and step into nomadic life at its fringes

Today will be a memorable occasion as we’ll visit a nomadic encampment on the edge of town. Here, we’ll get the unique opportunity to see how a typical Mongolian family lives in a ger (wood and felt tent) dwelling, as well as enjoying a demonstration of traditional horsemanship, livestock management, domestic crafts, and distilling.

After lunch we embark on a panoramic city tour, which will introduce us to important sights of Ulaanbaatar, including Sukhbaatar Square (where the leader of the country’s revolution, Damdin Sukhbaatar, declared independence from China in 1921) and the National History Museum. A local guide will lead the way through Mongolia’s largest museum, which holds nearly 60,000 artifacts relating to the history of Mongolia and central Asia.

This evening, join your fellow travelers for dinner at hotel.

Included Features:

  • Half-day Ulaanbaatar city tour
  • Guided visit at the National Museum of Mongolian History
Cultural Discovery:
  • Showcase of Mongolian nomadic lifestyle at a nomad encampment

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 7:

Fly to the Gobi Desert to experience its beauty and wildlife

A morning flight brings us to the South Gobi Desert and our first desert camp resort, Dream Gobi. Here you will take in the stupendous beauty of the steppes from your own ger, a round Mongolian tent made of felt and wood. Settle in, relax, and explore the facilities before we ride out to the Yolyn Am gorge. Here, we behold a rugged oasis of sheltered canyons, unique wildlife, and a river of ice known as the Gobi Glacier. Keep your eye out for furry pica and birds of prey like the golden eagle or saker falcon. Before returning to camp we’ll also peek into the nature museum at the park’s entrance. Tonight after dinner, relax by the fire or do some stargazing beneath Mongolia’s “eternal blue skies.”

Included Features:

  • Visit Yolyn Am gorge and the Gobi Glacier
  • Visit the Yolyn Am Nature Museum
Cultural Discovery:
  • Stay in a Mongolian ger tent

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 8:

A Vantage-exclusive cultural festival with local children and a visit with a nomadic family

Today offers you a Vantage-exclusive experience — a special cultural performance by local children. This is a fascinating and heartwarming look at the storied traditions of Mongolia, including traditional song and dance performances, wrestling and archery competitions, and more. Perhaps the best part: Vantage travelers will get to join in on the fun if they so choose and can award the lucky winners with medals. It is a fun, enlightening, and uplifting experience that travelers will remember long after they return home. Later, visit a nomadic family to learn about their lifestyle and customs. Thousands of miles from our home, we gain a deeper understanding of the struggles and joys of locals . . . it is truly a highlight of the journey.

Vantage Exclusive:

  • “Mini-Naadam” cultural performance by Mongolian children
Cultural Discovery:
  • Visit a nomadic family

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 9:

Singing Sands and two safaris: 4 x 4 Desert Safari and Camel Safari

Today we leave Dream Gobi Camp and embark on a 4x4 desert safari to Khongoryn Els, a dreamscape of shifting dunes whose colors change with the light and whose sand particles emit a hypnotic “singing” sound.

In this more westerly location, you’ll enjoy a different desert perspective from your lodgings at the Gobi Erdene Camp. In the afternoon you will ride back across the magnificent dunes on a “ship of the desert,” a two-humped Bactrian camel. This camel safari takes about half an hour and allows you to experience this unique form of transportation amid the sand dunes of the Gobi Desert. Should guests not wish to ride a camel, there is also an opportunity to do some light trekking near the oases at the Khongor sand dunes. Later, enjoy a relaxing evening.

Included Feature:

  • Full-day excursion with 4x4 safari and camel safari at Khongoryn Els

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 10:

Morning camel races and marveling at the “Flaming Cliffs” of Bayanzag

This morning begins with yet another Vantage-exclusive experience: Camel racing through the dunes of the Gobi. You’ll enjoy the thrill of watching these denizens of the desert strut their stuff in an incomparable setting. Our leisurely morning also includes a ride back across the desert to the Dream Gobi Camp. After lunch we’ll explore Bayanzag to admire its flaming “Red Cliffs.” It was here that the American paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews unearthed the world’s first-discovered dinosaur eggs and other important fossils such as the velociraptor and protoceratops. (Andrews was said to have been an inspiration for the Indiana Jones character of Steven Spielberg’s epic adventure films.) We’ll enjoy a bit of light trekking around the site before a delightful picnic dinner featuring delicious Mongolian barbecue fare — enjoying our delicious meal while watching the sunset.

Vantage Exclusive:

  • Witness camel racing in the Gobi
Included Feature:
  • Visit the “Red Cliffs” of Bayanzag and enjoy a sunset picnic dinner featuring Mongolian barbecue

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 11:

Inside Gandan Monastery and the Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan

Flying from Dalanzadgad, we arrive back in Ulaanbaatar and spend the morning at the Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan. Built in 1903, this modern-day museum complex is the last of four historical residences of Mongolia’s Buddhist spiritual leader. We’ll also visit Gandan Monastery, Mongolia’s most important Buddhist center. Built in 1809, the monastery is another of the few institutions that survived the Stalinist purges of the 1930s. You’ll get a chance to see this active monastery, where 600 monks maintain long-standing Buddhist traditions in Mongolia.

After lunch, you’ll have the rest of the day at leisure to explore Ulaanbaatar as you wish. Dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant.

Included Feature:

  • Tour the Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan
  • Visit Gandan Monastery

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 12:

Visit the Genghis Khan Statue Complex, Farewell Dinner, and flight to Seoul

This morning we’ll visit the unforgettable Genghis Khan monument. Standing 131 feet high atop a 33-foot-high coliseum, this stainless-steel behemoth is the world’s largest equestrian statue and a fitting tribute to a man who stood larger than life. Exhibits within the coliseum depict important events in Chinggis’ life, including his legendary discovery here of a golden horse whip that foretold his destiny. You can ride an elevator and emerge from between his legs to gaze at the lush Mongolian steppe from a deck atop his steed’s head, and we’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Then, we stop by a cashmere boutique where you may acquire a souvenir — Mongolia is the world’s second-largest producer of the prized wool, which is exceptionally soft and warm.

A delicious Mongolian feast awaits tonight as we attend our Farewell Dinner, along with a marvelous musical performance. You will be dazzled by the costumed folk dancers and Mongolian throat singers, masters of an art form in which individual singers are able to produce multiple tones at once.

After dinner, we transfer to the airport for our overnight flight to Seoul.

Included Feature:

  • Visit the Genghis Khan Statue Complex
  • Visit a Mongolian cashmere store
Cultural Discovery:
  • Farewell Dinner with traditional Mongolian performances, including throat singing

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 13:

Board your flight home

Upon arrival in Seoul, you’ll be transferred to your hotel where you’ll have use of a dayroom to rest and relax. After lunch on your own, transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Please note: Arrive to your destination or home rested and refreshed! Convenient gateway city stopover options mean you can break up longer flights easily — just ask our Flight Experts for assistance.

Included Meals:


Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Adventure Leader or regional expert.

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Mongolia’s Ancient Mysteries & Modern Marvels - 2020

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