One word: extraordinary.
Not suitable for independent travelling, for many reasons. I think they are happy with organized tours with people who spend money, but don’t care about backpackers on budget.
Public transport does not really exist. They are nomads, after all.
No one outside the capital speaks any language.
It is not possible for a foreigner to rent a car, and if the car breaks (likely), you are basically fucked, and not in an enjoyable way.
Food is monotonous and not very nice (I’m not picky, but I think I’ve had my share of boiled mutton for the lifetime).
Not really vegetarian-friendly. (That is actually not a minus). They don’t (quite understandably) quite grasp the concept. On the other hand, if you are a vegetarian because you don’t like how animals are treated in the western meat industry, which is fair enough, you have to realize that there is no place on Earth where the animals live more freely and happily than in Mongolia. You can manage to survive if you cook your own food, but be prepared that the locals will get offended if you refuse the food they offer you.
The saddest thing is that they have no notion of preservation, or environmental protection. The steppe is at times full of garbage, they litter everywhere, they finish a water and then just throw the plastic bottle away, wherever they are. And if you tell them not to, they don’t understand why. Which is a real pity and they will regret it one day.
Even with organized tours, the country is not so touristic (yet)
People are friendly (mostly)
Nature is spectacular and very diverse. There is everything: mountains, steppe, lakes, caves, canyons, cliffs, dunes, you name it. We travelled more than 3000 km, yet we’ve only seen a little piece of Mongolia.
Stargazing paradise. With low humidity and no light pollution, the night sky looks like it’s full of pearls.
Wildlife: have you ever seen an eagle soaring? Or a vulture? If you’re lucky enough, you can see snow leopards and wild wolves in the west of the country, too.
I am sure it is beautiful in winter, too, although the temperatures fall below -40 C.
For your convenience, the summary of our itinerary (excluding 2 extra days in UB before and after the road trip):
D1 – UB
D2 – Amarbayasgalant (350 km)
D3 – Transfer towards the west, camp overnight at Ogii Lake (395 km)
D4 – Tsenkher hor springs (160 km)
D5 – Kharkhorin (120 km)
D6 – Ongiin Khiid (290 km)
D7 – Bayanzag (170 km)
D8 – Khongoriin Els (160 km)
D9 – Khongoriin Els (0 km)
D10 – Yolin Am (cca 170 km)
D11 – Tsagaan Suvarga (200 km)
D12 – Baga Gazryn Chuulu (240 km)
D13 – Transfer to Hustai (260 km)
D14 – Hustai + transfer to Gorkh-Terelj (cca 150 km)
D15 – Gorkh-Terelj (0 km)
D16 – back to UB