I'll be travelling with my boyfriend to Mongolia, flying in to Ulaanbataar in July and back out in September. Any advice on a route to take, or generally how to fill the two months best? In the first throes of planning so open to any suggestions.
You gonna spend a lot of those two months on transportation, as it is really slow in Mongolia
But for real advice I would suggest the following prioritised:
-Go out west! Sigsay village near Ölgii have some awesome eagle-hunters and is very off the map.. It won't be hunting season, they can still put on a show for you! Worth the 48-busride!
-The Gobi Desert! Most guesthouses in UB can arrange tours, or you can choose the adventurous alternative and head to Dalanzadgad and negotiate with a driver (and drink beers with the local Peace Corps volunteers, who the diver will probably call for translations)
-Trek (half way) around Khövsgöl Nuur Lake! With a little luck you can meet a shaman and get sacred rituals performed in your favour.
-Visit Genghis Khan's birthplace! In the village of Dadal, which is perfect of horse riding, fishing and getting away from it all.. Has an awesome homestay on its south eastern outskirt (look in your LP guide)
-Visit rather touristic natural parks around UB, like Gorkhi-Terelj! My suggestion would be to give this a miss and the visit the parks to the west of UB... Most are good for camping and horse riding...
Ask certainly gave some good suggestions as to where to go and what to do. One of the best experiences is riding a horse on the Mongolian steppe.
But really take note of Ask's comment on the slow transportation. In reality, it goes backwards. The countryside of Mongolia is fantastic to visit, but it is very, very difficult to get around. It is expansive and mostly empty. Except for the few paved roads that extend no more than about 100km outside of Ulanbaatar, the roads are deplorable and travelling is very slow, bumpy and too often, jaw-jarring. And it's a long way between towns. Plane travel is expensive. And even if you get to your destination, finding a way to get into the countryside can be difficult if you don't know the language - and few people speak English outside of UB. There is virtually no public transport - there are vans that travel around the countryside which usually spit out 57 people when they should only hold about 12. The buses are just as bad.
You could investigate travel agents via the internet and book a round Mongolia trip or even a series of short trips. The agent would provide the transportation, food and accommodation. There are some great trips where you can go from UB, down to the Gobi and up to Lake Kvosgol with lots of pit stops inbetween. Unless you go uber-class and hire your own car and driver, most of these trips are done in Russian vans which are quite comfortable, seating about 5 people, have padded ceilings and so are an experience in themselves. If you want to experience public transport, you could go to Terelj or up north to Selenge where the facilities are a wee bit better.
Also - go to the Amsterdam Cafe on Peace Avenue. Lots of visitors post notices for people to travel with them to various spots, splitting costs of driver and car, etc. About the only place in town that does this.
Also - I don't know from which direction you are travelling, but from east to west you can only get to Mongolia via Beijing or Seoul (maybe even Taiwan and Hong Kong these days). I would avoid Air China flights because they are notorious for being delayed.
Hope this helps and enjoy. It's worth the effort.