If you thought Mongolia was nothing more than the land of Genghis Khan, think again. This nation of undisturbed nature and rich cultural heritage has so much more to offer the intrepid traveler.

Mongolia, the most sparsely populated country in the world, is a vast and wondrous oasis from an increasingly crowded world. Indeed much of the landlocked nation is covered by steppes, with mountains to the north and west and the great Gobi Desert to the south.

Clinging to a rich heritage that dates back to the days of Genghis Khan, about a third of the nation remains at least semi-nomadic -- this, in the face of increasing modernity in the capital.

In the new Mongolia of Ulaanbaatar, herders gossip on cell phones as an international set frequents karaoke bars and vegetarian cafes.

Since the fall of communism, Mongolia has done everything in its power to open up and invite the world in. Yet, despite all its efforts to lure international investment, it remains one of the poorest countries in Asia.

Tourism, along with mining and cashmere, are key pillars of the economy and a growing network of ger camps cater to international travelers seeking eco-tourism adventures. Mongolia is ideal for horse trekking, long distance cycling, hiking, fly fishing, star gazing, and yak carting.

Though its tourist season is small -- generally from May to September -- the legendary hospitality of the Mongolian people keeps tourists coming back time and again.

What's to see? Envision vast open desert, towering snow-capped mountains, and deep craggy gorges. Picture Buddhist temples, mysterious ruins, felt homes, and the caw of an eagle. Sprinkle on top of all of that the legend of a man who started with nothing and drastically changed the course of history.

This is Mongolia. Have a look:

Getting There:

There are daily flights into Mongolia's main international airport, Ulaanbaatar's Chinghis Khaan, from Korea, China, Russia, Germany, and Japan with carriers including MIAT (Mongolian Airlines), Aeroflot (Russian Airlines), Korean Air, and Air China. By land, take the Trans-Mongolian train from Moscow or Beijing for an exhilarating entry into the country. CLICK HERE for more information.