Roll out of Ulaanbaatar (UB) in a Russian jeep, or even just on a public bus, and you’ll only need to put a hill or two between yourself and the city before the vast steppes of central Mongolia begin to unfold before your eyes. Verdant swaths of empty landscapes are sprinkled with tiny gers (traditional yurts) stretching to the horizon while magical light plays across the valleys. This is the Mongolian heartland, loaded with both historical sites and natural beauty, with plenty of scope to horse trek in forested mountains, camp by pretty lakes or soak in hot springs. Because the region is relatively close to Ulaanbaatar (and many sights are right beside the city), infrastructure is a little better than in other areas, with many places reachable by public transport. The most scenic sub-region is the Khangai Mountains, but you’ll find beautiful scenery even if you only venture as far as Terelj.