12/03/2014 11:18 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The One Place In Asia You're Overlooking But Shouldn't

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Jamie Metzl is a modern day renaissance man -- a novelist, extreme endurance athlete, senior U.S. policy aide, and also a bonafide Asia expert.

Metzl has traveled extensively in the region, earned a Ph.D. in Asian history from Oxford, served as executive vice president of the prestigious Asia Society, and advised numerous governments in Asia, including even North Korea's.

I spoke with Metzl recently (he's promoting his new novel, "Genesis Code") and asked if he could recommend a favorite travel destination in Asia. "Oh, that's an easy one," he said. "I absolutely love Mongolia, it is such a magical place. The Gobi Desert is actually where most of the dinosaurs in the Museum of Natural History come from."

He continued: "As opposed to China, Mongolia is this huge country with a very small number of people. Everyone has their little tent -- the Turkic word is yurt, but in Mongolia it's call a ger, and you're miles away from everybody else. So there's this expansive frontier culture, a culture of welcoming and of self-reliance and of not wanting to be part of some system that's going to oppress you.

"And the people, at least my Mongolian friends -- I certainly don't vouch for every Mongolian -- but they're just such a creative, fun-loving, big-hearted people. They're not the only people in the world that way, but it's certainly in a way that's touched me."

So travelers take note and add Mongolia to your list. For more info, here are five amazing Mongolian travel experiences and 10 tips for getting the most out of Mongolia once you're there.

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Below, some beautiful shots from around Mongolia:

A row of Mongolian gers

Sunset over Gorkhi-Terelj National Park

The Gobi Desert

Gandantegchinlen Monastery