FAQ for traveling in Mongolia
Is Mongolia a safe destination?
Mongolia has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and is considered a very safe destination, on par with the US and Europe. Mongolian people are known for their nomadic hospitality and they will make you feel very welcome.
How do I get to Mongolia ?
The main ways to get to Mongolia are by train and by air. Mongolia’s national carrier, MIAT Mongolian Airlines, runs flights run all year around to Europe and Asia: Berlin via Moscow, as well as to Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo and Irkutsk (Russia). Some additional flights are scheduled to Osaka and Nagoya during the summer time.
Foreign airlines such as Aeroflot, Air China, Korean Air also operate flights connecting Ulaanbaatar with Moscow, Beijing and Seoul.
The Trans-Mongolian railway, which connects Moscow and Beijing, passes through Ulaanbaatar. The Mongolian railway runs to Ulaan-Ude, Irkutsk and Beijing.
Mongolia is not the coldest and remotest part of the world, as it is often portrayed in the Western media. Though winter last from November to March, the real cold (-30 Celsius) lasts only one month, from mid-December to January. During the rest of winter, temperatures fluctuate around minus 10 to minus 14 Celsius.
Winds are a regular feature in Mongolia, with rarely a day without a slow breeze of 4-9 meters per second. In summer cool winds come mostly from the north-west and west, bringing in some relief from summer heat. However, sudden collisions of warm and cool air masses can result in sudden heavy rains.
Visitors to Mongolia should be aware of the drastic drop of temperature between day and night. We strongly advise wearing a sweater or a light jacket in the evening. It can become especially chilly at night in the South Gobi desert.
What is the best time to go to Mongolia?
The best time to visit Mongolia is during the Mongolian summer, from mid-June until the last week of August. This is the safest time of the year to travel to Mongolia in terms of weather: there are sunny days throughout Mongolia and sufficient rainfall to make the steppes lush and green.
What are the roads like?
Driving in Mongolia is mostly off-road driving unless you are in Ulaanbaatar (UB). The main travel destinations are connected with paved roads, but some of the remotest corners of Mongolia – such as the Taiga Mountains in northern Mongolia, the far west, the eastern steppes and some of the remote Gobi attractions – require us to drive off-road.
What is Mongolia’s currency?
Mongolia uses the tugrik. The exchange rate has been comparatively stable during last two years, ranging between 2500-2800 Mongolian tugriks against 1 USD. The Euro exchange rate averages 1.1-1.3 times the USD rate. Make sure to change your money at banks or exchange offices in Ulaanbaatar, as it is not always possible in the countryside – especially Euros and other foreign currencies. Please note that damaged notes and older notes before 1995 may not be accepted. Credit cards are accepted in large shops and supermarkets in the city. We advise to have Mongolian tugriks in your wallet for smaller shops and bazaars as well as for necessary supplies in the countryside.
What kind of plugs are used in Mongolia?
The standard voltage in Mongolia is 220 V. The majority of local sockets accept round twin forks. If your device has flat forks, you will need to bring an adaptor. These are available at most international airports.
What is the Internet and postal service like in Mongolia?
Internet cafes have hit Ulaanbaatar and there are numerous internet cafes along the streets in the city. Hotels usually have business and internet rooms.
There is a central post office in Ulaanbaatar where you can buy nice stamps, postcards and envelopes. The post is reasonably reliable although it may take some time to reach its destination.
Mobile Services in Mongolia
Mobile services are becoming widespread throughout the country, especially in central towns and villages, which were all completely connected to mobile broadband by 2016. GSM and CDMA are both used. Pre-paid international call cards are also widely used.
Will I able to speak to people in English?
The official and spoken language of the country is Mongolian. Many people have Russian as their second language, as they were taught this at school. An increasing number of people are now also speaking English.
It is appreciated by locals if travelers learn some basic Mongolian before their trip. A few words are surprisingly easy to master and will help tremendously in communicating with local people. Spend a few dollars and minutes before you go and purchase a copy of the Lonely Planet Mongolian phrase book.
Where should I stay in Mongolia?
Day-by-Day accommodation types are indicated in our tour programs. In Ulaanbaatar we provide 3-4 star hotels on a comfortable double room basis with breakfast. In the countryside, we arrange accommodation in tourist camps, tented camps or herder families. Tourist camps offer comfortable hotel-style Mongolian gers, with 3-4 persons sharing one ger.
I would like to stay in a nomadic family – is it possible?
Yes, it is possible. In fact, it is the number one reason to visit Mongolia. Most of our travelers love spending time with a local family and learning a different culture. Depending on what regions you are going to, you will explore the different cultural experiences of various nomadic lifestyles. These include as Kazakh nomad families in western Mongolia, reindeer herders in the taiga of northern Mongolia, and families in the Gobi desert and Khangai regions of central Mongolia.
I am on a special diet, is it hard for me to travel to Mongolia?
If you have special dietary requirements and are worried about finding the right food for you in Mongolia, don’t worry. If you are coming to Mongolia on a organized trip like ours, just make sure to let your Mongolia tour operator know in advance what you do and don’t eat so they have a chance to prepare.
As veganism grows in popularity, vegan and vegetarian restaurants are popping up around Ulaanbaatar and many places that you may have thought wouldn’t be vegan-friendly might just surprise you. You will find plenty of restaurants that will serve you what you request. Even local Ger camps arrange your meals as per your requests to your tour operator, and our experienced guides will take special care for your vegan and vegetarian travel needs in Mongolia.
What transportation options are available?
We use 4 x 4 Japanese and Russian vehicles for touring outside the city. We cover approximately 100-330 km per day. Domestic flights are as indicated in the program. Horses and camels will transport you during trekking tours when the area is not accessible by vehicles.
Transfers between the city and the airport are possible using minibuses and vans. if you are going with a big group, a bus is available; however, keep in mind that some destinations – such as the taiga in northern Mongolia, the Altai mountains in western Mongolia and the Gobi desert region have unpaved roads. We will offer you good quality 4 x 4 off-road Russian vans or a 4 x 4 jeep, with 2-4 people per vehicle.
Is there any baggage restrictions on domestic flight?
On domestic flights in Mongolia there is a weight restriction of 10 kilograms (22 lbs) for checked baggage and 5 kilograms (11 lbs) for hand luggage. Overweight charges will be about $2.5 per pound. Make sure to know your luggage weight and prepare it before your domestic flight in Mongolia.
How much do I tip in Mongolia?
Though by definition a tip is never legally required, it is recommended when you are on tour. This is not spoiling the market or ruining hospitality – it is simply being fair to our local partners. Tips will vary depending on the length and complexity of the trip, the number of staff on the trip and the number of clients on the trip. Generally, groups like to meet together before the end of the trek to discuss how much they would like to tip each staff member based on their individual trek experience. Tipping in hotels and restaurants is up to the individual, although 10% can never goes wrong.
What should I pack?
Although it will vary according to the trip style you have chosen and when you are traveling, you should pack as lightly as possible. Baggage should be of the round squashy type rather than hard expensive suitcases, which are difficult to fit into jeeps and on the backs of camels or horses. Try to use something that is both lockable and water proof.
Most travelers carry their luggage in a backpack or in bags/suitcases with wheels. You will also need a day pack to carry water, a camera and other accessories for day walks. It is a good idea to bring another smaller bag so that unwanted clothes can be stored at the hotel or camp when you go on a trek.