Altai mountains, Mongolia
Altai mountains, Mongolia

Altai mountains

The golden eagles that live in the high Altai mountains, in far-western Mongolia, build their nests in the crags of the area's rugged peak
Photo by Lightscape

MONGOLIA

Asia

Mongolia Travel Information

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Key facts

Capital:

Ulaanbaatar

Location:

Northern Asia, between China and Russia

Currency:

togrog/tugriks (MNT)

Area:

1,564,116 sq km

Population:

3,198,913 (July 2021 est.)

Languages:

Mongolian 90% (official) (Khalkha dialect is predominant), Turkic, Russian (1999)

Religion:

Buddhist 53%, Muslim 3%, Shamanist 2.9%, Christian 2.2%, other 0.4%, none 38.6% (2010 est.)

TimeZone:

UTC+8

Tel Code:

+976

Weather

Climate

Mongolia has a continental climate, which means that it has long cold winters and short warm summers. The winter temperatures can drop to minus 40 degrees Celsius in the northern regions, while the summer temperatures can reach up to 30 degrees Celsius in the southern regions. The average temperature in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city, ranges from -15 to 20 degrees Celsius. The Gobi Desert has a colder winter and a hotter summer than the other regions.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Mongolia depends on what you want to see and do during your trip. If you want to see the lush green grasslands and the wildflowers, the best time to visit is from June to August. If you want to see the traditional Naadam festival, the best time to visit is from July 11th to 13th.

If you want to see the wildlife and the birds, the best time to visit is from May to September. If you want to avoid the cold winter and the crowds, the best time to visit is from September to October. If you want to experience the traditional winter activities, such as ice fishing, ice skating, and dog sledding, the best time to visit is from December to February.

It is worth noting that the weather in Mongolia can be unpredictable and it is essential to pack warm clothes and appropriate gear for the activities you plan to do.

Transportation

Train

Mongolia has a railway system that connects the country with Russia and China. The Trans-Mongolian railway, which runs from Moscow to Beijing, passes through Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. This is a popular option for travelers looking to experience the scenery of the country while traveling to or from China or Russia.

Bus

There are also bus services available in Mongolia, which connect major cities and towns within the country. This can be a more affordable option for traveling within Mongolia, however, the journey can be long and uncomfortable.

Car

Renting a car and driving in Mongolia is also an option for travelers. This can be a good way to explore the country's remote areas, but it's important to note that the roads can be in poor condition and the driving itself can be challenging.

Domestic flights

Domestic flights are also available in Mongolia, which can be a good option for traveling to remote areas of the country that are not easily accessible by train or bus.

Horseback, camel, and bicycle

For more adventurous travelers, horseback riding, camel trekking, and bicycle touring are popular ways to explore the country's rugged terrain. These options allow visitors to experience the traditional nomadic lifestyle and the country's natural beauty.

Accommodation

Hotel Accommodation

Mongolia offers a wide range of hotel accommodation options to suit all budgets. In the major cities, such as Ulaanbaatar, there are several international standard hotels and resorts, as well as budget-friendly guesthouses. These hotels usually offer amenities like air-conditioning, private bathrooms, and internet access. Some well-known hotels include the Kempinski Hotel Khan Palace, the Blue Sky Tower Hotel, and the Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel.

Ger Camps

Ger camps are a unique and popular way to experience the traditional nomadic lifestyle of Mongolia. Ger camps are a cluster of traditional gers (yurts) that are set up in the countryside or near a national park. They usually offer basic amenities like a bed, a table, and a stove, and sometimes have shared bathrooms and showers. Ger camps are a great option for those who want to experience the outdoors, and they are available in many tourist destinations in the country.

Homestay Accommodation

Homestay accommodation is another great way to experience the local culture and hospitality of Mongolia. Many local families offer homestay accommodation in their homes, where you can enjoy traditional meals and get a glimpse into the daily life of the local people. Homestay accommodation is available in all regions of the country, including the major cities and the remote regions of the Gobi Desert and the Altai Mountains.

Camping and Trekking

For those who enjoy outdoor activities, camping and trekking in Mongolia's nature and mountains is an option. There are several camping and trekking outfitter companies that provide camping gear, guides and support. Some of them also provide traditional accommodation options like gers, tents or yurts.

Money

Money Tips for Travel

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans to avoid any potential issues with international transactions.
  • Bring a mix of cash, credit, and debit cards--and possibly a travel money card.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.
  • Make sure to have a backup option for accessing money in case your primary method doesn't work.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • NEVER accept currency conversion at ATMs! Always get your home bank to convert at much better rates.
  • Think about getting a Wise or other travel debit card; these can provide much better rates and some free ATM withdrawals.

ATM and Credit Cards

  • Research the availability of ATMs and credit card acceptance at your destination before you depart.
  • Keep your ATM card in a safe place and be mindful of your surroundings when using it.
  • Try to stick to using ATMs that are affiliated with major banks.
  • Keep your credit card information safe and secure, and be aware of potential scams.
  • Make sure your cards have the necessary security features, such as chip and pin.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.

Exchange Rates

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • Be careful of places that may offer to exchange money at rates that seem too good to be true.

Mobile

When traveling, getting mobile access is very important these days. If you are working remotely, wanting to update social media, or need to access your banks SMS authentication messages having a reliable service is a must. At WhereNext we recommend:

eSIM

Services such as those offered by our partner, Airalo, allow you to easily order and install an eSIM for different countries or regions that you are traveling in.

Dual SIM phone

If you have a phone that supports dual SIM's then you can get a SIM on arrival for each country, this is probably better done at a telco store rather than at the airport.

Extend your home plan

Depending on where you live and your mobile service provider you may be able to extend your plan to cover mobile roaming at reasonable rates.

Keep your primary SIM

With the amount of accounts we all have that require two factor authentication via SMS, keeping a constant number for these accounts is a must.

Community

There are several online communities and platforms that you can use to meet people while traveling, both for making new friends or for networking professionally. Some popular options include:

Facebook groups

There are many Facebook groups dedicated to connecting people while traveling, from expat groups and travel communities to groups specific to certain cities or regions of the country. You can search for groups based on your interests or location and connect with others who share similar interests.

Meetup

Meetup is a platform that allows you to find groups of people that share your interests in your local area. There are Meetup groups all around the world, and they cover a wide range of topics, such as language exchange, sports, and cultural activities.

Internations

Internations is a social network for people who live or work abroad. It has a large community of expats and organizes regular events, activities and gatherings that allow members to connect and socialize.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a platform that connects travelers with local hosts, who offer free accommodation and a chance to experience the local culture. It's a great way to meet locals and make friends!

Reddit

Reddit has a large community, and there are several subreddits dedicated to connecting expats and travelers. You can use it to ask questions, get advice, and connect with others who are also living or traveling in the country.

Linkedin

LinkedIn is primarily a professional network, but you can also use it to connect with people who work in the same industry or have similar backgrounds. It can be useful to connect with people before you arrive and establish a few professional contacts to help you get started.

At WhereNext, we use Nomad List as a global community and then research more local ones for our destination. These are just a few examples of online communities you can use to meet people; please suggest any others that you think are appropriate for this destination.

Insurance

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It covers a wide range of needs--even some you might not expect!

Medical Coverage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses if you become ill or injured while traveling. This can include coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, and emergency medical transportation. It's also a good idea to ensure that your travel insurance covers COVID-19 related illness and delays!

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

Travel insurance can provide coverage if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to unexpected events such as illness, weather, or travel bans. It can also provide coverage if your trip is delayed or if your travel provider goes out of business.

Lost or Stolen Luggage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost or stolen luggage, as well as personal items such as passports and electronic devices.

Emergency Assistance and Evacuation

Many travel insurance plans offer emergency assistance services, such as providing information on local hospitals and doctors, assistance with replacing lost or stolen documents, and help with arranging transportation in the event of an emergency. At WhereNext we have partnered with Global Rescue for evacuation services, which are highly recommended if you are undertaking dangerous activities or are travelling to dangerous parts of the world.

Liability coverage

Travel insurance can also provide liability coverage in case you cause an accident or harm someone while you are traveling.

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It can help cover the costs of medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, and more. It's always a good idea to review the coverage and compare the different options available before making a decision. At WhereNext we both use and have partnered with Safety Wing for general travel insurance.

Entry Requirements

Here are some general travel tips regarding entry requirements that apply across all countries:

Passport

Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in the country you are visiting. Some countries will not allow you to enter if your passport is set to expire within a certain period of time.

Visa

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if you need a visa. Some countries require a visa for entry, while others do not. Make sure to apply for a visa well in advance of your trip as the process can take several weeks. Check the latest Visa requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Health Requirements and COVID-19 Rules

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if there are any health requirements for entry. Some countries require vaccinations or proof of medical insurance. Check the latest health requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Travel Insurance

Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially if you are traveling internationally. Travel insurance can cover you in the event of trip cancellation, medical emergencies, and other unexpected events. Our travel insurance partner is SafetyWing. For dangerous activities and/or countries consider a rescue service like those offered by our partner, Global Rescue.

Customs

Be familiar with the customs and laws of the country you are visiting. Some countries have strict laws regarding drug possession, alcohol consumption, and dress codes.

Currency

Check the currency exchange rate and make sure you have enough local currency for your trip. Some countries may not accept credit cards or travelers cheques, so it is always good to have some cash on hand. At WhereNext we recommend use a Wise debit card, which provides low cost currency conversions and ATM withdrawals.

Research the country

Research about the culture, customs and laws of the country you are visiting. It will help you to understand the place more and also prepare you better for the trip.

Contact Information

Make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passport. Also, leave a copy of your itinerary and contact information with a friend or family member at home.

COVID Status

I am vaccinated 
Mongolia Open
Test
Not required
Quarantine
Not required

Check Visa Requirements

      Things to Do

      Mongolia is a vast and rugged country that is home to some of the most spectacular landscapes and unique cultural experiences in the world. From the rolling grasslands of the steppe to the towering peaks of the Altai Mountains, there is no shortage of breathtaking scenery to explore. Here are the top 10 things to do when visiting Mongolia:

      1. Explore the Gobi Desert

      The Gobi Desert is a must-see for any traveler to Mongolia. This vast desert is home to unique landscapes, diverse wildlife, and ancient ruins. You can explore the desert by camel, 4x4 or even hot air balloon and enjoy the stunning views and peaceful surroundings.

      2. Visit the Great Mongolian Empire Capital

      The Great Mongolian Empire Capital, also known as Karakorum, was the capital of the Mongol Empire during the 13th century. The city was founded by Genghis Khan and served as a center of politics, trade, and religion. Today, the ruins of the city are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a fascinating glimpse into the country's rich history.

      3. Visit the Terelj National Park

      The Terelj National Park is a beautiful park located just outside of Ulaanbaatar. The park is home to stunning landscapes, including granite cliffs, alpine meadows, and crystal-clear streams. You can hike or horseback ride to the park and enjoy the stunning views and peaceful surroundings.

      4. Visit the Gandantegchinlen Monastery

      The Gandantegchinlen Monastery is a beautiful Buddhist monastery located in Ulaanbaatar. The monastery is home to several temples, statues, and a large statue of the Migjid Janraisig (Maitreya) one of the most important figures in Buddhism. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the country's religious heritage and culture.

      5. Visit the National Museum of Mongolia

      The National Museum of Mongolia is a must-see for any history buff. The museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the country's rich cultural heritage, with exhibits on everything from ancient artifacts to modern art.

      6. Explore the Khustain Nuruu National Park

      The Khustain Nuruu National Park is a beautiful park located just outside of Ulaanbaatar. The park is home to the Takhi (Przewalski's horse) the only true wild horse in the world. You can explore the park by horseback and enjoy the stunning views and peaceful surroundings.

      7. Visit the Hustai National Park

      The Hustai National Park is a beautiful park located just outside of Ulaanbaatar. The park is home to the Takhi (Przewalski's horse) the only true wild horse in the world. You can explore the park by horseback and enjoy the stunning views and peaceful surroundings.

      8. Visit the Genghis Khan Statue

      The Genghis Khan Statue is the largest equestrian statue in the world, representing the historical figure Genghis Khan. The statue is located on the bank of the Tuul River, 50km east of Ulaanbaatar and offers a panoramic view of the surrounding area.

      9. Visit the Choijin Lama Temple Museum

      The Choijin Lama Temple Museum is a Buddhist temple and museum located in Ulaanbaatar. The temple was built in 1908 and was turned into a museum in the 1940s. The temple is home to several statues, thangkas, and other religious artifacts, and offers a fascinating glimpse into the country's religious heritage and culture.

      10. Explore the Nomadic Culture

      Mongolia is well known for its nomadic culture and it is a great way to experience the traditional way of life of the locals. You can stay with a local family in a ger (yurt) and learn about the daily life, culture, and customs of the nomads. Additionally, you can take part in traditional activities such as horseback riding, archery, and herding sheep or goats. This is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and gain a deeper understanding of the Mongolian way of life.

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