The principal ways to Mongolia are by train and by air. Flights are run all year around by National carrier MIAT Mongolian Airlines to Europe: 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 are operating flights connecting Ulaanbaatar with Moscow, Beijing and Seoul.
The Trans-Mongolian railway which connects Moscow and Beijing passes through Ulaanbaatar. Mongolian railway runs to Ulaan- Ude, Irkutsk, and Beijing
Mongolia has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and compared to the US and Europe, is considered a very safe destination. Mongolian people are known for their nomadic hospitality and they will make you feel very welcome.
Typically you will be sharing your experiences with between 4-20 like minded travelers (depending on the trip and the booking status), and the guide will lead the group. Whether you are traveling alone or with friends its good value, and a great way to meet new people! While itineraries are pre-planned there is some flexibility and you'll have plenty of privacy. Trips will appeal to travelers of all ages who enjoy meeting new people as well as seeing new places.
Driving in Mongolia is mostly off road driving on dirt road unless you are in UB. Driving to Gobi, Lake Hovsgol, Lake Terkhiin Tsagaan, to the far west (Altai mountains) is offroad driving. But to Karakorum,Terelj and Hustai National Parks you will drive on paved roads. The Mongolian Government is planning to connect all 21 provincial center -towns by paved roads in next 5 years within its «Millennium road » project.
The exchange rate has been comparatively stable during last two years ranging between 1675-1800 Mongolian tugriks against 1USD. Euro rate averages 1.4-1.5 of USD rate. Make sure to change money at banks or exchange offices in Ulaanbaatar as it is not always possible in the countryside, especially euros and other currencies. Make a 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 advice to have mongolian tugricks in your wallet for smaller shops and bazaars as well as for necessary supplies in the countryside.
Mongolia is not coldest and remotest part of the world as often portrayed in the Western media. Though winter last from November to March, - 30 Celsius real cold lasts only one month, from mid-December to January. The rest of winter temperature fluctuates around -10 -14 Celsius.
It should be noted that snow blizzard and dust storms often occur in spring making this period from snow melting in late March to first grass in late May the least comfortable.
Summer from mid-May to mid-September is usually warm with average temperature of + 18 to + 26. There are short rains in July and early August. On some days temperature may go above + 30 which can be felt hard, especially in South Gobi region.
In summer almost 70% of precipitation falls, but this does not mean rainy days. Rains rarely last for more than 2-3 days. Most of rains occur in mid- July and early August and wise herders prefer to move away from rivers and put up their dwellings on hills to avoid sudden flood.
The highest temperature is in Gobi Desert region with + 30 Celsius lasts for more than 40 days. On some days it can be + 40 Celsius.
One specific of the weather, visitors to Mongolia should be aware of, is the drastic drop of temperature from day to night. It is strongly advisable to carry a sweater or even light jacket towards the evening. It can become especially chilly at night in South Gobi.
Winds are a regular feature of Mongolia, with rarely a day without a slow breeze of 4-9 meters per second. In summer cool winds come mostly from north- west and west bringing in some relief from summer heat. However, sudden collision of warm and cool air masses results in sudden heavy rains.
The global warming has its affects on Mongolia. Experts say, that average annual temperatures raised by 1-2 Celsius degrees, making winter milder and summers hotter. The air pressure is the lowest in July, falling down to 779- 900 bar as compared to 1041 ml/bar in Ulaanbaatar in winter.
The average monthly temperature and precipitation in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia
Average summer temperature: +20C (+65F)
Average winter temperature: -20C (-13F)
Average precipitation: 25.4 cm
The standard voltage in Mongolia is 220 V. Mostly sockets that accept round twin forks are used. If your gadget plug has flat forks you need fork adapter/converter.
Internet cafes have hit Ulaanbaatar and there are numerous internet cafes along the street in the city. Hotels usually have a 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 are getting widely connected throughout the country with central towns and villages. By 2016 all towns and villages are connected by mobile services completely. GSM and CDMA both used. Pre-paid International call cards are widely used.
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 travellers 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.
There is a great variety of night time entertainment in Ulaanbaatar. There are a number of concerts and cultural performances, from Opera to traditional Mongolian throat singing performances that can be seen at the Opera Theater or the Drama Theater.
Recently several new bars, some with outdoor seating have opened in the center of town. For night clubbers a number of new venues have opened recently playing a mixture of Western and Mongolian modern music. Dining out is becoming a good option with a variety of international restaurants on offer.
Day-by-Day accommodation types are indicated in each tour program. In Ulaanbaatar we provide 3/4 star hotels on comfortable double room base with breakfast, whilst we arrange tourist camp, tented camp, or herder- family stay in the countryside. Tourist camps offer hotel-styled mongolian gers for sharing 3-4 persons per a ger.
Outside Ulaanbaatar the best comfortable option is to stay in tourist ger camps. These have been set up in the most popular places to cater for travelers. These traditional gers have brightly colored furniture and wood burning stove in the center. Usually each ger have three or four beds, and the camp provides clean sheet and blanket. The Ger camps also have a separate washing block that contains western style flushing toilets and shower rooms. And all camps have a restaurant where they serve Mongolian and European food. The gers are really enjoyable and authentic form of accommodation, warm in the winter, and cool in summer. The best way to book is through local travel company, who would have most up-to-date information.
On camping trips all equipment will be provided except for a 4-season sleeping bag. You do not need to provide any other camping gear only personal belongings. Tented camp will consist of 3-man quality tents for sharing 2 person, kitchen tent, dinner tent, camp shower and toilet. Single supplement arrangement is available for additional charges.
Three time meals are arranged in city restaurants specialized on different kinds of cuisines: mongolian, european, chinese and korean. Ger camp restaurants provide mongolian and european cuisines during your stay. When you and your group have tented camp stay, our experienced cook will serve you outdoor hot meals as well as picnic lunches. Since we have been following principles of responsible tourism, we try to limit the use of bottled water in our trekking tours. Boiled and purilised water will be provided everyday. Please, priory inform the company if you are a vegetarian.
4 x 4 Japanese & Russian vehicles are arranged for touring outside the city. Approximate distance for daily coverage is 100-330 km. Domestic flights are as indicated in the program. Horses and camels will serve you as a transport during trekking tours when the area is not accessible by vehicles. Transfer between the city and the airport is made by mini buses and vans.
Each group will be supervised by an experienced French/English/German/Italian/Japanese/Polish/Russian speaking Mongolian guide. They provide the group with a unique and fascinating insight into their own land and often become life long friends with the travellers. Drivers are another important part of the team. They act both as driver and a guard, and for camping tours they encourage for water supply and tent assembling. The cook, and sometimes together with his assistance, is responsible to prepare three meals a day for the whole group. Local guides for horses and camels will join the group on scheduled days. The guide will help & connect all the staff and guests with his translation, but as we noticed that people in a group easily understand each other by their “imitation signals”, and they are really enjoy their mutual interactions and talking.
Though by definition a tip is never legally required, it is recommended when you are on tour. This is not spoiling the market or running hospitality, it is simply being fair. 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, 10% never goes wrong here.
Packing suggestion - 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 that 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 and bags/suitcases with wheels. You will also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day walks. It is a good idea to bring another smaller bag so that unwanted clothes can be kept in it at the hotel or camp when you go on trek. This also helps to keep city clothes clean and free from dust.
Travel documents: passport, visa, travel insurance, air tickets
Health requirements arranged
Money: cash/credit card
Personal medicine if you have any
Day pack to carry your personal needs during the day
Alarm clock and torch /flashlight
Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, moisturizer, lip blam
Refillable water bottle, pocket knife
Warm clothes in the winter months (Oct to April) and for summer nights. It is recommended to bring thermal underwear, a fleece jacket, hat/ headscarf, raincoat
Walking shoes with a good grip
Suitable footwear for horse riding
Sarong or light weight towel (Not only useful for drying oneself, but also good for avoid indecent exposure when going to toilet in open fields. Note that for this reason long skirts can at times be more practical for females)
Wet wipes or hand sanitizing lotion
Presents from home : children books and note books, pencils, stickers, matches, sweets, hair ribbons, tobacco, small bottles of perfume etc to give to nomadic families in exchange for their hospitality.
Limits of packing - Generally, we recommend keeping the weight under 15 kg as the domestic air carriers have baggage allowance of 10 kg maximum and + 5kg cabin baggage (totally 15 kg). Excess luggage charge is 1.5 - 2 $ per every 1 kg. Before leaving for a country trip, you can leave extra weight luggage at your hotel in Ulaanbaatar. Some hotels charge 3-5 USD per person, some hotels don't.