Mongolia holds some of the world’s greatest untamed lands. These wild, beautiful habitats boast an impressive variety of wildlife and are rich in verdant forest, towering cliffs, rugged mountains, endless grasslands and the Gobi Desert.
Here are some tips that every visitor should know before visiting.
Always check your passport expiration date. Make sure that your passport doesn’t expire in 6 months from the date of your entry to the Mongolian border.
Medicine for personal use is allowed through customs, and it includes emergency medicines/up to 7 days/ and long-term medical care used for patients who have diabetes, cancer, mental illness, and AIDS.
The following types of medicine are prohibited:
- IV Fluids
- Antibiotic injection
- Psychedelic & Psychotropic drugs
- Plasma substitutes
Passengers can carry the following items in specified quantities without paying any additional taxes and fees:
- Alcohol 1L (33.8 oz)
- Wine 2L (67.6 oz)
- Beer 3L (101.4 oz)
- Cigarette 200pc
- Cigars 50pc
- Bulk tobacco no more than 250g (8.8 ounces)
2. Currency Exchange
Airport currency exchange often has less desirable exchange rates. So we advise you to exchange your currency in the centre of the capital city for a higher rate. Below are images of Mongolian currency Togrog (MNT).
Mongolia has a few transport options:
- Bus & Trolleybus: You can mostly get around the capital city using public transport. Bus and Trolley fares for adults are 500₮(0.20$), for children 300₮(0.11$). There are usually no map or signs written in English, so it would be better to commute with a local friend or a guide to avoid getting lost.
- Taxi: You can choose between a private taxi or a company taxi. It usually costs 1000₮( 0.38$) per km (0.62 miles). If you choose to call a taxi company, they charge an additional 1000₮ on your total as a starting fee.
- Train: You can ride a train to destinations along Trans Siberian Railway and Erdenet town in northern Mongolia. Prices vary depending on comfort levels and date.
- Aeroplane: Domestic flights are available to faraway provincial capital cities including Ulgii, Ulaangom, Khovd, Uliastai, Altai, Choibalsan, and Dalanzadgad.
Mongolia is known as “land of the blue sky” and has about 250 sunny days a year. But the climate can change abruptly. Winter nights are very cold and temperature can drop to -40C (-40F), whereas summer temperature can reach to +40C (104F). Also, the temperature varies from region to region. It may be sunny and hot in the daytime, but the temperature can drop quickly during the night. It is advised to take a sweater or a jacket wherever you go just in case.
5. Tipping culture/Bargaining
Tipping is optional in Mongolia. If you like the service and wish to tip, you can do so, and it is appreciated. 10%-15% is the suggested tipping amount. Bargaining is not available at most markets, but still you can cut yourself a few bucks at bazaars such as Narantuul, Bars, Khuchit Shonkhor and more.
Mongolians give high importance for historic dates and old traditions, and those are celebrated as public holidays. Many events are held on public holidays, so it is a great opportunity to witness some of the passing-down old traditions and even new Here is the list of public holidays in Mongolia:
- January 1: New Year
- February 5 to February 7: Lunar New Year
- March 8: International Women’s Day
- June 1: Mother & Children’s Day
- July 11 to July 15: Naadam Festival
- November 26: Republic Holiday
- November 27: Chinggis Khan’s Birthday
- December 29: Independence day
7.Possible Dangers/Safety Measures
- Mongolia is a relatively calm country, but you should beware of pickpockets in public areas and it wouldn’t hurt to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Don’t forget to back up all your photos and documents. If you lose your camera, phone or laptop at least you will be able to save your photos and documents. We also advise you to scan your travel documents such as passports, ID and more and send it to your email.
- You should be extra careful when crossing the street as some streets don’t have any pedestrian signals or some drivers may decide to not stop to let you cross.
- It is good to have travel insurance to protect yourself from possible financial loss during your trip.
- Share your itinerary to your friends and family, contact them from time to time to update about your whereabouts. They will be aware of your whereabouts and will take the necessary measurements if they don’t hear from you back in time.
8. Cards & Cash
Before travelling, don’t forget to inform your bank where you’re travelling so that your cards won’t be declined while you’re travelling. It is always a good idea to bring several cards with you in case your primary card declines. American Express, VISA and MasterCard are accepted in most places. However, in the countryside it can be challenging as there aren’t many places that accept foreign debit & credit cards, so we recommend you to withdraw some cash before heading to the countryside.
It would be a lot cheaper to use a local service provider rather than paying for roaming and data to your own service provider. You can get a local prepaid travel sim card from Untel, a Mongolian telephone service company. They offer packages that fit your usage and travel duration. You only need to provide your passport.
Make sure to get your phone unlocked before arriving to use the local sim card.
Mongolia offers several types of accommodation options:
- Ger camps
- Shared room rent
- Private room rent
- Studio or apartment rent
After booking your accommodation write down the confirmation number, its name, address and phone number on a piece of paper or notebook. Print out the confirmation paper. It will come handy when your phone or laptop battery dies.
11. Health/Emergency Numbers
Medical care is relatively cheap in Mongolia compared to European and North American countries.
We recommend you to have a health checkup before leaving your country. Write down your health info such as allergies to food or specific medication, your blood type, health complications, and emergency contact info on a paper and keep it with yourself in all times easily accessible place. That way you can get necessary treatments without losing time in case you’re out of consciousness.
List of emergency contacts:
- FIRE DEPARTMENT 101
- POLICE STATION 102
- AMBULANCE 103
- CAPITAL CITY EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT 105
12. Other Tips
- Sunscreen & Lip balm: You might find yourself in a situation where you desperately want a lip balm or sun cream due to Mongolian extremely dry climate. Don’t let that lack of preparation ruin you travel experience.
- Earplugs, Eye Mask & Neck Pillow: It will make your trip more comfortable especially when you’re flying or driving for a long distance.
- Buy some space saver bags: Your luggage would be more organized and you can carry more stuff with you.
- Bring solid toiletries: Shampoo, Conditioner and Body bars lasts longer and there would be no spilling in the bag and ruining your items.
- Bring a lightweight & breathable scarf with you: Scarfs can be used in many ways such as covering yourself to prevent from dust and sun, use it as a neck-warmer during chilly nights and more.
- Carry a toilet roll in your backpack: Some public restrooms may not have a toilet roll. In the countryside, only available restroom might be the squatting toilet without a toilet roll, so its good to carry around a toilet paper or a tissue to prevent yourself from uneasy situations.