Mongolia Travel Guide

Your ultimate Mongolia travel guide, with tips, and things to see and things to do in Mongolia. Great for first-time and returning travelers.

The reminders of the once great leader Genghis Khan (or Chinggis Khaan as he is referred to in Mongolia) are everywhere.

From the centre of Ulaan Baatar to the remains of his great wall to the east.

His spirit, along with the spirit of many other warriors still lingers here, probably trapped within the bodies of the golden eagles still used by Western Mongolian men to hunt for prey.

The scenery itself is breathtaking, often dotted with Gers (also known as Yurts) and overshadowed by odd cloud formations that add a different dimension to the beauty of its landscape. Mongolia, an unforgettable travel destination. 


Fast Facts about Mongolia

  • Mongolian power voltage is 220-240 V 50 Hz; Power sockets C & E
  • The local currency is the Mongolian Tugrik (MNT) and is around 2,000 MNT to 1 USD
  • Adopt MST (Mongolian Standard Time) – Mongolians are less aware of time and locals have a very relaxed attitude about it. So sit back and make sure to go with the flow.
  • Leave some room in your suitcase for souvenirs: Monoglia is known for its cashmere blankets and sweaters
  • According to World Nomads: Mongolia is one of the least crime-ridden countries to visit. With one of the lowest crime rates in Asia, you won’t have to worry too much about getting into trouble while visiting, so long as you play it safe and use common sense.
  • Be forewarned: it is almost impossible to use your credit cards in the countryside, however you can withdraw cash from any ATM or use Visa, MasterCard, American Express and JCB cards in all major towns. 

Things to See and Do in Mongolia

  1. Drive in the Mongol Rally– enter in the greatest motoring adventure on the planet. Start off in Europe and drive to Mongolia, 10,000 miles across the mountains, rivers, desert and steppe. There’s no backup, no support and no set route; just you, your fellow adventurists and a tiny car you bought from a scrapyard. 
  2. Sleep in a Ger – also known as Yurts outside of Mongolia, these tents keep you cozy and warm for a night spent underneath the stars. 
  3. Visit Gobi Desert – the region is known as the location of the first nest of dinosaur eggs and other fossils found here in the 1920s. So go dino hunting or why not learn about the Gobi nomads and hop on a camel to ride into the desert sands.
  4. Camel ride – Take a camel ride out in the desert to experience a traditional way of traveling.
  5. Horseback ride – This is another great way to get around and experience the culture.
  6. Altai Mountains – This part of Mongolia has an impressive array of mountain ranges.
  7. Khovsgol Lake – This is the biggest freshwater lake in the country.

Budgeting

Accommodation

Budget – Mongolia has budget hostels for as low as $7 per night. These hostels do not offer any luxuries, but you can pay more and ask them to provide you with upgraded services such as private rooms and a TV.

Mid Range – Mid-range hotels cost around $50 per night in Mongolia. They are located in a central area that is close to markets and restaurants. They may provide free transport to the airport.

High End – Luxury hotels cost around $250 per night. They provide a fitness center with a gym, pool, internet access, and a bar/lounge.

Check out our favorite booking platforms Booking.comTripadvisor and VRBO for the best deals on accommodation in Mongolia.

Food

  • Buzz – This is the national food of Mongolia. It’s a steamed dumpling filled with mutton.
  • Boodog – This is one of the most popular dishes. It’s a traditional barbeque dish that is made with a goat or marmot. The meat is stuffed along with vegetables and hot stones into the animal carcass.
  • Airag – This tasty beverage is found at the Naadam Festivals over the summers. It is prepared from fermented mare milk.
  • Reindeer Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese – These products are famous in the country because of Mongolia’s authenticity in dairy items. 
  • Suutei Tsai – This is translated to the name “tea with milk”. It is served as a welcome drink to guests.
  • Khorkhog – This consists of chopped goat or lamb, potatoes, and onions steamed in a metal container.
  • Khuushuur – This is also popular in the Naadam Festival during summers. It’s a deep-fried mutton parcel.

The Best Ways to Get Around Mongolia

Getting to Mongolia:

Flights: Many direct flights are available from Japan and South Korea to Mongolia. Chinggis Khaan International Airport is the largest airport in Mongolia, also referred to as Ulaanbaatar Airport. 

You can check for the best flights to Mongolia on Skyscanner.

Transportation:

Buses: Buses are available all day. Private buses are scheduled and cruise non-stop until they reach a destination.

Taxis/Uber: There is no Uber service available in Mongolia yet, but you can travel via taxis by holding your hand high to book it for 50 cents per kilometer.

Car Rental: You can rent a car at an average of $297 per week and $42 per day in Ulaanbaatar. You can also compare prices for car rentals here.


When to go To Mongolia

  • The best time to go to Mongolia is during summer, from the mid of June to the last week of August. Weather is also good for travelers spending time outside or at the Naadam Festival.

Where to Stay in Mongolia

  • Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel – This hotel is centrally located in the city. Rooms are air-conditioned, have a minibar, flat TV screen, a refrigerator, and a bath/shower. The hotel also provides facilities such as free breakfast, spa, conference facilities, business center with internet access, and much more.
  • Kempinski Hotel Khan Palace – This best-awarded hotel consists of a large number of rooms and suites and is located in the city’s metropolis district. Its buffet breakfast is most popular among the guests.
  • Shangri-La Hotel, Ulaanbaatar – This is a modern styled hotel and makes an ideal base for leisure travelers and businessmen.

Check out our favorite booking platforms Booking.com, Tripadvisor and VRBO for the best deals on accommodation.


What to Pack for Mongolia

Mongolia is known as the Land of the Blue Skies as it is cloudless for more than two-thirds of the year. It is also one of the highest countries in the world and thus subjected to extreme continental weather from short, sweltering summers to long, frigid winters. 

The average temperature in most of the country is below zero from November to March and close to it in April and October. During the summertime temperatures can reach as high at 40°C in the Gobi Desert and around mid 30° in the capital. 

  • Layers (Winter)– Temperatures can go down to -30°C in the wintertime. The general rule of thumb is to pack at least four layers: a base layer,  long sleeve shirts, a fleece (mid-layer) and a top layer such as a windbreaker (waterproof!). Base layers should be made of wool or synthetic fabrics – these fabrics offer superior moisture-wicking and temperature control protection than cotton. And don’t forget your head, fingers and toes!
  • Layers (Summer) – Temperatures can fluctuate during the summer time, largely depending on the time of day. During the nighttime it can be quite chilly, especially if you are camping. Pack a base layer, long sleeve shirt and a fleece/top layer – don’t forget a hat, scarf and gloves.
  • Headlamp – if you plan on going camping, there is nothing worse than stumbling in the dark as you try to go to the bathroom, which brings us to our next point…
  • Toiletries – outside of major citie s,it’s just you and the open road – expect to wash in rivers and frequent outhouses. As a result bring a good stash of toiletries from wet naps, bio-degradable travel soap, facial cleansing pads and dry shampoo.
  • Hiking Boots – pack a good pair of boots with good grip that are waterproof and insulated for spring/winter travel.
  • Insect Repellent – Along with natural beauty and hot weather, Mongolia is known for its pretty vicious mosquitos. Travellers are advised to bring a mosquito net, insect spray or a mosquito headnet.

See our packing tips: packing tips


Mongolia Travel Guide: Best Booking Resources

Whenever we travel to we make sure to start with these companies. We have tried a lot of different ones over the years and all of these have consistently proven to be the best when it comes to offering great prices.

We have used every one of these personally and continue to do so.

  • Booking.com: This is our go site to when comparing prices for accommodation. It usually has the cheapest prices, especially in Europe and we love their interface. Not to mention you get free cancellation and you are guaranteed the best price.
  • Trip Advisor: What we like about Trip Advisor is that we can look at all the reviews and then book our accommodation. TripAdvisor is where we go when we want to compare prices with multiple accommodation providers.
  • VRBO: is the main search engine we use when we are looking for a home or apartment rental. It can sometimes be cheaper than hotels and it is the best way to stay in areas that offer a more local feel.
  • Hostelworld: With one of the largest databases of hostels in the world, Hostelworld is the go-to site when you are looking for budget accommodation.
  • Skyscanner: This is the first place we check for flights. It consistently comes back with the cheapest and best options. It allows us to compare a lot of airlines to get the best price.
  • Rome 2 Rio: If you want to see how to get somewhere by plane, train, bus, ferry or car Rome2Rio lays it all out for you as well as related costs.I love how they show it all to you on a Google Map and it works offline.
  • Get Your Guide: For all your day trip and city guide needs, we use Get Your Guide. It has the world’s largest collection of things to do with more than 30,000 activities in 7500 destinations.
  • World Nomads Insurance: When traveling to Italy you should always have travel insurance. We have found the best bang for your buck is by far World Nomads.

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