Is Mongolia easy to get to?
As easy as getting to Beijing! Gateways to Mongolia are Beijing, Frankfurt, Moscow, Osaka and Seoul. Mongolian International Airlines (MIAT) and Air China both operate Boeing and Airbus planes on flights to Ulaanbaatar. The trans-Mongolian train from Moscow or Beijing makes a particularly exhilarating entry into the country.
What is the climate like?
It is fair to say that Mongolia is a land of extremes: winter temperatures drop to minus 40 degrees C in many parts of the country and climb to over 40 degrees in the summer in the Gobi desert. In the summer months from May to September temperatures reach a pleasant 25-30degrees C and the countryside springs to life in a sea of greenery. Summer is also the wet season and rainy days are not uncommon.
Are Visas easy to get?
One month tourist visas can be obtained on-the-spot at arrival in Mongolia (airport and railway customs clearance), although Mongolia has consulates in many countries so it is preferable to obtain a visa in advance. We will advise you how to obtain necessary visas at the time of booking, the visa situation is subject to change from time-to-time.
What are the health issues?
Consult you doctor for recommended health precautions before travelling, similar precautions to other Asian are most likely. However, general hygein is far better than in many neighbouring countries due to the lack of population pressure and extensive potable water and sewerage systems in Ulaanbaatar. The usual tummy upsets from a change of diet can be expected. Serious health issues are dealt with by medical evacuation; a travel insurance policy with evacuation cover is mandatory for our trips.
Is tourism damaging a fragile culture?
Mongolia and Mongolians have endured a lot in the last 300 years: From Manchu rule in the 18th and 19th centuries to domination by Russia for 70 years this century. The population is used to Westerners, outward looking and eager to embrace modern technologies. Whilst the lifestyle of nomadic herdspeople has change little over the centuries, its application has: aluminium canisters have replaced wooden buckets, and ornate copper tea pots were long replaced by vacuum flasks - why? Because the these traditional means were superced by new technologies that did the job better. Even satellite TV is not unheard of in the countryside! (however extremely rare).
Life is lonely out on the steppes, the neighbours may be 5km away, local herders generally embrace the opportunity to meet new people, the opportunity to learn about lands far away is a bonus.
Facts for the Traveler
Entry and exit visas are required of all nationalities, as is a valid passport. No visa is required for Americans visiting for fewer than 90 days. Visitors planning to stay in Mongolia for more than 30 days are required to register with the Immigration, Naturalization and Foreign Citizens Agency in Ulaanbaatar during their first week of arrival. Visitors who fail to register and who stay longer than 30 days may be stopped at departure, denied exit, and fined. Entry and exit visas may be obtained at the airport at a cost of around 50.00
and must be accompanied by an invitation or sponsorship from a Mongolian company, a resident foreigner, or an organised tour company. Some consulates and embassies interpret the regulations more liberally than others, but all visitors must be registered after arrival and checked out of the registry upon departure.To check current regulations, try the web site of the Ministry of External Relations at www.extmin.mn.
Health risks: cholera, meningococcal meningitis
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +8, GMT/UTC +7 (in the western provinces of Bayan-Ölgii, Uvs and Khovd)
Dialling Code: 976
Electricity: 230V ,50Hz
Weights & measures: Metric
When to Go
The travel season is typically from May to early October, though Ulaan Baatar can be visited any time of year if you can tolerate the bitter cold. Early July has the best weather for the northern part of the country and is also the time to celebrate Mongolia's Naadam Festival. Be aware, though, that this is also when Ulaan Baatar's inadequate accommodation and creaky transport is stretched to the breaking point. June and September are both pleasant times to visit, and attract fewer visitors. The best months to visit the Gobi Desert and not get toasted are September and October. Be aware that between mid-October and mid-May sudden snowstorms and extreme cold can ground flights, block roads and cause the country's transport system to stall.
The biggest event of the year is the Naadam Festival, known as the eriyn gurvan naadam, after the three 'manly sports' of wrestling, archery and horse racing. The festival is held all over the country, normally between 11 and 13 July, the anniversary of the 1921 Mongolian Revolution. The major events take place during the first two days. Tsagaan Sar (White Month) is the start of the lunar new year in January or February. After months of enduring a bitter winter, Mongolians celebrate over three days with a lot of food, liquor and singing.