TODAY NEW (2019):
In few years UB and towns in countryside changed a lot. Everywhere modernization is going on: new hotels also in countryside open and also restaurants who sell not only Mongolian food but also dishes inspirited from European food. The large number of restaurants in all the country permit now to eat in the restaurants and not to have to cook and make pick nick. Supermarkets are now full, and you can find them everywhere in countryside. Now nomads have or prefer Japanese jeep.
Internet cover 80% of the territory. In the ger now it’s easy to see mobile near saddles!
Government gives a piece of land free once in your life if you want to settle near a village or town except UB now you can see new areas where inside the wooden fences you can see small wood houses, they take the place of the ger as Mongolian consider wooden houses more comfortable than the ger for a settle life near the towns. Slowly the wooden houses are replaced by cement house.
STATE OF THE ROADS (2020)
There are more and more roads between the main cities of the country, built by Chinese companies. This reduces the distances in this huge country but also removes the charm of the country and the real adventure side. Generally, the proportion of asphalt is according to itinerary 50/50 but on certain destinations like Karakorum 100%! But we can rest assured that there are still quite a few tracks. A profusion of signs at the edge of these paved roads contrasts with the tracks where nothing is indicated. The roads are in better condition which allows city cars or Asian SUVs to reach more easily and without mechanical problems certain cities of the steppe. Drunk driving: 0% and frequent checks as well as speed cameras.
Please as crossing points can change ask more to your nearest embassy. Ask for special closing days as WE and Nadam feast.
For the travelers who will go out by Tasahanta remember you have to cross part of Russia: visa requested!
Entry points see: caravanistan.com and google map
GETTING AROUND IN MONGOLIA:
Traveling in Mongolia is not always easy as depend also how you will discover this country and how many days you have vacation. Traveling by jeep can be sometimes tiring because of bad climate or bad roads, so better to not want to make many KM! prefer to do less Km but take time to enjoy countryside and its nomadic life.
Independent drivers often don’t have a shop downtown so it could be difficult when on UB to choose the best one for you. So just search before leaving!
BY LAND : Tall vehicles can be rented from private owners just stop a car and tell your destination. BUT WRITE ALL DESTINATIONS WITH CYRILLIC LETTERS as nobody will understand you (ask at your hotel), also good for the few taxis running in U.B. For longer stay the price will depend of what kind of deal you can make, the number of persons, the price of gasoline.
NEED A DRIVER ? we recommend Mejet who has been a wonderful traveling companion and was always ready to help us during our 7 trips. Mejet, for 120-130€/day/jeep or mini van, including petrol and driver, the price is not per person, but the price is to divide between your own group. He will show you his marvelous country which he knows perfectly. You can be sure that almost every night will be spent in ger with nomads according your choice.
Mejet can pick you up on your arrival and he can arrange your accommodation in his small guest house, but the important with him you will always decide about program, how many days, stop, changing program on the way of course all of this according logic!
Mejet will help you by choosing your program, will show you where can be the difficulties and find with you the right solution according your needs and time you have to visit Mongolia. He can propose you some ideas as well some programs where almost nobody go the agencies or programs as well make by guest houses. Just contact and feel free to express your ideas, doubts and desires!
You will have from Mejet help for everything: he can go with you for formalities if necessary, buy/reserve air plane/train tickets, to buy specific things, medical problems…
CONTACT driver : mongoliatours.org , Email: email@example.com (English) TEL/FAX: ++ 976 11 45 41 67 (anglais, russe, le soir) Mobile: ++ 976 99 164 335
BE AWARE THAT MEJET RECEIVES A LOT OF REQUESTS…SO DON’T WAIT TOO LONG…AS SOMETIMES TO FIND GOOD DRIVERS IS NOT SO EASY …AND AUGUST IS FULL SOON EVRYWHERE
BE AWARE: if you take a tour organized by a guest house, they maybe will prefer to look at the real costs than the quality of the tour you will do: no possibility or really difficult to add days or finish before the tour, also difficulties to change the itinerary as even for few KM, so ask what is included on the price as often a low price doesn’t include the driver, the gasoline, the food or depend of the number of people going on tour and sometimes at least the price will be almost the same or higher than an independent driver. Example if they ask you for 50€ day/person all including and you are 3 persons you will pay 150€ day, so more than with a honest independent driver without the freedom to do as you want and choose your itinerary and how long you want to rent. If on the price taxes for national parks are not included be sure to not pay for all your trip more than 15€ per person. If food not included in the price, it’s better for you as you can choose what you want and the quality you need, you will spend around 5-7€ day so this can't justify some high prices you will find as on the way outside UB you will never find famous restaurants only small restaurants where a meal is average 4-5 euro.
CALCULATE WELL BEFORE FINAL DECISION AS MAYBE YOU CAN SAVE MONEY!!!
This can happen also with independent drivers they will ask more if you are less than 2 person or only 2 by example. All is good to optimize the renting, so we recommend to ask more and more what is including on the price, if price by person or per vehicle, telling how many persons you will be and so make the addition.
Ask if you will go to sleep with the nomads in the evening or if it is your tent that will be favored. It’s with the nomads that you will be able to understand and share their way of life and that also gives them some money. If agencies are many now at UB, it is nonetheless difficult to find those that exactly meet your expectations or to be able to compete or simply to compare them because of lack of time.
As advice we can give is to search information before you go in Mongolia and so choose the agencies or independent drivers who can be the right choice for you without doing definitive reservation and so when it will be time, or also in UB, make the better choice for you. In summer, July-August, it’s the high season and so it will be difficult that the agencies or independents drivers you think okay for you have a drivers for you. Maybe you will have to wait some days before to leave, or to short your program or to accept the first driver you will find without have the choice to compare with others. An advice could be to reserve if during your search you think to have find the right person for you and so no have surprise after.
It’s also important to verify the qualities of your driver, it’s not easy, some drivers say they know all but outside UB they have difficulties or don’t know what to show you on the area you choose to visit.
Language problem is easy to jump as the kindness of your driver as well a phrase book and speaking by hand will help to communicate easy, so no need really an translator.
Another point to think is the difficult life you can have if you join a group in a guest house as not everybody have same ideas and interests.
PLEASE NOTE: since some years now you can find Japanese jeeps and mini bus, if more comfortable than the traditional Russian WATZ, you have to know that modern vehicles are electronic and if you have some engine troubles it could be hard to repair on countryside. The traditional Russian WATZ always can be repair anywhere in countryside as only mechanic. It’s also an important point to verify with your agency or independent driver especially if your destination is in an area that is difficult to access.
TIP: according your satisfaction and of course you aren’t obliged…
RENT A JEEP WITHOUT DRIVER: now possible. Prepare well your itinerary especially if you rent a small car who can’t go easy out of the asphalt roads.
Public transportation is not non-existent but not daily and with some other difficulties. Actually, a bus system runs to the major cities but later if you want to visit the area you need a private vehicle and you can have serious difficulties to find one out of U.B and cities (only few agencies and English is not fluently.)
TRUCKS can take passengers but really trying and no intimacy and autonomy! You have to pay!
BUSES : are now more modern, everybody have a seat now! in the steppe there exists a good network but they only cluster towards the capital or aimags capitals. Few lines between major towns without need to pass through UB. Price >20 euro for 400 km. You can go in countryside by local bus because every towns or village have a bus stop where to find a collective taxi to go next village or town. This means that from all sun it’s always possible to go to capital of aimag and from capital of aimag to UB. Departure aren’t daily. The taxi will go only if full or you have to buy all the seats or to pay for the remain seats, in that case the taxi will go immediately towards the destination. Be aware this doesn’t mean that the bus will be only for you. Drivers always know about people who are waiting for such opportunity! Price will depend of the KM to do, petrol price, if you rent all for yourselves and your capacity to bargain. The difficulty will be to understand each other especially if you want to rent for some days or special destination as nobody will speak English. To travel in that way request more time and to prepare well your itinerary but in any case will not you permit to go out of the village towards nomadic families as of course no bus will drop you in front them or make ger to ger (except if you rent only for you the taxi) To reach GOBI by regular bus: UB- Dalazagad: twice per day. When arrive you will find people who will propose guest house and tour. Price depend of number of days and how much you are… firstname.lastname@example.org have a good contact in Dalanzagad, fell free to contact and ask for information.
There are four main departure stations in Ulaanbaatar (Ulan Bator and run also during naadam).
• Dragon (Songino Khairkhan)- bus for the north and west (for Kharakorim)
• Teevriin Tovchoo - vans for the north
• Bayanzurkh- bus for south and east
• Narantuul (Black Market) - vans pour west and north
BY TRAIN : ionly a railway line crosses the country from North to South going to Irkutsk in Siberia or Beijing in China. There are 3 routings, one for Edernet, the other to Sharyn Gol and the last to Baganuur. Not expensive at all
UB- MOSCOU: 2-3 times week
UB- IRKUSK: everyday
UB- PEKIN: 1-2 times week
UB -ERLIAN: Sun/Thurs
UB- ZAMUN-UUD: Everyday; 15H journey
UB- ZAMUN-UUD: Fri/Sun; Express 12H
UB- SUKHBAATAR: Everyday; 8H journey
UB- KHOKH KHOT: Mon/ Fri
Can change so just inform you again!
PLANE: flights to major cities. Luggage limited at 15 kg (3$/kg extra) Be careful: flights can be delayed and cancelled because of bad weather or damage to the runways. Reserve as soon as possible your tickets as often tour operators reserve all the seats!
If you arrive by plane in local place you can find some taxi waiting passengers.
HORSES / WALKING / BICYCLE/ CAR/ MOTORBIKE AND SIDE CAR::
BEFORE TO CHOOSE SUCH WAY OF TRANSPORTATION PLEASE READ::
mountainbike expedition and silkroute.org
EQUIPMENT FOR RENT AND BUY: 7Summit Shop in UB, choice also in the department store à UB and motorbikemongolia
Dell , saddlebags, light sleeping bag, stoves, GPS and tent for rent: motorbikemongolia
MAPS FOR BICYCLE, HIKKING, HORSE TREK, MOTORBIKE…WITHOUT GUIDE
MAPS often recommended
- map for businessmen & tourists 1:2 000 000 (Gizi map)
- map reise 1:1 600 000
- Russian map 1: 500 000 or less to be buy on the web
- Road Network of Mongolia 1:2,000,000. Editeur: G. Battogtokh, Land Cadastr, Ch. Tsemed, 2012
- Mongolia Road Atlas. 1:1,000,000. Gazryn Zurag Co. Ltd., 2009. 84 pages, 7.5 x 10 inches. In English. (ca 50€)
- Road Network Atlas of Mongolia. No scale. "Map Product of Mongolia", 2006. pocket road atlas of Mongolia. (ca 16€)
COMMENTS FOR MAP AND ATLAS
The "Mongolia road atlas ", not easy to carry as heavy and have no topographic details.
As general map the "reise know how" au 1/1.600.000” is not heavy even less details, strong map. The Mongolian map are surely the best (they are copy of Russian map 1/500.000) as you find topography of the places, mane of small villages, rivers, levels… even you will find some mistakes they are useful as written in Mongolian everybody can read them. You can buy in UB or find in the web.
-Use two maps: maps for businessmen and tourists et international travel maps
-Important to have a map written with Cyrillic even to show a map and make it read by nomads never so easy
-Take a small GPS Etrex with some points useful for your trip
-Even in lost area you will always find a nomad who can read and give information if you have a Mongolian map.
MAPS/GPS / APPLICATIONS: omnimap.com , cap aventure , mapstor.com to download and/or to buy in UB.
application Maps.me ou Osmand+
SEND BY CONTAINER:
*by sea: 50 days via Cina
*by land: from Duisburg (D) train via Russia and China but not save at all, many goods deseapper on the way on Russia and nobody can tell when train will arrive!
* custom: 4 days in UB
TO GO THERE WITH OWN VEHICLE:
To arrive until Mongolia is not so difficult just some bad roads on Mongolia can be a problem if vehicle not adapted, in that case stay on asphalt roads!
BUYING A MOTORBIKE (information 2019)
Mongolia is also a country to be discovered by motorbike. To rent, to buy and sell at the end of the trip please ask information: email@example.com
How to buy a Chinse motorbike? You can find 125 and 200 cc Chinese motorbike for around 800 to 1200€. You can buy in some shops in UB and to markets of major cities. You can sell the motorbike when you have finished your trip in same places you can buy motorbikes. It’s really more easy to buy or sell a motorbike if you are with a Mongolian as it’s hard for the deal and to have the papers (this can take several days).
Chinese motorbikes aren’t good quality, but if you buy it new this will reduce a lot of problems. Nomadic can repair them. They need only around 4 L for 100km.
Russian motorbike as Planeta or IKH are more expensive but best quality.
-ABSOLUTLY take with you for 3-4 days food and some petrol even you can find now petrol and supermarkets in all over Mongolia.
-GPS and a map and also nomadic families will enjoy helping you
250km per day are enough
-Weather changes so quickly so have good equipment and a tent with you
-Always note the last yurt you saw so in case you lost your way or other problems you can come back and ask help
-Don’t drink alcohol (frequent control) and remember no ambulance will come to pick you if you have an accident!
RENT MOTORBIKE: motorbikemongolia
DRIVING ALONE OWN JEEP IN MONGOLIA AND TO PREPARE OWN ITINERARY
It’s always a risk to drive without a guide in Mongolia. We strongly recommend to very well organize logistic and way points before leaving for. If you arrive with your own jeep better to have a mechanic one, as it will be easier to repair it. Have some mechanic idea to make a good trip.
-GPS + satellite phone
-Prepare your road book by helping with satellite maps as Google map and decide your trip by writing way points GPS (see also paragraph about maps)
-List of villages and points where to find food and petrol
-Have mechanic idea to be able to repair your vehicle during the trip, take from home all you think to need to repair your own vehicle
-On jeep have around 70 liters of petrol
-On jeep have around 20 liters of water
On the way: Following your road book, the way points will help you to see if you are on the right position in real time and so to search your way if you are far from the right position. On the way you will meet nomads to help you.
BY HORSE: it’s the traditional transportation in Mongolia, if you make only short riding as around Kosgol Lake and Trekhin Lake, no matter if you never ride in your life! To rent a horse is 15-20€ day and > 600€ to buy one (2019). Don’t go alone or with a group WITHOUT A GUIDE as even you are good riders as the steppe can be dangerous and it’s easy to loose your way and also to loose the horses o someone could steal them. A guide costs around 15/20€/day, also he can be helpful to have contact with nomads or for anything else especially if you aren’t used with the horses. Mongolian saddles are made of wood and not at all comfortable, for long riding better to have own equipment. You can find goods for riding at the Black Market (be aware to pickpockets) and in big stores in U.B. the best season seems to be June as weather is fine. July is very hot during the day and the nights can be cold! Be aware to thunderstorms and rain, think to take something to protect your luggage. It’s better to buy your horse near the place you decide to start your trip, if possible ask help for the price to a local person, you need an horse for 2 person to carry luggage, study carefully your itinerary (mountains, rivers…) try to not go in area with few population or arid areas as risk to not find water for the horses and nomads to help you if you need help and at the end of the trip why to not offer your horse you bought to a nomad?
Do not think you are a real good rider even you are experienced and so if your guide asks you something or explain something just listen to him as he knows why. Mongolian horses have a different character than ours, by example they don’t like long coats, bright colors as if windy they can have fear and make you fall down. Your guide as your driver are also there for your security.
Advice to rent, buy, find a guide, organized tours…: contact in English firstname.lastname@example.org and see horsetrails , gayas guest house , fairfield , horsetrek
HORSE RIDING MONGOLIA:
-Khatgal horse riding around Khovgol lake all tourist camp arranges a horse trek with guide
-Terelj horse riding around Gorkhi Terelj National park, all tourist camp arrange a horse trek with guide.
-Khustain Nurruu park
-Darkhad Tsagaan Nuur
-Khorgo terkhiin Tsagan nuur
ideas for horse trek/hiking here
CAMEL RIDING MONGOLIA:
SOME BEST PLACES
-Gobi: Gurvan Saikhan National Park camels herers will approach your jeep in the most popular tourists stops. Tourist camp can call a herders for you.
More? I can send you a long documentation about riding alone in Mongolia, but main part is in French, a few pages in English. Just contact me (email@example.com) to get it by writing: Horse in Mongolia
HIKING-TREKKING : if really you like walking with any kind of weather (thunderstorms, rain, hot…) it isn’t dangerous if you follow a running track or a river but better to be 2 or more. On Arkhangai, area with many people, you will meet often nomads to confirm you your way and help you to find water. A good idea as Mongolia is so big if to go with a jeep or by bus on your departure point and driver or bus comes to pick you in another point, this permit you to have more time and go father.
BY BICYCLE: during spring there is risk of tornadoes.
Rent bicycle : motorbikemongolia Shop in UB who sell, rent bicycles new and not , possible to sell your bicycle.
More? I can send you a long documentation about biking in Mongolia, but main part is in French, a few pages in English but also with some addresses of people who bike in Mongolia to contact. Just contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get it by writing: biking in Mongolia. Also look here: nmace.com
• EQUIPMENT: you must be autonomous (take a tent with double roof, food, water filter, warm sleeping bag, think to protect your luggage … mountainbike expedition
• TO BE AWARE:
- if you are tired ask a lift to some nomads who have a vehicle to drive to the next town, but you must have an idea of the place you are or be flexible, think to deal for the price! Try to not drink with the driver, you can refuse on a car what you can’t refuse under the ger, remember it!
-marshland: careful if really green grass and wet ground
-flock of bulls. They are free on the countryside so be aware to not disturb them, if happen just stay quiet until danger is gone
-thunderstorms: they are violent
-dogs: be aware to not be beaten (vaccine) they always belong to nomads and they look after the ger, not really dangerous.
-Drunken people who can disturb you
• AREA TO DISCOVER RIDING OR HIKING: For trips not up 15/30 days in areas with enough population to be able to resolve each problem as to find water points, meet nomads and divide traditional life we can recommend: the Arkhangai the Khentti and Gobi areas. The Arkhangai for its White Lake (Terkhin Tsaganur) North is less arid than South; on Khentii, Genghis Khan native land you will find on the North wooden houses , forests and wild areas; on Gobi you will find mist of landscape, moon landscape, oasis, wild animals, camels… but more difficult to find water; you can imagine to go everywhere to ride or walk near Khovsgol lake , to Tsaatans tribe, on Altai… Ask for more information at: email@example.com
HOW TO MEET TRAVELERS / SHARE JEEP: contact in English: firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him your dreams and when you think to visit Mongolia and maybe you will be contacted by someone interested.
TRANSLATOR: only few drivers have fluently English, if you study Russian you will have an opportunity to improve it! Buy a phrase book English-Mongolian and Russian Mongolian as everybody can read on Mongolia. In any case it isn’t difficult to travel with a driver who can’t speak English as they will do all to communicate with you (especially the ones who collaborate with Mejet) and you can use the hands to speak!
To have a translator: >20euro or more/day, better to book the soon as possible.