Bus In Mongolia Advice

How to use public buses in UB?
1. Buy a U-money bus card and charge. You can find a U-money bus card (3600 MNT)(2024)from kiosks/convenience store at the major bus stops, and Circle K, CU, and V point convenience stores. Circle K, CU, and V point convenience stores open 24 hours. Charge the card with the appropriate amount you wish.
2. Find the correct bus line. All the bus lines are written in Cyrillic in front of the bus. Go to the nearest bus stop for the bus. Remember the bus sign and take it.
3. Entering the bus through the front door and tap the card at the fare collection machine next to the driver. Using google map to track your travel is the natural and better way since there is no English information.
4. When taking the wrong bus, get off the next bus stop. Do not forget to tap the card on the machine to use your free transiting within 30 minutes.
5. Drop off the bus through the middle or back door. Before drop off, tap the card on the machine next to the door.

Mongolian buses to major cities
Please note that bus schedule is available within 30-day range.
Online booking orders: eticket.transdep.mn
The intercity bus schedules are updated monthly, some intercity lines don’t run all the year!

2024: Mongolia has a regional bus network system from Ulaanbaatar city to different provinces and cities. The national auto transport center is organizing a total of 1200 vehicles every day in 75 destinations.
Regional buses also public transportation in Mongolia and ticket price is very economical compared to the other options.
No internal flights operate in some provinces from Ulaanbaatar city. That’s way long-distance buses are the first option to transport to/from the capital city. On longer distances, Some Buses travel overnight.
There are also several Mongolia bus routes to bordering cities in China and Russia, including Ulan-Ude city in Russia, Elian, and Beijing city in China.
Mostly, there are one-way tickets, but you can book a round trip ticket, as you know your time framework. Depending on travel distance and provinces, prices are different. It would help if you saw the prices on the exact bus routes. There is always a fixed price for the tickets.

How to buy tickets
All the buses require an advance seat reservation. You can make a reservation bus ticket online. Since Aug 2019, the Website has an English menu, but online payment is only available with internet banking.
It is recommended to make a reservation early for popular routes during the busy travel season. However, if the bus ticket is not sold out, it is usually possible to buy a ticket just before departure at the bus terminal.
Come to the bus terminal 30 min before departure and show up your ticket.

Seating and Amenities
Provincial buses typically equipped with seats that arranged in rows of four-seat and two aisles. On some buses with four standard seats per row are in everyday use.
Buses come with no toilet but make regular toilet stops along the way. Smoking and drinking are generally not permitted on the buses.
On the most of routes, bus stops at local cafeteria for having lunch or dinner. But it is highly recommending to buy snack and drink. You do not want to be thirsty along the way, do you?

Luggage size and limits
Long-distance buses come with a spacious luggage trunk for large suitcases and bags. There is usually a limit of 20 kg of luggage per passenger. Additional luggage has charged as 1000 MNT per kg. The luggage size should be smaller than the size of 604020 cm. Smaller bags can be taken onto the bus where there are usually some overhead racks.
So you have to know which bus terminal that sells the ticket to your planned destination. There are three bus stations/terminals in Ulaanbaatar that operate buses to the Mongolian provinces.

Public transport system
The public transport system operates in a star style method.
The main routes go from the capital city in the center to all the aimag (province) centers.
From the aimag center you join a shared van taking you to the sum (district) centers of that aimag.
See the star system on this Google map of public transport
There are a few exceptions, like routes to mines, and border posts.

You have to adjust your transportation plan to the local star system.
For example, going from north to west, you have to first return to the capital in the center.
The public transport system is designed for locals needs, there are no buses directly to the popular tourist destinations.
It is not advised to plan on hoping on and off a route. Simply adjust to the star system, from the capital in the center to an aimag center.

Low cost compared to any other means of transportation.
You get a chance to meet locals, and experience the local way of life.
Locals will be very helpful and in some cases invite you over.

For long distance buses you have to purchase the ticket the night before departure.

Travel time
The vehicles go non stop, with short breaks on the way.

Bus Atmosphere
Vehicles are packed full, with boxes of merchandise in between.

Traveling alone
There is no problem traveling alone. It is safe for single female travelers too.
The advantage when traveling alone is that you have a better chance to mingle with locals.

**Challenges **
Signs - destination signs are in Cyrillic letters like for a van going to "Terelj" look for a sign saying Тэрэлж
Timetable - the buses leave on time in most cases, vans leave when they are full.
Crowded - public transport vehicles are packed to the maximum, with loads of baggage in the middle.
Language - difficult to find English speaking passengers not to mention drivers.

How to
Be more flexible and patient with time.
Plan your route taking into consideration the star system.
Once you get to an aimag center, hire a local jeep to your tourist destination.
If you are a small group, you can share the costs.

Buses go from Ulaanbaatar to all Aimag (province) centers. From the Aimag center you wait with others for a van to fill up going to a Sum (district) center. If you attempt to go to a tourist attraction that is not on the public transport routs, you will find jeeps or vans ready to be hired to take you to a specific location. Any private car can act as a taxi.

Destinations in Cyrillic
To identify the proper van have the destination name in Cyrillic letters with you. The vans display a board with the destination on the windshield.
Example: for a van going to "Terelj" look for a sign saying Тэрэлж

Public transportation vehicles include buses, minibuses, vans and cars.
Buses leave at a set time, minibuses and vans leave when they are full.

Official Bus Stations 2024

  • Dragon (Songino Khairkhan)- buses going north and west. Routes to provinces: Arkhangai, Uvurkhangai, Darkhan, Erdenet city, Uvs, Zavkhan, Khovd, Bayan-Ulgii, Bayankhongor, Gobi-Altai, Selenge, Khuvsgul provinces.
  • Tenger Plaza Bayanzurkh district - buses going south and east. to Dornod, Khentii, Sukhbaatar, Govisumber, Dornogovi provinces, and Zamyn-Ud town in Dornogovi as well as Erlian city in China. Routes to provinces: Khentii, Dornod, Sukhbaatar, Dornogobi, expect Zamiin-Uud.
  • Narantuul station and Train station aren't official bus stations

North (Khovsgol lake)

To go to Khovsgol lake take the bus to Moron.
Distance: 684 Km.
Cost: 24,500 Tugrug.
Departure Station: Dragon.
Departure Days: every day.
Departure Time: 15:00
Travel Duration: 20h to Moron + 3h Moron to Khatgal
In Moron you wait with others for a van to fill up-
going to Khatgal, the village on the southern shore of Khovsgol lake.

South (Gobi desert)

Getting to/from Dalanzadgad
There are public buses that depart to/from the Dalanzadgad two times a day. The morning shift departs at 8:00 in the morning, and the evening shift leaves the Ulaanbaatar city at 16:00. Since February 2019, these bus routes depart at Lavai bus terminals in Khan-Uul district, Ulaanbaatar city.
There is 575 km of excellent paved road to Dalanzadgad city, Umnugobi province. The bus typically stops one or two times on the way to eating and toilet stop.
A one-way ticket is 28500 MNT for adults and 14500 for children aged 7 – 12 years old.
Returning from Dalanzadgad to Ulaanbaatar city is the same as on the timetable, price, and roads.

Travel Duration: 18h to Dalanzadgad
From Dalanzadgad hire a jeep to take you to the popular destinations.
Try and go with partners on the bus to share the cost of the jeep.

West (Altai Mountains)

To go to the west take the minibus to Olgii
Departure Days: Everyday
Departure Time: 15:00-20:00 leaves when full
Distance: 1,709 Km
Cost: 68,000 Tugrug
Departure Station: Dragon
Travel Duration: 30-40 to Olgii
In Olgii hire a jeep to the mountains (i.e. to Tavan Bogd).

East (the steppe)

To go to the east take the bus to Choibalsan
Departure Days: every day
Time for bus: 8:00
Time for Minibus or Van: 9:00-10:00 leaves when full
Distance: 661 Km
Cost: 24,000 Tugrug
From Station: Bayanzurkh
Travel Duration: 12h

Kharkhorin to Tsetserleg

There is a direct road between Kharkhorin and Tsetserleg.
The distance is about 120km.

If you are short in time, I would suggest you hire a Jeep.
In case your visit in Tsetserleg is short, the driver will wait for you to return.

There are some minivans to Tseserleg that pass through Kharkhorin
You should be able to get onto one of them going by.
The only issue is that most vehicles passing through Kharkhorin are full, so it might take some time.

The way back might be easier, as Tsetserleg is the capital of Arkhangai aimag (province) and there are vehicles going out every day. They leave in the morning. Note that most vehicles going to UB take a different route, not through Kharkhorin.

You can also check at the kharkhorin market if there is a minivan filling up to Tseserleg. Look for a sign on the windshield saying Цэцэрлэг (Tsetserleg in Mongolian).

International public transport services(2024)
1. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia – Ulaan-Ud, Russia
The bus leaves from Dragon Center every day at 7:30 and at 19:00 on Friday and Sunday. From Ulaan-Ud, time table is same but local time. The price is from 48,000MNT – 70,000MNT, depending on city you get off the bus.
2. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia – Manjuur, China
There is no bus leaving from Ulaanbaatar to Manjuur directly which means you need to change the bus on the way. Firstly, you need to get Kherlen sum in Dornod Province. The bus leaves from Tenger Plaza in Ulaanbaatar every day at 08:00, 13:00, and 18:00. Kherlen sum is 658 km away from Ulaanbaatar and the price is 33,000MNT. Then change the bus to Manjuur, the bus leaves from Kherlen sum on Monday to Friday at 7:30 and the price is around 50,000MNT.
3. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia – Ereen, China
From the Tenger Plaza in Ulaanbaatar, the bus leaves every day at 7:00 and 21:00. The price is 55,000MNT.