Voltage: 220V, Frequency: 50Hz
Tughrik (MNT) exchange rates
UTC +7 hours/ +8 hours
What to expect
Few destinations cast a spell on travelers the way Mongolia does. Across the mountains, deserts and vast Mongolian steppe many of her people still observe time-honored traditions, wandering their harsh yet disarmingly beautiful land as nomads while those in the capital embrace western modernisation and free enterprise. The stories of Mongolia’s past are also captivating, filled with excitement and intrigue with colorful figures like the legendary warrior Genghis Khan taking center stage.
From Los Angeles, New York
approximately 13 hours
Banks, public offices and some tourist sites will be closed on the vacations listed here. As major vacations are set according to the lunar calendar, dates change every year. Please check with our USA-based Asia specialists for details.
1 January is New Year's Day
, a public vacation. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
January/ February (two months after the first new moon following the winter solstice) is Tsagaan sar or White Moon
, which is the Mongolian Lunar New Year. Families and friends visit each other and exchange gifts, dress in traditional costumes and perform traditional rituals such as burning candles.
8 March is International Woman's Day
, a public vacation celebrating the contribution of women to Mongolian society.
18 March is Men’s and Soldiers Day
, marking the establishment of the country's military. Women around the country give thanks to the men in their family on this day.
1 June is Mothers' and Children's Day
, a day of celebration for families with parades, concerts and traditional food eaten. Rural-dwelling Mongolians often travel to the nearest town to partake in activities their children enjoy, such as going to the cinema.
11-13 July is Naadam Festival
, a three day national vacation where traditional games are played. People compete in three key sports - Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery, and the associated parades, costumes and crowds are quite a spectacle.
26 November is Independence Day
, celebrating Mongolia becoming an independent country in 1924 after centuries of Chinese rule.
31 December is New Year's Eve
, a time of much celebration in Mongolia, as in the rest of the world.
Health & Fitness
Travelers to Mongolia should take precautions as they would elsewhere in Asia. In remote areas medical facilities can be particularly basic. Some of the diseases known to exist in Indochina include malaria, hepatitis A & B, typhoid, tuberculosis, Japanese encephalitis, dengue fever, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, rabies and HIV/ AIDS. We recommend you take adequate preventative measures to minimize your risk of exposure to these health risks.
We are a travel company and we are not qualified to provide detailed medical information appropriate to your individual needs; it is recommended you consult with your local doctor or a specialist travel medical center for current health information on vaccinations and medicine for your trip at least one month prior to departure.
British, Australian, New Zealand passport holders need a tourist visa which must be obtained from a Mongolian embassy or consulate abroad before arrival and is valid for all international points of entry into Mongolia. Visa applications should be lodged at least one month prior to departure from your home country and should be submitted along with a copy of the tour itinerary showing the arrival and departure dates into/out of Mongolia.
US and Canadian passport holders can enter Mongolia without a tourist visa for periods of 90 and 30 days respectively.
Safety and security
Mongolia is generally a safe country, however petty street crime in towns and cities is on the rise as tourist numbers increase. In larger cities we recommend you wear as little jewelry as possible and make sure your spending money is kept in a secure place close to your body. We also recommended you take taxis rather than walk at night. Taxis are mostly metered and inexpensive, but make sure the driver activates the meter and is clear on your destination - carry a hotel card so your taxi driver knows where to take you as many drivers cannot read or speak English.
Only take essentials out with you on the streets. Leave valuables (passport, credit cards, excess cash and jewelry) in hotel safety deposit boxes where available. It would also be advisable to make photocopies of your passport, credit card numbers, and airline tickets, and keep a detailed record of your traveler’s checks. These documents should be kept in a safe place separate from the originals. When traveling on trains, clients may wish to take extra precautions with their finances by using money belts. Read our safety guidelines for further information.
Odyssey Guide Mongolia by Carl Robinson
is a beautifully illustrated book providing insights into Mongolia's fascinating history and rich culture.
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
tracks the story of Genghis Khan and his descendants by the only Western scholar to be allowed into Genghis Khan's burial site.
In the Empire of Genghis Khan, A Journey Among Nomads by Stanley Stewart
is a humorous account of the author's adventure crossing Mongolia on horseback.
Modern Mongolia, Reclaiming Genghis Khan by Paula Sabloff
is a factual look at Mongolia, with Mongolian and American perspectives offered, some of a scholarly nature.
Modern Mongolia, From Khans to Commissars to Capitalists by Morris Rossabi
is a look at the political economy of Mongolia over the last decade.
Lonely Planet Mongolian Phrasebook
is an essential guide to the key phrases that will help you navigate the intricacies of travel in Mongolia, from basic greetings to ordering food.
Useful words & phrases
Hello (literally 'how are you')
Sain bai-na uu?
I'm fine.How are you?
Sain ta sain bai-na uu?
Excuse me/ I'm sorry
Thanks (this is a bit curt)
What is your name?
Ta-ny nee-riiig khen ge-deg ve
My name is...
Mi-nii ne-riig ...ge-deg
What country are you from?
Ta a-li ul-saas ir-sen be?
How old are you?
Ta khe-den nas-tai ve?
I am ...years old
Can I take your photograph?
Bi ta-ny zur-giig avch bo-lokh uu?
Do you speak English?
Ta an-gliar yair-dag uu?
Arrival and departure transfers
In cities we generally use latest model air-conditioned buses with either 26 or 30 seats for our Small Group Journeys - depending on the size of the group. In the more remote areas where roads are often unsealed, we use air-conditioned 4WD vehicles.
Train travel is another aspect of your journey in Mongolia, with a two night stint on the Trans-Mongolian Railway, where accommodation is in 4-berth soft-sleeper compartments. Other modes of transport include domestic flights, your own two feet for hiking and exploring towns and cities, as well as camel and horse riding.
International phone and fax facilities are widely available in Ulaan Baatar (far less so in rural areas) however they are expensive (50-100 MNT per min). International direct dial is available from most hotels for additional charges but the service is not always reliable. Email services are inexpensive and available in almost all tourist areas. Hotels often have internet and email services which are convenient but a little more costly.
International mail generally takes at least 14 days to reach its destination and prices are a little less than Western postal charges. Parcels must be inspected by a customs official at the post office before being sealed and boxes are usually available at the post office. Reverse charge (collect) calls are available in many cities.
Food & drink
To be candid, people do not normally travel to Mongolia for its cuisine. Mongolia’s simple cuisine has evolved from the extreme nature of its climate and traditional nomadic lifestyle with influences from the food of its neighbors - Russia and China. The typical Mongolian diet consists primarily of dairy products, meat, rice and bread with limited vegetables and spices.
In rural areas, the most common dish is cooked mutton. It is often served with vegetables and rice/bread or used to fill dumplings which are steamed (buuz), boiled (bansh), or deep fried (Khuushuur). Other dishes combine meat with rice or fresh noodles to make stews (tsuivan, budaatai huurga) or noodle soups (guriltai shol). Dried meat (borts) is a popular snack.
Popular dairy products in Mongolia include cheese, yoghurt, curd and fermented mare's milk, which may be offered by families in the countryside as a welcome drink. In summer, fresh blueberry jam is a local treat. Tap water is not safe to drink in Mongolia, however is readily available and cheap. Local brands of vodka and beer are also available.
If you are happy with the services provided by your local guides, drivers and your tour leader, a tip is appropriate and appreciated. While it may not be customary to you, tipping inspires great service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across Asia. You are free to tip as much or as little as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip.
Should you be dissatisfied with the services provided by your Local guide, driver or Tour leader, please let us know.
Mongolia is a landlocked nation, yet despite this there may be occasions when swimming is possible. Hotels, particularly those in Ulaanbaatar, sometimes feature swimming pools, and there may be swimming opportunities in the countryside in picturesque lakes, depending on the time of year.
If traveling with children it is important to be aware of their safety. As pools and waterways are unpatrolled, it is essential to remain vigilant and to remain within sight of other people.
Insider Journeys practices a thorough, realistic responsible travel policy. We believe that travel should entail an exchange of knowledge and perspectives, a sharing of wealth, and a genuine appreciation of Asia’s beautiful natural environments. This philosophy underpins the heart and soul of our style of travel. It drives all that we strive to deliver to our travelers, and shapes the contact we have with our supplier colleagues in Asia. We recognize that poorly planned itineraries or poorly informed tourists contribute less to cross-cultural understanding and less to the livelihoods of local people. We also recognize that we largely work in a developing part of the world.
During a journey through Mongolia, you will have the opportunity to visit a local home and share a meal with the family, in traditional style and in a way which highlight Mongolians' hospitality to visitors in this regard. Learn more about our focus on responsible travel.