When is the best time to travel in Mongolia?
The best time to travel in Mongolia is between the summer months of June and September. However some interesting festivals take place in the winter, which are becoming an appealing attraction to travelers. Those are the Golden Eagle Festival in October, the Camel Festival and the Ice Festival in January/February.
What are the accommodations like?
While in Ulaanbaatar the capital city we use the four-star hotels, the best available in the town, such as Bayangol, Ulaanbaatar and Khan Palace, the centrally located hotels as well as the Hotel Mongolia located in suburbs of Ulaanbaatar.
For those wishing more comfortable lodging, we have trips offering ger camp accommodation wherever we go. Gers, the traditional dwelling of nomads, are round felt tents which are spacious and with proper beds and sheets.
Usually 2-3 people share a ger. We try to provide single accommodation where possible, but in the high season it is not always available. Ger camps have a large dining ger to serve meals and a bar for drinks in the evening. There is a communal facility for hot water running showers and flush toilets.
While joining our expedition tours, you will camp in tents. Those are teepee style Salewa tents with a pole in the middle, where one can stand. Also there are dome tents of North Face, which we provide for two people. Each individual may have their own tent as well. The camp also consists of a dining tent with tables and chairs and a toilet tent. On some days, we set up our shower tent and provide warm water showers to clients.
What is the fitness level to join our trips?
Our trips are designed to accommodate two general levels of comfort and activities.
“G” trips are appropriate for any age or level of fitness. We may suggest a day hike or offer an opportunity to ride horses or camels as part of the trip. These activities are not arduous or demanding.
Adventure activities offered on expeditions (“E” trips) are however of moderate to advanced level of difficulty. Mongolian horses are small but with good stamina, well tempered and relatively easy to handle. If you have a reasonable level of fitness and have ridden a few times before, you are eligible for a horseback-riding trip. We provide Australian saddles for riding. The two-humped Bactrian camels in Mongolia are extremely comfortable to ride. No prior experience is necessary.
What are the vehicles like?
The clients are mainly driven in 4WD Russian jeeps or vans, suitable to the Mongolian roads and conditions. Though Russian vehicles are not reputable for their excellent comfort, they are safe and reliable, and are always possible to be fixed in case of breakdowns. The common usage of Russian vehicles for decades made Mongolian drivers as good mechanics, they know very well how to fix it and spare parts are widely available. However Japanese and German vehicles are available on request.
On trips away from the capital city, (where clients fly to the local destinations) we work with local drivers with well-maintained vehicles and who have years of experience of driving off raod. They know their area very well. Our drivers are excellent navigators too. Clients are always amazed how the drivers know their way in the middle of nowhere, with no traffic signs or sometimes no track at all. There is almost no need to drive at night, (15-17 hours of day light in the summer) however, if necessary the drivers are able to use the star position for navigation.
When you first meet our drivers they might appear not very friendly, (because Mongolians usually don’t smile to strangers!) but very quickly you will realize that you are in good hands of friendly, supportive and confident people. They are fun companions to travel with.
Will a vegetarian survive on our trips?
Mongolians have a reputation for their meat eating habit. Some countryside nomad might get offended to be served by vegetable dish, they might say, “I am not a goat!”
But we in the travel business are aware of different dietary needs of our clients. The meals are varied, nutritious, hygienically prepared and tasty. We use lots of fruit and vegetables. Mutton and beef are the main consumption in Mongolia additionally our cook serves chicken and fish as well.
The cooks also have some good receipies for vegetarian dishes. The vegetarians and others with specific dietary requirement should notify us before coming so that our cooks can prepare accordingly.
Breakfast is full course with tea, coffee, fruit juice, egg, bread, butter, jam, cheese, a fruit salad. On cool mornings we serve cooked breakfast. Lunches are usually light with vegetable salad and sandwich, chocolate bar and drink. Dinners are usually big with vegetable salad, main course, and desert.
What is the weather like?
Mongolia is a remarkably sunny country that enjoys in average 280 sunny days a year. While the country re-known for its cold winter (it can be as cold as 40"C below zero), Mongolian summer is very warm with an average temperature of 20"C above zero. Because of its continental location and high altitude, temperatures can vary, especially in the Gobi desert and in high mountains. There is a low precipitation, the highest rainfall period is in July and August, however, there are still days of glorious sunshine during this time. As a general guide here is some information about temperatures.
The average temperatures in May-June:
In the South of the country (Gobi) +15+20C during the day & +10+15 during the night. In the northern half of the country the temperatures range from +10+15 during the day & +5+10 during the night.
In the south of the country the average temperatures vary from +25+35 during the day & +18+20 during the night. In the north +20+25 during the day & +15+20 during the night.
In the south the temperatures are from +15+25 during the day & +10+15 during the night. In the north they are from +10+20 during the day and +5+10 during the night.
Do I need a visa?
Visitors must have a Mongolian visa to travel to Mongolia, except when bilateral arrangements provide for waiver of visa requirement. The citizens of the following countries travel to Mongolia without a visa within the timeframe listed.
1. USA- 90 days,
2. Kazakhstan - 90 days
3. Malaysia – 30 days
4. Israel - 30 days
5. Philippines - 21 days
6. Hong Kong - 14 days
7. Singapore - 14 days
If the citizens of above listed countries travel in Mongolia longer than the listed days, they need to get the visa.
How to get to Mongolia?
MIAT is the national carrier of Mongolia operating out of Berlin, Moscow, Irkutsk, Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing, and Hoh Hot. Apart from this airline the following airlines have scheduled flights to/from Mongolia: Korean Air, Air China and Aeroflot.
All our trips include a travel medical insurance for the scheduled duration of your trip, from the date of your arrival until the day of your departure. This insurance has a value up to USD30.000 to cover the cost of medical services taken in Mongolia including air evacuation within the territory of Mongolia. However, we highly recommend all our clients to make their own travel insurance as well.
We work with the Ulaanbaatar branch of the SOS international hospital for medical issues of our clients.
There is no limit on foreign currency, traveler's checks brought to Mongolia. Foreign currency must be registered at Mongolian customs. The Banks have a network of branch and exchanging bureau at most hotels. The travelers’ checks must be signed at the desk of the cashier. Previously signed checks are not accepted for exchange. There are duty-free or souvenir shops where convertible currencies are accepted. Diners Club, American Express, JCB, Master and Visa Card are accepted at the hotels, some restaurants and souvenir shops. ATM is not commonly found.
Classic and national opera, ballet and play, folk concert and circus are main evening entertainments offered to visitors. Ulaanbaatar has a thriving night life with a number of very lively night clubs, pubs, and dance clubs.
Mongolia is the best place to buy cashmere products: sweaters, gloves, scarves, dresses, blankets, etc. As the country is one the world's leading producers of raw cashmere it offers very competitive prices as well as good design and quality.
Variety of art crafts is of interest to foreign travelers. Mongolia has a unique nomadic culture and arts/culture became one of its largest export items.
The standard voltage in Mongolia is 220 volts/50 Hz. Sockets require a European two-pin type plug or adaptor. While on expeditions 12V converters to 110V or 220V would be handy to charge your batteries from the vehicles.