Please take in mind that traveling in the countryside of Mongolia is often tough, a trip is conducted in remote areas where there’s no hotel and paved roads exist.
Only tourist ger camps can be available in touristy destinations. Ger is Mongolian traditional dwelling made of felt layers and wooden construction in which the Mongols have lived since the time immemorial. Ger camps also have western style showers and WCs (mostly shared). A few ger camps offer en-suite gers at additional charge. Due to remoteness some tourist ger camps may not excel in service, so travelers may not always expect high pressure showers, gourmet food etc.
ROADS AND TRANSPORT: Roughly 15% of Mongolian 47000km road is paved and the rest is dirt. As Mongolian climate is harsh and extreme, it makes the paved roads bumpy and cracked. The dirt road is much like that of Africa, there’s no road sign and not much traffic, which makes your trip unforgettably peaceful. They are sometimes bumpy and dusty. As there’s no road sign drivers drive to the nearest ger (1-3km) to ask directions to make sure if he’s taking the right road. The most suitable vehicles are 4WD Russian and Japanese jeeps and minivans.
FLIGHTS: Mongolia has 3 airlines operating domestic flights. Eznis, Hunnu Airlines and AeroMongolia have flights to most of the provincial capitals and the major tourist destinations like the Gobi and Huvsgul Lake. All flight schedules are subjects to change without any prior notices, mostly, due to weather. So please don’t get shocked if your morning flight gets delayed till 8pm in the evening.
CATERING: You can buy almost everything in Ulaanbaatar, we have supermarkets and markets where you can find anything you would need, mostly imported goods from China, South Korea, Germany, Japan, EU and Russia as well as Mongolian own goods. However, in the countryside you won’t have that much choice like we do in the city. So please bring the items you would need or buy them in UB with plenty of quantity. Bottled water, German chocolate, Mongolian beer, Mongolian vodka etc can be bought at every village you stop.
FOOD: During the tour you will be eating in good restaurants in Ulaanbaatar, we have a great variety in restaurants in the capital city. Once you are outside the capital, ger restaurants in ger camps and local cafes in the small towns and villages will be the places where you eat. Ger restaurants often have set menu, but their food is usually very good. During your driving days you will take packed lunch from ger camps. Vegetarians are well taken care of both in Ulaanbaatar restaurants and tourist ger camps.
COMMUNICATION: In Ulaanbaatar, provincial centers and most small villages you can use GSM mobile, but you will need to buy Mongolian SIM card unless your own SIM is international. You can send postcards from every village. Internet is widely available in Ulaanbaatar and provincial capitals.
MEDICAL: Please bring your own travel first aid kit just in case of any injuries and diseases. Even though, every village and town has a hospital and ambulance most of the doctors don’t speak English. Travel insurance is highly recommended.
MONEY: Mongolian currency “tugrug” MNT is used in the country. All shops, restaurants etc accept MNT only and occasionally, some touristy places such as tourist ger camps, restaurants, souvenir shops etc accept USD. In Ulaanbaatar major cards such as Visa and Master are widely accepted. ATMs (cash machines) are easily found in Ulaanbaatar and provincial capitals. You can bring USD (must be printed after 2002), GBP, Euro, the cash limit is 15000 USD. Those currencies can be changed at banks (work for 24 hours. Travelers Checks are changed into cash at banks with some charge. Leftover MNT can be converted back into USD, GBP or Euros at the end of the trip.
TIPPING: Tipping is common in Mongolia at restaurants, hotels etc. Amount equal to 5-10% of your service fee is good.
ELECTRICITY: 220 V, round pinned European style plugs are used. Most of the tourist ger camps have electricity for recharging batteries etc.
GENERAL WEATHER IN JUNE-SEP: In Central Mongolia (Ulaanbaatar and Karakorum region): 23'C daytime and 11'C at nights with occasional rain. In the Gobi: 30'C daytime and 15'C at nights, sunny. In the northern Mongolia the average temperature is some 20’C daytime & 10’C at nights.
SHOPPING: The most famous items from Mongolia are cashmere and wool products and leather products. Mongolian cashmere is one of the bests and design and colour choice is good at bigger cashmere factory stores such as the Gobi, Goyo, Altai cashmere etc. Moreover, during the trip in the countryside you will be met by local nomads selling handcrafted arts such as wood cravings, stone crafts, felt arts etc, very pretty and very local - tourists love buying from them rather than big touristy shops. If requested your guide can take you to the State Department Store or to one of those cashmere shops. You can discuss with your guide and arrange shopping at the spot as we do not include any compulsory shopping in our tours.
SAFETY: Mongolia is one of the safest countries in the world. In the countryside it's absolutely safe. The city of Ulaanbaatar, however, is much like any other big cities: do not walk alone in streets in the dark. Also pick pocketing tends to be a problem in Ulaanbaatar, and tourists seem to be an easy prey for pickpockets, especially in crowded places such as the Gandan monastery, airport, train station and shops. The Naadam Festival CENTRAL STADIUM and the HORSE RACING PLACE are the place where you must be EXTRA careful with your belongings (thus, tourists are asked to carry minimum with them on these days)...
TRAFFIC IN ULAANBAATAR: It should be noted that due to the Ulaanbaatar city roads major re-construction works planned in the summer of 2013 and 2014, the traffic in Ulaanbaatar during work days is expected to be heavier. Therefore, during your Ulaanbaatar city tour we might avoid heavy traffic and offer short walking between museums, monasteries and restaurants etc. Also, some drives might take longer than the actual planned itinerary. Hence, your understanding of the situation and kind cooperation will be highly appreciated.
Mongolia’s Do’s and Don’t’s
Mongolia is a country of strict Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to tradition and lifestyle, especially in the countryside. Everything starts from entering the house and whether you are Mongolian or not you will have to follow along and try not to break one of the many traditional, religious and superstitious customs. Here are some of Mongolia’s basic Do’s
. It sure will come in handy when you’re visiting a nomad family.
- Stand on the threshold when entering the ger
- Refuse offered drink or food
- Turn your back on the altar or the religious part of the ger
- Whistle inside a ger
- Lean against the pillars
- Throw water or rubbish into the fire.
- Touch other people’s hat or men’s head
- Walk over uurga (horse catching pole)
- Point at someone with your finger
- Spill milk
- Greet the people when entering the ger
- Enter or leave ger through the left
- Accept food or drink with your right hand
- Receive the snuff bottle and gently loosen the top without removing it
- Bring some small gifts for the children
- Always get on horseback from the left
THANK YOU VERY MUCH AND HAVE A GREAT TIME IN MONGOLIA!