Posted by Selena Travel / 09 26, 2023
When you are traveling somewhere new and exciting, it helps to know what to expect when you get there. Mongolia is filled with plenty of activities and attractions for visitors to see and do, but, like more foreign places, there are a couple of things that travelers should be aware of in order to help them prepare for their journey.
Bordered by China and Russia, Mongolia is much more remote and less traveled than its neighbors. There are things to keep in mind regarding food, transportation, accommodation, and much more when planning your trip.
To help you out, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide of what to know before you go to Mongolia.
You’re Going to Eat a Lot of Meat and Dairy Products
Meat and dairy items are staples of Mongolian diets. Especially in the countryside and with the nomadic lifestyle, local resources will provide a base for most of the meals.
Plan to try some boodog while you’re traveling, which is a Mongolian barbecue typically made with a goat or a marmot. Steamed meat dumplings too, called buuz, will likely make it to your plate at some point during your journey.
In the dairy department, milk, yogurt, and cheese make frequent appearances in just about every dish. Milk is commonly used in beverages like airag, which is a popular Mongolian drink.
To prepare for this change in diet, it doesn’t hurt to start consuming more meat and dairy products before you depart for your trip. It can only help you adjust to a different way of life.
Some Top Attractions Are Seasonal
If you have already done some research into popular Mongolia activities and attractions, then you should know that there is plenty to do.
You can see ancient monasteries, visit museums, and tour the Gobi Desert, among other activities. But, keep in mind that some of the top attractions are seasonal.
One such attraction is the Naadam Festival. Celebrating Mongolia’s independence from China, as well as a history of cultural significance, the Naadam Festival takes place during the summer months.In Ulaanbaatar, National Naadam is held from 11 - 13 July, and in the countryside dates can vary, although they’re usually also a couple of days in July.
Out west, eagle hunting festivals take place in autumn, usually during September or October. Eagle hunting is an ancient craft dating back for centuries. The hunter uses an eagle to capture and kill its prey, and every fall, festivals are held to show off the skill and prowess of the hunter and his or her eagles.
It’s one of the most interesting things to witness in Mongolia, but in order to observe eagle hunters, attend the Naadam Festival, or participate in some other seasonal activities, you’ll have to do your homework ahead of time to make sure you plan your trip accordingly.
Buses and Vans are Primary Transport for Outside of Ulaanbaatar
Other than the Trans Mongolian railway, passing through Ulaanbaatar on its way from Beijing to Moscow, there are not any common train routes in Mongolia. Instead, buses and vans are the most popular means of transportation into the countryside.
In Ulaanbaatar, the main bus port is the Dragon Bus Terminal. Here, you can hop on and travel to countryside towns like Mörön or Kharkhorin. From there, you can connect with other vans to get deeper in Mongolia.
Journeys can be extremely long, especially with some vehicles not departing until full, rather than at a specific time. And the further you get into the countryside, the rougher the terrain can be.
You won’t be making stops along the way to refresh your supplies, so make sure you bring plenty of food for meals, wear comfy clothes, and stay entertained with a book or music.
Buses and vans are not by any means glamorous, but it will get you closer to Mongolian locals and lifestyle.
Hotels are Nice, but Gers are Better
When you’re booking accommodation for your trip, your first instinct might be to check out hotels, guesthouses, and hostels. But, there are some unique accommodation options for travelers looking to get closer to the Mongolian way of life: ger camps.
Gers are traditional Mongolian homes, circular structures held up by woodwork and layers of cloth material. Though they seem modest in appearance, inside you will get to enjoy the full facilities of your own home.
Beds, a chest of drawers, bathrooms, and even some kitchen appliances like stoves are all some of the amenities in Mongolian ger camps. Plus, they’re usually smartly decorated to add a homey feel.
Ger camps also usually have restaurants, stores, and tour options available on site. So not only is staying in a ger a more cultural experience than a hotel or guesthouse, but it’s even luxurious too.
You’ll be so glad that you stayed in a ger, and you’re sure to make great memories during your stay.
You’ll Never Be Bored
If there’s one thing you should know before you go to Mongolia, it’s that there is certainly no shortage of things to do while you are there. Between all of the delicious food and fun activities, you will never find a dull moment.
On your long bus ride from Ulaanbaatar to the countryside, you can chat with locals and get to know a little bit more about Mongolian life and culture.
Even if you miss seasonal attractions like Naadam and eagle hunting festivals, there’s plenty to do year-round, such as visiting ancient sites like monasteries or hiking the scenic Mongolian terrain.
And at the end of every day, you can indulge in a traditional meal to top off your experience. You’re sure to be thoroughly entertained at all hours of the day during your trip to Mongolia.
That’s what to know before you go to Mongolia! It’s a gorgeous country, and you are guaranteed to have an amazing time. So go ahead and book your tour, reserve your bus seat, and start making memories in Mongolia.