What Is the Accommodation Like?
In the capital city of Ulaanbaator, you can get western style hotels for tourists for international princes. The ideal experience for most travelers is at a hostel or guesthouse. These are relatively cheap and vary in quality depending on the location. But be aware, during the Nadaam festival all hotels-and even the cheapest hostels- will be booked out and crowded! So make sure to book in advance. Airbnb options are also available and are increasing in availability.
Any hotels in smaller cities are more run down. Most tourists prefer staying in the traditional Mongolian Ger. These are mostly operated by tour companies and can cost at least US$35 or more a night.
What Should I Bring?
During the summer time, the weather is quite pleasant. Even when it is warm, it’s not humid, so you won’t be sweating perfusely. During the Winter you MUST wear thermals and as many layers as possible. The Mongolian winter is incredibly frigid with strong winds and dry air. If you plan on riding camels and/or horses in Mongolia during the winter, make sure to bring warm boots if they’re not already provided by the tour.
How Much Will I Spend in a Day?
Mongolia is a relatively cheap destination in terms of daily expenses. It’s estimated that you’ll spend about US$5 a day on meals- a little more if you drink- and about US$14 a day for hotels, which adds up to about US$19 a day. It’s always wise to budget a little more of course. Any additional tours, museums, guided horseback rides will have additional costs depending on who you book with.
What Plugs Do They Use?
Mongolians use a type C plug, which is the plug with two round pins. They also use the type E plugs which consists of two round pins and a third stabilizing pin standing out from the wall socket.
Can I Get a Sim Card?
You can purchase a prepaid SIM card at the airport, around Central Square, and Ulaanbaator Hotel. When traveling in the countryside, make sure to stand at a high point for a signal. The government is working hard to improve connection signals in rural areas.
What’s Traveling in the Country Like?
If traveling in the countryside, it is highly advised that you go on an organized tour, or with local people you can trust. Traveling on horseback without a local guide, or by yourself, is highly discouraged as you could be a victim of horse-snatching, or you could just get lost. In Ulaanbaator, just use common sense. Anyone who’s backpacked in Southeast Asia will be familiar with the sense of danger, coupled with fun and adventure. You might feel it familiar here. Relax, but be vigilant. DO NOT wonder alone drunk at bars or clubs or walk down dark alley ways; in other words, use common sense.
If traveling by train, make sure to lock and tie down your bags. Mongolians are friendly people, but don’t forget to be aware of potential danger.
Is Mongolia Good for Vegans and Vegetarians?
Entering a land where meat and dairy are staple foods may not be appealing to our vegetarian and vegan friends. I will admit, the lack of arable farmland, nomadic herding culture, along with the fierce chilly winds make the choice of vegetables very few. That does not mean however, that you can’t find food options with vegetables. There are traditional Mongolian dishes that emphasize potatoes, carrots, corn, and string beans, but even with these dishes they may sometimes be mixed with meat. For people who don’t mind eating dairy, there are ways to make up for not eating meat, but it will be quite a challenge for vegans. The vast majority of food will contain lamb, milk tea, and various types of cheeses and yogurts.
Is Mongolia Safe?
Our advice is to use cautious optimism. What does this mean? Be aware of your situation and who you’re with, but at the same time, RELAX! Don’t be too paranoid either! As with any nation with a developing economy, use common sense and be aware of your belongings. Don’t make it too obvious that you’re a walking dollar sign and carrying valuables. Try not to walk around alone at night.
Mongolia is still a developing nation and has suffered from poverty during the 1990’s after the fall of communism. Despite this, the Mongolians are getting back on their feet and there is development.
Unfortunately, there still can be resentment among locals towards foreigners, especially foreign men who seek Mongolian women. This does not mean however, that you won’t experience warm interactions and hospitality. Just keep in mind to avoid drunken locals at night. As with all travels, if you make local friends, you’ll be fine.