Mongolia conjures images of sword wielding horsemen sweeping across vast open plains in days of old. For the most part very little has changed. The capital of Ulaanbataar is the most industrial area in this immense country, but for lovers of the outdoors it is not difficult (or expensive) to escape to the wild, and that is something Mongolia has in spades.

Horse riding is still a popular mode of transport here and a top tourist activity, or for those venturing into the Gobi desert camel riding will be the order of the day. Camping is a doddle here, there are no regulations on wild camping and there is plenty of space, but if you want a traditional nomad experience you can stay in a Ger camp (a Ger is a traditional dwelling that is like a yurt) which are readily available in the large majority of towns (prices can range from USD $2-$30, the more expensive ones including meals). Ulaanbataar is the usual starting point for visitors, there are countless gear shops and tour operators around peace avenue (the main road) so you can prepare yourself for adventure (most guesthouses and hostels operate their own tours which are worth considering). Mongolia can be a country of extreme temperatures, from 50 degrees C in the summer to -50 degrees C in the winter so if camping and hiking it is wise to come prepared for the season as you may find yourselves a long way from the nearest town.

The traditional faith in this country reveres the earth and the elements, with such extreme conditions it is easy to see why. So take a page from the locals’ book and respect the elements, come prepared for this wild and wonderful land to make sure you get the most from you experience.

Map of Mongolia

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Chinggis Khaan international Airport is the main entrance point into the country. if you have obtained a visa for more than 30 days you will need to register with immigration which is in a building next to the Nadaam stadium which is walking distance from the airport (walk to the road and turn right out of the airport, the Nadaam stadium is a large red building, you can’t miss it) this is very important as if you are late with registration you will be fined up to £500, and make sure you ask if you need to deregister before you leave. from the airport you can take a taxi to Ulaanbaatar city centre which should cost max T15000, do not used a taxi with a meter as you will more than likely get ripped off, agree a price before getting into the taxi. however, it is easy to catch a bus, and much cheaper (the bus stop is outside the airport and turn right onto the main road, on the same side of the road as the airport) the number 22 will take you to peace avenue, past the state department store, and the number 11 will take you past Sukbataar square. All buses have a flat fare of T300 but may be crowded. Although there are no time tables you will never wait more than 20 minutes for a bus.

You may also arrive via train, a tip here is to buy your ticket to the nearest border town and cross the border on foot, after which catch a train to Ulaanbaatar, it makes it a lot cheaper. Train travel is cheap but usually long journeys and restricted destinations, buy your ticket in advance as prices rise when you buy on the train, for most journeys there are 3 classes, 1st class which is a 2 person sleeper cabin, 2nd class which is a 4 person sleeper cabin, and 3rd class which is seating. 3rd class is obviously the cheapest and the seats can be made into beds and bags can be put underneath them, as long as you don’t mind lack of privacy and possible crowds. The door areas in the trains (between carriages) are smoking areas.

Buses around Ulaanbaatar are easy and regular but unfortunately it can be hard to figure out which go where, the only route maps are on the side of some buses so keep your eyes peeled. Buses to other parts of Mongolia are regular and relatively cheap, there is a bus station (dragon bus station) at the west end of the city (number 22 bus will get you there) where you can buy tickets, minivan taxis will try and get your business but the buses are usually cheaper, go into the station building and check the prices then make up your own mind. It is wise to have the name of your destination written down in the Russian script so you can spot your bus (destinations written on a sign on the windscreen).

Car Hire

Things to do in Mongolia

The Outdoor Type Guide