A trip through Mongolia, without being an "extreme" adventure, is not recommended for tourists requiring a certain comfort and timed schedules.
Living conditions are rustic outside the capital, the climate is harsh and hazards make the charm - et sometimes the necessity - of a trip to the steppes.
The culture shock is important and requires a certain open-mindedness.
A good general state of health is necessary because the local medical means are limited, even almost nil outside the capital and the travel conditions can be difficult. Even if traveling in the country does not necessarily require sporting abilities and does not require a lot of physical effort (by car!)
Do not forget that you will be visiting one of the most deserted, cold and underdeveloped countries on the planet.
But Mongolia remains a fabulous and unique destination for all lovers of infinite spaces, wild nature, and above all simple and essential human contact with nomadic shepherds, heirs to a centuries-old way of life and a culture of the wind.
The sustainable development of tourism is a major challenge for Mongolia, which is mainly open to adventure tourism due to its lack of infrastructure, even the situation is improving from year to year:
- few international flights
- road network mainly made up of rutted tracks
- slow, uncomfortable and unreliable local public transport
- hotels with a good level of comfort in the capital, very random outside (long live camping!)
It is greatly handicapped by its harsh climate which does not allow a full tourist season.
than the two summer months.
Tourist attendance is increasing especially in July-August and around Naadam. She
remains small enough compared to the size of the country to have had a significant impact.
Generally speaking, the level of tourist service and the choice in shops has
greatly improved in Ulaanbaatar in recent years, but outside, we still live in a
Accommodation can only be in tents or in ger camps for travelers (around tourist sites, open only in summer for the most part) where there is generally a restaurant and toilets.
It is possible to stay in an apartment in Ulaanbaatar, especially for a few days.
Accommodation with a nomadic family is possible by invitation but the gers are generally good
busy, and you must not abuse, like some "backpackers", nomadic hospitality.
Nomadic families are becoming more and more accustomed to being paid at night under the ger
(who would blame them?)
It is more than recommended to travel with local guides in the interior of the
country especially in order to avoid getting lost: no signpost in the country and tracks that
endlessly intersect. An interpreter is essential to communicate with the populations
The unforeseen and incidents of course for climatic or mechanical reason are not at all to
Mongolia deserves responsible tourism: travelers to Mongolia are still
pioneers on lands that are still almost virgin.
They must all the more feel a responsibility towards a people, a nature and a unique culture.
who knew how to cross the ages and impose respect, and also towards the visitors who will come after them.
How to get there
Demand being much stronger than supply, especially in July and August, it is essential to book transfers to Mongolia as soon as possible. Do not hesitate to do it at least 6 months in advance.
Mongolia abolished the 30-day tourist visa for the majority of countries in Europe, Asia and America at the start of 2023. See on this paget he list of countries for which the visa is still compulsory.
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your return.
International flights to Mongolia from Europe are provided by the following airlines:
MIAT from Frankfurt
Korean airlines transit in Seoul
Air China transit in Beijing
Turkish airlines transit in Istanbul
Due to the conflict in Ukraine it is no longer possible to use Aeroflot
You can also come by the famous Trans-Siberian. Going to Ulaanbaatar takes 5 full days from Moscow and 1.5 days from Beijing.
This journey remains a great and fabulous experience in itself and a gentler way to enter the empire of the steppes.
We can book you train tickets from Mongolia
When to go
The climate of Mongolia is continental with a very long cold and dry winter.
The best time to travel to Mongolia is definitely summer- July and August - even if it corresponds to the "rainy" season. It is the best season for animals and men there.
Temperatures often have a large amplitude during the day and especially between day and night.
Amplitudes of 30°C over 24 hours are not exceptional.
Snow or hail are not unknown in summer even if high temperatures are frequent, especially in the Gobi (+ 45°C possible).
Spring- late May and June - although still cold is wonderful when the flowers explode in the steppe. April - May is the birth period of the animals and generates a lot of activity for the nomads. Severe dust storms often ravage the country in April.
Autumn - September - is short, cool at night but splendid with the golden forests.
The trips in winter are not impossible but must be considered very seriously in view of the extreme temperatures (record 2001: - 57°C) and the vagaries of the weather, in particular snowstorms and blizzards. With appropriate equipment, travel in the country remains possible, and the welcome of the nomads is as warm as it is cold outside.
We offer winter homestays as well as cultural activities such as the ice festival in the north and the camel festival in the Gobi. See our special page.
What to bring
Strong and warm clothes are absolutely necessary whatever the season of the trip.
A waterproof jacket is necessary in summer. You should also bring light clothing such as T-shirts for hot sunny days as well as sunglasses, suntan lotion and a hat.
In the summer, don't forget to pack a swimsuit as you can enjoy immersing yourself in a transparent lake or a cool river on hot days.
Essential items include a knife, flashlight and waterproof bags to protect your belongings from sand or water.
A pair of binoculars is useful for watching wildlife and birds.
Batteries frequently on site but it is prudent to carry some.
The people you meet will love seeing pictures of your family or country.
Please avoid showing things that are too luxurious.
The photos of domestic animals have a great success with a people of breeders.
You will experience the warm hospitality of the steppes. Nomads don't expect anything in return but you will certainly be eager to respond as is traditional with small gifts (sometimes you will also be offered these). Offering money or a gift that is too disproportionate will be considered insulting to your host.
The gifts to bring are mostly useful things like sewing equipment, knives, fishing tackle; also specialties from your region or country. Don't forget the children.
You can buy cigarettes and vodka locally, which are always very popular, as well as sweets (not too much, think about children's teeth) or food/tea (you are not at all obliged to do "humanitarian work": nomads don't do not expect charity from you and moreover there are not only destitute families in the steppe).
Your guide will give you useful advice on your arrival
With a minimum of precautions and a good constitution, Mongolia, because of its cold climate, is a country presenting few health risks.
Although there are no vaccinations required to enter Mongolia, hepatitis, tetanus and typhoid vaccines are recommended.
Before your departure, a che-kup medical including a visit to your dentist is a useful and recommended precaution.
Medicines are very rare in Mongolia and it is necessary to bring any regular or foreseeable treatment as well as a medical kit including at least one broad-spectrum antibiotic, an anti-inflammatory as well as a local disinfectant solution.
We will provide you with a detailed indicative list.
The most common problems for travelers are intestinal disorders caused by the change in diet. Especially the consumption of dairy products in summer.
Mongolian food is healthy and spring water can often be drunk with confidence without special precautions, but the consumption of bottled water, which is now found almost everywhere, is strongly advised.
Plague epidemics can occur following the consumption of groundhog meat. In this case, certain regions may be quarantined with a ban on entering or crossing.
There are very few dangerous animals or plants. The most aggressive are the mosquitoes often present at the edge of the water, and the horseflies. The risk of rabies exists but is low.
The local currency is the Tögrög or Tugrik which can be found in the form of banknotes of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000? 10,000 and 20,000. All banknotes bear the face of Genghis Khan or Sukhbaatar.
The usual rate is around MNT 3500 for 1 Euro
It is best to bring cash in US Dollars or Euros and change locally.
It is possible to get cash from a visa card or traveler's checks at many banks in UB, mainly the Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia. Most banks are open 24/7.
Outside the capital, it is not possible to obtain or use currency other than that of the country.
You can bring back souvenirs from your trip that you will find to buy mainly in the capital or in souvenir shops now present in tourist places (Kharkhorin, Terelj, etc).
You will mainly find traditional clothes, local crafts and more or less genuine antiques. Be careful, it is forbidden to export antiques from the country and you risk confiscations at customs when leaving the country.
In the capital, a visit to the "Department store", the former state department store, allows you to find an almost complete choice of what you can bring back from Mongolia, but not necessarily at the best price. There are also shopping malls and souvenir shops.
Depending on what you are looking for, your guide will take you to the best addresses.
The large UB market (black market) offers a good selection of everyday items (boots, deels, hats, equestrian or musical instruments, etc.) at more affordable prices than in the shops.
Watch out for pickpockets, and put away the cameras, you're not at the zoo!
The essential items to bring back are:
Cashmeres of very good quality and at a relatively affordable price (especially in shops or Gobi factories).
Good quality paintings and calligraphy, on paper, canvas or leather
Mongolia is a safe country with low crime and no risk of serious crime against foreigners, even if the situation tends to deteriorate in the capital.
In town, the main danger comes from pickpockets in the markets and in public places. It is prudent to avoid walking without a guide at night in unlit areas. Thefts and assaults against foreigners are increasing in the capital, especially on the "black market" and around the state store.
Outside the cities (and often in the city too), you will always be welcome as long as you do not intentionally offend people, the rules of life or nature.
Almost zero risk of being robbed on the road: there are no highwaymen. But neither should human nature be tempted too much.
Except in winter, practically no risk of attack from wolves very present everywhere on the territory. These animals flee man and it is rare - and a good omen for the Mongols - to see one.
To call Mongolia from abroad, dial 00 + 976 (country code) + 1 for Oulan-Bator + number of your correspondent.
To call from Mongolia to your country : 00 + your country code + number, without the initial 0.
It is quite easy to make international calls in the capital, especially in hotels.
Otherwise, the post offices are generally open 24 hours a day and you can easily call in France.
In the country it is difficult to make a call, especially without a guide if you do not speak Mongolian or Russian.
As long as you have a World account, your mobile will work very well in Mongolia.
The network is GSM and it is preferable to buy a prepaid card from one of the 3 Mongolian operators: Skytel, Mobicom or G-mobile. If you have an international package, communication may be faulty and the cost of communications may be prohibitive, especially for internet communications from your cell phones: beware of unpleasant surprises when you return home!
GSM coverage has greatly improved in Mongolia and you will find covered areas near cities and towns in the country.
Most hotels in the capital offer free Wi-Fi access. In the country you can still find some internet cafes in the provincial capitals but it will be better to rely on the 3G network to use the internet.
A family trip is quite possible and you can take children to frolic in the Mongolian steppes. In fact, it mainly depends on the conscience of the parents and the personality and health of the children.
In our opinion, for children from the age of 7 who are resourceful and attracted to life in the great outdoors, accustomed to outdoor activities, a less intensive circuit (no more than 4 hours on the road per day on average) does not pose any problems. issue.
It is obvious that a good general state of health and a robust constitution are more than recommended.
It is up to you to consider the fact that you will be far from any medical infrastructure. The check-up, including the dentist, before departure is highly recommended.
That said, for children who love space, the nature of animals and openness, Mongolia is a huge playground.
Contact with the nomadic families encountered, already simple and friendly, is further facilitated by the presence of children.
It is sure that they will make friends and that if in addition they ride horses, they will not miss opportunities to ride endlessly with the nomadic children.
Mongolians in general are peaceful, hospitable and friendly people.
Outside the towns and main roads, you will make unforgettable encounters with the families of breeders, or riders passing through.
You will often be visited at the camp and welcomed everywhere with the simple, discreet and sincere nomadic hospitality.
Even if the nomads are starting to get used to seeing a few tourists pass by from time to time in summer, have no doubt about the authenticity of the encounters you will have with them.
An interpreter is essential to exchange even if the Mongolians are not necessarily very talkative (at least on an empty stomach!)
And looks and especially gestures often speak louder than words. You are very likely to leave a little of your heart there.
Society and customs
To respect customs is to respect the Mongols as well as the powerful spirits and forces of Nature.
The rules of conduct, particularly under the ger are numerous, but the tolerant nature of the Mongols means that they forgive deviations even if the most serious can disturb them.
Here are some rules and tips to know when visiting a family :
- do not approach a ger or a rider head on and quickly, this shows aggressiveness even if it no longer represents an attack
- beware of dogs who do their job well and can be rabid
- never step over an urgaa (breeders' lasso pole) and in general any instrument or tool in or around a ger.
- one normally enters with the right foot under a ger, but this tradition tends to no longer be respected
- do not knock or stand on the threshold of the front door, this amounts to trampling the neck of your host
- do not rely on a ger amount
- roll down your sleeves. It is not an obligation to take off your hat, if you do, do not put it in the ger which corresponds to expressing the desire to stay for the night
- stand on the left side of the ger. You will be invited to sit down and without asking questions, you will be offered food (often cheese in summer) and drink: tea, sometimes airag and/or vodka._cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_
- be above all natural as is the hospitality offered to you
- do not refuse what is given to you, it is a serious insult to refuse hospitality or assistance. At least just taste it. Take what is handed to you with the right hand (better, the left hand supporting the right elbow) or with both hands, never with the left hand.
The vodka is served by an officiant to whom the glass is returned after drinking (or soaking the lips). It then fills it in and times it to your left neighbor.
- if you step on someone's toes, shake their hand right away
- fire is sacred for the Mongols so don't throw anything (water, waste...) on it and don't point your feet in the direction of the central stove
- gifts are traditionally offered at the end of the visit and are only opened and appreciated after the departure of the visitor
- Mongolians avoid conversations about death or illness, accidents, divorces ...
You will also be instructed on the customs to be respected and on the rich nomadic culture by your guide.