Mongolia is one of the most remote places in the world, so good travel preparation is essential. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions by travelers, so you can start preparing your trip without any worries!
WHO PREPARED THIS TOUR?
All tours available on this site are the result of years of preparation on the ground, both from expeditions with previous groups and from other projects carried out on site and reconnaissance trips, in a joint effort between myself and the teams assisting on site. At the time of writing, I have been to Mongolia more than 20 times, produced a documentary, worked directly with the government and created personal and working relationships with many people from different fields: drivers, nomadic families, tour operators, local guides, teachers, musicians and many other friends and service providers. The trip is prepared not only by me, but together with all these people, and based not only on our personal experience, but also on feedback and requests from past and future travelers.
Being such a remote destination, there aren’t many connections to fly to Mongolia. Currently, from Europe, the best options are the direct flight between Frankfurt and UlaanBataar by MIAT (Mongolian Airlines), or Turkish Airlines flights with a connection in Istanbul.
The start dates of the trips you see on the website are already at the destination, so you should consider flights that arrive at the final destination before the start date of the itinerary.
Check the limits (size and weight) of your hold and hand luggage carefully.
DO I NEED A VISA?
The current government has set 2023, 2024 and 2025 as the years to make Mongolia known to the world, and has put in place visa-free travel for more than 60 countries. Portugal is on that list.
WHAT KIND OF LUGGAGE SHOULD I TAKE?
Trolleys are not recommended! Ideally, you should bring two backpacks, a large one (35 to 50l) and a small one (15 to 20l) that you’ll use on a day-to-day basis. When the trip is confirmed, we send you a traveler’s manual tailored to this specific trip, with tips and instructions on how to pack, what to take, weight, etc.
CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR
In UlaanBaatar you’ll find laundries with fast service, which wash, dry and deliver your clothes the same day. For the rest of the trip, you should ideally be prepared to wash some clothes by hand whenever necessary.
CASH OR CARD?
The local currency is the tugrik, and it is quite volatile. The cheapest and most practical way is to bring a prepaid Revolut card with you and withdraw money from local ATMs as you need it.
You can also bring euros or dollars and exchange the money at a bureau de change in UlaanBaatar, but this involves higher exchange rates plus a service charge. At the end of your trip, you should exchange the tugriks left over back into euros or dollars, as this currency is not accepted anywhere else in the world.
The mobile network is quite comprehensive in Mongolia, and you’ll be able to get a signal in most parts of the country. SIM cards are easy to obtain, and data packages are quite cheap, so you can always communicate via your social networks with relative ease. An 18Gbs card costs around €6.
WHAT’S THE FOOD LIKE?
Predominantly you’ll find meat dishes, made with some kind of pasta (bread, noodles, pastries), few vegetables and lots of dairy products. In UlaanBaatar, being an already highly developed capital, you’ll find many alternatives and tastes of the world, but outside the capital the options are very limited, if they exist at all. On my trips we have a local guide who also cooks for the whole group, allowing for variety, carefree and adaptable food for the members of the group. Sometimes we eat the most traditional foods with local families, and we can even learn to prepare and cook some of the local dishes with them.
WHAT IF I HAVE A DIET / FOOD RESTRICTION?
It is important that you inform us in good time if you have any specific diet or food restrictions, especially if this results in any reactions. We try our best to meet your needs – you should be aware, however, that due to a lack of resources, these alternatives can be quite limited.
SHOULD I INFORM YOU IF I HAVE ANY PHYSICAL CONDITIONS OR CHRONIC ILLNESSES?
It’s essential that you let us know – as it’s a very “off-the-beaten-track” trip, there may be some restrictions.
HOW ARE THE JOURNEYS MADE WITHIN THE ITINERARY?
As much of the trip is overland in less explored parts of the country, we travel in all-terrain vans between UlaanBaatar and the Altai, which makes the travel experience even more authentic and unforgettable. The return to Ulaan-Baatar is on an internal flight, the airports are fairly basic, but the flights have meals on board. On the optional trip to Terelj we will use more modern vans that may not be all-terrain, as most of the road in this area is already paved.
WHAT IS ACCOMMODATION LIKE IN MONGOLIA?
In UlaanBaatar and Ölgii we stayed in a hotel, with all the amenities you’re used to. Here, you’ll stay in twin rooms, or single rooms (if you’ve booked with a single supplement), with a private bathroom. For the rest of the trip, we stayed in gers (Mongolian yurts) and tents. There are two types of gers: family gers and ger camps: family gers are gers run by nomadic families that are set up especially to welcome us – we eat together, but sleep apart from the family in our own space. All gers have single beds.
On the nights we camp, we provide all the necessary camping equipment: tents with capacity for 3 people, in which a maximum of 2 will sleep (as a rule, all solo travelers will have an individual tent), equipped with a mattress, sleeping bag, pillow, as well as a kitchen tent where our cook-guide will prepare all the daily meals, and a toilet tent. For the sake of comfort, we suggest that you bring a single sheet for the sleeping bag.
WHAT ARE THE TOILETS LIKE?
You’ll only find private toilets in hotels. On wild camping nights, we use a toilet tent with a dry toilet. On the other nights we stay in family gers or ger camps (a kind of hotel, but with gers instead of rooms!), you can count on some changing rooms, sometimes pit latrines.
You’ll have access to a shower at least every three days.
CULTURAL HABITS – WHAT IS AND ISN’T ACCEPTED?
As in any country, you need good manners to stay in the good graces of the local people. It’s worth remembering that respecting a people and their laws doesn’t necessarily mean that you agree with them! The
Here’s a list of behaviors you should adopt in order to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships with the people you meet:
- Dress and act modestly;
- With regard to clothing, special care should be taken when visiting temples. Both men and women are expected to wear clothes that cover their shoulders.
- Unlike the border countries (Russia and China), Mongolia is an inclusive country. However, whatever your sexual orientation, discretion and respect are required;
- Don’t use your index finger to point or wave;
- Don’t touch people’s heads;
- As a rule, women are not allowed to have direct contact with the monks (unless they are approached by them);
- You should always take off your shoes and coat when entering someone’s home, as well as in more traditional lodgings;
WHAT SHOULD I TAKE IN MY BACKPACK?
On this particular trip, we recommend that you take a sleeping bag, hand sanitizer, a blindfold and earplugs with you to help you get a better night’s sleep.
In addition, take light, comfortable clothes with you for warm temperatures during the day, and more comfortable, warm clothes for cold nights. If you’re traveling in July or August, we recommend raincoats and waterproofs – this is the rainy season in Mongolia!
A notepad for your travel notes, batteries for your camera, a triple plug so you can carry several things at once, a quick-drying towel, chronic medication and a basic traveler’s pharmacy, and of course, a good mood and a spirit of adventure!
If you travel between June and August, expect very high temperatures, the possibility of heavy rain and some wind. On trips between April and May, September and October, temperatures get colder.
It should be noted that Mongolia is one of the destinations with the widest temperature range, so be prepared for big differences in temperature between day and night.
I’M TRAVELING ALONE – SHOULD I BOOK WITH A SINGLE SUPPLEMENT?
When you travel alone with us, you don’t have to book with a single supplement! You will always share your accommodation with colleagues in the group.
HOW DO I EXTEND MY STAY IN MONGOLIA OR NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES?
If you extend your trip, schedule a free online meeting(at this link) to help you organize the continuation of your trip.
SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY
Throughout your trip you will be in constant contact with nature and wild animals, so extra precautions are needed to minimize your impact on it. Here are some recommendations that we hope you’ll follow to the letter!
- Never flush toilet paper, pads, tampons, dental floss or anything else down the toilet! ALWAYS use the garbage can.
- We also suggest that ladies use a menstrual cup or panties instead of conventional disposable hygiene products, which are highly polluting and impractical on these trips.
- Even with the use of hygiene products, we ask you, if possible, to use biodegradable and environmentally friendly products, as in most of the places we will pass through, there is no sanitation;
- On most of our trip you won’t find conventional toilets, but rather pit latrines, so we ask you to make sure you always have biodegradable toilet paper and/or wipes.