Mongolia Driving Guide 2022
Mongolia is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit
A landlocked country located in Central Asia, Mongolia remains almost untouched and should be at the top of your travel list. The country is known as the “Land of the Eternal Blue Sky” because it has 260 days of clear blue sky and a broad landscape where you can see far out to the horizon.
If you are looking for a new travel destination where you can be adventurous and feel calm at the same time, Mongolia is undoubtedly the best place to be. It has the last nomadic, horse-based cultures in the world and is home to Asia’s few remaining pristine ecosystems. You can explore the entire country on your own with the right transportation and your International Driver’s Permit (IDP) on hand, so you don’t have to worry about checkpoints and renting a vehicle.
How Can This Guide Help You?
It is always essential to plan your trip properly to avoid unpleasant surprises. This guide will help you organize and manage your whole trip to Mongolia. It includes information about the country’s history and culture, its location, its top destinations, as well as the fun things you can do there. You will also find details about renting a car and the rules and etiquette of driving in Mongolia.
Knowing the languages spoken in Mongolia will avoid offending the locals and allow you to say the right things. Besides learning the location and the top destinations in Mongolia, you should also keep in mind that they have a different approach to things, especially when it comes to driving, speaking, and following government rules. You should be aware of the things that you can and cannot do as a tourist to have an enjoyable and safe trip.
Ger, the round white tents of around Mongolia, serve as primary homes to about a million nomads. You can experience staying in a yurt and explore how nomads usually spend their day. Learning about Mongolian’s way of living will allow you to understand their culture, and know more about the country you are about to visit.
Mongolia is roughly oval in shape, situated in mountains and plateaus, and is located in the south of Russia, north of China, and east of Kazakhstan. Driving from Mongolia to China will only take you approximately 29 hours. Mongolia is also home to soaring mountains and burning deserts, making it far from any ocean. It is one of the world’s highest countries, with an elevation of around 1,580 meters. That’s why when you’re driving into Mongolia, you will see the most dramatic landscapes.
Khalka Mongolian is the official language of the country and is understood by 90 percent of its population. They also have other two main languages, the Buryat and Oirat. The Buryat is spoken mostly by people in the central part of Mongolia, while the Oirat is spoken by Western Mongolians. Some locals also speak Russian, as it was once part of their learning curriculum.
On the other hand, English is a widely spoken foreign language for Mongolians and is mostly used to participate in the global market. When you visit Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital city, a lot of people will surely be able to point you to your destination.
Mongolia boasts many grasslands, sand dunes, mountain glaciers, marshes, and Alpine forests. The country also has extinct volcanoes and hot springs which adds to the beauty of the place. And while the Mongolian Empire split up hundreds of years ago, it is currently the 18th-largest country in the world, with a total land area of 1,564,116 sq km or 156 million hectares.
Mongolia has a population of just over 3.3 million people. But, its land area is twice the size of Turkey. The low population can be explained by the country’s climatic and geographic extremes, making their capital city, Ulaanbaatar, officially the world’s coldest capital.
The remote ancestors of the Mongols are the Xiongnu, who were said to be the first inhabitants of Mongolia. In the early 13th century, the Mongol empire was established by one of the most famous conquerors, Genghis Khan. He captured territory as far west as the Caspian Sea, becoming the largest contiguous land empire in world history. Mongolians still look up to Genghis Khan as their founding father and national hero up to this day.
The fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1921 made Mongolia a free country with Soviet backing. A power struggle ensued between nationalists and communists, but in the end, they have become a satellite of the Soviet Union.
In 1924, the political system of Mongolia was founded as a socialist state. But after a peaceful democratic revolution sixty-six years later, they now have a government that consists of a parliamentary republic and a semi-presidential system. The country is currently a sovereign state with its own armed forces, parliament, president and prime minister.
The Prime Minister is the head of the government and the Cabinet, while the President is the Executive Head of state and is elected by the people. The President holds limited power since most of the control is in the parliament.
Traveling and driving to Mongolia is relatively safe for tourists. Tourism is one of the nation’s top priorities to expand the economy and generate jobs for its people. That’s why thousands of travelers visit the country every year. The country offers many undiscovered and unique travel destinations. You can also stay at modern hotels and resorts at an affordable cost.
In Mongolia’s mountains, you can find the Bactrian camel, see a wide variety of untouched landscapes in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, and experience sleeping inside a ger, or commonly known as yurts, owned by nomads. You will also find there the breathtaking Gobi Desert, the fifth-largest desert in the world. Most tourists flock to Mongolia to experience the annual Naadam festival where locals play games and sports like archery, wrestling, and horse-racing.
International Driver’s Permit FAQs
Many countries require an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) to drive a vehicle legally. Mongolia is one of those countries, and you should secure an IDP before you start going there. Driving in Mongolia by car is the most convenient way to get to your planned destinations. You will ease confusion on the road while driving in Mongolia as long as you have the right documents.
Does Mongolia Require an International Driving Permit?
Any foreign driver driving through Mongolia must secure an International Driver’sPermit corresponding to the vehicle you intend to use. An IDP is an additional requirement, along with a vehicle registration certificate and your original driver’s license. It is a widely recognized document for you to avoid any problems on the road, especially during roadblocks.
An International Driver’s Permit will list several languages including English to ensure its validity in Mongolia. It will record important information about you for the entire trip.
Can I Drive in Mongolia with an International License?
It is important that you bring your international license or an International Driver’s Permit when you’re driving in Mongolia’s zip code. Your national driving license might not be sufficient since it will only show your country’s primary language. An International Driving Permit, on the other hand, is translated into several languages and will include all the information you need.
Can I Apply for an International Driving Permit Online?
Yes, you can apply for an International Driver’s Permit online. You will only need to complete an online application, provide passport photos, other identification documents, and submit payment. You can do a lot of things like rent a car and drive around Mongolia once you have an International Driver’s Permit. An IDP is a huge perk for travelers because it is a powerful certificate that will translate your local driving license into a global permit.
Renting a Car in Mongolia
If you’re planning on taking a self-drive tour across Mongolia, the best solution is renting a reliable vehicle so you can explore this beautiful country on your own terms. Mongolia’s roads are somehow unbalanced; therefore, you will need not just a reliable car, but the right one. There are also other things to consider, such as the documents required, dependable car rental companies, the cost, their car insurance policy, and the driving age in Mongolia.
There are many cars to choose from in Mongolia. Whether you’re looking for a sedan, an SUV, a jeep, a van, or luxury cars, you can definitely hire the perfect car for you and your passengers. Most car rental companies offer Japanese and Russian manufactured vehicles, so you can definitely rely on its stability and level of comfort.
Car Rental Companies
The choices of car rental companies in Mongolia are limited. You will find most of them in their capital city, Ulaanbaatar, and you can either call or visit them since they are usually situated near the airport and are very easy to locate. However, the best way to book and rent a car is online. You may visit the car rental company’s website, choose your preferred vehicle, book it, and pay for it using a credit card. Once you arrive in Mongolia, you can simply pick it up.
Sixt Rent a Car is the leading car rental company in Mongolia. They have affordable rates and offer quality service. Whether you choose to rent a sports sedan or an SUV, you can benefit from their service which includes car replacement and long-term lease. Another hassle-free car rental company is Drive Mongolia. Their website is very friendly and informative, and they offer self-drive tours and cater to any driving requests.
Renting a car in Mongolia is very easy as long as you have a valid driver’s license. You may need to provide other documents like your passport and other government-issued identification as proof of identity. You will also need an IDP if your driver’s license is not in English. You can quickly secure an IDP online by clicking “Start my application” from our homepage. For the payment method, most car rental companies accept cash or credit cards for your convenience.
It’s always a great idea to rent the right vehicle type, and not the cheapest one. Driving in Mongolia now will require vehicles with 4-wheel drive capabilities that are well-grounded because of the country’s uneven roads. four-wheel drive vehicles are the best choice if you'll be driving most of the time. The UAZ Patriot is built to handle cold weather and has high enough clearance. It is perfect for adventure and has plenty of space in the trunk. You can also rent a Toyota Landcruiser 76. It is durable, comfortable, fully equipped with everything that you need in a car, and is perfect for long road trips.
All cars are thoroughly inspected by the car rental company and mandatory officials to secure its safeness. You will surely enjoy your time in Mongolia with the ideal vehicle that meets your needs.
Car Rental Cost
The average cost of a rental car for self-driving in Mongolia is $77 per day. It depends on the type of car you want to rent. Choosing the perfect vehicle is not easy. You have to consider its size, the number of passengers you have, and its overall performance. There are also additional fees for other services like gravel protection, loss damage waiver, insurance, and excess mileage.
Most car rental companies in Mongolia offer other optional services such as renting rooftop tents and other camping gear, as well as a Wi-Fi hotspot, to help navigate your trip. Almost all of the cars for rent have air-conditioning, are fuel efficient, and are good at crossing the long-distance in a shorter time. Here are rental prices for each type of vehicle you can rent in Mongolia:
- Standard: $45 per day
- Sport SUV: $75 per day
- Luxury SUV: $126 per day
- Standard Pick-Up SUV: $71 per day
- Economy SUV: $47 per day
- Multi-Purpose Vehicles or MVP: $77 USD per day
- Compact: $35 per day
The legal driving age in Mongolia is 18 years old, with a full driver’s license. Whether you’re a foreigner or a local, drivers are required to be at least 18 years old to be able to rent a car. All car rental companies in Mongolia need you to be of legal age to provide you with their services.
Car Insurance Cost
Self-driving in Mongolia can be frightening, especially if it’s your first time visiting the country. That’s why, when you rent a car for your trips, car rental companies always include third-party insurance to cover any damages or personal injuries. However, it can only cover less than $6,000. It does not have accident and collision insurance, and you may need to pay $30/day for add-on insurance coverage. So before you rent a car, make sure you have covered insurance.
Car Insurance Policy
Car rental companies always make sure that the vehicles rented out will stay in mint condition. They offer add-on coverage for car insurance that includes Gravel Protection, Loss Damage Waiver in case of theft or accidental damage, Sand and Ash Protection, and Tire and Windshield Protection. You can also get 24/7 Roadside Assistance if you’ll lose your keys or get a flat tire.
Road Rules in Mongolia
Familiarizing road rules will allow you to have peace of mind while driving in Mongolia’s zip code. Being aware of their practices can get you out of any situation, especially during accidents or with law enforcement. Most of the rules are easy to remember, so you don’t have to worry about memorizing them. It’s important to note the road signs, speed limits, driving directions, and overtaking laws to avoid hurting anyone on the streets.
Every country has a different set of regulations for driving to ensure its citizens and tourists are always safe. If you fail to comply with these regulations, you will face the consequences, which might include penalties, fines, jail time, or even death. Mongolia has a Traffic Penalty Point System where if you reach 10 points, you will no longer be allowed to drive. Below are the things you need to be informed about when driving in Mongolia by car, so you don’t get penalized.
Also, make sure your vehicle is in good condition. You don't want to go on a road trip and get flat tires after a long drive. Make sure you have an extra good-quality tire just in case.
It is prohibited to drive when your blood alcohol level is more than 0.02%. At any time, police officers may ask to check you for the use of alcohol, drugs, and narcotics. You will need to show your IDP or driver’s license during the inspection. The penalty for drunk-driving in Mongolia is 768,000 Mongolian tögrög (MNT) and suspension of driving privileges of up to two years.
There are special regulations about parking your car in Mongolia. You are not allowed to park on intersections and within 20 meters from them, under bridges, in tunnels, on pedestrian crossings and within 5 meters from them, including taxi stands and within 15 meters from them.
Mongolia has a national seat belt law. Drivers and all passengers must use safety belts at all times to prevent falling and keep everyone safe during sudden stops. If you’re caught not wearing a seatbelt, the penalty is around 9,600 Mongolian tögrög (MNT).
In case of a major traffic accident, you should stop the vehicle immediately, use the hazard warning signal, put a warning triangle at least 15 meters away from the car, and inform the police by calling their 102 hotline. You might encounter more accidents when driving during holidays in Mongolia as people rush around to prepare for festivities.
Most Mongolians, like in any other country, drive either a manual or an automatic vehicle. It depends on their preference, since each type has its advantages and disadvantages. If you are used to driving a manual in your country but aren’t confident enough to drive one in Mongolia, you can always rent an automatic car.
If you have ample time, you may enroll yourself in a local driving school and learn to drive the transmission you want. Remember that you will need to present an IDP and your passport to enroll as an international driving student.
It is customary in Mongolia to follow speed limits to avoid any fatalities while driving. Most roads from Ulaanbaatar going to the province are paved already, but some are still made of gravel and dirt, so you must be aware of how fast and slow you should go as a driver. For all types of vehicles, the speed limit in Mongolia’s residential zone is 20 km/h. You can drive at 60 km/h in built-up areas, 80 km/h outside built-up areas, and go as fast as 100 km/h on motorways.
To avoid accidents or deaths, you should refrain from over speeding. If you’re new to driving and following the Mongolian map, going below the speed limit is generally advised.
Roundabouts are not common in Mongolia, but you can find one in their capital city. When you enter a roundabout, it’s important that you drive at a slow speed and yield to the cars circulating it. You also shouldn’t drive on the separated lane on the right with the yellow line because it’s reserved for buses. And make sure you abide by their one-way road rules since Mongolia has a lot of one-way streets.
Some countries may permit overtaking, but it is prohibited in Mongolia. You cannot overtake on pedestrian crossings, level-crossings, and non-regulated intersections. If you attempt to overtake in these restricted areas, the penalty is 19,200 Mongolian tögrög (MNT).
Traffic Road Signs
If you have been to Russia, chances are, you will be familiar with Mongolia’s road sign system. It consists of five groups that are very helpful when driving in Mongolia by car. Like any other country, they have warning signs, prohibitory signs, priority signs, mandatory signs, and information signs. Below are the essential traffic signs to ensure that you drive in an orderly manner for everyone’s safety.
Prohibitory signs will tell you what actions or types of vehicles are not allowed on that particular road.
- No entry
- No power-driven vehicles
- No motorcycles
- No vehicles drawing a trailer
- No cycles
- Weight limit
- Height limit
- Width limit
- No U-turn
- No overtaking
- No overtaking by lorries
- Maximum speed limit
- No vehicles
- No goods vehicles
- No tractors
- No animal-drawn vehicles
- No pedestrians
- Axle load limit
- Length limit
- Minimum distance limit
- No right turn
- No left turn
- End of no-overtaking
- End of no-overtaking by lorries
- End of maximum speed limit
- No horns
- Standing prohibited
- No parking
- End of all prohibitions
You can easily recognize a warning sign with its red borders. It will let you know of the potential danger ahead.
- Level-crossing with gate
- Level-crossing without gate
- Traffic light signals
- Steep descent
- Steep ascent
- Slippery road
- Uneven road
- Falling rocks
- Loose gravel
- Road narrows
- Two-way traffic
- Pedestrian crossing
- Cycle crossing
- Road works
- Domestic animals
- Wild animals
- Low-flying aircraft
- Other dangers
Priority Signs will let you know which vehicle should pass certain intersection points. This is to avoid interference of motorized vehicle and pedestrian routes.
- Priority road
- End of priority road
- Adjoining with the secondary road
- Passing without stopping prohibited
- Priority for oncoming traffic
- Priority over oncoming traffic
Mandatory signs are in blue and white and will tell you what actions are allowed on that specific road.
- Go straight
- Straight or right only
- Straight or left only
- Keep right
- Keep right or left
- Traffic or passenger cars
- End of minimum speed limit
- Minimum speed limit
- Right only
- Left only
- Right or left only
- Keep left
- Cycle track
Information Signs are usually very noticeable to provide clear traffic instructions.
- End of motorway
- Advance direction sign
- Priority road direction
- Residential zone
- End of residential zone
- Bus stop
- Taxi stand
- Traffic police
Right of Way
It’s always important to know the give way rules when visiting another country to avoid road rage or arguments with local drivers. Mongolia has a strict rule about advancing first before the vehicle on the other road. It’s important that you let other cars pass first when you drive on the roundabout. And when you don’t see any signs, you must give way to the other road traffic.
Legal Driving Age
The legal driving age in Mongolia is 18 years old. Under that age, people are prohibited from driving any type of vehicle or getting a driving permit. Foreign drivers are also required to be at least 18 years old and must provide an IDP and a driver’s license that shows their birthdate when renting a car.
Diving through Mongolia will require strength and experience because of their unpaved roads. It might be a little tough for young drivers, but you will surely have fun if you had a lot of driving exposure.
Laws on Overtaking
Even if you are in a hurry, overtaking is very dangerous. Globally, overtaking is permitted, but some countries like Mongolia prohibits it, especially on level crossings, not-regulated intersections, pedestrian crossings, or 100 meters from them. Whether you’re entering or exiting a road, you should always give way to cars and pedestrians moving through it when driving a car in Mongolia.
The driving side in Mongolia is on the right. Most paved roads are on the right, making it easier for locals and tourists to drive around. However, the steering wheel of vehicles In Mongolia are either on the left-hand or the right-hand. If you’re from a left-side driving country, you will find driving on the right side easier considering that you follow the traffic rules and start navigating the roads as soon as you arrive.
Driving Etiquette in Mongolia
Road conditions and border crossings can be challenging for a traveler driving across Mongolia. You don’t want to get in trouble just because you don’t know how to behave in certain situations or around locals. Knowing the proper behavior will surely tone down your worries while on the road in this diverse and wild country. Even if you’re driving from Mongolia to China or the other way around, it’s always a good idea to recognize the right etiquette.
Driving in Mongolia can be pretty draining, especially if you encounter unnecessary car breakdowns like an engine problem or a flat tire. It is recommended that you bring a spare tire when you’re driving to rural areas. Though most rental cars are regularly checked, just like other things in the world, they can be vulnerable to breakdowns, too, which can happen anytime.
If you are ever in this situation and you are on a street without a name, you can look up a driving in Mongolia video to fix the problem yourself or simply call road assistance. But first, make sure you try to move the car off the road to avoid blocking other passing vehicles. If you cannot do this, make sure you still follow traffic rules and move away from the vehicle, especially if you are near tunnels, bridges, and junctions. Always remember that you have to keep yourself safe while waiting for roadside service.
When driving around Mongolia, you may encounter police stops, particularly if you violated a traffic rule. They will ask to see your local driver’s license, IDP, and passport. When driving a rental car, they will check the car insurance, vehicle registration certificate, and its overall condition to ensure safety. If the police officer asks for something you don’t have, you can call your car rental company and settle the issue with them.
Never argue with a police officer as it may result in a major offense or a costly penalty. Don’t get upset, do as they say, and communicate with them in the most civilized manner. However, if they let you pass and ask for something in return, you can politely turn it down.
Navigation can be difficult when it’s your first time visiting a country, but communication is the key to solve this problem. Even if you have the most updated map of the Mongolian road system, you'll still need the help of the locals to navigate Mongolian roads. Mongolians are very smart and hospitable people. If you ask them for help, they will always extend a helping hand. If you do not understand what they’re saying, ask them kindly to speak at a slow pace by saying “Iluu udaan yarina uu”, which means “Please speak more slowly”. The majority of Mongolians will provide you with a landmark, but don’t expect them to bring you to the place personally.
It’s not hard to communicate with the locals since nearly all of them understand English. But learning some words from their language will help overcome your anxiety. If you are in the countryside, and you’re approaching a ger, you can say “Tu sain baina uu” as a greeting, which means “How are you”, and proceed to ask your questions. As a visitor, it’s advisable not to knock on doors or shake their hands. Don’t forget to thank them for their assistance by saying “Bayarlalaa”, meaning “Thank you”.
There are random checkpoints in Mongolia, and as a tourist, you will be asked to show your travel documents, IDP, and passport. When approaching a checkpoint, securely lock the doors, speak in a calm manner, and make sure you are talking to a police officer and not a civilian. A legit Mongolian police officer will be wearing a uniform under a yellow vest. As long as you obey traffic rules, you won’t have a problem with their law enforcement.
Other matters with regard to driving conditions in a country are also important to know. A driving license in Mongolia is not the only thing you’ll need once you start hitting the road. You have to make certain that you can navigate the place to ensure safety, and prepare the things you should bring. Here are other tips on how you can easily locate a specific place or what supplies you’ll need when driving around the city or countryside of Mongolia.
How Do You Navigate Locations?
You might think that driving in Mongolia nowadays is easy because of community-driven map applications on your phone. However, these applications can rarely be used in remote villages and other areas because of limited network coverage. The best way to navigate Mongolia is by using a GPS device. It might not tell you how muddy or flooded a road is, but it will surely get you to your destination. You can also note telephone lines strung across the steppes to lead you to the next town.
The best thing you can do when lost in Mongolia is to ask the locals. Mongolians are very friendly and will do their best to help you locate your destination. It’s also helpful to know the basics of asking for directions in their local language. You can say “Sain uu” or Hello as a greeting. Not only will it be easier for them to advise you, it can also bring smiles to their faces.
What Other Supplies Do You Need?
It’s expected to see few houses or stores when driving into Mongolia’s rural areas. You should stack up on food, cooking gear, and camping gear. If you are in a group, you’ll need to bring a stove, a big cooking pot and a spoon. And in case of a breakdown, a tent or sleeping mat is necessary.
The countryside of Mongolia is not short in water supply. You can find bottled drinking water for sale almost everywhere, but it can be expensive. It’s ideal to bring your own container because you can fill it with fresh water directly from small rivers on your way to the mountains. You might also want to bring sanitizing pills if you have a sensitive stomach.
Driving Conditions in Mongolia
Whatever the circumstances, it’s essential to know the driving situations and conditions in a country you are visiting. You need to mentally and physically prepare for your trip. Driving on Mongolia’s road is not easy, especially if you have no idea about their driving culture, road conditions, traffic volume, and accident statistics.
Most people in Mongolia find driving enjoyable and exciting because of how intense their driving skills can be. Some locals, especially in Ulaanbaatar, are charged with overspeeding because it causes accidents. Potholes on the streets are also the leading cause of accidents and car damages. Most of the time, locals do not use pedestrian lanes, which leads to disasters on the road. If you look for videos about driving in Mongolia, you will see how they operate on the road.
In 2018, the latest WHO data had confirmed and published that the Road Traffic Accident Deaths in Mongolia reached 3.59% or 635 total deaths. The majority of those people who died are around 21 years old. Mongolia was ranked 71st place across all countries.
Mongolians still use horses in the countryside as their means of transport. But a driving license in Mongolia is a necessity since motorized transport is also very common. However, you'll still find modern vehicles on the roads. Thanks to Japanese exports since 2016, almost all of them drive a Prius and are happy with the fact that they can save gas because of its hybrid functionality. This makes shortages of spare parts and petrol uncommon. They also like to drive pick-ups whenever they go outside the city because of the steep roads.
Currently, Mongolia has three toll roads. Those paved motorways that run from Ulaanbaatar to Sukhe Bator and end on Russia’s borders are mostly used by motorists who plan to go to Russia for business and leisure purposes.
The Mongolian government and Russia and China, as the main investors, have been busy planning to build another toll road in the country. This new toll road will make driving to Mongolia easier and would give Mongolia a modernized transportation infrastructure, especially in areas where the majority of the population resides. This road will be paved and can give people from provincial capitals effortless access to Ulaanbaatar.
The state of the roads in Mongolia is not that bad, but you will need the right vehicle to drive around comfortably. In their capital city, Ulaanbaatar, most roads are paved and easy to drive on. However, if you drive outside the city, you’ll find your tires in the dirt, sand, or mud. It’s easy to locate places in Mongolia with a map, but because many nomads live there, even their roads move like wild rivers.
You can find many potholes on the road, so you have to be careful when driving a car in Mongolia. If you want to get rid of traffic, prepare to get lost if you decide to drive on remote tracks. Those tracks can quickly turn into other highways, but with more dirt on them, especially on rainy days.
Mongolians are calm people by nature, but they can be pretty fast on the road, so you have to be very careful. Most buses and trucks run swiftly alongside the highway and not on it. This can be hazardous to foreign drivers who are not yet familiar with Mongolia’s driving side and roads. If you ask for directions, locals are very approachable and will help you out. Even if they are driving, Mongolians will stop their cars and assist you.
Never argue with local drivers when you get in a car crash or an accident to avoid road rage and more complicated situations. Following Mongolia’s traffic rules and giving way to other drivers will provide you with a secure and enjoyable driving experience.
It is exciting and scary to travel to a different place. Understanding what you can do in certain situations can be very beneficial. Familiarizing the driving side in Mongolia and some phrases in their language is very important, especially when you encounter a mishap. If you are not involved with the accident, you might experience traffic jams because the cars can’t be moved until the police arrive and photograph the scene. By knowing the basic rules and driving conditions, you will instantly realize the best thing to do.
Things To Do in Mongolia
Being a tourist in Mongolia can be an inspiring and uplifting experience for you. But what else can you do in a country with traditional culture and fantastic landscapes? Driving in Mongolia’s roads can give you an adventure of a lifetime. You can even drive there as a travel guide or a driver. It’s possible to get a career or job in Mongolia even though you’re a foreigner.
Mongolia will always prioritize their citizens when it comes to hiring jobs. But if you got the skill, the experience, and complete employment requirements, then you’ll surely get a chance to work there.
Drive as a Tourist
As a tourist, you are allowed to drive in Mongolia for a duration of one year as long as you have a passport, a driver’s license, and an IDP. Having these documents on hand will allow you to rent and drive any type of vehicle and go as far as you want inside Mongolia's borders. For you to have inner peace while driving as a tourist, allow yourself to familiarize their traffic rules and driving manners.
Locals and law enforcements are very kind, especially to foreign drivers. Remember to follow their country’s rules and regulations as a sign of showing respect, and to avoid problems.
Work as a Driver
If you wish to work as a driver in Mongolia, you need to secure an employment visa and a driving record. Most companies look for drivers who have, experience, a flexible schedule, and who know the traffic rules by heart. You must apply for a driving license in Mongolia to qualify for a driving position. You can apply as a delivery driver for corner shop grocery stores, as a school bus driver, or as a taxi driver once you secure the documents needed.
Supposing that you prefer to be self-employed, you can always apply as an Uber driver, but your car must meet Mongolia’s vehicle standards. You can’t use a rented vehicle. Your car must be able to transport a minimum of 4 passengers, have four doors, and be 15 years old or newer.
Work as a Travel Guide
One of the countries in the world that are in need of tour guides is Mongolia. They have a rich culture and beautiful scenery that needs to be shared with the people who are visiting. As a foreigner, you can apply as an experienced tour guide as long as you speak fluent English, have a work permit and a Mongolian driving license, and possess a good guiding experience. Most positions open are for Mongolian nationals, but if you have the qualifications and you are confident that you know Mongolia like a local, it won’t be hard for you to land a job.
Apply for Residency
To obtain a residency in Mongolia, you have to be an employee or an investor. If you are an employee, you have to secure a work permit first, then apply for residency. If you’re an investor, you need to have a legal company in your name. It’s important to choose the right sector for your company as this will be monitored by the government. Make sure the cash you deposited in your bank account stays until your residency is final.
Once you have either a work permit or a business in your name, you can submit your application to the Immigration Department. Don’t forget to attach all required documents like an official request letter, personal proof of income source, curriculum vitae, test results for AIDS, passport and copy, and two photos.
Sometimes a week or two is not enough to experience all of Mongolia. If you are enchanted with the country and want to stay longer, there are other ways on how you can make that possible.
When To Secure a Visa?
You will be required to get a visa if you plan to stay in Mongolia for more than 90 days. If your goal is to stay for more than 30 days, you must register with Mongolian Immigration within a week of your arrival. Ensure that your passport is still valid for the duration of your stay.
How Can You Apply for a Citizenship in Mongolia?
It might be a tedious process, but you can request the President of Mongolia to make you a citizen. You will need to attach legal documents from your original country, fill-out forms, and other documents from the government of Mongolia. Once you become a citizen, you can also look for other job opportunities like becoming a translator or an ESL teacher.
The Top Destinations in Mongolia
Mongolia’s landscapes and wide range of animals never fail to amaze tourists from different walks of life. It might not be the easiest country in the world to travel to, but that adds to the thrill and excitement. Its spectacular beauty and welcoming locals will fascinate and leave you wanting more. All you need is the perfect vehicle, an IDP which serves as your driving license in Mongolia, and a map or a GPS.
You will never get bored in Mongolia. There are lots of beautiful mosques, interesting museums, reliable local and international restaurants, fascinating markets to shop, and breathtaking tourist spots. You don’t have to worry about the weather once you’re outside Ulaanbaatar because it won’t be hot nor cold. Once you have your complete driving documents, you are ready and set to learn new culture and see what Mother Nature has to offer.
The world’s coldest capital city is a great place to start your trip. If you’re flying from another country aside from Russia - since you can take the Trans-Mongolian train from there, chances are, you’re going to arrive at Chinggis Khaan International Airport. If you’re driving during holidays in Mongolia, you will find more interesting places to visit that are open, like museums, international restaurants, local markets, monasteries, and shopping malls.
- From Chinggis Khaan International Airport, head southeast.
- Continue straight, then turn right onto Airport Rd/Naadamchdyn Zam.
- At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit and stay on Airport Rd/Naadamchdyn Zam.
- Continue to follow Naadamchdyn Zam.
- Keep right, then continue onto the back road of Khimori.
- Turn right until you reach Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. It takes approximately 17 minutes or 12.0 km to reach Ulaanbaatar.
Things to Do
Visiting Ulaanbaatar offers many activities and meaningful insights for tourists. Here’s a list of things you can do while in the area.
- Watch traditional music and dance performances
Observe colorful shows executed by Mongolians in the Mongolian State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet. The locals offer you their talent and brilliance by doing acrobatic feats, throat-singing, playing indigenous instruments, and dancing to local Mongolian music. Take note that you need to pay an extra charge if you want to film the performance and take a photo of it.
- Do a full-day sightseeing city tour
Visit major sights in Ulaanbaatar with a tour guide, see wonderful spots, converse with other tourists and locals, and enjoy a local-style Mongolian lunch in famous restaurants like Hazara or Bosco Verde. You can also visit the Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex for a full Mongolian day tour experience.
- Learn about Mongolia’s history at The National History Museum
Built in 1924, the museum allows you to explore Mongolian scientific, archeological, and cultural artifacts. You’ll be delighted to find dinosaur bones, animal life samples, traditional costumes, meteorites, and volcano stones. This is where you’ll learn about the country’s cultural heritage and understand their way of living from past to present.
- Enjoy peace and quiet in Gandan Monastery
This Tibetan Monastery has a charm that is still perfectly apparent. Walking towards the entrance gates, you will see two stone lion statues set to protect the monastery from evil. You’ll also see the beautiful statue of Migjid Janraisig, which was built with jewels, rare gemstones, and precious metals. Numerous monks live there, making it the most important center for Buddhist studies in Mongolia.
- Shop at Naran Tuul Market
Also known as “Mongolia’s Black Market,” you can buy anything you want here. Most stalls sell various items like traditional spices, furs, boots, accessories, caps, carpets, furniture, and colorful clothing fabrics. You can also find large carpets and furniture when you explore it deeper. Many nomads from the rural areas visit the market to trade supplies. Everything is deemed affordable in this market.
Gorkhi-Terelj National Park
The nearest tourist spot worth visiting from Ulaanbaatar is Gorki-Terelj National Park. This is one of the most beautiful national parks in the country. If you want to take a rest and stare at a beautiful setting or do outdoor activities like hiking, horse riding, and rafting, this is the perfect place. You can also relax and meditate inside a meditation temple.
- From Chinggis Khaan International Airport, head southeast.
- At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Sonsgolon Rd.
- Turn right onto Airport Rd/Naadamchdyn Zam.
- At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Sonsgolon Rd.
- Continue onto Zuunmod Rd.
- Slight right, then turn left onto Bagakhangal - Nalaikh/AH3.
- Turn right, then turn right again.
- Turn left, then turn right.
- Slight left, and continue onto Terelj Rd.
- Continue onto Terelj Bridge.
- Continue onto Terelj Rd until you reach Terelj, Mongolia.
- Once you get to Terelj, drive towards Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. It will take you approximately 2 hours and 16 minutes or 58.1 km to drive from Chinggis Khaan International Airport to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park’s gates.
Things to Do
To have a delightful time in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, here’s a list of the things you should do there.
- Sleep like a nomad in tourist ger camps
You are guaranteed a good night’s sleep here because rock formations and hills surround the ger camps. You can pull down the sides of the ger during the evening since it can get chilly, or you can leave it up and enjoy the Mongolian breeze. You will also find a single plug inside to charge your cameras or phones, which is really convenient.
- Simply look at the stunning landscape
There is so much to see in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. The locals protect everything to preserve its beauty. You will be amazed to catch sight of forest-covered mountains, large stands of tamaracks that turn golden in the fall, wildflowers, and rock formations. You’ll also see wildlife and livestock grazing around the grassland.
- Enjoy horse riding
Spend some time at the “Blue Rock River” and enjoy riding and getting to know a Mongolian trail riding horse. If you’re into expeditions, they offer an eight-day ride to see everything in the park. You’ll not only get to experience the country wilderness but immerse yourself in their culture too.
- Go camping at the Alpine High Country
Located in the national park’s backcountry, you will come across the highest mountain of the Khan Khentii Mountains by hiking or riding a horse, the Asralt Khairkhan. It has an elevation of 2799 meters, which is great for camping and stargazing. If you walk further, you’ll encounter an ovoo or a stone cairn decorated with silk scarfs, also known as hadags, used as shrines by Mongolians for religious practices.
- Discover the famous Turtle Rock
One of the most popular sightseeing destinations is a huge rock carved into a turtle by wind and rainwater. Mongolians believe that this rock bring wealth to their nation. It’s easy to spot since it’s located just off the main road into the park. The place is perfect for photo opportunities, camel and horse-riding, and hiking.
Mongolia is home to the largest desert in Asia. It is surrounded by mountains, plateaus, and grasslands. It also covers parts of Southern Mongolia and North and Northeastern China. According to research, the Gobi Desert is continually growing due to climate change. But Mongolians are doing their part to preserve that breathtaking site. Spending time in the Gobi desert will surely give you a unique and unforgettable experience.
There are fossilized coral heads and shells found in the sands of the Gobi Desert, proving that in ancient times, the desert was once an ocean bed. The area is also rich in gold, coal deposits, and copper, creating interest in miners.
- From Chinggis Khan International Airport, head southeast.
- Continue straight, then turn right onto Airport Rd/Naadamchdyn Zam.
- At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Sonsgolon Rd.
- Continue onto Zuunmod Rd.
- Turn right onto Mandalgovi Rd.
- Continue onto Zuunmod - Mandalgovi Hwy.
- Continue onto Mandalgovi - Luus Rd.
- Continue straight, then turn left.
- Turn left at Dalanzadgad - Bayandalai Rd.
- Slight left, and merge onto Khurmen-Nomgon Rd.
- Slight right, then turn right until you reach the Gobi Desert. It takes approximately 10 hours and 36 minutes or 698.3 km to reach the Gobi Desert.
Things to Do
Gobi Desert offers many activities that you will surely enjoy. Below are the things you should take part when visiting the world’s fifth-largest desert.
- Visit Bayanzag
It’s an ancient rock formation that is nurtured by the scattered outwash from the neighboring gullies. It’s one of the most important places in the world to find dinosaur eggs and fossils. You might even spot a fossil yourself if you explore the site deeper.
- Climb the Khongor sand dunes
Known to be the largest sandy area in Mongolia, the Khongor sand dunes stand out with an area of 900 square kilometers. It has a breathtaking view that extends as far as the eye can see. When the wind blows, you can hear a noise as it blows the sand, which the locals call the “singing dunes”. You can climb to the peak and take spectacular photos to preserve memories.
- Go camel riding
Your visit to Mongolia will never be complete without hopping on the back of a Bactrian camel. Voyaging around the dunes can be challenging, but with locals’ help and riding a camel, you will surely get the perfect shot and the most memorable experience.
- Sleep comfortably in a ger or yurt
Sleeping and eating like the nomads will allow you to experience their extraordinary lifestyle. While it might not be as luxurious as taking a rest in a hotel, it will surely give you a feeling of being exposed to a different world.
- Indulge in Mongolian cuisine
Driving in Mongolia’s map will allow you to interact with locals and get to experience eating their dishes. The ingredients vary from rice and meat with vegetables to hearty noodle soups or barbecue meats. You will get to devour Mongolian cuisine and other western influenced dishes from breakfast to dinner in the Gobi desert.
Located in the extreme west of Mongolia, Ölgii’s landscapes will surely catch your attention. Overshadowed by the great Altai, you can wander around the area and discover the mysterious, twelve thousand-year-old Turkic Standing Stone. September is also a perfect time to visit, when majestic eagles are presented by locals during the Altai Kazakh Eagle Festival.
- From Ölgii Airport, head southeast toward Airport Rd.
- Continue onto Airport Rd.
- Turn right onto AH4.
- Turn left onto A-4.
- Turn right onto meshittin joli.
- Turn right. until you reach Ölgii. It takes approximately 10 minutes or 5.4 km to reach Ölgii.
Things to Do
Ölgii is the perfect place to celebrate the country’s annual festival with the locals. Here’s a list of other things you can do while in the area.
- Visit the Ulgii Central Mosque
The majority of the Muslims and Kazakhs in Mongolia live in Ölgii, making the Ulgii Central Mosque one of the most sacred sites in the country. You can take photos of its beautiful structure, but always remember to be quiet since it is a place of worship.
- Celebrate the Ölgii Eagle Festival
Mongolians have many hobbies, and that includes eagle hunting. They also play sports like camel races and traditional horse games during the festival. The Eagle Huntress, a 2016 film has made Ölgii Eagle Festival popular around the world. Since then, tourists flock to the area every year to celebrate with locals.
- Shop in community markets
If you’re looking for unique gifts to bring home, you’ll find knives, colorful curtains and throws, skullcaps, and a dombra or two-stringed lute in one of their local markets. You’ll definitely enjoy shopping there since everything is so cheap and eye-catching.
- Discover Kazakh culture in Ölgii Aimag Museum
The Kazakh culture is a huge part of the Mongolian heritage. In the Ölgii Aimag Museum, you’ll learn about Bayan-Ölgii’s geography and the local’s way of life. It’s an old fashioned museum with ethnographic displays inside. If you want a souvenir, you can find a collection of stone figures called balbals, and a small gift shop that sells native crafts.
- Enjoy performances in Kazakh National Theatre
Kazakhs are fond of music and dancing. They have weekly performances in this theatre to exhibit their traditional folk dances and musical instruments. You can also witness plays in their customary Mongolian language.
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