Practicalities

In the following paragraphs, we have tried to prepare some basic information that may be useful for preparing your trip to Mongolia. This little compilation is based on our experience and the most common questions we get asked by clients and interested people. We do not take responsibility for the completeness or correctness of the information given!

Flights, Trains & Busses

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Most people fly to Mongolia. From Europe, your usual options will include Aeroflot, Mongolian International Airlines (MIAT), Turkish Airlines and Air China. All of these airlines except MIAT fly to Ulaanbaatar from all major airports in Europe – Aeroflot via Moscow, Air China via Beijing and Turkish Airlines via Istanbul. MIAT offers direct flights from Frankfurt in the summer season. From North America, Korean Air may be an option for you, too. Return-fares from Europe typically range from around 750 to 1,100 Euros – often (but not always) depending on how early you book. Check out and compare prices and flight schedules and see what suits you best! When choosing your airline, we also recommend having a closer look at the baggage allowances, because 20 kg are quickly exceeded when you bring a lot of gear. Turkish Airlines economy tickets allow 30 kg (plus hand luggage). Aeroflot currently allows one bag of max. 23 kg. They however take a second piece of luggage of up to 23 kg for 50 € one way from Europe to UB.

Very popular among those who have a bit more time is going at least one way by train – via Moscow and Irkutsk on the famous Transsiberian Railway. However, we feel we do not have enough experience to give you decent guidance on this topic. But there's tons of information out there in books, fora and on internet websites. Just have a look yourself!

Since Eznis Airways has gone out of business in 2014, inland flights in Mongolia are now mainly carried out by Hunnu Airways and Aero Mongolia. They provide frequent and affordable services to all destinations relevant for our trips – such as Murun, Uliastai or Ulgii. We might want to add here that we cannot confirm any of the still circulating wild stories of drunk pilots, airplanes that literally fall apart or sheep in the passenger compartment. On the contrary: Today's Mongolian domestic air transport is reliable, safe and – as far as we can judge this – completely up to international standard. We can only recommend it!

However, if you have the time, you may prefer to do at least one of your domestic trips to or from Ulaanbaatar overland. This is a fantastic opportunity to experience the distance and beauty of the country and will get you into close contact (literally!) with the people. There exist cheap services in Russian 40-seat-busses with time schedules and (theoretically) guaranteed seats, as well as many privately owned minibuses that go whenever they are full. And that really means FULL. Although the long trips in busses and Furgons are often hard and usually quite uncomfortable, we also recommend this version if you are looking for this sort of experience and if you are not in a hurry to catch a flight back home.

If you book a canoeing-trip with us we will help you plan and organise your individual journey to and from our start and end points. However, bare in mind that this is not a part of our paid services and that you will have to book your ticket yourself!
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Visa

Americans as well as citizens of many European countries do not need a visa for Mongolia anymore as long as their stay in the country does not exceed 30 days and the purpose of their trip is tourism. Since 2013 this is for example the case for German citizens. For a short time, in 2014, this was the case for Swiss passport holders, too. However, this has changed and now once more the Swiss need a visa for entering Mongolia. Please contact the Mongolian embassy that is responsible for your country for information.

Border Permits

Travelling in some border areas of Mongolia is not as straightforward as in other areas of the country. For most sums (districts) along the Russian border – such as Tsagaannuur or Teshig, for example – you are required to carry a border permit that is best issued before your trip in Ulaanbaatar and which needs to be stamped and registered by the border patrol offices of the aimag and border sum that you are going to visit. The costs of this permit are really negligible but be aware that getting it is a very confusing and bureaucratic process that is best done for you by a Mongolian person of your trust. If you fail to provide a stamped and registered border permit when you are asked to – for example by border patrol soldiers – you risk quite some trouble and hefty fines. So please take this advice serious! If you book a trip with us, we will take care of this for you and you can relax about it.

Vaccinations and Health Issues

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Mongolia is, despite its lack of medical infrastructure in the countryside a relatively healthy country – at least compared to many developing countries, especially in the tropics. Infectious diseases are relatively rare, perhaps also due to the climate and the low population density. We recommend, however, you get at least vaccinations against rabies and tetanus. This will give you time and surely a better feeling if you get bitten by an animal in the faraway countryside. You may decide to get shots against Hepatitis B, too. The decision is up to you – and it is up to you to talk to your doctor and get professional information.

We also strongly recommend that you bring at least a pack of broadband antibiotics and painkillers (as prescribed by your physician) and that you know how and when to use it. On our trips, we do carry a first aid kit for accidents but we cannot give out medicine to clients in case of sickness – simply because by law we are not allowed to do that. It is completely up to you to bring your own medicine and handle it!

As good hospitals are very rare in the Mongolian countryside and any bigger medical issues can quickly evolve into serious problems, we do also strongly recommend that you have a health check-up before you go and talk about your travel-plans with your doctor. Also, we urge you to have a good travel health insurance that also covers high search & rescue and evacuation costs – possibly of at least 20,000 USD or more. Because this is probably at least what it will cost to get you out of there.

Oh yes, by the way... You may have heard rumors that there is still the plague around in Mongolia. Well, these rumors are true. However: This is really nothing you need to be afraid of. First of all, this disease is very rare and just spread by the fleas of marmots and other rodents that you are extremely unlikely to even come close to. It's absolutely not comparable to the epidemics of "black death" in medieval Europe. Second: If you bring your antibiotics as we urge you, you'll be probably fine even in that very unlikely case! ;-)

Vegetarians

Mongolia – a nightmare for vegetarians? Let us assure you: Vegetarians are welcome on our trips and it is possible to survive well in Mongolia without meat. As a matter of fact, vegetarianism is growing even in Mongolia and the thought of avoiding meat is not at all uncommon to Buddhist Mongolians. Traditionally, nomadic people have eaten very little meat during the summer months where families usually feed on "tsagaan idee" – "white food", which are milk products. Also on our trips, we always have enough vegetables and milk products and we can always offer an option for vegetarians. So please do not worry or hesitate – but make sure you inform us in advance and we can plan better to please you.

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Which is for you? Mongolia has delicious food for (almost) everybody!

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Money

The Mongolian currency is the "Mongolian tögrög" (MNT), usually (but quite unofficially) transcribed as "tugrik". Since the introduction of market economy in the 1990s, the tögrög has always been a rather unstable currency. At the time of writing this information, inflation was high again and one US-Dollar bought MNT 1860, while one Euro equalled MNT 2260. Store-bought food and consumer goods are not exactly cheap in Mongolia, averaging just a little lower than in Europe – although Mongolian salaries typically range at a few hundred Dollars only.

It is possible to draw cash in Ulaanbaatar from a wide range of ATM-machines. Visa, Master, Amex work fine, while machines that accept Maestro-cards are a little more difficult to find. Outside of Ulaanbaatar, however, it is usually very difficult (if not outright impossible) to get any cash from banks or the rare ATM-machines (if you can find any at all) with credit- or Maestro-cards. There are two solutions to this problem:

First: Bring all the money you need on your trip (plus a little extra...) in Mongolian cash. This is of course not exactly safe. Also, you'll probably end up with large stacks of money, as the biggest available banknote in Mongolia is MNT 20,000! If you feel uncomfortable about this, try the following: Open up a Mongolian standard savings account upon your arrival in Ulaanbaatar and put all your money on it. With the help of a translator this is really straightforward and takes less than half an hour. Then, with the little savings book you get, you will be ably to draw cash in any sum-centre you come through on your trip (at least on week-days...). Khan Bank, for example works great and has branch-offices in probably all Mongolian sums. Don't loose your savings book, though...

Communications

It is a very good idea to bring your mobile phone and get a Mongolian SIM-card upon arrival in Ulaanbaatar (e.g. from Mobicom or Unitel). This is also very easy to organise and extremely cheap. In fact, you pay practically nothing for a common pre-paid SIM-card as it usually comes filled with units already (usually MNT 5,000). Of course, also data-SIM cards for iPads etc. are available, and every year receiving emails even in faraway villages works better (although chances are still quite high that it won't work in remote areas!). Text messages to abroad are quite inexpensive and units normally last surprisingly long. This may of course also be due to the fact that telephone reception away from the sum-centres is still rather limited...

What to bring

What people think is necessary to bring on a trip greatly differs. This is also the case for people who come to Mongolia. On our trips, we provide a kitchen tent and all cooking gear, as well as boats, a life-west and a paddle for everybody. What you will still need to bring is (at least) the following:

A very warm sleeping bag, rated ideally to at least -15°C. A robust and warm camping mattress plus a small repair kit (punctures are very common). A tent that on the one hand can take a bit of bashing from storms and the rather rough everyday-use on our trips, but that on the other hand is not so valuable that you will find it profitable to sue us if at the end of the trip there will be any holes in it caused by flying sparks from our cooking fires...

Also, on all of our trips, please bring a warm and yet sturdy (down-)jacket, warm fleece and long underwear, woolen or fleece-gloves, a hat, warm socks and sturdy, waterproof hiking boots. You may also want extra shoes and clothes for paddling. Neoprene-boots are fine, but even crocks or Teva-sandals are OK on not-too-cold days. Of course, you will also want to bring shorts and other summer clothes! It's not always cold in Mongolia and in fact the days are usually almost always warm or even hot between mid-May and late September. Nevertheless, as soon as the sun goes down, the steppe will get cold and at night the thermometer quite often falls well below freezing.

Make also sure you bring enough batteries for your torch, and all the cameras and electronic gear you bring, plus both 220V and 12-V chargers if possible. You may want to bring a universal travel-adapter for electricity as well: In Mongolia all socket-systems are used and mixed – which can make things sometimes a little fiddly but on the other hand, this also means that usually there is always a solution for everything.

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Company information
Copyright © Siesta Oppi Kanu Shop GmbH, Switzerland. All rights reserved.

Siesta Oppi Kanu Shop GmbH
Sensebrücke 13a
CH-3176 Neuenegg
Switzerland

Commercial register number: CH-217.0.640.961-3
VAT number: CHE 108.627.887
contact us
IN SWITZERLAND:
Telephone: +41 (0)31 741 91 92
Fax: +41 (0)31 741 91 09
Email: info@kanuladen.ch

IN MONGOLIA:
Telephone: (+976) 99086004
Email: info@fatyaktravel.com
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