Embassies Consulates in Mongolia

A few countries operate embassies in Ulaanbaatar, though for most nationalities the nearest embassies are in Beijing or Moscow. If your country has an embassy in Ulaanbaatar, it's a good idea to register with it if you're travelling into the remote countryside, or in case you lose your passport. Note that the German embassy also looks after the interests of Dutch, Belgian, Greek and Portuguese citizens. The British embassy handles normal consular duties for most Commonwealth countries. For...

Russia

Most travellers go in and out of Russia at the Naushki-S khbaatar train border crossing. In addition, there are three road crossings Tsagaannuur-Tashanta in Bayan-Olgii aimag, Altanbulag-Kyakhta in Selenge and Ereentsav-Solovyevsk in Dornod. The crossings are open from 9am to noon and 2pm to 6pm daily except holidays. There is hope that the Khankh-Mondy border in northern Kh vsg l will soon be opened check the situation before heading out this way. Both the road and rail crossings can be...

Language

Conversation & Essentials 294 Mongolian is a member of the Ural-Altaic family of languages, which includes Finnish, Hungarian, Turkish, Kazakh, Usbek and Korean. The traditional Mongolian script looks like Arabic turned 45 degrees, and is still used by the Mongolians living in China (Inner Mongolia, parts of Xinjiang, Qinhai, Liaoning and Jilin). In 1944 the Russian Cyrillic alphabet was adopted, with the two additional characters, e and y. It remains in use today in Mongolia and also in two...

Buir Nuur byhp hwp

This vast lake in eastern Mongolia is well known for the large stocks of fish. Amur Carp is the main species of fish in the lake, although it also contains taimen, grayling and lenok, among others. Most of the fish end up on the plates of Chinese restaurants as the northern shore is actually in China. The 40km lake has a maximum depth of 50m and is especially popular with mosquitoes so bring lots of repellent or you'll need a blood transfusion The lake is also great for bird-watching. Head for...

Baldan Baraivan Khiid

This monastery (GPS N4S 11.910', E109 25.840' admission T2000) in Omnodelger sum was first built in 1700. At its peak it was one of the three largest monasteries in Mongolia and home to 5000 lamas. It was destroyed by communist thugs in the 1930s and by fire in the 1970s. Now only ruins remain, but impressive ruins they are. Near the monastery is the Eej (Mother) Cave, which acts a purifying place for anyone who passes through it. The US based Cultural Restoration Tourism Project (CRTP...

Around Shiliin Bogd

Assuming that you have a jeep to get to Shiliin Bogd Uul in the first place, you can make a good loop from Dariganga, to take in Ganga Nuur on the way to Shiliin Bogd Uul, and Taliin Agui and Khurgiin Khundii on the way back to Dariganga. Taliin Agui (TajtbiH Aryfi GPS N45 35.405', El 14 30.051'), 15km northwest of the mountain, is one of the largest caves in Mongolia. If the ice covering the entrance has melted (it's normally covered until August) you can squeeze through the narrow entrance....

The Ancient Capital

Mongolia's ancient capital may be gone, but Karakorum is certainly not forgotten. By piecing together the accounts of the city written by visiting missionaries, ambassadors and travellers we have some idea of what the imperial capital once looked like. Frankly, it wasn't much. The missionary William of Rubruck (1215-95) dismissed the city as being no bigger than the suburb of Saint Denis in Paris. Giovanni de Piano Carpine (1180-1252), an envoy sent to the Mongols in 1245 by Pope Innocent IV,...

Getting There Away

HITCHING Ondorkhaan is the gateway for eastern Mongolia, so all vehicles heading to Dornod aimag and Siikhbaatar aimag will come through here. Getting a lift to Ulaanbaatar, Choibalsan and Baruun-Urt is comparatively easy. Rather than waiting on the road for a lift, it's better to ask the drivers at the jeep stands. Daily buses journeying between Ulaanbaatar and Choibalsan or Baruun-Urt make a pit stop in Ondorkhaan. Seats are limited and there is really no...

Around Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur

There are a number of scenic areas in the environs of Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur that are worth exploring on horseback. These include Noyon Khangai National Park (HoeH Xam aM), a mountainous area rich in wildlife and hot springs (GPS N47 44.607', E99 24.861') covered by wooden huts (the water is 33 C). By road it's a rough 78km from Tariat the area is a national park so you may need to pay a T3000 entry fee, although there is rarely anyone around to collect the fees. Around 60km northeast of Tariat...

RyPbah Cahxah

With its iconic sand dunes, ice canyon, striped badlands and stunning mountain vistas this is understandably one of Mongolia's most popular national parks. Most travellers only see a fraction of it, sticking to the main sites. With more time it's possible to drive to the remote western area - an eerie landscape so lacking in life that you may feel as if you've landed on the moon. Gurvan Saikhan (Three Beauties) is named after its three ridges (though there are four). Besides its spectacular...

China

The only border open to foreigners is the one between Zamyn-Uiid and Ereen. It's open daily but note that on holidays only the train (not the road) crossing will operate. In 2007 travellers were reporting that it was possible to get a Chinese visa at the border, but until this becomes a regular thing it's best to have a visa already in your passport. If you are heading for Mongolia and need a visa, there is a Mongolian consulate ( fax479-7539200 Weijian Binguan Er Lou, Bldg 206 S 8.30am-noon...

Activities

There are several trails but the best hiking route goes right over the top from Ulaanbaatar to Mandshir Khiid. Wherever you decide to go you'll be required to pay a national park fee of T3000. You can do this at the gate to the Bogdkhan Uul Strictly Protected Area or at Mandshir Khiid. The highest point on the range is Tsetseegiin Uul (2256m) although going here is not the quickest way over the top. The most direct route follows a path west of Tsetseegiin. There are numerous approaches to the...

Mongolia In Winter

Visiting Mongolia in winter is not as crazy as it sounds. While you may imagine everything is buried under snow, the country does still function museums will be open, transportation runs unabated and other facilities like shops and restaurants will still be up and running. One advantage is a big reduction in Ulaanbaatar hotel prices - over 30 for most top-end hotels. Another benefit of winter travel is that vehicles in northern areas can reach places that are otherwise difficult to access. For...

ROBbAJITAH

Mongolia's second-largest aimag is named after the Gobi Desert and Mongol Altai Nuruu, a mountain range that virtually bisects the aimag to create a stark, rocky landscape. There is a certain beauty in this combination, but there is considerable heartbreak too. Gov-Altai is one of the least suitable areas for raising livestock, and therefore one of the most hostile to human habitation. Somehow a few Gobi bears, wild camels, ibex and even snow leopards survive, protected in several remote...

Sum Khokh Burd

The temple Siim Khokh Burd (GPS N 46 09.621', E 105 45.590'), which sits on an island in the middle of a tiny lake, was built in the 10th century. Remarkably, the temple was built from rocks that can only be found more than 300km away. It was abandoned and in ruins a few centuries after being built. Three hundred years ago a palace was built here, and 150 years later the writer Danzan Ravjaa (p201) built a stage on top of the ruins. Enough of the temple and palace remain to give you some idea...

Roads Less Travelled

Tsambagarav Khyargas

WESTERN MONGOLIA One Month Khovd to Uliastai The western aimags offer adventurous travel and exploration. Adrenaline junkies can break out the mountain bike, kayak or mountaineering gear. Start with a flight to Khovd (p232), from where you can hire a jeep and driver for a bird-watching and wildlife expedition at Khar Us Nuur National Park (p235). At nearby (handmani (p236) visit the renowned throat singers. Looping back through Khovd, continue northwest to the beautiful pastures and valley...

Airlines in Mongolia

MIAT ( 011-322 118 http miat.com) is the state-owned airline that once flew to every corner of the country. A lack of functioning aeroplanes and increased competition has limited its service to only a handful of cities, namely Moron, Arvaikheer, Altai, Khovd and Dalanzadgad. MIAT is not known for its safety record, although it hasn't had a fatal crash since 1998. Its domestic planes may be old but the pilots are the most experienced in the business. MIAT's international service, on the other...

Khgn Khan Uul Nature Reserve

Although it's just off the main Ulaanbaatar -Kharkhorin highway, this nature reserve sees relatively few visitors. Its arid terrain of rocky semi-desert is good for short hikes and there are a few old temples to explore, both ruined and active. At the southern foot of the mountain are the ruins of vg n Khiid 0BreH Xhha GPS N47 25.561', E103 41.686' admission T1000 , built in 1660 and destroyed and the monks massacred by the armies of Zungar Galdan Bochigtu, a rival of Zanabazar's in 1640. About...

Environment

Conservation Ink www .conservationink.org produces maps and postcards dedicated to Mongolia's national parks. The website contains links, information and beautiful photography. Mongolia's Wild Heritage 1999 , by Christopher Finch, was written in collaboration with the Mongolian Ministry of Nature amp Environment. This outstanding book contains excellent photos and brief but relevant information on Mongolia's fragile ecology. Mongolia is the sort of country that naturalists dream about. With the...

Telephone

It's easy to make international or domestic calls in Ulaanbaatar. Outside the main cities, making phone calls is a challenge. Aimag capitals are upgrading their systems but in the sum centres you'll run head on into WWII-era technology, complete with wind-up phones and operators languishing behind massive metal boards, busily plugging and unplugging wires and shouting 'bain mi ' is anybody there into the receiver. Fortunately, mobile phone technology is allowing many towns to leapfrog this old...

Hiring a Minivan or Jeep

The best way to see the countryside of Mongolia independently is to hire your own minivan or jeep, which will come with a driver and, for a little extra, a guide. If you share the costs with others it doesn't work out to be too expensive. With enough time, camping equipment, water and food, and a reliable jeep and driver, you'll have the time of your life. You can save money by using public transport to major regional gateways - that A real problem with share vehicles is that they are privately...

Kulteginii Monument

When Chinggis Khaan decided to move his capital to Karakorum, he was well aware that the region had already been the capital to successive nomad empires. About 20km northeast of Khar Balgas lies the remainder of yet another of these pre-Mongol empires, the Turkic khaganate pre-Mongol empire . All that's left of the khaganate is the 3m-high inscribed monument of Kul-Tegin 684-731 , the khagan ruler of the ancient empire. The monument GPS N47 33.837', E102 49.931' was raised in AD 732 and is...

Omnogov

Omnogov South Gobi is the largest aimag in Mongolia, with a population density of only 0.3 people per square kilometre. It's not hard to see why humans prefer to live elsewhere with an average annual precipitation of only 130mm a year, and summer temperatures reaching an average of 38 C, this is the driest, hottest and harshest region in the entire country. Gurvan Saikhan Nuruu in the centre provides the main topographic relief in this pancake-flat region the mountains make human habitation...

Traditional Medicine

Traditional medicine has made a comeback in Mongolia, after suppression during communism. Medicine often involves the use of native herbs, ground-up rock or bone, and even the swallowing of prayers written on tiny pieces of paper. Lamas are often employed to read prayers for the sick. Traditional medicine here is based on both Chinese and Tibetan practices. In Ulaanbaatar, there are traditional-medicine clinics at the Bakula Rinpoche Siim see p76 . Lonely Planet Publications. To make it easier...

Eej Khad Mother Rock

Vanloads of pilgrims can be found venturing a rough 48km south of Zuunmod to the sacred Mother Rock Map pp102-3 Eej Khad GPS N47 18.699', E106 58.583' . Mongolians often come here to seek solace and advice, and make offerings of vodka, milk and khatag silk scarves . Pilgrims ask for three wishes to be granted, circle the rock three times and make three separate visits. There are several sacred rocks nearby that are thought to generate good luck, including one called Dog Rock, which Mongolians...

Binder Batshireet

At the confluence of the Khurkh and Onon Cols, the village of Binder is a good place to rest on your way to or from Dadal. There are a couple of cafes, a ger camp with food US 20 7km from the village and a small Chinggis Khaan monument 2km east of the village. If you are For the Mongols, disposing of a corpse has always been tricky business. According to steppe tradition, a person was left exposed to the elements to be consumed by wild animals. In some cases a person would be buried but the...

Sleeping

If you want to camp, head south past the wrestling stadium, and walk along the Kherlen Gol to the west until you've found a quiet spot. Jargalan Hotel 23722,96668694 dmT5000, half-lux T15,000, lux T20,000 Once a government guesthouse, this place limps along as a hotel. Rooms are falling apart and hot water comes in a thermos some have a TV, although it shows just one channel. If the hotel is empty the manager is open to bargaining. The entrance is around the back of Government House. Khuvchin...

Khentii Xhthh

Choibalsan

The great man grew up here, established his empire on its grasslands and, from Delgerkhaan, launched his military machine to the heart of Asia. As a nomad empire the khaans left few physical reminders of their existence, but with a jeep, a copy of The Secret History of the Mongols and a GPS unit you could launch your own expedition to scour the land for clues to their past. So far researchers have identified more than 50 historical sites relating to Chinggis...

FlOPHOrOBb

Dornogov East Gobi is the first place visited by many overlanders, as the trainline from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar runs straight up its gut. The landscape seen from the train window is one of flat, arid emptiness and the occasional station where locals shuffle about on the platform. The railway supports local trade while the rest of the economy lies on the back of copper mining and small-scale oil extraction. Most travellers stop here with the purpose of visiting Khamaryn Khiid, the monastery...

Mother Rock

During communism, visiting the sacred Eej Khad Mother Rock was a political crime, as it showed respect for religion, which was basically banned at the time. Some people, however, still went in secret. Sometime in the late 1970s the communists decided to do away with the 'feudal' site once and for all. Workers tried dynamite to blow it up, and a tractor to haul it away, both to no avail. The next day workers awoke to find their tractor burnt and destroyed. Soon after the incident the official...

West Of Kharkhorin Tovkhon Khiid TeBxeH Xhhj

Hidden deep in the Khangai mountains, this incredibly scenic monastery GPS N47 00.772', El02 15.362' has become a major pilgrimage centre for Mongolians seeking spiritual solace. Zanabazar founded the site in 1653 and lived, worked and meditated here for 30 years. The monastery was destroyed in 1937 but rebuilt with public funds in the early 1990s. Situated at the top of Shireet Ulaan Uul, Zanabazar apparently liked the unusual formation of the peak the rocky outcrop looks like an enormous...

Shiliin Bogd

At 1778m, Shiliin Bogd Uul GPS N45 28.350', El 14 35.349' , about 70km east of Dariganga, is the highest peak in Siikhbaatar aimag. The extinct volcano is sacred to many Mongolians the spirit of any man and man only who climbs it, especially at sunrise, will be revived. The region is stunning, isolated and close to the Chinese border - so be careful. A jeep can drive about halfway up the mountain, and then it's a short, but blustery, walk to the top. There are plenty of ovoos and awesome 184...

Ger Camps

Kharkhorin is inundated with ger camps and the fierce competition keeps prices in check. Most camps are in a lovely valley 2km west of town. Riverside 9975 3970 eastline magicnet.mn per person US 12 About 1km from the road, towards the river, this decent camp has clean gers and hot showers. It's hidden in the trees and popular with groups. The hostess speaks English. Anar 9665 8101 per person US 15 This place is bigger and more commercialised than the others in the valley it comes complete with...

Road Distances km

To the south, there are daily direct trains from Ulaanbaatar to Zamyn-Uiid, via Choir and Sainshand. There are also trains terminating at Choir twice a week. You can't use the Trans-Mongolian Railway for domestic transport. When travelling in hard-seat class see below , you will almost certainly have to fight to get a seat. If you're not travelling alone, one of you can scramble on board and find seats and the other can bring the luggage on board. Young boys and girls usually travel...

Temples

The monastery is enclosed in an immense walled compound. Spaced evenly along each wall, about every 15m, are 108 stupas 108 To Monz n Mod Ger Camp i,10km l.'nu irt if4t m - Arvaikneer lSSkmt Ulaanbaatar 770km 77 i-eoond Turtle Fork Olf'0 gt m m To TOvknOn k'niid okm Orknon l.'nOknree i85km INFORMATION Turtle Rock Internet Caf see 2 Mongol Shuudan Bank see 2 Anar Post Office see 2 Bayan Burd Telecom Office 2 B2 Crown Caf SIGHTS amp ACTIVITIES Monkhsuurl Great Imperial Map Monument 5 A3 Tavan...

Dundgov

Dundgov Middle Gobi is something of a misnomer. The aimag would be best described 'North Gobi' as this area is the northernmost extent of the Gobi Desert. Lying just a few hours drive south of Ulaanbaatar, it's also one of the most convenient Gobi regions to explore and is fast becoming a tourist destination. Dundgov's allure lies in its mysterious rock formations, which appear mainly at two locations Baga Gazryn Chuluu and Ikh Gazryn Chuluu. At both you'll find large granite pinnacles and...

Naiman Nuurhahmahhwp

The area of Naiman Nuur Eight Lakes , which was created by volcanic eruptions centuries ago, is now part of the 11,500-hectare Khuisiin Naiman Nuur Nature Reserve. The lakes GPS N46 31.232', E101 50.705' are about 35km southwest of Orkhon Khiirkhree waterfall , but the roads are often virtually impassable. Locals around the waterfall can rent horses for the two-day trip to the lakes. It's also possible to get to the lakes from the Arvaikheer side by car, although only an experienced local...

Volunteer Work

Some organisations are anxious to receive help from qualified people, particularly in education, health and IT development. Agencies are more interested in committed people who are willing to stay two years or more, although short-term projects are available. In most instances, you will be paid in local wages or possibly a little more . Besides the following, Lonely Planet Publications DIRECTORY' Work 265 a good starting reference is Golden Gate Friends of Mongolia www.ggfom.org . Asral 011-304...

Terelj Area

During the peak season of July and August and also at the more popular camps , it's not a bad idea to book ahead. Outside the normal tourist season July to September , it's also a good idea to ring ahead to make sure the camp is open and serves food. A few places are open in winter, mostly for expats who want to ski. If you are the only guests at a camp you may have to find staff to open up the restaurant, showers etc. The ger camps offer almost identical facilities and prices about US 30 with...

Fhe Culture

Mongolians call themselves Asian by ethnicity but Western by culture. As abstract as that might sound, your first encounters with Mongolians might knock back a few preconceptions. It could be the European influence in which their Russian masters immersed them throughout the 20th century, or perhaps the long hours they now spend glued to CNN and MTV. But the Mongolian likeness to Western thinking - and the distance the country has put between itself and the rest of Asia - probably owes more to...

Khalkhiin Gol xajxbih TOJ

The banks of the Khalkhiin Gol, in the far eastern part of Dornod, are of particular interest to war historians because of the battles against the Japanese in 1939. The region is about a nine-hour drive east of Choibalsan. Numerous war memorials are found in the area. The memorials are real socialist masterpieces, built to honour the Russian and Mongolian soldiers who died here. The monuments are easy to find as they are all along the road from Khalkhiin Gol to Siimber. The Yakolevchudiin Tank...

Ondorkhaan O

INFORMATION Internet .lie .VioM nl SI H11 I.in I .ink l'u-,t Ottice I I'll gt olll mice Erdes Hotel Tiger Caf Nature Pub 9909 3701 Temujiidiin Gudamj meals T2500-3800 S noon-midnight Chinggis Khaan would feel quite at home downing pints in this rustic restaurant and pub. The red exterior leads into a dimly lit hall decorated with stretched goat skins, wolf traps and compound bows. The kitchen is probably the best in town, offering up a variety of dishes from pork steaks to fish.

Food Drink

The culinary masters of Mongolia's barren steppes have always put more stock in survival than taste. Mongolian food is therefore a hearty, if somewhat bland, array of meat and dairy products. Out in the countryside, green vegetables are often equated with animal fodder and spices may be an alien concept. The reasons for this stem from the constraints of a nomadic lifestyle. Nomads cannot reasonably transport an oven, and so are prevented from producing baked goods such as bread. Nor can nomads...

Tsenkher Hot Springs

Located 27km from Tsetserleg, these hot springs make for an easy detour from the main road. Three ger camps have been built around the springs each pumps water into splash pools that cost around US 5 to enter. The pool at TsenkherJiguur faj 9914 5520 www.v s t2mongol a.mn GPS N47 19.241', E101 39.411' ger US 16 is the cleanest and hottest of the bunch it is lined with rocks rather than concrete and connected to a well-maintained bathhouse. There are separate pools for men and women. For...

Wind Horse Ecofriendly Ger Camp

Many ger camps claim to be ecofriendly, but by constructing septic tanks near rivers and building permanent structures in the virgin landscape they are leaving an irremovable scar on the land. As you travel, look out for less-developed camps that utilise solar and wind power and other ecofriendly devices. In the Gachuurt-Terelj area, a leader in sustainable practices is the Wind Horse Ger Camp, about 12km southeast of Gachuurt Map pi 12 the position on the map is a guide only - the owner may...

Oglogchiin Kherem

Literally 'Almsgivers Wall', but also known as 'Chinggis Khaan's Castle' or 'Red Rock', this 3.2km-longstonewall GPS N48 24.443', El 10 11.812' , believed to date from the 8th century, stretches around a rocky slope in Binder sum. It was once thought to be a defensive work or a game preserve, but recent archaeological digs by a Mongolian-American research team have identified at least 60 ancient graves within the walls, indicating that it may have been a royal cemetery. As you walk inside the...

Shopping

Mongolia has a number of unique items that are worth bringing home. Cashmere and wool products are usually at the top of the list Gobi, Goyo and Buyan brands are all good quality. A cashmere sweater will cost around US 40 to US 60. m Antique shops are good for Buddhas, -h thangkas scroll paintings and marvellous a silver jewellery. For any of these you could pay from a few dollars to several thousand. If you are a serious buyer, ask a local friend to help you shop for the best quality stuff and...

Index

Animals 49-51, 52, see also wildlife arts 38-41, see also individual arts travel literature 16, 57, 59, 61, 142 climate 13-14, 31, 49, 252-3 Colonel Nikolai Przewalski 51 consulates 255 costs 14-15 courses Buddhism 79, 81 language 79, 80, 224 music 224, 244 credit cards 258 culture 29, 31-41 customs regulations 253 Dadal 173-5 Dakilbay Davaa 230 Dalanzadgad 204-6, 205 Dalmatian pelican 50, 242 Daltin Khuv 214 Dambijantsan 214 dance 41 dangers 68, 254-5 Danrig Danjaalin Khiid 176 Danzandarjaa...

Mongolia Outdoors

With scattered settlements, few roads and immense areas of steppe, mountain and forest, the entire country beckons the outdoor enthusiast. But the lack of infrastructure is a double-edged sword while there are many areas that have potential for eco-tourism, only a few ie Khovsgol Nuur, Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur and Terelj National Park can really handle independent travellers. Signing up with a tour group, on the other hand, gives you instant logistical help. Tour...