If you are planning to visit Mongolia, please carefully read this section as it may help you greatly. We hope you to find the answer that you are looking for. However don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions not mentioned within the section.
May to September is the best season, with the peak season in July for the Naadam Festival. July and August are also the wettest months of the year, but be assured, our climate is such that you will still have many sunny days at this time. The best time to visit the Gobi is June to September.
You will quickly discover that your driver is one of the most important persons for the success of your tour in Mongolia!
Outside Ulan Bator, a 4x4 vehicle is essential, paved roads are rare.
The tracks are often made of clay and sand, forcing to slow progression. Distances are measured in hours, but the beauty of the landscapes is an integral part of the trip.
You will always feel alone in the world surrounded by nature. Going through a dozen of passes in the mountains without seeing a soul is a dizzying experience.
Feel free to stop regularly to stretch your legs and enjoy a spectacular view.
The 4x4 you will find in Mongolia is essentially a kind of Russian mini-van, quite rustic but "effective" in this harsh environment for machines! For small groups (2 or 3 persons), Japanese 4x4s are also available.
Flights in Mongolia
The main airlines flying from and to Mongolia are:
Aeroflot via Moscow
Korean Air via Seoul
Air China via Beijing
Turkish Airlines via Istanbul and Bishkek
Book your flight as long as possible in advance (ideally 6 months), because the tourist season is short, mainly between July and August, and the best rates for travel in this period are full of months in advance.
Domestic flights are operated by Aero Mongolia & Hunnu Airways.
The yurt is a symbolic representation of the world as Mongolian people see it.
In reference to the sacredness of nature and the spirits that inhabit it, many rules must be respected when entering the yurt of a traditional Mongolian family.
The yurt, oriented with the door facing south, is crossed by the cardinal axes, and the central pillars represent the connection between earth and sky. It is therefore important to respect this very strong and universal symbolism.
We gathered in this page the most important rules to follow if you are invited to enter the yurt of a Mongolian nomad family.
These rules are simple, study them well, so you will apply them as naturally as possible, to allow free rein to the pleasure of meeting once you're there.
And remember, a smile and a friendly attitude always arouse understanding and indulgence of your guests if you "commit a faux pas!"
Rules to respect when you enter the yurt of a nomadic family
Entering the yurt
If the door is closed, do not knock before entering.
Always enter the yurt right foot first, without stepping on the threshold, or even touch it with your foot: step over it carefully with the right foot and head to the left side of the yurt .
One of the major interdictions is: never pass between the two central pillars.
Do not stand and sit on the bed that is left of the entrance door. It is possible that your host then asks you to come and sit beside him at the place of honor opposite the door. Of course accept his invitation with pleasure.
When you are inside the yurt, keep your hat on and do not enter with something that could be considered a weapon in hand (horse riders leave your whip out...).
When you sit, especially on small stools or on the floor, do not stretch your feet to someone or to the fire. The easiest way is to sit cross-legged or keep your legs folded under you.
If you are invited to sit on the right side bed, be careful not to pass between the two central pillars, although they are often the clearest way. Go behind them, without stepping over someone who would be sitting on the floor.
Food and beverages
Get what you are offered with both hands, or with the right hand and your left hand supporting the right elbow.
Eat or drink foods that you are offered, or at least taste it.
If it is alcohol and you do not drink it, dip the lips politely.
When you receive something for the first time, especially vodka, you can make an offering to the spirits by dipping your right ring finger and sending three times a drop in the air in three different directions. There is no need to dip your finger three times, once is enough.
Generally speaking, accept what you are offered, it is a sign of politeness.
You may cut a piece of boiled meat, often presented in a large metal bowl. In this case, it is helpful to have your knife with you.
The fire being particularly respected, never throw waste in it.
Check also the requested equestrian ability for our horse riding tours and the saddles we use for these tours.
Will my horse be used to English or Western riding?
Before riding a horse in Mongolia, it is important to know the basics of equestrian Mongolian tradition, because that is how the horses you will ride have been trained.
Of course, you will not use the traditional Mongolian saddles - as Mongolia Travel and Tours provides specific tailor made saddles adapted to Foreign riders - but you have to adapt the way you ride to your Mongolian horse.
Horseback riding tradition in Mongolia
The traditional Mongolian tack is adapted to the specific equestrian technique of Mongolian riders, this horse riding technique itself being adapted to the particular morphology of the Mongolian horse!
High over the back of the horse, the rider stands on his short stirrups when trotting or cantering.
The front of the saddle, which is very high, holds him and prevents it from putting too much weight on the forehand, which would be disastrous for the Mongolian horse which is naturally balanced on the forehand.
The back of the saddle, which is steeply inclined, allows the rider to sit, and even lie back to slow or stop his horse, after a vocal warning, carrying the weight on the hind-legs.
-Rider's hands in traditional Mongolian horse riding
The reins in one hand, the rider give an indication of the change in direction by applying the bit ring on the cheek of the horse.
But it is the movement of the body weight of the rider which is crucial, given its huge relative importance, with a 350 kg horse.
In addition, the Mongolian bridle is not designed as a brake. The stop is performed as we have said above, mainly by using the seat.
In summary, by releasing the back of the horse from the large mass of the rider, this really unique horse riding technique has brought back the small northern steppe horse to a natural locomotion.
By placing the rider's weight at the end of an "arms leverage" (i.e. the seat height), this specific equestrian technique uses the weight of the rider to drive the horse.
Thus, the weight becomes the main tool of the rider! This also explains the absolute stillness in the saddle required when the rider wants to go straight.
How to adapt to your Mongolian horse...
When you are riding a horse in Mongolia, always keep in mind the specificities of Mongol training described above, and the fact that your horse lives free in the steppe about 10 months out of 12.
You will need to both adapt to a different riding technique, and to a horse that can "overreact" to behaviors that seem trivial for western horses.
But conversely, you may find that some things that frighten our western horses are perfectly tolerated by the Mongolian horses, especially the fact of using the lunge of the bridle to tie them to their own front leg!
In summary, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
Always approach your horse very carefully, do not surprise it. This recommendation applies to all horses, but even more for the Mongolian horse which relies only on itself to survive for most of the year.
Do not make sudden movements when you're riding, ask the group to stop and get down dressing or undressing.
Do not lean forward because the horses often do large head movements up to get rid of small flies that bite the inside of their nostrils and ears.
Do not gallop or stand on your stirrups as much as possible.
Keep your reins in one hand, use only neck reins.
Do not use your legs to ask your horse to walk, trot or canter. Just say "Tchou" with an air of conviction!!
Get off keeping your foot in the stirrup, this is what your horse is used to and you could scare him as you drift as we do along the saddle.
Avoid loose clothing that might be flapping in the wind. Instead of a poncho, choose a raincoat.
Our company cooperates with hotels which located in the center of Ulaanbaatar. Hotels, which are very cozy, vary from 3 to 4 stars. Hotel will provide free high speed WIFI, television and 24-hour security.
You have 3 accommodation options:
Touristic yurt camps: the most comfortable.
Guest-yurts by nomadic families: the most authentic.
Camping: the closest to nature.
Touristic Yurt camps
Touristic yurt camps (called ger camps) are the most comfortable accommodation in Mongolian countryside.
You sleep in traditional yurts (called gers in Mongolia), furnished with single beds (from 2 to 5 beds / yurt), small tables and a stove. It is very difficult – or impossible – to have single yurts in most of the camps, so be ready to share your yurt with other travelers from the group.
You can find showers, washbasins and toilets in a separate building.
A restaurant provides breakfast and meals.
Guest-yurts by nomadic families
Most of our tours include one night or more in a guest-yurt close to a nomadic family.
This accommodation is a unique opportunity to share and discover the traditional way of life of the nomadic herders in Mongolia.
2 or 3 guest-yurts are set close to the family’s yurt, surrounded by the free roaming horses, yaks, sheep and goats.
You will sleep in guest-yurts with 4 or 5 single beds, heated with a traditional stove.
Meals are served either in the family’s yurt or outside, weather permitting. Your host and our chef will prepare dishes and it can be interesting to see how women cook only with the central stove of the yurt.
For your comfort, a shower tent is provided close to the yurts. Water can be heated on the stove.
Mongolia is one of the last countries where you can camp wherever you want.
For better privacy, we can provide single tents at no extra charge to anyone who registers alone (on request before departure and subject to availability).
Our self-inflating mattresses are especially thick for your comfort.
A large tent hosts table and chairs for meals and moments of conviviality.
The logistics vehicle also brings the table and the chairs for the picnic lunch (except in very remote regions, such as Naiman Nuur Park, where we use pack horses).
A “shower tent” is also provided. The shower water can be heated on demand on the campfire.
This shower tent is also provided on our “Nomadic Life Tours” because you spend several days in nomadic family.
BTT Nature sells its scheduled group tours in more than 20 countries around the world. It is therefore quite typical to expect between 4-12 different nationalities on any one tour, i.e., (Americans, Australians, Italians, Canadians, Germans, English, Swiss, New Zealanders, French, Spanish and Dutch). Most of the time, our travelers enjoy that experience and end up building ties with other people from the tour that can last for a lifetime.
- How many people will I be travelling with?
On all of our scheduled group tours, the number varies from one group to another. However, we keep our groups small with an average size group of 4-14 people.
- Do you organize private tours?
We offer private tours to individuals, families, and groups. Our private tours include a wide range of activities from cultural explorations, archeology to exhilarating outdoor adventures (Altai Mountain Trekking, Horse and Camel riding, Gobi desert expeditions, and much more).
- Do you recommend early arrival?
Yes, early arrival might be recommended if your flights take long time or due to big timezone differences.
- Vaccines and health in Mongolia
For most nationalities, no vaccine is mandatory.
We recommend, however, to be up to date for usual vaccinations (tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis ...).
Drink only bottled water and avoid raw fruits and vegetables.
It is important to be physically fit to undertake a trip to Mongolia, because some areas are very remote.
Always take your usual medications in sufficient quantities, and place them in your hand luggage to be sure to have them in case of lost luggage.
A medical travel insurance is compulsory.
- Time in Mongolia
GMT +7 hours.
- Electricity in Mongolia
220 V, 50 Hz.
Plugs type C and E.
Most yurt camps have electricity and you can charge phones and cameras in the evening.
For camping trips, we recommend that you take a powerbank, at least for your phone and the electric devices that you charge with an USB plug.
You can charge on the cigarette lighter of the vehicle. You can also take a solar charger with you.
- What to put in your luggage for a tour in Mongolia?
You will receive a list of equipment to take depending on the trip, ride or hike you have chosen in Mongolia.
In all cases, keep in mind that you can experience the four seasons in one day anywhere in Mongolia and even in midsummer. So do not forget light clothing, but also warm ones and a windbreaker.
IMPORTANT: For tours including a domestic flight, please remember that the baggage allowance on domestic flights is sometimes only 10 or 15kg including hand luggage (depending on the companies)!
- What credit cards are acceptable?
We accept Visa and MasterCard as methods of payment.
- Where can I exchange my money?
US Dollars are often accepted, especially in Ulaanbaatar, but it is also useful to carry some cash in the local currency, Tugrug. 1USD=2650 Tugrug /Jan 2019/ Any bank in Mongolia will be more than happy to exchange your currency, as will most of the hotels you'll stay in.
- Can I bring cheques?
Several banks accept and issue Travelers Check. But Credit cards are preferred over traveler's cheques. You can also withdraw cash from any ATM in all major towns. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and JCB card are acceptable. It is impossible to use your credit cards in the countryside.