Country guides Asia
The electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. European two-pin plugs are standard.
Mongolian is spoken by at least 95 percent of the population and Russian is the most commonly spoken foreign tongue, followed by English. Korean and some European languages are spoken by Mongolian expats who've worked or studied abroad.
The local currency is the Mongolian togrog (MNT), which is divided into 100 mongo. Credit cards are accepted in most hotels, shops and restaurants in and around Ulaanbaatar, and ATMs are widely available. Visitors would be better off carrying cash outside of Ulaanbaatar. Us dollars and euros are among the easiest currencies to exchange.
Though tipping isn't a set custom in Mongolia, local guides, drivers, bellhops and waiters at restaurants frequented by foreigners are becoming more open to the practice. A tip of between 10 and 20 percent for good service will be appreciated.
No particular immunisations are required for travel to Mongolia, though standard vaccinations such as hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and rabies are recommended. Vaccines for meningococcal disease are recommended for extended stay or prolonged contact with the local population.
Traveller's diarrhea is the most common complaint, so it's advisable to only drink boiled or filtered water, and to avoid raw and unpeeled fruits and vegetables. Altitude sickness may be experienced in the Altai, Hangayn, or Khangai Mountains; long clothes will prevent bug bites and related illnesses.
As medical facilities in Mongolia are limited, travel insurance with evacuation provisions is recommended. There are some private hospitals suitable for foreigners in Ulaanbaatar, and travellers should be prepared to pay up front and claim back later. Some Western medications are not available, so visitors are advised to pack important medication, accompanied by a doctor's note explaining the need and purpose.
Visitors should watch out for petty crimes such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, particularly in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, and especially during festive periods (New Year, Tsagaan Sar and Naadam), when petty crime tends to increase. Passports, travel documents and other belongings should be secure at all times. As in many other destinations, visitors shouldn't walk alone after dark, or engage in adventure tourism by themselves or without an experienced guide from a reputable company.
Travellers will need to be careful when using public transport, or when driving around Mongolia, as there are few paved roads, road conditions can be poor, and visibility (especially at night) is often less than ideal. There are occasional protests and demonstrations, which should be avoided where possible.
The most important aspect of Mongolian social etiquette is the ideal of hospitality. Mongolians are famously welcoming of foreigners, although they expect that visitors reciprocate by showing respect for Mongolian culture, and by being enthusiastic and compliant guests. This means guests should accept food and drink (even alcoholic drinks) when they are offered, though it is not required that people drink the beverage. Travellers who enjoy 'roughing it' will probably find more success in Mongolia if they maintain their personal appearance, as dirty clothes, long hair, and unkempt beards are generally frowned upon.
Friends of the same gender will often hold hands or put their arms around one another and Mongolians are quite physically affectionate too. Vodka-drinking is a feature of Mongolian culture, and being able to 'hold your liquor' is probably the shortest route to social acceptance. Although there are some harsh standards of conduct, and high expectations placed on Mongolian women, these do not apply to foreigners.
Mongolians appreciate formal business attire and should be greeted with a handshake and direct eye contact. Foreigners should shake hands with everyone when making introductions and do the same when leaving. Unlike other north Asian business cultures, bowing or handing business cards with both hands is not expected.
There will usually be some light conversation before formal business commences, and Mongolian companies usually have at least one person who can speak English and translate.
Mongolian executives often enjoy getting to know overseas contacts in a less formal setting, so it's worth inviting them out for lunch. It's customary to give small gifts at the conclusion of an agreement.
Travellers to Mongolia may bring with them up to 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars and 250g of tobacco, one litre of vodka, two litres of wine, and three litres of beer. Pornographic materials and narcotics are prohibited.
The international access code for Mongolia is +976. The outgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Visitors can purchase local prepaid SIM cards for unlocked phones; many pubs, coffee shops, guesthouses and restaurants in Ulaanbaatar offer free WiFi.
Passport & Visa
Foreign passengers visiting Mongolia on business or on duty can obtain a visa on arrival at Buyant-Ukhaa International Airport (ULN) if they have confirmation from the Immigration Agency of Mongolia or Consular department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia stating that a visa has been approved before departure. They must have a completed visa application form, a passport photo, arrive from a country without diplomatic representation of Mongolia and have a sponsor in Mongolia who submits request to the Mongolian Immigration Authority. Visitors or their organizing parties must register at the Police Department within 10 days after arrival but before departure. It is highly recommended that travellers' passports have at least six months' validity remaining after the intended date of departure from their travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
US citizens must have a passport that is valid for a minimum of six months from the arrival date in Mongolia. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days. For stays of more than 30 days, visitors must register with Mongolian Immigration within seven days of arrival.
UK citizens must have a passport that is valid for a minimum of six months from the arrival date. For stays longer than 30 days, travellers will need a visa to enter or travel through Mongolia as a visitor.
Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for a minimum of six months from the date of arrival in Mongolia. A visa not required for stays of up to 30 days. Visitors who plan to stay for more than 30 days in Mongolia must register with the Office of Immigration, Naturalization and Foreign Citizens within 48 hours upon arrival.
Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for a minimum of six months from the date of arrival in Mongolia. They can enter the country for stays of up to 30 days without a visa.
South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for a minimum of six months from the date of arrival in Mongolia. A visa is required.
Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid for six months from the date of arrival in Mongolia. They can enter the country for stays of up to 30 days without a visa.
New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for a minimum of six months from the date of arrival in Mongolia. They can enter the country for stays of up to 30 days without a visa.