Mongolia - any tips?

(15 Posts)
BlimeyO Wed 21-Sep-16 01:52:25

We are going to Mongolia in October and would love any tips from anyone who has been. DH, me and two DC (aged 10 and 8).

I've been told to take an umbrella in case I need to wee on the Steppe blush I'm thinking snacks might be good to take for the kids too. Oh and riding helmets and gloves for any pony trekking.

Excited but with a bit of trepidation too. It's been quite a challenge to find people who have actually been there on holiday. Any advice would be hugely welcomed.

80sWaistcoat Wed 21-Sep-16 07:06:49

I went 20 years ago. It was beautifully bleak, miles of nothing, and the food was v basic. The food may have changed but take snacks just in case.

Fantastic place. It'll be amazing. I'd take wet wipes and anti bac gel and layers. I seem to remember v cold in the morning.

MrsCaecilius Thu 22-Sep-16 11:24:18

Went to visit a friend there about 8 years ago and travelled around for a few weeks.

It is stunningly beautiful, but you need to be up for an adventure.

Practically - be up for having a wee in the open (no trees in a lot of places!!) or in a long drop loo. Take wet wipes to clean your hands (obviously dispose of them properly). I find wee-ing wearing a skirt gives you more privacy....

There aren't really any roads, so be up for lots of bumpy travel to get around. I hope no one's car sick!

You'll probably spend at least one night in a ger (yurt) which is lovely, but it does mean communal sleeping so take ear plugs in case anyone snores and a torch for finding your way to the outside loo in the dark.

Food can be basic and I hope you like lamb! Almost every meal was sheep-based. Take snacks and an open mind. Mongolian people are amazingly generous, but their palate might be quite different to what you are used to: the fat is a delicacy.

Depending on the level of your trip you might have limited access to modern comforts, such as electricity, so think about that with regard to charging cameras etc. Take some books/games for the evenings as you might be away from modern entertainments.

I was there in Sept and there was a lot of glorious sunshine, but it got chilly at night, so take some light, warm layers to wrap up in. I'd pack in a rucksack rather than a suitcase for easy of moving around.

Are you on a tour or totally independent? Either is possible, but if you are planning on hiring your own transport (there really isn't much if any public transport) then you may find language skills a barrier.

I loved it and if you have an adventurous spirit you'll have an amazing time. Feel free to PM me if you want to ask anything!

Jubaloo442 Thu 22-Sep-16 11:52:28

Oooh, I'm so excited for you. I loved it. Visited in 2009 as part of Beijing to St Petersburg Trans Siberian.

Be prepared for:

Long drop toilets away from your ger.

Holes in the pavements / roads (there was a problem with manhole covers being stolen when we were there).

Massive disparity in living standards - think Louis Vuitton and then child beggars. Two companions had their bags slashed in the city but this was opportunistic crime typical of any major city in the developing world.

Huge stacks of notes to pay for small items - unless currency has dramatically revalued since I was there.

Roads away from Ulaan Baatar being mud and stones in places - travel sickness remedy might be useful even if you don't already suffer.

Lots of meat

I'd recommend taking a 'point it' phrase book to help in asking where the toilets are etc.
Also for your children, familiar snacks to whip out if homesickness / 'I'm not eating THAT' strikes.
I took small gifts for the family we went to visit in a ger. Coloured pens and notebooks for the children, perhaps some British food eg shortbread, and I can't remember what I took for the adults.

It's an amazing country (as I'm sure you know, that's why you're visiting).
The main issues are alcoholism associated with the loss of a nomadic lifestyle, the influx of Russian and Chinese oil companies and the lack of tax being paid (as many city dwellers still live in gers and so are classed as having no fixed address - despite having a flat screen tv and SUV).
The climate is continental so clear blue skies and hot summer temps are to be expected - I managed to get heat stroke quite severely on the basis that 'it's Mongolia, it can't be that hot' so would also recommend Diarolyte or similar.

Would go back tomorrow if I could, and would spend more time out of UB, exploring the amazing amazing wilderness. Truly spectacular.

BlimeyO Fri 23-Sep-16 03:40:39

Thank you so much for these tips. Snacks, wipes, layers all now on the list, plus medicines. I have just ordered a solar charger so hopefully that will take care of electronics, but I will make sure we also pack a few card games or similar.

MrsCaecilius we have booked with a Mongolian tour company and have 3 nights in ger camps, one of which will be a nomadic camp rather than a tourist camp because we are going at low season. I think that could be the most interesting night of the whole trip!

So glad to have such positive replies from you all, thank you!

dudsville Fri 23-Sep-16 03:47:30

I can't give you any tips since my trip there was about 15 years ago, but it remains number one in my book of all the places I've ever visited. I hope you have a fantastic time!

ClaretAndBlue30 Fri 23-Sep-16 03:53:47

We spent a week there as part of our honeymoon a few years back...its stunning. The sort of remoteness that's hard to find these days.

Most of what I'd suggest has been mentioned but my big tip is insect repellent! We'd run out and got bitten to bits whilst waiting for a replacement to arrive at our ger camp.

Enjoy! What a wonderful experience for your dc's.

BlimeyO Sat 24-Sep-16 05:28:49

ClaretAndBlue30 that sounds like an amazing honeymoon! Where else did you go? Mossie repellent added to the list thanks.

Thanks so much all of you for your replies. I will try to remember to come back and let you know how we got on!

HerestoyouMrsRobinson Sat 24-Sep-16 08:15:21

Have a great time! DS works in Mongolia and really loves it. There are good English medium schools if anyone fancies it long term smile

HerestoyouMrsRobinson Sat 24-Sep-16 08:15:42

Have a great time! DS works in Mongolia and really loves it. There are good English medium schools if anyone fancies it long term smile

Sukitakeitoff Sat 24-Sep-16 08:22:41

What an amazing trip! Would love to do something so adventurous with my dc! How long are you going for and could I ask roughly how much it will cost you?

envy

BlimeyO Sat 24-Sep-16 11:25:49

Sukitakeitoff it's the flights to Ulaanbaatar which are a challenge.

From London the shortest route is via Moscow and then onwards via Aeroflot. Another option could be via Beijing, transferring to one of the China airlines, I forget which.

We are flying to Seoul and then on to UB with Mongolian airlines.

One thing we would have loved to do, but did not have enough time, is fly to Beijing and spend a couple of days on the trans siberian railway. That is still on the wish list!

OK, in typing that I have realised why I am struggling to find many people who have been!

BlimeyO Sat 24-Sep-16 11:27:21

HerestoyouMrsRobinson

Ha! Now there's a thought.

ClaretAndBlue30 Sun 25-Sep-16 14:26:01

Hi blimey it really was incredible...we got the train from here (London) to Beijing, mostly on the trans Mongolian railway but we got sleeper trains through Europe too - it was fantastic. We both say that Mongolia was a highlight - horse riding on the steppe was just breathtaking smile. Would love to take my daughter there some day.

We were initially a bit tense when we realised just how remote our ger camp was about 50 miles away from ulaanbaatar) no electricity, no tv, no wifi - but it was brilliant. We got to know the area so well without the distraction of technology!

Have a great trip smile

FinnFamilyMoomintroll Sun 25-Sep-16 17:15:03

I've been 5 times! Don't really have much to add to the tips above which were spot on, but I just got back from my last visit a few weeks ago so feel free to PM me if you have any questions!

If you're flying via Seoul be sure to check out the free transit tours from the airport which are fantastic - there's one where they take you to a local market and give you tokens to exchange for food from the stalls, and it's all free. A great way to see a bit of Korea.

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