Mongolia at a Glance
Moving to Mongolia
Getting to Mongolia
Flights operate to the capital Ulaanbaatar from many regional hubs; it’s possible to get a direct flight from Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, Moscow, and even Berlin and Istanbul, although less frequently. The Mongolian national air carrier is MIAT Mongolian airlines.
There are many ways to enter Mongolia overland, the most famous of which is surely the Trans-Mongolian section of the Trans-Siberian Railway, linking Ulaanbaatar, Moscow and Beijing. If you’re looking for a simpler entrance to the country, many destinations in Russia and China are linked to Mongolia by train.
Buses operate from Beijing to Erlian on the Mongolian border, after which you can take a bus or train to the capital Ulaanbaatar. For the truly adventurous, you could even try hitchhiking; this is not recommended for families, as the vast expanses of Mongolia are very thinly populated and you could be waiting some time for a lift.
Driving in Mongolia is not necessarily recommended, as road accidents are common.
Visas for Mongolia
Every international visitor to Mongolia requires a visa obtained from their local Mongolian embassy, unless they hold a passport from a visa-exempt country. A list of visa-exempt countries can be found on the website of the embassy of Mongolia.
Anyone visiting Mongolia for more than 30 days is required to register with the Mongolian Immigration Agency in Ulaanbaatar within a week of arriving. Naturally this applies to most expatriates, and you will be issued with a residency permit. If you don’t, you could face fines and be banned from entering the country.
Anyone leaving Mongolia having stayed for more than 90 days must obtain an exit visa from the Mongolian Immigration Agency in Ulaanbaatar, a process that usually takes 10 days.
Mongolian visa policy has been somewhat relaxed in the past decades to encourage tourism and foreign investment; make sure to check the current visa situation from time to time. Work permits are covered in our section on Working in Mongolia.
Climate in Mongolia
The Mongolian land mass covers a very wide area; think of a country three times the size of France, but with only a fraction of the population. The geography and climate are varied to match and are extreme and thrilling to behold.
A large portion of Mongolia covers the Gobi Desert, an inhospitable region where few people live. To the north and west there are large mountain ranges, while most of the country comprises forested areas and yawning, sweeping grasslands.
The Mongolian climate is described as having an extreme continental climate. Essentially this means the country is subject to long, dry winters and short, hot, rainy summers. On average, the country receives upwards of 250 days of sunshine a year; it may be cold, but the country dazzles year-round.
At an average annual temperature of 0°C, Ulaanbaatar is the world's coldest capital city, although the figures are skewed by extremely cold winters. In between November and March, night temperatures of -40°C are not unheard of, while summers can scorch at average temperatures between 30°C and 45°C.
In short, if you enjoy crisp, clean but cold days with plenty of sunshine, you can do little better than move to Mongolia.