In Mongolia, the voltage is 220V/50Hz, it’s the same as in Europe but different from the Canadian and American ones (120V/60Hz). The Mongolian plugs are different from the English, the American, or the Canadian ones, so think of taking an adapter. During your stays in the steppe, it will be very difficult to find electricity. But if you sleep in a yurts camp, it will be possible to charge the batteries of your electronic material. It will also be possible to charge the batteries on the vehicle’s cigar lighter. Think of taking an adapter for that. During the self-sufficient treks, there won’t be electricity at all and cars won’t be there with you, so you will have to take a solar charger or a spare of batteries.
We often hear this sentence, but it only depends on what you like to eat. We can assert that Mongolian cooking is not bad; it is only simple and little monotonous, comprising mainly meat (mutton, goat), flour (from which they make pasta, raviolis, bread, or typical recipes like khuushuur or buuz), rice, or potatoes. Regarding vegetables, we can find cabbages, carrots, and onions. At last, dairy products are also very consumed in summer.
For ur part, as far as possible we try to mix flavours, and in that purpose, we have our own kitchens in Ulaanbaatar, where Miga, the chef, prepares with his team some occidental dishes, comprising vegetables. These dishes are vacuum-packed for the needs of the tour. This system also allows us to prepare vegetarian or gluten-free meals. On the other hand, it’s obvious that the longer the tour is, or the more self-sufficient treks the tour is composed of, and the more limits this system knows, because it’s not possible, for example, to keep these dishes for the 18th day of your trip. That’s why we also use a lot of canned foods and starches, rice and pasta (children are generally very glad in Mongolia, promised, no spinaches!) Regarding fruit, it’s the same thing, we use many fruit in syrup and stewed fruit, but as soon as we pass through a village, the guide or the cook go to the market to stock up again with meat, vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes for salads, carrots, cabbages and potatoes) and fruit.
The breakfasts are classic breakfasts, with tea, coffee, pastries and biscuits, jam, honey, spread, cereals, etc.
Moreover, if you have any particular request, we can prepare almost everything (no, not oysters!).
The cook is generally here when the tour includes tent camping nights and has at least four participants, and when the tour includes only nights in yurts and has at least eight participants. In the other situations, the guide will deal with the meals.
During the hikes or treks (pedestrian and horse riding), it can soon become difficult for the guide to manage the preparation of meals, even if you’re only two or three; a help from you will be greatly liked.
For the private tours from four to six participants, you can, for reasons of cost, choose to do without a cook’s services. In that case, the guide will be only the conductor, and you will have to be actively involved in the preparation.
But please note that with six persons, if you decide to have a cook, you will have to take also a second vehicle, whose additional cost is very important.
On the other hand, you can also, for more comfort, choose to have a cook even if you’re only one, two or three participants. Miga, our chef, also goes with the travellers for the luxury tours… for exceptional meals, candlelit dinners, in the very middle of the steppe…
Restaurant in Ulan Bator
During these last few months, the supply regarding restaurant industry quickly grew in Ulan Bator. Nowadays, we can find excellent gourmet restaurants and specialities from the whole world: Italian, Indian, Mexican, Japanese, Lebanese and of course Korean. Unfortunately, some chains like KFC or Pizza Hut appeared too.
Phone. The international phone code to call Mongolia is 00976. It’s rather easy to phone foreign country from Ulan Bator; most hotels have phones directly connected to international.
Outside the capital, it’s more difficult to phone.Nobody will understand your request, unless you speak a little Mongolian or Russian, or unless your have a guide. It’s also possible that phones don’t work.
The regional code of Ulan Bator is 11.
Some international phone cards give instructions in English. International phone cards cost between 5000 and 20000 tugruks.
Mobile phone. The mobile phone net is GSM. If you bring a GSM, you can insert a Mongolian SIM card and call from your phone without any problem. If you don’t want to buy a Mongolian SIM card, note that roaming service sometimes does not work; even with an international contract, you can’t be sure to be able to use your phone via your European provider.
There are three operators in Mongolia: Mobicom, Skytel, and G-Mobile.
The GSM coverage is now getting better. During your tour, you will pass through many covered areas, essentially nearby province cities and villages.
Internet. Ulan Bator has a good connection to internet. Most hotels and guest houses have a performing free wifi. We can also find some cyber cafés, but there are less and less since development of wifi. 3G net works very well.
Outside the capital, you can connect in cyber cafés in the capitals of province. In smaller villages, this remains possible.
Fax. You can send a fax from business centres, in Ulan Bator’s great hotels, paying between 6000 and 7000 tugruks per page. The reception of a fax costs about 1000 tugruks per page. The central post is less practical but cheaper: about 4000 tugruks. Outside the capital, you can forget it.
During your stay in Mongolia, we will often propose you to take at least one domestic flight. In effects, the country is huge and the track often very hard. A flight can easily make you spare three or four days on the road, and this time can be spent hiking or sharing good moments with families. These flights have a real cost, because besides the cost of your own ticket, there’s also your guide’s one and the cost of the driver who will drive, often for two entire days, to join you in Ulan Bator or in the city where you’ll land. Of course, this cost depends on the number of participants, but it generally varies between 180 and 220 euros (133 – 162 GBP ; 204 – 249 USD) per person. If you can afford it, it’s obvious that taking one or several domestic flights will make your travel more pleasant, while travellers with a more restricted budget will prefer to make all journeys by jeep or bus.
There are only two companies left that have domestic flights in Mongolia: Hunnu Air and Aeromongolia. We principally work with Hunnu Air, and more rarely with Aeromongolia, notably to fly towards West (Khovd ans Olgii).
The two companies fly with Fokker F50 that can house up to 50 passengers (and 4 crew members). The baggage allowances is 10 kilograms (22 pounds) in the aircraft hold and 5 kilograms (11 pounds) in cabin. For the hold luggage, companies are not too strict if the weight is 1 or 2 kilograms (2,2, – 4,4, pounds) heavier, but you will systematically have to pay an extra if it’s more than 2 kilograms (4,4 pounds) heavier. But the extra is reasonable since it’s comprised between 1,20 and 1,50 euros (0,88 – 1,10 GBP ; 1,36 – 1,70 USD) per extra kilogram, according to destinations.
Local money is the tugrik. It’s composed of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 1.000, 5.000, 10.000 and 20.000-tugriks banknotes. The face of Genghis Khan or Sukhbaatar is represented on each banknote.
The exchange rate constantly varies. On the 1st of January 2015, 1 euro was 2150 MNT, 1 dollar was 1876 MNT, and one pound was 2920 MNT. You don’t need to change euros in US dollars before coming to Mongolia, euros can be changed directly in Ulan Bator.
Except Ulan Bator and a few other big cities, it’s not possible to use your internation credit card or to withdraw money. You’re adviced to have tugriks with you as soon as you’ll go far from the capital. The Visa card is accepted in more places than Master Card (that is accepted only by the Golomt Bank, Ulan Bator). You don’t need to change money at the airport or the hotel, your guide will come with you to the exchange offices whose commissions are more attractive.
Although Mongolia has a very low standard of living, it remains rather expensive regarding electronic goods, household equipment or farmproduce products. In effects, the country has a very low level of production and is very dependent from the imports.
For your stay in Mongolia, you’re recommended to bring between 50 and 100 euros per person for your personal consumptions. In Ulan Bator, a meal in a good restaurant costs about 10 euros and a beer (0,5 liter) costs between 1 and 1,50 euro (1,13-1,70 USD ; 0,74-1,12 GBP). Cashmere is a solid value. A pullover costs about 50 euros (56,71 USD ; 36,22 GBP), and a scarf 20 euros (22,67 USD ; 14,88 GBP).