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Factsheet - Mongolia


Mongolia

General Information about Mongolia

Capital city: Ulaanbaatar (population 1.2 million)

Area: 1,564,116 sq km

Population: 2.9 million

Language: Mongolian

Currency: Tugrik (MNT)

Time zone: GMT +7; GMT +8

Dialling code: +976

Daylight savings begins: No DST

Daylight savings ends: No DST

Electricity: Type C (European 2-pin), Type E (French 2-pin, female earth),

Intrepid Information on Mongolia

Times to go
Mongolia has an extreme continental climate, due to its inland location and lack of a sea coast.
The best time for travelling is from May to October when the weather is pleasant.
July is the busiest time to go and can be crowded as the tourist infrastructure struggles to
cope.

The wet season is from July to August and although wet, it turns the countryside into a
pleasant shade of green. Unfortunately the rain also brings flies and mosquitoes.
October to May is bitterly cold and is characterised by snowstorms which can ground flights
and bring transport systems to a halt.

Evenings are quite cool all year round.

Accommodation
* Travelling with Intrepid we use a huge variety of accommodation. We don't stay in 5 star
luxury, but aim to find places that are clean, friendly and comfortable, with a good deal
of local character.
* Most accommodation is on a twin share with private facilities.

Gers:
* Our ger accommodation is typically 2 to 4 beds to a ger
* The ger camps are semi-permanent with a separate dining ger or support buildings and
pot stoves in each one.
* There are pit toilets at some camps and western style toilets at others.
* During summer months some of the camps we have access to a separate shower block
but not all of the camps have hot water.
Homestays:
* During our family stays we sleep on mats in a separate ger and there are no facilities,
but the experience is unique.

Transport
* The main method of transport in Mongolia are buses and combi-style Russian jeeps.
These are both very slow but reliable.
* The roads that we take are mostly dirt tracks and then possibly just green grass.

Events
Public Holidays 2010
1 Jan New Year's Day
Jan/Feb Tsagaan Sar (Lunar New Year - date to be confirmed)
8 Mar International Women's Day
1 Jun Mother and Child Day
11-13 Jul Naadam
26 Nov Independence Day

According to http://www.worldtravelguide.net/country/177/public_holidays/Central-Asia/Mongolia.html

Food & drink
Meals:
* The Mongolian diet focuses on meat and animal products, with very few vegetables
available outside of Ulaanbaatar.
* Even a short visit will give you plenty of opportunities to savour dairy products, known
as white food', including yoghurt, milk, fresh cream, cheese and fermented milk drinks.
* Otherwise the focus is mainly on mutton, which is served in many forms, for example
steamed, fried, in dumplings, as pancakes and in noodle soup.
Drinks:
* Most meals will be accompanied by a cup of tea, more often than not a salty tea with
cow's milk.
* There are also locally produced fizzy drinks and fruit drinks. These are safe alternatives
to drinking the tap water
* A vestige of the Russian occupation is the availability of locally distilled vodka, and to a
smaller extent there is also beer.
* The traditional alternative is airag', the herders' home-brew of fermented mare's milk
which you will hopefully get a chance to taste.
* The legal drinking age in Mongolia is 18

Water:
* Tap water is not safe to drink
* It is recommended that you bring a water purification method such as purifying tablets
or a bottle with an inbuilt filter as these are more environmentally-friendly options than
buying bottled water
* Bottled mineral water is not always available outside of Ulaanbaatar

Communication:
Email:
* Internet cafes are available in Ulaanbaatar
* You can also get access in some hotels

Telephone:
* International calls can be made from some hotels in Ulaanbaatar and from telephone
exchanges
* Mobile phone coverage is limited to towns and cities
* Roaming agreements exist with some international phone companies. Check with your
provider before leaving home.

Post:
* The postal system is very slow

What to buy
* Good buys include woollen items such as cashmere and camel-wool blankets
* Other clothing items which are popular include boots and national costumes
* Anything made out of felt, such as chess sets, slippers, place mats, toys, etc
* For smaller, easier-to-carry goods, look for jewellery, books, and pictures
* As with most of Central Asia, carpets are also of good quality in Mongolia
* The black market is a notorious flea market on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar
* Check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to import some items
back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand for example have strict
quarantine laws.

Culture
People:
* The main religion is Tibetan Buddhism with influences from Shamanism
* Mongolians can be a little superstitious so it is best to refrain from talking about death,
divorce, accidents or bad luck as they will consider it to be a bad omen and will take it
seriously
* There are many traditional, religious and superstitious customs that apply to Mongolian
life and visiting a ger and your leader will brief you on these at the appropriate time

Dress:
* It is rude to wear a hat indoors
* You should not step on, sit on or move another person's hat

Toilets:
* Toilets are drop or squat style
* It is suggested you carry toilet paper with you as it is rarely provided

Handy links
www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/mongolia
www.mongoliatourism.gov.mn

Reading
Mongolia by Lonely Planet
In Search of Genghis Khan by Tim Severin
The Lost Country: Mongolia Revealed by Jasper Becker
Riding Windhorses: A Journey into the Heart of Mongolian Shamanism by Sarangerel
Modern Mongolia: From Khans to Commissars to Capitalists by Morris Rossabi


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