Region: North & Central Asia
The principal religious faith is Tibetan Buddhist Lamaism. The link between Tibet and Mongolia was established in the time of the great Mongol Empire when Tibetan lamas were represented at the court of Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan. By the 16th century, it had become the dominant religion in the country. During the 1920s and 1930s, religious freedom was suppressed by communist rule and this was not restored until 1990. An estimated 4%-5% of the population are Muslim, most of them being ethnic Kazakhs living in the far west. Christian missionaries are currently active in the country.
Over 90% of the population speak Khalka Mongol, which is part of the Ural-Altaic family of languages. These languages include Finnish, Turkish, Kazakh, Uzbek and Korean. Since 1944, Russian cyrillic alphabet has been used to write Mongolian.
Area (sq. km):
1,565,000 square meters
GMT +8 hours.
Mongolia suffers from extremes in climate due to its location. It is nowhere near the sea that would tend to moderate climate. There is no humidity and the sunshine is intense (there are over 260 sunny days per year) and it can reach temperatures in the high 20’s (in degrees Celsius) in summer. Rainfall is usually limited to the summer months with heavier rainfall in July and August. There is virtually no rain and there are plenty of blue skies between October and May. Good wet-weather clothing is recommended, in case of emergency. The winters are long and cold with the temperature in Ulan Bator reaching -25°C in the month of January. Because of the high altitude (most of the country lies at least 1,400 metres above sea level), the evenings are cool, even in summer. The wind plays the major role in determining the climate; the north wind from Siberia makes the temperature drop sharply, but conditions do warm up rapidly as soon as the wind drops.
We only run tours between June and September. July to August can see some rain, but it is warm during the day (can be cold at nights). May, June, September and October see virtually no rain and lots of blue sky. November to April is dry, but freezing cold with lots of snow.
The international dialling code for Mongolia is +976
In Mongolia, the voltage is 220V, but the sockets are designed to accommodate two round prongs (European-style).
Mongolia is not a great place for those who are fussy about their food. The quality and choice are very poor outside of Ulaanbaatur and most Mongolians eat little more than greasy boiled mutton with lots of fat and flour! It is particularly hard to be a vegetarian; vegetables are rare and usually pickled in jars. There is a range of dairy food such as yoghurt, milk, fresh cream, cheese and fermented milk drinks, but it is hard to get biscuits, and eggs are also rare. Noodles and rice are sometimes served with the meat. Several foreign-run restaurants (ie. Japanese, French, African, Korean and Indian) have started up in Ulaanbaatur, and this has now made the gastronomic experience somewhat better in the capital. On a Peregrine tour, most of your meals will be catered for, as part of the trip. Our cook will provide a far better selection than what is stated above. In fact we will make every effort to ensure that you will eat as well if not better than anyone else in Mongolia!
The most popular items for foreigners seem to be Mongolian clothing such as jackets and boots. Landscape paintings are also popular, as are the colourful postage stamps for stamp-collectors. It is very difficult to buy much outside of Ulaanbaatar. Please note that it is generally illegal to export antiques out of Mongolia and customs officers will confiscate anything looking older than 80 years. When purchasing ‘old-looking’ items and antiques, a receipt from a licensed shop should permit export of the item.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay. We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Not required
There are a number of books which make interesting reading and provide an insight in the culture of Mongolia. Suggestions are: The Lost Country: Mongolia Revealed-Jasper Becker The Last Disco in Outer Mongolia-Nick Middleton In Search of Genghis Khan-Tim Severin Nomads and Commissars: Mongolia Revisited-Owen Lattimore In the Empire of Genghis Khan-Stanley Stewart Mongolia-Lonely Planet Mongolian Phrase Book-Lonely Planet