Mongolia Travel Information
Local time is GMT +8.
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. European two-pin plugs are standard.
Mongolian is spoken by at least 95 percent of the population and Russian is the most commonly spoken foreign tongue, followed by English. (Korean and some European languages are spoken by Mongolian expats who've worked or studied abroad.)
No particular immunisations are required for travel to Mongolia, although standard vaccinations like hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and rabies are recommended. Vaccines for meningococcal disease are recommended for extended stay or prolonged contact with the local population. Traveller's diarrhea is the most common complaint, and altitude sickness may be experienced in the Altai, Hangayn, or Khangai Mountains. There have been no infectious outbreaks reported in the last few years.
It is advisable to only drink boiled or filtered water in Mongolia, and avoid raw and unpeeled fruits and vegetables. In addition, long clothes will prevent bug bites and related illnesses. Medical facilities in Mongolia are limited, so travel insurance with evacuation provisions is recommended. There are some private hospitals suitable for foreigners in Ulaanbaatar, and be prepared to pay up front and claim back later. Some Western medications are not available, so it's advised to pack important medication, accompanied by a doctor's note explaining the need and purpose.
Travellers to Mongolia should not be unduly concerned about their personal safety. As in every city, exercise caution in Ulaanbaatar, especially at night, as theft has been known to occur. Watch out for pickpockets at the airport. Be careful when using public transport, or when driving yourself around Mongolia - there are few paved roads and road conditions can be poor, and visibility (especially at night) is often less than ideal. There are occasional protests and demonstrations, which should be avoided where possible.
The most important aspect of Mongolian social etiquette is the ideal of hospitality. Mongolians are famously welcoming of foreigners, although they expect - in return - that visitors show respect for Mongolian culture, by being enthusiastic and compliant guests. This means accepting food and drink (even alcoholic drinks) when it is offered, however it is not required that people drink the beverage. Travellers who enjoy 'roughing it' will probably find more success in Mongolia if they maintain their personal appearance - dirty clothes, long hair, and unkempt beards are generally frowned upon.
Friends of the same gender will often hold hands or put their arms around one another and Mongolians are quite physically affectionate too, although not overbearing. Vodka-drinking is an inveterate feature of Mongolian culture, and being able to 'hold your liquor' is probably your shortest route to social acceptance. Although there are some harsh standards of conduct, and high expectations placed on Mongolian women, these do not apply to foreigners.
The international access code for Mongolia is +976. The outgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). City/ area codes are in use. Regarding mobiles, purchasing a local prepaid SIM card can be a cheaper option, as international roaming costs can be high. Many pubs, coffee shops, guesthouses and restaurants in Ulaanbaatar offer free wifi, though visitors may struggle to find internet access in the countryside.
Travellers to Mongolia may bring with them up to 200 cigarettes/50 cigars/250g of tobacco, one litre of vodka, two litres of wine, three litres of beer, and personal goods valued up to US$1,000. Pornographic materials and narcotics are prohibited.
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