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GETTING AROUND MONGOLIA

 

A vast, sparsely populated country with little infrastructure, Mongolia relies on air transport. There are a few airlines that have flights to some provinces.
Buses are an increasingly popular way of traveling around the country, but services are still limited, the buses old and the journeys uncomfortable and slow. Breakdowns can be expected on all long distance trips. Bus routes start and end in Ulaanbataar and no buses travel around western Mongolia. Slightly more expensive minibuses that travel between popular spots are quicker and more comfortable. Mongolia's 1750km (1090mi) railway is made up of a north-south line, which is part of the Trans-Mongolian Railway, connecting China with Russia.

Vans and SUVsare an important form of transport and mandatory when visiting remote attractions since only 1200km (744mi) of road out of a total of 47,000km (29,150mi) are paved. The price can be 75$USif the car is a sturdy, Russian made military van. Rideson bigger SUVslike Nissan, Land Cruiser or Cherokee will cost 150$US per day. The price doesn’t includethe cost of petrol. It is crucial to find a reliable, experienced driver as well as to check the car. Missing this point may result in a few days long wait amidst nowhere for a pick up.

In Ulaanbaatar City

Getting around the city is very easy, especially if you can explain where you want to go in Mongolian. The city is divided into six districts and many sub districts and micro-districts. Besides the downtown area is quite small so, you’ll be able to reach anywhere within half an hour on foot. More and more street name signs are being erected although taxi drivers and the locals tend to use the names of the districts or identifiable buildings to find locations. Some tourist signposts have recently been erected to help visitors get around.

There is a good network of both buses and trolley buses. Maps are available that show the routes and all the buses clearly display the route number. There is a standard charge of MNT 500 for buses and MNT 400 for trolley buses. Payment is made to the conductor, who usually wears a bright blue apron. The only difficulty is accepting how crowded they are. You may find yourself squeezed inside the bus so tightly that you'll miss your stop. Also, foreigners on buses are amagnetfor pickpockets. Please ensure you take the utmost care with money, wallets and personal possessions. The buses and trolleybuses run from around 6am to 10pm everyday.

Since the buses are so crowded, a number of entrepreneurs have started their own services using minibuses. They usually ply the same routes as the buses and have route numbers displayed. The normal rate is a little more expensive thanthe buses.

Taxi services run all around the city. Although some taxis have meters they are not often used and no pressure should be put on the driver to use it. The standard cost is MNT 800per kilometer. Ulaanbaatar must be one of the only places in the world where you can stop almost any car for a lift. Potentially, every car in the capital is a taxi. If you hail a car and the driver is prepared to pick you up, he'll do so and charge the same rates as taxis. This is seen to be a safe way of traveling, although it may not be appropriate if you are a single woman and traveling late at night.


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E-mail: mongolianmysterytour@gmail.com
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