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What Are Some Of The Best And Worst Things About Mongolia?

About Mongolia

Mongolia is a landlocked country located in East-Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east, and west. With an area of approximately 1.6 million square kilometers, Mongolia is the 19th largest country in the world.

Mongolia is known for its vast, rugged landscapes, including the Gobi Desert, vast grassy steppes, and various mountain ranges. It has a continental climate, characterized by extreme temperature fluctuations, with long and harsh winters and short, but hot summers.

The population of Mongolia is relatively small, with about 3.2 million people. The capital and largest city is Ulaanbaatar. Mongolian is the official language, and the majority of the population practices Tibetan Buddhism.

Traditionally, Mongolia has been a nomadic society, heavily reliant on livestock herding, particularly horses, cattle, camels, and sheep. The Mongolian culture is rich in traditions and customs, with a strong emphasis on hospitality and respect for nature.

Mongolia has a varied and ancient history, with the Mongols having established a vast empire under Genghis Khan in the 13th century. They went on to conquer a significant portion of Asia and Europe, creating the largest contiguous land empire in history. Mongolian history and culture are still deeply rooted in this legacy.

Economically, Mongolia has vast mineral resources, including coal, copper, gold, and uranium. Mining plays a crucial role in the country’s economy. Mongolia’s political system is a parliamentary republic, and its government has been focusing on promoting economic diversification and development.

Tourism in Mongolia has been steadily increasing in recent years, attracting travellers who are interested in its unique landscapes, nomadic culture, and the opportunity to explore its natural beauty through activities such as horseback riding, trekking, and visiting ancient historical sites.

Some of the best things about Mongolia include:

  • Stunning landscapes: Mongolia is known for its beautiful, diverse landscapes including vast steppes, rolling hills, deserts, and the breath-taking Altai Mountains.
  • Nomadic culture: Mongolia has a rich nomadic culture, with many people still living a traditional lifestyle herding livestock and living in yurts (called ger).
  • Hospitality and friendly people: Mongolians are known for their warm hospitality and friendly nature, often being generous and welcoming towards visitors.
  • Unique cultural heritage: Mongolia has a distinct and fascinating cultural heritage, with traditional music, dance, art, and a long history of horsemanship.
  • Outdoor activities: The country offers a wide array of outdoor activities such as hiking, horseback riding, camping, and camel trekking, making it a paradise for adventure enthusiasts.

Some of the worst things about Mongolia include:

  • Harsh weather conditions: Mongolia experiences extremely harsh winters with sub-zero temperatures, making it challenging for both locals and visitors to cope with the cold.
  • Limited infrastructure: Outside the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, infrastructure such as roads and public transportation can be poorly developed, hindering travel to remote areas.
  • Air pollution in Ulaanbaatar: Ulaanbaatar suffers from severe air pollution, particularly during winter months, due to coal-fired stoves and power plants.
  • Limited access to amenities: In more rural areas, access to basic amenities such as healthcare, education, and supermarkets can be limited.
  • Language barrier: Mongolian is the official language, and while English may be spoken in tourist areas, it can be challenging to communicate outside of major cities if you don’t speak Mongolian.

Tips for traveling

  1. Obtain all necessary travel documents: Ensure that your passport has at least six months of validity remaining before it expires. Depending on your nationality, you may also require a visa to enter Mongolia. Check with the Mongolian embassy or consulate in your country for specific entry requirements.
  2. Pack appropriate clothing: Mongolia experiences extreme weather conditions, with temperatures varying significantly between seasons. In summer, pack lightweight clothing and a good hat for protection from the sun. In winter, bring warm, layered clothing, including thermals, gloves, hats, and a down jacket. Sturdy footwear is essential for any outdoor activities.
  3. Learn some Mongolian phrases: While many Mongolians speak at least basic English, it can be useful to learn a few Mongolian phrases. Mongolians appreciate and respond warmly to visitors who make an effort to communicate in their language. Phrases like “hello” (sain baina uu), “thank you” (bayarlalaa), and “excuse me” (zugeer) will come in handy.
  4. Be prepared for long distances: Mongolia is a vast country with limited infrastructure, so be prepared for long journeys if you plan to travel outside of the capital, Ulaanbaatar. Road conditions can be challenging, so brace yourself for bumpy rides. Plan your itinerary accordingly and bring necessary supplies, such as food, water, and medications, if you anticipate traveling long distances.
  5. Try traditional Mongolian cuisine: Mongolia has a unique culinary heritage. Be sure to try traditional dishes like khorkhog (slow-cooked meat), buuz (steamed dumplings), and aaruul (dried curd), which are considered local delicacies. Mongolian tea and airag (fermented mare’s milk) are also worth experiencing.
  6. Explore the countryside: Mongolia is known for its vast, beautiful landscapes. Consider venturing outside of Ulaanbaatar to explore the stunning Gobi Desert, Khuvsgul Lake, or the iconic Mongolian steppe. There are various tour companies and local guides available who can arrange excursions tailored to your interests.
  7. Respect local customs and traditions: Mongolians have a rich cultural heritage and deeply value their customs and traditions. It is important to respect their way of life and follow local customs, such as removing your shoes when entering someone’s home and avoiding pointing at people or objects with your finger. Additionally, ask for permission before taking someone’s photograph, especially when it comes to nomadic families and their livestock.
  8. Stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun: Mongolia is known for its dry climate, and dehydration can occur easily, especially during the summer months. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and use sunscreen to protect your skin from the strong UV rays.
  9. Interact with locals and learn about their nomadic lifestyle: Take the opportunity to interact with Mongolian nomads if you have the chance. Getting to know their way of life, understanding their unique challenges, and experiencing their hospitality can provide a deeper appreciation for the country and its people.
  10. Respect the environment: Mongolia is home to various protected areas and diverse wildlife. Ensure you leave no trace when exploring these areas and adhere to any environmental regulations put in place to protect the natural beauty. Additionally, avoid purchasing products made from endangered species or contributing to unethical tourism practices.

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