Mongolia - Holidays, Flights and Hotels
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Flight Time to Mongolia from the UK
Approx 14 hours.
Mongolia is a landlocked country in Northern Asia, strategically located between China and Russia. The terrain is one of mountains and rolling plateaus, with a high degree of relief. Overall, the land slopes from the high Altai Mountains of the west and the north to plains and depressions in the east and the south. Hutyen Orgil (sometimes called Nayramadlin Orgil--Mount Friendship) in extreme western Mongolia, where the Mongolian, the Soviet, and the Chinese borders meet, is the highest point (4,374 meters). The lowest is 560 meters, an otherwise undistinguished spot in the eastern Mongolian plain. The country has an average elevation of 1,580 meters. The landscape includes one of Asia's largest freshwater lakes (Hovsgol Nuur), many salt lakes, marshes, sand dunes, rolling grasslands, alpine forests, and permanent montane glaciers. Northern and western Mongolia are seismically active zones, with frequent earthquakes and many hot springs and extinct volcanoes.
Information provided by Wikipedia
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The name 'Mongolia' has always stirred up visions of the untamed - Genghis Khan, camels wandering the Gobi Desert and wild horses galloping across the steppes. Even today, outside of Ulaanbaatar you may get the feeling you've stepped into another century rather than another country.
In the westernmost corner of Mongolia lies the rugged land of Kazakh people. Living in harsh, barren valleys surrounded by Altai mountains, Kazakhs preserved their centuries old traditions and culture almost intact. Among them is the ancient tradition of hunting with Golden Eagles.
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Public Holidays in Mongolia
Monday, Jan 1 - New Year's Day
Thursday, Mar 1 - Tsagaan Sar (Lunar New Year) (2 days)
Thursday, Mar 8 - Women's Day
Friday, Jun 1 - Mother and Child Day
Wednesday, Jul 11 - Naadam (National Days) (3 days)
Monday, Nov 26 - Independence Day
Monday, Dec 31 - New Year's Eve
Visa Requirements for Mongolia
A Visa is required by all nationals of the UK. Nationals of the USA, if entering the country as a tourist, for stays of up to three months.
Outside of the capital, there are few paved roads. The easiest way to travel long distance is using AeroMongolia, a subsidiary airline owned by the government which replaced all domestic operations by the national air carrier MIAT, after that airline's propeller aircraft were grounded and scrapped. AeroMongolia uses newer, Russian built aircraft and is generally safe. Air travel in Mongolia involves a two-tier price structure, with the costs for foreigners being significantly higher than for locals.
For the budget conscious, Russian Jeeps and 4wd Mini-buses act as a public transport system. About 15,000 tugrik pays for the all-day trip from UB to Tsetserleg (the regional capital of Arkhangai). Note that this involves being crammed into a Jeep with about nine locals (some of whom may be drunk) and spending the entire day racing over very bumpy dirt trails.
Traveling by local bus is also an option, though these buses tend only to connect the provincial capital with UB, and it is quite difficult to find any public transportation linking one provincial capital with another.
It is also possible to charter a Jeep and driver for private use. Prices are typically negotiated by the kilometer. While far more expensive than sharing a ride with the locals, this means of transport is considerably more convenient and allows you to visit more remote sites.
Whichever method of long-distance travel is chosen, keep in mind that everything in Mongolia has a tendency to break down. Don't be shocked if part of the suspension breaks and the driver jimmy-rigs a carved wooden block in the place of a mount. For more serious breakdowns, it can easily take an entire day or longer for somebody to come along and help, so leave plenty of slack in itineraries. Finally, Mongolians are rather notorious for being late. A bus that is scheduled to leave at 8AM will probably not be out of the city till almost 11AM.
For local travel, horse-back is good option. Note, however, that Mongolians ride on wooden saddles, so if you value your buttocks it's probably a good idea to pick up a leather, Russian saddle in UB.
Another great alternative is to simply walk. Since camping is possible anywhere, resting is never a problem. Whereever there is water there are nomads, and if you stick to the major dirt-roads you will encounter plenty of guanz, who can provide huge cheap meals to keep you going. Adopting the Mongolian style of sleeping outdoors is also an option - wrap yourself in wool blankets and then cover yourself with a Russian raincoat (essentially a tarp in the form of a trench coat), and simply plop yourself down on the ground. One night sleeping this way gives a whole new appreciation for the wonders of sleeping bags and bivvy sacks/tents.