Mongolia — Transportation
Mongolia Taxis and Car Rental
Taxi travel in Ulan Bator is the fastest and most common form of transportation for residents and visitors. Cabs come metered and unmetered, with the metered cars bright yellow more professional. Unmetered taxis in Mongolia are slightly cheaper, but may be less comfortable and less safe. Taxis can be flagged down from the street or booked in advance by phone, with your hotel able to recommend a reliable company.
Taxi drivers willing to undertake longer journeys outside the city can be found at Narantuul market, Teverin Tovchoo and Bayanzurkh. A price should be agreed upon before you set off and the route should be followed on a map to deter scams. Safe Taxi (+976-99-798-185) is a reliable expat operation that provides rides in and out the city.
Economical car rental can be arranged at Ulan Bator’s airport or in the city, including an experienced driver if required. Downtown Ulan Bator is small enough to navigate on foot, but if you’re planning to travel around the country, a four-wheel drive or Russian jeep is the only way to go as most roads outside the city are unpaved. Self-drive allows you to plan your sightseeing according to your own schedule, but a GPS is a necessity rather than an option as reliable maps of the remote regions aren’t easy to find and road signs are rare and often undecipherable. Be careful as accidents are frequent occurrences.
Mongolia Trains and Buses
Getting around by bus is more of an option nowadays, although it’s still difficult to find connections between Ulan Bator and other regional capitals. Buses come in two sizes – minivans and large, although many of the large buses are remnants from the Soviet era and lack comfort as a result. As a general rule, the larger your form of public transportation, the safer it is. The large buses run on schedule, but the microvans tend to leave whenever they’re full, usually beyond the legal passenger limit. Ulan Bator has two bus stops, one near Dragon Shopping Center and the other near the Botanical Gardens. A passport is required to buy a long-distance bus ticket.
Getting around Mongolia by train is a totally Soviet experience, with passengers regarded as potential rule-breakers rather than customers. There is only one state-owned rail company and the network is poor and extremely slow. Local trains stop absolutely everywhere, making for excessively long journeys, but rail is a great way to see the countryside. The joys of train travel here are few and on a long overnight trip, you should expect to be woken up at all hours by officials demanding to see your ticket. Again, you will need to show your passport when buying a ticket, although it is possible to pay by credit card. As with bus travel, train travel is cheap in Mongolia.