Mongolia is a country in Asia.
Jeeps are the preferred, comfortable and only transport means that is adapted to the Mongolian terrain. However the Mongolian drivers are skilled and can drive pretty much anything through pretty much any terrain. Do not ignore that small car that wouldn't dare to take a dirt road, would it have been in Europe. The Mongolian will successfully take it through the worst of mountain passes. The speed you can expect is 60 km/h, this is a good average. Jeeps should be able to hold that average but also some classic cars.
The main highway from the Chinese border to Ulaanbaatar is a rather modern, two lane road. Driving with a guy in a Toyota Prius we completed it in around 7 hours during a snow storm in November 2015.
Camping is great in Mongolia. It's legal to camp anywhere. You can filter water from springs and lakes, or ask any of the locals for some of their boiled water. It's a good idea to stock up on fruit, vegetables and any essentials in Ulaanbaatar.
The train stations at Sukhbaatar and Darkhan stay open throughout the night. If you're stuck in those cities without a place to sleep in the winter they both have heated seating areas. The main station in Ulaanbaatar however closes after the last train leaves (not sure exactly when but surely before midnight) and does not reopen until 5AM.
Do not worry about sleeping in Mongolia in winter. Just knock on the door of any yurt, you will be invited in, it is automatic. Nobody will think about asking you for money. Everybody understands that it is just too cold to sleep outside. Usually they will also introduce to their friends who will also invite you, you will quickly have a network of acquaintances and sleeping places so big that all your stay in Mongolia will be covered for free source. You can go to a hostel sometime if you need some privacy.
Meet fellow travellers on hospitality exchange networks: Trustroots, [Hi Laura I am a senior lecturer teaching event management students (level 6). We break the students into groups, and they run their own events in semester two. There were 23 on campus events in April last 2017. https://www1.bournemouth.ac.uk/about/our-faculties/faculty-management/our-departments/department-events-leisure/fusion-festival The Faculty of Management’s second year events students will be organising a week of ‘Wellbeing’ events across both campuses during the week of 25-29 April. Working with staff, charities and local businesses; the student led ‘Fusion Festival’ is a celebration of research, education and professional practice. Aimed at both staff and students, the festival will incorporate 23 different and exciting wellbeing events over 5 days, download the flyer to find out more. Usually, they use SUBU, Dylan’s, the courtyard etc., but it would be great if they had access to the Atrium. Is it possible to block book the period April 23-27th and speak further on using the space for their assessment events? Michael BeWelcome]
Nothing to be alarmed from this side. Mongolians drink occasionally; however they are peaceful drinkers at least compared to their neighbors. It is difficult to refuse a drink though as most Mongolians will insist and think you are being rude or wussy if you don't accept.
Crossing the border itself can be quite tricky as you need to have transportation to cross three separate checkpoints. Usually the soldiers will help you to find a ride if you first just try to walk -- but that won't be a guarantee that the ride will be for free. Keep trying until you get a ride (or too frustrated, with the Chinese border terminal looming in the distance, guards not allowing you to simply cover the 500 meters by foot).
Keep your morals up and be very persistent. Explain that your visa will expire if they don't take you. They will insist that it's impossible, they will try to get your money by every means but keep your head up until they realize that the energy put into convincing you to pay is greater than the energy they would put into convincing the taxis to take you for free.
November 2015 I walked straight to the guards on the Chinese side with my passport in hand as if I was going to cross the border on foot. When I was stopped I showed a piece of paper saying something along the lines of "Can I get a ride for free?"'. The soldier wrote me "I will help you through a translator". A higher commanding officer was brought over and I was in a jeep for free in about 5 minutes.
Source and detailed information for this paragraph: here
This border is very strange. Only some special type of cars are allowed to cross. Only chinese cars and old soviet jeeps. That is why mongolian people usually leave their car on one side of the border and take a taxi even if they have their own vehicle (!). The border processing is also somewhat complicated. Here is the detailed description from Mongolia to China:
- You take a taxi from before the border to the mongolian checkpoint. The price is about 10 yuan but you can avoid it (described above)
- You buy some kind of border pass for 1000 MNT which allows you to get to the mongolian passport check
- You get a stamp, you take the jeep again, you show your stamp to the guards you pass by (they don't stop the car, they check your stamp while driving in order to not lose time)
- You arrive at the chinese checkpoint, you buy another border pass for 5 yuan
- You drive from the checkpoint to Erlian, you show your stamp to the guards you pass by.
- That's it, you are in China
The other way (Mongolia -> China) is similar
From Ulaanbataar to China
The main border crossing with China is in the South-East at Zamyn Uud. Hitchhiking there from Ulaan Baatar is not difficult, as of 2013 the paved road is basically completed. However, do not expect a direct ride from UB to the border, you will probably stop at every major city. Expect 2 days to get to your destination. It follows the Transmongolian Railway and gives you the security not to die of thirst. Worldhitch also got a lift by the great Defektoskop train.
From the border to the capital
Hitching from Zamyn Uud to Ulaanbaatar is very easy. The capital is always easier to hitchhike than any other city and this section is completly paved and has a lot of traffic in all times of year; mongolians love to do their shopping in china. Expect a one day ride.
Russian Border at Kyakhta/Altanbulag
This is probably the easiest border crossing in Mongolia as there is a paved road all the way to Ulaanbaatar. Decline all taxis and walk for a few minutes after you cross the border and start hitching. It is not always obvious someone is running a taxi. Double-check before you get in. If you do end up getting into a taxi, expect a hefty fee to be charged (such as US$150) when arriving at your destination. Should you get into this problem, then be sure to take it up with the police. They seem to be cracking down on illegal taxis. Don't expect that this will mean you can avoid paying at least something, though.
It's impossible to cross the border by foot. You'll have to get into one of the paid taxis. I waited about 20 minutes showing my sign that I'm unable to pay to both the guards and the cars parked there and eventually one of them took me with him for free.
Russian Border at Erentsav
This Northeastern border is a terrible idea unless you have a good reason to go there. Hitchhiking from Ulaanbaatar to Khenti is pretty straightforward but things get tricky after that as there is no paved road. If you are lucky enough to find a ride to Choibalsan, you won't be so lucky when you try to hitch to Erentsav. There is almost no traffic and you are likely to take the train which leaves twice a week (on Mondays and Thursdays from Choibalsan to Erentsav).