Tips for travellers: Useful information for visitors

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ETIQUETTE: Although people in urban centres tend to allow a wider margin of error, it is best to be aware of some customs. At receptions it is customary for a small bowl of liquor to make the rounds. When being received as a guest at a ger, also know as a yurt, do not knock but say, “Nokhoi khor!”, translates literally as, “Hold the dogs!” It is also customary to bring a small gift, which should be presented just before leaving, no sooner. Hosts should be greeted while sitting, not standing, as this is how Mongolians show respect.

DRESS: There is no strict dress code in Mongolia, but given the extremely cold weather it is advisable to pack warm clothes. However, temperature ranges can also be dramatic, so wearing layers when travelling is recommended. If travelling in the summer make sure you bring wet weather gear as well. Most business meetings are conducted in standard Western business attire.

CURRENCY: The Mongolian unit of currency is the tögrög, or tugrik (MNT). As of December 2012, $1 was equal to MNT1387. ATMs accept international Visa and MasterCard bank cards and work most of the time, allowing you to withdraw up to MNT400,000 ($280) per day. There may be a 3% fee on credit card transactions.

TRANSPORT: Given the high volume of used Korean and Japanese cars finding a second life in Mongolia, vehicles are both left- and right-handed, with few government restrictions. First-time visitors are advised to take taxis or hire a driver. The standard inner city taxi rate is about MNT500 ($0.35) per km. A taxi ride to and from the airport should cost about MNT15,000-20,000 ($10.50-14). Air connections are, as of December 2012, limited to five major airlines (Turkish Airlines, Air China, Aeroflot, Korean Airlines, and Mongolia’s national carrier, MIAT).

TIPPING: Tipping is not customary in Mongolia, but staff are grateful for tips from foreigners.

LANGUAGE: The national language is Mongolian. It is widely used in business, government affairs, education and daily conversations. However, many business people and state officials, speak English. Russian is also used.

VISA: A visa is required for all visitors to Mongolia, except for US citizens, visiting for fewer than 90 days.

All visitors planning to stay in Mongolia for longer than three months are required to obtain a visa. The visa procedure is standard, requiring a valid passport, one passport size photo, an application form and a small fee.

The fees are as follows: single entry-exit visa, $25; multiple entry-exit, six-month visa, $65; one-year, multiple entry-exit visa, $130; one-week visa extension, $15 and $2 per day exceeding a week. Visas are available from any Mongolian embassy. For business travellers staying six months and beyond, an invitation from a host company or institution is required. Visitors staying for more than 30 days must register with the Mongolia Immigration Agency in Ulaanbaatar within the first seven days of their arrival. Those failing to register with immigration or who overstay their visas will be stopped on departure and may be fined up to several hundred thousand tögrögs. Violating the visa laws of Mongolia can also result in a “black stamp” on your passport that bars you from re-entering for over a year.

HEALTH: Quality health care is only available in Ulaanbaatar, and health care in rural areas remains quite poor. For expatriates, there is one international clinic that meets Western standards (SOS Medica) and a Korean hospital that opened in 2007 and is staffed with both Korean and Mongolian doctors. It is not advisable to drink tap water anywhere in Mongolia; visitors should consume boiled or bottled water.

ELECTRICITY: The power supply in Ulaanbaatar is now reasonably reliable, but occasional blackouts still persist. Electrical outlets throughout the country are 220-V, 50-Hz, European-style two-pin plugs. While there is electricity in the countryside, the power supply still experiences frequent interruptions.

BUSINESS HOURS: Government offices are usually open from 9am to 5pm from Monday-Friday. Many banks stay open until 7pm in Ulaanbaatar, with some even offering 24-hour banking. Most private and staterun businesses are open from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm.

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Cover of The Report: Mongolia 2013

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