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Ulaanbaatar

Getting there & away

Local transport

Taxi

Taxis (shared or private) can only travel along paved roads, so they are only useful for trips around Töv aimag, to the towns along the main road to Russia (Darkhan, Erdenet and Sükhbaatar) and to the tourist site of Kharkhorin.

The cost of hiring a taxi to these places should be around T400 per kilometre. The taxi drivers may want more for waiting if you are, for example, visiting Mandshir Khiid, or because they may be returning with an empty vehicle if dropping you off somewhere remote. This is not unreasonable, but it is negotiable.

To avoid any argument about the final charge make sure that you and the driver have firstly agreed on the cost per kilometre, and have discussed any extra charges. Then write down the number shown on the odometer/speedometer before you start.

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Land

Bus

Two stations handle most bus traffic. The eastern depot, Bayanzürkh Avto Vaksal (463 386), is 6km east of Sükhbaatar Sq. The station has daily buses to Choibalsan (T15, 800, 13 hours), Baruun-Urt (T13, 800, 11 hours), Öndörkhaan (T7500, five hours) and Dalanzadgad (T13, 300, 12 hours), all leaving between 7.30am and 8am.

The western bus station, called the Dragon (Luu) Avto Vaksal (Dragon bus stand; 634 902), is on Peace Ave, 7km west of Sükhbaatar Sq. The station has a daily bus to Tsetserleg (T10, 500, 11 hours), Arvaikheer (T9000, 10 hours) and Dundgov (T7100, six hours), all departing at 8am. A bus to Kharkhorin (T10, 000, eight hours) leaves at 9am. Two buses travel to Erdenet (T8000, seven hours) at noon and 2pm, while four buses go to Darkhan (T4500, four hours) at 9am, 10am, 3pm and 4pm. On Monday Wednesday and Friday a bus travels to Bulgan (T7900, eight hours) at 8am.

A third station is located at Teeveriin Tovchoo (Undsen Khuulin Gudamj), the old bus station, about a 10- to 15-minute walk from the centre. It has a bus to Mörön (T20, 000) departing at noon on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Buy tickets in the New Mind building behind the station or call 9925 8048 for info.

Bus tickets can be purchased two days prior to travel. Tickets purchased on the same day of travel may carry a higher price.

Train

The train station has an information office, a left-luggage office, a phone office, a hotel and a restaurant.

From Ulaanbaatar, daily trains travel to northern Mongolia and on to Russia, via Darkhan and Sükhbaatar, and southeast to China, via Choir, Sainshand and Zamyn-Üüd. There are also lines between Ulaanbaatar and the coal-mining towns of Erdenet and Baganuur.

Note that when buying a ticket you must show identification, either a passport or a driving licence will do (a student ID won’t work).

Domestic

The domestic railway ticket office (24137; 8am-12.30pm & 2.30-9pm) is located in the modern-looking building on the east side of the train station. Unfortunately, no-one inside speaks anything except Mongolian or Russian. Boards inside the office show departure times (in Cyrillic) and ticket prices for hard seats and soft seats. There’s also a full timetable at the information desk on the station platform.

Tickets can be booked up to a month in advance for an extra T450, which is not a bad idea if you have definite plans and want a soft seat during peak times (mainly July to August). If you speak Mongolian, there is an inquiries number (24194).

International

The yellow International Railway Ticketing Office is about 200m northwest of the train station. Inside the office, specific rooms sell tickets to Irkutsk and Moscow in Russia, and to Beijing, Ereen and Hohhot in China. The easiest place to book a ticket is in the foreigners booking office (24133, inquiries 944 868; Room 212; 8am-8pm Mon-Fri). It’s upstairs and staff here speak some English. On weekends you can use the downstairs booking desk.

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Hitching

Hitching is a necessary form of transport in the countryside, but is less certain and more difficult to organise out of Ulaanbaatar. Most Mongolians get out of the capital city by bus, minibus, train or shared jeep/taxi, and then hitch a ride on a truck for further trips around the countryside, where there is far less public transport. Unless you can arrange a ride at a guesthouse, you should do the same.

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Air

Chinggis Khaan International Airport is 18km southwest of the city. You can change money at a branch of the T&D Bank. There’s also a post office and internet access for T50 per minute. A tourist booth opens when planes arrive.

Mongolia has three domestic carriers: MIAT, AeroMongolia and EZ Nis. The former two both have international connections with Ulaanbaatar. Note that on domestic routes with MIAT and Aero Mongolia you can carry 15kg but EZ Nis allows 20kg. You’ll pay around T1500 per kilogram over the limit. Flight days always change so check updated schedules. The airlines accept credit cards for international and domestic flights. If paying cash, foreigners are supposed to use US dollars only.

Aero Mongolia (283 029; www.aeromongolia.mn; MPRP Bldg; 9am-6pm Mon-Fri, 10am-2pm Sat, 11am-3pm Sun) is inside the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) headquarters of the Square, next to the Ulaanbaatar Hotel.

Blue Sky Aviation (312 085; www.blueskyaviation.mn; Peace Ave) has one nine-seat Cessna 208 aeroplane available for charter flights. The office is in the same building as Seven Summits, opposite the post office.

EZ Nis (313 689; www.eznis.com; 8 Zovkhis Bldg; 9am-7pm Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm Sat) is the newest airline in the country and has an office is on Seoul St.

The head office of MIAT (322 118, 1881; www.miat.com; 9am-6pm Mon-Sat, 9am-3pm Sun) is on Baga Toiruu west, near the Trade & Development Bank. It is the cheapest airline in Mongolia.

Foreign airline offices include the following:

Aeroflot (320 720; www.aeroflot.ru; Seoul St 15; 9am-6pm Mon-Fri, 10am-3pm Sat) US dollars and credit cards are accepted.

Air China (328 838, 452 548; www.fly-airchina.com; Ikh Toiruu Bldg 47; 9am-1pm & 2-5pm Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm Sat, 9am-noon Sun) Located on Big Ring Rd in the northeast of town.

Korean Air (326 643, fax 320 602; www.koreanair.com; 2nd fl, Chinggis Khaan Hotel; 9am-5pm Mon-Fri) Payment in US dollars and tögrög.

United Airlines (323 232; www.united.com, info@airtrans.mn; Air Trans office, Sükhbaataryn Gudamj 1; 9am-6pm Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm Sat) Handy for booking flights out of Seoul and Beijing.

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