Getting there & away
The Mongolian border (9am-noon & 2-6pm) is open to bicycles and vehicles, and some officials speak English. You can't walk across, so pedestrians need to negotiate passage with private drivers. Start asking as close as possible to the front of the chaotic queue: processing takes about an hour with only a handful of vehicles allowed through at any one time. The going rate is R150 per passenger across no-man's-land, but it's well worth negotiating a ride all the way to Sükhbaatar train station (around R100 extra) rather than becoming prey to rip-off taxi drivers in Altanbulag, the dreary Mongolian border village. From Sükhbaatar to Ulaan Baatar, nightly trains (obshchiy/kupe 3300/8400 tögrög, nine hours) depart around 9.20pm - they're rarely full.