It’s easy to make international or domestic calls in Ulaanbaatar and the aimag capitals. Technology is still lagging in many sum centres; however, it’s now possible to use mobile (cell) phones in most of the country.
Calling Mongolia To make a call to Mongolia, dial the international access code in your country (normally 00) and then the Mongolian country code (976). Then, for a landline number, dial the local code (minus the ‘0’ for Ulaanbaatar, but include the ‘0’ for all other areas) and then the number. If you are calling a mobile phone, dial the country code (976) without the area code. Be aware, though, that there are different requirements for area codes if you're using a mobile phone.
Calling out of Mongolia If you are calling out of Mongolia and using an IDD phone, dial 00 and then your international country code. If you have a mobile phone and you are roaming on your regular plan, add the + sign, then country code and the number. For ease of use and lower costs, you can also use Skype, Viber or a similar VoIP app.
Operator In Ulaanbaatar, the domestic operator’s number is 109. Outside normal working hours, call 1109.
Local SIM cards can be used in whatever phone you bring. You can also keep your own SIM card if you have a plan that allows roaming, but be wary of roaming charges.
The main companies are Mobicom, Skytel, Unitel and G-Mobile. Mobicom and Unitel operate on GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) 900/1800. G-Mobile and Skytel are both on the CDMA network. (Make sure you buy a SIM card appropriate for your phone.)
- Buying a SIM card in Mongolia will probably work out cheaper than paying roaming charges on your home country network.
- Mobicom booths can be found in the Central Post Office and on the 5th floor of the State Department Store. Buy a SIM card (around T7000), and top up with units as needed. It is free to receive calls, and text messaging charges are almost negligible.
- Every aimag capital (and many sum centres) has mobile-phone service, and calls are fairly cheap, making this a good way to keep in touch with home. If a sum centre is not covered by Mobicom, it probably will be covered by an alternative network, such as G-Mobile.
- It’s a good idea to have a phone while travelling in the countryside, as it allows you to communicate with your tour operator should problems arise on your trip. You can also use it to call ger camps or hotels to make a reservation.
- If you have a smartphone (Edge, 3G or 4G), you should be able to access the internet with a local SIM card.
- New and used mobile-phone shops are everywhere in UB and also in some rural cities. The cheapest phones will cost around US$20. In UB, try the Tedy Centre on Baruun Selbe Gudamj.
If you’re planning a serious mountaineering or horse-trekking expedition, considering bringing or renting a satellite phone, which isn’t too bulky and can be used anywhere. If you haven’t already purchased one in your home country, these are available for sale in Ulaanbaatar – make inquires at the Mobicom office in the State Department Store.
- Numbers starting with 99, 96, 95, 91, 88, 77, 94 or 81 are mobile numbers and therefore don't require an area code.
- Every aimag has its own area code.
- Ulaanbaatar has several area codes: 11 is the most widely used. If a phone number begins with a 23, 24 or 25, then the area code is 21. If the phone number begins with a 26, the code is 51.
- If calling from a landline to a number in Ulaanbaatar, add a '0' before the phone code.
- If you are calling from a mobile phone, just dial the number in the listing.
Note that Mongolia has two types of phone codes:
New codes Have four digits (which always start with 70) followed by another four digits.
Old codes Those in Ulaanbaatar have two digits (followed by six-digit phone numbers) while in the countryside the codes have five digits (followed by five-digit phone numbers).