Lonely Planet Writer

You'll soon be able to find any address in Mongolia with just three words

From next month, you’ll be able to find any address in Mongolia with their new postal code system consisting of just three words.

The downtown skyscrapers of Ulaanbaatar
The downtown skyscrapers of Ulaanbaatar Image by Belgutei Boldbaatar/500px

The country is introducing a new postcode system in an effort to fix the issues they face with unnamed streets. The country is one of the most sparsely populated in the world and even streets in their capital city of Ulaanbaatar are often left without names. Instead of the more traditional system of random letters and numbers, they’ve opted to use the system created by British start-up what3words. What3words claims 135 countries suffer from inadequate addressing, impacting people’s ability to receive delivery or aid, as well as costing businesses time and money. While poor addressing can happen anywhere, it can particularly impact developing countries.

The company created a three word phrase for every square nine-metre box in the world. It aims to replace GPS coordinates, which are long and can be very difficult to remember. It’s designed as a singular piece of code and is available in most official UN languages. While some organisations around the world – included the United Nations – have already started using the system, Mongolia is the first country to adopt the three-word phrase as an official means of addressing.

Mongolia is a good testing ground for the system, since many streets in the largely uninhabited country remain unnamed, causing enormous difficulty for the Mongol Post system. Additionally, 25% of the population are estimated to be nomadic and often have to collect their post at central offices, or write lengthy directions on the envelope. Mongol Post will begin using the system from next month. You can explore the what3words system online but in the meantime, here’s four of the most famous sights in Mongolia you can now find with their new postcode.
Lake Khövsgöl – chancellor.frightfully.stunts

Rocks on the lake
Rocks on the lake Image by lamoix / CC BY 2.0

Gandantegchinlen Monastery – forehand.insisting.irrigated

Inside the monastery.
Inside the monastery. Image by Delphinidaesy / CC BY 2.0

Gorkhi-Terelj National Park – upland.florist.nuance

The Turtle Rock at Terelj National Park.
The Turtle Rock at Terelj National Park. Image by GML/Getty Images/Moment Open

Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan – reassured.flanked.case

The winter palace of Bogd Khan in Ulaanbaatar.
The winter palace of Bogd Khan in Ulaanbaatar. Image by Einar Fredriksen / CC BY 2.0