Mongolia Trip Report Summary
My Mongolia trip report: 1 month in June, 2014. I did not travel with other tourists, except 3 days of ‘hitchhiking’ with a tourist van to get from one place to another, since there was no easy connection via public transportation from Red Waterfall to Tsetserleg (it would have been only 2 days, if our van hadn’t gotten stuck in the mud).
My friend’s brother drove me for the first half of the trip. We went to Gobi Desert, then drove north through a UNESCO heritage site, the Orkhon River Valley, which includes cultural landscape. We came to 8 Lakes area and parted ways at the Red Waterfall. I went horse riding with a guide, Tomo, for 8 days. Then I continued north to Tsetserleg with 7 tourist guys, their driver, and the drivers nephew (the only person bilingual in Mongolian and English in the van).
In Tsetserleg I went horse and motorcycle riding with another guide for 3 days. The Fairview Guesthouse supports the community by organizing treks by connecting tourists with guides. The pricing seems very fair, as they give the guide all the money I paid (actually, I paid my host families directly).
With exactly 0 showers in 2 weeks, it was super fantastic to get an accidental visit to the hot springs! I cannot describe how wonderful it was to get a quick rinse off in a shower and then soak in the tub for hours with a group of fun guys from Ireland, Israel, Germany…
We had some visits from a few Mongolian families who (i.e. the women) wanted to check out the chest hair on the Israeli guys (so I was told), but declined to get in the tubs with us. The lady in charge of the springs and our driver’s nephew made sure the temperature was perfect for us– it poured out of a tube into our tub. The best $20 bath ever!!!
Mongolia Trip Costs (US Dollars)
My costs were close to $100 per day on days with long driving. Otherwise, costs could be as low as $40 per day for horseback riding and staying in a traditional ger came. For days spent in the capital, costs can be $20 or less for extremely budget hostel rooms and food.
Gasoline/petrol – $50-$70 per day, depending on road quality and hours driven. By far, my biggest expense. Horses are cheaper!
Shampoo and soap – practically nothing!
Food – $5-$10 per day, depending on whether we bought food at the market or at restaurants.
Ger Camp Lodging – $7-$10 per night, if at the Mongolian tourist camps. If you go to the fancy Western tourist ger camps, expect to pay closer to $45 per night. However, I think those camps might have actual toilets and showers. Ooohh!!!
Souvenirs – there’s not much for sale in the middle of Mongolia. In UB there are many souvenir shops as well as the bazaar.
- There are rock & fossil stands in the middle of nowhere alongside the road. I saw 2 in Gobi. Amazing items for sale for very cheap by American standards.
- Deel – a robe which both men and women wear. The women’s robe has a slimmer fit, and is slightly shorter. Both robes are tied closed with a long piece of cloth, similar to a bathrobe. For $50 you can purchase a ready-made or custom really nice deel. You can also get them for less. A deel will keep you warm when it’s cold, and cool when it’s hot. It keeps your clothes clean when you’re on horseback or motorcycle. Probably the best piece of clothing I’ve purchased in the past 10 years.