Exploring Mongolian Nomadic Hospitality: A Traveler’s Guide
Venturing into the heart of Mongolia offers a unique opportunity to experience the warmth and hospitality of nomadic families. As you embark on this cultural journey, keep in mind the following tips to make the most of your visit:
When approaching a nomadic family, make the first words you utter a friendly “Hold your dog!” if they have one. Mongolian dogs take their roles seriously, so refrain from trying to pet them.
Walk into a ger with your right foot first, respecting the threshold. Sitting is a gesture of respect, so take a seat when offered.
Embrace offers of tea, food, or dairy products graciously. It’s considered impolite to decline, and saying “thank you” is reserved for when you leave.
If you plan to give a gift, do so upon departure. Candies or small presents for children are appreciated.
Follow the crowd and move sun-wise when entering temples. Embrace the local custom of moving in the same direction.
Try speaking basic Mongolian phrases to connect with locals. It demonstrates a genuine interest in their culture.
When offered vodka or fermented mare milk, touch it to your lips as a gesture of acceptance. You don’t have to drink it, but the traditional flick is a polite way to acknowledge the offering.
Patience and Adaptability:
Be patient and expect the unexpected. Flexibility is key when immersing yourself in Mongolian culture.
Overuse of “Thank You”:
Avoid excessive use of “thank you.” Mongolians appreciate gestures and actions more than verbal expressions of gratitude.
Refrain from pointing at people with your index finger, as it is considered to bring evil. This includes avoiding pointing at portraits or religious thangka.
Water and Hygiene:
Don’t wash dishes or clothes directly in bodies of water. Also, avoid urinating near rivers or lakes.
Don’t decline offers of tea or food; instead, accept and taste it before placing it on the table.
Avoid crossing your arms over your chest, crossing legs, or walking over a person lying on the ground. These actions may be perceived as disrespectful.
Refrain from whistling inside homes and making negative comments or jokes. Be mindful of cultural taboos and traditions.
By embracing these dos and don’ts, you’ll unlock the richness of Mongolian hospitality and create lasting memories of your nomadic adventure.
Frequently asked question
Is Mongolia a safe destination?
Absolutely! Mongolia boasts one of the world’s lowest crime rates, making it a remarkably safe destination comparable to the US and Europe. Embrace the warmth of Mongolian hospitality as locals welcome you with open arms.
How do I get to Mongolia?
Embark on your Mongolian adventure via air or train! MIAT Mongolian Airlines offers year-round flights to Europe and Asia, including Berlin, Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo and Istanbul. Foreign carriers like Air China, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, Air Busan, Aeroflot and Turkish airline.
What’s the weather like in Mongolia?
Contrary to popular belief, Mongolia isn’t the coldest corner of the world. Winter lasts from November to March, with the most frigid temperatures occurring only in mid-December to January. Summer brings cool winds, and the best time to visit is from mid-June to mid September for sunny days and lush landscapes.
When Is the best time to visit Mongolia?
Plan your visit during the Mongolian summer, from mid-June to the first week of September, for optimal weather. Experience sunny days and lush steppes, ensuring a safe and enjoyable journey.
What are the roads like?
Driving in Mongolia often means off-road adventures, especially outside Ulaanbaatar. While main travel destinations have paved roads, remote areas like the Altai Mountains, the far west, and the Gobi attractions may require off-road driving.
What’s Mongolia’s Currency?
Mongolia uses the tugrik. Exchange rates have been stable, ranging between 3420-3500 Mongolian tugriks against 1 USD. Exchange currencies at banks in Ulaanbaatar, as countryside options may be limited. Credit cards work in major city establishments, but having tugriks is advisable for smaller shops and rural areas.
What Kind of Plugs Are Used?
Mongolia uses a 220V standard, with most sockets accepting round twin forks. Bring an adaptor for devices with flat forks, available at most international airports.
What About Internet and Postal Services?
The central post office offers reliable postal services. Mobile services are widespread, especially in central towns, using GSM and CDMA networks. Mobile phone signal is quite good in Mongolia, although coverage may be patchy in remotest areas. The main carriers are Mobicom,Unitel, Skytel and G-Mobile. Mobicom and Unitel operate on GSM (Global System for Mobile communication). G-Mobile and Skytel are both on the CDMA network.
Can I Speak English?
While Mongolian is the official language, English is increasingly spoken, especially in urban areas. Learning basic Mongolian is appreciated, and a phrase book can be handy for communication.
Where Should I Stay?
Enjoy 3-4 star hotels and motels, guesthouses in Ulaanbaatar and unique accommodations in the countryside, from tourist camps to nomadic families. Immerse yourself in local culture by staying with nomadic families, providing a rich cultural experience.
Can I Follow a Special Diet?
Absolutely! Mongolia caters to various dietary needs. Notify your tour operator in advance, and vegan and vegetarian options are available, even in remote areas.
What Transportation Options Are Available?
Explore Mongolia in 4×4 vehicles, covering 100-430 km per day. Domestic flights are excluded in programs, and horses or camels may be used for trekking in inaccessible areas.
Are There Baggage Restrictions on Domestic Flights?
For domestic flights, the weight limit is 10 kilograms for checked baggage and 5 kilograms for hand luggage. Be mindful of overweight charges, approximately $2.5 per pound.
How Much Should I Tip?
While tipping is not mandatory, it’s recommended and fair to local partners. Tipping amounts vary based on trip factors.
What Should I Pack?
Pack light, using squashy, lockable, and waterproof bags or backpacks. A day pack for essentials and a smaller bag for trek storage are advisable.