Public Transportation

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The secretes of Mongolian public transport
Some tourist travel with an organised tour, some share the cost of a hired jeep, and few use public transport. It is true that there are no western style bus terminals (see photo on the left), there are no signs in English,  and the time tables are somewhat flexible. Once you adapt to the Mongolian style of public transport you will find it rewarding. The people are friendly, and it is the cheapest way to travel.



Transportation to the country side
Buses go from Ulaanbaatar to all Aimag (province) centers. From the Aimag center you wait with others for a van to fill up going to a Sum (district) center. If you attempt to go to a tourist attraction that is not on the public transport routs, you will find jeeps or vans ready to be hired to take you to a specific location. Any private car can act as a taxi.
 




Public Transport Main Rout Map
To see detail (you can actually see the buses lined up at the stations)
zoom in (click +) and change to "Sat" (Satellite mode).
Click on blue lines for details (cost, timetable, distance)

View Public transportation in a larger map




Destinations in Cyrillic
To identify the proper van have the destination name in Cyrillic letters with you. The vans display a board with the destination on the windshield.
Example: for a van going to "Terelj"  look for a sign saying  Тэрэлж

Vehicle
Public transportation vehicles include buses, minibuses,  vans and cars.
Buses leave at a set time, minibuses and vans leave when they are full.

Bus Stations
There are four main departure stations in Ulaanbaatar (Ulan Bator).
Zoom in to the maximum on the map to see the exact locations.
  • Dragon (Songino Khairkhan)- buses going north and west.
  • Teevriin Tovchoo (near Idre's guest house)- vans going north.
  • Bayanzurkh- buses going south and east.
  • Narantuul (Black Market) - vans going west and north.

Tickets
For long distance buses you have to purchase the ticket the night before departure.

Cost
The fare to Olgii is 63,000 Togrog which is 1,700 km to the west.
For comparison - locals pay at least 400 Tugrug per Km to hire a jeep  and driver, not including petrol cost. To hire a jeep to Olgii would cost 680,000 Tugrug. This is more than 10 times the cost of a bus ticket.

Travel time
It takes a 18 hours to get to the Gobi town Dalanzadgad, and 34 hours to get to Khoved in the west. The roads to most location are unpaved bumpy dirt roads.
River crossing on some locations are on a wooden barges.
The vehicles go non stop, with short breaks on the way.
Bus Atmosphere
Vehicles are packed full, with boxes of merchandise in between.



Featured Destinations
There are many routs, here is a sample of a few.

To Ulan-Ude in Russia 
A popular bus route, is the bus going across the border to Russia
to the city Ulan-Ude.
Cost: 65,000 Tugrik
Departure station: Dragon (since 2015, used to be near the train station)
Departure days: Every day
Departure time: 7:30am
Arrival at Ulan-Ude: about 18:30

North (Khovsgol lake)
To go to Khovsgol  lake take the bus to Moron.
Distance: 684 Km.
Cost: 28,500 Tugrug.
Departure Station: Dragon.
Departure Days: every day.
Departure Time: 14:00 and 17:00

Travel Duration: 20h to Moron + 3h Moron to Khatgal
In Moron you wait with others for a van to fill up-
going to Khatgal, the village on the southern shore of Khovsgol lake.

South (Gobi desert)
To go to the Gobi take the bus to Dalanzadgad
Distance: 575 Km.
Cost: 28,000 Tugrug.
Departure Days: everyday.
Departure Time: 8:00AM.
Tickets purchase: the evening before departure.
Travel Duration: 10h to Dalanzadgad
From Dalanzadgad hire a jeep to take you to the popular destinations.
Try and go with partners on the bus to share the cost of the jeep.
A good local driver living in Dalanzadgad - Demberel  Tel: 976-95539304

West (Altai Mountains)
To go to the west take the minibus to Olgii
Departure Days: Everyday
Departure Time: 15:00-20:00 leaves when full
Distance: 1,709 Km
Cost: 72,000 Tugrug
Departure Station: Dragon
Travel Duration: 45h-55h to Olgii
In Olgii hire a jeep to the mountains (i.e. to Tavan Bogd).

East (the steppe)
To go to the east take the bus to Choibalsan
Departure Days: every day
Time for bus: 8:00
Time for Minibus or Van: 9:00-10:00 leaves when full
Distance: 661 Km
Cost: 28,000 Tugrug
From Station: Bayanzurkh
Travel Duration: 12h

 Center (Erdene Zuu)
To go to the center take the bus to Kharkhorin
Departure Days: every day
Time for bus: 11:00am
Time for Minibus or Van: 15:00-18:00 leaves when full
Distance: 370 Km
Cost: 17,000 Tugrug
From Station: Dragon
Travel Duration: 6h

61 comments:

Anonymous said...

How long to the trips take? The range of times and typical duration would be good.

Although many services are daily I imagine that they are often cancelled if there are not enough passengers?

To Mongolia said...

Thanks for your comment,
I have added travel durations.

Buses are not canceled, vans and cars leave only when full.
It rarely happens that no car leaves, passengers will wait for the next day.

In cases of severe weather trips might be postponed.

Anonymous said...

Vielen Dank für den guten Sachen

Anonymous said...

Is there a bus connection from Ulaanbaatar to Tosontsengel, Zavkhan?
Thanks

To Mongolia said...

To get to Tosontsengel in Zavkhan, take the bus from the Dragon bus station in UB, going to Uliastai. Uliastai is Zavkhan's capital and located 1100km away from Ulaanbaatar. At the Uliastai market look for a van going to Tosontsengel which is 180km away on a good road.

Anonymous said...

Is there a bus connection from Erdenet, Orkhon to Moron, Khövsgöl?
And from Moron to Bayanzurkh, Khövsgöl?
Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi

The public transport in Mongolia is a star system. All transportation goes from the center of the country UB to Aimag/province centers and from province centers to sum/district centers. In the small towns look for vans near the market.

Anonymous said...

Хех, сколько коментариев-то :) Ну отставать не буду-не сочтите за спам-но сайт понравился. Удачи в развитии.

Anonymous said...

Question: is it easy to transport your bicycle on the bus ??

To Mongolia said...

Hi

Merchants load crates on the bus. So try and pack your bicycle in a box, similar to the way you would for a flight. Take off the wheels, dismantle the paddles, turn the handle bar sideways. This will enable you to make the package as small as possible, and minimum damage to your bikes.

Dan

Anonymous said...

Hello, I was wondering: is it possible to take a bus from Khovsgol area to Altai?
Thanks

Anonymous said...

Not directly.
You should return to UB, and take the bus from UB.

Mizuki.C said...

Mongolia, thanks so much your updated detail on this blog.
I'll visit UB this May and would like to ask you about transport.

I'll take a bus from UB to UU.
1. Which bus station I should go?
2. Where I can buy the bus ticket?
(I've followed your post in lonely planet of exact location) However, I worry I can't find it out. Could you please tell the address in Mongolian? (In case I get lost, I still can point to stranger ask a help ^^")

Thanks a lot!!!

To Mongolia said...

Hi

The location of the bus station in UB going to Ulan-Ude in Russia changed.
It is now near the train station.
To buy the tickets go inside the train station booking hall, go upstairs, go to the small window to the left of Tenger Travel, which is opposite the train ticket booking windows. Bus ticket cost is about 45,000 togrog. Bus leaves at 7:30am from the train station.

Have a nice ride
Dan

Mizuki.C said...

Hi, Dan

Thanks your info on the bus location!
I feel more secure to the transport arrangement!^^

Have a nice weekend!

Anonymous said...

cs said..

Hi Mongolia, my friends and I will be in Mongolia during early July, we intend to travel to Khovsgol Lake.
Is the travel time mentioned in the blog still valid as is?

Appreciate your help.

Anonymous said...

Hi

Yes about 20h to Hovsgol.

Dan

Anonymous said...

Hello!

I'm Ena from Estonia. I'm trying to find out prices and possibilities for a group of people (maybe 8-10 people) to hire a van with the driver who also knows the ways to make a trip.
- 1 day: Going from Dalandzadgad to visit Yolin Am, stay the night at ger camp;
- 2nd day: Khongoriin els, singing sands, stay the night at ger camp.
- 3rd day drive to Bayanhongor.

Can you help me with the answers? Or do you know anyone who can? What would be the price for hiring a van for such a trip? Is it calculated per day? If there are 8-10 people, is 1 van enough? Can the van drive from the Gobi directly to Bayanhongor? Or does it need to go to UB road first? I found a person to answer me, but then he never again wrote me back, so I don't know where to find help.

I would appreciate a lot your help!

With warm greetings,
Ena

To Mongolia said...

Hi

To arrange vans in advance you will need to contact a tour operator. Unfortunately there are no tour operators in Dalanzadgad. You will have to contact a tour operator in Ulaanbaatar. To drive comfortable vans take 4-6 people. The cost would be $50-$100 per person. Yes you can drive directly to Bayankhongor without having to go through Ulaanbaatar.
Have a nice trip.
Dan

Anonymous said...

Can you take a bus only at the bus station where it leaves, or could you take that bus if you're in a little town/city on its way? Thank you very much!!

Anonymous said...

This is a very specific question to the route and the town on this route.
Once you get to a town on the way ask what is the best way to get to the next one.
For example buses going from UB to Khovd are fully packed and the chances of you getting on this bus from a town close to UB are low. The further you go, there is a better chance you find a seat.

Anonymous said...

Hello, we are 3 students and we would like to visit the Orkhon valley and the Terkhiin Tsagaan lake. What would be the best way to combine both? Is it possible to hitchhike from the Orkhon valley to the lake and back (because we saw there is no bus to the Terkhiin Tsagaan lake)?

Anonymous said...

Is there a way (bus, hitchhinking, jeep,...) of going from Olgii to Murun without passing by Ulaanbaatar and within 1 or 2 days? Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Olgi to Moron - the cheapest way is by public transport through UB.
You can hire a Jeep in Olgi and go to moron by the north route.

Terkhiin Tsagaan lake - only by hiring a local jeep. Ask around, any car and driver are ok.

Anonymous said...

Are the people (those who have a jeep or a car) likely to conduct you where ever you want for some remuneration? If yes, how much is the normal fee an hour? Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

You pay for distance.
Each Km between $0.50 to $1
Locals pay less.
Time is not an issue.

Anonymous said...

Is it easy to hitchhike/atuostop from Khogno Tarna to Kharkhorin? Do you have any idea of the frequency of motorized vehicles? Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Low volume of cars.
It is off the main routes.
Tourists vehicles going to Kharkhorin are packed.

Anonymous said...

To the blogger, thank you for the detailed bus line information. I live in UB but I do not go around much because I do not speak the language, I depend so much on my husband. Though I can read a bit so I can go around abit!

Hi Anonymous,
We did a trip last year to Khuvsgul and we pass via kharkhorin to the tsagaan lake (stay for some nights) then move up to khuvsgul. we did several stops like in orkhon valley, kharkhorin d temple there, chuluut n other stops. I notice some foreigner from tsagaan lake to moron mountainous road trying to hitchike but (like us we did not stop) SO it would be best if you will hire your vehicle from UB, plan your itinerary and you may go wherever you wish to go. Vehicle rental per day with driver and you cover the fuel.

fgg said...

hi,

i would go from UB to Lake Khovsgol in winter (february...) is it any problem? bus is one solution there some other solutions?

Anonymous said...

Bus is a good option in winter.
Not too many tourists in winter to share the cost of a hired jeep.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I'm planning to go to Mongolia in June. Probably I will visit lake Khovsgol but would like to go there by public transport instead of local tour. Is the bus from UB to Moron still available? Is it possible find local transport to lake Khovsgol in Moron? As I will go to Russia too, any transport go from lake Khovsgol to Russia, like Ulan Ude? Or I must go back to UB to take bus/train?
Thanks in advance :)

To Mongolia said...

Hi

The bus from Ulaanbaatar to Moron leaves every day.

When the bus gets to Moron you will see the people going over to the vans and jeeps nearby for a shared ride to further destinations, including Khatgal which is the village on the south part of lake Khovsgol.

Going to Russia, the easy way is going back to UB. But you can try and hitch hike or use shared vans from Moron to Erdenet than to Darkhan and to Sukhbaatar. This might take longer, though shorter in Km.

Dan

Jonathan said...

Hello, Thanks for the great info. Do you have info on how much it will cost per person to go on the shared van from Moron to Hovsgol?

Anonymous said...

Hello Dan,
Do you know whether it is easy to find a guesthouse near Khatgal bus station? And where can I buy the ticket from Murun to UB? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hi

There are several guest houses where the vans from Mororn to Khatgal drop you off.
To buy a bus ticket from Moron to UB, simply go to bus station.

dvd said...

Hi,

First, thank you very much for your very, very useful blog.....thanks a lot!

On september, I am going to travel by bicycle Mongolia (...well, a small "piece" of mongolia...).

The first idea is to take a bus from ulaan baator to erdenesant (packing the bike). In http://www.infomongolia.com/ct/ci/1083 it says the bus departures from Narantuul Market.
I could not find more information about it... I have some doubts because most buses departures from Dragon Station....

Is that web site ok? Do you recommend me something different?

Do you Know If I have to book in advance (the day before) the ticket.

Thank you very much

Anonymous said...

Hi
Erdenesant is about two hours drive west of UB.
Micro-bus to Erdenesant (in Tuv aimag) leave from Narantuul.
Dragon station is for buses going North and far west.
You can take the bus to Kharkhorin leaving from Dragon station and get off half way.

Anonymous said...

Is it true that a new highway has opened up between UB and Dalanzadgad? If so, do you know how long it takes to get from UB to Dalanzadgad now?

Anonymous said...

The road between Ulaanbaatar and Dalanzadgad is now completely paved.
By bus it takes about 10 hours, by car even less.

amar said...

a wonderful country!

Nikolai Kivel said...

Hi!
Thanks for the nice blog! A lot of useful information.
I am organizing my trip in Mongolia and I am looking for transfer from village Orkhon (near Bulgan, on the road to UB) to UB. Can I catch the bus from Bulgan (I mean is it real)? Could you also answer how much could be to rent a car with driver (the distance is 343 km)? It is written above 0.5-1$ per km, does this price include expenses for petrol?

Anonymous said...

There is a bus, minivans, and private cars going from Bulgan through Orkhon to UB, every day.
If they have space they will stop for you.
If you want to be sure to get on the bus hitch a ride to Bulgan.
The bus and minivans are much cheaper than renting.
Price for renting includes petrol.

Nikolai Kivel said...

Thanks! One more question. Might be I will go alone (solo). Time from time I am planning to leave
my camp in order to make a small hiking around (few hours). How could you estimate the risk that
the camp could be robbed during this time?

Anonymous said...

Hi

In the countryside there is no problem. You can leave your tent and go hiking.
In any case do not leave valuables like money passport or expensive camera unattended.

Enjoy your hikes.

christian France said...

please I want to know if :
karakhorum to bat olzzi (to go orkhon khürkhree)
bus ?? or other if no
karakhorum to uyanaga (to go to Naîman nuur and to begin a trek to tsetserleg)
bus or other transport ???
thanks for your answer et congratulations

Anonymous said...

You need to hire a local jeep for both. Find a driver near the market

László Balázs said...

Hello ToMongolia!

Thank You for the lots of useful information here. I have a question We would like to travel fom Olgii to Moron in this March. How we can manage that with the public transport?

Thank you for your help!

Laszlo

Anonymous said...

From Olgii take a bus to Ulaanbaatar.
From UlaanBaatar take a van or bus to Moron.

If you fined more tourists in March in Olgii, you can jointly hire a van to go directly from Olgii to Moron.

law said...

can i take the bus from kharkhorin to khovd?
can i take the bus from arvaikheer to khovd? thank you

Anonymous said...

Hi

There is no direct bus from Kharkhorin to Khovd.
Best chance would be to take a bus back to UB, than take a bus from UB to Khovd.

Arvaikheer is on the main road going from UB to Khovd, so you will be able to get on the bus going through if people get off at Arvaikheer. Time table is flexible.

Saying that, always check at the markets to see if there is a van waiting to fill up to your destinations.

Enjoy Mongolia
Dan

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,
thanks for many useful comments!
During my trip in Mongolia I am planning to catch the bus from Bulgan to UB. I expect that the bus Moron-Bulgan-UB operates every day but I cannot find any information about its time schedule. I hope that there must exist at least some approximate time for arrival in/departure from Bulgan for this bus. Could you give any hint about this? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi
Bulgan city is the capital of Bulgan aimag.
There is a direct bus that leaves at 8:00am every other day.
During summer you can rely on minivans that leave when full almost every day.
You can also take a bus to Erdenet, and take the night train to UB.
I would not count on buses that go through Bulgan as they tend to be fully packed.
The bus from Moron to UB leaves 3 times every day, at 8:00 at 13:00 and at 17:00
The distance between Moron and Bulgan is about 300km, you may try and guess when it will arrive in Bulgan.

Have a nice ride
Dan

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,
thanks for the reply, I didn't know about the bus from Bulgan. I am going to be there around September 13th, can I still rely on minivans at this time?

Anonymous said...

Yes
Minivans will operate as long as there is demand.
In September, maybe not every day, my guess is that on days when there is no bus, a van will fill up.
Dan

Derek O'Brien said...

Maybe there's something about navigating this map that I'm not getting, but it seems it only shows how to get out of Ulaanbaatar, not get back to it. In particular, getting from the Gobi region back to the capital in time to make a flight. I am travelling with a group of people and we are renting a car, but I will have to leave before the others, so I need to find some way to get back on my own.

Anonymous said...

Hi Derek

From the Gobi, get to Dalanzadgad. The bus to UB leaves from Dalanzadgad.
There are also shared vans that leave when full.

Give yourself an extra day or two, as public transport in Mongolia is not as reliable as you might expect in western countries.

Good luck

Dan

Derek O'Brien said...

Thanks Dan,

I guess there's no website or any place I could find a schedule? Is it once per day at a regular time (even if approximate)? Or where exactly they leave from? It seems there is a lot of details about the buses leaving the capital, but not much about in other places. Do the buses and vans all leave from the same place?

Anonymous said...

Hi Derek
During summer there is a bus in the morning, and a bus in the afternoon every day.
In addition there are minivans that leave after the bus leaves, but only when they are full.
Transportation leave from about midtown close to the main street, near the shops.

Have a nice ride.

Dan

roadrhymes said...

Hi Dan,

Glad I stumbled upon your forum here after a bit of googling!
Can you give me some advice on getting to Russia from UB? I have a few queries..
namely I have been in UB over a week enjoying Nadaam and also waiting for the Russian embassy to open to apply for a visa.
All has gone smoothly except that the day I pick up my passport on the 5th of August ,will be the day before my Mongolian visa expires on the 6th.
I was wanting to catch the bus to Ulan Ude as its quicker and apparently gets me to Russia on the 6th where I need to be! Do you think this is too risky or should it be fine provided I buy the ticket the day before on the 5th? Also do I need my passport to buy the ticket? I have read in a few places that this is the case.

Also I am now waiting for 2 weeks and would love to see the Tsaatan community, do you think I can just get on a bus to Muren and book a trip from up there?

lots of places only do 14+ day tours that are really expensive so I was hoping I could find a shorter one at better prices at some guesthouses up north.

Before UB I already made a trip to the gobi and did a homestay but I wonder if going North while I wait will leave me short on time.. The other thing I am not sure about is that I have read in places you need your passport to get a permit for the trip.. would this be an issue?

If you have any answers for me I would be thank full!

Cheers Maia

Anonymous said...

Dear Maia

Some of your questions assume the Russian consulate holds your passport for a few days.
Check with the Russian consulate if you have to leave your passport with them.
In case you do, make a photocopy of the main page of your passport.
You can try and apply for a same day visa.

Q: do I need my passport to buy the ticket?
A: They want to make sure you have a visa to Russia.

Q: Mongolian visa expires on the 6th...Do you think this is too risky
A: If you leave on the 6th it is ok. You can also decide to extend your visa. The office is near the airport.

Q: get on a bus to Muren and book a trip from up there?
A: You can try in Moron or at Khatgal the village on Khovsgol lake.

Q: find a shorter one [tour] at better prices at some guesthouses up north.
A: Yes yo can.

Q: you need your passport to get a permit?
A: Yes yo need your passport at all times, and definitely when you apply for the northern permits in Moron.

Enjoy your tour
Dan