Public Transportation

.
.
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 like on the way to Moron is on a wooden barge.
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.

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: 15:00

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: 27,500 Tugrug.
Departure Days: everyday.
Departure Time: 8:00AM.
Tickets purchase: the evening before departure.
Travel Duration: 14-18h 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

24 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.