Getting Around in Mongolia

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A vast sparsely populated country with little infrastructure Mongolia relies heavily on air transport. There are over 80 airports few of which have paved runways. MIAT the major internal airline has flights to most of the provincial capitals major cities and tourist destinations - but not all of them. Schedules change regularly foreigners pay several times more than Mongolians for tickets and there's no computerised reservation system so you can't buy a return ticket at the same place you purchase an outgoing one.

Buses are an increasingly popular way of travelling around the country but services are still limited the buses old and the journeys uncomfortable and slow. Also bus drivers are occasionally drunk and breakdowns can be expected on all long distance trips. Bus routes start and end in Ulaan Bataar and no buses travel around western Mongolia. Slightly more expensive minibuses that travel between popular spots are quicker and more comfortable. Mongolia's 1750km (1090mi) railway is made up of a north-south line which is part of the Trans-Mongolian Railway connecting China with Russia.

Taxis are only useful along paved roads - ie not that useful since only 1200km (744mi) of road out of a total of 47 000km (29 150mi) are paved. Jeeps are an important form of transport on the unpaved majority and mandatory when visiting remote attractions. Jeeps tend to be slow and mechanically fragile. Usually they come with a driver and/or guide and if it's a public jeep with other passengers. Travelling around in your own jeep is not a good idea though you can drive with an international driving license. Be aware that petrol can be hard to find; accidents unfortunately are not.

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