|Hitchability:||<rating country='mn' />|
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If you plan to hitch in Mongolia, it is good to know that most drivers expect to be paid, though you can still hitch for free. It just takes more patience, and effort, but the rides come relatively quickly, nonetheless.
Before entering the car make it clear that you have no money, unless you don't mind shelling out a few bucks for every ride. Many will just turn forward and continue driving, leaving you in the dust, but many will say not to worry about it, and motion for you to get in anyway. Also expect a jam-packed car, packed with amazingly friendly people!
There are just a couple hundred km of paved road from Ulaanbaatar in every geographical directions (exactly one per direction) and that's it. No roads, no signs. The trunk roads out of Ulaanbaatar are paved and reasonably trafficked. Be careful if you walk out of the cities, along the roads so you don't get lost, and take water with you. Confusingly, names of cities equal names of states, so make sure city and state match.
Due to the extreme weather differences between summer and winter, hitchhiking in mongolia seems to be a completly different experience depending on the season. Instead of talking about hitchhiking in mongolia, it would make more sense to talk about hitchhiking in mongolia in the summer or in winter as if it were two different countries.
Mongolia in summer
Expect flat tires, overheating jeeps and not much more than 100km a day, due to the lack of traffic, and extremely poor condition of the roads. The easiest place to find rides in small towns is in the local markets, where locals look for shared rides and trucks are picking up and delivering supplies, though there, you will probably have to pay. Otherwise just stand by the road anywhere (even in the middle of absolute desolation) and stick out your thumb when a vehicle comes by. The classical hitchhiking method works just fine, though they don't always know that you mean you want a free ride, so they will usually ask you up front for money, by rubbing their fingers and thumb together and saying "money, money" or "dengi, dengi" (Russian for money), but you should still make sure, before you get in the car, by saying "nye dengi" ("no money" in Russian). However, if you get too bored, or worried that you might not get a ride before dark, you can always just madly wave down whoever is passing. They will stop (no need for a sign), though they will probably expect money when you do it like that. Asking the locals is also a good way to get information on rides and routes, if you can find a local that speaks English. Be warned you probably won't be able to leave before endless cups of tea and milk cookies.
Hitchhiking in the far west: Bayan-Ölgii, is very hard to hitch. It took Worldhitch 2 weeks from the Russian border in Bayan-Ölgii to Ulaanbaatar. Getting a Chinese visa is easy in Ulaanbaatar, Russian is not so easy – like in any other place.
Mongolia... the land of dusty, unpaved, unmaintained, "roads", in absolutely the worst shape, that this hitchhiker has ever seen (though I've only been to North America, Europe, Russia, and Northern Asia). Also, or maybe because of that, there is next to no traffic on the major thoroughfare across the southern part of the country. People are mostly, quite willing to pick you up, but there just aren't that many people. Walking sometimes staves off the boredom of just sitting and waiting.
Camping is great in Mongolia. It's legal to camp anywhere. You can filter water from springs and lakes, or ask any of the locals for some of their boiled water. It's a good idea to stock up on fruit, vegetables and any essentials in Ulaanbaatar.
Mongolia in winter
Expect also flat tires and very occasional overheating. The distances covered are considerably higher since vehicles don't get stuck in mud, the frozen ground provides a good riding platform. It is common to hitch 1000 kilometer rides, especially if you are going to the capital.
To where to hitch
In mongolia, half of the population lives in Ulaanbataar and the other half has a very good reason to go to Ulaanbataar. Therefore, it is common to find direct rides to Uaanbataar from all parts of the country. From Ulaanbataar to elswhere however you will have to put up with village to village hitchhing.
Jeeps are the prefererred, confortable and only transport means that is adapted to the Mongolian terrain. However the mongolian drivers are skilled and can drive pretty much anything through pretty much any terrain. Do not ignore that small car that wouldn't dare to take a dirt road, would it have been in europe. The mongolian will successfully take it through the worst of mountain passes. The speed you can expect is 60 km/h, this is a good average. Jeeps should be able to hold that average but also some classic cars.
How to hitch
Talking to people trying to fill up their cars works but Mongolians will have trouble understanding that you want to go for free. Your success might depend on wheather somebody is willing to pay for your ride. This is likely to succeed in villages for short distances (<200 km). The price for that sort of ride can be 10,000 or 20,000 MNT (Jan 2014).
In the countryside, money is very strongly expected whereas in more "densely" populated areas it is not. When hitching in the countryside, you should prepare yourself for a discussion and a series of explanations that you really don't have money, no tugriks, no dollars, no whatever. They might ask you an insane amount of times. It can get tiring but even though some people will look like they will only take you for money, do not give up until they actually ride away. Mongolians are kind and helpful people, if you do not have money, they will take you for free.
There is an effective way how to get rides in Mongolia. However it is not a way anyone should recomment. In Mongolia, it is very easy to put yourself into danger. If you really want a ride, especially a free long one, walk to the middle of nowhere and wait for someone to drive by. It is very easy to stage your suicide in Mongolia, be careful to make it make-believe only. There are thousands of Yurts spread accross the countryside, especially by the main roads. Position yourself somewhere a few kilometers from such yurt and wait. If someone drives by, you will appear as an irresponsible stupid tourist who will die if not save. And the mongolian people will save you. Be careful with this tactic, you should always consider the risks when you play with your life. Unexpected weather conditions may occur, temperature can drop very fast, what you thought to be make-believe may become reality very fast. So be very careful!
Source and detailed information for this section: here
Be even more careful if you try these stunts when approaching the chinese border. While you can almost be sure that mongolians will help you, the chinese will not. The same stunt performed in a chinese-influanced region may just leave you to freeze in the desert with nobody caring. Also, do not mistake inner-mongolia inhabitants for mongolians, they are not! Inner mongolia is more china than mongolia and such a mistake would be a fatal one.
Source and detailed information for this paragraph: here
There are many paved roads in mongolia. When there are no paved roads, there are also very good dirt roads. You should not be worried about road quality if you are going from UB to Teserleg (North-West), Bayankhongor (South-West) and Zamiin-Uud (South). Further west, the quality of road varies from "OK" to "just disastrous or inexistant". Sometimes you just drive through snow tracks. However vehicles do not get stuck in snow that often. Expect a flat tire every 400 kilometers, even on paved roads.
Do not worry about sleeping in mongolia in winter. Just knock on the door of any yurt, you will be invited in, it is automatic. Nobody will think about asking you for money. Everybody understands that it is just too cold to sleep outside. Usually they will also introduce to their friends who will also invite you, you will quickly have a network of aquaintances and sleeping places so big that all your stay in mongolia will be covered for free source. You can go to a hostel sometime if you need some privacy.
Nothing to be alarmed from this side. Mongolians drink occasionaly; however they are peaceful drinkers at least compared to their neighbours and you are usually given a choice wheather or not to drink. Your choice should be respected.
Most Mongolians, in the south, don't speak English, and only have the slightest understanding of Russian, but you can get along with hand gestures and correct pronunciation of the name of the place you are trying to get to (if you know how to pronounce it correctly). However not so few mongolians speak either English, German or Russian so if you know those languages you should find common speakers quite often.
From Ulaanbataar to China
The main border crossing with China is in the South-East at Zamyn Uud. Hitchhiking there from Ulaan Baatar is not difficult, as of 2013 the paved road is basically completed. However, do not expect a direct ride from UB to the border, you will probably stop at every major city. Expect 2 days to get to your destination. It follows the Transmongolian Railway and gives you the security not to die of thirst. Worldhitch also got a lift by the great Defektoskop train.
From the border to the capital
Hitching from Zamyn Uud to Ulaanbaatar is very easy. The capital is always easier to hitchhike than any other city and this section is completly paved and has a lot of traffic in all times of year; mongolians love to do their shopping in china. Expect a one day ride.
A good place to hitch a ride is to talk to the people during passport checks in the no-man's land. Many will speak either english or russian and can take you with them probably all the way to the capital.
Crossing the border
Crossing the border itself can be quite tricky as you need to have transportation to cross three separate checkpoints. Usually the soldiers will help you to find a ride if you first just try to walk -- but that won't be a guarantee that the ride will be for free. Keep trying until you get a ride (or too frustrated, with the Chinese border terminal looming in the distance, guards not allowing you to simply cover the 500 meters by foot).
Keep your morals up and be very persistant. Explain that your visa will expire if they don't take you. They will insist that it's impossible, they will try to get your money by every means but keep your head up until they realize that the energy put into convincing you to pay is greater than the energy they would put into convincing the taxis to take you for free.
Source and detailed information for this paragraph: here
This border is very strange. Only some special type of cars are allowed to cross. Only chinese cars and old soviet jeeps. That is why mongolian people usually leave their car on one side of the border and take a taxi even if they have their own vehicle (!). The border processing is also somewhat complicated. Here is the detailed description from Mongolia to China: 1) You take a taxi from before the border to the mongolian checkpoint. The price is about 10 yuan but you can avoid it (described above) 2) You buy some kind of border pass for 1000 MNT which allows you to get to the mongolian passport check 3) You get a stamp, you take the jeep again, you show your stamp to the guards you pass by (they don't stop the car, they check your stamp while driving in order to not lose time) 4) You arrive at the chinese checkpoint, you buy another border pass for 5 yuan 5) You drive from the checkpoint to Erlian, you show your stamp to the guards you pass by. 6) That's it, you are in China
The other way (Mongolia -> China) is similar