Situated in Central Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar is a must-visit for anyone looking to travel to one of the last remaining countries where nomadism is a way of life. As the capital and largest city in Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar is not what you’d expect considering the wider country’s nomadic roots. The city has a population of some 1.3 million and is a cultural, commercial and political hub. Here, the present and the past live in harmony, with visitors able to work their way through nine districts – each as different as the last.
The temperature extremes experienced in many parts of Mongolia can put some travellers off visiting Ulaanbaatar. As specialists in Trans-Siberian travel, we know all about the culture and the climate of destinations throughout Mongolia, China and Russia. Read on to discover the best time to travel and start the exciting process of planning your upcoming trip.
The land of the blue sky
Mongolia isn’t known as the ‘land of the blue sky’ for nothing. Contrary to popular belief, Ulaanbaatar does not experience the same temperature fluctuations as the Gobi Desert. Mongolia as a whole is a very sunny country, with some 250 days of sunshine every year. The climate in Mongolia is long and hot summers balanced by dry and cold winters, and as with any destination, dressing for the season is essential.
Packing for your trip
Winters see plummeting temperatures, as low as -30°C in many parts of the country, so wrapping up in plenty of layers is highly recommended. During the summer months, the usual lightweight clothing works well. Cooler evenings may call for a jumper, or a light jacket. If you are including a trekking tour outside of Ulaanbaatar in your itinerary then you should heed the advice of travel blogger Yvonne Zagermann as featured in her blog Just Travelous:
“Include skiing underwear! Even in the summer it can be quite cold in Mongolia and during the night you’ll need warm clothes, especially when you’re camping. I was super happy about the hoody Bergfreunde gave me. Not only because I looked good in it during the daytime, by night I was able to zip it up over the tip of my nose and stopped freezing. Tip (if nothing really makes you feel warm): take a regular water bottle, fill in boiling hot water and use it as a hot water bottle in your sleeping bag.”
Summer in Ulaanbaatar
Many people choose to travel to Ulaanbaatar during the Mongolian summertime, which runs from June to August. The summer season not only boasts better weather, it is also the time to enjoy the city at its most colourful. The Naadam Festival is a particular highlight, and considered the biggest celebration of the year by locals and tourists alike. The festival itself celebrates the return of many nomadic communities, who during the winter months are cut off from their extended families and friends due to heavy snow.
As Ulaanbaatar borders the Bogd Khan Uul National Park, the world’s oldest national park, summer offers the perfect conditions to explore a truly stunning landscape by foot or on horseback.
Winter trips to Ulaanbaatar
The winter season, from December to February, is extremely cold but you can brave the temperatures with the right kit and enjoy some incredible sights and beautiful landscapes. Winter in Mongolia is the ideal opportunity to take in the country’s splendour by train as well as views of the city of Ulaanbaatar, the Gobi Desert and Siberia.
Find out more about planning a trip by train through Mongolia by getting in touch with our team today.