Driving in Mongolia

Guide to Driving in Mongolia

Driving a car in Mongolia is the most common way of transporting in the country. Mongolia’s large metropolitan area is around Ulaanbaatar Mongolia, served by public transportation. But many residents own cars and massive traffic in the city. Outside of the Ulaanbaatar, public transit tends to be inconvenient and infrequent. So people also rely on cars to get around.
The legal minimum age for driving is 18 years. Drinking and driving are strictly prohibited.

Table of Contents

Roads in Mongolia

Mongolia has right side road rules as Cars drive on the right side of the road, but most of the cars in Mongolia are imported from Japan and with steering on the right side. We use both of them.
Road signs and rules follow Mongolian standards, and some road signs on regional roads are Mongolian and English but not that good to understand. Country roads have no road signs. Better for you to use GPS or APPs when you have self-driving to explore the Mongolian countryside. The typical maximum speed limit is 60 km/h in cities and towns, 80 km/h in provincial roads (highways).
Most roads in Mongolia are toll-free, except for some provincial or regional paved roads (highways). These paved roads have a small number of a fee (1000 – 2000 MNT). You can pay it at road checkpoints outside the cities or towns.
Major cities are connected with paved roads, while most of the ways in Mongolia are gravel and dirt roads, mostly in rural areas.
Paved roads that connected from Ulaanbaatar to province center.
Ulaanbaatar-Zuunmod (Tuv) – Mandalgobi (dundgobi province) – Dalanzadgad, umnugobi
Traffic congestion is a frequent problem in only Ulaanbaatar city. Drivers generally tend to be well mannered and considerate. However, some common dangers on UB roads include drivers speeding over intersections even well after the traffic light has turned red, people stopping their vehicles at the edge of the road, which they block traffic.

International driving permits

Foreign residents can drive in Mongolia with International Driving permits (IDP). You can use your valid international driving permit for up to one year in Mongolia.
Mongolia only recognizes international driving permits based on the Nov 1968 Vienna Convention on driving roads, which are issued by more than 70 countries. Also, you should have a valid international driving license during your stay.
It is not possible to drive with an International Driving Permit again after a year has passed unless you return to your home country for at least three consecutive months in between.
International driving permits are also issued in some driving schools in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. If you stay in Mongolia for more than one year, you should get a Mongolian driver’s license.

How to get a Mongolia driver’s license?

If you stay or live for more than one year in Mongolia, you can get a Mongolian driver’s license. You need to apply with some documents in the License center of National police agency in Ulaanbaatar city. Mongolian driving permit is issued with appropriate classification for ten years.
As we mentioned earlier, Mongolia follows the Vienna convention on road traffic. Since you are from the countries that accepted the Vienna convention and with valid drivers, you can get Mongolian national driving license without taking exams.
If you have a driver’s license from other countries or states such as the USA and England, you have to take a written exam to obtain a Mongolian driver’s license. This case typically takes several attempts, and even you are an experienced driver.
See the countries that are under Vienna conventions on road traffic.

Here are the process to change your driver’s license to Mongolian national driving license.

Buying or owning a car and insurance

Brand new and used cars are widely sold in Ulaanbaatar. Official distributor companies from Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, porches in Mongolia. You can visit their showrooms or workshops.
There are many used car import companies in the City. Used cars with various models from Japan, South Korea, USA, Germany, and Russia mostly sold in Auto markets or local websites. You can also check local web sites like www.unegui.mn for the price arrange and conditions.
You can buy and own the car if you live with Mongolian resident permission. When you own a car, you must have insurance for the vehicle. There are two types of protection for the vehicle.
Owning and operating a car has many expenses, including compulsory inspections every year, yearly automobile taxes, mandatory and optional insurance, UB road fee, toll fee for provincial roads, and gasoline cost.
The first one is the mandatory insurance for the driver by Mongolian law. This insurance only helps to fix the demands you made for someone’s car for the accident.
The second one is the insurance for the car. It is an optional one. The fee typically starts at 2% of the car price.
Some documents are required to purchase a car, including forms to register your vehicle. Used cars additionally require a transfer of ownership. Fortunately, if you buy a car through a car dealer or someone, they will handle most of the paperwork for you, while your main task is to sign the forms with your officially registered.
In the Bigger auto markets, there is a national center of the automobile; several offices are in Ulaanbaatar districts.

Gas stations

gas station Mongolia

Gas stations are found widely in Ulaanbaatar city and province center cities. in rural areas, Small tows have at least one gas station. They traditionally provide full service, although self-served gas stations are not in Mongolia yet.

Most of the gas stations are open 24 hours. A liter of regular gasoline costs roughly 1980 (A92) (as of July 2019). High octane gas and diesel are also available in major cities. Payment is possible by credit card or cash.

Car parking

Parking space is a big problem in Ulaanbaatar city because of the high number of cars. There are a few free and paid outside parking in the town. The parking of the city center usually starts with 1000 MNT per hour. Some parking has flat fees.
Big shopping centers or landmarks in the outer part of the city mostly have free outside parking while center-located landmark has paid outside and inside parking.
In the countryside or other cities, parking is free.

Renting a car in Mongolia

If you are exploring the Mongolian countryside, a car is the best considering option for your travel. There are two different types of car renting in Mongolia that people commonly do.
Self-diving in Mongolia is one of the options you can do. There are several car rentals in Mongolia.
Requirements are the legal minimum age for driving is 18 years, and valid international driving permits under Vienna convention countries on road traffic or Mongolian national driving license.
Another way is hiring a driver in Mongolia on your travel. If you do not prefer self-driving, this is a common way you to hire an experienced driver with a car. Surprisingly, hiring a driver with a car is cheaper than a self-driving car. Some places provide an English speaking driver.
Renting car price is estimated between 50$ and 150$ per day.

Driving in Mongolia tips

  • Cars in Mongolia mostly doesn’t have navigation. So if you do self-driving, you should use additional GPS or use some apps like Google Maps or maps.me. Maps.me work pretty well in Mongolian country roads even it is offline. 
  • Learn more about road conditions and weather forecasts during your travel. Then choose your right vehicle.
  • Some rural places, sometimes it is not available to pay by card in the gas station. Keep some appropriate cash with you.
  • Choose the right mobile phone service along with your travel routes in case of an emergency.
  • Keep some cash for the road toll fee and national park fees. They do not accept cards.