A lot of the traditions of Mongolia were made illegal during the Communist era. Even though since independence in the early 1990’s Mongolia has had to forge and reforge its identity, a lot of the banned older customs and social rules have returned and still remain an inherent part of 21st Century Mongolian life. However, some are so integrated into everyday life that it can be hard for visitors to tell that they exist. One tradition that most travellers come across and that remains at the core of rural life in Mongolia is ‘khoorog’ – the passing and receiving of the snuff bottle. Passing a snuff bottle is seen as a formal occasion. If given, always try to remember to accept it with your right hand and with an open palm. You may take a pinch of snuff or just sniff the bottle’s top. Before passing the bottle to another person, you should offer it back to its owner. Do not replace the cap firmly before passing the bottle back – simply leave it resting on top of the bottle, with the snuff blade inside. This great image was taken by our guest Egon Filter on our Untamed Mongolia – one of our Mongolian small group adventures.
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Sunrise from sacred Shiliin Bogd Mongolia
Shiliin Bogd Mongolia
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Mongolian boots

Guide To Mongolian Souvenirs

In our guide to Mongolian souvenirs, we’re only going to focus on local products. * We keep this blog fresh and up to date and the last update was March 2023.

There is very little bargaining in Mongolia – the price is set. Most shops and markets have fixed prices which are often displayed on the goods. You are unlikely to be charged very much more than the locals unless you are buying antiques, jewelry, or other cultural items, then you may be charged a higher price. By all means, try and get the price down but be reasonable. (Mongolia is not a cheap Asian country. It can be expensive thanks to its location resulting in the need to import so much. Also, the work that goes into items that are made by hand deserve their higher cost.

 

Wool | Felt | Cashmere

  • Consider woolen items made out of cashmere, camel or yak wool such as hats, scarves, and jumpers. There are numerous cashmere brands including some with factory outlets.
There are multiple cashmere brands in Mongolia including Yamaa, Goyo, Goyol, Altai, and Erdenet. One of the oldest brands is Gobi and they focus on traceability and work in partnership with the National Federation of Pasture User Groups of Herders, Step Ecolab, and The Sustainable Fiber Alliance. They use locally sourced 100% raw Mongolian cashmere which helps to reduce waste associated with supply chain issues. All their products are made in their Ulaanbaatar factory where everything from raw cashmere processing to yarn creation to final production is done in-house.

 

  • Hand-made felt products are popular for souvenirs and include items such as chessboards, children’s boots, slippers, and placemats. If you’re in Ulaanbaatar, consider visiting Tsagaan Alt – a non-profit shop (on Prime Minister Tserendorj Street) where all products sold are made by local home producers and help to provide a valuable income source and opportunity to those same producers. Another option for handicrafts is Mary and Martha – driven by its philosophy of being a fair and ethical business for artisans in Mongolia. As the name implies, this is also has a Christian outreach programme as well.

Don’t save your souvenir shopping for Ulaanbaatar, a lot of the local, provincial markets also sell locally handcrafted goods although it might take time to find exactly what you want.

 

Leather Products

  • Mongolia has some excellent leather products, and traditional Mongolian boots are a worthwhile investment if you are looking for something a little different. One of our favourite locations for purchasing boots is the Black Market (Naran Tuul) in Ulaanbaatar.
  • Or, check out the work of Khur with their handmade Mongolian leather products focusing on design and durability. Check your country’s customs regulations to ensure what items you will be able to bring back into your own country.
  • Husug is a project of the Youth Designers and Innovators Association NGO. Items are created by Mongolian designers and handmade details are made by disabled people and women who are socially vulnerable in Mongolia. Items are made typically in wool, felt or leather with no post-processing or dyes. Husug currently has an outlet in the Shangri-La shopping mall as well as at the Chinggis Khan International Airport.
  • If you’re looking for something just that little bit different, consider the Tavan Nuden Mongolian luxury brand. (During the time of the Mongol Empire,  a pattern called Tavan Nuden (which means Five Eyes) could only be used by people with Mongol royal blood meaning the descendants of Chinggis (Genghis) Khan.)

Ulaanbaatar’s Black Market

Potentially of the most (in)famous locations in Ulaanbaatar. This massive sprawling market is set up for Mongolians and is where locals come in from the wider districts of Ulaanbaatar and rural areas to do their shopping.  That’s why you can purchase everything from a can opener to all the separate parts to build an entire ger. As a visitor, there are good sections for Mongolian traditional deels, cashmere and leather products, Mongolian boots and colourful material including silks, and Buddhist / shamanistic items alongside the cheap Chinese sunglasses and electronics.

If you’re planning on buying you’ll need cash rather than cards but watch out for pickpockets. It’s closed on Tuesdays but another option close to the Black Market is the indoor Dunjingarav Centre which is easier to navigate. You can’t miss it, it’s the bright orange building.

 

Artwork

  • Another idea in our guide to Mongolian souvenirs is Mongolian artwork. The following two ideas are both in Ulaanbaatar. The State Department Store has a good general souvenir section including artwork as well as a floor dedicated to different Mongolian cashmere brands. But also consider the Union Of Mongolian Artists (UMA) that operates as an ongoing exhibit, a workshop, artists studios, and a shop and is a small but vibrant community space. Established in 1942, the UMA is Mongolia’s largest, national, non-profit, arts organization which aims to promote Mongolian fine art and art crafts.

 

When buying any antiques, be careful about what you buy as there may be illegal items for sale. Make sure you obtain a certificate of authenticity, as well as a receipt, in case you are asked for them by customs. The same applies if you are thinking of purchasing rocks or stones, if checked at Immigration they will probably be confiscated (no matter the size).

 

Buddhist Items

  • Why not consider a Mongolian khadag? A khadag is a Mongolian Buddhist traditional ceremonial scarf. The colour blue represents Mongolia’s Eternal Blue Sky but you can also buy green (land), red (fire), yellow (sun) and white (dairy products). You can buy them in most markets or local shops including those in monasteries and they are light and come in different sizes so easily fit into your luggage.

A Mongolian khadag - a Buddhist traditional ceremonial scarf. Part of our guide to Mongolian souvenirs

Beauty Products

  • For something a little different, also consider the Mongolian natural skincare brand Lhamour; one of few companies in Mongolia with a certified organic label acknowledging their commitment to 100% no waste production.

Accessories 

  • For something more modern, we really like Yalguun Accessories. Producing silk scarves, apparel and jewellery, Yalguun manufactures a limited number of products in each design to keep each style unique. With locations throughout the city including Peace Mall, the Ulaanbaatar Departure Store and the Chinggis Khan Airport, Yalguun products reflect Mongolian traditions and culture in their design.

 

The Mongolian Quilting Centre (https://www.facebook.com/MongolianQuiltingCenter) is known more formally as the Shine Zamnal (New Way Life NGO) was established in 2005 to make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged and unemployed women in Mongolia. Women supported by the project are trained in the art of quilting, textiles and embroidery and use their skills to generate income for their families by crafting products to sell. Not only do the women of NWL make everyday items such as tote bags and tablecloths but also individual pieces of fabric artwork made from discarded and recycled material such as their stunning quilts. To learn more abour our partnership with the Mongolian Quilting Centre – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/mongolia-one-day-tours-mongolian-quilting-centre/

 

Food And Drinks

  • Established in 2003, Golden Gobi is a Mongolian brand that uses Belgian expertise and equipment to create a delicious range of chocolates. Most of the wrappers for Golden Gobi products have beautiful stylised Mongolian designs and illustrations.
  • Sea-buckthorn is a medicinal plant occurring throughout the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. It is indigenous to Mongolia (it is a hardy plant that can grow in extreme conditions) and produces orange-yellow berries, which are considered a ‘superfood’  given their nutritional properties. It is frequently sold as a juice.
If you’re planning on visiting Mongolia and planning on leaving a little room in your luggage to bring back some souvenirs, then why not consider bringing items for Buddhist NGO Asral – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/stuff-your-rucksack-for-asral-ngo-mongolia/. You might also find our guide to what gifts to bring with you useful – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/gift-ideas-for-when-travelling-in-mongolia/
Jess @ Eternal Landscapes
Jessica Brooks
Jessica Brooks
I'm Jess Brooks, the founder of Eternal Landscapes Mongolia and the voice behind EL's blog posts. For more than a decade, since 2006, I've been based in Mongolia, working closely with my beloved Mongolian team to advocate for a tourism approach that brings about positive change.. What sets our blog apart is our deep understanding of Mongolia—our home. Unlike content from influencers or creators, our posts prioritise authenticity and firsthand knowledge as guiding principles.
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