The ultimate packing list for Mongolia…..possibly….

Focus on Mongolia – February News
March 1, 2015
The Tale Of The Weeping Camel
March 26, 2015

So. Mongolia. Definitely not a pack-light destination. Actually, consider purchasing some of those vacuum storage bags. 

To put it into perspective. Mongolia is one of the highest countries in the world, with the average altitude at 1580 metres above sea level – over 80% is over 1000m. The high central Asian mountain ranges protect the country against the humid air masses which basically creates an extreme continental climate with a temperature range to suit. 

Mongolian weather has  a reputation and  is known for its sharp fluctuations with warm, short summers and long, dry and very cold winters. There’s not much point in detailing averages as anything is possible, from 30°C and no wind in May, to 15°C and snow in August.  On the plus side, weather systems do tend to move through quickly!

Stephen being introduced to summer in Mongolia – yes, that’s snow!

Everyone’s packing style is different and we all have our own travel needs so these are only my ideas and there will be gaps*! Personally, every year in the week leading up to my departure to Mongolia I struggle with my packing.  I hate having to choose between my favourite things and am often tempted to just bring it all and to hell with it. Yes, I am that person struggling at the airport with an over-packed bag. 

* The list is quite generic and I have not focused on horse trekking equipment or if you’re travelling independently. If you are doing either then that’s a whole different blog post!

The ultimate packing list for Mongolia…..possibly….

Of course, you could just bring your own horse and cart – photo by John Holman who joined us in 2009, 2012 and 2013±

Think layers, think comfortable and think practical. Dark colours are usually better than light so that dirt doesn’t show up so much, but if you’re heading to the Gobi when it’s really hot some lighter colours may be preferable.

  • Warm Days

Loose-fitting, lightweight cotton materials. Bring swimming stuff for a dip in a lake or river. Also very useful on camping trips for having an outdoor wash.
  • Colder Days

Thermal layers, fleece tops, jumpers, hat and gloves. If you’re really concerned about the cold then consider a down jacket and ‘hand warmers’.
  • Inclement Weather

Water/windproof jacket (and waterproof trousers for trekking). 
  • Horse or Camel Trekking
Suitable trousers – not too loose as they will definitely rub. 

Practical Items (in no particular order)
  • Money Belt/Pouch
  • A lock for your bag
  • A headlight 
  • Plastic/Ziploc bags  – good for wrapping camera equipment/shampoo bottles etc
  • Binoculars  – great for early morning wildlife spotting
  • Wash Cloth
  • Travel plug adaptor (for Mongolia a European plug with two circular metal pins). Bring for a standard socket as well as a vehicle cigarette lighter. Bring a USB adaptor with you as well. 
  • Spare memory cards for your camera – although a good selection are available in UB
  • Solar charger
  • Light-weight travel towels (towels are not typically available at any accommodation outside of UB apart from higher level provincial hotels and the larger tourist ger camps)
  • Lip Balm/Moisturiser (Mongolia can have a very dry environment due to its altitude)
  • Suncream and sunglasses
  • Insect Repellent (no need to bring a mosquito net – I’ve never needed one in 10 years)
  • Anti – Bacterial ‘Dry’ Soap
  • Laundry Soap/Travel Wash – biodegradable if possible
  • Pain Killers/Medication (for bad backs, headaches, muscle pulls, constipation etc). Generic antibiotic such as Amoxicillin.
  • Wet Wipes (good for instant washes) 
  • Travel Pillow
  • Sarong
  • Water Filter or Purifying Tablets 
  • Multipurpose bandana 
  • Trekking Poles

Also. If you’re  a keen photographer seriously consider bringing  a Polaroid camera with you.  Taking a photo and just showing it on the digital screen or promising to send it is no longer enough. Bring a Polaroid camera and leave the photo  as a small thank you gift. 

Available in Mongolia

Yes, items you can buy at home will probably be more expensive in Mongolia but we’re only talking a few pounds or dollars and exploring the Ikh Delguur (State Department Store) or the Black Market is all part of the experience. You may even find yourself shipping an entire ger home when you were only looking to buy some cashmere socks!

True, once you head out of UB your shopping options will become more limited – unless you’re looking to buy six different brands of vodka or a large selection of plastic Chinese buckets?!
Shopping options in rural Mongolia – by Violaine Coard on our 2014 Untamed Mongolia
In UB, you can purchase everything from shampoo through to binoculars and on to insect repellent, wet wipes, spare memory cards and trekking poles. There is also a Louis Vuitton if you’re looking for something slightly upmarket?!  Guide books are also available – but if you’re convinced that you need all four of the ones you have lovingly researched and purchased then who am I to argue! 

Final Thoughts 

Gluten free? You might want to bring some rice crackers with you. Going trekking? Consider bringing some cup a soups – perfect for cold days for a quick hot lunch option. Even if your itinerary states you will be staying at tourist ger camps you may still want to consider bringing a sleeping bag liner or a sleeping bag. Summer gers are erected quite informally and so there are always plenty of gaps where the air flows through. The insulating felt can be quite thin as well.

Vegetarian? You don’t have to worry….

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