How much do you know about Mongolia? You may well have heard of this country but your knowledge of it may not extend far beyond its actual name. We’re about to change that with an exploration of its currency and the country itself. Mongolia uses the tugrik as its currency, which also appears as togrog but with the two dots over the top of each of the o’s.
While the currency is a decimal one and is theoretically divided into 100 mongo, this is really a moot point now as there are no mongo coins in circulation anymore. As with several other countries around the world, Mongolia suffers from higher inflation and this has made the mongo practically worthless, so it is no longer in use. You might still see some on your travels but you are more likely to see them offered to you as souvenirs than anything else. It might be worth buying one just so you have one in your possession to take home with you.
Instead you will find five coins in circulation, which are the 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 tugrik coins. There are lots of banknotes too, and unusually the smallest one is actually lower in value than the lowest-valued coin! This is the 10 tugrik note, and after this there are the 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 notes.
Before the tugrik came into use, Mongolia used its own dollar as a currency alongside a few other ones in use at the time. In 1925 it was decided a change was in order, mainly to replace all the currencies that must have made life rather confusing and complicated at the time. The Mongolian tugrik came into being and since 9th December 1925 it has been the only currency to be used in the country.
As you might guess this isn’t the easiest of currencies to get hold of – and you won’t be able to find any tugriks before you leave home. Instead you should wait until you arrive in the country and find some cash there.
It is good to know that you can use US dollars in the country, although only generally when you are paying for things in bigger amounts. This fact does make it a good idea to take in US dollars rather than another currency though. As such you might want to order some US dollars from a bureau de change before leaving home. This does at least give you a few more options and the dollars are also among the easiest currencies to change in Mongolia.
You can get your tugriks in the banks once you get to Mongolia. Bear in mind this will be easier to do in bigger cities – going outside the cities means you are far less likely to be able to change up any cash into tugriks. Make sure you are prepared for this if you happen to be planning on visiting anywhere rather more remote in the area.
You shouldn’t really bother with traveller’s cheques when heading to Mongolia but you can consider using debit cards to withdraw cash with. Just make sure they are available for use in Mongolia as your normal card probably won’t be any use there.
If you have a favourite currency converter, now is the time to use it. You can look for the Mongolian tugrik quite easily by using the MNT code, since most good converters will recognise this and take you straight to the currency you want. If you convert the tugrik to the US dollar you’ll see how much you get for your money here, and you can also compare it to your home currency to get a better idea of how far your money is likely to go in Mongolia.
The country has an embassy located in London that is worth a look. You don’t have to venture into London to find it though – a simple trip online is all you need. Just go to the appropriately named http://www.embassyofmongolia.co.uk/ website to find out information about visas and so on.
Of course security will always be at the forefront of your mind when you travel to any country. In the case of Mongolia crime is not really a big issue. We are all aware that petty crime can often occur in larger cities and unfortunately this is also true of cities in this country. Pickpockets take advantage of the busier streets and watch out for people who present easy targets, since this means they are less likely to realise what is happening. You can minimise the risks by focusing on several easy steps.
For example, tuck your cash in various different pockets instead of keeping it all in the one place. This minimises the amount you’d lose if you were unlucky enough to be targeted. Keep your valuables to a minimum too; if you can, stay in a hotel where a room safe is offered as standard. This provides a good place to keep your passport and other items when you don’t need them.
Finally, just be aware of where you are and where you go. Wandering around at night is rarely a good idea wherever you go. In addition to this you should be wary of larger groups of people as they can sometimes be rowdy and ask for money. It is best to avoid them if you can.
Mongolia is located in Asia and it is only bordered by two other countries. Russia runs along its northern border while China essentially wraps around it to the south, extending up to the east and west as well. Mongolia is a relatively small country and tapers off at either end, hence why China meets much of its border areas to the south and to each side.
The capital of Mongolia is a place called Ulan Bator, but you might see this more commonly referred to as Ulaanbaatar. The city has a long history that stretches way back into Paleolithic times. Today however you will find many sights here that date from all kinds of times, many of them more recent. There are many temples here including the Erdem Itgemjit Temple, which is more than a century old. The Tsogchin Dugan Temple pre-dates this, stretching back to 1838.
As is usually the case the capital has its share of museums, some of which are ideal to visit if you wish to learn more about its extensive history. You can learn more about Mongolia in general too if you visit the National Museum of Mongolia. The city also has a Natural History Museum and yes, there is a great collection of dinosaur bones here that reveal what life might have been like many ages ago.
If you wish to get out of the capital to see what the rest of the country has to offer, you won’t be disappointed. Indeed you should definitely make a beeline for the so-called Flaming Cliffs. You might guess why they have received this name too – they literally look as though they are on fire. The cliffs are in the Gobi Desert and they have revealed many ancient finds throughout the years. Dinosaurs are known to have roamed here as their bones have been found. The best time to see the cliffs – made from sandstone, hence the name – is when the sun goes down. This means the light is at the right angle to produce the flaming effect.
Finally we can visit the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, a park which is very well set up to receive tourists. Indeed there are some camps in the park that can be used by tourists while they are there. The landscape is quite breathtaking, with luscious greenery and mountainous areas all knitting together seamlessly. If this is the one image of Mongolia you take away with you, you will not be disappointed.
Few will know much about Mongolia but as you can see the country has many treats to share with those who pay it a visit. While you can visit the capital and explore other cities within the country, it is also worth seeing some of the most amazing natural sights it has to offer.
Whether this means finding Turtle Rock in the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park or visiting some of the temples in the capital city, the choice is yours. Mongolia may never be top of peoples’ lists of places to go, but it is more appealing than you may at first believe. The more you discover about it the more you want to know – and with a history stretching back many years there is certainly a lot to find out.