Driving in Mongolia can be an adventurous and rewarding experience, once you learn to roll with the punches. To start, the traffic in Ulaanbaatar is comparable to that of Manila despite the fact that they have about 10 million less people on the road. Once leaving the city, though, the roads are nearly empty and the scenery of Mongolia’s beautiful steppe is simply breathtaking.
Then you run out of pavement. Mongolia only has four paved highways (one in each direction leaving UB) and they are really only paved for a few hundred kilometers or so. After that, it’s all dirt roads with limited signs (by “limited” I mean “none,” except maybe leaving a city or small town) and it’s extremely easy to get off course. The main “highways” are incredibly potholed from trucks and other commerce, so most individuals stick to the tire tracks next to the main thoroughfares, aka the frontage roads. These little tracks, however, kind of cross and veer all over the place, so without a good GPS you could find yourself having driven in the wrong direction for hours.
We discovered that it was generally better to follow the power lines. We hired a driver, which was almost the same price as going it alone, thinking it would be nice to not be liable for anything that happens to the car. I’d suggest not hiring a driver and just getting a really good gps in your language.
Sometimes getting from point A to B in Mongolia requires things that aren’t currently available, like bridges. Driving through a river crossing is relatively common, but, of course, there are risks.
Don’t worry, everyone made it out of the vehicle OKAY, albeit a little wet.