Mongolia has borders with Russia and China, not with Kazakhstan. It’s a big country with many border crossings, but not all of them are open to international travelers. For an exact location of these and all other border crossings on the Silk Road, see the border crossing map.
During Nadaam, borders close for 5 days. You can check the Mongolian border police website to see if they have advertised when, and follow our Nadaam border closure forum thread. The only crossing that is open 365/24/7 is Altanbulag, and the rail crossings.
Mongolia – Russia border crossings
ATTENTION! Russia, like Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, is very strict when it comes to codeine! Make sure you are not carrying medication which contains codeine! It is illegal in Russia.
Tsagaannuur – Tashanta
Crossing between Barnaul and the Mongolian Altai mountains at the Durbet-Daba Pass (49.605155N, 89.465113E – be aware of the 26 kilometers of no man’s land between the Mongolian and Russian border posts). Hours of operation are Mon-Sat, 9-18.
Without your own transport, you can proceed as follows: from Barnaul, take a bus to Gorno Altaysk. From there, a minibus goes to Kosh Agach (about $30), from where you need to get a taxi to Tashanta and here bargain with Mongolian drivers (usually on a Russian UAZ 4WD) waiting to cross the border to get you to Olgii (about $15-20).
You might be lucky to find someone in Kosh-Agach driving straight to Olgii. See here for transport options starting in Kazakhstan.
With your own transport: from the border to Olgii, the first part of the road is gravel, last part tarmac. Take 4 hours to cross. Payments for quarantine spray, insurance and eco tax are asked – not sure in how far any of these are real…
Russian border guards have been known to question travelers for hours. Crossing reports are welcome here.
Altanbulag – Kyakhta
Main road border crossing between Ulan-Ude and Ulan Bator. It’s open 24/7, there is an ATM on the Mongolian side and money changers are waiting. Buses run between the following destinations and vice versa:
- Ulan-Ude – Ulan Bator (stops in Kyakhta, Gusinoozyorsk and Darkhan-Uul): daily
- Sükhbataar – Ulan Ude (stop in Kyakhta): 4 times per week
- Sükhbataar – Kyakhta: daily
You can also take a train from Ulan-Ude to Naushki and a minibus to Kyakhta, from where you can find transport across the border.
Your accommodation in Ulan Ude can book bus tickets for you in advance. UU – UB takes about 12 hours. There is no A/C: no drama in May but hot in August. Not a very comfortable journey, but significantly cheaper than getting the train.
Updates gathered in the Altanbulag – Kyakhta forum thread.
Naushki – Sükhbaatar: The railroad border crossing for the Trans-Mongolian. You will be spending some time here, but luckily most likely at night, so just sleep through it if you can. There is no money changing facility in Naushki, there is in Sukhbaatar.
Ereentsav-Solovyovsk: In the far east of the country, this border is open to foreigners. Open everyday from 9-13 and 14-18. Updates posted here.
From UB to Choibalsan there is a tarmac road. A few kilometers after Choibalsan the road ends and the next 230 km are off-road. There is a road on the Russian side. Some recommendations:
- From Choibalsan to the border there are no supplies
- Best avoided if it has rained, it is likely to be very muddy.
- From the highway to Baldan Bereeven (85km) you absolutely need off-road (motorcycle) skills and a 4wd if you go by car. It is absolutely worth it though! The same goes for the track from Baldan Bereeven to Dadal.
Mondy – Khankh: Between lake Khovsgol and Irkutsk. Despite much speculation, this border crossing is still bilateral only.
Khandgait – Borshoo: Between lake Uvs and Tuva. Despite much speculation, this border crossing is still bilateral only.
Mongolia – China border crossings
We recommend you read up about Chinese border closures. For a summary of other issues facing travelers, both at the border and once in Xinjiang, see our Xinjiang travel guide. Some border crossings are bilateral only, while others only serve freight for now.
According to some, you can only visit certain sensitive areas within 30 km of the Chinese border with a Mongolian guide. We haven’t heard of anyone getting into trouble because of this requirement yet. Your experiences are welcome in this forum thread.
Bulgan – Takashiken
Western crossing between Urumqi and the Mongolian Altai mountains. Open for international travelers, from Monday to Friday 10.30-13.45 and 15.30-18.45 Beijing time. The whole road is nicely paved.
Takashiken contacts in case you want to inform about border closures: +86 0906 883 3110, +86 0906 858 8621. Their WeChat account ID: 塔克什肯边防检查站.
The Mongolian border building has a few banks in the basement (unmarked, you have to ask) where you perhaps can exchange your currency (they have different rates, so check them all first – might not accept dollar and need to go to Bulgan to get money). A few basic food stalls and a nasty toilet, otherwise no facilities.
On the Chinese side, the little border town has at least one hotel with good wifi and a few restaurants. In Takashiken there is still the pink\orange hotel, you can bargain on the price. Also possible to find fruit, vegetables, bread in little stores in the street opposite to the hotel.
Mongolia -> China: Cars and vans leaves Khovd for Bulgan in the afternoon most days (25 000/seat). Best to already exchange some tugrik to yuan in Khovd, you might not find banks before Urumqi. Stay the night in Bulgan.
The next day, a bus leaves to Takashiken at 9 am. It costs 15 000, and they start selling the tickets at 8. It is a good idea to buy it early. If you miss the bus, you need to take a taxi to the border, and once across, a taxi or bus to Takashiken or Urumqi. To Urumqi, it will be 7 hours by taxi for approx. 40$/seat, or 10 hours by bus for 30$. To Hovd, 6 hours non-stop from the border (40 000 tugrik). Border to Bulgan is 30 minutes drive. Cyclists should have a look here.
Latest report says it is impossible to cross on foot or by taxi and you can only cross on your own transport or by bus.
China -> Mongolia: There is a morning and a night bus from Urumqi to Qinghe (a small town 150km from Takeshiken). It takes 8 hours during the day, at night 11 hours – 160 rmb. From Qinghe there are several minivans to Takeshiken waiting at the bus station – 26 rmb, 90 mins. Then it’s 15km more to reach the border, should be a quick 15 rmb cab. After the border, a ride to Bulgan should be easy to find.
Zamin Uud – Erlian
Crossing between Ulan Bator and Beijing. Also the rail crossing for the Trans-Mongolian. Works every day between 9 and 19 except public holidays. Also, whenever a train comes in.
In Erlian, you can get really cheap rooms (20¥ and 30¥) near the train station. In Zamin Uud, there are a few ATMs and shops near the train station.
China -> Mongolia: Buses run from Beijing’s Xinfadi bus station (180 yuan) to Erlian and there are buses from Hohhot as well. Tour operators in Beijing sell bus transfers from Beijing to Ulan Bator.
You cannot walk across the border, but minivans (50 yuan/seat) and jeeps are available to take you from Erlian to Zamin Uud. From Zamin Uud central square, either negotiate a car ride to UB (5-6h), or walk to the train station at the right side and get a train ride to UB ( second level – train 274/275 at 6.05pm and arrived at 9am in UB – hard sleeper – around 24000 tugrik each).
Mongolia – China: The following buses should run every day:
- Zamin Üüd – Hohhot
- Ulanbatar – Erlian
- Zamin Üüd – Beijing
Bichigt Zuun-Khatavch: Open year round Monday to Friday 8-17 with a lunch break from 12-14. Lots of speculation on this one, but it should be open to foreigners. More info on Baidu and this blog. There’s a railway station, but no passenger transport. More insights welcome!
Sheveekhuren – Sekhee: This border post is closed for tourists. It is used by several thousand trucks a day exporting coal from Mongolia to China. Although we were told that local Chinese travel agencies can arrange for groups to cross this border post into Mongolia, we have not found any local travel agency to confirm this.
Sumber – Arxa/Aershan: Open seasonally between 1st of April and 30th of November, 7 days a week from 8-17 with a lunch break from 12-14. The Chinese state news agency says it’s now open.
On the Chinese side there’s a train station called Aershan North, not sure what transport options exist on the Mongolian side.