Travelers arriving or departing Mongolia through China should also be aware of Chinese visa regulations. American citizens are not permitted to transit through China without a visa. For more information, see the Consular Information Sheet for China or contact the Embassy of the Peopleís Republic of China, 2300 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, Tel: (202) 328-2500 or http://www.china-embassy.org or the Chinese consulates general in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, and Houston.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy. Useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad. It is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402 or via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs.
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Driving in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar can be extremely difficult due to poorly maintained streets, malfunctioning traffic lights, inadequate street lighting, and a shortage of traffic signs. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of vehicles on the road in recent years, but the knowledge and skills of the driving population has not kept pace with the influx of automobiles. There are now some taxis in town, but most people simply wave down a vehicle and negotiate a price with the driver. There are no car rental companies currently operating in Mongolia, but it is sometimes possible to hire a car and driver. Public transportation within the capital is extensive, cheap, and generally reliable, but is also extremely crowded (see information on crime above). There are few paved roads outside of the capital, and driving can be hazardous, particularly after dark. For specific information concerning Mongolian driverís permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Embassy of Mongolia at 2833 M Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007, telephone: (202) 333-7117.
CRIMINAL AND DRUG PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens are subject to that countryís laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and do not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Mongolian law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. In Mongolia, penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
CURRENCY REGULATIONS: Travelerís checks denominated in dollars are accepted at some hotels and may be converted to dollars or Tugriks at several banks. Credit cards can be used at a variety of hotels, restaurants, and shops, almost exclusively in Ulaanbaatar. Cash advances against credit cards are available at one commercial bank and international bank wire transfers are also possible.
WINTER POWER SHORTAGES: Severe fuel shortages and problems with central heating and electrical systems may cause seriously reduced heating levels and power outages in Ulaanbaatar and the cities of Darhan and Erdenet during the winter months of November through April. Smaller towns in the countryside may have no heat or electricity at all during these months. The U.S. Embassy advises all American residents in Mongolia to be prepared to depart if there is a complete energy failure.
ACCOMMODATIONS: The number of hotels in Ulaanbaatar and of tourist-oriented facilities in the countryside has increased sharply in recent years. Accommodations are readily available, although many hotels may be fully booked during the peak tourist month of July.
Mongolia has upgraded its aviation facilities and communications and air traffic control capabilities. However, the U.S. Embassy has reported some general safety and reliability concerns regarding domestic flights operated by the national airline MIAT. The U.S. Embassy does not prohibit its employees from utilizing MIAT, but does encourage them to exercise prudence and good judgment when boarding domestic flights. If Embassy employees observe potential hazards, such as missing safety belts or passenger overcrowding, they are advised to deplane and await another flight.