The very first thing we, as backpackers, try to do is to find out what’s fun and interesting about the places we stop by. The second thing that comes up in our mind is this question, “Is it affordable?”. So here is our case. We decided to go to Mongolia because what’s out there seemed pretty fun, like horse trekking, camping, living with a nomad family in a Ger, tasting Kumis, an alcoholic drink made from horse’s milk, listening to Morin Khuur, horse-head fiddle, and etc…
Especially if you are traveling China as well, you might want to consider taking a BUS and a LOCAL TRAIN from Beijing via Erlian(二連特浩) and Zamyn-Uud to Ulan Bator. In our case, we took an air plain from Narita, Japan to Beijing first.
Ok, here the most of you get headaches as you arrive at Beijing. You can’t find the bus terminal for Erlian! The local subway map is great EXCEPT for the fact that it’s missing English sub. We finally managed to go to the bus terminal for Erlian after taking half a day long detour. You can take an air port subway express to get you at a local subway station. You could take an air port bus as well, but this takes longer but cheaper than the subway express. Once you get to a local subway station, you can relax pretty much for the day. Now you want to take a subway for Dahongmen(大紅門 ) on Line 10. It takes 30 minutes walk from Dahongmen subway station to the long distance bus terminal. We took a tricycle taxi because we did not know how to get there, plus had 20kg bags on each of our backs.
Yay! finally we got there. I was super happy to see this sign board.
We went to the ticket counter to buy the tickets. Sorry I don’t remember the price again, but it was close to what’s on Wikitravel. We had some awesome noodle soup and were so ready to go on the 12 hours length bus trip to Zamyn-Uud.
After arriving at Erlian, you can find a taxi which goes to the China-Mongolia border. All you need to tell to the driver is “China, Mongolia, border!”. If you want to discuss about the price, go a head. However it seemed that there was a fixed price in the area. Sorry again, I don’t have info on the price with me.
Once you get to the border, you probably need to wait for Chinese immigration office to open. It opens at 9 or so. When it’s open, you don’t walk in there, even if the office is right in front of you. You need to take a taxi again to get in. Pay the tax which was about US$5. After all the paper work, we waited outside Chinese immigration office hoping that the same taxi driver crosses the border and find us again. And he came. He took us again and dropped us at Mongolian immigration office. I believe this was where we received our Mongolian entry stamps on our passports.
When we were done, we hitch hiked a car to bring us to the train station in Zamin Udd and we paid them some money. As they looked a bit surprised to see the money, I guess we did not need to pay that much…
Now you can buy the tickets and just wait for the train to come. But don’t wait until the last minute. Watch how the other people do. They carry so many bags with them to sell in Mongolia. They are going to occupy your seats with their bags if you are a second later than them. Be ready to get your seat right away!
I can tell you one thing though. It was really TIRING. I confess here that we took an expensive international train to get back from Ulan Bator to Beijing on the way back.
Sorry for my broken English. I hope you enjoy your trip.
(written by Mia)