Safety and security in Mongolia

Safety and security information for US tourists provided by US Embassy in Ulaanbaatar. There have been no significant acts of terrorism, kidnapping, criminal incidents, or extremist activity directed against foreign interests in Mongolia. There are no regions of instability in the country. Travelers should be extremely cautious at these specific locations:


• Chinggis Khan International Airport in Ulaanbaatar: tourists arriving and departing from this airport are frequently targeted for robbery and pick pocketing by organized groups.
• The State Department Store: tourists are targeted by organized pick pocket gangs at the entries/exits/elevators and the area surrounding the store.
• Naran Tuul Covered Market : Organized criminal groups look for and target foreigners for robbery and pick pocketing.



MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical facilities in Mongolia are very limited and do not meet most western standards, especially for emergency health care requirements. Many brand-name western medicines are unavailable. Ulaanbaatar, the capital, has the majority of medical facilities; outside of Ulaanbaatar medical facilities and treatment are extremely limited or non-existent. Specialized emergency care for infants and the elderly is not available. Infectious diseases, such as plague, meningococcal meningitis, and tuberculosis, are present at various times of the year.

Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars; see section on Medical Insurance below. Doctors and hospitals usually expect immediate payment in cash for health services. A June 2005 medical evacuation from Ulaanbaatar just to Seoul, Korea cost the patient $87,000. Medevac companies will not initiate an evacuation without a fee guarantee beforehand and in full.

• Local hospitals generally do not contact the Embassy about ill or injured Americans in their care; hospitalized American citizens who need Consular assistance from the Embassy will need to specifically request the doctor or hospital to contact the Embassy in Ulaanbaatar.

• Sanitation in some restaurants is inadequate, particularly outside of Ulaanbaatar. Stomach illnesses are frequent. Bottled water and other routine precautions are advisable.

• Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith

MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. (See Medical Facilities and Health Information) Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Mongolia is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

• Driving in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar can be extremely difficult due to poorly maintained streets, malfunctioning traffic lights, inadequate street lighting, undisciplined pedestrians, and a shortage of traffic signs. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of vehicles on the roads in recent years, but the knowledge and skills of the driving population have not kept pace with the growth of automobiles. There are many metered taxis in Ulaanbaatar.

There are a few car rental companies operating in Ulaanbaatar, but safety and maintenance standards are uncertain and rental vehicles should be utilized with caution. Another alternative is to hire a car and driver from local tourist companies. Public transportation within the capital is extensive, cheap, and generally reliable, but it is also extremely crowded (see Information on crime above) with the result that pickpockets often victimize foreigners. There are few paved roads outside of the capital, and driving can be hazardous, particularly after dark. For specific information concerning Mongolian drivers 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.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Traveler’s checks denominated in U.S. dollars are accepted at some hotels and may be converted to dollars or T ugrugs at several banks. Credit cards can be used at a variety of hotels, restaurants, and shops in Ulaanbaatar. Outside of the capital, travelers should have cash. Cash advances against credit cards are available at commercial banks such as Trade and Development Bank and Golomt Bank. International bank wire transfers are also possible. There are a handful of VISA and Maestro/Cirrus ATM machines in Ulaanbaatar, but they do not always function and are not reliable. ATM machines do not exist outside the capital.

• American citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and citizenship are readily available. U.S. consular officers may not always receive timely notification of the detention or arrest of a U.S. citizen, particularly outside of Ulaanbaatar.

• Severe fuel shortages and problems with central heating and electrical systems may cause seriously reduced heating levels and power outages in Ulaanbaatar and other cities during the winter. Smaller towns in the countryside may have no heat or electricity at all. The Embassy advises all American residents in Mongolia to be prepared to depart if there is a complete energy failure.

REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living or traveling in Mongolia are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Mongolia. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at Micro Region 11, Big Ring Road, Ulaanbaatar.

The telephone number is (976) 11-329-095, the Consular Section fax number is (976) 11-353-788, and the Embassy’s web site is http://ulaanbaatar.usembassy.gov/. The Consular Section can be emailed directly at cons@usembassy.mn. The Consular Section is open for American Citizens Services Monday and Thursday from 1-3 p.m., except on U.S. and Mongolian holidays.

• This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated March 21, 2005, to update sections on Country Description, Entry/Exit Requirements, Safety and Security, Crime, Medical Facilities and Health, and Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, Aviation Safety Oversight, and Special Circumstances.

CRIME: Over the past few years there has been a significant rise in street crime in Mongolia, particularly in Ulaanbaatar, the capital. It is not advisable to walk alone through the city after dark.

The most common crimes against foreigners are pick pocketing and bag snatching when using public transportation and in crowded public areas, such as open-air markets, the Central Post Office and the Gandan Monastery.

U.S. citizens who detect pick pocket attempts should not confront the thieves. Crime rises before, during and after the Naadam Summer Festival in July and throughout the summer tourist season.

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