Hövsgöl - Getting there
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Getting to Hövsgöl

By plane

Within Mongolia, there are currently (2010) three active airlines: MIAT, EzNis and AeroMongolia. However, the only airline that offers reliable domestic connections is EzNis. MIAT seems to, at best, offer domestic flights in summer only, and AeroMongolia regularly has problems with its flight licenses.

During Winter, flights normally only go to Mörön, but during summer season Hatgal is also flown to. A flight from Mörön to Ulaanbaatar takes about 90 minutes, compared to at least 16 hours for overland travel. EzNis flies SAAB 340, AeroMongolia uses Fokker 50 and Fokker 100, and MIAT tried to use a Boeing 737-800 in 2009. One-way tickets cost from 150,000 MNT (90 Euros) upwards. Flight plans and additional information can be found at www.eznis.com.

By bus

From Ulaanbaatar and also from Erdenet there are regular Russian minibuses (furgon) to Mörön. Furgons are considerably slower and less comfortable than planes, but at 25.000 MNT also much cheaper.

The buses leave when they are full, i.e. with about 15-17 people onboard and quite probably one or two hours later than expected. The journey is not only quite crammed, but also quite bumpy. It takes around 20 hours, depending on road conditions. The best seats are in the middle. On the backseats the bumps are harder and there is even less space for the legs.

Along the way, there are usually one or two stops at small roadside restaurants (guanz). The usual route used to be via Bulgan and Ih-Uul, nowadays a more southern route seems to be the preferred one. It crosses the Orhon in Ölziit and then goes through Rashaant. Starting point in Ulaanbaatar is either the Dragon Center on the road to the airport, or the Teevriin Tovchoo near the central station. In Mörön, the driver will usually let you off wherever you want him to. Meeting point for minibuses from Mörön to Ulaanbaatar, and also to Hövsgöl's soum centers, is the open-air market in Mörön.

Due to the lack of comfort hinted at above, it is usually not easy to sleep during a furgon ride, meaning that passengers usually arrive in Mörön quite tired. Travelling by furgon is not for everyone, but there are also fans who just love the experience.

Apart from the furgons, there is also an official bus line between Ulaanbaatar and Mörön. Real buses are slightly cheaper than even minibuses, but also slightly slower.

As Mongolia's overland public transport is very much directed at Ulaanbaatar, it is quite difficult to get rides from Mörön to the aimags to the south and west.

By car

Travelling by car is much more comfortable than by minibus, and one sees more of the country than from sitting in a plane. For a relaxed journey, we recommend to cover no more than 300 km per day. The trip from Ulaanbaatar to Mörön can then be done in three days.

In Mongolia, rented cars are usually only offered together with a driver. But without extensive off-road experience, it's not a good idea to try out Mongolia's cross-country tracks anyway. A Mongolian driver also usually know the area better and can ask directions in case you - or he - get lost.

Generally, one has the choice between Russian and Japanese technology. Russian cars are slower, less comfortable and have more small breakdowns. On the other hand, they are designed to be repaired in the field, and if some spare part is missing, there is a good chance some other driver has just what you need. Japanese cars are faster, have a better suspension and less small problems, but when they are broken, you are stuck.

A journey from Ulaanbaatar to Mörön can very well be combined with a visit to the Amarbayasgalant monastery and the dead volcanoes around Uran Togoo. The greater part of this particular road to Hövsgöl is now even paved. Alternatively, or for the trip back to Ulaanbaatar, one can take a route via Karakorum and Terhiin Tsagaan nuur. This route has a lot of dead volcanoes as well. The fastest route is probably still the one via Ölziit and Rashaant mentioned above.

From Russia

Just northwest of Hövsgöl nuur, between Hanh and Mondy, there is a small border crossing that would be the logical choice for entering Hövsgöl from the direction of Irkutsk or Lake Baikal. Unfortunately, this border crossing is only open for Russian and Mongolian nationals. Citizens of other countries should not count on being allowed to cross the border there.

For some years now, there has been talk of opening the border crossing for citizens of other countries in the near future. By now, we have become somewhat sceptical about whether and when this will happen.

Distance table

Below is a rough table with distances between Mörön and some important destinations outside Hövsgöl, as well as to Hövsgöl's soum centers. Average travel speed in the Mongolian countryside is around 30-40 kph.

From Mörön to ... Distance
Ulaanbaatar 690 km
Erdenet 410 km
Bulgan 350 km
Ulaangom 680 km
Uliastai 390 km
Terhiin Tsagaan nuur 230 km
Alag-Erdene 62 km
Arbulag 75 km
Bayanzürh 127 km
Bürentogtoh 51 km
Chandmani-Öndör 190 km
Erdenebulgan 160 km
Galt 168 km
Hanh 280 km
Hatgal 101 km
Ih-Uul 112 km
Jargalant 182 km
Rashaant 154 km
Renchinlhümbe 265 km
Shine-Ider 123 km
Tarialan 160 km
Tosontsengel 64 km
Tsagaannuur 279 km
Tsagaan-Uul 138 km
Tsagaan-Üür 173 km
Tsetserleg 209 km
Tömörbulag 75 km
Tünel 46 km
Ulaan-Uul 171 km