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Northern Asia Topics specific to Russia, Central Asia (also known as "the 'stans"), Mongolia, Japan and Korea
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  #1  
Old 1 May 2012
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Mongolia in September

I'm contemplating a trip to Mongolia around September, about 20+ days of riding. I'd prefer doing it on the "local" bike, i.e. the IZH Planeta. I've ridden and owned Minsk's in the past (the "local" bike in Vietnam) and so have an affection for old Russian bikes. Yes, the bike is likely to break during the trip, which would make the trip somewhat "mechanical", but I like that sort of thing (fixing a bike in the middle of nowhere with a rock and a piece of wood).

A few months ago I was actually planning to go around April (which is now), but none of my mates could make it. I am not sure yet if I should attempt it on my own (although I have done a solo trip in the past). I'd appreciate any opinions, advice and if anybody wants to join - drop me a line.

Generally, the plan is to spend 2-4 days to buy/hire a bike and get any supplies, parts and tools needed in Ulan Bator. Ride for 20+ days, then 2-3 extra days in Ulan Batar to get rid of the gear/bike and get drunk. In all about ~1month (I'm a working man - that's about my limit...).
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  #2  
Old 14 May 2012
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I've never been to Mongolia but have been half-planning a trip there for some time now.

I wouldn't do it alone, and even less so on an IZH. My plan was to ship my bike over and back (I'm in Australia) but cost for that might be an issue - haven't decided. The IZH was Plan B.

As far as route goes I'd suggest you try UB heading west then up north to Moron / Hovsgol then further west to Olgii, then back to UB the southern route through Bayan-Hongor. If by then you're running out of time shortcut through the mountains back to UB or alternatively do a detour down to Dalanzadgad but be careful to go via the larger towns so you can get fuel, food, water, and help (if needed). I reckon you'd be seeing a lot of the more interesting areas this way and 20 days would probably be about right for this trip.

September is a good time to visit. April is probably a bit busy and maybe wet too. My theory is that the rivers will be down a bit more coming up to winter and there would be fewer tourists.

Hope this helps a bit.
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  #3  
Old 14 May 2012
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Last year Mongolia in September was very good. I was there from 2nd -23rd. Tourist camps were still (just) open but as Chingis says tourist numbers were down. In September too the weather is dry and the river levels were down. I saw lots of washouts and the likes on the roads I travelled suggesting if I'd have come in July and August I'd have got very wet and muddy feet.

I arrived in Mongolia by myself and had planned to travel by myself - I don't think you'll have any problems as long as you use common sense. Petrol and water are available every 100k's or so in most areas. Whilst the population in the Mongolian numbers are low they are very spread out. In all except the most remote areas you'll see people and vehicles regularly.

If you don't fancy travelling by yourself simply stay at the Oasis Hostel in UB - its a wonderful place where 90% of all wheeled travellers seem to stay - there you should have no trouble hooking up with someone else. I did this because it let me get to the more remote areas of the southern Gobi which might have been a bit adventourous on my own.

As for the plan to buy a bike there I think it makes sense. But maybe not an IZH - Russian bikes are now in the minority in Mongolia. The vast majority of bikes used by locals are 200cc chinese imports. These cost around $1000 - $1100 new in the markets around UB and parts are available in every village (you go into any small shop and on the walls thay have dried food, clothes, carburettors, instruments etc). If you think the 200cc won't be enough power wait to you see the locals riding them -I was often doing 70kmh down a dirt track on my big 650cc feeling a dirt hero when one of these little bikes would wizz alongside 2 up and keep pace with me for many kilometres.

Another thought is I believe the owners of the Oasis Hostel sometimes have bikes for rent. (Search the site for details of Oasis Hostel or look it up in the Lonely Planet guide - if you get stuck PM me and I'll find and email the details)

Good luck - wish I could be back there this September.
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  #4  
Old 15 May 2012
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Ya, it's the same with the Minsk in Vietnam. Well, actually new Minsk's are no longer sold in Vietnam (AFAIK), but I think new IZH's are still being sold in Mongolia.

Obviously this trip will be cheaper on a Chinese bike (which will also likely break less often). But I think it should be more fun on an IZH... And I like old Russian bikes. Anyway, that decision can be left to when (and if) I am there.

I am much more concerned on doing it alone than on doing it on an IZH... I can handle broken bikes, but not broken bones - accidents do happen. Plus, I'd like to camp a lot during this sort of trip (Mongolia is definitely the place for that) and I am afraid the evenings might become boring with no mates.

I'll have to decide pretty soon as my employer needs a few months heads-up. I guess if I don't get tickets in the next couple of weeks then I'll have to cancel.

Thanks for the info.
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  #5  
Old 3 Jun 2012
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Weather in September...?

I got conflicting reports about the weather situation in September... Some claim it's too cold, some claim it's fine. I get the feeling that the difference in opinion is due to where people come from (i.e. from hot vs. cold counties)...

I myself come from a hot country. Camping out for a month at anything below ~10-15 deg at night sounds like a nightmare... So how low does it get???

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Old 4 Jun 2012
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Its colder than 10 -15 degrees!

Last year very slight snow fell in the UB area in the first week of September (only settling briefly on the highest hills). More specifically in the 3 weeks of September I was camping in Mongolia I would guess no night was ever higher than about 5 degrees and when I was camping in the southern part nights were usually well below freezing. Also during daytime several times I found myself riding above the snow line. Bottom line it was dry and warm during the day (high teens, low twenties) but cold at night.

However don't let the cold put you off; a reasonable tent, a good sleeping bag (and where necessary wearing most of your clothes in it) you'll be fine - and I'd still take the cold nights as a reasonable trade off toavoid the rain and mud of July and August. Good luck
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  #7  
Old 4 Jun 2012
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Hmmm... If there's one thing I hate, it's cold weather.

I rode for a month in Thailand and Laos in the wet season and road through flooded 'roads' in Cambodia. Both were muddy/wet as hell, but were a lot more fun than when I was riding in Northern Vietnam at the start of winter... And I wasn't camping out!

Anyway, thanks for the info navalarchitect.
I'll sleep on it.
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  #8  
Old 5 Jun 2012
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hello, a french guy did it late september and october, he got COLDDDDD...but enjoyed it
vagabondagesautourdumonde
sorry if it's french written but at least there are many photos
cheers
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  #9  
Old 5 Jun 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by osbane View Post
I got conflicting reports about the weather situation in September... Some claim it's too cold, some claim it's fine. I get the feeling that the difference in opinion is due to where people come from (i.e. from hot vs. cold counties)...
The reason why reports may differ is because, like everywhere else, the weather is changable.

Three years ago in mid-september there was a fair bit of snow lasting a couple of days in Ulan Bataar (and I think in large parts of the country). About a foot deep I think. You wouldn't have wanted to have got caught out somewhere remote right then.
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  #10  
Old 5 Jun 2012
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Well while we are on the subject, how wet is it in August anyway? I am guessing it's nothing like wet-season in South-East-Asia...
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  #11  
Old 9 Jun 2012
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Hi

if I look at the pictures of Walter (Colebatch) from his crossing of Mongolia in the first half of september, I would say, that it is worth visiting Mongolia at this time (great colours).
We were in Mongolia last July, and if you fear 0°C, than you will never visit Mongolia, we had one night with some snow near Yaruu.

Regards

Christian
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  #12  
Old 18 Jun 2012
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Can anyone shed any light on the make/models of motorcycles generally available for purchase in Ulaanbaatar, and a rough guide to prices? I've heard that the IZH Planeta is common, as are some Chinese makes, but no more detail than that.
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