If you dream of experiencing a truly rugged, untouched country, then look no further. In Mongolia, you can go hours upon hours seeing only rolling grassland, breathtaking mountains, and herds of goats, yaks, and camels.
If you're craving adventure, Mongolia provides a vast landscape filled with steppes, deserts, and a deeply rooted nomadic history. So what are you waiting for? Have an exceptionally unique experience and head out on a high school abroad program in Mongolia!
Mongolia is best for students who are interested in nature, volunteering, working with children, experiencing a unique culture, and trying interesting foods.
Students interested in spending time in Mongolia can choose from:
- A volunteer program
- A teen travel tour, typically over the summer
Nearly half of Mongolia's population lives in poverty. High school students who wish to make a difference will find a variety of volunteer opportunities in Mongolia, including assisting with teaching English to children or working at a hospital in a uniquely remote location.
Teen Travel Tours
Teen travel tours are ideal for students who want to see a lot of Mongolia in a short period of time. These tours, which can last anywhere between a week and a month, are very well organized so students can participate in many activities.
Generally, high schoolers will learn about Mongolian culture, sightsee at historical attractions, explore beautiful natural sites, go camping, and participate in a homestay. This is a great way to further learn about a culture that may be very different from your own!
Planning Your Trip
Most travel programs will take you around Mongolia, but one of Mongolia's most distinct destinations is the capital Ulaanbaatar (UB). Unlike the countryside of the vast country, UB provides a different kind of adventure with its busy cityscape and modern nightlife.
Tourists from the U.S. can stay in Mongolia for up to 90 days without a visa, while Australian and Canadian citizens can stay for up to 30 days as tourists without a visa. Residents of the U.K. and other countries will need to apply for all visa types in advance. Usually, high schoolers participating in volunteer or travel programs are given assistance with visa applications through their program provider.
Most programs in Mongolia will involve some form of homestay. This is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture and experience a different way of life firsthand. Travel tours can also include hotels if students are moving frequently from location to location.
Note that accommodation in rural Mongolia will be on the basic side.
Students flying from North America to Mongolia can find flights from $1,000 to $1,200 USD, while those coming from Europe can pay around $800.
Mongolia is much less expensive than Western European and North American countries. Students budgeting for transportation, food, and additional expenses should expect to spend up to $20 USD a day.
Program costs in Mongolia vary depending on length of stay, amenities, type of housing, and how much travel is incorporated. A month-long travel tour can cost $5,200 USD, while a two-week volunteer program can be $3,000.
Mongolia has all four seasons with a chilly spring and fall. The best time to visit Mongolia is in the summer between May and October. The summer is pleasant with an average of 75 degree Fahrenheit (24 Celsius), cooling down with increased rain during August. Be sure to pack:
- A hat
- A jacket for cooler nights
- Solid walking shoes for outdoor adventures
- A 230V/50hz power adaptor for electronics
It's best to pack your luggage in a backpack and limit yourself to one piece of luggage and one smaller persona item (like a purse or day bag).
Health & Safety
It is recommended students receive tuberculosis and measles vaccinations before visiting Mongolia, as these diseases have been on the rise in recent years. Additionally, be up to date on your hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and rabies shots.
Medical care is very limited outside of Ulaanbaatar. Within the city, it is possible to find basic medical services, although they are generally not up to Western health standards. Most facilities expect cash payment upon treatment.
Mongolia has a relatively low crime rate, although reports of incidents have increased in recent years. Students in Ulaanbaatar should be aware of pickpockets in touristy areas, on public transit, or in open air markets. Thieves may cut bag straps and clothing to get at valuables. Only use marked / known taxis when traveling as unmarked ones have been linked with robberies.
Like any country, crime levels go up at after dark, so it is not recommended to walk alone at night in Ulaanbaatar. Incidents also increase during the summer tourist season. Remember that personal safety is always more important than any object. If something does occur, file a report with the local police.