Mongolia Weather and the Best Time to Visit

From winter lows (-40°C/-40°F) to pleasant summer highs (32°C/90°F), Mother Mongolia doesn’t mess around when it comes to the weather, making summer the best time to visit Mongolia.

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The thrill and excitement that comes with visiting Mongolia is unmatched. The country is not yet overcrowded by tourism, traditions still run deep, and the locals are as friendly and hospitable as they come, making it every traveler’s dream. Not to mention it boasts some of the most beautiful and untouched natural wonders in the world, including the Gobi Desert, northern Taiga, and Altai Mountains in the western part of the country.

And, as if that wasn’t already enough to start planning your dream Mongolia trip in a second browser tab (we see you), there are dozens of annual festivals that take place across the country at all times of the year. From the annual Naadam Festival, the festival of the three manly sports, to Playtime Festival, Mongolia’s answer to Coachella.

However, as you plan your visit to the country, you are bound to ponder over the best time to do so – and that they don’t call Mongolia the land of extremes for nothing. Especially when it comes to weather.

Due to the low winter temperature, summer remains the preferred time to visit. Winter can go as low as -40° C (coincidentally the same in Fahrenheit, – 40° F).

But you’ll be forgiven to think that winter is completely ruled out as a viable time when traveling to Mongolia is even possible. Low temperatures indeed discourage most travelers. However, well-prepared adventurers find it quite rewarding since wintertime in Mongolia means less tourists and even more incredible natural phenomenon. (Did you know that the Gobi Desert is one of the only deserts in the world where it snows?)

To give more comprehensive advice on visiting Mongolia, here is a breakdown of the weather in summer and winter.

Mongolia Weather: Why Summer is the Best Time to Visit

Mongolian summer runs from mid-June to the end of August. You can look forward to sunny days and sufficient rainfall to keep everything lush and green during this time.

Summertime temperatures in most parts of Mongolia range from 20-25° C (68° F-77° F) with low humidity making it a pleasant time of year to visit Mongolia.

Here is how the three summer months look like in Mongolia.

  • June: 16° C-26° C (60° F-78° F)
  • July: 22° C-32° C (71° F-89° F)
  • August: 20° C-28° C (68° F-82° F)

With temperatures like this, short sleeves and pants are comfortable in the day, and extra layers sometimes necessary at night. Mongolia’s weather is often unpredictable, so it’s always a good idea to be prepared for anything here.

Make sure you always carry sunscreen, sunglasses, a waterproof jacket and pants (yes, pants too), and of course, something to purify water no matter where you are. Temperatures can still drop to a chill in the evening, which means a light jacket and pants are never a bad idea when the sun starts to set.

While the average temperature in Mongolia is pleasant in the summer, there are some places where the temperature can reach record highs. The Gobi Desert is extremely hot in the months of June, July, and August. Expect to tackle red-hot sand, very dry air, and temperatures of up to 40° C (104° F).

Visiting Ulaanbaatar, Lake Khövsgöl, Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, the northern Taiga, and even heading out west to the Altai Mountains is recommended for June, July, and August, we recommend visiting the Gobi Desert in spring or fall (June, September, October) when temperatures are less extreme.

Mongolia Weather: Don't Rule Out a Winter Trip to Mongolia Just Yet

Mongolian winter runs from November to February, covering a cool four months’ period. During this time, temperatures plummet to as low as – 40° C (- 40° F).

Winter in Mongolia is characterized by an exciting blue sky and a dry cold, which is likely to keep your glove-covered hands deep in your pockets anytime you step outside. Expect to encounter a fair bit of snow, even in Ulaanbaatar, and especially as you get farther north.

  • November: -5° C to -15° C (23° F-3° F)
  • December: -22° C to -30° C (-7.6° F to -22° F)
  • January: -20° C to -26° C (-4° F to -14.8° F)
  • February: -14° C to -20° C (6.8° F to -4° F)

Even with temperatures this cold, there are plenty of places to explore and adventures to cross off your Mongolia bucket list. Just be sure to pack your warmest and most reliable cold-weather clothes. (Trust us on this one.)

Start with merino wool layers (top and bottom), waterproof winter boots, gloves graded for extreme cold, an ear warmer and knit cap, and an adequate winter jacket. Hand warmers and foot warmers are one of our secret weapons during Mongolia winter, providing heat inside your gloves and boots, which becomes essential if you’re spending any amount of time outdoors.

Traveling across the country in winter may have its challenges, but it is still possible. However, make sure you prepare thoroughly and carry the right equipment. The nomads don’t expect visitors around this time, which makes them extra hospitable and ready to welcome you into their ger to have a taste of traditional Mongolian food. You’ll definitely earn some cool points with them for braving their beloved country at this time – not many outsiders do.

Winter Weather Mongolia

Mongolia Weather: Spring and Fall

Spring in Mongolia can bring about challenges that make it one of the least desirable times of year to travel through the country. Nomads are transitioning from their winter to summer camps, summer tourist camps aren’t quite open yet, and chances are there’s still snow on the ground with no sign of disappearing until early June.

Roads aren’t cleared yet from the last of the winter storms and most locals are more than ready for the weather to turn warm. Avoid traveling in Mongolia from mid-March through mid-May, if you can. It will make for a much more desirable and inclusive travel experience to visit when the locals are ready and able to welcome you with open arms.

However, fall is actually our favorite time to travel through Mongolia. Temperatures do start to drop rapidly, but with less tourists and the chance for mostly agreeable weather, depending on the region, we’re a big fan of crossing any last bucket list adventures off our list during this time.

Mongolia Weather

The Best Time to Visit Mongolia

With all things considered, summer is still the best time to plan a trip to Mongolia. The sun is warm and the days are long, which gives you even more time to explore – and take in – everything this incredible destination has to offer.

With winter being an equally fascinating time of year to visit Mongolia, it requires packing more gear, planning more carefully so you don’t find yourself in a dangerous situation, and the areas where you can visit will be limited.

Best Tours in Mongolia in the Summer

Motorcycle across the steppe in a vintage Russian Ural with a sidecar and embed yourself with herders as part of Moto Trip Mongolia.

Experience Naadam and the largest celebration of the year for yourself. Cheer on as locals celebrate the three manly sports – wresting, archery, and horse racing. Contact us to arrange a trip to experience Naadam and get tickets to the opening ceremony.

Visit the Tsaatan Tribe and learn about the last reindeer riders in the world. Contact Erik Cooper to join one of his authentic and exclusive expeditions.

Enroll in an apprenticeship with the Eagle Hunters of the Western Altai Mountains or attend the Golden Eagle Festival, held each October. Enroll in the apprenticeship or contact us to visit the Golden Eagle Festival.

Self-Drive your way across Mongolia and take a photography masterclass led by one of the best travel photographers in the world. Or rent a car and travel Mongolia on your own.

Don’t be fooled into thinking Mongolia is only a place for extreme adventures – summer means the annual Playtime and Spirit of Gobi music festivals are going on, and those are certainly worth checking out.E

Best Tours in Mongolia in the Winter

Dog sled your way through Gorkhi-Terelj National Park during this high speed, cute-as-can-be day trip from Ulaanbaatar. Contact us to arrange this day trip.

Set off across the snow-covered sand dunes of the Gobi Desert atop a Bactrian two-humped camel and celebrate Tsagaan Sar or Mongolian Lunar New Year with a local family and learn about Mongolian food traditions first-hand. Contact us to arrange this experience.

Spend the first weekend of March experiencing one of the coldest festivals on the planet – the annual Lake Khövsgöl Ice Festival. Contact us to arrange this experience.

While you’re at it, you might as well make time for the annual Camel Festival in the South Gobi as well. Contact us to arrange this experience.

Khovsgol Lake Winter Ice Festival

Author: Breanna Wilson

Hi! Sain uu! I’m Breanna, an American travel writer and adventurer living in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia for more than 5 years. I’ve written for and been featured in Condé Nast Traveler, CNN, Forbes, and the New York Times, among others. Read more of my Mongolia travel articles here.

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