How to Book the Best Mongolia Car Rental

Booking a car rental in Mongolia can be confusing. From what rental car insurance to trust, to what to expect when it comes to rental rates and vehicle options, we explain everything you need to know.

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Until now, booking your dream Mongolia road trip was probably just that, a dream. But the time has come and it’s time to make those dreams of off-roading across the steppe, sleeping in gers (or yurts as you’ve been calling them until now) and living with nomadic herders a reality. But where do you start? Hold our airag.

The Best Mongolia Car Rental Companies: Avis vs Sixt

When it comes to renting a car in Mongolia, you have two choices: Avis or Sixt.

Avis Mongolia

Choose Avis Mongolia for: off-road ready reliability.

Avis Mongolia might be the newest car rental company to set up shop in Ulaanbaatar, but with a name as known around the world as Avis, you already know you’re in good hands. And, in our opinion, Avis’s options are a bit better suited for the steppe than the city.

With rental options from adventure-ready Land Cruiser 76s and 79s to Toyota Land Cruiser Prados, there’s no limit to where Avis Mongolia’s cars can take you. And to where you’ll want to go.

Sixt Mongolia

Choose Sixt Mongolia for: comfortable city cars ready to battle Ulaanbaatar traffic.

Equally important to the Mongolia car rental scene, we can’t talk about car rentals without mentioning Sixt Mongolia. Because, if Avis has the steppe covered, then consider Sixt having the city covered.

Their cars are more equipped for the business traveler and Ulaanbaatar explorer than the adventure traveler ready to leave the city as fast as humanly possible.

Choose from standard and compact cars such as a Hyundai Elantra, Nissan Teana, or KIA Rio, to something slightly bigger like a Suzuki Jimny, or go all in with a Ford Ranger, Nissan Patrol Y62, or Nissan Navara.

Avis Mongolia

What kind of car should I rent for my Mongolia road trip?

You’ve pulled the trigger and started planning your Mongolia road trip. You know which car company you’re going to rent from and you’re ready to choose your vehicle. But which vehicle makes the most sense for you?

Two of the most popular rental car choices are Toyota Land Cruisers (76 and 79 styles) and UAZ Patriots. Lucky for you, we’ve tested both extensively, taking each to the extreme, traveling thousands of kilometers across Mongolia’s “highways” into places where we absolutely had no business being. That being said, we can confirm that both are up to the Mongolia test.

Both vehicles comfortably seat four and have more than enough space for luggage, tents, sleeping bags, groceries, coolers, power banks, and whatever else your little traveling heart desires.

If you prefer comfort over anything else, the UAZ Patriot has your name written all over it.

If you prefer reliability and a car that can handle that’s thrown at it, a Land Cruiser is for you.

For a more in-depth analysis, Avis talks about the difference between Land Cruisers and Patriots in this blog post on

Additionally, there are a few more important things to know about these types of car rentals in Mongolia.

First, expect your rental to be a 5-speed manual. Sorry, Americans, automatics are in short supply when it comes to these types of vehicles in this part of the world.

Next, you should absolutely know how to change a tire or get yourself out of a mud or sand situation.

And finally, the weather. The best time to visit Mongolia might be in the summer, but that doesn’t mean you can unclench your butt cheeks just yet. You should always expect rain (and mud), no matter where you go, as well as temperatures that will go across the board. And drastically across the board at that.

Mongolia’s summer temperatures are usually dry and mild, but the country is vast and spread across just about every elevation – and terrain – that you can think of.

If all this sounds too daunting, and you’re rethinking your big drive across Mongolia adventure, don’t. Both Avis and Sixt can provide a driver with your rental car, so you can still adventure on as planned.

Collision Insurance, Emergency Support + More: What’s Included in Your Mongolia Car Rental

Also known as, how not to f**k yourself on your big Mongolia adventure.

Let’s talk about Avis in particular.

There’s a reason that they’re known as one of the most reliable car rental companies in Ulaanbaatar, and that’s because they provide:

  • 24/7 support in case of emergency
  • Spare tire plus tire change equipment
  • Each car has a GPS tracker installed
  • Towing assistance is available

Car insurance is not included in your rental agreement, so you’ll need to have your own policy or purchase a policy from Avis when you reserve your rental car.

Pro Tip: Unless you’re a resident of New York, Oregon, or Texas, under the World Nomads Explorer travel insurance plans available in the United States, reimbursement for damage to a rental car while in your possession, for any cause not within your control, including theft or natural disaster, may be covered (refer to their policy wording for full details).

Planning the Ultimate Mongolia Road Trip: North, South, Central, or West?

When it comes to planning your road trip route, and crossing things off your Mongolia bucket list, you have four main Mongolia road trip options: North, South, Central, or West.

North: for the Reindeer Herders

Some of Mongolia’s most spectacular scenery lies to the north of Ulaanbaatar in Darkhan, Bulgan, and to the west towards Khuvsgul Lake National Park. Set your GPS for Khuvsgul Lake and take your time getting there. The journey will take you through scenery that will leave you speechless for days before delivering you to Mongolia’s largest freshwater lake (and the second largest in the world). Beyond that, this is the area where Mongolia’s famous Dukha people call home. Check out Ulaan Uul and Tsagaan Nuur in particular, and keep in mind that you may need to ditch the car at some point, trading it in for horses, to get even deeper into the taiga for what many people call one of the most magical places in Mongolia (us included).

South: for the Gobi Desert

Gobi, Gobi, go big or go home. To the south of Ulaanbaatar, you have some of the country’s most fascinating terrain. From the White Stupa (Tsagaan Suvarga) to the Flaming Cliffs, where the world’s first dinosaur eggs were discovered exactly 100 years ago, to Khongoryn Els (the Singing Dunes), just when you think things can’t get any cooler, a herd of camels is sure to cross your path. Take the time to get to know the two-humped Bactrian camels and nomadic herders who call this area home, and don’t be afraid to make conversation along the way. Just because you don’t speak the same language doesn’t mean you won’t understand one another.

Central: for the History Buffs

History buffs, unite! Because Central Mongolia is where it’s at… historically. Be sure to spend a few days getting to know Kharkhorin, the country’s capital during the days of Chinggis Khaan (you’ve heard of him, right?) where you can walk in the steps of the famous Khaan. Choose to set up camp along the Orkhon River where wild horses will watch over you or stay with a local family of artists at Silver Tree Art Guesthouse. Don’t miss the newly built Kharakhorum Museum and Erdene Zuu Monastery, the monastery was constructed using rubble from the famous former city. Outside of Kharkhorin, visit sights such as the ruined citadel of Khar Balgas, the Gokhturk Museum at Khoshoo Tsaidam, and make a beeline for the serenity of Ugii Lake when you’ve hit your capacity for taking in Mongolia’s rich history.

West: for the Eagle Hunters

The limits are endless when you set your sights on the west. Literally, it will take you three days, if not more to cross the entire country if you put the peddle to the metal. While stops like Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake and Khyargas Lake are an absolute must for splitting up the drive, the fun really begins once you reach your final destination, Bayan-Ölgii Aimag. Why? Well, because that’s where you’re going to pay a visit to the country’s elusive Kazakh Eagle Hunters.

For more tips on what to know about traveling in Mongolia, from visa information to safety tips, read our complete Mongolia Travel Guide.

Tips for the Road

Never, ever, and we mean ever drive at night. Animals, potholes, bad weather, you name it, and it will try to kill you in Mongolia. Thankfully, the sun sets late in the summer, giving you daylight as late as 10 pm.

We personally have a rule of thumb to start setting up camp by 7 pm so that we can cook dinner, wash up, get organized, set up our tents and sleeping bags, and so on before exhaustion – and nightfall – sets in for the day.

Plus, since the sun comes up at 4:30 am you always have the chance to make up on lost ground early the next day, if needed.

Cell Phone Laws + Local Data Packages

Consider this your warning that it’s illegal to talk on your cell phone without a hands-free device and drive in Mongolia. Which, in most cases isn’t a problem, once you leave the city you’ll have very limited access to data (i.e. none), anyways.

Speaking of data… download any maps, route planning data, etc. to be available offline before you leave Ulaanbaatar. If you plan on getting a SIM card with local data and calling services, we recommend the Expat by Unitel service as the best way to get the most data possible. The TourSIM from Unitel is another convenient option, and one that most hotels in town, such as the Shangri-La, Kempinski Hotel Khan Palace, and more can help with.

Don’t Forget About Ulaanbaatar: Your Quick Guide to the City

After landing at Chinggis Khaan International Airport, and before you even get your road trip started, you’ll be spending some time in Ulaanbaatar. Below we have a quick guide for navigating the city, because we want you to hit the ground running.

Cheap Places to Eat and Drink (See also: Ulannbaatar’s Best Restaurants)

  • Coffee: Millie’s Espresso
  • Lunch: Sakura
  • Dinner: Green Zone
  • Drinks: Turning Point Café

Where to Grocery Shop for Everything for Your Road Trip in One Stop

Where to Get the Cheapest (and Still Reliable) Last Minute Outdoor Gear

Free Things to Do in Ulaanbaatar

Read our travel guide for even more ideas on the best things to do in Ulaanbaatar.

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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