June 2020: Mongolia and COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

If you’ve been paying attention to the COVID-19 situation in Mongolia, you know things are going well.

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They closed borders quickly, restricted flights back in January, enforced wearing face masks, and limited movement between cities all before it became the norm (and social distancing became a widely accepted concept). For a country that should have been hit the hardest, Mongolia has managed to remain a success story.

Now that it’s time to think about travel again, it’s important to know how the coronavirus situation has affected current and future travel plans to Mongolia.

We also wrote this article for Forbes.com on how Mongolia got their coronavirus restrictions right, as travel bans and border closings began worldwide back in March.

Number of Cases and Deaths

As of today, the case count in Mongolia stands at 179 confirmed cases with 0 confirmed deaths.

All cases have been imported from abroad, with no internal transmissions. Mongolia has been diligent at keeping the virus out of the county and continues to do so with strict border measures.

You can find the latest confirmed case count on the WHO’s dedicated COVID-19 website anytime.

Should I Cancel my 2020 Mongolia Travel Plans?

This is the big question. If you had plans to travel to Mongolia in 2020, it’s not looking great. The government announced this week that Mongolia would not open it’s borders until there was a vaccine available. Rough.

There have been mixed reactions as to whether or not that would be the case come fall, but with no other announcements or plans to reopen to tourism being announced, it’s all that there is to go off of.

The best-case scenario is that Mongolia will open it’s borders to travelers by November.

Right now, the priority for Mongolia is to return its citizens, especially the young and elderly, from abroad. While they have repatriated 9,068 Mongolian citizens from 30 countries to date, 10,583 Mongolian nationals are still stranded in countries across the globe due to travel bans and restrictions.

Our advice is to cancel your 2020 Mongolia travel plans and reschedule them for 2021.

The Future of Travel to Mongolia in This New COVID-19 World

All travelers should be prepared to travel with a face mask and gloves.

When flying out of Ulaanbaatar back in March, before the bans and travel restrictions essentially stopped all flights coming in and out of the country, all travelers were required to wear a mask in Chinggis Khaan International Airport. Temperature screenings were being done at the airport entrance and social distancing was starting to be put in place to keep travelers as separated from one another as possible.

Flights from Seoul via Korean Air have been announced to be resuming in June, but few other airlines have revealed plans to resume flights to Mongolia.

There have been no official announcements on when flights will be welcome to return, and borders will reopen to foreign citizens. As of right now only Mongolian nationals can enter the country via special repatriation flights.

For the nationals returning to Ulaanbaatar, upon landing at Chinggis Khaan International Airport, they’re transported directly to a facility where they are required to undergo a 21-day quarantine. The cost is the responsibility of the traveler (currently it is 1,500,000 MNT) and includes lodging and food for the entirety of the quarantine.

Playtime Music Festival and Mongol Derby Cancelled, Naadam 2020 Will be Broadcast Live

It’s not surprising that most public events scheduled over the summer have been cancelled.

The one exception being Naadam, the country’s largest and most important cultural festival of the year. Earlier this month the official committee for the festival announced they would be broadcasting the ceremonies and events live, and that crowds would be restricted from attending, but they would not be cancelling the annual festival, deeming it an important event essential to preserving the country’s history, traditions, and cultural heritage. All athletes will be tested for COVID-19 prior to competing.

Additionally, Playtime music festival announced the annual 3-day festival, often considered the Coachella of Mongolia, as being cancelled this week. The Mongol Derby has also cancelled their 2020 race, moving it to 2021.

Follow Meanwhile in Mongolia on Facebook for the latest COVID-19 travel restriction announcements.

Naadam 2020

What This Means for 2020 Mongolia Travel Plans

  • Borders are still closed to foreigners.
  • Flights from Seoul and repatriation flights from Kazakhstan, Japan, India, and others will resume June 1, 2020, but again, only Mongolian nationals will be able to enter.
  • A mandatory 21-day quarantine is in effect. The cost of the quarantine is the responsibility of the traveler and is said to be 1,500,000 MNT.
  • Major events have been cancelled (Playtime Festival, Mongol Derby) or live broadcast measures have been put in place to avoid large crowds (Naadam).
  • There is no word on when borders will reopen. Officials announced this week that Mongolia will not open it’s borders until a vaccine is in place.

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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