Expert tips on how to get to the city center fast, cheap, and easy. Plus, where to exchange money, get a SIM, and more at Ulaanbaatar airport (UBN).
Even though I fly into Chinggis Khaan International several times a year, arriving at Ulaanbaatar airport is always stressful.
Will my bags make it? Will immigration take forever? Is the transfer I booked going to be there waiting for me? What day is it even?
Because of this, I’ve put together a no-nonsense guide filled with helpful tips and expert advice for landing at Ulaanbaatar airport. Keep reading and take the stress out of arriving at Chinggis Khaan International Airport for the first time.
The newly built Chinggis Khaan International Airport opened back in July 2021. As one of the first international travelers to fly into the airport, I was quickly impressed with the upgrade.
It is located approximately 52 km south of Ulaanbaatar, which is much farther than the previous airport.
During rush hour, getting from the airport into Ulaanbaatar’s city center can take up to two hours. Normally, though, transfers between the airport and city center take about one hour.
Chinggis Khaan International Airport has all the modern amenities of a mid-size airport, including restaurants, coffee shops, and souvenir stands. It’s an easy-to-navigate airport that’s clean and comfortable.
There are several international airlines that fly in and out of here. Including Turkish Airlines, Korean Air, Air China, and Jeju Air.
Domestic airlines Hunnu Air, MIAT, and Aero Mongolia also use the airport as their hub.
There is one business lounge inside the Ulaanbaatar airport, Link. Any passenger, regardless of ticket class, can pay to access the airport’s business lounge. The cost to enter the business lounge is:
The lounge is located next to the first counter on the second floor of the departure terminal.
This is one of the most common questions I get asked.
Personally, I usually hire a private airport transfer. It takes a long time to get to Mongolia from anywhere in the world and flight patterns usually involve a red eye flight (or two) just to get here.
Landing in Ulaanbaatar on little sleep, I want to know my door-to-door transfer is already paid for and arranged. I don’t have to find my Mongolian tugriks buried in my backpack and I don’t have to battle the language barrier to explain where I’m going.
But that’s just my personal preference. It is by no means the cheapest way to get from the airport from the city center. It is, however, the fastest.
What about the other options. Are there taxis? What about a cheap bus option?
There are no trains or metro systems in Ulaanbaatar, so there are three options for getting from the airport to the city center – private transfer, taxi, or bus. Let me explain each in detail below.
Fastest: Pre-Booked Private Airport Transfer
In my opinion, booking a private transfer before you land is the most reliable and stress-free option. It will also be the most expensive.
However, ranging anywhere from $15 to $50 USD, depending on the car size and number of people, it can be worth it for the door-to-door service. I would especially consider this option if your flight lands incredibly early, you’ve been traveling for 24 hours, and you just want to get into the city as quickly as possible.
Booking a private transfer means there is a driver with your name on a sign waiting for you at the airport. They wait just outside of the baggage claim area in the arrivals area and are usually incredibly easy to find.
Private airport transfers can start as low as $15 and as much as $80 USD depending on the number of passengers and luggage. The rate is a flat rate and there isn’t a running meter with a per kilometer or minute charge attached to it. Be sure to know what your transfer includes before booking.
You will pay for your transfer in advance. This means you don’t have to worry about exchanging money or having cash in the right currency on hand.
Maybe you like to live life more on the edge. Good for you! Or maybe you just forgot to book a private transfer. Either way, a line of taxis is always ready and waiting outside of the arrival terminal.
The price to take a taxi into the city center will be approximately the same as the cost to schedule a private transfer. Possibly cheaper depending on your end destination.
Whether you are approached by a driver inside the arrival area or you make it outside to the line of taxis, agree on the price of your taxi in advance. Your flat rate should be somewhere around 110,000 to 150,000₮.
When you take a taxi, you’ll have to explain to your driver exactly where you’re going. If it’s to a hotel like Shangri-La or Best Western Tuushin, this won’t be a problem. If it’s to an Airbnb, hostel, or other location, have the address ready and know some of the major landmarks nearby, such as Sukhbaatar Square. This will help give the driver an idea of the area where he or she needs to go. (Yes, we have female taxi drivers here!)
Most importantly, you will need Mongolian tugrik (at least 150,000₮) to pay for your taxi at the end of the ride. Some taxi drivers will take credit cards, but there are often instances of foreign credit cards (especially Mastercard) not working.
For the cheapest way to get into the city from Ulaanbaatar airport, there is a public bus as well as an airport shuttle.
To take the public bus from the airport to the city center, there is one that runs from 5:00 am to 1:40 am. The route is: Baruun 4 Zam – State Department Store – 120 Myangat – Chinggis Khaan International Airport.
The cost for the bus is:
There are several hostels, guesthouses, and Airbnbs in this area. The Holiday Inn and Ramada hotels are within close walking distance. If you’re staying in the Chingeltei area, this is a great option for getting into the city cheaply.
Alternatively, there is a shuttle that runs from the airport to the city called Ubus.
If you have five or more people, this will be the best way for you to get into the city. It will also take the longest amount of time. There is wi-fi and air conditioning on the Ubus shuttles, so you can at least sit back and relax in comfort for your long journey.
Ubus offers three different shuttle options:
The Ubus shuttle #2 route stops at: Ramada, Holiday Inn, Novotel, Best Western Tuushin, Chinggis Khan Hotel, Kempinksi Hotel Khan Palace
There is a Transportation Service counter straight ahead of the baggage claim exit where you can book and pay for the Ubus shuttle.
Money, money, money! The important stuff.
You will need local currency to buy just about anything in Mongolia. Having at least 200,000₮ (about $60 USD) isn’t a bad idea when you land. This will at least get you to the city center, get you a meal, and give you some extra ‘just in case’ cash.
When you exit baggage claim, there’s a row or ATM machines to your left, just after the Tom n Toms Coffee Shop.
If you have cash you’d like to exchange, turn right outside of the baggage claim area. TDB and Golomont Bank work during regular bank business hours and you can easily exchange cash there.
Otherwise, a currency exchange window can be found straight back, next to the Transportation Services counter. Go behind the giant arrival and departure screen and you’ll find the window there.
Do I need a local SIM card?
The answer is: having a local Mongolian SIM card isn’t a bad idea if you plan to spend some time in Ulaanbaatar. You’ll need a local number to use apps like UB Cab, an Uber-like taxi-calling app.
They are also incredibly cheap, so having one for ease of mind never hurts, either.
There is a Unitel self-service kiosk, as well as store, just outside of baggage claim. A SIM card with one month of service and 8 GB of data at Unitel will cost you less than 35,000₮.
Unitel is the service provider I use; in case you were wondering.
Mobicom also has a self-service kiosk and store, if you want to check and compare plan rates.
Starving and can’t wait to make it into the city?
Just outside of baggage claim there’s a Tom n Toms Coffee, Burger King (mmm ‘Merica), Sekitei Japanese Restaurant, Modern Nomads (Mongolian food!), Tsuna Café, and Ajisen Ramen.
There is also a Sansar grocery store where you can get waters and other snacks for an inflated, but convenient price.
Domestic airlines Aero Mongolia, Hunnu Air, and MIAT Mongolian Airlines use Chinggis Khaan International Airport as their hub.
Domestic flights fly out from a different terminal and fly to cities like Dalanzadgad (Gobi), Khovd, Murun, Altai, Ulaangom, Uliastai, and Ulgii.
Booking domestic flights is often a complicated procedure. Often times you’ll need a local bank account to purchase the flights, as well.
International airlines Asiana, Korean Air, Turkish Airlines, and Eznis have flights into and out of Ulaanbaatar daily.
The most popular, easy to book international flight routes into Ulaanbaatar are from Seoul, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Frankfurt.
The two routes I almost always recommend are via Istanbul on Turkish Airlines or Seoul on Korean Air.
Both Istanbul and Seoul airport have terminal-side hotels in case of long layovers.
Proudly Based in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
© 2024 Meanwhile in Mongolia