What to Know When You Rent a Car in Mongolia

Save an additional 10% off when you rent a car in Mongolia from Sixt car rental with discount code “Breanna” when you book by emailing [email protected].

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Due to the current coronavirus situation, Sixt Mongolia is offering rebooking and cancellations free of charge through 2020.

So, you’re thinking that you want to rent a car in Mongolia. Tours aren’t your thing, and you’d rather explore Mongolia on your own terms at your own pace. Good call, friend. You’re in for one of the most beautiful road trips on the planet.

But, you have questions about how to rent a car in Ulaanbaatar. Understandable. Lucky for you, we have answers. Here’s the deal.

When it comes to car rental companies in Mongolia, your choices are, we’ll say… limited. Sixt Mongolia is the only international car rental agency in the country, which at least makes it easy for you to narrow down who to rent from. (Yay, silver lining.)

They have seven locations across Ulaanbaatar, half of which are open 24/7, each with a range of cars available for a range of adventures and, more importantly, a range of drivers. Outside of Ulaanbaatar, Sixt Mongolia has pick-up and drop-off locations in Sainshand, Olgii, Moron, Erdenet, Darkhan, and Dalanzadgad.

Sixt Mongolia

What kind of car should I rent to road trip Mongolia?

If your plan is to head outside the city (as it should be), you’re going to want something reliable and with 4-wheel drive capabilities. Mongolia’s roads aren’t exactly in the best of shape, and while locals will drive their Priuses across pretty much every inch of the countryside, and through all sorts of sketchy terrain, we don’t recommend you do the same.

Do yourself a favor and rent the right car, not the cheap car. This is not the place to take chances and risk ruining your entire trip because you broke down in a car you shouldn’t have been taking off-roading in the first place. (We’re looking at you, compact renters.)

Losing valuable days stranded in a soum in the middle of the country will only make you frustrated and angry. Finding reliable auto body shops and working mechanics with spare parts on hand is nearly impossible once you leave Ulaanbaatar. So, problems here are major problems, with major repercussions. Don’t for one second underestimate the importance of renting a reliable car, and from a car rental agency that can offer roadside assistance in case of emergency.

Here are the two 4×4 SUV rentals that we recommend when it comes time to rent a car in Mongolia.

UAZ Patriot

If it’s good enough for the Russian army, it’s good enough for your Mongolia road trip.

With solid off-road capabilities and built to handle cold weather, plus enough power to get you out of tricky situations and with a high enough clearance to avoid other ones, the UAZ Patriot is an all-around great adventure vehicle. Known for having good suspension and a large trunk with plenty of space for your gear, the UAZ Patriot makes for a comfortable rental car for your road trip across Mongolia.

And, you can rent it in automatic or manual. So, there’s also that.

Toyota Landcruiser 76/79

Landcruisers are known for being one of the best off-road adventure vehicles around the world for a reason. Durable and equipped for just about everything (hello, roll bars), Landcruisers offer reliability and comfort in a place where you won’t find much of that elsewhere.

The only downfall with these SUVs is the diesel engine, which makes it more susceptible to problems in the ice and cold than the UAZ Patriot’s petrol engine.

Landcruiser Car Rental

Common Questions When You Rent a Car in Mongolia, Answered

You need to know more than just what vehicle to rent. From budgeting tips to adding car camping equipment to making your rental reservation, here are the most common questions travelers ask when planning their road trip across Mongolia.

How much should I budget per day when I rent a car in Mongolia?

While you can get a compact car such as a KIA Rio for as low as $35/day, if you’re planning to leave the comforts of Ulaanbaatar, you’ll certainly want something more durable. A UAZ Patriot can cost as low as $61/day and a Toyota Landcruiser 76 as low as at $101/day, in the low season (October to April). During summer months, rental prices can be much, much higher. (Supply, meet demand.)

Pricing out a rental for mid-July, we were quoted a UAZ Patriot rental for $113 USD/day ($181/day for a UAZ Patriot Expedition with a rooftop tent) and a Toyota Landcruiser for $243/day.

Tip: Pick up your rental car from one of the city locations instead of from Chinggis Khaan International Airport, where you pay a “premium location fee,” which really increases the daily rate. There are also “Pay Now” versus “Pay Later” rates for certain rentals – when you can “Pay Now” you get the best available rate and can save even more. In this instance, you save $30/day when you “Pay Now” for this UAZ Patriot Expedition.

UAZ Patriot Sixt Mongolia

What if I’m planning to car camp? Are there any rentals that include rooftop tents or other camping gear – tents,
pots and pans, stoves?

There are! There are! That’s us. Screaming with excitement because, yes – you can rent a car with a rooftop tent, and/or a camping set. (Can you tell talk of a good road trip really gets us going?)

During the online rental process, once you reach the checkout page, you can select to add a camping set to your rental for a one-time fee of about $23 USD. Be sure to choose a rental car (look for the UAZ Patriot Expedition) that includes a rooftop tent from the beginning – this is not an add on option.

The camping set includes a storm resistant, easy to set up all-season tent from Heimplanet that sleeps 2-3 people, 2 sleeping mats, 1 air sofa, as well as cooking gear including a gas stove with 2 canisters, a pot, pan, Espresso Mokka Maker, and dining utensils for 4 that includes plates, bowls, forks, knives, and spoons. Sleeping bags, food, and water are not included in the camp set. (We recommend stocking up at E-mart in Ulaanbaatar before you leave.)

The beauty of these camping sets is that it gives you even more flexibility on the road, so you don’t have to plan too far ahead and book ger camps for every night during your trip. The flexibility of having your own rooftop tent and camp setup allows you to have even more freedom and saves you from having to spend money on expensive baggage
fees carrying this gear with you from home.

Most travelers prefer to camp in the wild as opposed to a ger camp anyways, but never underestimate
the availability of a ger camp to take a hot shower, snag a cold beer, and find the ultimate, most elusive of luxuries – Wi-Fi access.

What about mileage? Does my car rental come with unlimited mileage per day?

No, it doesn’t. But don’t stress – chances are you won’t be going very far each day anyways. Plus, it’s a road trip – you’re supposed to be taking your time, not just speeding across the country. (Boooooring.)

The standard daily cap is 150 kilometers per day, with the chance to increase to a 250 kilometer or 500 kilometer cap, with excess mileage over each limit at approximately $0.87/kilometer.

The total is an average, so if you go over one day, just take the next day a bit slower. Just monitor your mileage and in most instances the 150 kilometer cap is not an issue.

What about Wi-Fi hotspots? Do rentals come with a hotspot I can use to help navigate my trip?

Yes, you can add on Wi-Fi hotspots to your rental for about $7/day. But, is it worth it? If you ask us, no. Not just because you’re on an adventure and you should be digital detoxing anyways, but because once you get outside of
the city, data isn’t going to be regularly available, so you’re essentially just wasting your money.

If you absolutely need Wi-Fi on your trip, your best bet is to stop in one of the larger towns (Olgii or Moron, for example) and try to access your cell phone network or use the local Wi-Fi there.

Download maps.me for offline maps of Mongolia and plan your routes as best you can in advance. You’re bound to get lost, and there won’t be many locals around to ask for directions, but it’s part of what makes road tripping here such an adventure.

Is car insurance included with a rental? If not, how much extra should I budget per day?

Third Party Insurance is included with each rental, but it only covers up to 16,500,000 MNT (less than $6,000 USD) for personal injuries and material damages. (If you break an arm or damage a telephone pole.)

Collision and accident insurance is not included (if you damage your rental car or another driver’s car) and comes at an additional cost. The additional cost will depend on the vehicle, but to give a rough recommendation for budgeting purposes, we would estimate budgeting an additional $20-30/day for add-on insurance coverage.

The add-on coverage available includes: Loss Damage Waiver (accidental damage or theft), Gravel Protection, Tire and Windshield Protection, Sand and Ash Protection, and Roadside Protection (emergency 24/7 assistance for flat tires, lost keys, etc).

We recommend adding Loss Damage Waiver and Tire and Windshield Protection, which will add about $30 USD/day extra to your rental cost. Flat tires are the most common issue on these types of trips and paying the extra $20+/day to know that your rental is covered in case of an accident is always a more comforting feeling (especially once you see these roads).

Does my World Nomad travel insurance cover accidents and damages when I rent a car in Mongolia?

Yes, it does, but only if you have a World Nomad Explorer plan.

If your vehicle was stolen, vandalized, or damage is caused by a collision, weather or other forces out of your control, your travel insurance may cover you for repairs and rental charges up to the maximum benefit amount. Accidents that occur under the influence of alcohol are not covered.

Will the Roadside Protection (BC) add-on insurance cover me if I breakdown, get a flat, or if anything else happens on the road?

Sixt Mongolia offers a 24/7 roadside assistance team via a hotline number when your rental contract starts. Tows and repairs are only included if this additional insurance protection is booked. When it’s not, renters have to pay the tow and repair expenses out of pocket (which, compared to other countries, repair costs are cheap).

If you do purchase the additional roadside protection, it’s important to note this from the Roadside Protection fine print:

“The roadside protection services outside the 100 km radius from Ulaanbaatar are subject to an additional charge of 4,000 MNT per kilometer for the driving distance outside the radius to the renter.”

So, lock outs, lost keys, flat tire and dead batter services, tows, and breakdown rescues could cost an additional (albeit small) fee, even if you purchased the extra protection. These services are easy to find once you’ve crossed the 100 kilometer radius from Ulaanbaatar, so it may not be the world’s worst mistake if you don’t add this extra protection to your rental.

What if I get a flat tire – am I responsible for buying a new tire? What if I damage the rim?

Sixt Mongolia offers a Tire and Windshield Insurance, which covers these instances. Renters should not buy tires or any other spare parts – all vehicle parts are sourced by Sixt and their mechanic team to ensure they meet OEM standards and are original, reliable, first-hand parts. Most models and all 4WD vehicles have a spare tire and tools to change a tire, but Sixt roadside assistance can help in case of emergency.

Do I need an international driver’s license to rent a car in Mongolia from Sixt? Is there a minimum age requirement? What papers/identification will I have to show when I pick up my rental?

Vienna Traffic Convention Member Nationalities do not need an international driver’s license. Using your passport with your local driving license is legally sufficient, but we still recommend traveling with an international driving license just to be on the safe side and to ease some confusion on the road.

Non-member nationalities (Americans, Canadians, Chinese, and Irish passport holders) will need an international driving license.

Each driver should be at least 23 years old and a credit card is required for a deposit on the rental. Additional drivers are an additional fee of about $8.50 USD/day.

Can I pick a rental car up in Ulaanbaatar and leave it in a different city? Is there an extra cost for a one-way rental?

One-way rentals are possible. You can pick up a rental car in Ulaanbaatar, for example, and leave it in Olgii. Extra charges do apply. The booking system will calculate this for you automatically when you make your reservation.

For these types of reservations, we recommend making your booking reservation at least one week in advance as last-minute bookings can’t be made at some Sixt locations, and drop-off cutoff times may apply.

Can I pick up a rental car at the airport in Ulaanbaatar? What if my flight getting into Mongolia is delayed?

Yes, the Sixt location at Chinggis Khaan International Airport operates 24/7. If your arrival flight is delayed, the Sixt team monitors incoming flight delays, and vehicles are still able to be picked up within two hours after landing, no matter the time. There are no additional costs for delays.

Can I cross the border into Russia or China when I rent a car in Mongolia?

No, you can’t. Not even if you plan on returning to Mongolia.

Do any rentals come with a gas canister to bring extra fuel?

No. While gas canisters can be requested in advance, it isn’t recommended to travel with one.

Gas canisters should never be stored inside a vehicle and are best traveled with on a roof rack, which only works if there is no rooftop tent on the roof rack (if you’re planning to rent a vehicle with a rooftop tent, this is already out of the question). 

Mongolia has gas stations in nearly every soum (small town), and as long as you fill the tank every chance you have, (we recommend anytime you’re below 2/3 tank), you won’t have a problem.

Sixt Mongolia provides Liqui Moly Benzin and Diesel additives for longer road trips to prevent any issues from occurring from using bad fuel, which is common in more remote gas stations where fuel turnover is low.

What emergency equipment should I travel with?

During your Mongolia road trip you’re bound to find yourself in more than one hairy situation. At a minimum, you should travel with a winch, and more ideally in a convoy with at least two vehicles, where the other vehicle can lend a towing hand.

For tows, you’ll need a tow rope, snatch block, D-ring shackles (at least 2), gloves, an off-road car jack, torchlight, spade, compressor or pump and tire repair kit (or repair spray from Liqui Moly), pressure gauge for the tires, and jumper cables. These items do not come with rentals from Sixt. You will need to purchase these supplies in Ulaanbaatar before leaving on your road trip, especially if you plan on driving far off the beaten path. The best
place to find these, and other overlanding supplies, is at Patriot Campers in Ulaanbaatar.

For longer road trips, it’s also not a bad idea to stock up on at least one extra canister of motor oil, windshield wiper fluid, and an emergency first aid kit.

Road Trip Mongolia

Pick up Your Rental Car in Ulaanbaatar

Sixt Mongolia has 7 pick-up and drop-off locations in Ulaanbaatar. Locations can be found at the Holiday Inn, Blue Sky Hotel, Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel, Ramada Hotel, Shangri-La Mall, Kempinski Hotel Khan Palace, and Chinggis Khaan International Airport.

The Chinggis Khaan International Airport and Shangri-La Mall, Ramada Hotel, Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel, and Holiday Inn locations are all open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can contact the main Sixt Mongolia reservation system at +976 8600 7259 to make a reservation or you can book online at SixtMongolia.com.

You can also make a reservation by emailing [email protected]. Mention discount code “Breanna” when you reserve by email and you’ll save an additional 10% off when you rent a car in Mongolia from Sixt car rental.

Helpful Road Trip Tips

Download maps.me to have access to maps of Mongolia while you’re offline – which you will be for much of your trip. Even if you’ve purchased a local SIM card, you’ll be without service out in the depths of the steppe. A satellite communication device and planning your routes ahead of time – even with the help of a physical map – is never a bad idea either.

Fill up regularly on fuel – you never know how far it will be to the next petrol station. Use the 2/3 rule – anytime you’re less than 2/3 a tank, fill up.

Waterproof and windproof tents, cold weather sleeping bags, and layers are recommended, the weather can drop drastically at night, especially in the Gobi Desert.

We recommend traveling in a convoy, if possible. If one vehicle gets stuck, you’ll have a second to help with the tow.

Under no circumstance should you rent a vehicle from an individual. Using a reliable, name recognizable company like Sixt Mongolia ensures you’re covered in case something goes wrong on the road. (And we can almost guarantee it will.)

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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