Winter in Mongolia can be very tough even for locals but with the correct preparation and the right clothing you can still enjoy a fantastic snowy break. Please see below for a breakdown of the weather, temperature, culture and a checklist for preparing for your winter journey.
Officially winter lasts from early October to early March and there can be a range of weather conditions and temperatures depending on when during that period you choose to visit. Generally speaking the weather is colder in midwinter but much more settled - think freezing sunny days and long clear nights. Things are warmer in October and March but much more unpredictable with high winds and lots of snowfall.
Weather and temperature
Beginning in October the weather will begin to become more unsettled with occasional snowfall and a majority of nights when the temperature drops below freezing. Snowfall increases into November as the temperature drops below freezing at all times going down to minus 20°C (-4°F) and below. December to February is the coldest time of year with the warmest temperatures not going much above -30°C (-22°F) anywhere and much colder in the northern provinces. During these coldest 3 months there will be relatively little snowfall although there will be plenty of frozen snow on the ground from October and November. In March the temperature rises rapidly, the ice melts and the weather becomes difficult with lots of snow, sleet, hail, rain and windy conditions with little sunshine.
Temperature: -50°C (-58°F) to -20°C (-4°F)
Weather: Heavy snowfall at beginning and end of season with clear days during the coldest months.
Activities and Culture
Mongolian winter offers a variety of unique activities for all travellers. The following is just a short list of suggestions.
- Dog Sledding - What could be more exhilarating than racing across the icy landscape on the back of a dog sled! We offer a dog sledding experience in Terelj National Park complete with a nomadic stay in a traditional ger.
- Winter Horse Trekking - Our company works closely with a family of traditional horse trainers to the north of the capital city Ulaanbaatar to provide a beautiful horse trekking experience year round!
- Shamanic Experience and personal fire rituals on frozen Lake Khuvsgul - Th 2nd largest freshwater lake in Asia, Lake Khuvsgul, freezes over completely from mid November. A local shaman has been hosting our guests for over 10 years now, teching them the principles of Shamanism over a week long stay that concludes with a personal fire ritual at the lake.
- Nomadic Stay - During winter nomadic people are delighted to welcome guests. We would love to introduce you to a family that will host you during your winter trip in Mongolia.
- Mongolian New Year Festival Tsaagan Sar - Tsaagan Sar, or the festival of the white moon is when Mongolia celebrated the Lunar new year. The festival takes place mid to late February each year and takes 5 days in total. We run speciality trips during this time during which you will visit a nomadic family, eat traditional foods and play traditional games as you usher in the new year.
What to bring
You will need some basic essentials when travelling in Mongolia during the winter these are as follows:
- A warm, collared, coat. This is an absolute essential item, the coat should be at least 3/4 length to cover you to the knees and should be lined with some kind of efficient insulating material (fake fur is extremely good). If you do happen to arrive without a jacket then we can take you to the local markets and pick one up for a relatively low price.
- Layered clothing. Beneath your coat you will need to be wearing several layers. At a minimum you will need leggings (beneath your normal trousers) and a thermal vest on top beneath a long sleeved shirt or jumper.
- Hat. You need a good quality hat or you risk severe frostbite in your ears from just short periods uncovered.
- Warm boots and socks. Thin shoes will not cut it in the Mongolian winters (including wellington boots). Ideally you will have fur lined knee length boots that you don't mind getting dirty, old Uggs or similar are best.
- Sunglasses. The snowy landscape can be dazzling so it's a sensible idea to bring sunglasses.
For a lot of travellers the idea of bringing this amount of warm clothing can seem daunting but a simple solution is to have all of your winter gear shipped out by courier when you leave. If you prefer to have it shipped here in advance of your trip then please feel free to email us on email@example.com and we are happy to receive and store all your luggage in advance of your trip.