Hitchhiking to Mongolia

On a beautiful sunny day, two crazy Europeans decided to hitchhike from Russia (Ulan Ude) to Mongolia (Ulaanbaatar). A Masjroetka (minibus) dropped us 40 minutes out of the city centre. We did a quick photo session because we had good hope we were going to be picked up soon. And we were lucky. Soon a mini truck stopped. A friendly looking russian with a sun-tanned faced wanted to drop us in a city 80 km closer to the Mongolian border. We dropped our backpack in the open back of the truck and jumped in the front. Quite cosy with 3 people. The car made a lot of noise and at some point the driver stopped at the side of the road. We asked him if he wanted us to get out but he shook his head and pointed at his dashboard: the motor was getting too hot and we had to wait until it cooled down… apparently his cooling system was broken. This happened another 3 times and when he dropped us in the city the cool fluid was boiling: steam came out of his car…

First ride
Our first ride, during one of the breaks where the motor had to cool down


We walked to the end of the city to get our next ride, which we got in 5 minutes. A young Russian guy with a pimped car (from the inside) and a good taste of music let us make up some time by driving with 140 km/hour over the long roads between the rolling hills, which already looked a lot like Mongolian landscapes. He didn’t talk much (it was rather impossible anyways because of the pumping speakers), but he was nice. He dropped us at a small cafe along the road to the border. But first he invited us for a coffee and a fried kind of pancake with meat inside, which was pretty good.


For the last bit in Russia, a Marsjroetka picked us up. We thought he misunderstood us and made him clear we were hitchhiking, but he invited us to jump in the front and take the ride. He even dropped us right at the border side! We knew it was not possible to cross the border by foot and that it was going to be really hard to find someone who wanted to take two foreigners across the border… who knew what we were up to…  For around 6 Euros we could get a taxi to drop us at the other side. This money we paid mostly on the time of the service, not on the gas. A distance of maybe only 700 meters,  with going in and out of the car to check passports and visas, took us about one hour. Finally in Mongolia, we could feel the change of country immediately. As soon as we got out of the car a bunch of Mongolians surrounded us: offering us a deal to change money, give us a ride, or sell us something. It was only then I realised how nice it was that in Russia I cannot remember one time this happened. No pushy sellers and no one who tried to rip us off. In Mongolia, it was the first thing we were confronted with.

We could get two more rides until a bigger city in Mongolia. In Irkutsk we heard about the big number of electric cars in Mongolia, since they can be imported cheaply from Japan. So no surprise that our first lift was from a woman in a Toyota Prius (totally refurbished from inside with pink, hello-kitty-like coating). Our second ride we got from a father of two cute little cute boys. He didn’t really seem to know the code of hitchhiking and tried to earn some money from us… When we hitchhiked a second time in Mongolia, to avoid the overpriced tour buses, we would understand that this happens half of the time you try to hitchhike in Mongolia. After this ride, it was to dark to hitchhike the last 200 km. So we decided to take a bus from the city Darhan to Ulaanbaatar. Also there, people were really eager (as not to say pushy) to get us in their bus. The good thing about the last bit of this trip was that I could not see what happened on the road now… The crazy speed and overtaking on the bad and sometimes icy roads of the drivers we had until Darhan made me very nervous sometimes. I was mostly astonished by the dad, who put the life of his two little kids in danger. They were moving around in the car without seatbelts and the father let himself get distracted by them with videos or games on his phone. When he looked at the phone or tried to reposition the children he would drift about the road and once he even slipped on the ice while correcting his steering…

We got dropped at a bus station 6 km from the centre of Ulaanbaatar and decided to take a taxi from here. Something that is not really recommended, but we found a driver who looked nice and didn’t charge us too much, we thought. But of course he didn’t have change for our ‘big’ bill of 10.000 tugrick (the equivalent of not even 4 euros) so we ended up spending too much anyway. Exhausted but happy we finally made it, we arrived in our hostel in the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar.

Bye Russia, you have been lovely!

4 Replies to “Hitchhiking to Mongolia”

  1. Elly en Tony says: Reply

    Wat een spannend avontuur. Maar gelukkig goed aangekomen op de plaats van bestemming.

    1. Jaa was inderdaad wel even spannend haha!

  2. wow i am a big fan. is my idol gonna reply me?

    1. Woohoo a Chinese fan! Thanks Ben! 🙂 Let me know if my video’s are online and what the comments are haha!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.