MONGOLIA

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Country Description: Mongolia is a country undergoing substantial political and economic change in the aftermath of the resignation of the former communist government in 1990. Tourist facilities are being developed and are not yet available in all areas of interest to visitors.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: Travelers need entry/exit visas (not simple entry visas). Foreign travelers to Mongolia, even those staying fewer than ten days, are required to register with the police at the Citizens' Information and Registration Center within ten days of their arrival. Visitors who fail to register may be stopped at departure, denied exit, and fined. Persons who overstay their visas are subject to substantial fines. For current information on visa issuance and fees and registration requirements, the traveler may contact the Embassy of Mongolia at 2833 M Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007, telephone (202) 333-7117.

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities in Mongolia are limited, and some medicines are unavailable. Infectious diseases, such as plague and meningococcal meningitis, are present at various times of the year. For more information, contact the U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar. The international travelers hotline at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, tel. [404] 332-4559, has additional useful health information. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Before traveling, persons may wish to obtain supplemental medical insurance with specific coverage abroad, including provision for medical evacuation.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Mongolia, and Ulaanbaatar in particular, has experienced a dramatic rise in the crime level. Petty thefts, such as pickpocketing and bag-snatching, are common. Travelers should be especially cautious in crowded areas such as markets, the state department store, or public transportation. In addition to theft, there have been reports of more violent assaults on foreigners. As the economic situation remains difficult, there is little possibility that the level of crime will decrease or that the Mongolian police will be able to deal effectively with the situation. Thefts continue aboard international trains between Mongolia and Russia. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy. Useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad". It is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. In Mongolia penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Currency Regulations: U.S. dollars are often accepted, especially in tourist locations, but it is also useful to carry some cash in the local currency, the Tugrik. Thomas Cook Travelers Checks in U.S. dollars and American Express Travelers Checks can also be used at the major hotels. The American Express card is acceptable in a few locations, as are Visa and Mastercard. Cash advances against credit cards are not obtainable, and there are no international banks. However, international bank wire transfers are possible.

Winter Power Shortages: Severe fuel shortages and problems with the central heating and electrical systems cause seriously reduced heating levels and power outages in Ulaanbaatar and the cities of Darhan and Erdenet during the winter months of November through April. Smaller towns in the countryside may have no heat or electricity at all during these months. The U.S. Embassy advises all Americans resident in Mongolia to be prepared to depart if there is complete energy systems failure.

Arrival of Checked Baggage: While improvements at Mongolia's international airport have reduced problems in baggage handling, visitors arriving in Ulaanbaatar by air may still encounter delays in the delivery of checked luggage. The prudent traveler will include warm clothing and other essentials in carry-on baggage to minimize inconvenience should a delay occur.

Accommodations: The number of hotels in Ulaanbaatar and of tourist-oriented facilities in the countryside has increased sharply in recent years. Accommodation is readily available, although many hotels may be fully booked during the peak tourist month of July.

Embassy Location/Registration: The U.S. Embassy is located in Micro Region 11, Big Ring Road, Ulaanbaatar. The telephone numbers are (976-1)329095 and 329606. Americans who register at the U.S. Embassy may obtain updated information on travel, security and health problems within the country.

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