The weather in Mongolia can be tricky. Summers are mild, but temperatures can be unpredictable. Winters are – there’s no way around it – brutally cold. But spring and fall? Now, we’re talking.
While most tourists plan to visit Mongolia in the summer, you’re smarter than that. Instead, you’re going to plan your visit when the weather in Mongolia is at its absolute best – and crowds at their lowest. You’re going to visit in spring or fall.
Here’s everything you need to know about the weather in Mongolia, plus 10 reasons why spring and fall are the best time of year to visit this incredible country.
What’s the Weather in Mongolia?
Let’s start with the basics.
When your winter lows reach -40°C (-40°F) and your summer highs peak at 32°C (90°F), it’s safe to say that Mongolia has one of the most dramatic climates in the world.
This is true. The weather in Mongolia is dramatic. Meaning shoulder season – spring and fall – when the temperature in Mongolia is somewhere in the middle, is the best time to plan a trip.
It is important to note that temperatures can change drastically by region. In western Mongolia, where you have the Altai Mountains, temperatures are always lower than in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. And, as you move south to the Gobi Desert, that’s where you have one of the most extreme temperature swings in the world, going from -40°C (-40°F) and below in winter to 40°C (104°F) in summer months.
What is the average temperature in Mongolia in spring, summer, fall, and winter?
Still unsure about this whole “spring and fall are the best time to visit Mongolia” thing? Well, I’ll let the temperatures speak for themselves. With May averaging a high of 15°C (59°F) and a low of 4°C (39°F), and an average of one inch of rain, compare that to July and August when precipitation averages 4-6 inches and the temperature in Mongolia is 22°C to 32°C (71° F to 89° F) on average.
July and August rains can be challenging if you plan an outdoor adventure such as horseback riding, hiking, camping, and overlanding. Planning for a trip in May and into June can see colder temperatures at night, but you can almost always count on blue skies during the day.
Temperatures in Mongolia
Here is a breakdown of the weather in Mongolia by season and month.
- March: -4°C to -14°C (25°F to 7°F)
- April: 8°C to -4°C (46°F to 25°F)
- May: 15°C to 4°C (59°F to 39°F)
- June: 16° C to 26°C (60° F to 78° F)
- July: 22°C to 32°C (71° F to 89° F)
- August: 20°C to 28°C (68° F to 82° F)
- September: 16°C to 4°C (61°F to 39°F)
- October: 8°C to -6°C (46°F to 21°F)
- November: -5° C to -15° C (23° F-3° F)
- December: -22° C to -30° C (-7.6° F to -22° F)
- January: -20°C to -26°C (-4°F to -14.8°F)
- February: -14°C to -20°C (6.8° F to -4° F)
Read our Iceland vs. Mongolia: Why a Mongolia Tour Should Be Next on Your Bucket List if You Love Iceland article for even more reasons to visit Mongolia.
10 Reasons Why Spring and Fall are the Best Time to Visit Mongolia
Besides more favorable weather, there are plenty of other reasons to visit Mongolia in the spring and fall. From month-long jazz festivals that take over Ulaanbaatar to the beginning of eagle hunting season to things everyone should experience once in their lifetime to things you had no idea could exist in a country like Mongolia, there’s always something to discover here, no matter the season.
Let’s get into it.
1. September marks the beginning of eagle hunting season.
And oh, what a glorious season it is. Come September and October, there’s no cooler way to experience this unique tradition than to embed yourself in this centuries-old practice in the western part of Mongolia. Plus, the beginning of October is when the annual Golden Eagle Festival in Mongolia takes place, showcasing some seriously cool Golden Eagles and their more badass hunters. Two other festivals, the Altai Eagle Festival and Hansonar Eagle Festival, also occur around this time. All three festivals take place in Bayan-Ulgii Province.
Read our Eagle Hunters of Bayan-Ulgii article to learn more about this tradition.
Eagle Hunter Mongolia
2. Spring and fall mean fewer crowds, more colors.
Fewer crowds, more colors. What’s not to love? Fall means changing leaves, and spring means the green starts to return to the mountains and rolling steppe before it dries out for the summer. The weather in Mongolia this time of year can still be unpredictable – but that’s the case for any season in Mongolia. Plus, Ulaanbaatar doesn’t get any prettier than it does when it's hit with that spring and fall early morning light.
Ulaanbaatar Mongolia Travel (Credit: Follow the Tracks/Max Muench)
3. Prices for tours and travel guides are much more favorable. Not to mention hotel rates are much better, too.
Fewer crowds also mean better rates for hiring guides, booking drivers, and hotel rooms. And who can argue with saving a little bit of cash? Without having to battle other tourists and travel agencies for the best guides, drivers, and rooms in (and outside of) the city, the country is your oyster! What will you do with it?
4. September means it’s Jazz City Revival Festival time.
Throughout September, the city comes alive with the sound of jazz music. Uniting local musicians with internationally renowned artists, the festival takes place over the month, with everything from pop-up concerts in the park to nightly shows. It’s a low-key, high-energy way to experience a whole other side to Mongolian culture and Ulaanbaatar city.
5. The Ulaanbaatar marathon takes place in May.
Calling all runners! May marks marathon season in Ulaanbaatar, with the marathon typically occurring the third Saturday of every May. Run the streets rubbing elbows with locals and visitors and channel your inner Mongolian warrior as you challenge yourself to this impressive physical feat.
6. Where else can you attend a Yak Festival in May?
In Khankhongor soum, Umnu-govi Province, a celebration of yaks takes place every May. With the second largest population of yaks in the world after China, it’s no wonder nomads celebrate these beautiful creatures that have become a crucial part of their existence. From wool to milk, learn more about how the nomads rely on their yak herds during this unique festival that showcases yak wrangling, a yak rodeo, yak cheese tasting, and concludes with an always entertaining yak race.
7. Join the Rally for Rangers and take off across the steppe on a motorcycle that you’ll eventually deliver to a park ranger in one of Mongolia’s National Parks.
An adventure that takes you to some of the most jaw-dropping places in Mongolia most other tourists will never reach, and all in the name of a good cause? Sign me up. (Literally, I’ll be joining this adventure next year. Who’s with me?)
Rally for Rangers is a 1,500-kilometer motorcycle ride that takes riders to lesser-known National Parks, such as Dariganga and Numrug, across the country. Numrug National Park is so protected that tourists are not allowed to enter the park freely. The park is only accessible by special permission – or if you’re a part of the Rally for Rangers adventure, of course. The route for the rally changes every year, but there’s one thing that always stays the same. This 10-day riding adventure is a unique and memorable way to experience the best of Mongolia (and its weather) come September.
8. Be amazed at the Spirit Mongolia Open International Horseback Archery Tournament in September.
Why not plan your trip around a September festival as incredible as the Spirit Mongolia Open International Horseback Archery Tournament? Taking place in Ulaanbaatar, the festival has attracted 50 horseback archers from 17 different countries in years past who all come to compete against each other in this fascinating event.
Attracting renowned horseback archers from countries such as Hungary, Canada, South Africa, Malaysia, and more, the tournament highlights and helps carry on equestrian and archery traditions to younger generations in Mongolia.
9. Starting in April, be the first to experience the Follow the Tracks self-driving Camel Route 4x4 tour for the year.
Starting in April, be the first to experience the Follow the Tracks Camel Route on a self-driving 4x4 tour that blows any other 4x4 tour out of the water. (Hey, there’s a reason Mongolia is one of the best drives in the world.)
Starting in Ulaanbaatar, you’ll be handed the keys to your very own 4x4 that will be all yours for the next 13 days. From Ulaanbaatar, you’ll head south to the Gobi Desert, where camels, nomadic herders, and one of the most unique sights in the world awaits. Traveling this route this time of year is particularly interesting because the giant dunes may still be covered in snow. (Name one other desert in the world that gets covered by snow! Cool, right?)
From the Gobi Desert, the route takes you up through the Orkhon Valley and then to Karakorum, the old capital city of Mongolia. The trip takes you 1,800 kilometers across some of Mongolia’s most extraordinary landscapes and is the ultimate driving adventure.
Read our Follow the Tracks Camel Route Self-Driving 4x4 Tour guide for more information on this trip.
Follow the Tracks Camel Route Tour (Credit: Follow the Tracks)
10. Climb Tsambagarav Mountain in April.
Raise your hand if hiking, mountain climbing, and mountaineering are the way you dream of spending a vacation. Now, raise your other hand if hiking, mountain climbing, and mountaineering in Mongolia are the way you dream of spending your next vacation. That’s what I thought.
From April until September, mountains like Tsambagarav Mountain located between Bayan-Ulgii, Khovd, and Uvs Provinces are accessible to hikers. Packing crampons and ropes isn’t a bad idea if you’re taking on this adventure in April, when the mountain may still be graced with snow. With iron poles leading to the mountaintop, this mountain is challenging to navigate and should only be taken on by experienced explorers.
Read our Mountaineering and Hiking Guide to Mongolia article for more information on the best mountains for hiking and trekking in Mongolia.
How to Pack for the Weather in Mongolia
Repeat after me:
Layers are my friend.
Layers are my friend.
Layers are my friend.
Got it? Okay, good. Because with temperatures that can swing drastically from afternoon to evening, precipitation that can sneak up on you from nowhere, and anything and everything in between, Mongolia is a place where being prepared can save your life. (And no, I’m not being dramatic.)
Always – no matter the season – pack a base layer with you. Merino wool leggings and a long sleeve shirt are versatile pieces of clothing that will keep you warm and dry without stinking up the place.
Pick up a pair of cashmere or camel socks when you’re in Ulaanbaatar. Not only is it a fun excuse to make your way to the Black Market, but it’s a valuable souvenir to take home with you. Pick up a Mongolian deel while you’re at it – this is another layer that can certainly come in handy during your trip. And if it doesn’t, at least you’ll fit in with the locals.
Most importantly, never forget to pack a rain jacket and rain pants. Ever. These are usually the first items to get tossed from your luggage when you feel like you’ve overpacked, but that’s a rookie move. (And you aren’t a rookie, are you!) Whether it’s because of wind or rain, you’ll get use out of these, especially if your trip to Mongolia will involve a horse trek where you’ll undoubtedly have plenty of river crossings.
Beyond that, waterproof boots are always recommended. As well as a compressible, puffy jacket (yes, even in summer). A beanie, as well as gloves, never hurt to pack either.
What to Pack Weather in Mongolia
Don’t skimp when it comes to purchasing and packing these items. Like I said before, being prepared for the weather in Mongolia can quite literally save your life.
Have more questions about what to pack for the weather in Mongolia and more? Read our Mongolia FAQ.
— Article by Breanna Wilson
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