My Mongolia Packing List: What to bring for 2 Weeks in Mongolia in Summer

Full disclosure: I had no idea what to bring on this Mongolia trip. We had only 11 days, plus two days of transit time and two days in Hong Kong on a layover. I had heard that Central Mongolia (where we had to stick to because of time constraints) was cold at night, but we were also planning to go to the hot Gobi Desert and camp in Gorhi-Terelj National Park.

As far as I could see, I needed to pack light but also bring hot weather gear, cold weather gear, clothes for roughing it in the Gobi Desert but also walking around cosmopolitan yet humid Hong Kong, camping gear, etc etc etc.

I made some mistakes, but this list is the mistake-free, comprehensive, ultimate, full list of what to pack for two weeks in Mongolia. The list of extra stuff I brought for Hong Kong is at the bottom, in case you are also doing a city stopover. Ulaanbaatar is home to one of the most stylish populations I’ve seen in any city, though, so you might want to skip the travel fashion and bring some regular fashion if you want to fit in with the locals there.

Everything you need to spend (at least) two weeks in Mongolia and still pack light:

CLOTHES

  • thick zip-up hoodie (I also folded this into a pillow for camping)
  • light pullover sweater in a dark colour
  • light cotton button-down for sun protection
  • 2 dark-coloured tank tops
  • 3 dark-coloured t-shirts
  • Gym shorts
  • Jean shorts
  • Thick black athletic leggings
  • Thin, comfortable leggings for sleeping
  • regular bra
  • sports bra (essential in a Jeep bouncing around the non-roads of the Gobi)
  • appropriate amount of underwear (there is opportunity to wash them if needed)
  • bathing suit
  • 3 pairs of hiking socks
  • 2 pairs of light half-socks for canvas shoes
  • knit hat
  • hat for sun protection (should be foldable so you can store it easily)
  • light, easily dried scarf
  • raincoat
  • sturdy sunglasses & case
  • small, secure purse
  • small wallet with credit card, debit card & driver’s license + house key
  • money belt (Ulaanbaatar is known for pickpockets, especially at the market)
  • 1 pair of secure stud earrings (I just wore them the whole trip)
  • hiking boots
  • flip-flops
  • light canvas shoes for the plane/cities

 

TOILETRIES & MEDS

  • travel toothbrush (mine folds up to protect the brush) & toothpaste
  • travel-sized mouthwash
  • disposable face wipes (it was just easier with all the moving around every day– and I sometimes used them to ‘shower’ in a ger)
  • travel-sized moisturizer
  • travel-sized deodorant
  • lip balm (I chose to travel without makeup this time, but you can add that if you’d prefer a bit of coverage)
  • facial sunscreen (I break out when I put regular sunscreen on my face, so this is an optional item if you don’t have that problem)
  • regular sunscreen
  • super-toxic 80% DEET bug repellant (necessary)
  • enough daily contact lenses to last me 14 days, plus extras
  • glasses & case
  • tiny mirror
  • extra hair elastics and bobby pins (I also chose not to bring a brush)
  • tweezers
  • 2 travel packs of tissues
  • TravelCalm ginger tablets & GinGin chews (we took these preventatively between lunch and a bouncy Gobi drive)
  • Imodium
  • powdered rehydration medicine
  • tea tree oil (best antiseptic + pimple-zapper out there)
  • Berocca (Australian cure for hangovers)
  • band-aids
  • medicated blister covers
  • tiger balm (for muscle aches & to soothe bug bites)
  • first aid kit

 

TRAVEL GEAR

  • inflatable travel pillow for the plane (we had 8-hour flights to/from Hong Kong, so this was a necessity and I’m glad I added it at the last minute)
  • ear plugs
  • sleep mask
  • two novels
  • travel journal
  • two pens
  • headphones
  • Asia plug converter
  • phone & charger
  • camera & charger
  • extra camera battery & memory card (I kept 1400 of the squillions of photos I took!)
  • power bank (essential for the Gobi desert, where you will never see a plug)
  • 3 extra plastic grocery bags & 3 extra big ziploc bags (for wet/dirty clothes, gifts of camel cheese from a host family, etc.)
  • luggage lock & keys (I mostly use these to keep my backpack from unzipping accidentally on the plane)

 

CAMPING GEAR

  • tent
  • sleeping bag (we both have very small ones, which I would recommend)
  • headlamp
  • extra batteries for headlamp
  • 2 each of: plastic plates, cups, spork/knives
  • 6 low-sugar granola bars
  • 6 date/nut bars
  • 6 packets instant coffee
  • 6 bags of herbal tea
  • 1 bar of chocolate (this melted in the desert, but we ate it anyway)

 

GIFTS FOR MONGOLIAN FAMILIES

**We stayed with 4 families in the Gobi desert, in an arrangement that is essentially like an Airbnb: you’re paying to stay with them and there are other tourists around, so a gift isn’t as necessary as if you were just showing up and asking for hospitality. Still, they appreciated the gifts, especially the little kids, and we were able to give something to our guide & driver for their little girl. If you’re bringing gifts, I might suggest erring on the side of stuff they can use up, since they live very minimally in the countryside.**

  • 6 Australia pins
  • 4 crocheted doilies
  • 1 pack of stickers with English words (Way to Go! Awesome! etc)
  • 18-pack pencil crayons
  • 1 bag of Australian candies

 

FOR HONG KONG LAYOVER & FLIGHTS

  • light dress & belt (worn both days of the layover with the canvas shoes)
  • small Citix60 Hong Kong guidebook
  • stretchy jeans for flight
  • extra tshirt for flight (ok, I admit… I bought the jeans and tshirt on my way home in Hong Kong because we didn’t have time to dry our laundry from the camping trip! So this may not be totally necessary, but you might appreciate having some clean things if your schedule is as rough/dirty and packed with things as ours was)

 

So that is the official, ultimate, comprehensive list. Phew. There were quite a few things that I brought that were not included on the list, and those things were just not needed for the two weeks we spent at the end of June & beginning of July. If you’re going earlier in the spring, though, I would suggest some more wintery gear for the colder nights.

What do you think, did I pack too light? Not light enough? We were definitely smelly by the end…

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