In 2014, when we first decided to go to Myanmar for a two-week holiday, we had so many questions. It’s not the kind of country that either of us had any general knowledge about. We had one set of friends who had been the year before, but they did super-luxury guided tours throughout their trip so their costs were not going to be similar to ours.
So we muddled through and set our budget as we went. Now that we’ve been there, though, we can answer our own questions with confidence!
*Disclaimer: It’s been over two years since we went to Myanmar and things in that country change pretty fast. Take these costs as an approximate and maybe add a few US dollars to each price.
What’s this about perfect American dollars?
You do still have to have perfectly crisp and uncreased American dollars almost everywhere you go (we saw a guy get turned away at a hotel because his money had a slight fold).
Keep American dollars for paying for accommodation; the guest houses tend to prefer US$ to kyat.
TIP – Bring a page of thick card stock paper per person. Fold in half then put money inside. Use an elastic to secure it and keep this bundle inside the cover of a book, preferably a journal or hardcover.
I think we felt like we’d slowed down mentally and emotionally when we reached Ulaanbaatar because it was just a slower city than Hong Kong, but we really didn’t. It wasn’t until several days into a trip to the Gobi desert that we realised how exhausted we had made ourselves. That’s reflective of our personalities, though– I don’t admit to myself that a To-Do list is too long until I’ve spent all day working through tasks 1-7 with 10 left to go; M. has to be delirious with a fever of 102 before he admits that he’s sick. Maybe next holiday we’ll try to do something that tunes us into our emotions and energy levels.
Anyway. Here’s what we did in Mongolia for just under two weeks:
On our way to Mongolia this July, M. and I opted to spend 2 very whirlwind days in Hong Kong on the way.
Exploring the mega-cosmopolitan city was a great way to transition between a stressful month of work and an adventure in the wilds of Mongolia– we got to get in a bit of shopping and eating delicious food before we started roughing it for a fortnight.
We’ve begun to make a bit of a routine of exploring our layover stop. Coming from Australia, you almost always endure a 20-40-hour-straight journey through airports, so cutting that in half with a bit of exploring becomes key to saving your sanity.
For us, though, it’s become a way of squeezing an extra destination and some different experiences into our short breaks from the daily grind.
Our travel mantra could probably be summed up by the phrase “Walk til you drop,” so keep that in mind when you read our itinerary below. You may want to take things a bit slower than we usually do; but then, we do tend to see a lot when we’re roaming around a city non-stop!
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: