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When is the best time to visit Mongolia?

| Words by Zoe Crane | ,

Your definitive map and guide on the best time to visit Mongolia and its key highlights.

Overview: Best time to visit Mongolia

Known as “The Land of Blue Sky”, Mongolia gets around 260 days of sunshine each year, but don’t go to Mongolia expecting a warm climate. Winters are long and cold and temperatures can drop as low as minus 40°C (-40°F), so the best time to visit is in summer (June to August). Tourism peaks in July and August, when prices are higher, so booking early is advisable. If want to go when Mongolia is quieter, consider visiting in May, September or October.

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Here is your guide on what to expect, where and when.

Map: When is the best time to visit Mongolia?

Known as the coldest capital on earth, temperatures drops below freezing from September to May. From November to March the average maximum also drops below freezing and the minimum drops as low as minus 33°C (-28°F). There is, however, less wind and snowfall at this time of year than there is in the spring. March to mid-May bring sunshine with sudden snowstorms, and a biting wind chill factor that could see temperatures go as low as -5°C (23°F). Temperatures vary in September and October, when it can be hot one minute and cold the next. Light rain is common from May to September and thunderstorms hit in July and August, when around 50% of the days experience some rain. April and October have the lowest amount of rain and snow.

The best time to visit Mongolia’s capital is in the summer from June to August when the average minimum is around 12°C (54°F) and the average maximum is around 26°C (80°F). In July, the annual Naadam festival draws big crowds to Mongolia’s capital, although it is also celebrated elsewhere in the country. Nomadic families from all around Mongolia descend on the capital for this two-day event, during which Mongolian warriors compete in the traditional sports of horse racing, archery and wrestling.

The ruins of the Mongol Empire are best visited between April and October as temperatures the rest of the year are below freezing. June to August have some rain, though there are still more days of sun than rain, and it rarely affects touring.

Lake Khuvsgul is cold and mainly dry so the best time to visit is from June to August when the temperatures rarely dip below freezing and the daytime highs reach around 18°C.

The Gobi in central Mongolia is a desert of extremes, with temperatures ranging from minus 40°C (-40°F) in winter (December to February) up to 50°C (122°F) during July and August. June is a good time to go to the Gobi Desert, before the hottest months kick in, though dust storms can appear. September is the best time to visit the Gobi Desert, though tourist camps are likely to be closed by October.

The Mongolian grasslands extend across central and eastern Mongolia, forming a crescent around the Gobi desert, while forests extend to the country’s north. Expect heavy rainfall in northern and central areas during July and August. This brings a vibrant green colour to the grasslands, but the rain can also cause floods that make travel tricky, and it increases mosquito numbers. The best time to visit the grasslands is between August and October when the grass is lush and green. The autumnal colours of the northern forests are also a spectacular sight this time of year.

It’s worth noting that native Mongolians consider March and April to be the worst months, as livestock will be suffering from the ravages of winter - so it’s not the best time to go stay with a nomadic family. May is a better month for visiting, as it’s warm but not hot, and you may witness gazelle migrations in eastern parts of the country.

Experience Mongolia on our Trans-Mongolian small group tour with a dedicated Naadam Festival departure