There are three ways to get from Ulaanbaatar to Beijing. First one — by plane, second one — by international train operating on Transsiberian Railway route and third — travel junky deluxe itinerary with two stops for no more than $50!
If you want to enjoy pure Transsiberian journey, you can buy direct train ticket to Beijing. Look for train numbers: 24 and 04. They depart on Thursdays and Sundays at 7:15 am from Ulaanbaatar central station. You will arrive in Beijing at 2:04 pm next day. That’s comfortable, but quite boring way. Also a bit pricy, because you need to spend around $100 for one way ticket in economy class.
If you want to save $50 at the same time earning unforgettable experience arriving to China in style — read more.
Ulaanbaatar–Beijing total discount economy
Here is how to do it:
Step 1. Train from Ulaanbaatar to Zamyn-Üüd
Train departs several times a day. The cheapest one is at 4:30 pm every day and arrives at the border at 7:20 am next day.
Sitting places for hardcore travelers you can buy for. However if you want to catch some sleep, better try ticket in platzkarta, sleeping carriage. That one costs . These tickets run out quickly, so it’s better to buy ones a few days prior departure.
Conditions in train
In carriage without compartments you will get blanket to protect you from cold. They however seem already too many travelers without being ever washed. You need to choose — either you will freeze during night (even in summer) or be forced to lie in stinky bedding. You will need to pay extra for bed sheets. Besides warm clothes, take some food. In train you can get only Chinese noddles and drinks.
If you tend to topple in bed, try to avoid upper bed. Beds don’t have any bars protecting you from falling e.g. when train brakes.
Step 2. 4×4 ride from Zamyn-Üüd to Erlien
There no way to cross Mongolian-Chinese border on foot. You need to take a ride. After arrival in Zamyn-Üüd just run towards first available car, mostly old Soviet UAZ. Don’t hesitate too long, otherwise you will be last in long queue at the border. After you will get into car, grab whatever handle you can grab, because all drivers apparently were stuntmen in their previous live.
As much as you are willing to pay. Bargain quickly and jump into car. We paidper person to get into center of first Chinese town — Erlien (二连浩特). You can pay also in Chinese yuen.
Twice on every side of a border we had to pay additional fee, tax or whatever. It might be simply a scam, but Mongolians we sat together with paid as well. Prepare for that a few thousands tughriks and .
Tip: Get migration card from Mongolian customs and fill the form ASAP. It will save you time. You won’t learn that piece of paper even exists before you will get in front of officer, who will send you at the end of long queue.
Step 3. Erlien-Beiijing
If you are fast enough, you can arrive in Erlien before 11 am. At that time departs direct train to Beijing (on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays). Too late? No problem, we did not make it too.
Bus to Beijing
Find long-distance bus station, which is located on outskirts. Buy tickets for any bus, which goes to Beijing. They depart almost every hour. In addition most of them has beds inside, so you can kind of comfortably catch a nap. Whole route, around 800 km takes 10-12 hours with a few short stops! Single ticket costs on average.
Whole trip from Ulaanaatar to Beijing will take you around 35 hours and your wallet will become lighter by $45. Don’t forget to send us commission from $50 you have saved due to our secret memo ;)