A rising destination among more adventurous travelers journeying across East Asia, Mongolia has at last reopened its borders to the vaccinated. This means immunized American and Canadian tourists will finally be allowed to enter the nation, which had been off-limits for two years as a result of the Covid pandemic.
Bordered by China to the south and Russia to the north, Mongolia is a hidden gem known for its vast deserts, rugged landscapes, high peaks, and nomadic culture, with nearly one quarter of Mongolian families living as nomads around the country. Now, this unique destination is once again ready to welcome visitors from around the world.
Vaccinated Travelers Are The First Allowed To Enter After Two Years Of Seclusion
While Mongolia is far from dropping all of its Covid requirements, like Mexico did a while back, the fact that it is ready to accept vaccination certificates as valid proof of entry is a sign that it is moving towards a more relaxed approach at the border, especially after spending most of the ongoing crisis completely secluded.
As reported by state media on February 14, the Mongolian government has started lifting curbs that kept most travelers away from the country since the pandemic was first declared. In fact, throughout Covid, Mongolia had imposed some of the strictest measures seen in Asia and further, including severe, consecutive lockdowns and the limitation of international flights.
Those days seem to be long gone now, with most existing mandates affecting local businesses and the economy as a whole having been scrapped. Now, the country is no longer enduring the pandemic “state of readiness”, having downgraded its “orange” alert level to “yellow”, as reported by the state-run Montsame News Agency.
In Mongolia’s traffic-light system for pandemic management, achieving and maintaining a “yellow” status means the country is ready to open up to visitors again. Leaving no room for doubt, Mongolian Prime Minister Luvsannamsrai Oyun-Erdene confirming himself his country will receive foreigners again, so long as they are vaccinated.
As published in Montsame, the PM reportedly stated the government would create the “necessary conditions to ensure safety” for tourists and businesspeople arriving in the country. The news will certainly be embraced by vaccinated backpackers and business travelers hoping to explore Asia more extensively while bypassing most restrictions.
On the other hand, the pre-departure test requirement seems to be going nowhere, with travelers still expected to satisfy border authorities with a negative PCR taken within 72 hours of departure from their initial embarkation point, regardless of vaccination and/or recent recovery status.
Mongolia Seems To Have Finally Weathered The Omicron Storm
Domestically, Mongolia also seems to have overcome the Omicron wave, with an average of only 839 new infections being recorded per day (or only 22% of its September peak). Additionally, 84.6% of Mongolians have been vaccinated already, making Mongolia and even more attractive destination for more cautious tourists.
While border policies have been relaxed and several internal restrictions lifted, visitors to Mongolia are still required to wear face masks and practice social distancing when touring the country. Following recent developments, Mongolia now joins a growing list of off the beaten path destinations in Asia that are already accepting vaccinated American travelers.
The move is also likely to be commended by the World Health Organization, which recently urged all countries to relax overly strict travel rules. According to the leading health entity, travel bans are unnecessary and place a heavy “financial burden” on travelers, who have been juggling expensive Covid testing and border closures even when vaccinated.
What Are The Visa Requirements For Americans, Canadians, And British Citizens Traveling To Mongolia?
From the metropolitan capital of Ulaanbaatar to the striking Altai Mountains, Mongolia has a lot to offer to voyagers bold enough to make the long journey. While it is not possible to reach the country on a direct flight from anywhere in the United States, or even North America as a whole, U.S. citizens can still visit as tourists for fewer than 90 days.
In order to reach Mongolia, Americans can choose between connecting flights in Turkey, South Korea, Hong Kong, and a number of other stopovers in Asia. Once arriving in the country, their passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the arrival date, and most pressingly: those wishing to remain for longer than 30 days must register with immigration authorities.
Regardless of the 90-day entry stamp, when failing to do so, and remaining in Mongolia for longer than a month, American travelers will be fined between $100 and $300 upon departure and kept from leaving until the situation is resolved. When overstaying, Americans also risk getting fined, even when due to extenuating circumstances such as a Covid infection.
For that reason, we would like to remind all our readers to purchase travel insurance that covers Covid before traveling abroad this winter, as no travel is completely risk-free, especially with the spread of new highly transmissible variants around Asia.
As for Canadian citizens, they are allowed to remain in Mongolia as tourists for a shorter 30 days, with those hoping to travel the country for longer, like Americans can, requiring registration with the Office of Immigration, Naturalization and Foreign Citizens within a week of arriving.
British nationals, however, must have a pre-issued visa before flying to Mongolia. It is usually valid for a stay of up to 30 days during a six month-timeframe, counting from the date of issue. Within this period, the visa can be extended once up to 30 more days. If landing in Mongolia with the wrong visa, Brits can either be offered to pay for a correction on-arrival or be denied entry.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com