Climate and best travel time
Mongolia is also known as the land of the blue sky, and not without reason: with an average of over 250 sunny days per year, it has more than earned such a title. But it is also a land of extremes in terms of temperature: a strong continental climate characterized by warm to hot summers and very cold winters. The annual average temperature borders the freezing point. In Mongolia, on some winter nights the thermometer can drop below -40°C, while in summer it rises to over 40°C in the Gobi Desert, and even in the capital temperatures over +30°C are common. In some regions, there can be a temperature difference of up to 30 degrees between day and night. A plus point, however, is the very low amount of rainfall – soaking wet clothes is not an usual wish for most holiday travelers
Average summer temperature: +20°C (+65°F)
Average winter temperature: -24°C (-13°F)
Average annual precipitation: 200-220mm (80-90% of precipitation occurs between May and September)
Best travel time
Mongolia has four seasons and these are very different. Winter starts in November and lasts until February, spring follows from March to mid-May, summer extends from mid-May to late August, and finally a short autumn comprising September and October.
From November to February it is really, really cold. These extreme weather conditions, with blizzards and icy winds, are called “Zud” by the Mongols. Temperatures drop below -40°C. Nevertheless, a trip in this season can be an experience in itself – for example by finding out first-hand what it means to live in a ger while the world outside howls and freezes. Actually, the Mongols do not find the winter so bad. The hardest months to bear are March and April, when the herd is starved and thin after a long winter and people and animals alike grow desperate due to the lack of rainfall.
Spring can still be very windy – among other things it can come to unexpected snowstorms – so when checking the temperature on weather forecast sites don‘t forget to account for the wind chill factor. In a strong wind, 0°C can feel like -5°C. In northern Mongolia – especially in Khentii and Khövsgöl – rains are expected during this period. Otherwise, the spring is usually dry and sunny.
With the summer begins the best time to travel to Mongolia. You can start from mid-May already. At the beginning of May there may still be some snowfalls – especially in the north. The weather in June is usually good and mostly dry – especially in the center and the southern regions. July is the peak holiday season, not just because of the weather, but also because the Naadam festival (more information about Naadam below). In August, there may be more precipitation in the north and in the central country. However, this also has some advantages, because as the ground absorbs the moisture and the rivers fill, the dusty steppe becomes a beautiful and fertile green carpet. Disadvantage: some roads are too muddy to drive on, and the mosquitoes enjoy the increased humidity.
The autumn months are difficult to estimate. One moment you feel like wearing just a T-shirt, the next one you change into a thick sweater and put your feet in warm boots. The splendor of colors, especially in the forested north of the country, is wonderful to look at, and there’s a quiet charm impossible to find in any other season. It’s just that the weather is a bit difficult to predict, so be prepared for everything.