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China | Mongolia border
There are twice weekly International trains which run from Beijing through the border, which is the most comfortable and interesting way to start your Trans-Siberian journey. It is also relatively stress free and customs and immigratio board the train at the border so you can complete all immigration formalities from the comfort of your train cabin.
However, sometimes the train schedule just does not work with your itinerary and if you need to leave China urgently before your Chinese visa will expire, then there is another, less comfortable, way to reach the Mongolian border. We also have a few budget customers who ask how to make the border crossing on foot.
Described below in bullet form is the journey from Beijing to Erhenhot (Erlian) by public bus and across the border by local shuttle bus. The border is open to foreigners to cross this way, but it is not allowed to 'walk' across the border and so you must pay for a seat in a shuttle bus to cross through no-mans land.
This is a local crossing, with traders moving goods across the border, lot's of bartering is required for any service you pay for and it helps if you can speak Chinese, or Mongolian or both. Border towns are never very safe and so we do not advise you to make this journey if you are travelling alone, especially if you are female. There is a lot of trafficking and prostitution at this border.
BEIJING TO CHINESE BORDER (ERLIAN) BY OVERNIGHT BUS
Depart Beijing on long distance bus to Erlian. Depart around 5pm, (or 7pm if not full).
Price around ¥ 300 adult berth Muxiyuan Long-Distance Bus Station
Chinese name: 木樨园客运站 (mù xī yuán kè yùn zhàn)
Do not expect big auto-station. Sort of hidden place, shopping mall outside parking lot.
Stop at 10pm for meal, toilet break (very bad toilets and unappetizing food). Suggest to buy instant noodles, there you can find hot water.
Arrive Erlian bus station around 6/7am.
BY BUS AND CROSSING BORDER TO MONGOLIAN BORDER (ZAMYN UUD) BY VAN
There will be a lot of cars who offers to take whatever you want to go. Don't take them, they are more expensive. Just walk out from bus stop and take normal Erlian taxi and ask to take you to 'Zeel' (big local market). Should cost you ¥ 10 only.
Take a taxi to the border - Russian jeep (¥ 50-80), 4X4 drive (¥ 100). Drive takes around 5 mins only until border. Once car reaches the customs, get down and walk through customs. Don't forget to buy exit ticket ¥ 5. Once you exit wait for your car to come and pick you up (30mins). Reboard the car to travel across no man's land.
Pass through Mongolian customs, walk outside the gate. There you can find taxis which will take you to train station for 1000 Tugrug (¥ 5). There is Mongolian savings bank inside Customs building where you can change some money. You are now in Zamyn Uud.
ONWARDS FROM ZAMYN UUD
There is a daily domestic train from Zamyn Uud at 17:35 to Ulaanbaatar arrive 10am next day
CROSSING MONGOLIAN BORDER (ZAMYN UUD) BY VAN
Board a Russian jeep from the main square ¥20-80 or from customs
Arrive at the Mongolian border, pay T1,000 for an exit ticket
Walk through customs
Reboard the jeep to travel through to the Chinese side.
Get off the van to walk through Chinese customs.
Wait for the van to be checked and reboard the same van to drive out of the immigration area. (It is not allowed to walk across the border). Make sure to have your passport and money ready. They will check your exit/entry stamp on every check post.
The van will drop you downtown Erlian.
ONWARD FROM ERLIAN TO BEIJING
Take a taxi to the airport/bus station/train station. A private car departs from 'Zeel' (big local market) or from the train station (when trains arrive). Depart 10am?, around 8 hours journey. Cost around ¥300 per seat. It is a fast drive and some may feel unsafe.
There is a daily train departing just after midnight, arriving in Beijing at 14:05.
The overnight bus departs at 5pm, arriving to Muxiyuan at around 6am