Getting to Mongolia on a Budget isn’t as big an issue as many might imagine. Most people get to Mongolia from China on an expensive train from Beijing, that train costs about $250. However, there is a cheap alternative to getting to Mongolia from China without breaking your bank.
Step 1. Get to Erlian (二连): This is the border town on the Chinese side. You need to get here to do the border crossing. You can come via Beijing (北京) (8hrs) or Hohhot (呼和浩特) (7hrs).
Step 2. Spend the night in Erlian (optional): Most travellers opt to spent the night here in town so they can hit the border crossing into Mongolia first thing in the morning and ensure they can catch the train to Ulaanbaatar that often fills up.
Step 3. Cross the border: It’s a pain to cross the border, but you do have 3 options. The train is the easiest way, but only leaves from Erlian to Zamiin Uud a couple days a week. It also only leaves in the afternoon which makes it more tricky to catch the night train to Ulaanbaatar. Your second option is to take a bus from the bus station to Zamiin Uud, which is the Mongolian border town. The problem with this, is not only do you have to deal with the shit border proceedings, the bus only leaves a couple times a day in the afternoon. The most popular option is to catch a jeep. You can catch jeeps at Dinosaur Square in Erlian. They should cost between 70-100 Yuan per person. The crossing is a pain in the ass, but if you get to Dinosaur square around 8am, you should be in Mongolia by noon at the latest and get a ticket on the train that night.
Step 4. Get to Ulaanbaatar: You can catch either a bus, private car, or the train (which has sleeper cars) to UB. The train is comfortable and takes between 12-14 hours.
For more information on the crossing to Ulaanbaatar, head to my blog where there is more in depth information: (Coming Soon)