This is guide how to travel from Ulaanbaatar to China (Erenhot city) by combination of train and bus. This is low cost but longer option which takes almost 24 hours. If you don´t need low cost option or don´t have time, we would recommend you to take a plane.
1.Take a train from Ulaanbaatar to Zamiin Uud
We bought ticket for overnight train which leaves Ulaanbaatar at 5:15 pm and arrives to Z-U at 7:20 am. We chose a lower class for our ride, which cost 22 000 MNT (about 7,5 EUR). Mongolian trains are older than Russian ones. For example, hot water is heated by fire and wood, the train is heated by coal and the mattresses are harder. But the way was safe and we met lot of friendly people. There is also hot water in the coach so you can take instant noodles with you or make a tea in the morning.
2. Find a minibus to take you across the borders
As soon as we got out of the train in the morning, the minibus drivers rushed at us to offer us a transfer to the Chinese city of Erenhot. Minibus cost 50 RMB. We did not have Chinese money with us, but luckily we could withdraw money and pay ticket in Erenhot.
We drove about 2 km and saw an endless queue of cars heading to the Chinese border. Minibus drivers have their own strategy for this problem. They park the second car in the queue when it’s not that long. Then we moved into this car, so we suddenly found ourselves at the beginning of the queue :D.
Important information: In order to let us go to Mongolian border control, each of us had to pay 5000 MNT, which we obviously didn´t have because we had no idea about this fee. We put together about 5000 MNT and some small ones.
Fortunately, an English-speaking Mongolian comes to the scene and offers us help. He lend us around 4300 MNT, which is still not enough, but the collector was so desperate of us so she gave us the payment receipt in the end 😀
After about 5 minutes we come to Chinese border control, we have to go through something that looks like a “car wash” before we can go further to the main building. They took our fingerprints and took a picture of our face during the passport check.
3. Find a bus station and buy bus ticket in Erenhot
The bus station is located at Chaha’er St, Erenhot, Xilin Gol (ilin 锡林郭勒 盟 二连浩特 市 察哈尔). The bus to Beijing costs 220 RMB and runs twice a day at 2:30 pm and 4 pm. The bus that departs at 2:30 am has arrival time in Beijing at 2 am but driver leave you to sleep on the bus until the subway is in operation.
The bus to Beijing was one big surprise for us because there were beds in it! We have never seen or heard about such kind of bus in our lives. But we have to say that it was very comfortable. The bus was classically stopping for toilet and dinner, and we arrived in Beijing at 1:30 am. In the end we left bus at 5 am and metro station was located about 10 minutes from the bus.