Since we are finally able to travel again, many people are looking for a unique travel experience. Mongolia is at the top of the list of places to visit for that unique experience. With its incredible culture and its diverse nature spanning thousands of kilometres, Mongolia has something for everyone! If you plan to travel to Mongolia, enrich your experience with some simple phrases that will make your trip unforgettable. Here are the 5 most important phrases to learn in Mongolian.
Phrase 1: Миний нэр… (My name is…)
Now I am not going to put ‘hello’ (Сайн байна уу) on this list because that should be a given. You should at the very least know how to say hello when you go to any country that you are visiting. However, taking that further, being able to say your name is a great way to introduce yourself to the locals and make an impression. You will have several opportunities without even trying to use this phrase. Often local sellers will ask you your name as you are shopping. Even children will come up to you on the street and try talking to you, even asking your name. Миний нэр (mini ner (Daniel) is not a hard phrase to learn either as it doesn’t have any unusual sounds (have a listen below). Why not surprise others and tell them your name?
Phrase 2: Бие засах газар хаана байгаа вэ (Where is the restroom?)
This may be a no-brainer phrase to learn but I can’t overstate knowing this phrase will really help you out in an emergency! If you are able to ask where the bathroom is when your stomach isn’t settling, someone will be able to point you in the right direction. Бие засах газар хаана байгаа вэ (Biy zasakh gazar khaana baygaa ve) may be a little more difficult to learn than the previous phrase but it is so much more important to know! You won’t necessarily also be able to rely on your guide or friend to be able to translate for you in that emergency. It is actually very common to have food poisoning or stomach cramps while travelling around Mongolia. The food is very different so be ready for at least one situation when you may need to use the bathroom in a hurry. I would also say that restrooms will vary in quality and if you do travel round the countryside they may not be available at all. Commonly you will just have an outhouse, a simple box with a hole to squat. So make sure you at least have some toilet paper handy. Have a listen below:
Phrase 3: Энэ хэд вэ (How much is this)?
Of course, if you are going to come to Mongolia you are going to be doing some shopping. You won’t be able to resist the Ger trinkets or handmade horn cups that are on offer. Mongolia has so much to offer to take home with you including their famous cashmere clothing which feels absolutely amazing (it really does live up to the hype)! Make sure to check out different cashmere brands when you are in the capital, including Gobi cashmere. However, outside the capital, you may not find English-speaking vendors and if you are in a large group your guide may be busy with others in your group. Being able to ask stall owners how much something is will go a long way to helping you get something that you are after. Normally if you say ‘Энэ хэд вэ’ (Ene khed ve) shop owners will be able to respond in turgiks or in US dollars.
By also knowing this phrase you are more likely to get a better deal! When you say this phrase, stall owners may be unsure how much Mongolian you actually know and presume you are not an average tourist and not overcharge you the same as other tourists. So learning this phrase may actually save you some money! This has actually happened to me on several occasions where tourists near me have asked their guide for a price and almost been charged double compared to the price I was offered, all because I knew some simple phrases in Mongolian. Make sure to listen to this easy phrase below:
Phrase 4: Та надад тусалж чадах уу (can you help me)?
This phrase, paired with ‘do you speak English’ (Ta Angliar yaridag uu) can really be helpful for that unexpected situation. I think you all know what I mean. Sometimes travelling doesn’t always go as planned, and we can end up in places and situations that can be stressful, even a trigger of why we didn’t enjoy our travelling experience. To help you mitigate this, and your stress levels, learn this phrase. Та надад тусалж чадах уу (Ta nadad tusalj chadakh uu) can be broken into chunks to help you learn it and once you have try using it with your Mongolian guide or that one Mongolian friend. You never know when it may come in handy if you get lost or you need to ask a stranger a question. Have a listen to the pronunciation below:
Phrase 5: Би … -ны харшилтай (I’m allergic to…)
This last one may seem a little strange. You may be thinking why isn’t it ‘thank you,’ ‘your welcome’ or ‘goodbye’ on this list? Well, those are all good phrases to know but with the day and age we live I thought this may be a bit more practical from a safety concern. There is so many allergies that people have out there nowadays and being able to express to others that you have an allergy can be very important! While in the west restaurants and food vendors are more conscious of this, Mongolia is still catching up. You may need to personally say to your host, waiter or waitress that you have an allergy as your friend or guide may just simply forget. When using; Би … -ны харшилтай (Bi …-ni kharshiltai) just simply add the choice of food into the sentence like; ‘Bi (peanut)-ni kharshiltai’. Hopefully, you won’t need to use this one often once your guide or friend realises you have an allergy but it’s better to know it in case you need to use it.
Another phrase that might be helpful to do with this topic is; Би цагаан хоолтон (Bi tsagaan khoolton) which means ‘I’m a vegetarian’. More and more people are becoming vegetarian which is at opposites with Mongolia, which is very much a meat-eating country. To avoid offence to a host and any misunderstandings, if you are vegetation it may be a good idea to learn this phrase as well. It’s better to do that than offend your host.
These of course are only a few of the many phrases and words that could be helpful to you when you come to Mongolia. Others may say other phrases are more important and that’s okay, I just simply think that these will be the most practical and easy to implement that can really make your experience that much better.
If you are looking at learning other phrases why not check out our basic Mongolian course? Here you can learn these phrases above and so much more with exercises to help retain what you have learned. The best part is that it is completely free! So why not try it out today?
Safe travels everyone!