I'm planning on visiting Mongolia. I'll probably hire a tour guide for the trip, not only because of the language barrier but also so I'm not travelling solo, and so I can gain local knowledge.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of learning Russian versus learning Mongolian for visiting Mongolia? In particular, how well is Russian spoken by non-English-speaking Mongolians, and do they have a dislike of Russian-speakers?

I'm currently leaning towards Mongolian, as I learn languages to be liked as well as to communicate, but it's a decidedly hipster language with little in the way of learning materials, whereas there is a larger amount of learning materials for Russian, and I assume Russian is a useful language in a number of different countries.

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    Mongolian, after all you are visiting Mongolia not Russia. You will make a better first impression on people you meet. And trying to converse in their language always makes people more willing to try and converse in your language. Plus English is getting more wide spread than Russian in Mongolia.
    – user13044
    Commented May 9, 2015 at 4:07

3 Answers 3


When I was in Mongolia last summer, no one outside of UB spoke any language beyond Mongolian (and even in UB, it's pretty tough). However, you should note that the Mongolian alphabet is the same as the Russian one since that was imposed by the USSR back in the day, and has stuck since.

+ I agree with what @Tom said.


I'm from Mongolia. We don't speak Russian. Our 40 or 50 year olds may know some Russian. Currently schools don't teach Russian. So its already forgotten.


There are several textbooks of Mongolian for foreigners. Have you tried "Modern Mongolian: A Course Book" by Dr John Gaunt? It's very straightforward, pronunciation of every letter is compared to a similar sound of English words and the grammar explained clearly, not in complicated ways as some other books do. Sometimes they sell copies with audio tapes included. You can buy an e-book version from internet. Regarding Russian spoken in Mongolia Tom is right.

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