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“Amazing- not a "buddy"- a best friend”
Review of Travel Buddies

Travel Buddies
Ranked #10 of 117 Tours in Ulaanbaatar
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Travel Buddies is a trusted local agency, based in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. We are a all-season personalized tour operator specially focused on tailor-made experiences just for you and your group visit. Since 2009, hundreds of happy guests returned from our trips. We offer all-season adventure tour packages including cultural, discovery, horseback riding, trekking, winter, festivals and tailor-made photography tours. The accommodation we use and our driver, guide and cook are carefully selected with care to make sure your travel experience is memorable. We are looking forward to travelling with you through Mongolia !
Reviewed September 1, 2016 via mobile

I have been travelling independantly for over 30 years, and this is by far the best travel agent I have ever had. I can't even call her a travel agent, because she is truly like a best friend, a family member who wants to host you and show you the absolute best experience in her country. Where do I start? Well I guess I could start by explaining that I started planning this trip over six months ago and, probably sent her, without exaggeration , Over 1000 emails. I wanted this trip to be perfect and had done extensive research. I would be traveling with a young boy. She was absolutely fantastic. She responded to emails within an hour or two, even in the middle of her night. She made the impossible , possible. We visited a shaman, saw the reindeer herders- visited a eagle Hunter and even shared food and drink with locals in their yurt. She scoured the cities for art and handicraft stores because I was so interested in taking home some special things from her country. She was in constant contact with me, even joined me for part of the trip. I can't tell you enough how she made this trip special. She even helped me pack my suitcases!!!. I even have left some things in Mongolia, that I couldn't bring home, because they were too heavy, and she is trying to find ways to get them back to the United States less expensively, either by boat or air. Her drivers and tour guides were absolutely fantastic, friendly, knowledgeable and, like her, only wanting to make our stay special. We really enjoyed having them join us for local meals. The hot pot was delicious, and we went to that restaurant three times! She even found a local mask maker and arranged for us to meet him and purchase some authentic masks from him, featured in one of the photos I uploaded. If you want to see Mongolia and have it personalized, fairly priced and an unbelievable service, don't look anywhere else. It is an amazing country. Just use travel buddies and dont look at any other agents. You will not be disappointed. I can't wait to return. She , and everyone that she hired, wanted everything to be absolutely perfect for us and went to all extents to be able to make that happen

2  Thank BostonBostonGirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Zoljargal, Owner at Travel Buddies, responded to this reviewResponded November 20, 2016

Dear Keira and Colin,

What a memorable experience we had in Mongolia last August ! We were fascinated by your ambition to explore Mongolia for extended time and learn in-deep Mongolian culture.
We are happy that we could arrange the travel effectively taking you to the Western Mongolia, Northern Mongolia, Gobi desert and Karakorum with two return flights and another flight to the Gobi with some driving for 16 days only. Also, we could experience the Danshig Naadam while you stay in Ulaanbaatar. Glad that you received the boxes with Tsam masks you bought from the local artist. Wish you the Merry Christmas :)
Can't wait to see you again in Mongolia !

Zoljargal
Your guide and Travel Advisor

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Reviewed August 4, 2016

My experience with this agency it was brilliant, good organization, good staff speaking good English. Is nothing left for you to do from the time you arrive at the airport. Travel Buddies meet you at the airport and drop you at the hotel. Our two guides Otno and Togo were fantastic, he is an excellent driver and very down to earth.Otno she is fantastic she will provide you with all you need for your experience and you just need to enjoy and ask she always answer you.They also pick you up at the start of the tour, provide a brilliant experience, drop you back to the hotel, then when its time to leave, they pick you up from the hotel and drop you at the airport. What left for us was to enjoy the drive through Mongolian landscapes and the experiences with 2 Mongolian families who received us in their own homes. The first family it was a traditional family in its own very way, working also hard to maintain their lives. The Older member of the family he have 80 years old and still ride is horses and camels around the Mongolian steps to keep an eye into their sheep's, and important source of money and food.They greeted us with salty milk which i tried and loved it and than they took us for a Camel ride and showing us more beautiful spots for photography. The second family is also traditional but younger and with a big number of animals something above 1000 sheep's, dozens of horses and cows. The work much harder to keep all the animals healthy and with food. It is hard just to imagine they will move around the landscape through the seasons in search of food to feed the animals and to be protected from the winter. After dining with second family they will greeted us with a show how about to catch an horse in the wild, and i can tell now it is very hard and require lots of strength not to be dragged by the horse. Well it was a marvelous experience in a country of Genghis Khan, full of nice stories and joy.Highly recommended.

Thank Helder P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Zoljargal, Owner at Travel Buddies, responded to this reviewResponded August 17, 2016

Dear Helder,

It is nice to hear from you ! We really appreciate that you had a good time with nomad families we work with and enjoyed staying with them. We know the families are different from each other but they have their own way of life. It is nice of you respecting the families and their uniqueness. We wish you have a longer trip next time to Mongolia.
Thank you !

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Reviewed August 1, 2016

We only had a short time and were both interested in photography so we took the photo tour. There is absolutely nothing left for you to do from the time you arrive at the airport. Travel Buddies meet you at the airport and drop you at the hotel, pick you up at the start of the tour, provide a brilliant experience, drop you back to the hotel, then when its time to leave, they pick you up from the hotel and drop you at the airport. SIMPLE! For the details of the tour...we had a lovely guide (Otno) and a great driver who spoke little, but left nothing to chance either, and was just an all-round nice guy (Togo). They both made sure we knew we could ask them to stop at any time and that we could provide input into any decision (such as what to eat, where to stop along the way etc). Otno spoke very good English and was able to answer most questions, and what she was not sure about, she checked with Togo and got an answer. Togo was so careful about everything, that he even inspected the food that we were going to order in one place to make sure it was good quality - then made them make fresh ones. He never made a big deal about anything, just was humble and nice. The gers we stayed in were very different and just ideal. The first was with a family that was more comfortable in dealing with tourists and knew what they wanted, and gave us a lovely experience including camel rides and many photo opportunities. The patriarch was about 80 years old but very entertaining and could still ride a horse and do round-ups. The younger family appeared to work from dawn to dusk - a very long time. The second family was perhaps more traditionally nomadic and had a lot of animals that kept them very busy. Despite this, the men came back from shepherding and gave us a very good-hearted example of horse wrangling and made sure we got plenty of great photos. We also went to some museums and monasteries which Otno and Togo insisted that we not miss - the museum was not on the official schedule but I am glad that they took us anyway - it was very educational. I highly recommend the trip and the only thing I can say is that, if you see that you are travelling in an old Russian vehicle, don't be disappointed - it is as reliable as Otno, its driver, and you should feel blessed!

Thank rhysw552016
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Zoljargal, Owner at Travel Buddies, responded to this reviewResponded August 17, 2016

Dear Rhys,

Thank you very much for sharing your travel experience with us and fellow travel buddies !
Hope you had excellent photos of Mongolian nomad families and pristine nature. We are delighted that you spent quality time with us. Good luck on your photography projects :)

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Reviewed July 31, 2016

Zol responded to my enquiry email quickly & followed up with prompt replies to my subsequent ones, which is why we decided to sign on with TB for our 1st 14D Mongolia trip. She was helpful & very patient with our zillion questions, flexible in adjusting our itinerary to our requests, even helped us book hotels in UB at good prices. Zol even helped us talked to the bank staff at airport to change our $$.

TB took care of our airport transfers & check ins. They were very punctual each time, including the times to pick us up for Naadam & start of trip beyond UB. All staff speak good English, so no worries on language barrier.

For Gobi tour outside UB, we've another tour guide & driver. The 4WD car was in excellent clean condition & spacious for the 2 of us thru'out. Our driver, Gana was very skillful, bonus that he's from Gobi. He knows his directions very well (many other drivers asked him) with his 'natural GPS', haha. He was also very helpful - he offered his bed to sleep elsewhere instead when the 1st Nomad host wanted to move us to another ger with strangers; he helped to dry our ger (wipe the floor) when we experience leaks from heavy downpour on our 2nd Normad ger. The team also had to sleep in the car when there wasn't any ger for them.

Choice of ger camps have a mixture of good & average, but overall it was good. I especially love the wooden lodge one with our own bathroom. That's the best for us.

Despite above, there were few misses:
We stated 'No Pork' for my travel buddy but that seemed to be missed out in the ham provided or food served, even at the camps. Our tour guide didn't highlight nor replace when pork was served, until the 2nd last day when I mentioned it.

Would be good to offer some tips for 1st timers - eg. wasn't aware we can't shower during Nomadic stay (2N in a row); didn't know have to wear long pants to ride a horse.

Nomadic stay - would be good for TB to assess & review. 1st one wanted to move us with strangers last minute, lucky we ended up in our tour guide's ger (Sorry our driver had to give up his bed for us). 2nd one close to leaking (due to heavy rain) & reeked of strong urine smell thru'out the night.

As for itinerary, my suggestion - skip the Ongi Monastery (nothing to see, really, not even close to the Parthenon), Hot Spring (the area is filled with fierce mosquitoes) & Ogii Lake (just a lake...for me)

Overall, we still had a very good trip & learned/see many things. If I were to visit Mongolia again, I'd book with TB.

Lastly, one must be prepared to rough it out & most importantly, understand how Nature works & local lives, which can be a total opposite of ours. Do respect it & be a responsible tourist - don't waste resources (esp water) & litter (esp when one pees in the open).

I'm more than happy to share more tips, just ask :)

1  Thank 718Vivian65
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Zoljargal, Owner at Travel Buddies, responded to this reviewResponded August 17, 2016

Dear Chia and June,

There is nothing more valuable than sharing your honest feedback and suggestion about the tour you had with us ! We really appreciate your kind suggestions and notes. It is always our priority to maintain the excellent service and improve / fix the issues for the next time. Well noted that we will double make sure to meet your special requirement (food in this case) and assess the families' service we work with. Of course, we will strive to provide all the essential information / improved travel tips to make sure the best travel experience. Again thank you for the recommendations ! We are always happy to hear from you ! Feel free to contact us for your next trip to Mongolia :)

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Reviewed July 14, 2016

I had only 5 days to spend in Mongolia and since it was my first time to this country with short notice to plan, I looked up TripAdvisor for travel consultants to provide some ideas and suggestion.

I emailed 5 travel companies with some general question and pointers about my preferred interest. All 5 companies did reply my email within 1 day. I was most impressed with Travel Buddies, the manager Zoljargal provided clear feedback and attention to my questions including providing helpful suggestions. 2-3 other travel companies replied the email with their standard brochures and omitted answering some of my inquiry on my travel plan.

I had a skype phone call with Zoljargal, she speaks good English and we confirmed my travel tour plan. It's a family run travel business and she takes great attention and passion in her work, even when I made some changes to my travel plans to Terelj National Park she was accommodating and understanding.

It was great meeting her and her team when I arrived in Ulaanbaatar. Rest assured you're in good hands and I hope to make another longer trip back to Mongolia one day soon!

Thank Vincent W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Zoljargal, Owner at Travel Buddies, responded to this reviewResponded July 30, 2016

Dear Vincent,

We really appreciate your taking the time to share your experience with us here. Bodi and I enjoyed making friends with you and your wife beside being a guide and arranging the tour. We hope to have another trip with you in near future !

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