Mongolia Travel Planning

Mongolian Etiquette: Local Culture

Mongolian Etiquette

Local Culture

Mongolia has been known for its history and nomadic culture through the ages. There is some etiquette in Mongolia that could be a culture shock when it comes to the differences in social niceties between the country and western world. So we round up some daily manners and deference of Mongolian life.

Greetings

In this section, you can learn some tips of self-introduction and to introduce yourself. The first step to create a good first impression is introduction/ Self-introduction. In traditionally, Mongolians greet each other doing traditional formal greeting – Zolgokh. Two people hold their arms out, younger person shows pillar to older by placing his/her arms under older’ s arm, hold their elbows and go with the phrase “are you doing well” or “how are you doing”. Nowadays, Mongolians use this traditional greeting on the national holidays or when they meet with elders in external family, such as grandfather and grandmother if they don’t often meet. Today, simple handshake and a smooth salutation are common greetings between locals. Therefore, Mongolians respect older people, so youngers always greet first and introduce themselves.

Names and Titles

With regard to introducing yourself, it is considered polite to give your full name. However, Mongolians use only their first names unless last name wouldn’t be asked. Mongolian names are opposite of Western names with surname first, followed by the given name, also the mistresses don’t adopt their spouse’s surname by family name. Only children have their fathers’ name as surname.

Body languages

Mongolians do not prefer to be touched by someone who is not a relative or close friend, especially women and children. Always pass and receive objects with your right hand and always receive gifts with both hand. Remember that if you beckon someone or spot in the countryside, such as rivers and mountains, extend your arm and move your fingers in a scratching motion, but never point with your index finger, if not it will seem very disrespectful.

Daily words

Only your full name with a simple greeting is enough on informal occasions:

SubdialectMongolianThe same meaning in English
Sain bainu ? /Сайн байна уу?Hello? (with deference/ when you greet older people)
Sainu ?Сайн уу?Hi?
Minii neriig ….. gedegМиний нэрийг … гэдэгMy name is…
Namaig … gedegНамайг … гэдэгI am…
Taniltsahad taatai bainaТанилцахад таатай байнаIt’s nice to meet you.
BayarlaБаярлалааThank you
BayartaiБаяртайGoodbye
UchlaaraiУучлаарайI am sorry

*When someone is making the introduction, to monologize is considered disrespectful for others. So wait till your turn and stand up if you want, smile and look at people while being introduced. After that wait to see if they initiate a handshake, and if they do not, then a polite nod will suffice, sometimes with an exchange of calling cards.

*Also when you greet with older people, there is a little difference when you call them. There are 2 kinds of ‘YOU’ in Mongolia, “ta” is used for older people and “chi” is used for younger and coeval. You can say “Hello” as “Ta sain bainu?” – which shows more respect to other person, sometimes it means “Are you doing well”.

Tips when visiting nomad families

In this section, you can learn some tips and etiquette when you visit a nomadic family. Hope it helps. Click on the title above.

Tips when having business meeting in Mongolia

Compared to Western culture, there are many strict conventional rules on introduction to others through most of the Asian countries, as well as Mongolia. Click on the title and see what are those. Click on the title above.