A Full Guide to the Tugrik: Mongolian Currency Explained

November 1st, 2022

Many travelers are fascinated by the idea of traveling to Mongolia due to its rich culture and beautiful scenery. Spanning across Central and East Asia, Mongolia remains relatively untouched, with rural families thriving in one of the most barren landscapes in the world.

Steeped in culture and history, Mongolia is home to around 3 million people, with 25% of them still living as nomads. If you’re thinking about traveling to this unique country, you won’t regret it.

But besides its landscapes and rich culture, Mongolian currency is also popular among collectors. Whether you want to know about Mongolia tugrik because you plan to travel there or want to collect some Mongolian coins, this article will give you the answers you seek.

What Currency Is Used in Mongolia?

Also known as Tögrög, Mongolian tugrik (MNT) is the official Mongolian currency, and ₮ is its symbol. The Bank of Mongolia issues paper currency in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, and 20,000 tugriks, and coins are being minted in denominations of 20, 50, 100, and 200 tugriks. However, due to their low value, Mongolians rarely use bills smaller than 100 tugriks of any denomination.

About Mongolia

Located between Russia and China, Mongolia is the second-largest landlocked nation in the world. However, it’s sparsely populated - its 3.3 million residents are spread across a vast region, ranking as the world’s 18th largest in area.

The country consists primarily of pasturelands, and the rest are deserts and forests. That said, Mongolians have a long history of raising and herding livestock, but mineral mining also makes up a considerable portion of the nation’s economy. The country’s GDP (gross domestic product) primarily depends on its exports, including animal products, cashmere, minerals, and crude oil.

History of Mongolian Currency

According to historical evidence, Genghis Khan used gold and silver currency for trade. He also introduced paper money in 1227. In 1253, The Mongol Empire established the Monetary Division, fulfilling some similar duties as modern banks.

The Trade and Industry Bank of Mongolia opened in 1924 and was a joint venture between the Soviet Union and Mongolia. There was no main currency when TIBM was established, but in 1925, monetary reform helped create the Mongolian tugrik. In addition, the Monetary Reform Act of 1925 mandated that the Mongolian currency be backed by high-liquidity goods and precious metals.

Interesting Facts About the Mongolian Currency

Origin of Tugrik

Tugrik stems from “tögrög, which is a Mongolian word that means ‘circle’ or ‘wheel’.

Mongolian Tugrik Features Vibrant Imagery

Mongolian bills have beautiful imagery from the nation’s history, like Emperor Genghis Khan and his tent and horses, the Karakorum silver tree fountain, horsehair tails, communist icon Suhkbaatar, and Mongolia's national symbol “Soyombo”.

Tugrik Coins Vary in Size and Metals

Ranging from 17.5 mm to 25 mm, each Mongolian tugrik coin has a specific diameter. The 20-tugrik coin is around the same size as a US dime, while both 100- and 500-tugrik coins are 22 mm in diameter, which is slightly larger than a US nickel.

The Bank of Mongolia mints MNT coins from aluminum and cupronickel, where the smaller ones are made from aluminum and larger ones from cupronickel.

Collectors Love Mongolian Currency

Mongolian tugrik is an exotic currency, and that’s what collectors love the most. For that reason, there’s a strong market for Mongolian currency, especially in the form of coins. Even regular tourists often save some Mongolian tugrik as a souvenir from their travels.

Can You Use US Dollars in Mongolia?

Hardly any bank outside Mongolia has tugrik bills and coins, meaning you’ll likely have to change your currency after arrival. Fortunately, many businesses will accept US dollars. That’s especially true for the travel industry, as prices are typically calculated in dollars. However, you need to have dollars no older than 10 years. Otherwise, they won’t be accepted, not even in big banks.

The major banks in the capital offer money-changing services. There are also many exchange shops, but they typically don’t offer good rates.

Most larger hotels, shops, and restaurants in Ulaanbaatar accept credit cards, and to a lesser extent, this is also the case in other larger cities. However, merchants in public markets, small shops, and everybody in the countryside can only process cash.

The Trade and Development Bank has placed ATMs at several critical locations in Ulaanbaatar, Erdenet, and Darkhan, and they accept Mastercard and Visa most of the time, allowing you to withdraw up to T400,000 per day. However, if you need to exchange currency outside major cities, your safest bet is Khan Bank, which has branches in every aimag center.

Prepare for the Trip to Mongolia

Mongolia is a vibrant country with rich history and culture and a pretty interesting currency. Mongolian tugrik is one of the exotic currencies collectors around the world love to own, and are sure to bring with them from their travels.

If you’re traveling to Mongolia soon or just want to buy Mongolian currency, get in touch with US First Exchange. We offer numerous exotic currencies from around the world at competitive rates. So, whether you want to ease your mind by having the currency you need beforehand or just want to own a specific currency, we’d be happy to help. All you need to do is place your order online, and we’ll take care of the rest.

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