Central-East Asia is one of the world’s most fascinating and culturally-rich regions, as well as perhaps the most difficult destination for American citizens to reach in the wider Asian continent, both due to a lack of nonstop routes and tourism promotion.
If you’ve been eager to explore the subcontinent, yet the complicated logistics of traveling there have discouraged you, you’ll be happy to learn their leading country will sign an agreement with the U.S., laying the path for the introduction of direct flights for the first time in History.
Soon enough, you’ll be able to fly to the awe-inspiring Mongolia without long layovers in the Asia Pacific or the Middle East:
Mongolia Without Layovers
Mongolia is a massive landlocked country in Central-East Asia, bordered by China to the South and Russia by the North, covering an area of 603,909 square miles, though its population stands at just 3.3 million. As a result, it is one of the world’s most sparsely-populated sovereign states.
Best known for its breathtaking nature, which encompasses vast, mostly unchanged ecosystems, from endless expanses of grassland with majestic snowy highlands as a backdrop, to arid landscapes, it is a natural world destination awaiting discovery.
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There is more to Mongolia than merely vast open spaces, though. Perhaps more than any other Asian hotspot, Mongolian culture is central to this country’s appeal.
A Country of Nomads
Since prehistoric times, it has been inhabited by nomadic peoples, and up to this day, 25% of locals lead a nomadic life.
This means over 750,000 of Mongolians do not have a permanent base anywhere, moving across the national territory along with the seasons. Nomadism is just embedded in the Mongolian psyche, and even in urban centers such as the sprawling Ulaanbaatar, their hospitality reflects that.
Whether you’re staying in the heart of the city or out in the Mongolian Altai Mountains, mostly populated by herders, should you approach a local family while in need of assistance, rest assured you’ll be warmly greeted with a hot meal, inviting smiles, and some good-natured banter.
A Unique Capital City
Previously known as Ulan Bator, it is the capital and largest city in Mongolia and the coldest capital city in the world on average – colder even than Iceland’s Reykjavik – though the low temperatures should definitely not keep you from visiting.
Permanently settled only in the late 18th century, Ulaanbaatar is perhaps Central-East Asia’s most vibrant capital, with vertiginous skyscrapers that rise up to the skies, historic Buddhist shrines scattered across a Soviet-era cityscape, a host of world-class restaurants and stately museums.
As Mongolia’s main point of entry, it is also set to host the inaugural U.S. flights once they launch in 2024, as foreseen by Mongolian Prime Minister L. Oyun-Erden, who recently held talks with Vice-President Kamala Harris.
Nonstop Flights To Ulaanbaatar
No more of those long, unnecessary layovers in other East Asian or Middle Eastern hubs.
As revealed by Mr. Oyun-Erden, the American and Mongolian governments will soon sign an ‘Open Skies’ deal, setting the precedent for the introduction of nonstop flights as early as next year.
As of now, the U.S. has signed similar deals with over 130 countries, mostly in Europe, the Americas, and the Asian Pacific. It allows for the ‘unrestricted capacity and frequency of services, open route flights, a liberal charter regime, and open code-sharing opportunities‘ between the U.S. and invited partners.
Central-East Asia has a poorer track record of aviation safety in general, with regulations that are not on a par with the States’ or Europe’s, often resulting in flight bans and black listing for Central Asia-based airlines, but this agreement serves as a sign to passengers that Mongolia is safe to visit.
Other than the launch of nonstop routes, it certifies that both countries commit to high standards of aviation safety and security, bringing Mongolia in line with America’s aviation regulations.
Though an official start date has not yet been announced, service is ‘planned to commence in 2024’.
Which U.S. Cities Will Host The Nonstop Flights?
So far, we do not know which airports will be used as departure points in the United States nor which airlines will be granted permission to operate on this long-awaited route, though we expect Mongolia’s national carrier, MIAT Mongolian Airlines, to fill the existing gap.
We will be sure to report back as soon as we learn more.
In response to Mongolia’s push for stronger ties to America, Mrs. Harris stated, ‘it is in our vital interest to promote an Indo-Pacific region that is open, interconnected, prosperous, secure and resilient‘.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com