Buryatia[dead link] (Russian: Бур́ятия boor-YAH-tee-yuh) is a republic in Eastern Siberia, which borders Tuva to the west, Irkutsk to the northwest, Zabaykalsky Krai to the east, and Mongolia to the south.
- 1 Ulan Ude — the capital
- 2 Arshan — a hot springs resort town in the Tunkinsky National Park, with a nearby Buddhist Temple in the woods
- 3 Gusinoozyorsk — a large coal town on Lake Gusinoye
- 4 Kyakhta — a town near the border with Mongolia founded in the 18th century as a trade center between Russia and the Qing Dynasty
- 5 Orlik — the principal town of the beautiful Oka region on the Border with Tuva and a convenient base for exploring nearby rivers, volcanos, and hot springs; great destination for horseback riding, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and mountain climbing
- 6 Severobaikalsk — a large Baikal-Amur Mainline town on the northern shore of Lake Baikal
- 7 Tarbagatai — inhabited by the "heretical" Russian Orthodox Old Believers, this village is about 50 km south of Ulan Ude
- 1 Baikalsky Nature Reserve
- 2 Barguzin Nature Reserve
- 3 Dzerginsky Nature Reserve
- 4 Khoyto-Gol — a mountain hot springs spa
- 5 Lake Baikal — the deepest and oldest lake in the world and, by volume of water, also the planet's largest freshwater body or water.
- 6 Olkhon — the largest island in Lake Baikal.
- 7 Tunkinsky National Park
- 8 Zabaykalsky National Park
- 9 Zhemchug (Жемчуг) - a hot springs spa (bathing)
The republic was founded in 1923 with the joining of two territories. It is now a republic within the Russian Federation. Russians constitute the majority of the republic's one million inhabitants, although the native Tibetan Buddhist and Shamanist Buryats (a race of Mongolian descent) remain a large minority (about 30% of the population); indeed, the Buryats constitute Siberia's largest ethnic group after Russians.
Aside from its cultural attractions and capital, Buryatia is a nature lover's paradise. Almost 80% of the territory is covered by mountains, and more than half the shore-line of Lake Baikal falls under Buryatia's jurisdiction. Outside the capital Ulan Ude, the major tourist attractions include hot springs, Lake Baikal and Mongolian-style Buddhist monasteries.
Due to several long-standing factors such as the lack of adequate natural resources, political inefficiency, etc., much of Buryatia's infrastructure still remains in a desperate need of repair. Nonetheless, with the largest Lenin-Head and beautiful scenery, there is plenty to do in Buryatia.
The indigenous Buryat language, which is related to Mongolian, is widely spoken by the Buryat minority. Nonetheless, everyone understands Russian.
The Trans-Siberian Railway makes four stops in Buryatia, from west to east: Tankhoi, Babushkin, Ulan Ude, and Zaigraevo.
Baikal International Airport (UUD IATA) near Ulan Ude is served by domestic flights from Moscow, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, and Yakutsk. Passenger service to/from Ulaanbaatar has been discontinued.
Much of Buryatia's infrastructure still remains mostly poorly developed by Russian standards, and getting around can be quite tough for the average traveller. Railways are mostly absent, and Roads are very confusing and very winding, especially in Ulan-Ude.
Travelling around plane is also disrecommended due to airplanes and local airports wear.
Commercial bus lines will take you from Ulan Ude to most locations within the region. To get to the Oka region and Orlik, however, you will need to hire or rent a jeep to make it down the long dirt road.
The Ulan Ude–Naushki rail branch off the Trans-Siberian Railway will take travelers to Gusinoozyorsk.
- 1 Ivolginsky Buddhist Datsan, near Verkhnyaya Ivolga village, ☏ +7 301 402-33-77. A large Buddhist monastery 23 km (14 mi) outside of Ulan Ude; Buses no 130 leave from South Bus Station (Yuzhniy avtovokzal) on a regular basis, one after another. It will bring you to Ivolginsk, there is another bus or shared taxi waiting, it just says "ДАЦАН" (DATSAN) on it. It will bring you to the monastery. Expect to pay around 60 руб each way (40 + 20). It takes 40-60 minutes one way
- Take a hot spring bath at Khoyto-Gol Warm Springs in the Sayan Mountains (simple cabin accommodation available) or at Zhemchug (Жемчуг), 100 km west of Slyudyanka.
- Trekking, biking, and horseback riding in the Sayan Mountains - highest peak: Topographov Peak, 3044 mts.
- Whitewater rafting
Buryatia in general is an extremely safe place, compared to regions such as Moscow, St. Petersburg and the North Caucasus. However, crime does exist, but on a little scale. Avoid coming in contact with drunks; just like in most of Russia, they are responsible for numerous fights.
It is also advised to take registered taxis - some illegal taxis may try to rip you off, by asking for foolish prices. Illegal taxis are common around the Trans-Siberian station.
If you decide to camp in the forest, be sure to bring mosquito repellent, since ticks and mosquitos are widespread in the area.
Even though the economic conditions are improving, the health care system is still somewhat far from western-standards.
The next major stops on the Trans-Siberian Railway are Irkutsk to the west; to the east, Petrovsk-Zabaikalsky and Chita.
The Ulan Ude–Naushki rail branch leads on to the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar.