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Ulaanbaatar (Улаанбаатар), also Ulan Bator or UB, is the capital and the largest city in Mongolia. Ulaanbaatar is disproportionately larger than all other cities in Mongolia: with a population of 1.34 million as of Jan 2016, approximately 44% of the country lives here. It is located just east of the center of the country in the forest-steppe region close to the birthplace of Genghis Khan. Ulaanbaatar is a city where authentic Mongol culture thrives in an urban setting and has made this a destination in its own right. After stagnating in the 1990s, Ulaanbaatar has improved since 2000, and now the city center is clean and developed with modern skyscrapers, hotels, and malls showcasing local and international brands. The city is known for its impressive museums, old monasteries, high quality restaurants, cinemas, theatres and proximity to scenic natural spots. In 2016 the city hosted the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting after extensive preparations. Mongolians call Ulaanbaatar Khot or "the City".
Ulaanbaatar is a city of many different and distinct layers. Long gone are the days when this city was only a typical, drab Soviet town in the middle of nowhere.
The first layer is the natural setting and what may be called pre-1778 Ulaanbaatar. Ulaanbaatar lies in the Altan Tevshiin Kundii (Valley of the Golden Cradle). This scenic spot was chosen by the lamas and nobles in 1778 as the permanent site of the city. Here the rivers Selbe and Tuul meet at the foot of the imposing Bogd Uul Mountain. Located in the forested and watered zone of northern Mongolia, it resides near the 2,000-year-old royal tombs of the Xiongnu, the 8th-century Turkic inscription of General Tonyukuk, and the birthplace of Genghis Khan. From the 20,000-year-old Paleolithic settlement on the Zaisan monument to the 12th-century palace of the Nestorian Christian monarch Toghrul, there is a lot to learn and discover about this deep first layer of Ulaanbaatar.
The second layer is the Urga of 1639-1778: the unique mobile monastery that survives today as cultural forms (Genghisid memory, Mongolian temple architecture, wooden fenced ger districts, Mongolian script, and Buddhism, traditional clothing, festivals, wrestling, music), and as physical artifacts kept in museums (Zanabazar masterpieces).
The third layer is the Urga of 1778-1924 which can be found in surviving buildings such as the Gandan monastery.
The fourth layer is the socialist period of 1924-1990 during which temples were destroyed, private property was confiscated, and Stalinist purges carried out. This period also saw the emergence of Mongolia as a modern, independent nation with Ulaanbaatar as its main showcase. 1990-2000 was a stagnant period marked by poverty and bread lines which left a poor impression on the few visitors who passed through the city after its opening from communism.
The sixth layer is the Ulaanbaatar of 2000 to the present: modern and cosmopolitan. Despite this new layer, the city is ringed by less developed ger districts that cause air pollution in winter lasting till March.
Peace Avenue (Enkh Taivny Örgön Chölöö) is the main street and it stretches from east to west through the center. It is the main shopping street and many of the restaurants are along it. This street dates back to old Urga when it was called the Chölöö (Broad Avenue). It was paved with Chinese support in the 1950s. The street passes by the southern edge of the central square, Sükhbaatar Square which has roots in the central square of old Urga. The tourist information office is located in the south flank of the town hall in the western corner of Sükhbaatar Square.
The city center is defined by the ring road Ikh Toiruu (Great Ring Road) which has its origin in the prayer route of pilgrims circling the central temple-palace complex of Urga. Peace Avenue crosses the middle of the ring road horizontally while the southern part of the ring road is the Narni Zam road ("Road of the Sun" built with Japanese support). South of the Narni Zam road is the affluent southern part of Ulaanbaatar with luxury apartments lining the Tuul River.
Ger districts line the northern part of the city center and stretch 7 km north to the Dambadarjaalin monastery built in 1765. North of Dambadarjaalin monastery starts the Zuslan or summer vacation area with charming summer houses stretching 14 km to Khandgait.
Almost every family in Ulaanbaatar has a zuslan building where they spend the summer among the forests and natural scenery of the Selbe river valley. Some herder families graze their horses and cows freely in this area. The scenery gets more dramatic going east towards the Terelj area with big rock formations and wildflower valleys. Tours go past Terelj to the 1740 Gunjiin Sum Princess temple and the Khagiin Khar lake.
The southern edge of Ulaanbaatar is marked by its boundary with Zuunmod town on the south side of the Bogd Uul mountain. The 1778 shrine of Tsetsee Gun on the peak and the 1747 ruins of the Manjusri monastery are located on top of the mountain. South of the mountain starts an endless sea of grassland steppe gradually merging into the Gobi Desert 300 km south of UB. Day trips to the east include the Tsonjin Boldog Genghis Khan statue. Day trips to the west include the Khustain Nuruu National Park, Aglag Meditation Center and Ögii Lake.
At the time when Ulaanbaatar was founded as Urga in 1639 by Genghisid nobles, Mongolia was actually a serious contender for power in East Asia. The last Great Khan Ligdan had died in 1634 and Manchus were rising in the east but the independent Mongols had been revitalized by a Buddhist renaissance in the 1570s and raided as far as Beijing under Altan Khan. A firmer union of the Western Oirats and Eastern Genghisids would have sufficed to fend off the Manchus. The 1640 Mongol-Oirad Code of Law created a union of East and West but failed to create a lasting union. What did survive from this period was the union of the Eastern Mongols cemented in 1639 with the founding of Urga. The Mongol nobles enstated one of their own, Zanabazar the son of Tusheet Khan Gombodorj (1594-1655), a direct descendant of Genghis Khan, as the supreme lama of the Mongols with a residence of his own called Örgöö or Urga which means "palace-yurt". This residence was near the ancient Mongol capital of Karakorum some 250 km west of the current site of the city. In 1651 the first Jebtsundamba Khutughtu, Zanabazar, returned from studies in Tibet and established seven monastic departments in Urga. The mobile monastery gradually became a mobile city, moving every few years as needed. Urga was moved 25 times between its founding in 1639 and settling in its current location in 1778. By this time, it had several thousand tents and temples and was served by trade routes from China and Russia. It was also estimated to have about 10,000 monks. The Gandan Monastery was established in 1809 and became the center of learning for all of Mongolia, and one of the most important monasteries in Tibetan Buddhism.
The city continued to grow as a provincial capital of the Qing Empire and a center of religion and trade through the 19th century. From 1778 Russian influence in Mongolia was significant and a two-storey Russian consulate was opened in 1865 as an upgrade from the 18th-century wooden quarters of the Russian representative. Outer Mongolia was, in practice, a buffer between Russia and China and local influence remained with the Bogd Jebtsundamba and Mongolian nobles.
In 1911, the 8th Bogd Khan declared independence from China, leading to a long unstable period in the city's history including an occupation by a Chinese warlord in 1919. However, the Chinese were kicked out by the White Russian Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, aka the "Mad Baron", in 1921. This forced the Soviets to intervene and set up a puppet state in what was then known as Outer Mongolia. The country was nominally independent but essentially a satellite state of the USSR. In 1924, the city's name changed from Urga to Ulaanbaatar ("Red Hero"). Many of the monasteries and temples were destroyed in the religious purges of the 1930s.
Following the end of the Second World War, the old ger districts were largely cleared out for Soviet-style city apartments, offices, and factories. The Trans-Mongolian Railway was completed in 1956, connecting Ulaanbaatar to Beijing and Moscow. Gandan Monastery was reopened during a visit by US Vice President Henry Wallace in 1944 when he asked to see a monastery.
Since the democratic revolution in 1990, the population of the city more than doubled to over a million with thousands moving in from the countryside. The commercial and residential real estate sectors have boomed since 2000, though large factories have closed and much of the city still lives in ger districts.
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Although summer temperatures are around 20°C, the city shivers in sub-zero temperatures for five months of the year. January and February are the coldest months and temperatures hover between -15°C to -30°C at night. As a result of these prolonged periods of intense cold, the city has an average annual temperature of -1.3°C, giving it the dubious distinction of being the world's coldest capital. The cold is dry however and there is not much wind chill due to temperature inversion. Heat island effect also means the city center is warmer than the outskirts. Summer can be very hot at times so one should avoid heat stress and use sunscreen when necessary.
If you have breathing problems, be aware that Ulaanbaatar has high levels of air pollution during the winter but the countryside air, away from the city, is gorgeous. In winter, the air pollution starts from 7PM when ger district residents start burning coal and lasts till about 10AM the next morning. It is severe in northern parts of the city close to the ger districts and gets sparse going south from Sukhbaatar square till it is almost absent near Zaisan at the southern edge of the city where there are no ger districts. The air pollution lifts in early March and the city is pollution free (excluding car exhaust) till November.
The majority of visitors arrive in Mongolia through Chinggis Khaan International Airport (IATA: ULN), which is located 18 km to the southwest of Ulaanbaatar. Many locals still call the airport by its old name "Bouyant Uka". The airport was reconstructed in 1990, and the immigration, customs formalities and luggage delivery are relatively efficient. The airport does have a high number of canceled or delayed flights because of difficulty landing when wind is blowing from the south, which luckily is not very often.
Getting to the airport can take as long as an hour during morning or evening traffic. Shuttle bus are available from Chinggis Khaan Airport to Bagshiin Deed (opposite the Mongolian State University of Education bus stop that is near to Ulaanbaatar Hotel in the city center) departing every one hour. The first shuttle bus departing from Bagshiin Deed at 04:00 and the last bus departs at 22:00. It costs 4,000 ₮, tögrög) one way. The sign on the bus says "Чингис Хаан Нисэх Буудал”. Local Bus #11 and #22 also go to the airport. Taxis to and from the airport should cost 15,000–20,000 ₮, though you should agree to the price before getting in or you get charged much more. The drive can take 30 minutes, or up to an hour during the day.
Trains from Beijing run once a week (on Tuesdays) and seats can only be reserved at the International Hotel in Beijing (a ten minute walk north of the main Beijing rail station). The journey takes about 30 hours. Packing a face mask might be a good idea as sandstorms in the Gobi desert may cause difficulty in breathing. Trains also run to the Chinese border towns of Erlian and Jining 3–4 times a week.
The weekly Trans-Mongolian departs every Wednesday morning from Beijing (30 hours) and Tuesday evening from Moscow (100 hours or a little over 4 days) and in addition there are two weekly direct trains from Moscow (departing Wednesday and Thursday). There's also a daily train to/from Irkutsk in Russia, which can also be reached from Vladivostok at the eastern end of the Trans-Siberian.
- 1 Ulaanbaatar Train Station (Located about 3 km west from the center of the city).
As there are barely any paved roads in Mongolia, the few ones that exist, lead to Ulaanbaatar. Navigating in Mongolia on a paved road is very easy because you just have to follow that one road (compared to driving on tracks, where there are hundreds of possibilities).
Coming from the north the paved road starts at the Russian border at Suhbaatar. Coming from the south (the Gobi) the paved road starts at the Chinese border at Zamiin-Uud. Coming from the northeast the paved road starts at Bulgan. From the west, the road starts in either Bayanhongor in the southwest or Tsetserleg further north.
Once in the country, it should not be difficult to find a bus going to UB, at least from larger towns. However, bus stops are difficult to locate, with buses usually just stopping in populated areas. Furthermore, Mongolian buses are notorious for being late and on some routes for not even arriving on the scheduled day. Domestic buses usually go to Dragon Center, Teevriin Tovchoo (near Main Railway Station) and the Botanical Gardens.
- 2 Dragon Center (драгон), СХД18-р хороо, 18072 Улаанбаатар. The primary bus station for all buses going to the west, north, and the Gobi
- 3 Botanical Gardens (ботаник) (1 km east of the eastern traffic circle). The gardens have been completely destroyed, but the location is well known to the locals. Serves inter-city buses to Eastern Mongolia.
- A daily bus leaves for Ulan Ude in Russia. The bus leaves at 07:30 at UB's train station and takes around 11 hours, going via the Altanbulag border crossing. Any travel agency should be able to book tickets. The bus is a much faster option than the train.
Street names are rarely known by Mongolians, and street names usually only appear on maps and official addresses. Official addresses list the district, micro district (usually a large block bound by major streets), and the building number. However, since blocks can have dozens of buildings, with more continuously being squeezed in between existing ones, addresses are not very helpful. It is best to have directions for major landmarks using lots of descriptions (i.e. turn right at the 1st traffic signal west of the state dept store). Some major streets to know are Peace Ave (East to west, in front of Sukhbaatar Sq, is the main road in Ulaanbaatar), Chinggis Blvd (North-south on east side of Sukhbaatar, turns west toward airport in front of Bogd Khan Winter Palace), and Seoul Street (runs west from Chinggis Blvd just south of Sukhbaatar, crosses in front of the Circus).
Taxis are cheap, charging around 900 ₮ per kilometer, but a foreigner will get overcharged easily. A ride from the airport to the city center should cost you no more than 20,000 ₮, but most drivers will try to charge you a minimum of 30,000 ₮. You may get a better and more reliable deal by seeking out older drivers in their own cars, rather than the official yellow cabs, now there are new white cabs with large square meter LCD on the dash. Younger drivers can sometimes get extremely opportunistic and try to hold you or your luggage at ransom until you pay them extraordinary amounts of money. Always negotiate the fare in advance and don't be fooled by tricks like "I meant 3,000 ₮ for each of you." or random cars offering taxi services.
- Tip: carry a small note with an amount in tögrög (500 ₮, 1000 ₮, 1500 ₮ etc.) and show them exactly what you are willing to pay before you get on.
- Help Taxi, ☎ . Fluent English speaking dispatch, all drivers have at least limited English. Main taxi service for all the embassies. 1,000 ₮/km, minimum 4,000 ₮, airport to city center 30,000 ₮.
- iTaxi, ☎ . English speaking dispatches, metered taxi rides, texts you when the taxi arrives to pick you up. 1,000 ₮/km, airport to city center 20,000 ₮.
Buses are regular and have a fixed charge of 500 ₮. Electric trolley-buses cost 200 ₮ but are slower and run fewer routes. Smaller buses (really just vans), called micro-bus, are equally accessible at 300–500 ₮. These have someone who hangs out the window at each stop shouting the name of the destination in rapid Mongolian. A bit hard to understand.
Many of the city buses go out to the edge of the city. Route 22, goes southwest to the Bird Farm along the Tuul River. Catch the bus at the Ard Cinema bus stop, the Cinema has been replaced by an Anod Bank. This bus stop is located on Bagatoiruu Street, from the central Post Office walk west along Peace Ave. At the intersect with the traffic lights, cross the street and turn right (north) half a block and you will reach a small square with the bus stop.
As in any city, be wary of pickpockets on the buses, especially when the buses are packed.
Walking is also an option as the city center is quite compact. Having only one main avenue, Ulaanbaatar stretches from east to west and it's also easy to draw a mental map. but getting around ger districts can be puzzling. Get a good city map at the Mongolian Government Map shop. Located on Ih Toiruu Street. West from the State Department Store three blocks, the first intersection with traffic lights, turn right (north) about one half block, on the east side of the street you will see a yellow and blue Elba Appliance store, the Map Shop is behind and inline with the north wall of the Elba. Purchasing a map from the airport would help save you a lot of time.
Finding specific places or offices by address is quite challenging because locals will usually tell you the places by nearest landmarks such as West Junction (supposed to be Undsen Huuliin gudamj) and Urt Tsagaan (which is Tourist Street1) and along the department store (Peace Avenue) sometimes locals will not know any better than you as they too never seen some street names put on the streets. specially when you buy guide books, look for books with pictures printed so that it would help you ask locals about places rather than only showing written addresses with postal codes.
Most tourist sites have a separate camera/video fee (typically 5,000–10,000 ₮) in addition to the entrance fee.
- 1 Gandan Monastery (Gandantegchinlen Khiid). The main monastery in the city has services around 10AM every morning. It is one of the few monasteries in the country that escaped the communist purges during the 1930s. Entrance 4,000 ₮.
- 2 Choijin Lama Monastery, Ulaanbaatar, Chingeltrei district, Left of Central Library, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:00-19:30 in summer, closed on Sundays and Mondays during winter season. Choijing Lama Temple Museum is a unique showcase of religious art and the history of Buddhism in Mongolia. This museum is a gem of the historical and cultural and cultural heritage of the previous century. The monastery was active until 1938. According to the decree of the Peoples Khural, November 1941, the monastery was included in the list of historical and cultural monuments and was taken charge by the Committee of sciences in 1942. It was then turned into a museum. The museum is an ensemble of Buddhist architecture and consists of 5 temples and 5 arched gates. In the main temple there is the sculpture of Choijing Lama and the embalmed mummy of his teacher. It also contains the great coral mask of Begtse, created under the direction of protectors using over 6,000 pieces of coral. Yadam temple and Amgalan temple contain rare artifacts made by the famous Mongolian artist and sculptor, Zanabazar. The museum has over 5,000 items, of which 12 are unique and 200 are particularly valuable. Adult 8,000 ₮, student 3,000 ₮, child 1,500 ₮, photography 50,000 ₮.
- 3 Bogd Khan Winter Palace Museum, Khan-Uul district, Chinggis avenue Bogd Khan palace museum Ulaanbaatar. 10:00-17:00. This palace known as the "green palace "was built between 1893-1903 by Mongolian masters and dedicated to the VIII Bogd gegeen, the head of lamaist religion and last khan of Mongolia.In 1911 the Bogd Khan state was formed and the VIII Bogd gegeen assumed political authority over Mongolia as the Bogdo khan or "Holy King". He continued to govern as a constitutional monarch from the time of the Mongolian People's Revolution in 1921 until his death of illness in 1924. After Bogd Khan's death it was turned into a museum, the first national historical museum of Mongolia. In 1954 the state central museum was founded, and the Bogd Khan palace museum became the branch museum. Since 2000 it has been called the Bogdn Palace Museum. Tf the museum include unique and valuable objects related to Mongolia's political, religious, and artistic history from the 17 to early 20th centuries: bronze castings, silk paintings, mineral paintings, and paper icons made by well-known artists and artisans of the period, among others the first Bogd Javzundamba Zanabazar and his school; as well as objects owned and used by the VIII Bogd Javzundamba and his wife queen Dondogdulam, including royal clothing and equipment, gifts from domestic and foreign guests or representatives, and items purchased by the king for his own diversion. The collection of the museum is consists of a great number of original objects and works of art from the Bogd Khan palace and is divided into 12 parts: sculpture, scrolls paintings (thangka), applique, wood carving, religious objects, clothes, furniture, decorative arts, collection of stuffed animal, special collection, support collection and architecture. Also all exhibits is divided into high level category, valuable category and original category. Nowadays we have 68 exhibits of high level category and 23 exhibits of valuable category. The number of these categories will be increasing. Exhibits of high level category includes gilded bronze sculptures made by the famous master Zanabazar and school of Zanabazar, thangka paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries, the painting shown the capital city of Mongolia 1912 made by Jugder, original paintings made by founder of Mongolian modern painting, B. Sharav, and expensive clothes of khan and queen. Admission 5,000 ₮, amateur photography 50,000 ₮.
- 4 National Museum of Mongolia, To the left of the Government House. 08:00-22:00, tickets on sale 08:30-20:30, closed on Sunday and Monday. This is the main museum in the capital and holds the most important artifacts of the Mongolians' rich history dating back several thousand years. These include ethnographic displays of different tribes of Mongolia, petroglyphs and cave drawings, Turkic monuments, weapons, armor, and various displays from the Hun and Mongol Empires, the Chinese rule, Communist era, and the democratic revolution in 1990. There are displays of self-portraits and personal possession of Genghis Khan and other great khans of the Mongol Empire. Most displays are in English and Mongolian. This should be a first stop on any visit to the city. Admission 5,000 ₮, photos 5,000 ₮.
- 5 Natural History Museum, Ulaanbaatar. Behind of the Government house. 10:00-17:30, last admission 16:30. When the first national museum was established in Mongolia in 1924, the base of natural historical museum was found by consisting the principal sections of the exhibitions with the choicest exhibitions of Mongolian Nature. When the national central museum was located in present location in 1956, it has been enriching its exhibitions and expanded as a big natural department, which has various kinds of geographical, flora, fauna and paleontological exhibits. The government resolution, which to classify the museums in different fields like as the developed countries, was passed and the national central museum was abolished in 1991. Since 1992, a new museum was established in the place of national central museum with the purpose of being the leader natural central museum for the further development, getting foreigners enjoyed in international level, showing the geological history such as locations of planets and earth establishment and formations and show the biology characteristics of earth central zone and named as Museum of Natural History. Natural history involves historical process of 4.7 billion years from the origin of the world until the origin of plant, animal and human. Thus our museum shows the briefness of these events by exhibitions and contributes knowledge to peoples mind. The museum consists of: Mongolian geography, ancient volcanoes, stones from the volcanoes, Earth origin, planet studying meteorites, Geological history, useful resources, minerals, Ancient and contemporary botany, land fauna and mammals, birds, fishes, insects, reptiles, amphibious, Very ancient plant and animals, paleontology, Human origin. (Google Maps says it's closed?). Admission 5,000 ₮.
- 6 International Intellectual Museum (IQ Museum), Bayanzurkh district,13 neighborhood-2, Peace Avenue 10 (In front of East Center), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. From M-Sa 10:00-18:00. The museum’s collection includes many Mongolian puzzle toys and world famous, rare and precious exhibits. The museum is a manufacturer of Mongolian puzzle toys, logic games, hand crafted products and souvenirs and it exports most of its products abroad. The museum has exhibited over 80 international exhibitions and fairs in 50 countries. Adult 2,000 ₮, children 500 ₮.
- 7 Museum of Victims of Political Persecution (South of Sukhbaatar Square from SW corner 100 m). M-F 09:00-17:00. The museum is dedicated to the memory of the estimated 30,000 people that died during the religious purges ordered by the communist leader Choibalsan in the 1930s. There are plenty of sombre exhibits of those that died and the destruction of monasteries and religion. Very little is in English, so it may be hard to understand the meanings. 5,000 ₮.
- 8 The Central Museum of Mongolian Dinosaur, Freedom Sq, next to Tengis Cinema (Directly behind State Department Store). The new home to Tarbosaurus bataar, a close cousin of the larger Tyrannosaurus Rex, and a couple dozen other complete dinosaur fossils. The complete fossil was stolen from Mongolia by an American archeologist, Eric Prokopi, and auctioned in New York for $1 million. News of the auction quickly set off an international criminal case that resulted in the arrest of Prokopi, and the return of dozens of dinosaur fossils to Mongolia by the US government. Mongolia then decided to convert the old Lenin Museum into a place to display its greatly expanded collection of dinosaur fossils, all of which were found in the Gobi Desert. 2,000 ₮.
- 9 The Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts, Juulchid streed, Chingeltrei district, Barilgachdin Square (Two blocks west of the Government House), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 08:00-17:00 (summer), 10:00-17:00 (winter). The collection includes items from the Stone Age to 20th century. Particularly interesting is the collection of Buddhist art beginning in the 17th century. 5,000 ₮.
- 10 Mongolia National Modern Art Museum. 09:00-18:00. A surprisingly good modern art museum that displays the vibrancy of the local art scene. There are temporary exhibits throughout the year, plus permanent collection. Free.
- 11 National Sports Stadium (Naadam Stadium) (2 km south of Sukhbaatar Square). Used for the archery and wrestling events at the annual Naadam festival, along with concerts and cultural events occasionally held there. On the same grounds is the country's main football stadium and the Mongolian Baseball Stadium.
- 12 State Circus of Mongolia (On Seoul Street, south of State Dept Store). Home to the world famous Mongolian contortionists, supplying most of the contortionists in the world. The circus also features animals, jugglers, and other entertainments.
- 13 State Opera and Ballet Theater, Pinkish building on Sukhbaatar Square. Box Office W-Su 10:00-13:00, 14:00-17:00. While at the square, check out the board in front to see if there is an upcoming performance. Most performances are at 17:00 Saturday and Sunday. Local performances may not be great, but are very cheap, while Russian ballets and operas occasionally visit. Prices varies by performance, local productions can be very cheap.
- 14 National Academic Drama Theater (Red Georgian building just south of Post Office on Chinggis Ave). Mostly presents Mongolian plays in drama, musicals, or children performances. Tickets sold at the "KACC" office in front. Price vary, generally cheap for Mongolian language performances.
- 15 Sükhbaatar Square (sometimes referred to as Chinggis Khan Square). The big open space in the center of the city with an equestrian statue of the 1921 hero Sükhbaatar, and seated statue of Chinggis Khan and their 9 heroes (Urlugs) at the door of the Government House. Inside the Government House is a small museum with artifacts from the Mongol Empire and a reproduction of Genghis Khan's White Peace Banners of State (the Soviets had the originals destroyed in the 1930s).
- 16 Zaisan Memorial (directly south of Sukhbaatar Square, about 3.5 km.). A huge communist-era monument located on a hill near the city. It represents the Russian and Mongolian heroes who fought together during World Wars I and II. Nowadays it is a popular viewpoint where you can see over the whole city. There's also a huge Buddhist statue at the bottom.
- 17 Statues and public art. Despite news about the removal of Lenin's statue in UB, there are still plenty of interesting statues and public art throughout the city. Beyond Sukhbaatar Square and its namesake statue and those of Chinggis and his generals, there are one of the former communist presidents Choibalsan and Tsedenbal north of the government building, and leader of the 1990 democratic revolution, Zorig, southwest of the square. Many lesser known statues are scattered through the city. The statue of the Beatles in front of State Department Store and the villain from the movie Predator in front of a small office building 100 m northeast of State Department Store have some novelty value, while Stalin's bust is inside a Beer Garden south of Sukhbaatar. There are also some Soviet murals on the side of apartment buildings north of the Bogd Khan Winter Palace.
- 18 National Amusement Park (Children's Park) (500 m south of Sukhbaatar Square). 11:00-19:00 year round. Open since 1969, the park today features a steel roller-coaster, Ferris wheel, castle surround by an artificial lake, and bowling. 1,000 ₮ to enter, extra for each ride.
- Attend Naadam - the largest and most famous festival in Mongolia, which consists of competitions in the three traditional Mongolian sports of wrestling, horse racing and archery. The festival is an annual event and runs July 11-13.
- Take a walk to Zaizan Memorial.
- Get an inexpensive massage at one of the many massage spas located on Peace Avenue
- International intellectual museum, Ulaanbaatar, Bayanzurkh district,in front of East Center, Mongolia.. 10:00-18:00. The museum’s collection includes many Mongolian puzzle toys and world famous, rare and precious exhibits. The museum is a manufacturer of Mongolian puzzle toys, logic games, hand crafted products and souvenirs and it exports most of its products abroad. The museum has exhibited over 80 international exhibitions and fairs in 50 countries. Adult 2,000 ₮.
- Hike to the top of the mountains south of UB, South of Zaisan Memorial (South of Zaisan Memorial, Take the #7 or #33 bus from the Bayangol Hotel). The mountain ridge south of UB, Take the #7, #33 or #43 bus from in front of the Bayangol Hotel going south. Go to the end of the line. The road continues south about 100 m to the west of the bus stop. You will come to a check point where you will have to pay the fee. Shortly after, take the left branch of the road to a ger camp. There is a small stream flowing North, the path starts from the left (east) side of the stream. At the top, branch to the west and you will come to a high point maybe 500 m through the woods. This will take about 2 to 3 hours of easy walking. From where you branch west, you can go straight and slightly east and follow the path to Bogd Uul Mountain, The path here is marked with orange paint marks on the trees. This trip is quite long with another down and up section, about 10 km each way. US$3.
- Look around Narantuul Zakh (aka Black Market); it is an interesting place and you can get great deals. They sell pets, souvenirs, cloth, shoes, socks, meat, fruit, etc. Some people claim it is dangerous but outside of a few pick pockets (like in all large markets) it seemed quite safe.
- 1 Sky Resort (13 km from downtown UB, Go south to Zaisan, East along river, past the President's Residence), ☎ . 08:00-23:00. Downhill skiing, snowboarding, lifts, equipment rental, ski/snowboard school, restaurant. Free bus leaves from the Drama center (next to the Grand Khan Irish Pub) weekends 8,8:30,10,11,12,14,17:30,18,19:30; weekdays 8:30,12,17,18,19. Check schedule to verify bus times. under US$20.
- Do a homestay in a ger outside UB. If you are in a hurry or don't want to do longer trekking trips, it is possible to do overnight stays in gers in UB's countryside. Travel agencies offer authentic ger stays with local herder families. Usually it is possible to participate in their daily life, e.g. milking cows or chopping wood. Horseback riding might be offered as well. There are a few travel agencies shoe are able to establish contact with families, including Stone Horse Mongolia and Ger to Ger. Homestay US$35, Transport US$80–90 return.
- 2 Tumen Ekh, 1st Khoroo, Sukhbaatar district (Walking distance from train station). May-Nov 18:00. A traditional dance ensemble that performs dances, music and religious ceremonies for a crowd of mostly foreign tourists. The performance lasts about 1 hour and the artists are very skilled, not the usual tourist trap but performers that take their work serious and have been on tour in the US, UK and other countries. 12,000 ₮.
- Mongolian - there are several language schools in the city.
- The Mongolian National University (Northeast of the Government House.). International programs
- The American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS) (Located on the 3rd floor of Building #5 of the Mongolian National University). Internet access, study room, library of Mongolian related material
- Volunteer. Work is available for overseas visitors in the volunteer sector.
- English. Teaching English as a second language is an option for native English speakers. Mostly positions are in Ulaanbaatar, though they could be anywhere in the country. Those who find a teaching position after arriving in the country will need to travel to Seoul or Beijing to apply for a working visa. The school may or may not pay for this.
See Mongolia#Money for exchange rates for the Mongolian tögrög (₮).
Many luxury brands have stores in the city center in shiny new shopping centers.
- 1 The Seven Summits Outdoor Shop, Building 61 Entrance 10 Sukhbaatar District / 1st Horoo Ulaanbaatar Mongolia (From the SW corner of Sukhbaatar Square, go 50m West along Peace Avenue. The Seven Summits is in a row of shops to the South, facing a small area of grass.), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Pricey, but you may be able to get gear you can't find elsewhere, e.g. an adaptor for a screw-on stove to use the ubiquitous clip-on cylinders, since screw-on types seem to be unavailable anywhere.
Major shopping centers
- 2 State Department Store (Ikh Delguur) (west of Sukhbaatar SQ on Peace Ave). 10:00-22:00. A former state-owned mall, today it is the busiest luxury shopping mall in the city. The 6-floor mall sells everything from groceries to cashmere to TVs. Though no longer part of the state, the customer service still has a certain government services feel. Check out the 5th floor for the largest souvenir shops in UB.
- 3 Naran Tuul (Black Market) (3 km east of the children's park on Narnii Rd). Closed on Monday. If you want to shop like most locals, Naran Tuul is the place to haggle over cheap clothes, toys, fur hats, soviet propaganda pins, or any necessary you can imagine. This is the main market for most of the city's residents and sprawls over many hectares. It is partially indoors. There are several slightly more upscale shopping centers just west of the market. Only take a minimum of cash with you in a money belt or inner jacket pocket and leave all valuables at your accommodation, as pickpockets are common here. It's a 10-minute bus or taxi ride from the city center.
- 4 3rd & 4th Microdistrict, northwest side of Gandan, 2 km north of Train Station. Probably the largest shopping districts in the city. It has several malls, name-brand stores, restaurants, supermarkets, curbside booths, and a movie theater. Selection ranges from luxury brands down to cheap Chinese imports.
Ulaanbaatar has a host of souvenir shops aimed at Western and East Asian tourists. While the quality of the goods varies, the price is usually high. They sell traditional clothes, boots and hats, cashmere garments, jewelery, leather wall hangings, miniature gers, bow and arrow sets and paintings. Most are located along Peace Ave west of Sukhbaatar Square. One of the better ones is Mary and Martha Fair Trade Shop between the Flower Center and State Dept Store just north of Peace Ave.
- 5 Mary & Martha (north of the State Dept Store bus stop, look for the signs), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A small free trade shop full of beautiful hand made souvenirs, handbags, and wall-hangings.
- 6 Flower Center, Peace Avenue & Inner Ring Road, west of Sukhbaatar Sq. One of the larger souvenir shops in the city. Has a broad selection, but a bit pricy. There is money exchange center on the 2nd floor.
- 7 Mercury Food Market (Chinese Market). Closed on Mondays. A small market center near the center of the city is one of the best places to get imported fruits, vegetables, and packaged goods.
- 8 Good Price Supermarket. 09:00-22:00. Catering to expats and wealthier Mongolians, it is the most reliable source of peanut butter, breakfast cereals, canned beans, and cheese in Mongolia. Though these luxuries come at a much higher price than any other supermarket in Mongolia.
- Librairie Papillon. If you want to find very high quality books about Mongolia or the Mongolian language in European languages (French and English mostly) this place has a very large selection. They are located on University Ave, just past the main Mongolian National University building. The atmosphere is very nice, and is almost like taking a little break from Mongolia and entering France. They also have a large selection of European language classics if you would like reading material for your journey.
- 9 Mike's Bookstore (South of the Bayangol Hotel, West of the New Building), ☎ . See their website for details. They sell many used books and sometimes buy books, there is a buyback policy.Mostly English books, but some in other languages
How to get cash
Tellers at the Golomt Bank can give up to US$500 per day cash advance on MasterCard and Visa.
The only ATM that accepts Cirrus cards is the one at the airport.
It is relatively easy to find an ATM with a Visa logo to withdraw cash. As long as your ATM, debit or credit card has the Visa logo, you can withdraw tögrög, the local currency. Other card types are also accepted, simply not as widely, for example, the machines in the central Post Office and main street will not accept foreign MasterCards although they bear the logo. Golomt Bank and TDB Banks are the most reliable. Golomt also accepts American Express. All ATMs should accept foreign credit cards as long as you informed your bank you are going to Mongolia. The more expensive shops take credit cards, but almost everywhere else runs strictly on cash. Most credit card companies will charge you a foreign currency conversion fee of about 3%.
There are many exchange offices in the center along Peace Avenue to change your currency into tögrög. One is on the ground floor of the State Department Store. Better rates are at the Exchange Center on the second floor of the Flower Center. The Flower Center is located on Peace Ave. one block west of the Post Office. At the corner with traffic lights between the Post Office and State Department Store. Large Hotels like the Ulaanbaatar Hotel one block east of Sükhbaatar Square will exchange money 24/7 at the reception, which may be your only option if you arrive very late in the day.
Nobody travels to Mongolia for the food, but Ulaanbaatar has a good range of Western, Asian and Mongolian options. Even better, meals here are quite reasonable. You can get perfectly reasonable pizza for 5,000 ₮, even a night out at a fancy French cafe shouldn't pass 30,000 ₮. Consider splurging on a couple good meals here, especially if headed out for a long trek into the country. Be aware that fresh vegetables, especially in winter, are hard to come by and expensive outside of the city. New and better-quality restaurant are opening all the time to serve the rapidly growing wealth of the capital city. International chain restaurants have started to appear with places like the Coffee Bean, KFC, Round Table Pizza, and Cinnabon all opening.
Korean (solongos khoolnee gazar) and Chinese restaurants are plentiful in the city. As Asian restaurants in America tend to tailor their menu to the American palate, so in Ulaanbaatar do the East Asian restaurants tailor their menu to the Central Asian palate.
Throughout Ulaanbaatar are many small Гуанз and Цайны Газар's. Try one of these for cheap Mongolian food. Buuz usually costs 400–600 ₮. Most universities have a good cafeteria for cheap eats starting from 1,800 ₮ to about 2,500 ₮. Mongolian National University and Mongolian University of Science and Technology (both near the North East block from the Parliament Building) have good cafeterias. All university cafeterias have nutritionists so at least you know you are getting all the basic nutrients when you eat there.
- 1 Papa Cafe, Peace Ave (Go east from the British Embassy to 2nd building, next to a parking lot. Name in the right side of the second floor window. Entrance in the back or northside.), ☎ 11461687, e-mail: email@example.com. M-Sa 10:00 to 21:00. Free wifi, burgers, chicken burgers, expresso and bakery goods. Saturday opens at 9AM with breakfast special, one large waffle, with fresh fruit, ice cream, bacon, Mongolian blueberry jam, and syrup plus coffee or other drink. 4,000–7,000 ₮.
- 2 Gerel Ayalguu Vegetarian, Building 28 (Go west from the State Department Store to the first traffic light, Hope Dental Clinic is on the NW corner, turn right, it is on the corner of the small street that comes from the east, about 50 m north of Peace Ave.), ☎ 88145959. M-Sa 10:00-19:00. Vegetarian, salads & soups under 4,000 ₮. Under 5,000 ₮.
- My Homemade Khushur (On Peace Avenue near the State Department Store). Serves a favorite Mongolian dish, mutton fried in dough. One khushur is 500 ₮, and three is a pretty adequate meal.
- 3 Stupa Cafe (Across the street from the Zanbazar Fine Arts Museum in the center of the city). 10:00-20:00 daily. Vegetarian dishes vary daily, coffee, tea and traditional Mongolian drinks, fresh cakes. There is a large white stupa in the front yard. Under 5,000 ₮.
- 4 Coca-Cola and Kabab (On the Southwest corner of the square in front of the Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum). 10:00-20:00 daily. Two versions of a meat pita bread sandwich, meat grilled Turkish style on a vertical rotisserie, meat with tomato and lettuce and some sauce 4,000–6,000 ₮.
- 5 Izbushka (Русское Бистро «Избушка») (On the Northeast corner of the square in front of the Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum). 10:00-20:00. Small Russian restaurant, various dishes, Piroshki (small pies with meat or vegetarian filling). Meals are 4,000–6,000 ₮, Piroshki is 800 ₮.
- 6 Luna Blanca (Vegan Food) (Close to Sukhbaatar Square, west of the National Museum, opposite side of the street), ☎ , e-mail: , 55159651 , 98209894 , firstname.lastname@example.org. 11:00-20:00. Food is pricy for vegetarian, but very good quality. They also sell some ingredients, vegan sausages, etc. Around 4,000 ₮.
- 7 Joe's Corner Burgers (go north on road to right of state dept store, between shops and apts after the 1st apt building). stops serving around 21:00. Sells American burgers and hot dogs all with fries. probably the best value in UB for a decent burger and fries. 4,000–5,500 ₮.
- Hap Cap, Namyangju St. (НАМЪЯАНЖУГИЙН ГУДАМЖ) no.51 (On the top floor of the Made In Mongolia block). F-W 10:00-20:00. Simple budget restaurant that does a wide range of Mongolian food. The difference is that menus have photos of a lot of the dishes, and the portions are Mount-Everest sized! Ideal if visiting Narantuul Zakh (aka Black Market) and also reachable from east Peace Avenue.
- City Cafe (across the street from Sukhbaatar Square). Great food and location, wonderful staff. Malaysian/Chinese food.
- 8 El Latino Restaurant (On Peace Ave, just 50 m east from the State Department Store), ☎ 99282459, fax: . 11:00-22:00. Latin-American, Spanish and Mongolian dishes complemented by Spanish wines, tropical cocktails, coffee, beer, since 1999. US$3–5.
- Ko-hyang-shik-dang (next to Metro Mall there is a BBQ chicken and facing that second restaurant on your left). Korean food. 6,000–7,000 ₮.
- 9 Millie's Espresso (West side of the Choijin Lama Monastery), ☎ 330338. 08:00-20:00. Good selection of American style cafe food with some vegetarian, coffee, Free WiFi. $10.
- Sansar Asian Food (Cancap Azi Xool), Ikh Tooyruu St (From the East Crossroad, north past the Kempinski Hotel, on the east side of the street, about 400 m), ☎ 88080005. 24 hours. US$10.
- 10 Nayra Cafe, 35-1 Tourist St (2 blocks west of the Government House), ☎ 317098. opens 08:00. Good pizza and sandwiches, good coffee, Free WiFi. Most under 8,000 ₮.
- Chinggis Club, Sukhbaatar St. 10 (On the street that passes on the west side of Sukhbaatar Square, from Sukhbaatar Square go north past the second traffic light, on your left about 40 m north of the intersection.). 10:00-00:00. Co-located with the Chinggis Brewery, German style cooking and beer. Their own locally brewed light and dark beer on tap. US$10.
- Hishig Mongol 2 (Khshig Mongol 2), 10th District, 46th Building (On Peace Ave, several kilometers west of the Department store, near the 3rd hospital), ☎ 70180585. A Mongolian restaurant, no foreign language menu or staff, if you want to experience modern Mongolia cuisine this is the place. Roasted Sheep head, roasted ribs, buuz, dried meat soup. US$6–10.
- Budweiser Bar (Across from the NW corner of Suhbaatar Square). Fish and chips, steak, English breakfast. US$6–10.
- 11 Turning Point Cafe, Tserendorj Street, 4th Khoroo, 97611 Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, ☎ . Conveniently located Jazz-theme restaurant and bar featuring modern decor, international cuisine, wide range of alcoholic beverages and cocktails, piped music and regular live entertainment. Sandwiches for 12,000 ₮.
- 12 Venus Cafe (Malaysian Restaurant) (From the State Department Store East 2 short blocks, small street just past the bus stop, turn north (left), go straight about 200 m, on the left a few doors past the French Bakery), ☎ 11327496. lunch, dinner. Malaysian food, hot curries, masala, roti, chicken, be sure to tell your spice level, lunch set menu US$5. US$10.
Outside of alcohol, it is hard to spend outrageous sums of money in Ulaanbaatar. The most expensive meals in the city will be around 40,000 ₮ a person. Whiskey or any other non-vodka liquors can be a bit pricy.
- 13 Nagomi Sushi Restaurant (Inside the Khaan Bank building on Seoul Street, just past the Circus). The meals are prepared by a Japanese chef. Also run a full Japanese Restaurant at the Kempinski Hotel. Each plate is 3,000–7,000 ₮ with 4 or 5 making a meal.
- 14 bd's Mongolian BBQ (Sukhbaatar District, Seoul street – 9, in the right side of Ayanchin Outfitters). Basically an Americanized Chinese restaurant like all the Mongolian grills in the U.S. (which Americans may prefer to actual Mongolian food). It is almost exclusively frequented by tourists who arrive directly as part of a tour by bus. Suitable for vegetarians (one can add tofu and soy meat instead of real meat). One bowl is approximately 15,000 ₮ and all-you-can-eat is approximately 30,000 ₮. Check your bill before you pay because guests are charged for all-you-can-eat unless specified otherwise. Part of Nomads chain. US$15.
- 15 California Restaurant (on Seoul Street, west of the circus). Extensive foreign and Mongolian menu. Beautifully decorated, high quality food and suitable for vegetarians (good tofu). It's a bit small, but in the summer there is additional outside seating. Reservations are advised. 10,000–30,000 ₮ per meal.
- Los Bandidos. Mexican-Indian fusion food sounds terrible until you taste the spicy chicken masala or crispy tacquitos. They are at a new location not far from Sukhbaatar Square. The prices are higher now, but the atmosphere has improved and most mains are still in the US$7-10 range.
- 16 Khara-Khorum, Kempinski hotel. Has an excellent brunch on the weekends with fruit and meats, omelet and juice bar, caviar and champagne. Brunch is 40,000 ₮.
- Nomads. Excellent variety and quality for both locals and tourists. Good, clean toilets, an added bonus. Part of Nomads chain.
- 17 Hazara North Indian Restaurant, Behind the Wrestling Palace, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Serving spicy north Indian, Kashmiri, and Afghani food since 1997. Food is all halal, vegan options available. Well decorated restaurant and costumed waitresses can make you think you are in Delhi instead of Mongolia. From 10,000 ₮.
- 18 Guantanamera Cuban Restaurant (south from SW corner of Sukhbaatar, turn left 2nd intersection, go 200 m). Cuban cook and bartenders. Truly authentic Cuban food and mojitos. Sandwich 10,000 ₮, meal 20,000 ₮.
- 19 Namaste Indian Restaurant, Inside Flower Hotel, near Sansar Tunnel, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mongolia's first halal-certified restaurant, serves some of the best Indian food in the city. There is another location on the Outer Ring Road in the Impex building. Meals are around 20,000 ₮ per person.
Nightlife in Ulaanbaatar is surprisingly wild, but is best not experienced alone — try to get a local to join you. Most of the night clubs play trance, techno, electronic and house music, few clubs play hip hop music. The small clubs in the 3rd district and the Sansar micro district are best avoided. Be sure to apologize if you hit someone or step on their feet accidentally, because some Mongolians can be offended by it.
Beer in clubs costs about 3,500 ₮, other drinks such as vodka depend on measurements, for example a 100g vodka costs about 4,500 ₮. The club life is very active on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. On Fridays it is very hard to find a seat in a club. According to state law all clubs and pubs (bars) must stop serving alcohol after midnight, and close at 03:00, but some clubs keep serving until 04:00. Never go alone in the dark, especially on Fridays. Also never walk by yourself when you are drunk, or you may be arrested and end up in the drunk tank, which is not a pleasant place to be.
- 1 Ikh Mongol (Next to the Circus). Choose between the main dining area, the fancy VIP upstairs, or secluded tables in the back. Most weekends have concerts from Mongolian acts. The restaurant brews several beers on tap, or get some of the more popular Mongolian brands. 3,500 ₮ a half-liter and up.
- 2 Ambrosia Restaurant (South of Post Office, across Chinggis Ave from KFC). A small nice restaurant that turns into a club at night. Has good drink specials and is popular with foreigners. 3,000 ₮ for a beer.
- Metropolis, The club is located adjacent to the Sky Shopping center, behind Chinggis Hotel. It is the most popular night club with young affluent Mongolians. Plan to pay 5,000–10,000 ₮ cover to get in.
- Mass, In the 3rd/4th microdistrict. Expect a younger crowd here with the doors usually closing well past 3AM.
- Strings. A somewhat notorious club frequented by foreigners. It is very popular with Korean and other east Asian businessmen.
You can also find some nice pubs in the capital.
- 3 Brauhaus (on Seoul St past the Circus). Goes for a German brewhouse look and succeeds. This bar is big but usually not noisy. It serves X Beer, a quite tasty local brew. Half-liters run around 2,500 ₮.
- 4 Dublin Irish Pub (between State Dept Store and Circus on Seoul St). Open until midnight. Closer to an actual Irish bar than most.
- 5 Grand Khaan Irish Pub (next to the National Drama Theater, south of the Post Office). 12:00-22:00. English-speaking staff, comfortable sports bar environment 4,000 ₮ for a beer, 15,000 ₮ for a meal.
- Le Bistrot Francais, University St, ☎ . The only French restaurant in Ulaanbaatar. Enjoy a pastis and have a nice dinner.
Nowadays, budget accommodation in Ulaanbaatar tends to give the best deals for a traveller. Usually a bed in a clean dormitory costs US$5–10 and a double room should be under US$30 a night. Good mid-range options are sparse. During the annual Naadam festival it is almost impossible to get any kind of accommodation in UB without prior reservations.
- 1 Lotus Guesthouse, Apt 15, 2nd floor, Entrance 2 Baga Toyruu St (From Sukhbaatar Square westside, north past Government House, Left at the large intersection, 1 block to traffic light turn right, going North, street angles to the right or east, small street enters from right, the 5th school is on west side of street, look for building 17), ☎ . Nice guesthouse run by the Lotus Foundation. Clean. An employee is present 24/7. No high table except the very small one for the computer. No bedsheet and the quilt is not washed between clients! The shower room doesn't lock and is closed by a translucent door! A dormitory door is very noisy. Internet, though not very reliable. Wi-Fi is said to work sometimes. They don't accept credit cards. US$10 (14,000 ₮) - US$30.
- Chinggis Guest House and Tours, Sukhbaatar district building-33 door-67, Chingis Ave (back behind the National Academic Drama Theatre and Bayangol Hotel), ☎ , e-mail: , email@example.com. Price includes breakfast, internet, hot shower, kitchen facilities. Very centrally located and quiet, rooms are clean and comfortable. Dorm US$8, double or twin US$10.
- Bolod's Guesthouse and Tours (Across the street from the Central Post office and Sukhbaatar Square), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ulaanbaatar's best located guesthouse is right in the middle of town. Once cozy, high ceilinged, clean and bright rooms with shower, laundry, kitchen, Internet, Bolod guest house became a unique small room with no outside window and a noisy refrigerator waking you up several times a night. The shower, located in the entrance, only protects your intimacy by a translucent glass. It's still clean though. There is no kitchen anymore. Bolod provides tours at good prices and is known to arrange unique trips involving tank driving and AK-47 shooting. Languages spoken: English, Russian, French, Italian. No staff on the spot at night. Enter through gate across from post office. They don't accept credit cards. US$7/night.
- 2 Green Steppe Mongolia Guest House, Chingeltei District I-40 myngat, Building 12 door 7. (50 m east of the State Department Store), ☎ 88033080, e-mail: , email@example.com. Check-in: anytime, check-out: noon. A small and quiet guesthouse with a couple of dorm rooms and two fully-furnished one-bedroom apartments and a very friendly staff. They can organize tours to all parts of Mongolia. They also have free lockers for our guests, free breakfast, free tea all day, free Wi-Fi (and 2 computers), free secure area for motorbikes and bicycles, peaceful patio and picnic area, free hot showers and cheap laundry service. US$6/night.
- Gana's Guesthouse, Gandan tuul 2-22, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This guesthouse stands out from the rest, with dorm beds in roomy gers on an airy porch overlooking downtown UB, instead of the usual bunk beads. Run by a friendly, helpful family. And an excellent location 2 minutes walk from Gandan Monastery. Like most guesthouses it also doubles as a tour operator. from US$5 in a 6-bed ger to $25 for a double in the newly built wing.
- Happy Camel Guesthouse, Opposite the railway station, ☎ 99112075, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-out: noon. An excellent guest house run by some young Mongolians in a central location - hot showers and Western-style toilets - a very nice place to stay.
- 3 Idre's Guesthouse, Bayangol disrict 1, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Friendly family-run guesthouse with US$4 dorm beds. Rooms are clean, staff are helpful, and tickets and tours can be arranged without hassle.
- Mr.Gomez's Hostel and Tours, Davkhar # 16, Khoroo 1, Bayangol district (Across the street just 200 m from the Ulaanbaatar Railway Station), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. They arrange train tickets for Beijing, Datong, Irkutsk, Moscow, and Hohoot. Clean, safe, shower, laundry, kitchen, free Internet and good breakfast. Mr. Gomez provides tours to Terelj National Park & Chinggis Tourist Camp. Languages spoken: English, Spanish, Russian, German. US$10/night.
- 4 Oasis Guesthouse (Southeastern UB, near the Catholic Church), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A modern styled and lovingly furnished guesthouse with a public cafe and a big garden with gers to stay in. Run by a friendly German-Austrian couple who speak German, English, and Mongolian. Serve very good western food and home made cakes. Laundry service and hairdresser at the back of the building. It's the meeting point for 'overlanders' in Mongolia (travellers by car, motorcycle, bicycle, etc.) €10.
- Petite Marmotte, Ikh Toiruu, Sukhbaatar district, Building #10, door entry #1, Floor #7, Flat #27/28, ☎ 00976 70 11 03 02, e-mail: email@example.com. Friendly atmosphere, dedicated English- and French-speaking staff, traditional Mongolian decoration, well located, quiet. Breakfast included. No internet. The boss lives there. He used to be a chef and cooks sometimes for his guests. Arrange also all kinds of trips in the country. He doesn't accept credit cards. Bed dorm €5; double room €15; family room €25.
- 5 UB Guesthouse (Near Zanzabar Museum, Entrance on backside of the building facing the Mongol Bank). A clean, well-organized and centrally located youth hostel that also arranges tours around the country. E-mail ahead for a free pickup from the train station. A light breakfast, tea and coffee are included. Has been criticised for being a bit impersonal, and the welcoming is a bit cold. Although it's written you can phone from there from 10:00 to 18:00, don't rely on it. Only a hotplate in the kitchen. Only foreigners allowed. It is strictly forbidden to receive any non-client. Dorm beds US$6; single room $15; twin room $18; double room $20.
- Youth Mongolia Guesthouse, Door no. 67, 1st floor 5th entrance, building 14-b. (Near the circus), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This smaller and nice guest house has a nice location in the center of the city. Close to the biggest foodmarket in Ulaanbaatar (25 m away). Russian style building.
- 6 Zaya Guesthouse, Tserendorj Street Bld 63, App 10,11,12 (Just off Peace Ave), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Zaya has two locations in the city center, and both are in modern renovated apartment buildings. The place is more suitable for a person looking for clean and calm place to sleep than a backpacker looking for a rowdy and noisy dorm. Free wireless internet in the rooms. Also organizes tours. US$20 for a single and US$27 for a double room.
- 7 Golden Gobi, Chingeltei district, 1st subdistrict, building 13 (Close to the State Department Store), ☎ , , 976-96654496fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Another cheap and friendly place with dorm and free breakfast. Dorm US$6, rooms from $19.
- Sunpath Hostel, Chingeltei District, Baga Toirog, Building 37-56 (2nd floor) (Across the street from the Central Post office and Sukhbaatar Square.), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 0, check-out: 24. Sunpath hostel is a very friendly, family-driven hostel. They love foreigners, and they can give a lot of information about Mongolia. They organize tours, having very good contacts with people living in the countryside. Washing and laundry is included, but you have to pay for them (US$3 and $5 in 2012). They provide free internet access (Wi-Fi, you can also use their computer, which helped me a lot), and free breakfast if needed. Cooking is also available there - they have a very cool kitchen. The hostel is very well situated, a 10-minute walk from the center of the city. US$6/night.
- Town Yard Hostel, near Gandan monastery, Door 4, Orkhon 5 (in the same road as the Gandan monastery, on the left you see Orkhon 1, Orkhon 2, Orkhon 3, Orkhon 4 and finally Orkhon 5 and a sign for the hostel), ☎ , e-mail: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Hostel with fluent English-speaking owners in the same road as the Gandan monastery (15-minute walk or short bus ride to main square). Excellent kitchen facilities and free tea. Tasty breakfast, different menu daily. Also runs accomodation at/transport to Terelj national park but unlike every other hostel isn't pushy to get you to use them. Only mini-moan is that laundry is a bit pricy.
- Red Rose Hotel. The Red Rose elegant star hotel, one of the leading hotels, is located in downtown Ulaanbaatar by surrounded major business and commercial centers. The hotel is offers comfortable environment and high quality services complying with world standards. Red Rose hotel has 34 rooms, including luxurious and highest standard rooms, deluxe, semi-lux and standard.
- 8 Mandukhai Hotel, near State Department Store. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. A nice inexpensive hotel located in UB city center. The hotel staff speaks little English but rooms are large and include TV. Bathrooms are shared. 20,000–25,000 ₮ (old).
There is a Shangri-La being built towards the Embassy district that will open in 2014.
- 9 The Kempinski Hotel, East Cross Road, Peace Ave, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. A nice hotel on the east side of the city with several good restaurants.
- 10 Ulaanbaatar Hotel, Sükhbaatar Square 14, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The centrally located Mongolia's first 5-star hotel is showing its age already.
- 11 The Chinggis Khaan Hotel, Tokyo Street 10, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Free high speed internet is very reliable. Rooms are spacious and "wannabe luxurious". The best feature was the breakfast that was included in the price of the room.
- 12 The Corporate Hotel, Chinngis avenue 9-2 (located 7 minutes walk south from Sukhbaatar square). High level of rooms, sauna, jacuzzi and free internet.
- 13 The Bayangol Hotel (2 blocks south of Sukhbaatar Square). Close to the bars and central square, but rooms are small and the internet is patchy.
- HS Khaan Resort Hotel, Khui doloon hudag, Argalant soum, ☎ . About 45 km northwest near by the famous Naadam Festival Place, about 50 minutes, or from the city by car. This is a “ger” style resort, all rooms are 120 m2 with views over the steppes.
- 14 Blue Sky Hotel and Tower, South of Sukhbaatar Square, ☎ . The tallest building and probably the most expensive hotel in the country. The 200 room hotel has several nice restaurants and bars including a lounge on the 23rd floor with views of the whole city. From US$200.
- 15 Ramada Citycenter, Gandan & Peace Ave, ☎ . One of the only international hotel chains in the city. Located on top of the MaxMall, near Gandan Monastery. Has all the standard features of a full service American hotel, including fitness gym, sauna, and office space. US$200 and up.
- 4 Mail (Central Post Office), SW Corner of Sukhbaatar Square on Peace Ave. Besides stamps it also sells a wide variety of reasonably priced postcards (though they may take up to two months to reach their destination!), some very large, decorative collections of stamps (which are not for use) and a few nice calendars.
- Internet cafes - there are many Internet cafes liberally scattered around the city and they cost around 400–800 ₮ per hour. Also, many of the restaurants and coffee houses have WiFi.
- Telephone - the city has an international call center. However, if you have access to a private phone, the most convenient way to make an international call is to use a prepaid card, such as BodiCom.
Cell phone operators offer prepaid GSM SIM cards, handset rentals (Mobicom), and extensive roaming options.
The most common crime against foreigners is pickpocketing, while muggings, assaults, and taxi scams also occur. The places where pickpocketing is the most frequent are buses and the Naran-Tuul market, (or Black market), especially the entrances of them. The bus stops close to the State department stores are hot spots for this activity. If you've been attacked or pick-pocketed, please take time to make a deposition at the district police station, and to say it to your embassy if you have one. Crime rates in Ulaanbaatar are high, and it has been listed as one of the most dangerous cities in Asia in certain lists. This applies to the more violent, less developed parts of town that are not well lit and are characterized by maze-like dirt alleys between rows of ger district fences. Violent crime occurs commonly at night, so it is a good idea to avoid going out at night. Although security guards are in many big buildings, they are only to keep drunks and homeless people out. Most foreigners walk through the city without incident but it helps to take extra precaution.
Walking on the streets at any time is a hazardous affair as one needs to contend with ice from about October to March, open manholes and extremely chaotic and wild driving habits. Thankfully, the center is now well lit with new streetlights. Drivers (including buses and police) pay no attention to pedestrian crossings and will not reduce speed, but simply sound their horns. The automobile culture in this city is too new to have developed safe driving systems and habits. Even when you have a green walk signal, you should pay attention when crossing the street.
Unmarked taxis are common and shouldn't be feared. Locals simply stick out an arm and hitchhike anywhere around town. However, it is wise to get a local to interpret if possible and explain the fare system. You should also pay attention to where it is going. Sometimes unmarked taxi drivers will try to take people, especially drunk tourists, down a dark alley and demand your cell phone or cash.
There are numerous individuals posing as "hotels" in Ulaanbaatar (even operating on major websites like booking.com). You may not find a front-desk even if there was one in the website pictures, and if anyone answers the phone after you arrive then you may discover they are renting out their apartments, which may or may not be empty. A common scam is to demand a deposit and then refuse to return it, and the scammers can get very aggressive when you offer to explain the situation to the apartment complex management or the police. If you end up booking a place and the owner has misrepresented themselves, just walk away before the situation gets worse. And don't forget to report the listing as fraudulent!
Child beggars are common and persistent on the streets, but watch out for groups of them, as one may be trying to pick your pocket. Also be aware that any money you do donate will often go straight to their teenage "pimps", and so you may not be helping them as much as you think.
Walking at night in company shouldn't be too great of a concern, it isn't for the locals. But stick to areas where you can see lots of locals (especially women) and major streets. Coming out of Bars late at night is a little dangerous if you are alone, try to have several males in your group. Also, it is best to avoid the ger districts at night due to drunks, stray dogs, and lots of dark alleys and violence.
- UB Post. One of the oldest English language newspapers founded in 1996. It is a weekly paper sold in news stands.
- Mongolia Economy. Monthly magazine of business and economic news on Mongolia in English and Mongolian.
- Canada, Central Tower, 6th floor (southeast corner of Sukhbaatar Square), ☎ .
- China, Zaluuchuudyn Urgun Chuluu 5 (east of north side of government house), ☎ , , 320955 , 311903fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Cuba, United Nations Street-18, Sukhbaatar District, ☎ .
- Czech Republic, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Emergency call: +976 99111880, +976 9909 8708
- France, Peace Avenue 12, Sukhbaatar District (West of Sukhbaatar Square, past the post office), ☎ .
- Germany, UN Street 7, Baga Toiruu 2 Sukhbaatar District, ☎ .
- India, Zaluuchuud Avenue 10, Sukhbaatar District (Continue going east past the Chinese embassy), ☎ .
- Japan, Olympic Street-8, Sukhbaatar District (Go south from the southeast corner of Sukhbaatar Square), ☎ . ,
- Kazakhstan, 11th khoroo, Zaisan Street 78, Khan-Uul District, ☎ .
- Kuwait, Bella Vista Town, Zaisan Bella, 11th khoroo, Khan-Uul District (Near the bridge to Zaisan Memorial), ☎ .
- Laos, 11th khoroolol, Ikh Toiruu Road 59, Sukhbaatar District, ☎ .
- North Korea, Diplomatic Complex 95, Sukhbaatar District (Behind the Embassy Restaurant near the Tengis Theater, looks like an apartment building), ☎ .
- Russia, 11th Khoroolol, Ikh Toiruu Road 59, Sukhbaatar District (Massive complex on south side of Peace Ave, east of Sukhbaatar Square), ☎ . ,
- South Korea, P.O. Box-1039, Mahatma Gandhi street-39, Khan-Uul district-15, Ulaanbaatar-17011, Mongolia (Street address: Olympic Street-10, Sukhbaatar District), ☎ . ,
- Turkey, Peace Ave-5, Chingeltei District (Next to the French Embassy, west of the post office), ☎ .
- United Kingdom, Peace Ave 30, Bayanzurkh District (300 m east of the wrestling palace), ☎ , e-mail: Britemb@mongol.net. M-Th 08:30-13:00 and 14:00-17:00; F 08:30-13:30. Operates a pub on Friday nights open to ex-pats and British citizens. (It appears the pub is now by invitation only.)
- United States (just off Big Ring Rd in 11th District, north of Chinggis Khaan Hotel), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 08:30-12:30 and 13:00-17:00.
- Vietnam, Peace Ave 47, Bayanzurkh District (just west of the wrestling palace).
Except for those just passing through on the Trans-Mongolian Railroad, most people come to Mongolia to see nomadic descendants of Genghis (Chinngis) Khan and the beauty of endless steppes and deserts of Central Asia. Ulaanbaatar is an excellent starting place with its many museums, monasteries, and cultural experiences, but no trip here is complete without going to the countryside for at least a few days. You can spend a day or two in the nearby Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, a 3-hour bus ride from UB, with its scenic forested mountain valleys, or go to Bogd Khan National Park, located a few hours south of the city, which has the world's largest equestrian statue of Chinngis Khan and the ruins of a large Buddhist monastery destroyed by the communists in 1937.
For longer stays in Mongolia, the ancient capital of the Mongolian Empire, Karakorum, is a day bus ride to the west in the beautiful Orkhon River valley. Or go to Hövsgöl Lake to see reindeer herding tribes, or the Gobi Desert and see nomadic camel herders and dinosaur fossils, or travel to the far west in Western Mongolia to meet Kazakh eagle hunters under the snow-capped Altai mountains.
|Routes through Ulaanbaatar|
|Irkutsk ← Darkhan ←||N S||→ Sainshand → Beijing|