Ulaanbaatar Travel Guide
The Ulaanbaatar Travel Guide will help you plan your trip to Ulaanbaatar Mongolia.
Ulaanbaatar dates back to 1639, it proclaimed independence from China in 1911 and then was invaded by the Russians in 1921 with the city coming under Russian rule and influence during Soviet times. Today Mongolia’s many mineral resources are funding a building boom.
Most people travel to Ulaanbaatar (UB) on the way to somewhere else, a trip to the Gobi, the Eagle Hunters or the Reindeer Herders or are simply passing through on the Trans Siberian Railway.
Ulaanbaatar is not the prettiest of cities and for most of the year it is pretty jolly cold but it does have its charms and it is worth spending a few days exploring the city before moving on.
Ulaanbaatar is a very easy city to walk around and maps are available from the tourist office.
If walking around Ulaanbaatar be careful as the roads are very busy and drivers do not always stop for pedestrians even at pedestrian crossings.
Trolley cars and buses a plentiful in the main centre of Ulaanbaabtar. To travel on buses or trolley cars you will need to purchase a Bus Card which are available from stores and kiosks near the bus stops.
Taxis are also plentiful but be aware many are not ‘official’ taxis but rather private drivers and cars. English is often not spoken by taxi drivers so it pays to have your destination written down in Mongolian, it is also a good idea to carry small amounts of money as the driver may not be able to change large notes.
Most hotels and guest houses will be able to organise a driver for a small fee.
Mid May – August are the busiest times in both Ulaanbaatar and Mongolia in general when the weather is warm to hot and tours are operating out of the capital in to the Gobi and Northern parts of Mongolia.
In July the Naadam festival is held so book well ahead if travelling to UB at this time.
Ulaanbaatar during winter is cold with temperatures not getting above 0 for a number of months. The city becomes very polluted during winter with residents burning coal to heat their homes and to cook on.
Weather Averages Ulaanbaatar
Most people travelling to Ulaanbaatar are there to join a tour into the Gobi or northern Mongolia so have packed accordingly – which is what I recommend. When packing it does pay to always have something to wear out to a restaurant such as a pair of black pants and a collared shirt.
- 2 pants, include one black pair that can double as ‘good’
- 1 shorts
- 1 x singlets – good for layering and sleeping in
- 4 short sleeve tee shirts or shirts.
- 1 x long sleeve sloppy joe or similar
- 1 x polar fleece jumper
- 1 x zip-up shell jacket
- 1 x lightweight windproof raincoat
- 3 x socks
- 5 x underpants
- 2 x bra
- 1 x Northface Dipsea
- I x warm hat (if there in winter)
- 1 x sun hat (if there in summer
- 1 x warm gloves (if there in winter
- 1 x pair walking shoes
- 1 x pair flip flops (great for showers)
- Travel Towel
- Lush Bar Shampoo
- Bar of Soap
- Brush / Comb
- Hair Ties
- 1 x Earbud headphones. Light and small,
- 1 x 6S iPhone loaded with music and podcasts
- 1 x power bank
- 1 x GoPro Hero 5
- 2 x Spare GoPro Batteries
- 1 x LUMIX TZ80
- Spare micro SD Card
- 1 x headlight or torch **essential
- 1 x Swiss knife
- 1 x medical kit
- Refillable water bottle
Ulaanbaatar and Mongolia gets a bit of a bad rap when it come to food and dining although I am not sure why. In Ulaanbaatar we found some delicious food and a reasonable variety of cuisines.
Here are the top Traditional Mongolian dishes:
- Buuz – a type of dumpling
- Khorkhog – Mongolian BBQ
- Boodog – A traditional roast.
- Tsuivam – Noodles
- Guriltai Shui – Noodle Soup
- Budaatai khuurga – Mongolian fried rice.
- Shish Keba
The Gandan Mosnestery full name is The Gandantegchinlen Monastery and it sits high on a rise with a view over the city. The monastery was first built in 1809 and was added to and changed over the years. In 1904 the 13th Deli Lhama stayed at the monastery.
While the Gandan Monastery was spared the destruction that was the fate of many monasteries under the rule of Khorloogiin Choibalsan and the influence of Stalin it was closed in 1938 and not reopened until 1944 where it was allowed to operate with minimal monks as a token homage to traditional Mongolian culture and religion. With the end of Marxism in Mongolia in 1990, restrictions on worship were lifted. Today the monastery has over 150 monks in residence.
Gandan Monastery can easily be reached on foot.
Address: Ulaanbaatar 16040
Opening Hours: Mon – Sunday 9AM – 5PM
Sükhbaatar Square / Chenggis Khan Square
It was here that in 1921 Damdin Sukhbaatar the ‘hero’ of the revolution declared Mongolia independent from China. In the centre of the square is a statue of Damdin Sukhbaatar on his horse. The city changed the name of the square to Chinggis Khan square in 2013 however locals still refer to it as Sukhbaatar Sqaure.
At the East of the square is the Mongolian National Museum and at the Southeastern end is the State Opera an Ballet.
Today the square is used for ceremonies and concerts but it is mostly used by locals to gather and ‘hang out’.
Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan
Mongolias last king and eight living Buddha Jebtzun Damba Hutagt VIII lived in the Winter Palace fro 20 years. The palace was built between 1893 and 1903 and for reasons unknown was spared being demolished by the Russians who totally destroyed the Summer Palace.
Today the palace is a musuem containing Buddhist artwork and a number of stuffed animals many of which came from the zoo of the Bogd Khan.
Address: Chingislin Orgon Choloo
Open: 9AM – 5.30PM – Mid May – Mid Sept. 9.30AM – 4.30PM Mid Sept – Mid May.
Bus: Take the number 7 or 19 bus
Directly opposite the State department store is a plaza which is summer has pretty gardens and water fountains that children play in….and a monument to the Beatles. It is said that it pays homage to the times when Mongolians would get contraband Beatles records from Eastern Europe and secretly listen to them in small groups.
Today ‘Beatles Square’ is surrounded by restaurants. cafes and shops.
Address: Tserendorjiin Gudamj.
State Department Store
Built in 1921 the state department store has an excellent range of goods across its 6 floors. Stock up on goods for your onward journey in the excellent supermarket on the ground floor. The state department store is well worth a visit