As urban capital of a nomadic nation, Ulaan Baatar is something of a paradox, but with the modern world rapidly sweeping away the monolithic remnants of the Soviet era the city has become a forward-looking, if laid-back, base from which to explore this remarkable country.
The city sits in a picturesque location on the Tuul Gol River surrounded by mountains that hint at the scenic splendours beyond its bounds.
A number of impressive and atmospheric sights are dotted around the town, including Mongolia’s largest Buddhist monastery, the Gandan Khiid, and the extraordinary Winter Palace of Bogd Khaan.
Also worth a visit are a number of museums dedicated to Mongolia’s fascinating cultural and natural history.
Around Ulaan Bataar
For those with little time to explore further afield we thoroughly recommend sampling the wonders of Mongolia’s natural heritage and traditional hospitality with an overnight visit to the beautiful Khustai National Park, just a couple of hours’ drive west of the city. Here you can visit the Takhi, Mongolia’s rare and much-loved wild horses.
The breed had become extinct in the wild until they were reintroduced using stock from foreign zoos in the 1990s. This is also an ideal opportunity to spend a night in a traditional nomadic felt tent or ‘ger’, a surprisingly comfortable form of accommodation.
The annual gathering of the tribes at the great Naadam Festival dates back to the times of Genghis Khan and gives the menfolk, once the most feared warriors on the planet, the opportunity to demonstrate their considerable prowess in the ‘Three Manly Sports’ of wrestling, archery and horseracing.
Even if the sports do not appeal, this is the biggest event in the Mongolian calendar and the colourful crowds and general atmosphere of excitement make it a fine focus for a visit to the country.
The festival in Ulaan Baatar runs annually in mid-July and attracts visitors from across the globe - accommodation can be scarce so it is worth booking ahead.
Suggested itineraries featuring Ulaan Baatar
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Ulaan Baatar, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Ulaan Baatar
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Accommodation choices for Ulaan Baatar
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Ideas for experiencing Ulaan Baatar
Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Ulaan Baatar, and which use the best local guides.