Welcome to Ulaanbaatar, the vibrant capital of Mongolia! Nestled amidst large grasslands and hills, this city is a fascinating blend of ancient traditions and modernity. If you’re planning a trip to Ulaanbaatar, you’re in for an extraordinary experience that goes beyond the common tourist attractions.
In this blog, we’ll unveil the hidden gems and insider secrets that only the locals know. We’ll give you a unique perspective on this beautiful city. Get ready to explore 17 incredible things to do in Ulaanbaatar straight from the mouths of those who call this place home.
Visit the National Museum of Mongolia
Our journey begins at the National Museum of Mongolia, where history comes alive. As you step through the museum’s doors, you’ll be greeted by a treasure trove of artifacts and exhibits that span thousands of years.
The collection covers a wide range of topics, including archaeology, ethnography, art, and history, providing a comprehensive overview of Mongolia’s past.
As you wander through the meticulously curated halls, you’ll encounter an impressive display of ancient relics, traditional costumes, and intricate artwork. Each exhibit tells a story, shedding light on the nomadic way of life, the rise and fall of empires, and the enduring spirit of the Mongolian people.
One of the museum’s highlights is the Hall of Chinggis Khan, dedicated to the legendary founder of the Mongol Empire. Here, you can learn about his life and achievements.
Also Read: Camping in Mongolia
Plan a Day Trip to the Mini Gobi Desert
As you explore further, go on a day trip to the Mini Gobi Desert. It is a remarkable natural wonder just outside the city. You can feel the warm sand beneath your feet as you look at the beautiful dunes in front of you.
This miniature version of the famous Gobi Desert offers a unique experience, complete with sand dunes, camel rides, and breathtaking sunsets. To make the most of your day trip, it’s a great idea to hire a local guide who can guide you through the desert, sharing their knowledge of the area’s history.
If you are adventurous souls like us, you’ll love the thrill and adrenaline rush that comes with sandboarding.
Visit the Zaisan Memorial
Another must-visit destination is the Zaisan Memorial. This iconic landmark will give you a unique opportunity to get lost in panoramic views of the city.
The Zaisan Memorial was constructed in the 1970s to commemorate the soldiers of World War II and to honor the friendship between Mongolia and the Soviet Union. As you ascend the steps leading to the memorial, you’ll see some sculptures and reliefs that depict significant moments in Mongolian and Soviet history.
The memorial is on top of a hill, so you can go for a leisurely hike to connect with nature and take in the fresh air. The peacefulness of the surrounding hillsides will give you rest from the bustling city below.
Feel the Local Vibes at the Sukhbaatar Square
To truly feel the local vibes, head to Sukhbaatar Square. Here, you’ll witness the daily lives of locals as they go about their routines. You can also interact with them. They are often more than happy to share stories, insights, and recommendations about their beloved city.
While at Sukhbaatar Square, be sure to visit the Mongolian Parliament Building. Admire the architectural grandeur of this iconic structure, which serves as a symbol of democracy in Mongolia.
As the day winds down, find a spot to sit and relax in the square to enjoy the vibrant ambiance when the sun sets.
Plan a Day Trip to Gorkhi Terelj National Park
A day trip to Gorkhi Terelj National Park is a must for nature enthusiasts. It is just a short drive from the city and offers a relaxing escape into pristine wilderness. Explore the lush green park and hike through valleys for an adventurous day.
Visit the Huge Genghis Khan Statue
Continuing our journey through the splendors of Ulaanbaatar, we arrive at the colossal Genghis Khan Statue. This 40 meters tall monument pays homage to the legendary Mongolian leader, Genghis Khan. Take a moment to appreciate the craftsmanship and learn more about the enduring legacy of Genghis Khan.
Visit the Hustai National Park
Nature lovers will find solace in Hustai National Park. As you enter Hustai National Park, you’ll find yourself surrounded by breathtaking landscapes of hills and forests. The park’s diverse ecosystems provide a haven for flora and fauna, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers.
The best part of Hustai National Park is undoubtedly the chance to find the majestic Przewalski’s horses in their natural habitat. You should join a local ranger to increase your chances of spotting these elusive horses.
Check Out the Turtle Rock
When exploring the beautiful land of Mongolia, make sure to check out the iconic Turtle Rock at the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. This natural formation resembles a giant turtle emerging out of the earth. The unique shape and intricate details of the rock make it a popular spot for photography enthusiasts and nature lovers.
Visit the Altai Tavan Bogd National Park
As we venture further, we encounter the Altai Tavan Bogd National Park. This untouched wilderness boasts snow-capped mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and abundant wildlife. You can explore its beautiful landscapes and reconnect with nature in its purest form.
Visit the Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan
Step back in time and explore the enchanting Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan, a living testament to Mongolia’s rich history. This palace was once the home of the Bogd Khan, the last ruler of Mongolia’s theocratic monarchy.
Stepping into the palace is like entering a bygone era, as you wander through stunning halls with vibrant tapestries and ornate furnishings. Each room tells a story, offering a glimpse into the life of Mongolian royalty. From the elegant throne room to the private chambers, you’ll be travelling in a world of royal splendor and cultural significance.
The palace also houses an impressive collection of religious artifacts, including ancient thangka paintings, statues, and sacred manuscripts.
Spend Time in Cute Ulaanbaatar Coffee Shops
Ulaanbaatar is not only a city of historical and natural marvels but also a paradise for coffee lovers. You should spend time in the cute and cozy Ulaanbaatar coffee shops, where you can savor aromatic brews and delicious pastries.
Here are some of my favorites that you shouldn’t miss:
Visit the Genghis Khan Museum
Explore the charming Genghis Khan Museum to learn about the extraordinary life of the renowned conqueror himself. This museum offers an exclusive experience, allowing you to get up close to artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays of Genghis Khan.
The Genghis Khan Museum is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and those curious about the fascinating story of one of history’s most influential leaders.
Attend the Daily Cultural Mongolian Show: Tumen Ekh Ensemble
Experience the amazing Mongolian culture by watching the Tumen Ekh Ensemble‘s daily show. You’ll see talented musicians playing special Mongolian instruments like the horsehead fiddle, and singers using their voices in a special way called throat singing.
The dancers, adorned in colorful traditional attire, gracefully move across the stage, depicting stories and legends through their choreography. You will also witness acrobats and contortionists who can do incredible tricks with their bodies. The show is a fun and exciting way to learn about the music, dance, and traditions of Mongolia.
Take an Archery Class
Get ready to channel your inner archer and embark on an exciting adventure by taking an archery class in Ulaanbaatar. In archery class, you’ll be taught how to hold the bow, aim at the target, and shoot arrows with accuracy.
Archery classes offer a fantastic opportunity to connect with Mongolia’s rich nomadic heritage. It has been an integral part of Mongolian life, used for hunting, warfare, and even as a symbol of skill and prowess.
Try Horseback Riding
Get ready for an unforgettable adventure as you try your hand at horseback riding. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider, you’ll have the chance to hop on a horse and explore Mongolia’s beautiful landscapes.
Skilled instructors will guide you as you learn how to ride and communicate with your horse. So grab the reins, feel the freedom, and enjoy an unforgettable ride!
Try Famous Mongolia Food
Treat your taste buds to the famous flavors of Mongolia! From savory dumplings to delicious barbecued khorkhog, the cuisine offers a delightful adventure.
For a taste of Mongolian dairy products, try aaruul, which is a dried curd made from fermented milk. It has a unique chewy texture and is often enjoyed as a snack. Airag, fermented mare’s milk, is a traditional Mongolian beverage with a tangy flavor and is an acquired taste worth experiencing.
Here are some famous restaurants in Ulaanbaatar where you can try authentic Mongolian food:
- Modern Nomads: This restaurant offers a modern twist on traditional Mongolian cuisine, serving dishes made with locally sourced ingredients.
- Gobi Cave: Known for its warm and welcoming atmosphere, Gobi Cave specializes in traditional Mongolian dishes such as buuz, khuushuur, and khorkhog.
- Rock Salt: This restaurant serves a variety of Mongolian dishes, including hearty soups, grilled meats, and dairy-based specialties.
- Nomads Restaurant: Located in the heart of Ulaanbaatar, Nomads Restaurant offers a diverse menu featuring authentic Mongolian flavors and dishes prepared with a modern twist.
- Silk Road Restaurant: Inspired by the historic Silk Road trade route, this restaurant showcases a fusion of Mongolian, Chinese, and Central Asian flavors, offering a unique dining experience.
Bonus: Watch the Great Nadaam Festival
If you’re lucky enough to visit Ulaanbaatar during the Great Nadaam Festival, you’re in for an extraordinary cultural experience. This festival is one of the most significant events in Mongolia, showcasing traditional sports and celebrating the country’s rich heritage.
During the festival, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the thrilling “Three Manly Games” of Mongolian wrestling, horse racing, and archery. These ancient sports hold deep cultural significance and are an integral part of Mongolian identity.
The atmosphere at the Great Nadaam Festival is electric, with vibrant parades, traditional music performances, and colorful costumes adding to the festivities. Dive into the joyous spirit of the event as locals gather to celebrate their history and traditions.
Attending the Great Nadaam Festival offers a chance to witness centuries-old traditions come alive.
Note: While the festival is typically held in July, it’s important to check the specific dates and locations in advance, as they may vary each year.
As we come to the end of our exploration of the 17 incredible things to do in Ulaanbaatar, one thing becomes clear: this city is a treasure of unique experiences. From visiting museums and adventurous parks to experiencing the local vibe, Ulaanbaatar offers something for every traveler.
So, why wait? Start planning your journey to Ulaanbaatar and go on an unforgettable adventure filled with discovery, wonder, and the warmth of Mongolian hospitality.