Ulaanbaatar (locally known as UB) was a city that grew on me. Initially I didn’t like it much, but the more time I spent there the more I liked it. The city is a funny mix of very modern buildings in the centre, surrounded by the ger district, with mountains viewed in the distance. 1.5 million people live in this city, which is half the country’s population. The city centre is very modern, people were friendly and there was great food.
I have to admit that the main thing I did here was eat. After a month on basic staple rations all I wanted was diversity! Because Mongolian people don’t want to eat Mongolian food when they go out (probably because they are also sick of mutton), there is a great selection of places to eat in this city. These are only the places that I went to:
- Tour Les Jour – a French-Korean bakery that has so many delicious treats I had to go almost every day
- Jur Ur – almost like a baby sister of Tour Les Jour. he bakery treats were a little cheaper here.
- Hashtag Cheese and Beer – they served a humungous burger that was delicious and big enough for two people. They also had some really great salads.
- Delhi Darbar – amazing Indian food. It was recommended by an Indian guy who said it is the best Indian food he has eaten outside of India!
- Oish Ramen – delicious ramen and gyoza!
- Silk Road – a lot classier than Lonely Plant led me to believe, but they had good pizza and wine.
- Mexikhan – good and cheesy mexican food with nice cocktails. A little on the classy side, but still reasonably priced.
- The food court on the top level of the building at the Black Market serves really cheap Mongolian takeaway (but be prepared for mutton).
- Loving Hut and Luna Blanca – two vegan restaurants located almost next to each other. Both served really delicious and reasonably priced food.
- Bluefin Sushi – south of the city centre but they have really really great sushi. Order the Volcano roll! You won’t be disappointed.
- There are heaps of Korean restaurants to choose from.
I didn’t see all the sights because I am not huge on museums and to be honest it was nice to have some chill-out time after my horse trek. But these were the places I did go to:
- Black Market – it isn’t actually a black market, but you can go there to buy anything from shoes, to stationery and even the kitchen sink. The great thing about this market is that it is a locals market. Both times I want I only saw one or two other westerners, and none of the stallholders hassle you at all. I can highly recommend buying some yak wool socks. It is a maze of stalls and getting lost here is half the fun. The market is a little out of the centre but still within walking distance.
- State Department Store – like any modern department store it sells homewares, clothing, footwear and electronics and more. On the bottom level is a great supermarket and on the top floor is where you can buy souvenirs. Learn from my mistake – buy a power bank from here and not the Black Market.
- Dinosaur Museum – much smaller than I’d expected, and I covered it in 20 mins. But for 3000T it was ok.
- The Zaizan Memorial – in the south of the city. This memorial honours the the allied Mongolian and Soviet soldiers killed in WWII. It also offers good views of the city.
- Tumen Ekh Ensemble – every night at 6pm they put on this show of traditional music, dance and costumes. It is a little touristy but I really enjoyed it. You even get to hear the throat singers! 25000T at the door. Arrive 20-30mins before the show to get tickets.
- Genghis Khan Square – right in the centre of town, it is hard to miss.
- I stayed at Guesthouse 99, just south of Chinggis Khan Square. It was nice, clean, warm, fairly central and was a really great place to chill out.
- The visa office is located near the airport and is not walking distance. It was really easy to extend my visa by 30 days to get a full two months.
- There is a large post office in the centre of town. It is really cheap to send postcards internationally, but not parcels!
- On the topic of postcards, you would think you would be able to find them everywhere. But no, they are rare! The post office sells some and tucked in a dark corner of the top floor of the State Department Store you may also find some.
- In the post-office building is an internet cafe with printing.
- There are some good supermarkets around – one on the bottom floor of the State Department Store and I came across another huge one on the road leading to the Black Market (they even had sheeps heads in the deli section – my favourite!).