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Ulan Bator
Mongolian transcription(s)
 - Mongolian script Ulaghanbaghatur.svg
 - Transcription Ulaɣanbaɣatur
Cyrillic transcription(s)
 - Cyrillic script Улаанбаатар
 - Transcription Ulaanbaatar

Flag

Coat of arms
Nickname(s): УБ (UB), Нийслэл (capital), Хот (city), Азийн цагаан дагина (Asia's white fairy)
Ulan Bator is located in Mongolia
Ulan Bator
Location in Mongolia
Coordinates: 47°55′N 106°55′E / 47.917°N 106.917°E / 47.917; 106.917
Country Mongolia
Established as Örgöö 1639
current location 1778
Ulaanbaatar 1924
Area
 - Total 4,704.4 km2 (1,816.3 sq mi)
Elevation 1,350 m (4,429 ft)
Population (2008-12-31)[1]
 - Total 1,067,472
 - Density 227/km2 (575/sq mi)
Time zone H (UTC+8)
Postal code 210 xxx
Area code(s) +976 (0)11
License plate УБ_ (_ variable)
ISO 3166-2 MN-1
Website http://www.ulaanbaatar.mn/

Ulan Bator, or Ulaanbaatar (Mongolian: Улаанбаатар, ᠤᠯᠠᠭᠠᠨ ᠪᠠᠭᠠᠲᠤᠷ English: The Red Hero), is the capital and largest city of Mongolia. The city is an independent municipality not part of any province, and its population as of 2008 is just over 1 million.[2]

Located in the north central part of the country, the city lies at an elevation of about 1,310 metres (4,300 ft) in a valley on the Tuul River. It is the cultural, industrial, and financial heart of the country. It is also the center of Mongolia's road network, and connected by rail to the Trans-Siberian Railway and the Chinese railway network.[3]

The city was founded in 1639 as an initially nomadic Buddhist monastic centre. In 1778 it settled permanently at its present location, the junction of the Tuul and Selbe rivers. Before that it had changed location 28 times, with each location being chosen ceremonially. In the 20th century, Ulan Bator grew into a major manufacturing centre.[3]

Contents

Names

Ulan Bator has had numerous names in its history. From 1639–1706, it was known as Örgöö (also spelled Urga) (Mongolian: Өргөө, residence), and from 1706–1911 as Ikh Khüree (Mongolian: Их = "great", Хүрээ = "camp"), Da Khüree (also spelled Da Khure) or simply Khüree. Upon independence in 1911, with both the secular government and the Bogd Khan's palace present, the city's name changed to Niislel Khüree (Mongolian: Нийслэл = "capital", Хүрээ = "camp").

When the city became the capital of the new Mongolian People's Republic in 1924, its name was changed to Ulaanbaatar (Улаанбаатар, classical script: Ulaghanbaghatur.svg, Ulaɣan Baɣatur), literally "red hero"), in honor of Mongolia's national hero Damdin Sükhbaatar, whose warriors liberated Mongolia from Ungern von Sternberg's troops and Chinese occupation shoulder-to-shoulder with the Soviet Red Army. His statue still adorns Ulan Bator's central square.

In Europe and North America, Ulan Bator was generally known as Urga (from Örgöö) or sometimes Kuren (from Khüree) or Kulun (from 庫倫, the Chinese transcription of Khüree) before 1924, and Ulan Bator afterwards, after the Russian: Улан-Батор. The Russian spelling is different from the Mongolian because it was defined phonetically, and the Cyrillic script was only introduced in Mongolia seventeen years later.

History

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Pre-1778 settlements

Red ochre rock paintings from the Bronze Age (3000 years ago) are to be found on the north side of Mt. Bogd Khan Uul facing the city. The paintings show human figures, horses, eagles and abstract designs like horizontal lines and large squares with over a hundred dots within them. The same style of painting from the same era is found very close to the west of the city at Gachuurt, as well as in Khovsgol Aimag and southern Siberia, indicating a common South Siberian nomadic pastoral culture. Mt. Bogd Khan Uul was probably an important religious cult location for these people.

To the north of Ulan Bator there are the vast Noin-Ula Xiongnu burial sites which are over 2000 years old. A Xiongnu tomb has also been found in Chingeltei district. Located on the banks of the sacred Tuul River ("Khatun Tuul" or Queen Tuul in legend), the area of Ulan Bator was well within the sphere of nomadic empires such as the Xiongnu (209BC-93AD), Xianbei (93AD-4th century), Rouran (402-555), Gokturk (555-745), Uighur (745-840), Khitan (907-1125) and Mongol Empire (1206-1368).

At Nalaikh District there is the important Stele of Tonyukuk (c. 697 AD) inscribed with Turkic Rune script. The inscription is lengthy and it is worth noting that here one can find mentions of a people called "Khitans" who were a Mongolic speaking people of the east. A balbal or ancient human statue was chosen as the ceremonial foundation site (Shav) of the city when it settled in 1778 at its current location. Now a modern stone turtle sits atop the spot of the ancient balbal near Sukhbaatar Square in the city center.

Wang Khan Toghrul of the Kerait, a Nestorian Christian monarch who was identified as the legendary Prester John by Marco Polo, is said to have had his palace here (the Black Forest of the Tuul River) and forbade hunting in the holy mountain Bogd Uul. The ruins of his palace (15x27 metres with a gate facing south) was found near in Songinokhairkhan District in 1949 and excavated by D.Navaan in 2006. This brick palace influenced by Chinese architecture, later also called the Third Palace of Genghis Khan or Yesui Khatun's palace, is where Genghis Khan stayed with Yesui Khatun before attacking the Tangut. Japanese and Koreans made special programs about this palace where many important events of Genghis Khan's life took place. A simple 13th century rock painting of a Mongolian woman with distinct Mongolian headdress can be seen on the north side of Mt Bogd Uul. Abtai Sain Khan is said to have worshipped the mountain in the 16th century as well.

Mobile monastery

Founded in 1639 as a yurt monastery, Ulan Bator, then Örgöö (palace-yurt), was first located at the lake Shireet Tsagaan nuur in what is now Övörkhangai, around 250 km from the present site of Ulan Bator, and was mainly intended to be the seat of the first Jebtsundamba Khutughtu, Zanabazar.

As a mobile monastery-town, it was often moved to various places along the Selenge, Orkhon and Tuul rivers, as supply and other needs would demand. During the Dzungar wars of the late 17th century, it was even moved to Inner Mongolia.[4] As the city grew, it moved less and less.[5] In 1778, the city settled for good at its current location, near the confluence of the Selbe and Tuul rivers and beneath Bogd Khan Uul, back then also on the caravan route from Beijing to Kyakhta.[6] The city became the seat not only of the Jebtsundamba Khutugtus, but also of two Qing ambans, and a Chinese trade town (traditional Chinese: 買賣城pinyin: Măimàichéng) grew several kilometers east of the city center. Since 1778 Urga had more than 10,000 monks. They were regulated by a monastic rule called the Internal Rule of the Grand Monastery or Yeke Kuriyen-u Doto'adu Durem (for example, in 1797 or the second year of Jiaqing a decree of the 4th Jebtsundamba forbade "singing, playing with archery, myagman, chess, usury and smoking"). Urga was visited by Abbe Joseph Gabet, Abbe Huc, Przhevalsky, Pyotr Kozlov and Pozdneev. In 1863 the Russian Consulate of Urga was opened in a newly built two-storey building. A small onion-domed Chapel of the Holy Trinity was opened the same year.

Revolutions of 1911 and 1921

Under the Bogd Khan, the city was called Niislel Khüree (Mongolian: "capital camp")

By the early 20th century, Ikh Khüree had a population of 25,000, of whom some 10,000 were Buddhist monks or monastery workers.[7] In 1911, with the Qing Dynasty in China headed for total collapse, Mongolian leaders in Ikh Khüree for Naadam met in secret and resolved to end three hundred years[8] of Chinese control of their country. On December 29 1911 the Bogd Khan was declared ruler of an independent Mongolia.[5] Khüree as the seat of the Jebtsundamba Khutugtu was the logical choice for the capital of the new state. However, a Russia-Mongolia-China conference in 1914 designated Mongolia as an autonomous region of China,[9] and in 1919 Mongolian nobles, over the opposition of the Bogd Khan, agreed to full union.[10] Urga was occupied by Chinese troops, and the Chinese reasserted control over Mongolia.

In 1921 the city changed hands twice. First, in February 1921, a mixed Russian/Tibetan/Mongolian force led by White Russian warlord Baron Ungern von Sternberg captured the city, freeing the Bogd Khan from Chinese imprisonment and killing most of the Chinese garrison. Baron Ungern's capture of Urga was followed by a spree of looting and murder and the massacre of Urga's small Jewish community.[11] On February 22 1921 the Bogd Khan was once again crowned Khan of Mongolia in Urga.[12] However, at the same time Baron Ungern was taking control of Urga, a Soviet-supported Communist Mongolian force led by Damdin Sükhbaatar was forming up in Russia, and in March they crossed the border.[13] Ungern and his men rode out in May to meet them but suffered a disastrous defeat in June.[14] In July the Communist Russo-Mongolian army became the second conquering force in six months to enter Urga.[15] On October 29 1924 the town was renamed to Ulaanbaatar ("red hero") as reference to Sükhbaatar, who had died earlier that year.[5]

In the socialist period, and especially following the Second World War, most of the old yurt quarters were replaced by Soviet-style blocks of flats, often financed by the Soviet Union. The Transmongolian Railway, connecting Ulan Bator with Moscow and Beijing, was completed in 1956, and cinemas, theatres, museums etc. were erected. On the other hand, many of the temples and monasteries of pre-socialist Khüree were destroyed following the anti-religious purges of the late 1930s.

Democratic protests of 1989-1990

Government palace on Sükhbaatar Square

Ulan Bator was the site of demonstrations that led to Mongolia's transition to democracy and market economy in 1990. On December 10 1989, protesters outside the Youth Culture Centre called for Mongolia to implement perestroika and glasnost in their full sense. Dissident leaders demanded free elections and economic reform. On January 14 1990 the protesters, having grown from two hundred to some 1,000, met at the Lenin Museum in Ulan Bator. A demonstration in Sukhbaatar Square on Jan. 21 (in weather of -30 C) followed. Afterwards, weekend demonstrations in January and February were held and the forming of Mongolia's first opposition parties. On March 7, ten dissidents assembled in Sukhbaatar Square and went on a hunger strike. Thousands of supporters joined them. More came on March 8, and the crowd grew more unruly; seventy people were injured and one killed. On March 9 the Communist MPRP government resigned. The new government announced Mongolia's first free elections, which were held in July. (Ironically, the Communist government won the election by a wide margin).[16]

Since Mongolia's transition to a market economy in 1990, the city has experienced further growth - especially in the yurt quarters, as construction of new blocks of flats had basically broken down in the 1990s - and the population has more than doubled to over one million inhabitants, about 50% of Mongolia's entire population. This causes a number of social, environmental, and transportation problems. In recent years, construction of new buildings has gained new momentum, especially in the city center, and flat prices have skyrocketed.

2008 Protests

Damage to MPRP headquarters after 2008 riots

In 2008, Ulaanbaatar was the scene of riots after the Mongolian Democratic, Civil Movement and Republican parties disputed the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party's victory in the parliamentary elections. Approximately 30,000 people took part in a public meeting led by the opposition parties. After the meeting was over some protestors left the central square and moved on to the nearby headquarters of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, attacking and burning the building. A police station also was attacked[17]. At night rioters set fire to the Cultural Palace, where a theatre, museum and National art gallery were vandalised and burned. Torched cars[18], bank robberies and looting were reported[17]. The organisations in the burning buildings were vandalised and looted. Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon against stone-throwing protestors[17]. A four-day state of emergency was declared, the capital was placed under a 2200 to 0800 curfew, and alcohol sales banned[19], following which measures rioting did not resume [20]. Five people were killed and hundreds arrested by the police during the suppression of the riots. Human rights groups expressed concerns about the handling of this unprecedented incident by the authorities.[21][22].

View from Zaisan in 2005
View from Zaisan in 2009

Administration and subdivisions

Map of the districts of Ulan Bator

Ulan Bator is divided into nine districts (Düüregs): Baganuur, Bagakhangai, Bayangol, Bayanzürkh, Chingeltei, Khan Uul, Nalaikh, Songino Khairkhan, and Sükhbaatar. Each district is subdivided into Khoroos.

The capital is governed by a city council (the Citizen's Representatives Hural) with forty members, elected every four years. The city council appoints the mayor. The current mayor is Tüdeviin Bilegt[23]. Ulan Bator is governed as an independent first-level subdivision of Mongolia, separate from Töv Aimag, the province that surrounds Ulan Bator.

The city consists of a central district built in Soviet 1940s and 1950s-style architecture, surrounded by and mingled with residential concrete towerblocks and large yurt quarters. In recent years, many of the towerblock's ground floors have been modified and upgraded to small shops, and many new buildings have been erected, some of them illegally.

Geography and climate

Satellite view of the city (north is in the lower right corner)

Ulan Bator is located at about 1350 meters (4430 ft) above sea level, slightly east of the center of Mongolia on the Tuul River, a subtributary of the Selenge, in a valley at the foot of the mountain Bogd Khan Uul.

Due to its high elevation, relatively high latitude, and location hundreds of kilometres from any coast, Ulan Bator is the coldest national capital in the world, with a monsoon-influenced cold desert climate (Koppen climate classification, Bwk) with brief, warm summers and long, very cold and dry winters. Precipitation is heavily concentrated in the warmer months. It has an average annual temperature of -1.3 °C (29.7 °F). The city lies in the zone of sporadic permafrost, which means that building is difficult in sheltered aspects that preclude thawing in the summer, but easier on more exposed ones where soils fully thaw. Suburban residents live in traditional yurts that do not protrude into the soil.[24]

Weather data for Ulan Bator
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average high °C (°F) -16
(3)
-14
(7)
-3
(27)
6
(43)
15
(59)
22
(72)
24
(75)
22
(72)
16
(61)
5
(41)
-8
(18)
-15
(5)
Average low °C (°F) -29
(-20)
-27
(-17)
-17
(1)
-6
(21)
1
(34)
10
(50)
12
(54)
10
(50)
3
(37)
-7
(19)
-16
(3)
-25
(-13)
Precipitation mm (inches) 1.9
(0.07)
1.9
(0.07)
2.8
(0.11)
6.4
(0.25)
14.6
(0.57)
36.7
(1.44)
46.5
(1.83)
46.1
(1.81)
22.6
(0.89)
5.3
(0.21)
4.8
(0.19)
3.5
(0.14)
Source: Foreca[25] 2008

Sights

Few buildings in Ulaanbaatar predate World War II. Pre-World War II buildings that survive include: Dambadarjaalin monastery in Sukhbaatar District (1765), Dashchoilin monastery's large yurt chapels (built in 1778), Gandan monastery's golden-roofed Gandantegchinlen temple also called the Tsogchin dugan (1838), Vajradhara temple (1841), Zuu temple (1869), Didan Laviran temple (19th century), the restored Russian Consulate building (1863), Erdem Itgemjit temple (1893) at the Bogd Khan's Winter Palace, rest of the buildings at the same Palace (1893-1906), the Museum of Ulaanbaatar's History which was formerly the private residence of the rich Buryat merchant Tsogt Badamjav (1904), Zanabazar's Art Museum building which was formerly called the Ondor Khorshoo (1905), the two-storey brick headquarters of the mining company "Mongolore" (1905), the tall Megjid Janraisig temple (1913-1914), the residence of Chin Wang Khanddorj, a prominent noble and politician in the early years of Mongolia's independence (1913), the first telephone building where Russian Orthodox choir singers stayed (1914), Marshal Zhukov Museum etc. The building of the Teacher's College was originally the government headquarters and dates from 1930. Prime Minister Genden's residence was built in 1930.

Monasteries

One of the gates of the Winter Palace

Among the notable older monasteries is the Choijin Lama Monastery, a Buddhist monastery that was completed in 1908. It escaped the destruction of Mongolian monasteries when it was turned into a museum in 1942.[26] Another is the Gandan Monastery, which dates to the 19th century. Its most famous attraction is a 26.5-meter-high golden statue of Migjid Janraisig.[27] These monasteries are among the very few in Mongolia to escape the wholesale destruction of Mongolian monasteries under Khorloogiin Choibalsan.

Winter Palace

Old Ikh Khüree, once the city was set up as a permanent capital, had a number of palaces and noble residences in an area called Öndgiin sürgiin nutag. The Jebtsundamba Khutughtu, who was later crowned Bogd Khan, had four main imperial residences, which were located between the Middle (Dund gol) and Tuul rivers. The summer palace was called Erdmiin dalai buyan chuulgan süm or Bogd khaanii serüün ord. Other palaces were the White palace (Tsagaan süm or Gьngaa dejidlin), and the Pandelin palace (also called Naro Kha Chod süm), which was situated in the left bank of Tuul River. Some of the palaces were also used for religious purposes.[28] The only palace that remains is the winter palace. The Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan (Bogd khaanii nogoon süm or Bogd khaanii öwliin ordon) remains as a museum of the last monarch. The complex includes six temples, many of the Bogd Khan's and his wife's possessions are on display in the main building.

Museums

Ulaanbaatar has several museums dedicated to Mongolian history and culture. The Natural History Museum features many dinosaur fossils and meteorites found in Mongolia.[29][30] The National Museum of Mongolian History includes exhibits from prehistoric times through the Mongol Empire to the present day.[31][32] The Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts contains a large collection of Mongolian art, including works of the 17th century sculptor/artist Zanabazar, as well as Mongolia's most famous painting, One Day In Mongolia by B. Sharav.[33][34]

Pre-1778 artifacts that never left the city since its founding include the Vajradhara statue made by Zanabazar himself in 1683 (the city's main deity kept at the Vajradhara temple), a highly ornate throne presented to Zanabazar by the Kangxi Emperor (before 1723), a sandalwood hat presented to Zanabazar by the Dalai Lama (c. 1663), Zanabazar's large fur coat which was also presented by the Kangxi Emperor and a great number of original statues made by Zanabazar himself (e.g. the Green Tara).

Opera house

The Ulaanbaatar Opera House hosts concerts and musical performances.

Sükhbaatar Square

Sükhbaatar Square, in the government district, is the center of Ulaanbaatar. In the middle of Sükhbaatar Square, there is a statue of Damdin Sükhbaatar on horseback. The spot was chosen because that was where Sukhbaatar's horse had peed (a good omen) on July 8, 1921 during a gathering of the Red Army. On the north side of Sükhbaatar Square is the Mongolian Parliament building, featuring a large statue of Chinggis Khan at the top of the front steps. Peace Avenue (Enkh Taivny Örgön Chölöö), the main thoroughfare through town, runs along the south side of the square.[35]

Zaisan Memorial

The Zaisan Memorial, a memorial to Soviet soldiers killed in World War II, sits on a hill south of the city. The Zaisan Memorial includes a Soviet tank paid for by the Mongolian people and a circular memorial painting which in the socialist realism style depicts scenes of friendship between the peoples of Soviet Union and Mongolia. Visitors who make the long climb to the top are rewarded with a panoramic view of the whole city down in the valley.

National Sport Stadium

National Sports Stadium is the main sporting venue. The Naadam festival is held here every July.

Surroundings

Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, a nature preserve with many tourist facilities, is approximately 70 km from Ulan Bator. Accessible via paved road.

Embassies and Consulates

Among the countries which have diplomatic facilities in Ulaanbaatar are the following: Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Laos, Russia, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam.[36][37][38]

Symbols

2006 Naadam ceremony at the National Sports Stadium

The official symbol of Ulan Bator is the garuḍa, a mythical bird in both Buddhist and Hindu scriptures called Khan Garuda or Khangar'd (Mongolian: Хангарьд) by Mongols.

Coat of arms

The garuḍa appears on Ulan Bator's coat of arms. In its right hand is a key, a symbol of prosperity and openness, and in its left is a lotus flower, a symbol of peace, equality, and purity. In its talons it is holding a snake, a symbol of evil of which it is intolerant. On the garuḍa's forehead is the soyombo symbol, which is featured on the flag of Mongolia.

Flag

The city’s flag is sky blue with the garuḍa arms in the center.

Education

National University of Mongolia

Ulan Bator has six major universities:

Even though relatively small, the Institute of Finance and Economics is popular as a business school in Mongolia.

The National Library of Mongolia has a wide selection of English-language texts on Mongolian subjects.[39]

The American School of Ulaanbaatar and the International School of Ulaanbaatar both offer Western-style K-12 education in English for Mongolian nationals and foreign residents.[40][41]

Transportation

Interurban and international: Ulan Bator is served by the Chinggis Khaan International Airport (formerly Buyant Ukhaa Airport). It is 18 km southwest of the city.[42] Chinggis Khaan airport is the only airport in Mongolia that offers international flights. Flights to Ulan Bator are available from Tokyo, Seoul, Berlin, Moscow, Irkutsk, and Beijing.[43] Ulan Bator is connected by road to most of the major towns in Mongolia, but most roads in Mongolia are unpaved and unmarked and road travel can be difficult. Even within the city, not all roads are paved and some of the ones that are paved are not in good condition.[44] There are rail connections to the Trans-Siberian railway via Naushki and to the Chinese railway system via Jining.

Intra-urban: The national and municipal governments regulate a wide system of private transit providers which operate numerous bus lines around the city. A secondary transit system of microbuses (passenger vans) operates alongside these bus lines.

Sister cities

Plaques depicting the sister cities of Ulan Bator.
The gate of Manzushir Monastery.

According to the city's official website[45]:

See also

References

  1. ^ Ulan Bator Statistic Bulletin Dec.2008 http://statis.ub.gov.mn/index2.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&gid=235&Itemid=99999999
  2. ^ Ulan Bator Statistic Bulletin May.2008 http://statis.ub.gov.mn/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=170&Itemid=99999999
  3. ^ a b Ulan Bator Official Web Portal
  4. ^ This Shireet tsagaan nuur is located in Övörkhangai's Bürd sum. P. Enkhbat, O. Pürev, Улаанбаатар, Ulaanbaatar 2001, p. 9f
  5. ^ a b c Brief history of Ulaanbaatar
  6. ^ Kohn, Michael Lonely Planet Mongolia 4th edition, 2005 ISBN 1740593596, p. 52
  7. ^ Palmer, James The Bloody White Baron 2008, Faber and Faber Limited Press, ISBN 9780571230235, p. 45
  8. ^ Palmer, pp.47-8
  9. ^ Palmer 120-121
  10. ^ Palmer 122
  11. ^ Palmer, pp. 131-159
  12. ^ Palmer, 161-163
  13. ^ Palmer 178-9
  14. ^ Palmer 205-7
  15. ^ Palmer 208-9
  16. ^ Rossabi, Morris Modern Mongolia: From Khans to Commissars to Capitalists 2005, University of California Press, ISBN 0520244192. pp. 1-28
  17. ^ a b c BBC.Mongolia calls state of emergency
  18. ^ ABC News.Mongolia clamps down after 5 killed in unrest
  19. ^ BBC.Fatal clashes in Mongolia capital the situation had stabilised
  20. ^ BBC. Streets calm in riot-hit Mongolia
  21. ^ Amnesty International Are the Mongolian Authorities getting away with murder?
  22. ^ Human Rights Coalition statment
  23. ^ Official website of the mayor of Ulan Bator
  24. ^ geography.about.com coldcapital.html
  25. ^ "Weather averages: Ulaanbaatar, MNG". Foreca. http://weather.msn.com/monthly_averages.aspx?wealocations=wc:MGXX0003&q=Ulaanbaatar%2c+MNG+forecast:averagesm. Retrieved 2008-09-14.  
  26. ^ Choijin Lama Monastery
  27. ^ Kohn, pp. 63-4
  28. ^ Majer, Zsuzsa; Teleki, Krisztina. "Monasteries and Temples of Bogdiin Khьree, Ikh Khьree or Urga, the Old Capital City of Mongolia in the First Part of the Twentieth Century". Budapest: Documentation of Mongolian Monasteries. pp. pg. 36. http://www.mongoliantemples.net/images/pdfs/OLDUBWEB%202008.pdf. Retrieved January 30, 2009.  
  29. ^ Natural History Museum
  30. ^ Kohn, p. 60
  31. ^ Kohn, pp. 61, 66
  32. ^ National Museum
  33. ^ Kohn, p. 61
  34. ^ Zanazabar Museum of Fine Arts
  35. ^ Kohn, p. 52
  36. ^ Kohn, Michael. Lonely Planet Mongolia. 2008, fifth edition, ISBN 9781741045789, p. 255
  37. ^ GoAbroad.com
  38. ^ Welcome2Mongolia.com
  39. ^ Kohn, pp. 54-5
  40. ^ American School of Ulaanbaatar
  41. ^ International School of Ulaanbaatar
  42. ^ Kohn, p. 88
  43. ^ MIAT Route Map
  44. ^ Transport in Mongolia
  45. ^ Ulaanbaatar.mn: Улаанбаатар хотын ах, дүү хотууд
  46. ^ Irkustsk sister cities
  47. ^ Chairman of the Committee for External Relations of St. Petersburg
  48. ^ Ulan Ude looking for sister cities
  49. ^ Denver Sister Cities
  50. ^ http://www.oaklandnet.com/SisterCity.htm
  51. ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ankara

External links

Coordinates: 47°55′12″N 106°55′12″E / 47.92°N 106.92°E / 47.92; 106.92


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Ulaanbaatar article)

From Wikitravel

Asia : East Asia : Mongolia : Ulaanbaatar
Parliament Building of Mongolia
Parliament Building of Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar (Улаанбаатар) [1], also Ulan Bator or simply just UB, is the capital and, with a population of around 1,000,000, also the largest city in Mongolia. In fact, according to recent estimates, this means approximately 1/3 of the country lives here. It is located just east of the center of the country.

Understand

Ulaanbaatar has a long and mysterious history, and is only now undergoing an industrial revolution. UB is one of the most drab looking cities on the face of the planet, a travesty really, considering it's the capital of one the most beautiful and hospitable countries on earth. Still, as traditionalists, Mongolians love their capital. They understand that it is not an Asian beauty, but in their hearts they are aware of the city's history, culture and many struggles. Foreigners who take the time to get to know the faces that are hidden behind the gray walls will discover a hospitable and warm-hearted people. Explore the city from different angles, while at the same time do not ignore the abject poverty of many of the ex-nomads who in recent years have come to the city to find work after severe winters have killed their livestock. In this way, you will learn to unlock the city's many secrets and discover an Ulaanbaatar that is not initially revealed to the casual visitor.

Although summer temperatures are around 20°C, the city shivers in sub-zero temperatures for five months of the year, with January and February being the coldest months with temps hovering between -15°C to -30°C. 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.

Peace Avenue (Enkh Taivny Örgön Chölöö) is the main street and it stretches from east to west through the center. It's the main shopping street and many of the restaurants are along it. The street also passes by the southern edge of the central square, Sükhbaatar Square. Tourist information office is located in the south flank of the Town-hall in the western corner of Suhbaatar square.

Get in

By plane

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.

MIAT [2] (Mongolian Airlines) offers direct international flights to the city from Berlin, Moscow, Irkutsk, Seoul, Beijing, and Tokyo. Domestic flights from ULN to Dalanzadgad, Moron, Khovd, Bulgan Khovd, Altai, and Arvaikheer are also available. Korean Air also flies daily from Seoul to ULN. Air China to and from Beijing 25. The Russian Aeroflot flies daily between Moscow and ULaanbaatar.

By train

Direct (but long) journeys are possible from Moscow, Russia and Beijing, China on the Trans-Mongolian line of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Trains also run to the Chinese border towns of Erlian and Jineen 3-4 times a week. There's also a daily train to/from Irkutsk in Russia.

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.

By car

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. Coming from the south (the Gobi) the paved road starts at Choir. Coming from the north-east the paved road starts at Bulgan [3].

By bus

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. Be forewarned!

Get Around

By taxi

Taxis are cheap, charging around T300-600 per kilometer (400 per km as of May 2009), but a foreigner will get overcharged easily. A ride from the airport to the citycenter should cost you no more than T7,000, but most drivers will try to charge you a minimum of T15,000. You may get a better and more reliable deal by seeking out older drivers in their own cars, rather than the official yellow cabs. 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."

  • Tip: carry a small memo of MNT amounts (500 MNT, 1000 MNT, 1500 MNT etc) and show them exactly what you are willing to pay before you get on.
  • The Safe Taxi Co., Room 412, Chononburt Building,Seoul St. (The red brick building 150m west of Grand Khaan Irish Pub), 98884555 (). A uniquely safe and reliable service, British and Australian owned and operated, contact in advance to become a member. Tourists are also welcome to use the Safe Taxi service: from hassle-free airport pickups/drop offs, a variety of excellent value day tours in and around UB as well as organized pub crawls and regular set-fare taxi services.  edit

By bus

Buses are regular and have a fixed charge of T300. Electric trolley-buses cost T200 but are slower and run fewer routes. Smaller buses (really just vans), called micro-bus, are equally accessible at T300-500. These have someone who hangs out the window at each stop shouting the name of the destination in rapid Mongolian. Fairly hard not to notice.

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 pick pockets on the buses, especially when the buses are packed.

By foot

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. But purchasing 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.

Gandan Khiid Monastery
Gandan Khiid Monastery

Note that most tourist sites have a separate camera/video fee (typically T5000-10000) in addition to the entrance fee.

  • 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 T3500.  edit
  • Choijin Lama Monastery, Ulaanbaatar, Chingeltrei district, Left of Central Library, [4]. 10.00am-17.00pm. Choijing Lama Temple Museum is a unique showcase of religious art and the history of Buddism in Mongolia. This museum is a gem of the historical and cultural and cultural heritage of the previous century. The significance of Choijing Lama temple ensures that we must seek to maintain it in its original form. This classic work of our masters of the 17,18 and 19 centuries has many masterpieces to show to our visitors from abroad. Mongolian architects erected the temple between 1904 and 1908 in honor of the influential Lama Lubsanhaidav who was declared main protector of religion nad state Oracle of Mongolia. In some senses choijing acted as a shaman: where he differed was in his representation of the states as opposed to individuals. He was the 8th Bogdo Khan`s brother and he was born in 1871 in Tibet. He invited special teachers from Tibet to train Choijing lama to become a state Choijing, who then made a vow to protect the religion of his teachers. The monastery was active until 1938. According to the degree 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. The works of the national clever masters of painting and sculpture are of great interest. 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 6000 pieces of coral. Yadam temple and Amgalan temple contain rare artifacts made by the famous Mongolian artist and sculptor, Zanabazar. In total our museum has over 5000 items out of which 12 are unique nad 200 are particularly valuable. Between 1995 and 2000 our museum has toured many countries including the USA, France. Japan, South Korea and Holland. We have displayed over 100 items. We separated from bogd Khan museum in January 2000 and we have been working independently from this time to develop the Choijing Lama temple. adult – 2500T.  edit
  • Natural History Museum, Ulaanbaatar. In the Behind of the Government house. 10AM-5.30PM, last admission 4.30PM. 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 milliard years of that is very long term 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 /mammals, birds, fishes, insects, reptiles, amphibious/ - Very ancient plant and animals /paleontology/ - Human origin Museum colleagues always enrich their treasures, exhibitions, renovate the exhibition halls and improve the museum settlement so that the museum became a big museum, which has the capable to attract foreign and domestic visitors. The museum is one of the big museum of Mongolia that has the 40 halls with 2700 square meters, 12000 exhibits and more than over 50 thousand visitors visit to the museum each year and exhibition marshrut lasts about 1.5-2.0 hours. The museum is studying and advertising museum, which introduces natural history, its appearance movements and developments to the audiences by theoretical and objects researching. Admission T2500.  edit
  • National History Museum, Ulaanbaatar. In the right of the Government house. 10AM-5:30PM, last admission 4:30PM. The Mongolian National Museum was first established in 1924 with the aim of introducing the history, culture, and natural environment of Mongolia to its visitors. From 1940 to 1941, the museum was known as the Museum of Local Research and then from 1956 to 1991 as the State Central Museum. The State Central Museum moved into its own building in 1956, with galleries relating to history, the natural environment, paleontology, and Mongolian art. In 1964, new exhibits of ethnography enriched the History Gallery. In May 1991, the State Committee of Culture and Art decided to improve the museums throughout the country. It established the National Museum of Mongolia History by merging the historical collections from the State Central Museum with the Museum of the Revolution which had been founded in 1971. The National Museum of Mongolian History is now located in the facility built for the Museum of the Revolution. The Memorial Museum of the Victims of Political Repression (also in Ulaanbaatar) is a branch museum of the National Museum of Mongolian History. The National Museum of Mongolian History is a cultural, scientific, and educational organization that presents Mongolian history and culture from the dawn of humanity to the present day. Admission T2500.  edit
  • Sükhbaatar 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 Kahn.  edit
  • Bogd Kahn Museum, Khan-Uul district, Chinggis avenue Bogdo khan palace museum Ulaanbaatar. This palace known as The green palace was built between 1893-1903 during 10 years by Mongolian masters and dedicated to the YIII Bogdo gegeen, the head of lamaist religion & last khan of Mongolia.In 1911 there was formed The Bogdo khan state and the YIII Bogdo gegeen assumed political authority over Mongolia as the Bogdo khan or "Holy King" and continued to govern as a constitutional monarch from the time of the Mongolian People's Revolution in 1921 until his dearth of illness in 1924. After Bogdo khan dearth in 1924 it was turned into museum Bogdo khan palace was founded as the first National historical museum of Mongolia. In 1954 was founded The state central museum and the Bogdo khan palace museum became the branch museum. Since 2000 the museum is activiting as Bogdo khan palace museum.Now the Bogd khan palace museum consists of seven Summer Prayer temples and the winter palace. The collections of the museum include unique and valuable objects related to Mongolia's political, religious, and artistic history from the 17 to early 20-th centuries: bronze castings, silk paintings, mineral paintings, and paper icons made by well-known artists and artisans of the period, among others the first Bogdo Javzundamba Zanabazar and his school; as well as objects owned and used by the YIII Bogdo 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 Bogdo 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 XIX-XX 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 T2500.  edit
  • Zaisan Memorial. A huge communist-era monument located on a hill near the city. It represents the Russian and Mongolian heroes who fought together during WWI and WWII. Nowadays it is a popular viewpoint where you can see over the whole city. There's also a huge buddhist statue at the bottom.  edit
  • International intellectual museum, Ulaanbaatar, Bayanzurkh district,in front of East Center, Mongolia.. From Monday-Saturday 10.00 am-18.00pm. 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-2000 tug, Children-500tug.  edit
Akshobhya by Zanabazar
Akshobhya by Zanabazar
  • The Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts, Ulaanbaatar, Chingeltrei district, Barilgachdin Square (Two blocks west of the Government House). 10-6. The collection includes items from the Stone Age to 20th C. Particularly interesting is the collection of Buddhist art beginning in the 17th Century. $3.  edit
  • UB City Guide, [5]. Provides a full-range of one-day tours in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Having lived overseas, the guides are fluent in both Mongolian and English can also relate the differences and similarities in culture, demographics, consumer behavior, political climate, and climate change impact in Mongolia.
  • Mongolian museums ,http://museum.pixel.mn
Naadam festival in July
Naadam festival in July
  • 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 from July 11th to 13th.
  • 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 am-18.00pm .. 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-2000 tug,.  edit
  • 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 or #33 bus from in front of the Bayangol Hotel going south. Go to the end of the line. The road continues south about 100 meters 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 meters 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 10km each way. USD3.   edit
  • Look around the Naran Tuul (AKA Black Market): you pay 50 MNT to get in but it is an interesting place and you can get great deals. They sell pets, souvenirs, cloth, shoes, socks, meat, fruits etc. Some people claim it is dangerous but outside of a few pick pockets (like in all large markets) it seemed quite safe.
  • Sky Resort, (13km from downtown UB, Go south to Zaisan, East along river, past the President's Residence), 976-11 320345, [6]. 8am - 11pm. 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. (47 52.676N,107 2.663E) edit
  • Mongolian - there are several language schools in the city.
  • 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.

Buy

UB has a host of souvenir shops aimed at Western and East Asian tourists. While the quality of the goods varies, the price is always high.

What

  • Traditional clothes, boots and hats, cashmere garments, jewelery, leather wall hangings, miniature gers, bow and arrow sets and paintings.

Where

  • Peace Avenue and the Circus area are the main shopping areas.
  • The 5th floor of the State Department Store has a section with souvenirs, but prices are higher than in some of the smaller stores.
  • The Naran Tuul (AKA Black Market), known to locals simply as zach (зах), is the place to haggle over cheap clothes, toys, swords or soviet propaganda pins. 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.

How to get cash

Tellers at the Golomt Bank can give up to USD500 per day cash advance on Mastercard and Visa.

The only ATM machine to accept 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. The machines in Golomt Bank branches are more reliable. Also on the 2nd floor of the State Department Store you can find on ATM accepting foreign cards. The more expensive shops take credit cards, but almost everywhere else runs strictly on cash. Note that most credit card companies will pass on the 3% "foreign currency conversion fee" to you.

There are many exchange offices in the center along Peace Avenue to change your currency into tugrugs. 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.

Eat

Nobody travels to Mongolia for the food, but Ulaanbaatar has a good range of Western, Asian and Mongolian options. No other city this side of Beijing has close to a comparable selection. Even better, meals here are quite reasonable. You can get perfectly reasonable pizza for $3, even a night out at a fancy French cafe shouldn't pass $20. 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.

Korean (solongos khoolnee gazar) and Chinese restaurants dominate the city. As Asian restaurants in America tend to tailor their menu to the Yankee palate, so in Ulaanbaatar do the East Asian restaurants tailor their menu to the Central Asian palate.

  • My Homemade Khushur, (On Peace Avenue near the State Department Store). Serves a favorite Mongolian dish, mutton fried in dough. One khushur is 150T, and three is a pretty adqueate meal.  edit
  • Stupa Cafe, (Across the street from the Zanbazar Fine Arts Museum in the center of the city). 10am to 8pm daily. Vegetarian dishes vary daily, coffee, tea and traditional Mongolian drinks, fresh cakes. lending library, Free Wifi. There is a large white stupa in the front yard. under $4.  edit
  • Cola and Kabab, (On the Southwest corner of the square in front of the Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum in the center of the city). 10am to 8pm 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 under $4.  edit
  • PYCCKOE bUCTRO UZbYWKA, (On the Northeast corner of the square in front of the Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum). 10am-8pm. Small Russian Restaurant,various dishes,Piroshki (small pies with meat or vegetarian filling) USD5.  edit
  • Subbaatar, (On the north side of Peace Ave. 1/3 block east of the State Department Store), [7]. Subway sandwiches and wraps under USD10.  edit
  • Most universities have a good cafeteria for cheap eats starting from 1800 MNT (1.2 USD) ~ 2500 MNT (1.7 MNT). Mongolian National Univeristy and Mongolian University of Science and Technology (both near the North East block from the Parliment Buidling) have good cafeterias. All university cafeterias have nutritionsits so at least you know you are getting all the basic nutrients when you eat here.
  • American Ger'll, (right across the Peace Bridge on the right). Best American-style, thick crust pizza in town. The large pizza will feed 5-6 people for about US$20. They also have an extensive foreign menu, including good coffee drinks. You should get there early, because this place is a favorite among Mongolians and expats alike.  edit
  • Chez Bernard, (On Peace Ave, 1/2 block east of the State Department Store). In the past this cafe was very popular with backpackers. It closed and another restaurant replaced it for about 6 months. Now back in operation  edit
  • City Cafe, (across the street from Sukhbaatar Square). Great food and location, wonderful staff, good prices. If you want tasty and healthy Malaysian/Chinese food, this is the place to go.  edit
  • California Restaurant, (on Seoul Street not far from the State Department store). Extensive foreign and Mongolian menu. Beautifully decorated, this is one of the best restaurants in town. It's a bit small, but in the summer there is additional outside seating. Reservations are advised.  edit
  • El Latino Restaurant-Cafe! (Cristo Camilo), (On Peace ave., on th eastern side of State Department Store), 976-11-311051/976-99282459, [8]. Daily 11AM-10PM. Mongolia's First Cuban-Latin American Restaurant-Cafe with a good selection of Latino and European style dishes including vegetarian food, fried bananas, Spanish omelettes and Huevos Rancheros, you can wash it down with expresso, wines and cocktails. $5-$7.  edit
  • Ko-hyang-shik-dang, (next to Metro Mall there is a BBQ chicken and facing that second restaurant on your left). Great Korean food. 6000 MNT ~ 7000 MNT.  edit
  • Millie's Espresso, (West side of the Choijin Lama Monastry), 330338. 8am-8pm. Good selection of American style cafe food with some vegetarian, excellent coffee, Free WiFi Closed on Sunday $10.  edit
  • Mongolian BBQ, (Sukhbaatar District, Seoul street – 9, in the right side of Ayanchin Outfitters). 12pm. The first US franchise restaurant and it offers a lively interactive and celebratory atmosphere. The food is cooked to a very high standard and works as an interactive buffet: diners select ingredients from an open buffet and give it to the grillers who cook it up on a Historical Mongolian Style grill and add a dash of one of the many, tasty chef’s own sauces. All ingredients are sourced locally and the menu reflects the franchise’s BD’s Mongolian Barbeque moniker. Its unlimited “Create Your Own Stir-fry”, features fresh vegetables, meats, sauces and spices.  edit
  • Nayra Cafe, 35-1 Tourist Street (2 blocks west of the Government House), 317098, [9]. 8am. Good pizza and sandwiches, good coffee, Free WiFi, Under $6.  edit
  • 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 40m north of the intersection.), [10]. 10-24. Co-located with the Chinggis Brewery, German style cooking and beer. Their own locally brewed light and dark beer on tap. UDS10.  edit
  • Hishig Mongol 2 (Khshig Mongol 2), 10th District, 46th Building (On Peace Ave, several km west of the Department store, near the 3rd hospital), 70180585. A very good Mongolian Restaurant, no foreign language menu or staff, if you want to experience mondern Mongolia cuisine this is the place. Roasted Sheep head, roasted ribs, buuz, dried meat soup. USD6 - 10.  edit
  • Budweiser Bar, (Across from the NW corner of Suhbaatar Square). Fish and chips, steak, English Breakfast USD6-10.  edit
  • Los Banditos. 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 $5-8 range.  edit
  • bd's Mongolian Barbeque, [11]. The only thing Mongolian in this restaurant is the name, but nevertheless the stir-frys are very tasty and the chefs in front of the grill put up a nice show.  edit
  • Sakura Restaurant - Located on the second floor of the Kempinski hotel is this authentic Japanese Restaurant. The meals are prepared by a Japanese chef. Highly appreciated by Japanese, also known as the best Japanese restaurant in town.

Drink

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 3500 tögrög ($3), other drinks such as vodka depend on measurements, for example a 100g Vodka costs about 4500 tögrög($4) 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 be closed after midnight, but some clubs run until 4 o'clock in the morning. 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, not a pleasant place to be.

  • Oasis Nightclub and Lounge, [12]. As the bar most frequented by expats, Located on Seoul street in the center of the city, it is by far the swankiest and coolest nightclub and lounge in Ulaanbaatar, featuring a Cuban influenced outside bar with enormous sofas and lounge areas as well as a wood fire pizza oven and an American grill. The interior has cosy VIP nooks, a beating dance floor and a large bar to serve exotic cocktails all night long.
  • Ikh Mongol is a cavernous club just south of the State Department Store. 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 for around T2000 a half-liter.
  • Metropolis is the most popular night club with young affluent Mongolians. Plan to pay between 5,000 and 7,000 cover to get it. The club is located adjacent to the Sky Shopping center, behind Chinggis Hotel.
  • Mass is the newest hotspot, located in the 3rd/4th microdistrict. Expect a younger crowd here with the doors usually closing well past 3am.
  • Strings is 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.

  • Brauhaus 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 T2,500.
  • Dublin Irish Pub
  • Grand Khaan Irish Pub
  • Hazara North Indian Restaurant, (behind the wrestling palace on the corner of Peace Street and Tokyo Street), 9919 5007. noon to 10 pm. English speaking staff, great "jewel korma." under $10.  edit

Sleep

Nowadays, budget accommodation in Ulaanbaatar tends to give the best deals for a traveller. Usually a bed in a clean dormitory costs about $5-10 and a double room should be under $30 a night. Good mid-range options are sparse. Note that during the annual Naadam festival it is almost impossible to get any kind of accommodation in UB without prior reservations.

It's possible to spend your night in a Ger, even in Ulaanbataar - here it's inside the rooftop Ger's of Gana's guesthouse
It's possible to spend your night in a Ger, even in Ulaanbataar - here it's inside the rooftop Ger's of Gana's guesthouse
  • Bolod's Guesthouse and Tours, (Across the street from the Central Post office and Sukhbaatar Square), 976-99192407 (), [13]. Ulaanbaatar's best located guesthouse is right in the middle of town. Cozy, high ceilinged rooms are clean and bright. Shower, laundry, kitchen, Internet. 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. Enter through gate across from post office. US$7/night.  edit
  • Gobi Tours & Guesthouse, (Right above Bolod's). On the floor above Bolod's there's also Gobi Guesthouse, which offers cozy, clean dormitories. If there aren't many guests they might also rent out the smaller dorm as a private room. As the name suggests you can arrange a Gobi desert tour here and the owner is usually happy to help you plan other trips as well. US$6/night.  edit
  • Ganas Ger, Gandan tuul 2-22, +976 1136 7343 (), [14]. This guesthouse stands out from the rest, with dorm beds in roomy Ger's 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 $5 in 6 bed Ger to $25 for a double in the newly build wing.  edit
  • Happy Guesthouse, (), [15]. 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.  edit
  • Idre's Guesthouse, Bayangol disrict 1, +976 99112575 (), [16]. Friendly family-run guesthouse with $4 dorm beds. Rooms are clean, staff are helpful, and tickets and tours can be arranged without hassle.  edit
  • Mandukhai Hotel, near State Department Store. checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. A nice inexpensive hotel located in UB city center. The hotel staff speaks little English but rooms are large and include TV. Bathrooms are shared. 20-25,000.  edit
  • Mongolian Resort's Guesthouse, Seoul Street, +976 9908 2757, [17]. They claim to be the coolest guest house in Mongolia. Their apartment rooms, located in buildings around the guesthouse come complete with a full individual bathroom, sitting room and bedrooms. Their lounge area is equipped with a television, a large collection of DVDs, and WiFi internet service to make your stay more convenient.  edit
  • Mr.Gomez Hostel, Ulaanbaatar 15160 (Just 200 meters (0.1miles) away across to the Railway Station (Free Transfer)), 97611311051, [18]. checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. Hostel with a friendly atmosphere and English, Spanish and Russian speaking staff. No curfew and a free English breakfast if it gets late. There is also free internet and Sat-tv for keeping up to date - and the owners can sort you out with onward train tickets and a host of tours to the countryside, including a tourist camp run by the same owner. US$ 8.00 bed/night-Twin room:US $ 20.00.  edit
  • Oasis Guesthouse, (Southeastern UB, near the Catholic Church), 976-11-463693 (, fax: 976-11-463693), [19]. 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.). Euro 10. (N47°54.706',E 106°58.857) edit
  • Petite Marmotte, Ikh Toiruu, Sukhbaatar district, Building #10, door entry #1, Floor #7, Flat #27/28, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, (00976) 70 11 03 02 (), [20]. Friendly atmosphere, dedicated English and French speaking staff, traditional decoration, well located, quiet. The boss used to be a chef and cooks sometimes for his guests. Arrange also all kinds of trips in the country. Bed dorm = 5 Euros; Double room = 15 Euros, family room = 25 Euros.  edit
  • UB Guesthouse. A clean, well-organized and centrally located hotel 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 received some criticism for being a bit impersonal. Dorms beds, $6; Single room, $10; Double room, $18.  edit
  • Youth Mongolia Guesthouse, (Near the circus), (), [21]. This smaller and nice guest house has a nice location in the center of the city. Close to the biggest foodmarket in Ulaanbaatar (25 meters away). Russian style building. Door no. 67, 1st floor 5th entrance, building 14-b.  edit
  • Zaya Guesthouse, Tserendorj Street Bld 63, App 10,11,12 (Just off Peace Ave), +976 11 331 575 (), [22]. Zaya has two locations in the city center, and both are in modern recently 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. US$20 for a single and US$27 for a double room. Free wireless internet in the rooms. Also organizes tours.  edit
  • Red Rose Hotel, [23]. 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.  edit

Splurge

A Hilton is under construction.

  • The Kempinski Hotel, Khan Place. At present the only international hotel chain operating in the city, and offering UB's highest quality accommodation and good restaurants. [24]. Reservations: reservations.ulaanbaatar@kempinski.com.
  • Ulaanbaatar Hotel, Sükhbaatar Square 14, +976 11 320 620 (), [25]. The centrally located Mongolia's first 5-star hotel is showing its age already.  edit
  • The corporate hotel, Chinngis avenue 9-2 (located 7 minutes walk south from Sukhbaatar square). High level of rooms, Sauna, Jacuzzi and free internet.  edit
  • 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. phone="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.bayangolhotel.mn/" checkin="" checkout="" price="">  edit
  • HS Khaan Resort Hotel, Khui doloon hudag, Argalant soum, +976-9908-8102, [26].  editAbout 45km northwest near by the famous Naadam Festival Place, about 50 min, or from the city by car. This is a “Ger” style resort, all romes are 120m2 with views over the steppes.
  • Internet cafes - there are many Internet cafes liberally scattered around the city and they cost around T400-800 per hour.
  • Mail - the central post office is located on the south west corner of Sukhbaatar Square, and 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.
  • 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 both prepaid GSM sim cards and handset rentals (Currently Mobicom) as well as extensive roaming options for your convenience.

Stay safe

UB has a high crime rate which explains all the steel bars and security guards in apartment buildings and larger stores. Pickpocketing is common and violent muggings are increasing so it is advisable to avoid walking alone after dark. Street lighting is unreliable and the city is frequented by drunks and stray dogs. Most sidewalks are not paved and so can be very muddy and slippery during a thaw or after rain. 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. 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.

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.

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 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).

Get out

For travellers on the Trans-Siberian Express route, tickets onwards to China or Russia can be purchased from the International Railway Ticketing Office (8AM-8PM), just outside the main station (ask inside for directions). Most tickets can be reserved a month in advance, but tickets for the main express trains between Moscow and Beijing (train numbers 3 and 4) go on sale 24 hours before departure. Travel agencies may be able to help you reserve them earlier. However, one needs a Russian visa - something which can be an "experience" to obtain.

You should hold off jumping on that train, if you are discouraged by the hustle and smog of Ulaan Bataar, all of Mongolia awaits. Drive an hour out of the capital and you're in deep in a land of herders, gers and bumpy dirt roads. Arrange a tour in any one of Ulaanbaatar's hundreds of tour operators, or brave local minibuses and hitchhiking to reach far flung destinations.

For less-adventurous or time-strapped travellers, the most popular one night excursion is to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, a nearby grassland park. Again, you can arrange a tour (around $30-40 a person)that will include transport, lodging and admission fees at dozens of places in Ulanbaatar. Other options include the nearby Tuul Rivers Nomad Sacred Valley, the river is one of the longest in the country, and the beautiful valley is sacred to the nomads and is often dotted with traditional Mongolian gers during the summer - and offers some picturesque sceneries. The Chinggis Ger camp [27] located 55 kilometers from UB (at GPS: N47°49.893', E107° 31.339') is a good option, if arranging your own accommodation seems a bit intimidating.

This is a guide article. It has a variety of good, quality information including hotels, restaurants, attractions, arrival and departure info. Plunge forward and help us make it a star!

Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Proper noun

Ulan Bator

  1. Variant of Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.

Simple English

[[File:|thumbnail|right|Panorama-View on Ulan Bator, June 2009]] Ulaanbaatar, or Ulan Bator, is the capital and largest city of Mongolia. The city is an independent municipality not part of any province, and its population as of 2008 is just over 1 million. Located in the north central part of the country, the city lies at an elevation of about 1310 m in a valley on the Tuul River. The city is the bigger point in the country for culture, industry and finance. Ulan Bator is connected by highway to all the major towns in Mongolia and by rail to the Trans-Siberian Railway and Chinese railroad network. The city was founded in 1639 as a Buddhist monastery center and, in the 20th century, grew into a major manufacturing center.

Contents

Names

Ulan Bator has had numerous names in its history. From 1639–1706, it was known as Örgöö (Mongolian: Өргөө, residence), and from 1706–1911 as Ikh Khüree (Mongolian: Их = "great", Хүрээ = "camp"), Da Khüree or simply Khüree. Upon independence in 1911,the city's name changed to Niislel Khüree (Mongolian: Нийслэл = "capital", Хүрээ = "camp"). When the city became the capital of the new Mongolian People's Republic in 1924, its name was changed to Ulaanbaatar , literally "red hero", in honour of Mongolia's national hero Damdin Sükhbaatar, that liberated Mongolia from Ungern von Sternberg's troops and Chinese occupation with the Soviet Red Army. In Europe and North America, Ulan Bator was generally known as Urga (from Örgöö) or sometimes Kuren (from Khüree) or Kulun (from 庫倫, the Chinese transcription of Khüree) before 1924.

Geography

Ulan Bator is located at about 1350 meters (4430 ft) above sea level. For this high elevation, and for the high latitude, and location hundreds of kilometres from any coast, Ulan Bator is the coldest national capital in the world, with a subarctic climate.

History

Most important events:

File:Ulan-Bator Parliament Building Sükhbaatar
Parliament building, Sükhbaatar Square, August 2007

- 1639: The city was Founded.

- 1778: the city settled for good at its current location, near the confluence of the Selbe and Tuul rivers and beneath Bogd Khan Uul, back then also on the caravan route from Beijing to Kyakhta.

- 1911: Mongolian leaders in Ikh Khüree for Naadam met in secret and resolved upon independence from China for their country. On December 29, 1911, the Bogd Khan was declared ruler of an independent Mongolia.

- 1919: the city was occupied by Chinese troops

- 1921: the city has been controlled first by Baron Ungern's Whites Soldateska, and in July to the Soviet-supported Mongolian troops controlled by Sükhbaatar.

- October 29, 1924: the town was renamed to Ulaanbaatar ("red hero") in honour of Sükhbaatar.

- 1956: The Transmongolian Railway, connecting Ulan Bator with Moscow and Beijing, was completed.

- Many of the temples and monasteries of pre-socialist were destroyed following the anti-religious purges of the late 1930s.

- After the growth of 1990 many buildings as, cinemas, shops were built.

- 2008, Ulaanbaatar was the scene of riots after the opposition Mongolian Democratic Party protested its defeat by the MPRP in parliamentary elections.

Administration and subdivisions

Ulan Bator is divided into nine districts (Düüregs): Baganuur, Bagakhangai, Bayangol, Bayanzürkh, Chingeltei, Khan Uul, Nalaikh, Songino Khairkhan, and Sükhbaatar. Each district is subdivided into Khoroos. The capital is governed by a city council (the Citizen's Representatives Hural) with forty members, elected every four years. The city council appoints the mayor. Ulan Bator is governed as an independent first-level subdivision of Mongolia, separate from Töv Aimag, the province that surrounds Ulan Bator.

Education

Ulan Bator has five major universities:

  • National University of Mongolia
  • Science and Technological University of Mongolia
  • University of Health and Medical Science
  • Pedagogical University
  • University of Art and Culture.

And a big library, The National Library of Mongolia.

Important places

File:Gandantegchinlen Khiid
Gandantegchinlen Khiid Monastery

Most important places in Ulaanbaatar:

  • The Choijin Lama Monastery, a Buddhist monastery that was completed in 1908. It escaped the destruction of Mongolian monasteries when it was turned into a museum in 1942.
  • The Gandantegchinlen Khiid Monastery, which dates to the 19th century. Its most famous attraction is a 26.5-meter-high golden statue of Migjid Janraisig.

Choijin Lama Monastery and Gandantegchinlen Khiid Monastery are two of the very few in Mongolia to escape the destruction of Mongolian monasteries under Khorloogiin Choibalsan.

Ulaanbaatar has several museums dedicated to Mongolian history and culture.

  • The Natural History Museum features many dinosaur fossils and meteorites found in Mongolia.
  • The National Museum of Mongolian History.
  • The Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts contains a large collection of Mongolian art, including works of the 17th century sculptor/artist Zanabazar, as well as Mongolia's most famous painting, One Day In Mongolia by B. Sharav.
  • The Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan remains as a museum of the last king of Mongolia (1911-1924).
  • The Ulaanbaatar Opera House hosts concerts and musical performances.
  • Sükhbaatar Square, in the government district, is the center of Ulaanbaatar. In the middle of Sükhbaatar Square, there is a statue of Damdin Sükhbaatar on horseback.
  • The Zaisan Memorial, a memorial to Russian soldiers killed in World War II, sits on a hill south of the city.
  • National Sports Stadium is the main sporting venue. The Naadam festival is held here every July.
  • The Gorkhi-Terelj National Park.

Symbols

File:Ulanbator-Straß
Traffic in Ulan Bator

The official symbol of Ulan Bator is the garuḍa, a mythical bird in both Buddhist and Hindu mythology called Khan Garuda or Khangar'd by Mongols.

Flag

The city’s flag is sky blue with the garuḍa arms in the center.

Sister cities

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