Inner Circle

Ulaanbaatar Rising

Anu Harchu takes us on a tour of her hometown, where going on a Mongolian adventure doesn’t just involve blue sky and horses.

Ulaanbaatar Rising
For visitors who are short on time but still want to see Mongolia’s wild side during their trip, I would suggest visiting Terelj National Park.

You might know Ulaanbaatar as the coldest capital city in the world, but you’d be surprised how lush and warm it gets between late spring and early autumn. This is when Ulaanbaatar and most of Mongolia comes out of hibernation. As harsh weather makes way for Mongolia’s balmy summer, the streets and steppes celebrate with blooming flowers. 

Ulaanbaatar (UB for short) is your perfect place to destress and relax from the buzzing madness of metropolises around the world. Here you won’t see honking cars on the roads running along tightly packed streets. There aren’t many skyscrapers obstructing the view of the Eternal Blue Sky (or Munkh Khukh Tenger, as Mongolians would say) either. But it is by no means an undeveloped city, as you can see from the luxurious Shangri-La hotel and branded stores. 

Places to see

If you’re staying at Shangri-La Hotel, Ulaanbaatar, most of the sightseeing spots are on your door step. The Choijin Lama Temple Museum, located just two minutes away, is a seemingly timeless landmark dedicated to a prominent religious and political figure of the same name. The Government House on Sukhbaatar Square, the heart of the nation and one of the only two actual square-shaped central squares in the world, is only nine minutes away on foot.

Visiting the Bogd Khan Winter Palace might prove to be the biggest royal experience you would have in the city. The winter dwelling of the last emperor of Mongolia is the very first European style building in Ulaanbaatar and if you look closely at the roof, traces of Asian influence are detectable on its architecture. From his sleeping quarters to his collection of wild animal trophies, you’d get a glimpse of how royalties in Mongolia lived even during the oppression era.

For visitors who are short on time but still want to see Mongolia’s wild side during their trip, I would suggest visiting Terelj National Park, which is 65 kilometres or an hour’s journey from the city centre. You can ride the infamous Mongolian horses that were instrumental to the Mongolian Empire’s conquests in the 12th century, or try your hand at using a Mongol bow which had a longer shooting range as compared to its European counterparts.

Dining

As the halfway point between Europe and Asia, Mongolia is a representation of how cultures fuse into each other and the local cuisine is a fine example of this. You can find selections of Asian and Eastern European dishes in Ulaanbaatar.

  • Hutong on the third floor of Shangri-La Hotel, Ulaanbaatar is renowned for its delicious Peking duck (said to be better than the ones you can have in Beijing), which is cooked in a special oven - the only one in Mongolia.
  • For a taste of authentic Mongolian cuisine, just visit the Naadam Bar & Restaurant located on the second floor of the hotel for huushuur and buuz. Especially with Naadam, the Mongolian summer festival, coming up, the restaurant will have something specially prepared for guests.
  • If you’re craving Continental cuisine, head to Square Restaurant located on the third floor of Central Tower, just on the left side of Sukhbaatar Square.

Seoul Street is one of the best places to go if you want to mingle with the locals - shops, restaurants and open air pubs adorn this area, and are especially popular in summertime. Dubbed “The Oxford Street of UB”, Seoul Street is minutes from the hotel and where the residences of Mongolian Soviet leaders used to be. Today these mansions are used for state functions.

The biggest reason to travel to Mongolia during summer is Naadam, a countrywide festival that takes place between 11 and 15 July every year. It is a sight to see if you are in town for the event. The opening ceremony changes every year to showcase performances by artists in beautifully made Mongolian dresses - deel. Tickets to the festival can be obtained through the hotel concierge if you book ahead.

 Book a two-night stay at Shangri-La Hotel, Ulaanbaatar from just 3,500 GC Award Points per night Back to Destination 

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