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Nomadic and Nature Travel Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar City


          All travel to the birthplace of steppe nomads starts in Ulaanbaatar. Originally called Urguu it was founded 375 years ago on the shores of Shireet lake in Central Mongolia. Since then the city has moved several times before settling where it is today. The city, nicknamed UB, will surprise you when you compare it with those settled thousands of years ago. However, once you learn about the nomadic lifestyle and culture of Mongols, you will have a better understanding of these surprises. This is the hospitable and friendly city of Ulaanbaatar, capital of authentic nomads.

         Ulaanbaatar is a rapidly developing, fast changing city with an exciting folk, classical and modern cultural life. Theaters, museums, galleries, shops, clubs, parks are favorite places for the city’s guests and youth, and the cuisine choices will remind you that Ulaanbaatar is a truly an intersection of East and West.

Hold the city in your hands

          The reason why gers, invented centuries ago for nomadic living, are still used when households have settled in an urban environment, is to save on the cost of living. Also, many Mongolians prefer to live in a felt ger – even if only for the summer months. Many families in ger districts have not only gers, but also wooden houses. The minimum size of a lot in the city is 0.7 hectares.  Intergenerational family household is a common portray of Mongolia. If you climb any mountain surrounding the city, you will see the city as if in the palms of your hands.


          Ulaanbaatar is a historic place. The Tuul River’s willow forests was famously mentioned several times in the Secret History of the Mongols, the 13th century account of Mongol history, and it was said that a young Temuujin (later Chinggis Khan) visited this area to ask for his first military assistance from Van Khan Tooril when his wife Borte was kidnapped by the Mergid tribesmen. A remain of what may be Van Khan Tooril’s palace is located in Khan-Uul district of Ulaanbaatar and has not yet been fully studied.
          Ulaanbaatar was historically a nomadic city and home of Mongolia’s last religious and state ruler, Bogd Khaan Javzundamba. Until it was named Ulaanbaatar, it went by many different names through an interesting history of which you can learn from the Ulaanbaatar City Museum and Bogd Khaan Palace Museum and Bogd’sKhaan’s brother- Chojin Lama Museum.

The last standing city monastery – GANDAN

          Ulaanbaatar has changed continuously since its establishment in the Tuul river valley. This was not only due to natural evolution, but political ideology. The only religious site that survived the purges was Gandantegchinlen monastery. The monastery never went silent. Monks prayers, bells, and religious drums could be heard even during the time when religion was banned. It is now home to an 26.5 meter high statue of Megjid Janraisag Boddhisatva. The statue was created twice, as it was destroyed by communists in 1911. Its daily religious activities can be observed. There are, as well, as many other Buddhist, Shamanist and religious and worship ceremonies conducted in the city. Today, as always in Mongolia’s history, religious tolerance is practiced.

Khui Doloon Khudag – NAADAM

          A visitor who comes for a few days of business can still find plenty of countryside experience right outside Ulaanbaatar. The horse race area of Ulaanbaatar is a nomadic open space called Khui Doloon Khudag. During the naadam days, this empty steppe turns into a lively thriving tent-city where thousands of horsemen and horse-boys become the center of attention. The temporary city will have all the necessary services and cultural shows for the naadam viewers’ needs, but it will disappear before your eyes as soon as the naadam days end. Like a magic, the Khui Doloon Khudag will again become open grassland. This is the nomadic feature of Ulaanbaatar. And Khui Doloon Khudag is open for anyone to organize festivals and events. The Mongol Naadam Company of Ulaanbaatar city manages this open space.

The nearest BEAUTY

          Other countryside experiences are found in 20-50 kilometers radius outside Ulaanbaatar. The most famous places are Gorhi-Terelj National Park area (plenty of tourism camps and attractions there), Manzushir monastery, and tour camps in the west, north and south-west directions of the city that are reach-able in less than 2 hours.

          A famous day-tour out of Ulaanbaatar is a visit to the giant Chinggis Khan monument. The local name of the area is TsonjinBoldog, and this steel monument of the mounted Khan is frequently featured in news about Mongolia. It takes 8-10 hours to visit the Statue and come back to a downtown hotel. And that includes a visit to the impressive museum at the base of the monument.