State Department Store: European style supermarket and souvenirs
The State Departement Store is situated on Peace Avenue. You cannot miss it. On the ground floor you find a supermarket in the back which sells even Swiss chocolate. I found the desparately needed body milk there because the air in Mongolia is exremely dry.
On the top floor you find all the locally produced souvenirs and also batteries. Among the wide range of souvenirs you are bound to find something that catches your eye and the prices are fixed.
Somewhere on another floor there is quite a good little music shop where you can find CDs and DVDs from Mongolian artists.
BTW, the State Department Store has nothing to do with the state anymore. It's a left-over from the Soviet time.
"Black" market: Everything you want
The so called black market is located outside the city center. Nowadays it's called: Naran Tuul khudaldaany Tov.
I was driven there because I needed to buy a jacket as the temperature was getting rather fresh. I was amazed to see how big this market is. I've only seen a fraction of it. I bought simply an inbetween season jacket with a zip off hood for an amazing 7 Euro. Everything is imported from nearby China. I was even able to find a money belt there which was a rather tough search and it was made for a slim person. There are no food items here.
I was told that there are many pickpockets in this market and that you shouldn't even take your moneybelt with you. I wasn't actually aware that this market is more dangerous than lots of other markets I visited on my travels. Obviously, it's not recommended to point your camera around therefore I only took a picture of the main entrance. Especially on weekends the market is extremely crowded.
There is a small entrance fee. The market is apparently closed on Tuesdays.
Various stalls: Buying fruit
All over UB you will see street stalls which sell fresh fruit. You can watch that the locals often buy just one banana or one apple. It all comes from China. I also bought fruit that way. Street kiosks also sell drinks like mineral water, my favourite multivitamin etc.
State Department Store has everything
If you are confused where to buy things, at State Department Store you'll see money exchage center, food and daily cosmetics and books on first floor. All the way up to the 4th flour (sorry, no elevator) there are electronics, clothes, eyewear, home accessories, phone cards, souvenirs etc.
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Naran Tuul: Flea Market
Located in the Bayanzurkh district of Ulaanbaatar, you'll find the Naran Tuul market (also known as the Black market). It's a GIANT market (mostly a flea market), and you can buy all sort of goods there.
We took a taxi from the centre of Ulaanbaatar to the market, and we only paid a few tögrök for the ride. When going back you'll find a long line of taxi's just outside the market.
I have read that foreigners visiting the Naran Tuul market often are the target of theft, but we had no problems at all.
Value Furniture: Significantly cheaper furniture store
Not really something tourists would be interested in, but it might be helpful to folks who are staying in Ulaanbaatar for more than a few weeks such as seasonal workers related to the mining industry. Generally, furniture selection is poor and it is very expensive in Mongolia, perhaps because of high transportation costs to this vast and land locked country. For decent quality Ikea style stuff, check out Value Furniture, just west of the above mentioned State Department Store. They have by far the most reasonable prices and carry very practical items. They even have a website www.valuefurniture.mn
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State Shopping Centre
The State Shopping Centre located along Peace Avenue is the biggest shopping centre in Ulaanbaatar with a supermarket, departmental store and souvenir shops on the top floor. There is a large variety of Mongolian souvenirs to choose from, and you can either pay by US dollars or the Mongolian Togrog currency (there are money changers conveniently located at every floor)
Mongolia is famous for its cashmere products, including clothings. They are much cheaper than in other countries and I saw many people buying them, especially those living in temperate countries. One of the famous brand of cashmere products in Mongolia is the Gobi brand and they have a shop in their factory. However, you can buy them in departmental stores and at the Ulaanbaata airport as well.
ULAAN BAATOR : BLACK CENTRAL MARKET
This is an open-air gigantic market located quite some distance from the city centre. Best to get there by taxi.
A small fee is collected upon entrance. The open-air market has canvas shelters in some areas.
Every trashy and kitsch thing that remotely has a chance of being sold is being sold here. There are some food stalls outside the covered area.
Personally, I enjoyed visiting this market to see the activities and mock the merchandises.
However, WATCH OUT FOR PICKPOCKETS called ALI-BABAS!! They usually carry a sweater or jacket on their arm or fling one across their shoulder so that it is easier to hide the stolen wallets. They know about money-belts and will blatantly poke you in the back to test for them!
ULAAN BAATOR : STATE DEPARTMENT STORE
This is a HUGE and very modern Department Store-cum-Supermarket.
Considering the fact that you are in Mongolia, a very REMOTE country, this place is actually quite well-stocked.
Everything, if you are not too demanding, seems to be available in the ground-floor supermarket floor and upper-floor department stores. Good to stock up on groceries to cook at your guesthouse or go camping.
There is no lack of Internet Cafes in Ulaanbataar. Take a walk through the city centre and you will see 10-20 of them. The prices are almost the same. We found a good one just east of Sühbaatar square (one block to the east, dont remeber the address).
State Department Store: Tourist attraction in its own right
Known as ikh delguur or 'big shop', the State Department Store is virtually a tourist attraction in itself, with the best products from around the city squeezed into one building. The 1st floor has a good supermarket at the back and the rest of the floor is taken up by perfume counters. The 2nd floor has outlets for clothing, cashmere and leather goods. The 3rd floor has electronics, a Mobicom shop, CDs, books, sports equipment, camping and fishing gear. The 5th floor has a great collection of souvenirs, traditional clothing, maps and books about Mongolia. Souvenir prices are higher than in other shops around the city. This shop is a must visit even if you're not planning on doing any shopping. Simply come in and look around.
Mega Hi-Fi Store: CD's/DVD's
If you're after music then look no further than here. This fairly large place on Seoul Street stocks Mongolian pop and rock, traditional Mongolian music as well as western music CD's and DVD's. There is also a selection of Russian MP3 CD's where you can buy an artist’s entire back catalogue on a single CD.
Naran Tuul Market: Anything and everything
Naran Tuul Market, east of the city centre, is also known as the Black Market (Khar Zakh), but it's not the sort of place where you go to change money illegally and smuggle goods - though this certainly happens. The market is huge, one of the biggest in Asia and in summer up to 60,000 people a day squeeze inside. An undercover area has a decent selection of clothes, such as bags, leather boots and fake North Face jackets. This is also one of the cheapest places to get traditional Mongolian clothes. Towards the back of the market you'll find saddles, riding tack and all the ingredients needed to build your own ger such as all the orange furniture and cooking stoves that you find in them. Also for purchase are souvenirs, houseware and household items, DIY tools power tools and such like, beds, sofas, and other furniture. There is an inside area where you find toiletries, food and meat butchers. The market is notorious for pickpockets and bag slashers so don't bring anything you don't want to lose. Don't carry anything on your back, and strap your money belt to your body inside your clothes. I don't think the market is open on Monday's. It also costs a whole Tug50 for the entrance fee.
State Department Store: Whatever you want or need
Even if you're in town for a couple of days you'll most likely find yourself stopping here a couple of times. Definitely one of the priciest places to shop, it's one of the closest places you'll see to an American style shopping mall. It occupies several floors. Mongolian souveniers are generally found on the 5th floor. It's also a great place to stock up on backpacking and camping gear. They have a Columbia and North Face store, among others.
What to buy: Mongolian souveniers and Chinggis Vodka
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