Sukhbaatar Square has a number of monuments--Dimdin Sukhbaatar, a leader for independence for whom the square was named, along with Chingghis Khan and some of his generals. The parliament is on one side of the square, as is the opera house.
The square was festive and fun—some people were singing, and kids in pedal cars were racing around while their parents tried to keep them from running over anyone.
Naadam is Mongolia’s “4th of July” and it is a huge 3-day event in Ulaanbaatar. If you are here in mid-July, it is a "must-see." The opening ceremony was very colorful and full of happy people, and I really enjoyed it. It lasts several hours. (My travelogue has more photos.)
The games begin after the opening ceremony. The 3 “men’s games” are archery, wrestling and horseracing. (Women can now compete in archery and racing, but not wrestling.) We had tickets to a horse race in addition to the opening ceremonies. The race itself wasn’t all that exciting—we spent part of the afternoon just waiting for anyone to finish—but everything going on around it was interesting. These races don’t take place on a track—the horses run cross-country for 10 miles or more, and the riders are children (ages 5-13.) There may be hundreds of horses in a race.
Ticket to opening ceremonies-$25 U.S. (worth it!) To horse race - $10
Terelj National Park is about 50 miles NE of Ulaanbaatar. The park is very scenic, with a river winding through it, and lots of rock formations. People who stay overnight can rent gers to stay in. We saw yaks there. Available activities include fishing, hiking, horseback riding, etc.
Just before we reached the park, we passed a sign for the Chinggis Khan Country Club and golf course! (So I guess you could golf too.)
The monastery was founded in 1838. It was damaged in Stalin’s time, but the main temple wasn’t destroyed. The huge Buddha statue in the main temple is only about 15 years old, because the previous one was taken to Russia and melted down for war materials. The new one is copper and bronze, and almost reaches the high ceiling. There are prayer wheels near the door, and the other 3 walls are filled with shelves of little Buddhas.
It is a large complex, with multiple temples, housing, shrines, etc.
Photos inside temples are frowned on.
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Located in the city centre and easy to find is this vast Square known locally as The Subaatar Square.
Sitting and looking over all that walk here is the foreboding and huge figure of Genghis Khan and on either side of him are two mounted warriors for his safe keeping.What an imposing figure that he must have been at the peek of his historical life..This is a huge area and was I am told used by the Soviets a lot for military parades.
Located very near to where I was staying I decided that I would visit the The Mongolian Museum of Natural History. I definately wantedto improve my knowledge of the Mongolians people and their culture...I must confess that apart from reading up on the capital and my accomodation I had little idea of the History of this country at all.I arrived just after an extremely cold winter and the country suffered badly with very heavy stock losses that created local food shortages that were very noticeable. I wanted to learn much more about this interesting country.
There is a large display of old Mongolian life over the years with a large display of horsemans items including various saddles and riding items, various weapons and even a full sized "yurt" which is set out inside for everyday living.There are many items and historical artifacts on display here from precious stones to the Yurt..
I was quite surprised when I came across this big Irish pub while out walking around the city...I decided that I would have a look inside as this is the last sort of pub I expected here..so after a peep at the Menu I decided to have something to eat and also have a local beer..well the food was good and so was the beer...as usuall everyone outside were busy with the ongoing job of cleaning sand and dust from everywhere and also the windows were being cleaned..The staff were friendly and spoke english.The interior reminded me of not so much a pub but a Hard Rock Cafe with so much in the way of Musical Instruments and various other music memorablia...This Pub is worth a look when your in Ulanbataar.and the beer was cold also..
The Centre of Mongolian Buddhists is the "Gandantegchenling Monastery" located not far from the centre of the city. Originally located in the very centre of Ulanbataar the monastery was moved to its present location in1838 This Monastery would be the most popular of places to visit when in Ulaanbatar.I walked here from the city centre and although a long walk not overwhelming as the hills to the Monastery are not very steep..While walking it is easy to see the huge variation in buildings and architecture that make up Ulaanbatar.The dryness and the dust and sand from the winds that blow into Ulanbataar from over the Gobi Desert permeate everything.
Upon entry into the compplex you will find many buildings with various significance The main building the Migjed Janraisig built in 1911 is quite large and the interior holds A huge buddist statue that stands nearly 27 meters tall is made from copper and is plated with gold..The original statue was destroyed in 1938 by the communists along with around 900 monasteries buildings and temples while they supressed the religionand jailed or killed the monks.
The exhibits here about Mongolia's flora and fauna are exquisite and very comprehensive. There are many history and geography lessons to be learnt in this museum as well. I discovered quite a few things here in this museum.
The most impressive display must be the complete dinosaur skeletons found in the Gobi Desert - the meat-eating Tarbosaurus, 15m tall and weighing 5 tons and the plant-eating Saurolophus, 8m tall.
The museum is old and a little dingy but it has that old museum smell and atmosphere. Very nice.
The museum contains very interesting exhibits of, what else, Mongolian History.
The ground floor displays the cultural items related to Mongolia, the ger, farming implements, horse saddles, musical instruments, items related to Buddhism.
The second floor is wonderful. It contains the traditional costumes and head-gears from the various minority groups of Mongolia. All very interesting.
The third floor is, to me, a little boring, mainly historical photos, documents, etc...
Better to spend more time at the first two floors at the visual displays.
The Bogd Khaan Palace Museum, located 30 minutes walk from the centre of Ulaanbaatar, comprises of two parts: The temple area with some temples and pagodas - and the winter residence/palace of the last Bogd Khaan of Mongolia (named Javzandamba), who lived there for 20 years.
The palace compound was built between 1893 and 1903, but was nearly destroyed during the communist campaign in the 1930s. Bogd Khaan had three other palaces – and they were all destroyed – but for unknown reason, the winter palace was spared.
The place is now a museum and we went through the exhibitions. There were a huge collection of gifts from foreign visitors - and a even bigger collection of some of the private belongings of Bogd Khaan and his wife. We also visited some of the temple buildings and saw a collection of Buddhist arts. IMO the old buildings were the most interesting...
If you want to take photos in the museum you must pay an extra fee.
The Natural History Museum is the oldest public museum in Mongolia - established in 1924. The museum is large and contains exhibits about geology, geography, flora, fauna, palaeontology, and anthropology.
There is a large section with stuffed animals, birds and fish – but the most impressive and interesting are the two (nearly?) complete dinosaur skeletons found in the Gobi Desert. It is not every day you see a 15-meter long carnivorous Tarbosaurus or an 8-meter long Saurolophus… Quite interesting…
If you want to take photos in the museum you must pay an extra fee.
Gandantegchinlen Khiid (short name: Gandan) is Mongolia's largest and most important monastery. It is a Tibetan-style monastery and the Tibetan name means "Great Place of Complete Joy".
The construction of the monastery began in 1830s, but it was nearly destroyed during the communist campaign in the 1930s. Hundreds of monasteries throughout Mongolia were destroyed, and monks were killed or imprisoned. Temples were also destroyed here at Gandan - and other temples and buildings were used to house Russian officials - or as stables for their horses! In 1944 the monastery was, however, reopened, but under the strict supervision of the Communist government. After the democratic revolution in 1990, Gandan has been restored and revitalized - and there are currently about 150 active monks in the beautiful monastery.
IMO the most beautiful temple is Migjed Janraisig, which is honouring Janraisig (the Bodhisattva of Compassion). There used to be an old statue of Migjed Janraisig inside the temple, but it was also destroyed by the communists in the 1930s. The statue is now replaced by a new one, completed in 1996, made of copper, gilded in gold, and stands impressive 26.5 metres.
A must see in Ulaanbaatar.
The Terelj National Park has two famous rock formations named for the things they look like: The Turtle Rock (Melkhii Khad) and the Old Man Reading a Book (Praying Lama Rock).
It's easy to see why the Turtle Rock is called the Turtle Rock, but you have to look a little closer to see the old man reading a book...
It's possible to climb the Turtle Rock, but we didn't do it.