VISIT THE VAST GENGHIS KAHAN SQUARE
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.
- Historical Travel
VISIT THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM OF MONGOLIA
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..
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
VISIT THE GRAND KHAAN IRISH PUB
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..
- Beer Tasting
- Food and Dining
VISIT THE GANDANTEGCHENLING MONASTERY
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.
- Arts and Culture
ULAAN BAATOR : MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
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.
ULAAN BAATOR :NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MONGOLIAN HISTORY
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.
State Department Store is the place to go. we only hit a couple floors. Now I'm not a huge fan of cheesy souvenir type places or malls for that matter. However, I did like the souvenir floor and cashmere floor. There are a few silly souvenir's on the souvenir floor but there are many practical items instead of just cheapy figurines and whatnot. I purchased wool slippers and a fur (fake fur PETA people) hat plus some shirts. All cost about $35 U.S. On to the cashmere floor. I bought 3 pairs of gloves for $10 U.S. a piece and a scarf. My boyfriend bought a glove and scarf set for his mom and a hat for himself. All cost about $50 U.S. The store was easily maneuverable and the staff was helpful.
Unlike virtually all other former Soviet Republics or Soviet Satellite countries I've been to, Mongolia actually seems to embrace the Soviet area as a positive one in their history. I can understand why, and the Soviet Union financially invested heavily in Mongolia and helped them towards independence. All over Mongolia I saw Communist era monuments which, if were in Europe, would have been torn down the instant Communism disappeared.
This statue of Lenin, with the exception of a handwriting all over it, is in pretty good condition and sits just about 1 to 2 blocks east of Sukhbaatar Square and right on Peace Avenue. right in front of the Ulaanbaatar Hotel.
The Zaisan Memorial is a hilltop memorial south of UB that honors Soviet soldiers killed in World War II. It is a typical Communist era memorial and features a circular painting that depicts scenes of cooperation between the Soviet Unoin and Mongolia.
After driving up the hill to a parking lot you then need to walk up about 300 stairs up to the monument and mural. This is definitely a must-see because you can see the entire city from here, and is a spectacular view either day or night.
The Gandantegchinlen Khiid Monastery, commonly known as Gandan Monastery, is a Tibetan-style monastery that was spared the destruction that many other monasteries met with during the Communist era. It was built in the 1830's and is one of the main must-see tourist attractions in Ulaanbaatar.
The main feature is the 27 meters tall buddhist statue in the main temple. Beware of the elderly minders at the front door that strictly enforce the rules of paying $5US to take pictures of the statue and $10US to video it. (Interesting-I thought it was sacriligious to take pictures of Buddhist Statues?) Throughout the complex there are chanting halls where you can listen to the religious chanting, prayer wheels, etc.
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
This is easily the most recognizable tourist attraction in all of Ulaanbaatar. Sukhbaatar Square of a large public area that is supposidly larger than Moscow's Red Square and is cordoned in by older Soviet-like buildings and skyscrapers that are beginning to go up. Mountains rise in the distance in all directions. Personally, I think the skyscrapers are an awful idea but are probably being built up by Japanese or South korean firms who could give a monkey's ass about the scenery in a country that isn't theres.
The Parliament building is such a sad deal. They've recently renovated it, got rid of the communist masoleum that previously sat out front, and replaced it with a statue of Genghis Khan (which oddly resembles the Lincoln Memorial Statue) that soldiers guard and will not let you walk up to. Sukhbaatar's statue, which is the focal point of the entire square is surrounded by cobblestones with weeds growing through and patches of dirt where I'm assuming grass once grew.
A great place nonetheless to watch Mongolian life go by.
The biggest event of the Mongolian year for foreigners and locals alike is the Naadam Festival held in during three days in July. Part family reunion, part fair and part nomad Olympics, Naadam (meaning 'holiday' or 'festival') has its roots in the nomad assemblies and hunting extravaganzas of the Mongol armies. The communists renamed the festival People's Revolution Day and fixed it to July 11th to 13th, on the anniversary of the Mongolian Revolution of 1921 and this festival still takes place between these dates today.
Wrestling, archery and horse racing are held during the first and second days. Day one of the Naadam Festival (July 11th) starts at about 9am with a fantastic, colourful ceremony outside the State Parliament House at Sukhbaatar Square. Chinggis Khaan's nine yak tails, representing the nine tribes of the Mongols, are ceremonially transported from Sukhbaatar Square to Naadam Stadium to open the festivities. The opening ceremony, which starts at about 11am at the Naadam Stadium, includes an impressive march of monks and athletes, plenty of music and even parachute displays. The closing ceremony, with more marches and dancing, is held at about 7pm on the second day, but the exact time depends on when the wrestling finishes.
Naadam is properly known as Eriyn Gurvan Naadam, after the three 'manly' sports of wrestling, archery and horse racing (though women participate in the first two events). The first round of the wrestling, which starts at about noon on day one in the main stadium, is the more interesting and photogenic. Archery is held in an open stadium next to the main stadium. The judges, who raise their arms and utter a traditional cry to indicate the quality of the shot are often more entertaining than the archery itself. The horse racing is held at the village of Yarmag, about 10km along the main road to the airport - it is very easy to spot. You should be able to pick up tickets for each day fairly easily by going to a tour company - I went to mine called Black Ibex who got me 2 tickets (one for the morning and one for the afternoon on day 2) that cost a total of T7,000.
Mongolian National Stadium
This is the National Stadium in Mongolia and is used mostly for football matches but is most famous for being the location where the annual Naadam Festival is held in July. It has a seating capacity of 20,000.
Bogd Khaan Winter Palace - The Green Lavrin Temple
The Green Lavrin Temple, the main temple of the complex, was used during the summer by the 8th Bogd Khaan as a meditation retreat. It now hosts Zanabazar’s thirty-inch high Green Tara, one of his great works, and twenty other manifestations of Tara, each about 16 inches high. There is also a large statue of Zanabazar himself in his familiar bald-headed guise.
Bogd Khaan Winter Palace - Faith Learning Temple
This temple was given its name by the Manchu emperor and the sign above the door reads in Manchu, Mongolian and Chinese "Jivundamba Khutagt" with the date August 1893. In the last month of summer every year, 16 lamas from Dechingalav school would be summoned to perform the Naidanchog ceremony in the main section of this temple to bring longevity to the Bogd Khaan.
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel