Kempinski Blog Article
Sitting amongst the rolling green Eurasian Steppe is Mongolia's largest city and capital, Ulaanbaatar. A place built on a rich historical foundation and featuring the country's most cosmopolitan sights, the city is a fusion of modern and traditional cultures, and a place where visitors are well-placed to find out more about Mongolia's amazing, one-of-a-kind culture.
Despite being located in one of the globe's coldest places and holding the award of coldest capital city in the world, Ulaanbaatar is a warm and welcoming place to visit. Located at the foot of the 914m-tall Bogd Khan Mountain on the banks of the Tuul River, the city is a bustling destination where the fast-changing face of Mongolia is best experienced.
Here you will find a cosmopolitan middle class mixing with nomadic herders fresh from the windy wilds. There are delightful family-run restaurants and shops on every corner, and brilliant sightseeing opportunities all across the city. Here, every visitor is provided with a wonderful view of what makes Ulaanbaatar such an interesting – and for many, rather extraordinary – world capital.
For anyone wanting to sample true Mongolian cuisine, there is no better place to find a delicious meal than the country's first city. The dishes you will find here reflect the nation's harsh climate, featuring lots of meat and dairy, although with it being a capital, you will find lots of high-quality international flavours as well.
If you are looking for delicious meats, the city has lots to offer. Buffalo Grill is particularly noteworthy, and here guests can enjoy a wide selection of meats grilled by expert chefs or for a more communal dining experience, at their table on a table-top grill, served alongside traditional Mongolian dishes and other flavours from across East Asia.
The Khara Khorum Restaurant, located in the Kempinski Hotel Khan Palace and named after the 13th century capital of the Mongol Empire, is another excellent place to taste the country's signature dishes. In sumptuous surroundings, diners can enjoy classic steamed buuz dumplings, tsuivan noodle stews and khuushuur – pan-fried mincemeat dumplings.
If you want to try something different to meat dishes, be sure to head to Luna Blanca, perhaps the best vegetarian restaurant in the capital. Here you can try healthy, fresh versions of classic Mongolian and Asian foods, accompanied by a wide range of teas and juices.
Ulaanbaatar is full of amazing sights and attractions that are a good chance to get to know more about the city and Mongolia more generally – here are a few of the best.
Mongolia's Buddhist nature suffered severely from religious persecution in the early twentieth century, yet post-democratisation, the country is reconnecting with its spiritual tradition. Nowhere else is this more apparent than at the monastery of Gandan Khiid, built in 1838, closed in 1937, and re-opened for religious practice in 1990. The towering, intricate main structure is truly beautiful and an absolute must-visit.
Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan
Completed at the start of the 20th century, this fine palace was home to Mongolia's eighth living Buddha, Bogd Khan. The complex features temples, museums and a huge display of stuffed animals, many of which used to live in the religious leader's personal zoo.
Choijin Lama Temple Museum
If you would like to learn more about Mongolian Buddhist history, this museum, located in central Ulaanbaatar, is the place to do so. A complex of temples, the Choijin Lama Temple Museum contains all sorts of treasures and exhibits that will amaze and inform visitors.
National Academic Dance Theatre
For those wanting to indulge in the arts, Ulaanbaatar's National Academic Dance Theatre is on hand to provide experiences of the theatrical variety. Here, visitors can watch international and traditional Mongolian plays, dance acts and operas, all performed by skilled singers, actors and dancers.
Gorki Terelj National Park
Located a short distance drive to the east of the city, Gorki Terelj is a natural wonder that lets visitors enjoy the crisp mountain air and amazing scenery. Biking, hiking, camping and horseback riding can all be enjoyed in the huge park, famous for its towering rock formations.
If you are travelling to the Mongolian capital, the Chinggis Khaan International Airport (also known locally as Bouyant Uka Airport), located 18 km southwest of the city, will likely be your first stop.
Passengers can use airlines including MIAT Mongolian Airlines, Turkish Air, Aeroflot, Air China and Hunnu Airlines, with flights connecting out to international destinations as diverse as Beijing, Seoul, Moscow, Istanbul, Berlin and Tokyo, among many others.
The city can also be reached via Ulaanbaatar Train Station (3 km west of the centre of the city), along the Trans-Siberian Railway. This line terminates at Moscow and Beijing either end of its stretch, and these two destinations take 100 hours and 30 hours to reach, respectively.
Given the lack of motorways in Mongolia, travelling by car is not recommended, although you can reach Suhbaatar to the north, Zamii-Uud to the south, Bulgan to the northeast, Bayanhongor to the southwest and Tsetserleg to the northwest. Buses to Ulaanbaatar can be caught from most of the country's large cities.
Within the city, taxis and buses are the best method of travel, although it is important to be aware of being overcharged when hailing a taxi – always barter for a good price. The city centre is also rather compact, making trips on foot a perfectly fine way of getting around. Always travel in groups when walking after dark, however, and be extra careful when travelling in the city's shantytown districts.
For great accommodation, visit Kempinski Hotel Khan Palace, home to the city's finest luxury accommodation, a number of exquisite restaurants and an unmatched quality of service. Click here for more information, or contact us for help organising your visit to Mongolia's thriving capital.