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Mongolia is a birthplace of famous and furious Genghis Khan, a land of wild horses, steppes and cold freezing mornings and nights, it’s capital Ulaanbaatar is one of the coldest places in the world, which annual temperature usually does not exceed 1 degree Celsius.
The overall population of Mongolia is around 4 mln. and most of the citizens live in Ulaanbaatar. Just imagine South Korea with theirs 49 mln people and the area of 100,210 km² and Mongolia with an area of 1.566 million km² and more than 10 times smaller population size. Mongolia could be considered as one of the most sparsely populated countries.
Ulaanbaatar is located in the valley of the Tola River, at an altitude of 1300 meters above sea level. The city is surrounded on all sides by high mountains. The traditional landscape of Ulaanbaatar is a combination of the high-rise buildings of the city and thousands of yurts – the traditional dwellings of the Mongols. The main street of the city, Mir street, passes through the center of the capital – Sukhbaatar square.
The best way to get to Ulaanbaatar is by plane, there are direct flights from Moscow. The trip takes over 6 hours. The main airport Buyant-Uha – Genghis Khan is located 18 km from the city. You can get to the centre by taxi, however, this is not very cheap pleasure, the average price for one way trip from the airport to the city center is around 100 000 Mongolian tugriks.
If you consider yourself a fan of rail travel, you can take a train Moscow – Ulaanbaatar. However keep in mind that such a journey takes around 4 days and 5 hours , the train leaves twice a week starting from the Yaroslavl station. Among other things, it is convenient to come to Ulaanbaatar from the cities of the eastern part of Russia – there are direct flights, trains, and buses leave from the surrounding regions on a regular basis.
As Ulaanbaatar surrounded by mountains, the first place which might want to visit is Memorial complex Zaisan standing on the hill of the same name. From here you can enjoy the view of the whole Ulaanbaatar from the bird’s flight.
If you want to understand and get to know better Mongolians, at first you should get closer to their believes and religion, the best way to do that is monastery Gandan.
Magnificent monastery Gandan is an architectural symbol of Ulaanbaatar and one of the most visited sights of Mongolia. The full name of the monastery is translated as “a great place of absolute happiness.” It is home to over 600 monks and daily Buddhist ceremonies. The main attraction of the monastery is a hollow 26-meter-long Buddha statue of longevity, made of copper and covered with gold. Inside – 27 tons of dried medicinal herbs and 2 million scrolls with mantras written on them.
The city centre is Sukhbaatar square, where the buildings of the Parliament and the Palace of Culture are located. In the centre of the square are monuments to Sukhbaatar himself, the national hero of Mongolia, who proclaimed her independence from China, and the great Genghis Khan. Here you can see images of 9 “Urlug” – revered semi-legendary national heroes. Pay attention to the metal steel, where all the previous historical names of the city are engraved.
Another significant monastery is dedicated to Lama Hoydzin. It consists of 5 amazing beauty temples and 5 gates. Inside there is the Museum of Buddhist art of Mongolia, whose expositions represent more than 5 thousand artifacts, 12 of which are of exceptional value. Among these – the coral mask Begz, composed of more than 6,000 pieces of coral.
In the Winter Palace of Bogdjan you can see how the last emperor of Mongolia lived (he also is the Eighth living Buddha) until 1924. The complex of buildings consists of 7 temples and the palace itself. Inside are exhibited numerous items of Mongolian art from the 17th to 20th centuries and personal belongings of Bogdjan: the mantle of 80 fox skins, golden boots – a gift from the Russian tsar and yurta, for the creation of which 150 skins of snow leopards went.
Popular restaurants of Mongolian cuisine: inexpensive BD’s Mongolian Barbeque, magnificent Taliin Mongol, democratic but high-quality Nomad Legends and City Nomads, and Khan Brau with its own brewery. The Mongolian youth also likes to visit the boutique “Khan Buz” and “Zohin Buz” – as you can guess from the name, to refresh yourself with national Mongolian dish- “buuz”, Mongolian version of the steamed dumpling.
1. Live in yurta. A traditional yurt (from the Turkic languages) or ger (Mongolian) is a portable, round tent covered with skins or felt and used as a dwelling by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. However keep in mind, that night in Mongolia are very cold, so have warm clothes with yourself, be ready to smell of smoke and burning wood. Despite all inconveniences, you will be able to feel and live a life of a real Mongolian nomad and this is unforgettable.
2. Buy a coat or scarf made of the most expensive Kashmir goat’s wool, which can be found only in Mongolia. Also don’t forget to get a real Mongolian winter hat or winter coat made of Mongolian yak which will definitely keep you warm.
3. Take a picture of the monument to Genghis Khan in the central square of Sukhbaatar. In the history Genghis Khan is known as bloody and furious conqueror, but for Mongolians , Genghis Khan is ,first of all, a father of their nation. There are lots of objects which in Ulaanbaatar called after the most famous Mongol name; square, streets and airports.
4. See unique Przewalski’s horses. First described by Russian explorer N. M. Przewalski, for whom the horse is named, the horse once freely roamed the steppe along the Mongolia-China border. Horses have been kept and bred in captivity and have recently been reintroduced in Mongolia.
5. Have a meeting with a shaman. Mongolian shamans do not accept money , but only gifts. So before meeting with the shaman you need to get to the biggest Ulaanbaatar market Naran-Tul and do some shopping. You will need 1 kilo of rice, 2 l of milk a bundle of firewood and a package of cigarettes. Yes, gods sometimes smoke. After shopping you need to get to the city outskirts where shamans usually live, you can get there by hitchhiking or by bus, which is rarer.
Most museums and sights of Ulaanbaatar are charged for the right to take photographs – from 5 to 10 thousand Mongolian tugriks. Try to visit Ulaanbaatar during the Naadam festival – your view will be presented with colourful performances and competitions in horse riding, wrestling and archery. And last , but not least, always have warm clothes with you. Taking pictures or filming Mongolian shamans during ritual is forbidden so if you decide to know your future from the gods keep your iPhone in the pocket.
Though one very popular proverb states, that “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” Being sure that during your trip through Venice’s water labyrinths or visiting best Gelato café in Florence you will not stay with only wind in your pocket gives more confidence. So, it is obvious that making small research on city you plan to visit prices and the trip cost and how much you might spend overall will not get worse for you and will not take too much time and even could be done for you by others. How much you will have to spend, depends on the local food and beverage service prices as well as the trip cost. As many tour agencies provide their clients with pretty various vacation deals, it is always 100% possibility that you shall find a trip by a good price which suits you the most.
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Professionally educated for sports and tourism management - is encouraging our guests to explore the Northeastern region of Europe in its most attractive way. Working for tourism industry since 2013 Iveta is assisting customers from 64 countries. And she loves doing it!