10 Best Places to Visit & Things to Do in Ulaanbaatar

10 Best Places to Visit & Things to Do in Ulaanbaatar

Many travellers come to Ulaanbaatar to quickly get out of the city, but that would be a mistake. As with other cities, there are plenty to do and see in UB.

Contributed by Alvin Yeoh

After enjoying a vacation in Mongolia last summer and returning to spend two months as a volunteer English teacher in Ulaanbaatar (UB), I am now the go-to person for my friends who seek recommendations on what to do there. To save myself some future Q&As and to help other travellers, here are the ten things to do and places to visit in Ulaanbaatar, as recommended by me!

1. Sukhbaatar Square

It is virtually impossible to miss the square during your time in UB. It features a huge Genghis Khan monument, among many others. Various events and fairs are held there throughout the year.

2. Zaisan Monument

Located atop a hill at the southern part of the city, the Zaisan Monument features paintings that depict scenes of friendship between the people of the USSR and Mongolia.

Begin the (short) hike up from the steps beside the Zaisan Hill complex. Upon reaching the summit, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of the entire city.

While you’re in the area, drop by the Buddha Garden right opposite Zaisan Hill complex where a 23-metre-high statue of Sakyamuni stands.

Tip: Go before sunset and stay till dark to view the monument and city both in the day and at night.

3. Nightlight Street

Take a stroll down this beautifully lit street that’s lined with bars and restaurants. Various events are held here from Friday to Sunday in the summer.

Tip: Grab a drink and chill at Mojito Cocktail House while you enjoy the window views.

4. Gandantegchinlen Monastery

Image credit: mana_wu

This attraction is more commonly referred to by its short name, Gandan (Гандан).

Visit it to learn about Mongolian history and Buddhism, and be there early in the morning at around 8–9am to catch the monks gathering for their morning prayers.

Even if you’re not interested in its cultural and historical aspects, this is a nice place for some peace and quiet.

5. 3rd, 4th Khoroolol (District)

Referred to locally as just Khoroolol, this area is filled with shopping malls, cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs. You can find international apparel brands like Nike, Adidas, United Colors of Benetton, Terranova, as well as bootleg merchandise at decent prices. Electronics can be found in PC Mall, BSB and Nomin department stores. For the gluttons, there are Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut as well as local fast food joints like Khaan Buuz and Tse.

Tip: Journey from the east to west and end your trip by grabbing a delicious BBQ chicken pizza from Emart.

6. Narantuul Market

things to do in ulaanbaatar

The biggest open-door bazaar in UB that offers everything – and I do mean EVERYTHING – from apparels to electronics, food, mechanical parts and even Gers/Yurts. The goods are generally priced super cheap so it’s a great place to score some bargains. Just be very careful with pickpockets and take note that the market is closed on Tuesdays.

Tip: The surrounding malls like Sunday Market are great shopping spots as well – especially during winter when it’s too cold outdoors. 

7. Bogd Khan Mountain

The Bogd Khan Mountain is located in the southern part of the city and is a stone’s throw away from the Zaisan Monument. Locals come here frequently to escape from the bustling city and its pollution. You can get here by bus and alighting at the Zaisan (Зайсан) stop.

A guide is not necessary as it’s a reasonably easy hike. The routes are obvious as many people hike it on a daily basis and even more so during the weekends.

Bring water along as there are no water sources along the way. Equipment wise, no special gear is needed. Simply dress for the weather and have a good footwear. I had to learn this the hard way while hiking in winter and “skiing” my way down during the descent.

8. Mongolian Military Museum

This may not be everybody’s cup of tea but I loved this museum. It showcases Mongolia’s military hardware and history from the feudal to modern day. The courtyard of the museum has tanks, artilleries and a MiG fighter jet on display.

Unfortunately, many of the exhibits’ descriptions were only displayed in the Mongolian language when I was there. Another caveat was photography not being allowed inside.

9. Ice Skating Rinks

things to do in ulaanbaatar

Don’t miss skating on one of the many outdoor rinks that pop up in winter. The coolest one would have to be Ice Town near Selbe bridge, west of Emart Chinggis. There are ice skating rinks for both adults and children, as well as jaw-dropping ice sculptures on display that’ll leave you in awe.

If you prefer to skate indoors, check out the new Hunnu Mall which is located close to the Chinggis Khaan International Airport.

10. Tumen-Ekh Folk Song and Dance Ensemble

things to do in ulaanbaatar

Experience traditional Mongolian music, dance, throat singing and contortion under one hour for 25,000 MNT. The contortionist’s performance was the highlight for me and I would assume for many in the crowd too, judging from all the “wooo” and “oooh” that was heard. Be prepared to get bewitched by their out-of-the-world flexibility.

Tip: Come 30 minutes early to get a nice seat up front. Tour buses tend to bring hordes of tourist and they snatch the good seats at one go, so be there before them.

About Author

Alvin Yeoh
Alvin Yeoh

Alvin discovered his love for backpacking just recently. When he is not facing a monitor in his 9 to 5 or writing in an attempt to improve his English, he can be found trekking or hiking through the wilderness to escape the concrete city of Singapore.