Modern-day Mongolia is quite a contrast from its notorious past. Previously known as an isolated and somewhat untravelled nation, nomadic culture is very much at the heart of the Mongolian experience and tourism is beginning to boom in the peaceful and friendly nation. Covering an area of around 1,500,000 square kilometres but with a population of just under 3,000,000, Mongolia is one of the least densely populated countries in Asia and famous for is vast terrain including the Gobi Desert and the incredible Khangai and Altai mountain ranges with peaks exceeding 4,000 meters. Juxtaposed to Mongolia’s expansive and vast terrain, Ulaanbaatar the country’s bustling capital houses almost half of the population and provides a distinctly unique experience found nowhere else in the world.
Zaisan memorial in Ulaanbaatar
Giant statue of Genghis Khan near Ulaanbaatar Flickr: lhirlimann
Ulaanbaatar is plagued by a few unfortunate statistics, in 2013 the city was considered the second most polluted city in the world and due to its bitter winters it is also considered the world’s coldest capital with an average temperature of just under -1˚C (30˚F). However if you pick the right time to visit,Ulaanbaatar can be just as charming as the rest of the country. The city is serviced by Chinggis Khaan International Airport, however if you’re looking for a serious adventure we recommend entering from Russia or China, affording you the opportunity to travel on the spectacular Trans-Mongolian Railway. Temperatures in the summer are quite nice and can get upwards of 30˚C (85˚F), couple this with the four sacred mountains surrounding the city and you start to see a brighter picture of Mongolia’s much loved capital.
Amidst the hustle and bustle it exudes, you will find numerous monasteries and museums showcasing its rich culture and colourful history. A walk along Peace Avenue, is a fun way to discover more of the city, the highlight of which will be visiting Chinggis Square, formally known as Sukhbaatar Square, surrounded by government buildings and museums that look particularly beautiful lit up at night. Take the time to learn more about the history of Mongolia and relax in the open space the square provides in an otherwise compact metropolis. Interestingly Ulaanbaater is home to Beatles Square, which features a bronze statue of Paul, George, Ringo and John. The square, surrounded by cashmere shops, cafes and restaurants is a reminder of the 1970s, when records of the Beatles were smuggled into the country, and the youth of Ulaanbaatar would spend hours singing their songs. If you’re a fan of sampling delicious food when you travel, try the Mongolian Barbecue in one of the city’s many restaurants, beyond doubt one of the tastiest cuisines you will try! To top it off, if you’re traveling to Mongolia in June do not miss the Naadam Festival, a yearly event held between 11-13th featuring the country’s three most loved sports: wrestling, archery and horseback riding. The festival was recently included in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list and will provide and excellent insight into Mongolian culture and its proud and welcoming people.