Posted by Selena Travel / 03 02, 2024
Anyone traveling to Mongolia will generally have a couple afternoons or a full day in the Ulaanbaatar during which time they can visit or explore some city sites. Here is a list, in no particular order, of the places I’ve visited and can recommend. I’d select the ones that meet you or your party’s interests.
This is a monument to commemorate the Mongolian-Russian cooperation over the years. It features a beautiful, colorful 360-degree mosaic featuring a variety of people--both male and female and from various job fields. Climbing the steps to this monument will also give you an incredible view over all of UB. Go up on a clear day when blue skies prevail and you will be glad you made the hike.
This is the central square of the city and located directly in front of the Parliament building and across the street from the Blue Sky hotel (another major landmark in the city). It has a statue of Sukhbaatar, revolutionary hero from 1921, in the center of the square; A statue of Chinggis Khan is situated on the north side of the square and under the protection of the Parliament building. Recently the park on the back side of the Parliament building was reopened to citizens of UB. In the summer it has a lot of green and plenty of park benches to enjoy.
Museum of the Bogd Khan, Winter Palace
Bogd Khan was the last khan (born in China, what was Tibet) and an important figure for Mongolians at the start of the 20th century as he advocated for Mongolian autonomy. The palace is located between downtown UB and Zaisan (south of the Tuul River) and open daily.
Gandantegtechilin Monastery (aka Gandan)
Gandan is Mongolia’s largest monastery and is located west of Sukhbaatar Square. It was the only monastery that continued to operate throughout the Communist period. A visit to UB isn’t complete without a wander up to Gandan. I especially like sitting in the area to the right after you walk through the main entrance. Walk past all the large gold prayer wheels and you might hear the monks chanting. There is a statue of the four animal friends (elephant, monkey, rabbit/hare, and a bird) in this walled off area that has some shade from trees. Also noteworthy is the Temple of Megjid Janraiseg. It houses a 26 meter statue of the deity. Gandan can be visited any time of the year; however, the area to the right after entering is locked up around 5 pm most days.
Chojin Lama Museum
Once a monastery, this site became a museum in 1938. It is located just south and west of the Blue Sky building. The brother of the Bogd Khan was the original occupant. It has a great little gift shop and is located near a great number of restaurants and cafes. Sometimes it hosts special musical events in the summertime.
The Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum
This museum is named after Bogd Gegeen Zanabazar, an accomplished artist who was also a 17th century spiritual and political leader. He specialized in bronze sculpture and the museum houses mostly Buddhist art. It does host special exhibits from time to time as well.
National Museum of Mongolian History
This museum is located just to the west of the Parliament building and is a well curated museum--perhaps the best in the country (I’d venture that the museum in Kharkhorin is second!). You’ll get to see exhibits showing the history of Mongolia from the Paleolithic period until modern day. I especially liked the hall of deels (traditional outfit) that showed the diversity of the various Mongol tribes. You can complete this museum in a 2-3 time period.
If you have a full day available to venture out of UB, I recommend a day trip the Chinggis Khan Equestrian statue and the 13th Century park. The statue is unlike any other you’ve seen or probably will see. He’s majestic shining out over the steppe on his horse and holding his golden whip.
Chamberlain, Nathan et al. Mongolia: Discover the Real Mongolia. Other Places Publishing, 2012.
Robinson, Carl. Mongolia: Nomad Empire of Eternal Blue Sky. Odyssey Publications, 2010.