Mongolia is know for it’s beautiful landscapes and nature Although we strongly suggest to visit the countryside out in the steppes, there are still plenty of things to do besides trekking around the country in endless plains.
While Ulaanbaatar is not as advanced as Hong Kong, Singapore, New York, and such, Ulaanbaatar is still a good city to take a look around for a few days. You can go to the Shangri La mall, watch a movie, go to the square and many more.
The City Center
Renamed to the Chinggis square, the Sukhbaatar square is the center of the city where you will be able to see the “white house” of Mongolia. Much like the Red square in Moscow, Mongolia has a similar to layout to the square, although a bit smaller.
The city center is where most people gather during the night for bike rides, a stroll, etc. However, if you are looking for a night life, it is strongly suggested to visit the “Huuhdiin 100” district. Since June 2017, Mongolia has started celebrating the weekends out on the Huuhdiin 100 district.
You will find many beer taverns, night clubs, and other fun things to do around there. It is buzzing with young energetic people as well as tourists alike. You won’t feel bored there since there are plenty of things to do around the street, from food to socializing with strangers, dancing, etc you will have a great time.
If you like philosophy and religious studies, you must visit the monasteries around the city. There are a few around the western parts of the city. You will find statues, old manuscripts, monks chanting, artwork, and souvenirs.
Around those areas, there are many pigeons looking for food, so if you have rice or bread crumbs, you can feed them (although it is discouraged by the monks around the area). If you are feeling generous there are kids who are selling food to feed the pigeon.
Zaisan is the more of the modern/richer parts of Ulaanbaatar. You will find the giant Buddha statue and a lot of other development going on around that area.
During the summer you can find people grilling food, riding bikes, enjoying the beach near the river, and such. If you go further south, that’s where you will find the Bogd Khan mountain ranges. If you enjoy trekking, you can go camping or picnicking.
Somewhat similar to a carnival at the national park you can try your luck playing games with prizes, or ride around the park on bicycles, see a water fountain, and enjoy the atmosphere. You will most likely find children, teenagers, and parents taking their kids out for a stroll.
Around 8-10 PM is the most active time of the day, so unless you don’t want to get caught in traffic, you can try going there a bit earlier and leaving a bit later.
The outskirts of the capital has a lot of beautifully scenic places. The recommended places to visit are Terelj, which is 40km from the city, Handgait, 15 km north from the city, or maybe Zuun Mod, which a smaller town nearby the capital. Although it’s not as big or developed, life is more slower paced.
Terelj: You can go horse riding, camping, enjoying the air, and walk around. It’s mostly for tourists and people who are looking to get away for the weekend from the stress. You have to go see the Melkhiin Had if you happen go around Terelj.
Handgait is an area for mostly richer people. It’s a place where people go during the summer called “Zuslan”, so if you happen to be visiting during the summer, you can enjoy the quieter suburbs of the city.
Chinggis Khaan statue: ~40 km from the city center towards the east, you can find the giant Chinggis Khaan statue. You will find a museum with yurt (ger) houses. Not as scenic as Handgait or Terelj, but if you enjoy the open fields, it’s your place.
So, now that you know there are quite a few things to do around the city, maybe you will spend a few days around he capital before heading out to the countryside. However, the reason to visit Mongolia is mainly for the pristine country side and the nomads you get to meet along the way.