Ulaanbaatar

LOCATION AND ORIENTATION
Ulaanbaatar is situated in central east Mongolia. The city spreads from east to west along a large wide valley. The main road through this valley is Enkh Taivny Orgon Choloo or Peace Avenue. The centre of the city is Sukhbaatar Square, from where all other distances are measured. Bogd Khan, Bayanzurkh, Chingeltei and Songino Khairkhan mountains surround the city. The tuul river runs from east to west in the south of the city. The city is divided into six districts and many sub districts and microdistricts. More and more street name signs are being erected although taxi drivers and the locals tend to use the names of the districts or identifiable buildings to find locations. Some tourist signposts have recently been erected to help visitors get around. Useful landmarks include museums, banks, Sukhbaatar Square, the larger hotels, hospitals and restaurants.

HISTORY
The first capital of the recent Mongolian Empire was called Urguu and was located come 420km from Ulaanbaatar. Situated in Arkhangai Aimag at the Da Khuree Monastery, it was the home to Zanabazar who had been proclaimed the head of Buddhism in Mongolia. The city moved several times along the Tuul, Orkhon and Selenge rivers. Ulaanbaatar was built in its current location in 1778 and named the 'City of Felt'. It then became known as the Great Camp and was ruled under the Bogd Khaan. When Mongolia gained independence from China in 1911, the city became the capital of Outer Mongolia. It was invaded in 1918, again by China, and then three years later by the Russians. In 1924, the city was named Ulaanbaatar (Red Hero) and declared the official capital of Mongolia. In 1933, Ulaanbaatar became an autonomous region from Tov Aimag. The Russian influence for more than seventy years left Ulaanbaatar a relatively young and unattractive city. Many of the original buildings, including monasteries have been destroyed and replaced by Soviet-style apartment buildings.

ACCOMMODATION
There are now over 50 hotels in the capital, of varying standards. There are no official classification systems for these hotels at present, although it is hoped a grading system will be introduced soon. Prices range from around US$15 - US$360 for one night. The better standard hotels can be busy during peak season. There are also a few small and cheap guest houses for the backpacker traveller. On the outskirts of the capital are a few ger camps which offer the more traditional style of accommodation. Hotel services vary, but many will offer to organise transfers, tours and business services.

GETTING AROUND
Getting around the city is very easy, especially if you can explain where you want to go in Mongolian. There is a good network of both buses and trolley buses. Maps are available that show the routes and all the buses clearly display the route number. There is a standard charge of MNT 200 for buses and MNT 100 for trolley buses. Payment is made to the conductor, who usually wears a bright blue apron. The only difficulty is accepting how crowded they are. You may find yourself squeezed inside the bus so tightly that you'll miss your stop. Also, foreigners on buses are an attraction for pickpockets. Please ensure you take the utmost care with money, wallets and personal possessions. The buses and trolleybuses run from around 6am to 10pm everyday. Since the buses are so crowded, a number of entrepreneurs have started their own services using minibuses. They usually ply the same routes as the buses and have route numbers displayed. The normal rate is similar to the buses.

Taxi services run all around the city, although it can be difficult to arrange travel in advance unless the driver has a mobile phone. Taxis are identified by taxi written on the cars. There also a number of bright yellow cars recently brought into the country that can be easily identified as taxis. Although some taxis have meters they are not often used and no pressure should be put on the driver to use it. The standard cost is MNT 280-300 per kilometre. Some drivers will try to charge more, especially if you appear to be a tourist. Agree the price in advance if you can. Ulaanbaatar must be one of the only places in the world where you can stop almost any car for a lift. Potentially, every car in the capital is a taxi. If you hale a car and the driver is prepared to pick you up, he'll do so and charge the same rates as taxis (around MNT 300 per kilometre). This is seen to be a safe way of travelling, although it may not be appropriate if you are a single woman and travelling late at night.


FREIGHT FORWARDERS
If you're intending to spend a fair amount of time in Mongolia or need to ship back any large souvenirs, there are a few freight forwarding companies that can help. Both train and plane services are available and prices vary. Each company should be able to help with giving costs and timeframes. Try the following:

DHL International. Tel: (976-11) 310919. Fax: (976-11) 325772. Email: dhluln@magicnet.mn
TNT International Express. Tel: (976-11) 313389/311655/311653. Fax: (976-11) 313809.
Email:
tntmongolia@magicnet.mn. Website: http://www.monairtrans.net
Mongolian Express Co., Ltd. Tel: (976-11) 318329. Fax: (976-11) 318125. Email:
monexpress@magicnet.mn

Crown Worldwide
Federal Express. Tel: (976-11) 322064
Express Mail. Tel: (976-11) 327102

BOOKSHOPS AND LIBRARIES
There are quite a large number of books now available in languages other than Mongolian, about the history, culture and environment. There are plans to open a bookshop specifically for these publications, but at present you will have to seek out what you want from various locations. The best places to try first are the Central Post Office, State Department Store and Juulchin Shop (rear of Bayangol Hotel).

Look for the following titles: 'Chinggis Khaan', 'My Mongolia', 'This is Mongolia' and a set of large books giving details of architecture, art, and history. If you want some simple reading material, try Scrolls bookshop (near the Trade and Development Bank) for foreign language novels. The two major libraries are the State Central Library (near the Bayangol Hotel) and the Natsagdorj Library (near the circus). Both have very little for anyone not able to read Russian and Mongolian. There are two weekly English Language newspapers - The Mongol Messenger and The UB Post. Both are available from some newspaper stands and the Central Post Office.

SERVICES
Telephone - Local, national and international telephone calls can be made from many hotels and also the Central Post Office. Post - There are over 20 post offices dotted around the city, but the most identifiable and perhaps most convenient is the Central Post Office on Sukhbaatar Square. The post office sells cards, postcards, stamps and envelopes. (See Fact Pack for details on prices)
Police - Call 102
Fire Brigade - Call 101
Ambulance - Call 103

INTERNET CAFES
Email and the Internet are now very popular with Mongolia's younger generation. There are several places around the capital now to send and receive your messages and surf the Net. Prices are charged by the hour and range between MNT 1800 and 10,000. Try the following:

  • Internet House Cafe, Youth Federation Building, Baga Toiruu. Tel: (976-11) 310317. Email: byambaa@mongol.net

  • I Cafe, Centre of Scientific and Technological Information (Soros Building). Tel: (976-11) 312061. Fax: (976-11) 320616. Email: icafe@magicnet.mn Open Monday to Friday 08.30-21.00 Saturday and Sunday 10.00-16.00

  • Internet Cafe, Khuvgalchidyn Orgon Choloo (next to Natural History Museum)

  • Epsilon Cyber Cafe, Baga Toiruu (opposite Trade and Development Bank)

  • UN Information Shop, 7 Erkhuu Street (near Chinese Embassy)

  • Internet and Information, City Centre Library, Seoul Street (near the circus) Tel: (976-11) 329840. Fax: (976-11) 320210. Email: ubpic@magicnet.mn Open Monday to Friday 09.00-13.00 and 14.00-18.00

  • Internet Tov, Seoul Street (near the Red Rock nightclub) Tel: (976-11) 318485/318486. Fax: (976-11) 312307. Email: bodicom@mongolnet.mn Website: http://www.mongolnet.mn Open Monday-Friday 09.00-19.00 Saturday 11.00-18.00

  • Infocom Centre, (behind Central Post Office). Open Monday to Friday 09.00-18.00 Saturday and Sunday 10.00-16.00

BANKS AND MONEY CHANGERS IN ULAANBAATAR
The facilities available for changing money, cashing travelers cheques, obtaining cash advances on credit cards and transferring money are limited, although available. The normal banking hours are 9.00 - 13.00 and 14.00 to 16.00 although there are variations. American Express Travelers Cheques are the most widely accepted along with VISA, MasterCard and American Express Credit Cards. There are a few places other than banks that are able to change money, but visitors are advised to be careful of their money and possessions, visiting such places. Below are a small number of banks and money changers, located in the center of Ulaanbaatar.

  • BANK OF MONGOLIA, Khudaldaanii Gudamj - 6.
    Telephone: (976-11) 322166. Fax: (976-11) 311471.
    Email: adm@mglbank.mn. Website: http://www.mglbank.mn.
    Opening Days/Times: Monday to Friday 09.00 - 13.00 and 14.00 to 18.00

  • GOLOMT BANK, Sukhbaatar Square.
    Telephone: (976-11) 311530/327812/311971,
    Fax: (976-11) 312307. Email: mail@golomtbank.com. Website: http://www.golomtbank.com.
    Opening Days/Times: Monday to Friday 09.00 - 16.00
    Services Available: Cashing of Travelers Cheques, Changing Money and Cash Advances on Credit Cards.

  • ANOD BANK, Khudaldannii Gudamj.
    Telephone: (976-11) 312412. Fax: (976-11) 313070.
    Email: anod@magicnet.mn. Website: http://www.anod.mn.
    Opening Days/Times: Monday to Friday 09.00 - 13.00 and 14.00 - 17.00

  • SAVINGS BANK, Khudaldaa Street.
    Telephone: (976-11) 327467/311966/327329.
    Fax: (976-11) 310621/320057.
    Email: savbank@mongol.net.
    Opening Days/Times: Monday to Friday 09.00-13.00 and 14.00-18.00

  • TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT BANK, Khudaldaa Street.
    Telephone: (976-11) 312363. Fax: (976-11) 325449.
    Email: tdbmts@magicnet.mn.
    Website: http://www.mol.mn/tdbm.
    Opening Days/Times: Monday to Friday 09.00-12.30 and 14.00-15.30

  • ULAANBAATAR BANK, Baga Toiruu -15.
    Tel: (976-11) 312155. Fax: (976-11) 325017.
    Opening Days/Times: Monday to Friday 09.00-13.00 and 14.00-16.00

  • MONGOL POST BANK, Central Post Office.
    Tel: (976-11) 310993/310603. Fax: (976-11) 312351.
    Opening Times: Monday to Friday 09.00-13.00 and 14.00-18.00

  • INNOVATION BANK, Huvisgalchid Street 5-1.
    Tel: (976-11) 312531. Fax: (976-11) 310833.
    Email: innbk@magicnet.mn.
    Opening Times: 09.00-13.00 and 14.00-16.00

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Amarbayasgalant

The Amarbayasgalant Monastery is located 360 km north of Ulaanbaatar is one of the favourite destinations for visitors. It can be reached by jeep or by a combination of local train and motor vehicle ride. Built in 1727-1736, the Monastery was the second most important in Mongolia after Erdene Zuu Monastery in Kharakhorum.

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Gobi Desert

The Gobi Desert is a vast zone of desert and desert steppe covering almost 30 percent of the Mongolian territory. The area is often imagined as a lifeless desert like in many other parts of the world.

In reality, most part of the Gobi Desert is a land of steppes and it is the home for camel breeders rich with wildlife and vegetation. Mongolians consider that there are 33 different Gobi, where sandy desert occupies only 3 percent of the total territory. Climate is extreme with 40 degrees Celsius in summer and severe winters.

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Terelj

Open year-round, Terelj Resort is set in a spectacular valley only a two-hour drive from Ulaanbaatar. Visitors can take leisurely strolls on green meadows carpeted with edelweiss and a dazzling variety of other wild flowers, view fascinating rock formations against a backdrop of pine covered mountains and wander along the wooded banks of a mountain stream. Overnight guests can stay in gers or guest rooms.

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Khorgo

Khorgo Volcano is a dead volcano covered with basalt lying in the east of the Lake Terkhiin Tsagaan (National Park) in Arhangai aimag. Interesting bubbles of solidified lava named “Basalt ger’ .It is possible here to visit yak herders.

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Manzshir Monastery

Manzshir Monastery is located in the luxuriant valley of the Bogd Khan Mountain in Tuv aimag, and one hour drive from Ulaanbaatar can bring visitors to Manzushir .

It was established in 1733 with 20 temples and 300 monks. Destroyed in 1932, the only remaining temple has been restored and a museum at the site tells the story of the monastery.

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Kharakhorum

Mongolia’s ancient capital, Kharakhorum, Chinggis Khaan’s fabled city, was founded in 1220 in the Orkhon valley, at the crossroads of the Silk Road.

It was from there that the Mongol Empire governed, until Khubilai Khaan moved it to Beijing. The symbolic ruins of Kharakhorum (kharkhorin), monumental walls (400 m of length) with 108 stupas, surround the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia Erdene Zuu Monastery, built in 1586. In 1792, it housed 62 temples and 10,000 lamas; since 1990, it has become an active monastery again.

Turtles carved from the stone marked the boundaries of the complex. Nearby, Turkish monuments and rock inscriptions erected in 8-9th centuries in memory of outstanding fighters for independence.

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More

Lake Khovsgol
Known as “ The Dark Blue Pearl ”, Lake Khovsgol is Mongolia’s largest and deepest lake. Located in the northernmost province, it is the largest tributary stream of Lake Baikal in Russia. Khovsgol is 1645 m above sea level and is frozen from January until April or May. A ferryboat operates between Khatgal and Khankh, two towns on the southern and northern shores of the lake that are within the boundaries of the Khovsgol National Park.

Khan Khentii
The native land of Chinggis Khaan, Khan Khentii is covered with forests, taiga, and mountain forest steppe. It is the land described in The Secret History Of Mongols, a literary monument of the nation, and is a protected area located north-east of the capital city.

Bayan Ulgii

Called "the Roof of the World", Bayan-Ulgii is a far-off land of high mountains (the Mongol Altai - Tavan Bogd mountains with 4,373 m peak) torrents and glaciers, inhabited by Kazakh, a minority who has a different culture from the Mongols, herding yaks and goats and hunting with trained eagles. The Khovd River flows through the province passing primitive wilding areas with mountain steppes vegetation.

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  Information provided by the Ministry of Tourism. Government of Mongolia.

 

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