This enormous city entices you on a Mongolian adventure with its history and temples that sit alongside an increasingly modern outlook and bohemian vibe. A growing business and tourism economy blends with chanting Buddhist monks and traditional theatre, while gastronomic delights range from the unusual to international cuisine. Ulaanbaatar, or simply UB as its commonly known, came to life in 1649 as the palace of Mongolia's first spiritual leader Jebtsundamba Khutuktu. Its first name was Ikh Khuree meaning "large circle", which described its layout. After changing its location several times, the city settled where it now is in 1778 and saw a rapid demographic growth in the 20th century along with a building programme of Soviet-style architecture.
Things to Do
Ulaanbaatar's residents are warm and hospitable and proud of their city and heritage, so they are always happy to help you with directions or talk about their culture. Peace Avenue, the main street which runs East to West through the city, is a good place to start your visit and a useful point of orientation. It's also where you'll find the tourist office.
The best city view
The Zaisan Hill War Memorial and Buddha Park give you the best views of the city from a hilltop location. The War Memorial is dedicated to Mongolian soldiers who lost their lives in World War II, while the central feature of the park is a 23-metre-tall statue of Buddha.
A symbol of democracy
A huge statue of Megjid Janraisag dominates the Gandan Monastery, which is home to around 150 monks. The monastery was destroyed in the 20th century but was recently rebuilt and today stands as a symbol of Mongolia's independence and democratic constitution.
Dip into Mongolia's history
The city has a wealth of museums to enjoy including the Bogd Khaan Palace; the palace was built in the late 19th-century for the last Khaan or King of Mongolia. Today the museum has a vast collection of paintings and decorative arts.
Calendar of Events
Traditional dances to Viennese waltzes, circus acts to the contemporary theatre -- all of this features on Ulaanbaatar's busy festival calendar along with a feast of national costume and carnival colour. There are even days that celebrate the migrating birds that fly across Mongolia.
Mongolian National Costume Festival. July sees this lavish parade designed to promote the country's cultural heritage. Thousands parade in colourful national costumes with prizes awarded at the end of the day.
Ulaanbaatar Winter Festival. This festival held in February neatly brings together the modern and the traditional. Traditional skills of ice archery and ice shooting take place alongside para-gliding, winter cycling and snowboarding. Artistic performances, artisan skills and fashion shows can also be enjoyed.
World Circus in Mongolia. Every March, circus acts from around the world descend on the city. For two weeks you can watch them show off their skills at acrobatics, trapeze artistry, juggling or simply clowning around at different venues across the city.