Ulaanbaatar is the capital of Mongolia and although it has one or two sites of interest, such as Gandan Monastery and the National History Museum, Ulaanbaatar is the usual air gateway into the country and is the starting point to enter into the vast and epic landscapes of the Mongolian Steppes.
ABOUT Ulaanbaatar & the surrounding Steppes
Made up of an eclectic mix of traditional post-soviet and modern Chinese-influenced architectures sitting alongside traditional ger dwellings.
Twenty years ago the population of Ulaanbaatar was 400,000 and now it is 1.5 million. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, 27% of the population lived in the capital city and today more than 50% of the population live there. This influx into the capital was caused not so much from a desertion of an ancient nomadic way of life but a number of bitter winters known as a zud which killed the nomads’ livestock. Over ten years ago there were 30 million livestock in Mongolia but 60% were lost in the winters of 2003 and 2004 and some more recently. The nomads had no choice but to pack up and move to the capital.
However they were not to give up their traditional life easily – ger translates as home and is their life, their symbol of freedom. Thus today 60% of Ulaanbaatar’s population lives in the ger city, a unique fusion of past and present.
Leave the city boundaries and within no time the open grasslands of Mongolia stretch as far as the eye can see.
- Visit Sukhbaatar Square, a symbol of Mongolia’s independence from the Chinese
- See fossilised skeletal remains and dinosaur eggs from the Gobi Desert at the cities Natural History Museum
- Spend time exploring the Buddhist Monastery of Gandan Khiid
- Leave the traffic and chaos of the city behind and head into the surrounding Steppes to spend the night in a ger
BEYOND THE ORDINARY
Venture further inland to Khan Khentii protected area and spend a few nights at Jalman Meadows, a traditional ger camp in a beautifully remote location.