"Ulaanbaatar - UB" Top 5 Page for this destination Ulaanbaatar by Willettsworld
Ulaanbaatar Travel Guide: 315 reviews and 927 photos
Ulaanbaatar, also known as Ulan Bator or simply just UB, is the capital and, with a population of around a million, also the largest city in Mongolia. In fact, according to recent estimates, this means approximately a third of the country lives here. It is located just east of the centre of the country in a valley of the Tuul River.
The city was first founded as a ger monastery in 1639 when it was called 'Orgoo' meaning 'palace-ger' but as it was a mobile monastery-town, it was originally conceived around 420km from its present site. As a mobile monastery-town, it was often moved to various places along the Selenge, Orkhon and Tuul rivers, as supply and other needs would demand. Throughout such movement, the city was given some fairly unexciting official and unofficial names, including Khiiree (Camp) in 1706. In 1778 the capital was built at its present location and called the City of Felt. Later, the city became known as the Ikh Khiiree, or Great Camp, and was under the rule of the Bogd Khaan, or Living Buddha with the Chinese Manchu's as overseers. The victory over the Manchu Dynasty in 1911 greatly affected further development of the city, that was renamed Nyislel Khuree (capital city) by the Khaan's decree, as the Government and Bogd Khaan's palace were located in the city. The name of Nyislel Huree was used till 1923, when capital city of Mongolia was renamed as the city of Ulaanbaatar (Red Hero) and declared the official capital of an 'independent' Mongolia.
Today the city is a mixture of Soviet era dull, drab and crumbling apartments, pre and post Communist architecture, horrendous traffic on narrow potholed streets, pollution from the suburban power stations, modern 4x4 Japanese imports and western coffee shop/internet/mobile phone chic. Basically, it's a right old mess but I really liked the place in a sado-masochistic kind of way! I flew in to UB from Beijing and spent that night in the city before embarking on a 12-day tour around the country. After the tour I spent about a week in the city so as to take in the Naadam Festival and the city itself before returning to Beijing via the picturesque Trans-Mongolian Railway.
Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, about 80km (50 miles) north-east of Ulaanbaatar in the region of Tov Aimag, is a deservedly... more travel advice
The Trans-Mongolian Railway runs for 2215km between Ulan Ude on the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia, with the Chinese... more travel advice
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