Firstly, a little background for this post on the panoramic views of Ulaanbaatar. Ulaanbaatar (known locally and fondly as UB) is Mongolia’s capital city. In English, its name translates into Red Hero. According to the 2020 Census, Ulaanbaatar makes up 46% of the total population of Mongolia. Approximately, 1.4 million people live in Ulaanbaatar (the population of Mongolia is only 3.2 million). In fact, this number for the resident population of UB is fairly sure an underestimate. The population, as with most capital cities and major conurbations, is organic.
From its origins as a nomadic city, Ulaanbaatar has developed into a tough, modern and cosmopolitan city full of contrasts and extremes. UB maintains a strong Mongolian identity of its own and has a ‘frontier’ feel and vibrancy. It is the beating heart of Mongolia and the hub of contemporary Mongolian urban life. The reality for many Mongolians takes place in this urban context, in a city they are striving to develop and improve. Ulaanbaatar deserves to be appreciated and explored as the urban centre that it is. And once you’ve enjoyed the city from the ground level, why not head upwards and look down. Here’s some of our favourite panoramic views of Ulaanbaatar.
An ovoo is a Mongolian sacred stone shrine and this particular one is connected with Gandan Monastery – Mongolia’s principal monastery. If you’re caught down in amongst the traffic and scrum you can easily pop up here and get a little perspective. You can look north into the ger districts, some of which have been here since 1838.
Nogoon Nuur Community Project
The Nogoon Nuur Community Project in Ulaanbaatar is one of the Mongolian projects that we work in long-term local community partnership with. Located at Denjin Myanga in the massive Bayangol ger district in the north of the city, as part of the project, Ulzii – the founder – has built a viewing platform with great panoramic views of Ulaanbaatar. But, don’t just visit for the view. There are few safe community spaces within the ger districts of Ulaanbaatar – especially community spaces where children can play – but Nogoon Nuur is bucking this trend. So please be sure to support the philosophy of the project.
Choijin Lama Temple Museum
If you’re tired of sight-seeing or ‘templed out’ there is an alternative. Sip on a cold drink as you relax and unwind on the balcony of the (excellent) Veranda or Silk Road restaurants that overlooks the Choijin Lama Temple Museum. An alternative is the Terrace Bar on the 7th floor the Blue Sky Hotel (if open).Shashlik and beer stands
OK, so these are very much on ‘street level but they’re great places to watch the world pass by. In the high season months of July and August look for the pavement cafes that are erected throughout the city – a canvas tent with simple tables and chairs. The ones outside the State Department Store overlooking ‘Beatles Square’ sell great shashlik- barbecued meat – and cheap cold beer. Many an hour can be whiled away here!
One of our favourite panoramic views of Ulaanbaatar is from the Edge Bar on the 17th floor of the Ramada Hotel (on Peace Avenue to the west of the State Department Store). This has an outside area which is just great in the summer months for watching the sunset. Alternatives include:
Cielo – Galaxy Tower
The Blue Sky Lounge – the 23rd floor of the Blue Sky Hotel
Located at the southern foot of Bogd Khan is Zaisan Hill, a circular memorial of modern Socialist art that depicts scenes of friendship between the people of the USSR and Mongolia. Zaisan Hill offers panoramic views out over Bogd Khan Mountain and the city. It’s also a great location for hanging out with local families and students.
You can combine a visit to Zaisan with Buddha Park – a peaceful area close to Zaisan which features an 18m-tall standing Sakyamuni image. When it was erected in 2007, five tons of juniper were placed inside. Below the statue is a small room containing thangkas, sutras and images of the Buddha and his disciples.
A firm favourite, Sukhbaatar Square is right in the heart of downtown Ulaanbaatar and great to visit by day, by night or if just passing through. If you’re short on time you pay a visit and experience Mongolia’s history in a nutshell. It’s all here – Chinggis, Ogodei and Kublai Khan fronting Parliament Building and Sukhbaatar the revolutionary leader astride his horse. But, it also has a more human aspect – with flower displays, men playing competitive games of chess by the Peace Bell (yes you can join in, but be prepared to lose!) and with children riding remote-controlled cars.
If you’re interested in experiencing Ulaanbaatar we include our free (informal and relaxed) city walking tour on each trip we offer. Our city walking tour is designed to give you a contrasting insight into a way of life, compared to that of the rural population. This day is not about museums or shopping – it’s about getting out and about and exploring and discovering. Alternatively, if you’re only in Mongolia for a short while, look at the one-day experiences we offer – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/mongolia-tours/mongolia-one-day-tours/