Must-See Places in Ulaanbaatar

Thinking of visiting Mongolia for a few days, but only the capital Ulaanbaatar? Although the heart of Mongolia is in the countryside, there is still much to do in the capital. So that you can enjoy your short stay in complete freedom, we give you the following list of ‘5 Basics to Visit in Ulaanbaatar’. Don’t forget to ask our tour managers if these sites are included in your trip!


Gandan Monastery, the historic and spiritual heart of the capital, overlooks the city center as it calmly sits between the yurt districts and modern buildings.
Almost 200 years old, the Buddhist Monastery complex was one of the few that survived the communist purge of the 1930s, and finally regained its religious activities since the 1990s. It is one of the most important Buddhist monasteries in Mongolia, popular with tourist and devoted locals alike. Not only a symbolic place or museum, Buddhist prayers are still held here almost year round. Anyone can visit the monastery, make a small donation and have a mantra read for their good fortune.

The monastery is actually made up of about 10 temples. The most popular one is the White temple in the center, “Migjid Janraisig Süm“. Upon visit into the temple you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the 26.5m golden statue of Avalokitesvara.


The main Sukhbaatar Square is located in the center of Ulaanbaatar, and actually is the point zero of the capital of Mongolia. The square contains the country’s Government Palace and a statue of the revolutionary leader of 1921, Damdin Sukhbaatar in the center, which the square is named after. From here you can look around and go to your next destination.


The National Museum of Mongolia was created in 1924 and is recognized as one of the leading museums in Mongolia. It’s also the largest, containing 30% of all exhibits of Mongolian museums, with archaeological & ethnographic historical objects dating from prehistoric times to the present day. The selected objects are exhibited in chronological and historical order in 10 halls. Some of the permanent exhibits include: The Hunnu (Xiongnu) era, The 13th century (the time of the Chinggis Khaan), The Soviet era, Mongolian traditional garments, etc..

Enjoy your short trip into the Mongol history!


The Choijin Lama Monastery is full of unique and priceless art collections representing the history, the region, the culture, the architecture and the Mongolian craftsmanship during the end of 19th and the beginning of 20th century. The temple is now widely known as the “Monastery of Secret Magic Formulas”.

As history goes, the great Choijin Lama brought together over 300 great artisans from all regions and provinces of Mongolian Khalkha, and had the monastery built under the leadership of Ombo, monk and craftsman of the Ikh Khuree (earlier name of the capital). It’s said that 50 monks were divided into 5 temples and 3 Jasaas ensured the proper functioning of the monastery in the capital. Sadly, it was closed under political repression in 1937 and the monks were dispersed. Now it’s a quiet little museum in the city center, hidden in between the high glass buildings. The high walls bordering the temple is almost as if it’s trying to keep the modern hustle & bustle away and keep a little bit of history inside.


Narantuul Market (sometimes called a “black market”) is the go-to place if you want a bargain. Here you can find everything from clothes to car parts and textiles, at the best value for your money. For example, in early 2012, a fur hat was trading at 80,000MNT, when the  State Department Store sold one at 168,000MNT. Haggling is a widespread practice in the area, both in the market and among souvenir merchants at tourist spots.

REMEMBER: Be careful in this large outdoor market because there are many pickpockets!

Disclaimer: Photo credits to rightful owners

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