The best sights are outside the capital. Raw, unspoiled, rugged. But if you’re stuck in the city, why not play the life of a tourist visiting the Square, a couple of museums, some temples and memorial shrine?




One of many temple doors in Bogd Khaan Palace Museum


The climb towards the Memorial honoring Russian soldiers who helped the Mongolians during the war.



Wherever you are in the city, it’s a breeze to combine a trip to the Winter Palace or Bogd Khan Palace Museum ( check this link ) and Zaisan Hill. The latter is a memorial honoring Russian soldiers built on a hill overlooking the city and is a very popular site among locals especially the younger set. Best time to visit is right before sunset. Be prepared to climb up the stairs to the circular Shrine. It can also get crowded and windy late afternoons.




Atop Zaisan Hill is this open air Memorial Shrine. Popular with locals. Typically crowded around sunset time.


From the circular Shrine, one has a 360 degree view of the city.



Another “combination trip” is the Sukhbataar Square and the National History Museum.
The Square gets more vibrant and festive on weekends when locals set up stalls around the Square. Right across the Square is the Blue Sky Tower Hotel, a very modern building wrapped in glass. The Museum introduces one to the grandeur of the Great Mongolian Empire. Mongolians take pride in this and understandably so. And if you still have the energy, a few minutes and few blocks away from the Square is the Ulaan Bataar State Department Store. Along the way are many eateries from Cafe Amsterdam to Mongolian Barbecue eateries to Korean restaurants, as well as many souvenir shops.




Sukhbataar Square. Sukhbataar means “Red Hero”.


The Square and the Blue Sky Tower Hotel, wrapped in glass, blocking a good view of the mountains from the Square!



My best meal in Mongolia was in one of these Barbeque Buffet eateries. You stuff your bowl with all sorts of veggies and meats, then make your own sauce concoction, and let this guy cook everything for you on a hot round stone table. Watch him as he cooks your meal. Quite a performance, plus it’s really a good meal. Not a bad deal.



Cafe Amsterdam. Coffee House. Wifi and Toilet Break. Same street from the Square towards the State Department Store.


Good coffee and cheesecake too!



The cheesecake in Cafe Amsterdam was good. Good coffee, free wifi, great ambience and clean toilets! It’s a good stop between the State Department Store and the Square. If you skip this Cafe, no worries as the Store has a fast food area though frankly I didn’t enjoy my lunch there. Instead, I enjoyed the sandwiches and coffee in the tiny coffee shop beside the supermarket within the same building.




The Food Court at the 5th floor of Ulaan Bataar Department Store. No like. Try something else. I tried the tiny coffee shop (good sandwiches) on the same floor as the supermarket within this store building. Better!



As we walked back to the Square, we found burger stalls which looked popular among locals. It’s the same stall we found in Zaisan Hill but at the time, they ran out of burgers. (We got lousy corn dogs instead) Further on, one finds the Ulaan Bataar Hotel, the Opera, and a small park.




The equivalent of McDonald’s in Ulaan Bataar?


You’re not too far away from these sites from the Blue Sky Tower and the Square.



Finally, the Gandantegchinleng Buddhist Monastery requires at least an hour to go through the temples spread across a square in this bustling city. A pair of golden feet, a lovely Temple in Tibetan architecture (looks like a Bhutanese Dzong to me), many prayer wheels, a few pagoda temples, and monks chanting in between their mobile calls! The place where the monks pray and chant can do with some repair and sprucing up. If you’re not joining an organized tour, hail a cab to bring you here. You can ask the cab driver to wait up and later drive you to the Museum of Natural History (I’d blog separately on this) and if you hanker for more, go visit the Intellectual Museum and be puzzled with many Mongolian puzzles!


A Bhutanese-looking Dzong in the Buddhist Monastery Complex?


Chant Break: I wonder what these monks are chatting about.