Some practical information.
Before starting with description of second half of Ulaanbaatar’s sights I would like to provide you with some hopefully useful information. First of all let’s start from public transport. As I mentioned in my previous post, using local buses requires ownership of a specific smart card. Is not possible to pay cash and or to buy in advance just a single ride ticket. Card or nothing. Then card… Where to buy it? I took my own in a kiosk close to Chinggis Khan square but I’m sure there are more places. Card costs 3.000 Tugrik and this amount is just for the card itself, then is needed to put on some money for tickets. Keep in consideration that average cost of a bus ride is between 300 and 500 Tugrik. I got this info at tourist information office where I suggest you to go as soon as you can. They also give free map of the town. Internet in town is broadly available in hotels, guest houses, cafes and restaurants. However if you prefer to have a local sim, as I did, I suggest to use Unitel one. It worked pretty fine also outside the town, at more than 100 km distance. There are several shops selling all kind of sim cards along Peace Avenue but I’m quite sure they don’t speak any English. I went to an official Unitel store located at Peace Avenue, 20, and I didn’t have any issue in communication with employees. Find the best plan for you among the several available. I want to spend last part of this introduction talking about problems in communication with people in Mongolia. More educated young people speak English and definitely also who works in tourism field. Older people, more often, speak Russian. Basically there is a large remaining share with who is very hard to communicate. My perception, and of course I could be wrong, is that Mongolians are in some way inwardlooking with no much interest on other countries and cultures. I guess they’re very proud of their own culture and don’t want to put it in danger. Now let’s move to second part of tour of Ulaanbaatar and I can tell you by now that I’m going to tell you about best sights of the town.
Away from Peace Avenue.
In this article I will talk about most interesting places located a bit far from Chinggis Khan square and Peace Avenue. In spite of distance I walked to most of them but public transportation (bus) is available and there is always the chance to take a taxi. By the way, it could be useful to know that in UB any car is potentially a taxi. People in the street, when they need a lift, just flag a car with hand, palm down and shortly someone stops. For a foreigner it is probably more difficult because of the language barrier that would make difficult to deal and clarify destination but you can always try.
Gandan Khiid monastery or, being more precise, Gandantegchinlen (meaning “Great place of ultimate joyfulness”) is certainly the most beautiful religious sight in Ulaanbaatar. It is a Buddhist monastery in Tibetan style located north-west of the town. It includes several temples. Few other more modern temple can be found also in the street leading to the monastery. After crossing the gate of the monastery, you will see on the right Vajradhara Temple, my favourite one. It is rich in colours and has a lot of “Mani wheels” all around. Turning these wheels should allow to accumulate good karma (wisdom) and clean bad karma (negativities). Most important temple of the monastery is Avalokiteshvara containing a 26-meters high statue of Buddha, a gift to Mongolia by Nepal and Japan. Within the monastery there are also other buildings including a library and a Buddhist University, that’s why there are many young monks going around in their orange dress. Even if I’ve visited the monastery under an intermittent but heavy rain, I could say this is the place to visit if you have to choose only one in UB. Leaving the site in the direction South, almost at the intersection with Peace Avenue you will find a copy of the iconic Robert Indiana’s Love monument. I’ve seen one of the original in the marvelous Yerevan’s Cascade. This post continues to next page