Photo: Elizabeth Dalziel/ AP
Catch the buzz
After some time here in Ulan Bator, I would like to put the record straight. My Mongolian friends and I feel that all too often websites, travel guides and publicity paint an unfair portrait of UB, the capital of Mongolia.
Contrary to articles I have read, cows do not graze in the city, rush hour does not begin at noon and nightlife does not consist of a few shots of fermented mare’s milk around a stove in a ger. With 28% of the population of Mongolia residing in UB, there is a lot going on.
You can start the day with breakfast at the FPMT Buddhist centre, before visiting the Gandan Monastery. Take a walking tour of the city, checking out the excellent free art gallery opposite the Thai restaurant (a great place for lunch). Then head to the "Black Market" for a fantastic shopping experience. Keep an eye out for pickpockets as you stock up on antiques, MP3 players, kitchen utensils and fake Rolexes.
In the evening, choose from an eclectic selection of Mongolian, Italian, Korean, Chinese, Mediterranean, Indian and much more. Top it off with a pub crawl down Seoul Street, taking in some live music, and finish up at one of the many nightclubs, karaoke bars or late-opening restaurants. If you are still hungry … the Mongolian snack of buuz (dumplings) will sort you out!
The sun always shines in Mongolia. The locals are very friendly, the city is buzzing with development and rich contrasts and the countryside is not far away. Why visit a stagnant, complacent city when you can visit UB?