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Kategorie: Ulaanbaatar

Mongolia 2017 – Ulaanbaatar Part V

Winter Palace of the Bogd KhanSo if you are travelling to Mongolia make sure to spend some days in Ulaanbaatar for the aforementioned particularities and all the other things there are to discover. If you take the winter palace of Bogdh Khaan for example, it is an absolute highlight of ancient architecture directly within the city. Unfortunately not all sights are in the center; nonetheless some of the most beautiful are close to Ulaanbaatar. What you can also find close by are a large number of luxurious ger-camps that give you an impression of life in the 13th century. Ger camp 13th centuryOf course they are all made to serve as tourist attractions but everything you see is made with a love for detail and for conveying the high quality of Mongolian craftsmanship and in general the old Mongolian way of life. Another must-see here is also the huge Chinggis Khaan Statue surrounded by untouched nature. It is here where I saw an almost extinct Mongolian dog named Arslan (Bankhar, Baatar, Bars, Baavgai) for the first time. Unfortunately I never saw that kind of dog anywhere else in Mongolia as its population has decreased considerably. I was very disappointed that I didn’t manage to take any pictures of the dog.

Off-Road Offraod Off Road driving in MongoliaUnfortunately it is impossible to reach these areas with public transport since the infrastructure still has its way to go. Without a car and a driver you can’t really get anywhere and you should not rely on train or bus as they will not take you far. You could try to rent a car but it might not work as local rental stations unwillingly rent cars to inexperienced tourists wanting to go off road. You would get a vehicle though at the known international car rental stations but you should keep in mind that the navigation system does not depict all streets and it would be a mistake to have the expectation that we have from a European, American or even Chinese navigation system. The reason for this is that there are only a few asphalt roads connecting the towns and no highways at all. But of course Mongolia is not known for that but especially loved for the off-road experiences it has to offer.

Blue, Mongolia lakes and desertsYou simply have to be willing to engage into an extraordinary adventure that will take you through wide terrains, guide you over lakes, will let you stuck in mud or sand und experience many more unexpected surprises that you would never have thought of. This is Mongolia, a great adventure that you will never forget!

Mongolia 2017 – Ulaanbaatar Part IV

First museum in Mongolia, the Mongolian National MuseumIt is not only the continuously growth of the city with new buildings popping up everywhere, but the capital is also transforming to a modern city for young people. One may find numerous cafes, stores, clubs and other attractions for the young as well as entertainment centers and amusement parks for the children. Personally I enjoyed the National Museum of Mongolia where I could admire the ancient findings from the time of the Hunnu (Xiong-nu) and the Ashina-Clan. The Dinosaur museum was also a must see, especially for my daughter, as this museum houses the biggest dinosaur fossil collection in the entire world.

Hunnu Xiongnu Shaman Mountain Ulaanbaatar

My wife on the other hand was thrilled by the open air shaman center that lies in the heart of the city. It is a spiritual location, a holy mountain from the time of the Hunnes, blessed by shamans from around the world as sacred ground. Here you can spend a lot of time observing shaman rituals. But caution is required as this is a sacred place full of small surprises, so one should better not leave the existing path. We saw a snake there that had just caught itself a mouse. The snake was small but for us tourists it was mere invisible until Khangai pointed it out for us. Unfortunately this place is almost covered these days by the high buildings built around it and the construction companies claiming every free spot in the city. Hence this religious place is hardly viewable from the outside and has become somehow an insider gem that fortunately can still be visited.

Traditional Mongolian Food Restaurant in Ulan BatorIn matters of food you will have no trouble finding a restaurant in Ulaanbaatar suiting your taste. You will find a big variety reaching from traditional Mongolian cuisine, to Korean, Turkish delicacies or Halal food. Fast-food eateries are also becoming a thing and so you can buy döner kebap, pizza and the tourist attraction Mongolian Barbecue almost everywhere. I loved the Mongolian cuisine that resembled western food a lot but had a spectacular taste!

If you are a vegetarian, it is easy to find a restaurant were no meat is being cooked in the capital. When travelling outside of Ulaanbaatar better take some meat-free food with you from the city before leaving. In the worst case you will have to eat a bunch of really sweet pastry sold in the small stores that you can find along the Steppe. Mongols usually eat meat and it is through tourists that they learned that there are people who can’t or don’t want to eat meat. So a vegetarian might be new to them but they will do anything to help you not to starve. Mongolian Cuisine Khuushuur Buuz Boortsog Khorkhog BoodogIf you are a vegan though, it will be hard to find nuts or vegetable in the Steppe to ensure a balanced diet. So if you don’t bring enough food from the city you might have to prepare yourself to a period of fasting. What you could also do, is ask the locals to prepare you dumplings without filling or fry them only with onions – that shouldn’t be a problem.

Mongolia 2017 – Ulaanbaatar Part III

Buddha statue in Ulaanbaatar, near the Zaisan MemorialFor years now we have been travelling in central Asia and have gathered many impressions. Ulaanbaatar might not be a very big capital but it was extremely interesting for us as the Mongolian culture and tradition flows into the everyday life of the city’s inhabitants.

Our journey has started in a good way but we still weren’t sure about one thing: how our 8-year old daughter would cope with the trip. First of all it is a really long flight for a child at her age and furthermore we were visiting a country where she would have a language barrier. Spinning Buddhist Prayer Drums Monastery, Girar TamboresGood thing is that we have a friend living in Mongolia who used to live in Germany and so we could communicate with Khangai and his family in German and in English. This helped to increase our daughter’s interest in the trip and she could join all activities with curiosity and joy. We sadly noticed that there were no other tourist-children to be seen anywhere even though Mongolia is such a child-friendly country. It might have to do with the quite expensive flight costs that parents decide not to take their children with them. Because besides that there is no other reason not to take your child with you as there might not be another country as tranquil and peaceful as Mongolia. A trip to Mongolia is for a child a cultural enrichment on one hand and a healthy withdrawal from hi-tech and computer games on the other. Parents could give their children the chance to experience and enjoy the solitude in nature. Life of nomad Mongolian children, playing in friendshipFrom a visit at a nomadic camp the children would learn how well people can get along with only a minimum of food diversity and technological facilities compared to our overfilled lives. Language barriers are no actual obstacle for children to quickly make friends with the locals. You parents will be surprised to see how creative the children can be together in coming up with games using only a few and simple things given to them in order to have fun.

Hunting with eagles, falconry in Mongolia, Golden Eagles FestivalUlaanbaatar is a rapidly growing city and it will soon be a metropolis. In my opinion it is good that Mongolia is working its way towards economical independence even if the nomadic life is being inhibited this way. You can see this in the fact that half of the Mongolian people live in the capital and the rest is scattered throughout the land living as nomads. This is one more reason that makes Mongolia such an extraordinary travel destination: the population living all over this vast country hardly reaches the number of people living in Berlin. Here you can be sure that if you are not in the capital or a couple other bigger towns you will not cross path with anyone else on your journey. Thus an exciting time expects you and your travel companion, with indescribable nature, endless horizons and many animals. Concerning animals, Mongolia is a paradise for birds of prey as you can see as many as stray cats in Turkey.

Mongolia 2017 – Ulaanbaatar Part II

Temple of Boddhisattva Avalokiteshvara at Gandantegchinlen MonasteryUpon our arrival, we were picked up directly at the airport by the Hunnu Mongolia Shuttle Service and were driven to the apartment. In the capital Ulaanbaatar everything meets European standards. You can see no signs of nomadic life here but people have running hot water, electricity stoves, radiators or even air conditioning. Thus you will not have to miss anything you are used to from home.

Gandantegchinlen, Migjid Janraisig - Mongolian Buddhist monastery in the Mongolian capital of UlaanbaatarDepending on your flight connection and your time of arrival, you have to expect to have a jetlag on the first day and surely you cannot ignore the time zone difference. It would be good to sleep as much as possible on the plane so you don’t have to spend your first day necessarily in bed as the city has so much to offer. As exotic trips are usually planed under a tight schedule und one does want to see as much as possible, it is important to do a good preliminary planning. This way you will be able to invest precious time in actual sightseeing than wandering or haphazardly hang around.

Buddhism in Mongolia derives much of its recent characteristics from Tibetan Buddhism of the Gelug and Kagyu lineages, but is distinct and presents its own unique characteristicsAfter a short rest we directly drove to the city using the Hunnu Mongolia Taxi Service. Our first stop was the Gandan Monastery (Gandantengchinlen), were our friend Lama D. Sukhbold works.

Sükhbaatar Square previously known as Chinggis SquareNot so far from there is the parliament that stands directly in the Sukhbaatar park and is a tourist attraction. The vast statues of Chinggis Khaan, Ögedei Khan and Kubilay Khaan alone are an eye-catcher. We had the luck that day to see local visitor groups from the outer provinces (aimags) of Mongolia shooting photos in front of the parliament building wearing traditional garments. I believe that most of us living in the western world think that time in Mongolia passes by really slowly or has even stopped und that Mongolian people walk around in their traditional garments like they did a hundred years ago. This is of course not the case as Mongols are using the advantages of modern life, especially in the capital. Nevertheless we were able to observe that, despite the infiltration of modern life, there are fortunately some traditional elements kept alive by the nomadic families.

Kumis, kumiss, koumiss, kumys, qymyz or airag is a fermented dairy product traditionally made from mare's milkIf this is a good thing or not it is up to the Mongols to decide. For us tourists it might be a bit disappointing not to see what was hoped for, as for example Mongols living persistent to their tradition, using no technology whatsoever and even light fires in a survival-way style. That might be a wishful thinking and it might even be found in small minorities as a tourist attraction, but reality shows that these people also have the right to make their hard lives a little bit more comfortable. We westerners can consider ourselves lucky if we are invited and allowed to take part in the hospitality of the native inhabitants of Mongolia.

Mongolia 2017 – Ulaanbaatar Part I

An adventurous family trip to Mongolia

Chinggis Khaan Parliament Ulaanbaatar Sukhbaatar SquareImportant information in advance!

As a German citizen you don’t need a visa to travel to Mongolia. For other citizenships check the following website to get more information on visa issues.

For your trip to Mongolia it is extremely important to have a good international travel insurance. It would also be wise to include a trip interruption and return plan because you never know what might happen on an adventure trip. But let me put you at ease as you will hardly see any criminality in Mongolia, as it is unlikely to be attacked by a wild animal in the Steppe. It is more important to take the needed precautions against Hepatitis A and B that are advised for exotic travel destinations. Furthermore it is advisable to prepare a good equipped medical kit in order to deal with the usual vacation sicknesses. But no need to worry, you can obtain all essential medication in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar.

Ulaanbaatar Улаанбаатар ᠤᠯᠠᠭᠠᠨᠪᠠᠭᠠᠲᠤᠷ Roter Held Улан-Батор Ulan-Bator Ulan BatorConcerning the flight, there are several airlines flying to Ulaanbaatar. The Mongolian MIAT usually might be more expensive but it is a direct flight most of the times. Other alternatives are Air China, Aeroflot and Turkish Airlines. On our first trip in 2017 we chose MIAT and we reached Ulaanbaatar without any big inconvenience. The service and flight personnel were very polite. There was no trouble entering or exiting the country as the Mongolian airport staff and the flight attendants speak English. A little side note, it is advised to be able to read Cyrillic as in Mongolia the Latin alphabet is rarely used. Also note that if you have a connection flight to catch, make sure to book with a respectable amount of time in-between flights. The problem is not that you might lose your connection but that your luggage can not arrive simultaneously.

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