It 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.
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.
In 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. If 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.