Ulan Bator, meaning "Red Hero," is the capital of Mongolia. With a population of around 1.2 million, it is also the largest city in the country. Since it has only recently begun industrializing, Ulan Bator is a mixture of Mongolian traditionalism, Soviet housing, and purely Eastern aesthetics.
While the city may seem stark at first, there are numerous treasures waiting for the traveler. As traditionalists, Mongolians love their capital, they understand that it is not an Asian beauty, but in their hearts they are aware of the city's history, culture and many struggles. Foreigners who take the time to get to know the faces that are hidden behind the gray walls will discover a hospitable and warm-hearted people. While exploring the city from different angles you will probably get to witness the abject poverty of many of the ex-nomads who in recent years have come to the city to find jobs.
See the Bogd Kahn Museum to experience the beautiful green palace in person while learning about Mongolia's past, many of the collections feature a rare insight into Mongolian history. Two major monasteries - the Choijin Lama Monastery and Gandan Monastery - are top priorities for travelers staying in Ulan Bator. Both monasteries come complete with museums, artifacts, and the chance to explore the spirituality that prevails in modern Mongolia. The temples themselves represent a purely Asian motif, and are a perfect representation of Mongolia's rich cultural heritage.
The Zaisan Memorial celebrates the joining of Russians and Mongols during both major world wars, and its location provides a rich view over the vast cityscape. The International Intellectual Museum can be an enjoyable outing for families looking to explore Mongolian puzzles, games and toys. Peace Avenue is the main street that stretches from east to west through the center, it is the main street where you can shop or dine in one of the many restaurants. The street also passes by the southern edge of the central Chinggis Square.
Visitors can also attend one of Ulan Bator's numerous festivals that take place throughout the year. One of the biggest events is Naadam, a sporting event that takes place in the middle of July. Along with music festivals, dances, and Mongolian sporting events, there are many festivities that are exciting and interesting for everyone.