If Mongolia’s yin is its pristine countryside, then Ulaanbaatar (UB) conforms nicely to its yang. An enormous city of pulsating commerce, wild traffic, sinful nightlife and bohemian counter-culture, the Mongolian capital elicits as much shock as it does excitement. The contrasts within the city can be exasperating too; Armani-suited businessmen rub shoulders with mohawked punks and del-clad nomads fresh off the steppes. One minute you’re dodging the path of a Hummer H2 and the next you’re mystified by groaning Buddhist monks at Gandan Khiid. It’s a wild place that bursts into life after slumbering through a long winter. This chaotic capital is not the easiest city to navigate, but with a little patience, travellers can take care of all their logistical needs, watch traditional theatre, sample international cuisine and party till three in the morning. This ever-changing city may be the biggest surprise of your Mongolian adventure.
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Need to know
Mongolia: travel books to read before you go
This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Mongolia guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip...