With its smiley Asian features, cosy city centre and fascinating Mongol-Buddhist culture, the Buryat capital is one of Eastern Siberia’s most likeable cities. Quietly busy, welcoming and, after Siberia’s Russian cities, refreshingly exotic, it’s a pleasant place to base yourself for day trips to Buddhist temples and flits to eastern Lake Baikal’s gently shelving beaches, easily reachable by bus. For some travellers UU is also a taster for what’s to come in Mongolia.
Founded as a Cossack ostrog (fort) called Udinsk (later Verkhneudinsk) in 1666, the city prospered as a major stop on the tea-caravan route from China via Troitskosavsk (now Kyakhta). Renamed Ulan-Ude in 1934, it was a closed city until the 1980s due to its secret military plants (there are still mysterious blank spaces on city maps).
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Ulan-Ude.