Top things to do

Buddhist Temple in Ulan-Ude

Rinpoche Bagsha Datsan

Roosting high above the city’s far north, the inside of this new and unexpectedly modern Tibetan temple looks like a kind of Buddhist-themed bus terminal, though the 6m-high gilt Buddha is pretty impressive and if y…
Museum in Ulan-Ude

Ethnographic Museum

In a forest clearing 6km from central Ulan-Ude, this outdoor collection of local architecture plus some reconstructed burial mounds and the odd stone totem is worth the trip. It’s divided into seven areas, each devo…
Buryat in Ulan-Ude

Baatarai Urgöö

This yurt complex in the Verkhnyaya Berezovka suburb is a great lunch spot after a visit to the Ethnographical Museum. Take a seat in the main tent and give your taste buds the Buryat treatment in the form of buuzy …
Museum in Ulan-Ude

Khangalov Museum of Buryat History

Housed in a badly ageing Soviet-era structure, the historical museum charges per single-room floor; the best of these is Buddiyskoe Iskustvo (3rd floor), displaying thangkas, Buddhas and icons salvaged from Buryatiy…
Monument in Ulan-Ude

Lenin Head

Ulan-Ude’s main square is entirely dominated by the world’s largest Lenin head (where are all the others with which it competes?), which some maintain looks comically cross-eyed. The 7.7m-high bronze bonce was insta…
Uzbek in Ulan-Ude

Chay Khana

This high-perched Uzbek restaurant has a triangular cushion-scattered dining space cushions, trendy oriental fabrics and a menu of exotic plov, grilled meats and imaginative salads. But it’s the spectacular views of…
Theatre in Ulan-Ude

Opera & Ballet Theatre

UU’s striking Stalinist-era theatre reopened after lengthy renovation in June 2011 (the first performance was for a group of foreign tourists from the luxury Golden Eagle train). Visitors cannot fail to be impressed…
Bar in Ulan-Ude

Bar 12

Capping off the Mergen Bator hotel, this bar probably offers the best views of any in Russia, the entire Buryat capital and the surrounding mountainscape laid out dramatically below you. The bar’s party piece is to …
Church in Ulan-Ude

Odigitria Cathedral

Built between 1741 and 1785, UU’s largest church was also the first stone structure to appear in the city. Used as a museum store from 1929 until the fall of communism, its exterior has been renovated in a chalky wh…
Cafeteria in Ulan-Ude

Appetite

Join the local office worker lunch crush at this self-service canteen and buuzy-free zone where the Russian comfort food is piled high by gruff Buryat servers. Put together a three-course meal for less than R200 and…