The arrival of the upscale hotel in Ulan Bator sparked an increase in bars, pubs, clubs, and restaurants catering to tourists, resulting in a far better choice of evening entertainment in Mongolia. In addition, the capital offers a selection of cultural events, including several fascinating folk performances such as the Tumen Ehk Ensemble and the Khatan Ekh Group. Ulan Bator also boasts the State Opera and Ballet Theater, the National Academic Drama Theater with regular shows by the Mongolian National Song and Dance Ensemble and the must-see State Circus.
Bars and Pubbing in Mongolia
Nightlife in Ulan Bator may not yet resemble that of Ibiza, but it’s coming along nicely, with a string of nightclubs in the city equipped with the latest interior design, funky lighting and music including house, progressive, trance, and more. The Mass Club (Sakhan Center, Bayngol, Ulan Bator) is the latest and greatest and is crowded out with the capital's movers and shakers. For travelers looking for a more traditional night out, the Chicago Nightclub (6th Khoroo, Chingeltai, Ulan Bator) offers Mongolian live music aimed at a mature audience.
The largest of Ulan Bator’s clubs is Metropolis (Chinggis Hotel, Ulan Bator), with a capacity up to 1,000 set in a stylish, ultra-modern VIP cocktail bar and huge dance floor. Disco, rock, pop, salsa, and techno are spun via popular local DJs. It’s a regular hangout for expats as well as tourists. The hotel bars have a regular following, with the View Lounge (Corporate Hotel, Ulan Bator) a favorite for its rooftop setting. For sports fans, the US-inspired Detroit (Seoul Street, City Center, Ulan Bator) offers TV-screened matches, alcohol, burgers and fries.
For an other worldy experience, the pristine white-on-white décor of the Crystal Lounge (Peace Avenue, central Ulan Bator) belongs more in Manhattan than Mongolia. It’s a cocktail-only watering hole that is well worth a visit for its bubbling water-filled walls. Summer in Ulan Bator sees the annual opening of Greenland (Peace Avenue, central Ulan Bator), an Oktoberfest-style beer and booze tent that is popular with tourists and locals alike. For a unique musical show, the History Club (Juulchin Gudamj, central Ulan Bator) features live contemporary music played on traditional instruments. Mongolian cuisine and alcoholic drinks are available until midnight.
Dining and Cuisine in Mongolia
Traditional Mongolian cuisine contains few shocks for Western stomachs, although several government websites advise against eating marmot, a staple of nomadic dining, as the little animals can carry bubonic plague. Local dishes are filling, simple plates of mutton and beef served with pasta. Dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and cream play a major role in most recipes. Mongolian tea with salt and milk is widely consumed, while fermented mare’s milk (airag) is another popular summer beverage. Traditional Mongolian restaurants are everywhere in Ulan Bator, along with a good choice of international cuisine.
For a real Mongolian gastronomic experience, Taliin Mongol (Juulchin Gudamj, central Ulan Bator) is the place to try. Peasant specialties include grilled yak cheese with yogurt, steamed lamb khorkog, traditional horse sausage of the Kazakh people, and rich, filling soups. Camel milk and wine made from sea buckthorn wash down the dishes. City Nomads (Peace Avenue, central Ulan Bator) is known for its upscale Mongolian ambience and serves delicious food with Western flair and flavors. For visitors unsure about the local cuisine, BD’s Mongolian Barbecue (Seoul Street, Ulan Bator) is the first US chain to open in the country. It’s popular with locals too and its profits are donated to the Mongolian Youth Development Foundation.