1 Day Itinerary: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s Capital City

With international flights all arriving and departing from Ulaanbaatar, it’s inevitable you’ll spend some time here. Make the most of your time in Mongolia’s capital city with this helpful 1 day itinerary.

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When you only have 24 hours in a destination, it’s easy to panic. How are you ever going to fit in everything you want to see, do, and eat in one day?

Well, you aren’t.

You will, however, be able to fit in a lot if you prioritize and manage your time right. Follow the tips and tricks I’ve learned from living here below and make the most of your time in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital city.

24 Hours in Ulaanbaatar Quick Guide

A quick guide to spending 1 perfect day in Ulaanbaatar:

  • 9:00 am: Arrive into the city from Ulaanbaatar Airport
  • 9:30 am: Drop your bags at you hotel
  • 10:00 am: Breakfast at Bites
  • 11:00 am: Visit the Chinggis Khaan Museum
  • 1:00 pm: Quick tour of the Choijin Lama Temple and Museum
  • 2:00 pm: Lunch next door at Veranda
  • 3:30 pm: Afternoon coffee and quick gallery visit to Art of UB Art Gallery
  • 4:30 pm: Return to your hotel to shower and change
  • 5:30 pm: Quick shopping trip at the State Department Store (5th level)
  • 7:00 pm: Dinner and a Cultural Show at Altan Gadas Restaurant
  • 9:00 pm: After dinner drinks at Dunzengarav Music Bar

Easy Things to do in Ulaanbaatar

With only 24 hours in Ulaanbaatar, it can be overwhelming trying to decide how to spend your day.

Luckily, there are plenty of free things to do as well as great museums, monasteries, and more.

With most things you’ll want to see and do located right in the city center, you can easily walk between destinations and neighborhoods. Just be sure to wear comfortable shoes and to watch where you’re going, especially when crossing the street (be aware of the buses!).

If you do need a taxi to get around, you can simply put your hand out and hail one on the street. The going rate is 2,000 Mongolian tugrik per kilometer.

If you hear anyone refer to the city center, this mostly means the area around Sukhbaatar Square. If you’re staying in that area, use this quick guide to help with things like finding a SIM card, exchanging cash, and more →

Throughout the summer, concerts, art exhibitions, motorcycle rallies, parades, and other ceremonies take place in the square. There’s even a fake lawn set up which has become popular for having urban picnics, playing volleyball, and even for taking an afternoon nap. Be sure to walk through Sukhbaatar Square at least once during your visit to get a glimpse into local Mongolian life.

In the back of the square you won’t be able to miss the Government Palace, which is the equivalent of the Mongolian White House. This is where both the President and Prime Minister have offices and you’ll often find locals coming here to celebrate graduations, weddings, family reunions, and more. It’s a great place for people watching!

Government Palace Ulaanbaatar

Best Museums and Art Galleries in Ulaanbaatar

Chinggis Khaan Museum

If you only have time to visit one museum during your time in Ulaanbaatar, the Chinggis Khaan Museum is the one museum not to miss.

Centrally located, just behind the Government Palace and Sukhbaatar Square, it will take you approximately one to two hours to walk all seven of the museum’s floors.

The museum is the best place to see Mongolia’s most treasured artifacts. Some date back centuries!

Choijin Lama Temple and Museum

To better understand Mongolia’s relationship with Buddhism, interested travelers won’t want to miss the Choijin Lama Temple and Museum.

The complex, which is currently being restored, dates back to the days of Mongolia’s last Bogd Khan and walking through these temples is something special.

There is one English-speaking guide at the temple. I recommend asking if she’s available to walk you through the complex when you visit. Her insight is incredibly helpful, especially if you want to learn more about Mongolian history and Buddhism.

Art of UB Gallery

The Art of UB Gallery is one of my favorite places in the city that’s well off the beaten path. With a young, female owner, the gallery has a new exhibition every month. Exhibitions are always by local artists.

The gallery also has a coffee shop inside, so it’s a great place to stop and find some inspiration during an afternoon in Ulaanbaatar.

Shopping in the Capital

Mary & Martha Mongolia

When it comes to buying souvenirs and gifts in Ulaanbaatar, Mary & Martha’s is one of the most unique shops in town.

They are a sustainable, fair, and ethical trade shop, something that has been a part of their mission since opening back in 2007. Today, their business still directly supports the growth of small and micro local businesses in here Mongolia. Every product in the shop is made locally by hand, making it a great place to find unique and special one-of-a-kind pieces.

The Mary & Martha store is located off Peace Avenue, a few blocks from the State Department Store.

Black Market (Naran Tuul)

To get to the Black Market, you’ll need to take a taxi or the bus. Otherwise, it’s a 45 minute walk from the city center.

No matter how you get there, it’s worth the hassle to get over to Naran Tuul, as it’s called in Mongolian. With everything from cashmere to deels (the traditional garments Mongolians wear), bags and purses to handcrafted equestrian saddles and tack, riding boots, knives and anything else you can think of, the market is a chance to experience an authentic bazaar in the city. This is where locals come in from the countryside to do their shopping.

The Black Market is closed on Tuesdays.

Black Market Ulaanbaatar Itinerary

Where to Eat and Drink

Breakfast: Bites

One of the best cafes in the city, Bites is great for the big windows and good food they serve.

Near to the Chinggis Khaan Museum and Sukhbaatar Square, Bites opens at 8 am during the week (11 am on Sundays) and serves delicious coffee and bagel sandwiches. I always leave here happy with the food and service.

Lunch: Veranda

A longtime staple in Ulaanbaatar, Veranda is one of my favorite restaurants because of their diverse menu and great outdoor patio. I prefer eating here for lunch when it’s less crowded and I can also enjoy the nice summer weather.

Dinner: Altan Gadas Restaurant

Altan Gadas is a great restaurant for trying Mongolian food. Their meat plates feed 4 to 6 people and are a great way to taste a little bit of everything.

Book a table in advance inside the restaurant, with a view of the stage. There is a show everyday starting at 7 pm staring local contortionists.

Be sure to use this Google Maps pin →

Top Ulaanbaatar Itinerary

Best Places to Stay for a Short Visit

Hostel One

For a short visit, Hostel One is a safe, clean, reliable place to stay in the city.

The hotel staff is very friendly and speaks great English, so they can answer your questions.

Check out Hostel One →

Best Western Sukhbaatar Square

The Best Western Tuushin Hotel is one of the best hotels in town when it comes to service, cleanliness, and amenities. The hotel is next to Sukhbaatar Square making it easy to walk to most of the city’s best museums, restaurants, and bars.

Breakfast, free Wi-Fi, a rooftop bar, gym, coffee shop, and other amenities make the Best Western Tuushin my hotel of choice for travelers coming to Mongolia.

Check out the Best Western Tuushin →

Helpful Tips for Visiting

Download the Jet Scooter app (Apple, Google) and Google Maps for an offline map of the city before you start exploring.

Don’t forget to hydrate and wear comfortable shoes when walking the city. Between the jetlag and the 1,350 meters (4,430 ft) elevation, you might not feel exactly yourself immediately after you land.

Another helpful tip is to always carry Mongolian cash with you. Especially small 500 and 1,000 MNT bills. Taxis hailed off the street won’t accept credit cards and they may not even have change for larger bills.

Author: Breanna Wilson

Hi! Sain uu! I’m Breanna, an American travel writer and adventurer living in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia for more than 5 years. I’ve written for and been featured in Condé Nast Traveler, CNN, Forbes, and the New York Times, among others. Read more of my Mongolia travel articles here.

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