With over one-third of the country's population, Ulaanbaatar is by far Mongolia's largest city. It is also the transport and industrial center of the country. Often shortened to UB by foreigners, Mongolia's capital still has the look and feel of a neglected European city from the 1950s - but not for long. The old Soviet cars and buses are being replaced by newer Japanese models, apartments are being converted into flashy shops and it seems that every young Mongolian now has a mobile phone. Ulaanbaatar prides itself on being an increasingly modern (though still very laid-back) city. Despite all this, men and women still stroll along the main streets in traditional dress.

Built along the river, the Tuul River, and surrounded by picturesque mountains, the center of Ulaanbaatar is dominated by Soviet-style high-rise apartment blocks. Yet about 250,000 locals live in sprawling suburbs on the outskirts of the city, opting to live in traditional Ger.
It is a very pleasant place to visit and to base yourself for trips around the country. The city has interesting monasteries and museums and excellent cultural shows, so try to spend some time here before heading out to the glorious valleys, steppes or desert of Mongolia.