One day in Ulan-Ude (the Republic of Buryatia)
It’s not a secret that the Trans-Siberian Railway trip is one of the most scenic train rides in the world. The picture before your eyes changes with every train stop and one of such places that may blow your mind is the Republic of Buryatia and its capital Ulan-Ude. Ulan-Ude is a must-see place included in every Trans-Siberian adventure that we offer to our tourists. And we can call it a gem of the Trans-Siberian route because of our local guide Tumun who makes this day a real adventure.
Ulan-Ude is the capital of Buryatia, a piece of Asia in the middle of Siberia. It borders with Mongolia and includes a half of Baikal, the deepest freshwater lake on the planet. It is not one of the biggest Russian cities, yet it is really fascinating with its own unique architecture and hospitality.
Our journey starts from the heart of Ulan-Ude – its central Soviet square where the largest head monument of Lenin stands. Bizarre as it is, this monument is surrounded by government buildings and, actually, is the place where newlyweds take their first pictures as a married couple (Courtyard aka ZAGS is situated just across the street).
Recently renovated the Buryat State Academic Opera and Ballet House is one of the most popular places among locals who value it for the fabulous musical fountain and lots of benches where one can enjoy a delicious ice-cream on a hot summer day (in fact, the temperature can reach 40 C in summer).
After, we head to the Triumph Arch « Tsar Gates» which was built to celebrate the 340th anniversary of Ulan-Ude. Such arches were built in many Russian cities to welcome the crown prince Nicholas Alexandrovich, the last Russian tsar Nicholas II, who went along the Trans-Siberian railway in the summer of 1891.
Going further through the Triumph Arch «Tsar Gates» we will reach a pedestrian part of Lenin Street, the so-called “Ulan-Ude Arbat” with fountains, lots of shops, street musicians, little cozy cafes, and sculptures. Actually, there are plenty of interesting monuments around the city presenting a unique mixture of Asian and Russian cultural peculiarities Buryatia consists of. For example, a granite cross, the Monument for Ulan-Ude city foundation, a sculptural composition “Elements” presented by a powerful trio of horses symbolizing fire, water, and air. Such as sculptures as “Buryatia Youth”, “Mother Buryatia”,” Golden Eagle”, “Student” are worth mentioning, too.
There is also a monument with a secret. The memorial to soldiers who died a heroic death during the Great Patriotic War holds a “time capsule” with a message written by Komsomol members in 1968 to the residents of Buryatia. It is to be opened in 2018.
Buddhist temple Datsan
During your visit to Ulan-Ude, you should definitely see Datsan, a Buddhist temple. It is really worth visiting, for example, Ivolginsky Datsan situated 23 km away from Ulan-Ude in a magnificently peaceful Ivolga village or Rinpoche Bagsha Datsan located on the outskirts of Ulan-Ude.
A lot of locals follow Buddhism, so it will be exciting to see the places which are considered by them to be sacred while visiting Buryatia. No special preparations are needed. Do not smoke or drink alcohol there, be generally respectful and ready to feel revived, fresh and open to the world around you, not to mention the magnificent architecture and beautiful natural sights around.
Where to eat?
Buryatia is a heaven on Earth for meat eaters. There are lots of great places presenting their most favorite dish and local pride– pozy or buuzy. Any Buryat-Mongolian restaurant will do just fine, but we could especially recommend restaurants “Genghis Khan”, “Modern Nomads” and “Geser”. As for the Chinese cuisine which is dearly loved by locals, we advise visiting “Starry Shanghai” (portions are big, food tastes wonderful though not exactly like original Chinese dishes). To have a fun night out you should definitely go to Spinning Panoramic Bar “12”, and yes, it is actually spinning.
In the evening, our local guide Tumun and his wife Elena will invite you to a friendly dinner with his family. You will learn Buryat culture through its cuisine and sincere stories, old legends and funny tales from locals. We believe that the Trans-Siberian Railway adventure is not only about trains, time-zones, nature, vibrant diverse cities, Lake Baikal and Russian food, but also about local real people and their lifestyle and traditions. This is a unique experience that will make your trip great!
Where to stay?
All types of accommodation are available from the presidential luxury suite in the Mergen Bator hotel to Airbnb. Solid 3* options would be the Buryatia hotel and the Odon hotel.
How to get there from Moscow: 6h flight, almost a 4 – day train journey or nearly 6000 km by car. Despite it being so far away, it is definitely one of the must-see Russian cities!
If you are looking for more information to be inspired, check our Essential guide for Trans-Siberian Railway trip.
If you are interested in visiting Ulan-Ude, we are happy to offer you one of our tours Trans-Siberian Adventure Tour, which includes visiting this wonderful Asian city in Russia!