Difference between Ulaanbaatar and Countryside of Mongolia

Mongolia is a definite destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. With 3 million people, Mongolia is the least populated country in this world. The vast land of the country has urban capital city Ulaanbaatar, and almost half of Mongolians are living in Ulaanbaatar city. 

In Ulaanbaatar, you can see the skyscrapers, luxury cars, fashion people, and a lot more like every other big city. 

But it’s totally different when it comes to the outside of Ulaanbaatar. 

Here is the difference between the big capital Ulaanbaatar city and the Mongolian countryside.  


1. Population and people

In Ulaanbaatar city you can see people rushing to their work, stuck in a traffic jam, but in the countryside, especially in the Gobi region, you will hardly spot human beings, around 10km radius. There are only a few big cities with a population of 10 to 20 thousand people and small villages with 1 to 2 thousand people. But while you are traveling in Mongolia most of the time you will be far away from cities and villages. 

Ulaanbaatar citizens are more like busy or working hard, and always rushing to somewhere. Different from Ulaanbaatar in the countryside you can see people are living without time, going with the sun. They don’t really rush or hustle. You can expect the most peaceful, and chilled people in the Mongolian countryside.


2. Food 

In Ulaanbaatar, you can visit various types of restaurants, including international food chains, such as pizza hut, and burger king, but in the countryside prepare yourself for lots of mutton, beef, and dairy products such as fresh yogurt, or milk curds. 


3. Electricity 

In Ulaanbaatar, you can use electricity for 24 hours a day, but in the countryside, you only can use electricity in the evening time, just for charge your phone and camera if you are lucky.  Most of the tourist camps have electricity but local guest house camps or nomadic families hardly have electricity. 


4. Language barrier 

In Ulaanbaatar, you can find people who can speak English, Japanese, and Korean fluently and can communicate with anyone without any problem but in the countryside you will definitely need a guide to communicating with Mongolian people. But no worries, Mongolians are kind-hearted and very welcome for their guests so everywhere you go, you can still feel their hospitality. 


5. Traffic 

In Ulaanbaatar traffic jam is like every other city, you can be stuck in traffic for an hour when it comes to rush hour. It is totally different in a country road. The only reason to stop your vehicle would be breathtaking scenery or animals who’s crossing the road. 

Also in Ulaanbaatar you can take a bus with only 20 cents, can go everywhere, but in the countryside, just to reach the destination, you will need to hire a car because, in Mongolia, local transport not really developed, and only can get you to the main cities of the provinces with plane or bus. And the main attractions located far from the cities, and villages.


6. Accommodation 

Ulaanbaatar has lots of 5, 4-star hotels, and more guesthouses and hostels for travelers to stay. Outside of Ulaanbaatar city, tourist camp, local family guest house, or nomadic family, all same - Mongolian traditional ger dwelling will be your accommodation.


7. Attractions

Ulaanbaatar city is full of interesting places that you should never miss, such as Gandan Monastery, Dinosaur museum, Bogd Khan Palace Museum. To learn more about Mongolian history, culture, and much more, you would need at least 1 day in Ulaanbaatar city. However, if you want to experience Mongolian lifestyle and natural beauty, you have to leave the city and head to the countryside. But you are going to need a lot more days than you imagined to discover every attraction in Mongolian vast land.

We can say that Mongolia has 5 different destinations for overland travel. Western Mongolia, Northern Mongolia, Central Mongolia, Gobi region, and eastern Mongolia. 


8. Things to do 

As being the biggest urban in the country Ulaanbaatar has lots of things to do. You can walk around parks, drink ice-cold beer in a cozy jazz bar, and have fun at concerts.

On the other hand, in the countryside you can experience more active and adventurous things, such as horseback riding, hiking around mountains, and climb up to the sand dunes or even white water rafting. Of course depending on your travel schedule, you can choose what the best is for you. 


As many tourists said, Ulaanbaatar and the countryside of Mongolia are totally different and do feel like traveling in another country.

But no matter where you go and visit Mongolia will give you a lifelong expression.