How To Spend A Day In Ulan-Ude
If you’re catching the Trans-Siberian or Trans-Mongolian express, chances are you’ll be looking at making a stop off in the small city of Ulan-Ude. Located about 100km from the Russian-Mongolian boarder. This quaint city in Russia may not appear to have that much to offer but i can assure you it is well worth a visit.
If you’re arriving by train, I recommend staying at one of the four hostels located directly opposite the station for ease. I stayed at the Dostrosky hostel which was great for the one night I spent there.
I arrived in the city after spending three consecutive days on the Trans-Siberian express from Yekaterinburg. As much as I had enjoyed the trip, I couldn’t wait to get off and stretch my legs for a couple of days before heading on into Mongolia. After living off instant noodles and Russian tea for the past few days I was excited to get off and eat something else. When travelling I usually try to stay away from the typical ‘western’ chains such as McDonalds and KFC etc. as much as possible but I just couldn’t resist the craving I had upon arrival. After dropping my bags in my room, I got onto the WiFi and checked my maps for the nearest McDonalds. It was to my shock that there was none. It was then that I realised how remote the place really was…
I woke up the next day (after crying myself to sleep due to disappointment) and headed out into the city. The main area is all based around ‘Lenin Street’, about a 15 minute walk from the railway station. At this point I need to be honest in saying that there really isn’t much to do in this small city besides walk around and see how true Russians live. The main thing that had attracted me to stop off in Ulan-Ude was the worlds largest Lenin statue. It looked pretty cool from what I’d seen on photos and it certainly didn’t disappoint in person. The statue was huge - it stretched up as high as the six story government building behind it. On the Moscow-Yekaterinburg leg of my Trans-Siberian journey, I’d met a young boy named Pasha, and his grandmother who I’d got along with fondly after they looked after me and helped me out on the train. During one of our many Google Translate conversations, I’d found out that they were heading to Ulan-Ude and we had exchanged numbers in order to meet up once I’d reached the city.
It was great having a Russian family with me during my stay, as they were able to show me the highlights of the city and the best local food. We met up at the Lenin head and then firstly took me to the open air museum. It was amazing to learn about how the local Bavarian people once lived in this vast landscape. After spending a few hours there they took me to try a local delicacy named ‘Boozi’. They were these meat filled dumplings that apparently originated in the region and were now so popular in the country that they were being sold in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
After the open air museum, we headed back to Lenin street and spent the evening here. Theres a stunning opera house with fountain outside that looks very pretty lit up at night time. If you’ve got longer in the city, I was told that the opera there is outstanding and one of the best in the whole of Russia.
We ended the evening by grabbing some more Boozi (yes they really were that good!) from the market at the bottom of the street. The markets were filled with street food and knock-off designer shops.
Unfortunately later that evening, we had to say our sad farewells and I headed back to my hostel to prepare for my departure the following day to Ulaanbaatar on the Trans-Mongolian express.