Ulan-Ude is the last real Russian city before reaching the border with Mongolia. It was my seventh stop along the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian Railway, with departure from Moscow and destination in Beijing.
Anyway, only a few travelers stop here, most either continue east, along the classic Trans-Siberian route to Vladivostok or turn south along the Trans-Mongolian route.
The stop in Ulan-Ude was mandatory because, as I wrote here, I crossed the border between Russia and Mongolia by bus and not by train.
I read on the internet that border checks are faster for passengers arriving by bus because there are fewer people to control. For this reason, I made the change between train and bus in Ulan-Ude. Some speak of a 7-8 hour train stop, while all routine operations have been done in my case within two hours.
So, if you start from Irkutsk and want to pass the border by train, you don’t need to stop here. If you wish to cross the border by bus instead, you must get off the train and take the bus in Ulan-Ude.
Don’t forget the following things:
- The Trans-Mongolian trains do not leave every day. There are only two trains per week (three in high season). Be careful when planning your trip.
- I recommend booking the bus in advance using a travel agency (you can do it up to a month before departure). In fact, if you do it on-site, the bus could already be sold-out. I used this travel agency for the reservation.
Ulan-Ude in a nutshell
The following is an interactive map. The yellow pins mark some of the main points of interest of Ulan-Ude, while the black ones mark the railway station and the bus station. You need to zoom out to see the Ethnographic Museum because it is located outside the city center.
Ulan-Ude bus station is a twenty-minute walk from the train station. Since I had more than two hours between the train arrival (5 am) and the bus departure (7:30 am), I took a long walk in the center of Ulan-Ude. At that time of the day, there was quite nobody on the streets.
All Russian cities have one. This one stands out from the others because it represents only the head of the Soviet leader but in large dimensions.
Triumphal Arch “the Royal Gate”
There are several historic administrative buildings in this area and the Ulan-Ude Opera House.
This partly pedestrian street starts from the Lenin Monument and crosses the entire historic center of Ulan-Ude. It is worth going along it because several palaces, museums, sculptures, and typical architectures are located here, such as:
Buryatia Nature Museum
Art Gallery of Asian Peoples
Museum of History of Ulan-Ude
Saint Nicholas Church
Probably the most famous Orthodox church in Ulan-Ude. It is located at the end of Lenin Street.
We had already found traditional wooden houses neighborhoods in Irkutsk. Now, if you look at Ulan-Ude from above, you will notice the extent of these neighborhoods which reach truly remarkable dimensions here.
Ulan-Ude Ethnographic Museum
This museum must be separately mentioned because it is not in the city center. It is located 8 km from Ulan-Ude and is one of Russia’s largest open-air museums. It exhibits 40 buildings, including the Old Church of St. Nicholas built entirely of wood.
Unfortunately, given the distance and the limited time available, I could not visit this beautiful museum.
The time has come to get on the bus and travel the eight hours between Ulan-Ude and Ulaanbaatar. It is the first border crossing of this journey. Time to say goodbye Russia and hi Mongolia!
Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian Railway – All you need to know
Travel arrangements: General Information
Departure station: Moscow
First stop: Nizhny Novgorod
Second stop: Kazan
Third stop: Yekaterinburg
Fourth Stop: Novosibirsk
Fifth stop: Krasnoyarsk and Stolby Nature Sanctuary
Sixth stop: Lake Baikal
Seventh stop: Irkutsk
Eighth stop: Ulan-Ude
Ninth stop: Ulaanbaatar
Tenth stop: Datong
Arrival station: Beijing