Sustainability Projects

Chill Thrills: Ulaanbaatar’s Frosty Adventures

Planning a winter visit to Ulaanbaatar? Curious about experiencing Mongolia’s winter wonders but not sure where to start? Look no further! In this blog, we’ll unveil the best winter activities for your stay, whether brief or extended, ensuring an authentic experience amidst Mongolia’s chilly embrace. Let’s dive in!

Winter in Ulaanbaatar, despite being the coldest capital city globally, holds unexpected fun! Beyond bone-chilling temperatures that can reach an astonishing -36 to -40 degrees, adventure beckons amidst the icy embrace. Within this frost-kissed cityscape, locals thrive in the crisp air, discovering joy and excitement amidst the dry, frigid conditions. Wondering how city dwellers revel in such extreme weather?

Adventures and thrill of Ice sports

Skiing: UB’s winter vibe is incomplete without the thrills of ice sports, with skiing reigning supreme at the prestigious ‘Sky Resort.’ Crafted by French design, this haven offers Italian snow-making systems, catering to every skiing desire, from mountainous slopes to cross-country trails. At Sky Resort, gear up with top-notch rentals from HEAD and Rossignol, ensuring you’re set for snowy adventures. With night lights illuminating the area until 10 PM, the excitement lasts past sundown.

Even amid 10 to 20 degrees Celsius, properly outfitted, ski tales await for sharing. March and April welcome Russian and Chinese spring festivities, adding cultural richness to snowy days. Choose from quick bites at the Ski House or refined dining at the Club House Restaurant. But the adventure doesn’t stop there! Find sanctuary in spas, theaters’ enchantment, and cozy yurt camps, all in this winter paradise. Explore the enchanting world of Sky Resort at https://skyresort.mn/skiresort for more details.

On-Ice experiences: Just 50 km north of the city, an ice wall awaits winter sports enthusiasts, hosting a national competition annually. Test your skills on this frozen masterpiece!

Ulaanbaatar boasts multiple ice rinks, catering to skating aficionados. Hunnu Mall, en route to the airport, houses an all-season open indoor skating rink, ideal for year-round gliding. Steppe Arena, meeting world-class standards, offers various activities from ice to figure skating and hockey. In May 2023, Steppe Arena showcased top-rated skaters in a captivating figure skating show. You can even find small ice rings around the city, typically located outside the apartment venues.

 

Ice Ankle-Bone Shooting: Mark your calendars for February, the month when Ulaanbaatar comes alive with its annual Ice Festival. This vibrant celebration showcases a myriad of traditional Mongolian games, including the riveting ice ankle-bone shooting competition. This game roots travel way back before Genghis Khan’s Era, often played by men.This ancient sport, believed to have influenced modern games like bowling and curling, carries with it echoes of historical play styles. The Ice Ankle-Bone competition embodies these echoes, inviting participants to witness the timeless essence of these revered games. 

And here’s the exciting part—experts are eager to impart their wisdom and skills, inviting visitors to partake and learn, potentially adding a new skill to their repertoire. Whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast or a curious beginner, these events and facilities embodies, promising an unforgettable winter sports escapade. Explore the thrill of gliding on ice, partake in traditional games, or perhaps, discover a new passion amidst the wintry delights of Ulaanbaatar. 

Embracing Winter’s Natural Beauty

Beyond the city’s confines lies a realm where the elements intertwine in a delicate dance—a fusion of crisp air, snow-covered hills, and the serene silence that only winter can offer. Engage in this wondrous symphony of nature, where frozen rivers and majestic mountains stand as testaments to the awe-inspiring beauty of the season.

Hiking among trees: UB is surrounded by four mountain ranges covered with Siberian larch, pine, wild aspen and birch trees. In the winter months, they are medicine. UBers like to take hikes in the mountains every weekend.  Locals like to bring out their hot beverages like tea and coffee, supplemented with some food and just sit under trees to enjoy the afternoon fresh air. Ask any one of your local hosts and they will direct you where to go. So there’s no way you get lost or confused along the way. 

Here, in the untouched snowscape, the footprints of wildlife paint the only disturbance, bestowing upon you the thrill of exploring untamed realms, as if humanity has never graced these sacred grounds. Locals swear by the soul-stirring essence of these trails, insisting that departing the city without embracing the hiking trails is to miss a profound part of winter’s enchantment!

While numerous trails beckon, none rival the allure of the famed Bogd Khan Mountain, a crown jewel situated 40 kilometers east of Ulaanbaatar. This mountain, nestled at the border of the Mongolian forest-steppe and the dry steppe zone, boasts peaks that soar to 2,268 meters (Tsetse Khun) and 2,256 meters (Tushe Khun) above sea level. Here, within the Bogd Khan Mountain’s embrace, lies a precious spruce forest—a rare gem among Mongolia’s landscapes. Its significance extends beyond beauty, being home to diverse species native to the Great Siberian Taiga and the Khent Mountains Taiga, marking the forefront of mammal distribution. As you traverse these trails, witness the life-giving streams, some weaving their way to the Tuul River, while others nurture the fertile soil, fostering a favorable climate for Ulaanbaatar. But it’s not just nature’s bounty that awaits; historical treasures grace the mountain’s slopes—written and illustrated cliffs, hirgisur, and monumental tombs whisper tales of a storied past. (Source: Tourist Info Center)    

So, whether you’re here in winter’s icy grip or amidst the blooms of another season, heed the call of Bogd Khan Mountain and the myriad of hiking spots. Let the physical sensation and the clarity of mind that these trails offer become an unforgettable part of your Ulaanbaatar experience. Don’t merely visit UB—immerse yourself in its timeless embrace.

Dog sledding: It  is a relative newcomer to the city’s winter travel programs, but dog sledding is now already one of the favorite ways of passing time for the city goers. Every weekend, sleds pulled by husky dogs offer rides along the frozen Tuul River up to the Gorkhi Terelj National Park located 50-76 km east of Ulaanbaatar. This mountainous terrain, marked by the grandeur of Mount Avhaan, is a testament to nature’s artistry, offering a blend of awe-inspiring vistas and undulating valleys—a landscape that beckons adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike to explore its breathtaking beauty. Optional overnight trips can be arranged, covering up to 50-100 km distance. As long as you are geared with quality down jackets, it is a pleasant way of traveling in close interaction with nature. Many past travelers attest how much they didn’t know about the city’s winter ecosystem before taking the sled ride. The ride is complimented by a true Mongolian barbeque cooked over an open fire.

 Concluding Thoughts

Winter unveils a different dimension of nature’s splendor, inviting us to slow down and witness its subtle yet profound transformations. It’s an invitation to immerse ourselves in the tranquility of snowy landscapes, where every sight, sound, and sensation creates a canvas of unforgettable experiences, fostering a deep appreciation for the wonders of nature in its winter garb. Your winter adventure in Ulaanbaatar is just the beginning! From captivating landscapes to thrilling experiences across the country, there’s so much more to explore. Contact us to create your dream winter journey or check our calendar for available trips. 

Embrace the Chill, Craft Your Thrill – Your Adventure Awaits!

Like a blog like this? Check out this article about Mongolian winter!