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Few have heard of this city of almost 400,000, but Ulan-Ude, a stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway, must be one of the most engaging and exotic places in all Russia. Capital of an autonomous republic called Buryatiya, the local culture is very close to that of neighboring Mongolia, meaning lots of yurts (gers), Buddhist temples, colorful festivals and, it has to be said, some quite challenging cuisine. The Buryats, as the locals are known, are in fact close cousins of the Mongols and fought alongside Ghengis Khan whose mother hailed from just north of Ulan-Ude, from the stunningly beautiful, but achingly remote, Barguzin Valley. UU is a ...

Few have heard of this city of almost 400,000, but Ulan-Ude, a stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway, must be one of the most engaging and exotic places in all Russia. Capital of an autonomous republic called Buryatiya, the local culture is very close to that of neighboring Mongolia, meaning lots of yurts (gers), Buddhist temples, colorful festivals and, it has to be said, some quite challenging cuisine. The Buryats, as the locals are known, are in fact close cousins of the Mongols and fought alongside Ghengis Khan whose mother hailed from just north of Ulan-Ude, from the stunningly beautiful, but achingly remote, Barguzin Valley. UU is a bustling city of cheerful Buryat faces, intriguing museums, timber houses and temples bedecked in fluttering prayer flags. But the best sights in Buryatiya await outside the city in the shape of the Ivolginsky Monastery, the epicenter of Russian Buddhism, and Lake Baikal just around 60 miles away. This eastern shore of the lake offers more beach fun than the western shore with low-key resort villages lining the beaches nearest to UU.

Marc Di Duca
About the Expert

Marc Di Duca has written and updated more than 40 guides, mainly for Lonely Planet but also for AA, Thomas Cook, Berlitz and Bradt. Having spent the last 20 years exploring the former communist world, his main field of expertise is Eastern Europe and Siberia.

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Marc Di Duca for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Located 3500 miles east of Moscow in eastern Siberia, and 60 miles from the eastern shore of Lake Baikal.
  • Language: Russian, Buryat
  • Currency: Russian Rouble
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Late spring, early autumn. Temperatures in summer can reach 104F; winter temperatures of lower than -40F are not unknown.