Former Soviet Union-influenced Ulaanbaatar
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s compact and eclectic capital, hold’s a third of the country’s population and is one of few Mongolian towns moved far beyond centuries of tradition. However, it still retains some of the vibe of its original Mongol name, Ta Huren: the encampment. Though inner Ulaanbaatar retains the stately grey of telltale Soviet-era concrete, the outer suburbs are much like the huge fairground of old, with suburbs of gers, or Mongolian yurts, housing most of the growing population. Within this tented ring there are big city treats that surprise too: the grand dinosaur collection at the Museum of Natural History, the taxidermy and curiosities of the Winter Palace on the Tuul River, and, not far from Gandan Monastery, the Centre of Shaman Heavenly Eternal Sophistication, where a real-deal shaman will dance, heal, spout proclamations and tell your fortune.