THE GREAT WIDE OPEN – Cultural Fusions in Mongolia
GETTING THERE: There are direct flights to Ulaanbaatar from Delhi. Travellers who fly through China can apply at the airport for a 72-hour transit-visa exemption to eliminate the hassle of having to obtain a Chinese visa. Carry proof of an onward ticket, which is necessary to board a Chinese connecting flight in both Ulaanbaatar and Beijing.
Nomadic Expeditions Writer Pico Iyer travelled with this operator, which offers multiple itineraries in the country, like the central and southern Mongolia trip, which includes monastery visits, two days with Baasan Lama, and a stay at Three Camel Lodge.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Munkh Tenger. A simple camp with a pleasant deck where you can take in the sunset before a hearty, well-cooked meal. Gers from US$43.
Shangri-La Hotel, Ulaanbaatar. Each room in this centrally located hotel offers views of either Great Chinggis Khaan Square or Nayramdal Park. Doubles from US$280.
Three Camel Lodge. Find luxury ger Lodging and inventive food at one of the most stylish retreats in Mongolia. Doubles from US$710.
RESTAURANTS: Asiana Buddha Vista. This Asian- fusion spot serves Chinese, Japanese, and Mongolian food in tatami rooms. Entrées US$15-US$25.
Hazara. A colourfully curtained Indian restaurant that has been a go-to place for nearly 20 years. Entrées US$12-US$25.
Terrazza Zaisan. This rooftop restaurant in the trendy Zaisan district offers tasty Italian dishes and views of the surrounding hills. Entrées US$13-US$65.
Zen. A Japanese restaurant in the Blue Sky Hotel & Tower serving what many residents swear is the best sushi in Ulaanbaatar. Entrees US$12-US$25.