Uliastai (Улиастай) is the capital of Zavkhan province in western Mongolia. It is located 1,115 kilometers from the capital Ulaanbaatar, and has a popultaion of 16,240 (2006 est.) making it the 16th most populous city in Mongolia.
Located in Zavkhan province, Uliastai's environment is locally considered "Gobi-Khangai" (Говь хангай), since it connects the Gobi Desert in the south with the western Khangai Mountain Range and the broad lake basins of Khovd aimag to the east. This position gives Zavkhan a system of unique and varied climates and terrains, ranging from hundreds of kilometers of sand dunes to snow-capped peaks and lush river valleys. Uliastai, the aimag capital, is located where the Chigestai and Bogdiin Gol rivers meet, and is surrounded by mountains on all sides. The mountainous terrain and distance from a major road makes Uliastai one of the most remote provincial capitals in Mongolia, but also a gateway to a microcosm of Mongolia's natural beauty.
The easiest way to get to Uliastai is by flying into Donoi Aiport. Only 25 km outside of the city, this small airport runs regular flights, almost every day of the week, to and from Ulaanbaatar. Both Aero Mongolia and Eznis make flights to Uliastai, which take about two hours by propeller plane.
Uliastai is not a major paved road which can make travel by car somewhat daunting; however, there are regular buses and meekers (vans) traveling back and forth from Ulaanbaatar, especially during the summer months. Tosontsengel, the second largest soum (town) in Zavkhan, lies on the road between Uvs and Arkhangai aimags. There's regular traffic between Tosontsengel and Uliastai, so hitch hiking or finding a ride down isn't very difficult.
The Museums of Zavkhan Province, Yavuukhulan (Main) street, ☎ 01462-22342, 93064500, 98200489.
The aimag museum was established in 1924 in the city of Uliastai. Today, there are two museums: The Famous People Museum of Zavkhan, and The Zavkhan History Museum.
The Famous People Museum of Zavkhan Consists of 9 Halls, each dedicated to a historic figure of Zavkhan heritage, including:
- Punsalmaagiin Ochirbat, First President of Mongolia (1990-1997)
- Natsagiin_Bagabandi, Second President of Mongolia (1997-2005)
- The Hall of Buddhist Saints, Mongolian Jalkhanz Khotagt (Жалханз Хутагт, "reincarnated saint") Independence activist and Prime Minister of Mongolia (1922-1923) and B. Jamsranjav, Mongolian Saint, Lama
- Begziin Yavuukhulan Soviet Era Poet
Zavkhan History Museum Consists of 6 Halls:
- The Hall of Natural History
- The Hall of Cultural History
- The Hall of Ethnography
- The Hall of Modern History
- The Halls of Religious History
The Zavkhan History Museum contains the unique historical and cultural monuments of the province, including a fossilized shin bone and baby teeth of a mammoth, petrified trees from 80 million years ago, the rare herb Vansemberuu, the Jadamba writ, a historical document of horse-stations from the Manchu period, a 300 liter bronze cauldron from 1820, a coral mask of the deity Jamsran, the Khalkh woman’s and man’s full clothes with r head silver decorations, Dilov saint B.Jamsranjav’s copper seal, and many famous people’s belongings.
Crystal Restaurant, Above Orgil Supermarket (near the central roundabout). Lunch-Dinner-Disco. Crystal Restaurant is a common weekend choice for locals. It serves both lunch and dinner, and turns into a discotheque around 9 pm.
Crystal Soup (кристал шөл, "Crystal Shuul") - A sometimes spicy soup served hot on a burner, Crystal Soup comes in 2 and 4 person sizes. Perfect for sharing, this red concoction of available ingredients is basically a kimchi-chicken soup. Served with a fried bread for dipping, this dish is always a favorite.
Crystal Food (кристал хоол, "Crystal Hoal") - The entree version of Crystal Soup, this also comes in 2 or 4 person sizes. It's a chicken dish often served with egg and french fries and topped with sweet sauce.
Uliastai Hotel. The largest and most high-end hotel in town, the Uliastai Hotel is the first choice of foreigners and international workers. Recently renovated, this hotel has a broad range of pricing, decent service and an in-house restaurant and bar. It's location at the end of Main street makes it a great location to start exploring the city.edit
Tents can also be set up on the banks of the two rivers which flow through the center of the town.