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Eastern Siberia : Buryatia
Revision as of 17:28, 20 June 2014 by (Talk)

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The Buryatia steppe, south of Ulan Ude

Buryatia [1] (Russian: Бур́ятия boor-YAH-tee-yuh) is a republic in Eastern Siberia, which borders Tuva to the west, Irkutsk to the northwest, Zabaykalsky Krai to the east, and Mongolia to the south.



  • Ulan Ude — the capital
  • Arshan — a hot springs resort town in the Tunkinsky National Park, with a nearby Buddhist Temple in the woods
  • Gusinoozyorsk — a large coal town on Lake Gusinoye
  • Kyakhta — a town near the border with Mongolia founded in the 18th century as a trade center between Russia and the Qing Dynasty
  • Orlik — the principal town of the beautiful Oka region on the Border with Tuva and a convenient base for exploring nearby rivers, volcanos, and hot springs; great destination for horseback riding, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and mountain climbing
  • Severobaikalsk — a large Baikal-Amur Mainline town on the northern shore of Lake Baikal
  • Tarbagatai — inhabited by the "heretical" Russian Orthodox Old Believers, this village is about 50km north of Ulan Ude

Other destinations

  • Baikalsky Nature Reserve
  • Barguzinsky Nature Reserve
  • Dzerginsky Nature Reserve
  • Khoyto-Gol — a mountain hot springs spa
  • Lake Baikal — the deepest and oldest lake in the world and, by volume of water, also the planet's largest freshwater body or water.
  • Olkhon — the largest island in Lake Baikal.
  • Tunkinsky National Park
  • Zabaikalsky National Park


The republic was founded in 1923 with the joining of two territories and it currently has the status of a republic within the Russian Federation. Russians constitute the majority of the republic's one million inhabitants, although the native Tibetan Buddhist and Shamanist Buryats (a race of Mongolian descent) remain a large minority (about 30% of the population); indeed, the Buryats constitute Siberia's largest ethnic group after Russians.

Aside from its cultural attractions and capital, Buryatia is a nature lover's paradise. Almost 80% of the territory is covered by mountains, and more than half the shore-line of Lake Baikal falls under Buryatia's jurisdiction. Outside the capital Ulan Ude, the major tourist attractions include hot springs, Lake Baikal and Mongolian style Buddhist monasteries.

Due to several long-standing factors such as the lack of adequate natural resources, political inefficiency, etc, much of Buryatia's infrastructure still remains in a desperate need of repair. Nontheless, with the largest Lenin-Head and beautiful scenery, there is plenty to do in Buryatia.


The indigenous Buryat language is widely spoken by the Buryat minority. Nonetheless, everyone understands Russian.

Get in

The Trans-Siberian Railway makes four stops in Buryatia, from west to east: Tankhoi, Babushkin, Ulan Ude, and Zaigraevo.

Ulan Ude Airport is served by domestic flights from Moscow, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, and Yakutsk. Passenger service to/from Ulaanbaatar has been discontinued.

Get around

Much of Buryatia's infrastructure still remains mostly poorly developed by Russian standards, and getting around can be quite tough for the average traveller. Railways are mostly absent, and Roads are very confusing and very winding, especially in Ulan-Ude.

Travelling around plane is also disrecommended due to airplanes and local airports wear.

Commercial bus lines will take you from Ulan Ude to most locations within the region. To get to the Oka region and Orlik, however, you will need to hire or rent a jeep to make it down the long dirt road.

The Ulan Ude–Naushki rail branch off the Trans-Siberian Railway will take travelers to Gusinoozyorsk.


  • Ivolginsky Buddhist Datsan [2] — a large Buddhist monastery 23 km outside of Ulan Ude; buses leave the central bus station in Ulan Ude at 10AM, 12 noon and 5:40PM for the forty minute journey (taking the later bus will mean having to spend the night in at the monastery guesthouse or returning by taxi)



  • take a hot spring bath at Khoyto-Gol Warm Springs in the Sayan Mountains - simple cabin accommodation available.
  • trekking, biking, and horseback riding in the Sayan Mountains - highest peak: Topographov Peak, 3044 mts.
  • whitewater rafting


Pozy - great pasta balls filled with meat


Stay safe

Buryatia in general is an extremely safe place, compared to regions such as Moscow, St. Petersburg and the North Caucasus. However, crime does exist, but on a little scale. Avoid coming in contact with drunks; just like in most of Russia, they are responsible for numerous fights.

It is also advised to take registered taxis - some illegal taxis may try to rip you off, by asking for foolish prices. Illegal taxis are common around the Trans-Siberian station.

Stay healthy

If you decide to camp in the forest, be sure to bring mosquito repellent, since ticks and mosquitos are widespread in the area.

Even though the economic conditions are improving, the health care system is still somewhat far from western-standards.

Get out

The next major stops on the Trans-Siberian Railway are Irkutsk to the west; to the east, Petrovsk-Zabaikalsky and Chita.

The Ulan Ude–Naushki rail branch leads on to the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar.

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