Bayan-Ulgii, Mongolia’s westernmost province on the border with Russia and China, is a truly unique and unforgettable place. While Mongolia is a relatively homogeneous country of ethnic Mongolians, Bayan-Ulgii, with a population of over 100,000 people, is 90% ethnically Kazakh.
According to Lonely Planet, Bayan-Ulgii is the last “bastion of traditional Kazakh language, sport, and culture.” In this province the Kazakh culture has, perhaps, been uniquely preserved. In the provincial town of Ulgii, you can get the opportunity to meet with the famed Kazakh Eagle Hunters; you can peruse and purchase locally manufactured exquisite embroideries, tapestries, and carpets. You can also sample traditional Kazakh delicacies such as kaz - horse sausage, koumiss - fermented mare’s milk, and the national dish of beshbarmak - a meat plate served with root vegetables and steamed flour.
Ulgii City is a growing and developing town with a population in excess of over 30,000 people and is the capital of Bayan-Ulgii province. This bustling and enterprising town serves as the base of operations for exploring much of Western Mongolia.
More than 1,700 kilometers from Ulaanbaatar, Ulgii can be reached by plane, jeep, or bus. The adventurous overland journey takes approximately three days; by plane, the trip is only three hours. One domestic airline, Aero Mongolia, operates several direct flights to Ulgii every week.
Please visit the Aero Mongolia website http://www.aeromongolia.mn/en/ for more information regarding flight schedules and fares.
Ulgii is a bustling and developing town with all modern conveniences available, with many hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, a lively outdoor market, internet cafes and ATMs. It is a good place to stock up on supplies before venturing out into the majestic wilderness of Western Mongolia.