Ulan Ude

Ulan Ude (Russian: Ула́н-Удэ́ oo-LAHN oo-DEH) is the capital of Buryatia, known during Soviet times as the Buryat Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.


A pretty wooden house in the old part of Ulan-Ude

Ulan Ude, originally called Udinskoye, is in an area of Russia called Buryatia, named after the nomadic Buryat Mongols that first settled in the area. In the 1650s, as a result of a split in the Russian Orthodox Church, a group of people called the "Old Believers" were forced to flee their homes and escape to Siberia in order to freely practice their religion. The settlement was officially founded in 1666 by Russian Cossacks as a fortress. Due to its location on trade routes between Russia, China and Mongolia, it developed into a prosperous trading town. It grew further when it became a hub for the Trans Siberian Railway in 1900 and the locomotive manufacturing industry dominated the economy. Ulan Ude means "Red Ude" in the local Buryat language. The city was closed to foreigners before 1991.

Buryat Mongols make up over 20% of the population of Ulan Ude, and the Mongolian cultural influence on the city is very noticeable. However, much of the original Buryat culture and religious buildings were destroyed by the Soviets in the 1930s. Shamanism, Buddhism, and Orthodox Christianity are all commonly practiced in Ulan Ude. There are approximately 400,000 inhabitants.

The city is situated at the intersection of the Uda and the Selenga rivers and is between the Khamar-Daban and Ulan-Burgasy mountain ranges. The city is 100km south of Lake Baikal, along the Uda River. Lake Baikal tourism is very important to the economy of Ulan Ude and the city is tourist-friendly.


 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°C) -17.9 -10.9 -0.3 9.8 18.7 24.5 26.6 23.6 16.5 6.9 -5.0 -14.5
Nightly lows (°C) -27.6 -23.9 -13.7 -3.7 3.6 10.5 14.2 11.8 4.3 -4.0 -14.2 -23.2
Precipitation (mm) 5 3 3 6 18 43 65 68 28 7 10 9


In summer it may be very hot, and in winter it may be freezing. The months of January to March are the coldest, with the average night temperature reaching as low as -27°C in January (though temperatures well below -50°C have been recorded!). April and May are also cold, but usually it is above freezing. June to August are the most pleasant months with lots of sunshine and temperatures rising to the low 20s. September and October are bracing months, but not yet very cold. November and December again see a return to freezing temperatures of around -10°C to -20°C. Also, the whole of Buryatia, and Ulan-Ude in particular, is considered to be the place where there are the most sunny days during the year, compared to other places in the area.

Humidity is low, so the extreme temperatures don't feel as extreme as they would in humid areas.

Get in

By plane

Baikal International Airport (аэропорт Байкал), (IATA: UUD), +7 301 222-79-59, is 12km west of the city centre. The airport serves approximately 300,000 passengers per year. There are regular flights to many major Russian cities including Moscow (7 hour flight, RUB14,500), Krasnoyarsk, Vladivostok, Blagoveshensk, Irkutsk, Khabarovsk, and Novosibirsk, as well as international flights to Ulaanbaatar, Beijing, and Seoul.

Buses #55 and #77 operate between the airport and Ploshchad Sovietov, the location of the giant Lenin head, in the city centre. To reach the airport bus station, walk straight out from the airport and turn left at the crossroad then continue walking for 5-10 minutes. The bus costs RUB20. Alternatively, taxis should cost RUB300 if negotiated in advance and the journey to the city centre by taxi takes approximately 20 minutes.

By train

The train station is located in the city centre, a 5 minute walk from the main street, ulitsa Lenina.

See also: Trans-Siberian Railway

All Trans-Siberian trains stop at Ulan Ude, which is 5,642km from the Moscow commencement point.

Train timetables and fares can be found on the RZD website. There are several daily trains to Moscow (95 hours, RUB4,000-11,000), Krasnoyarsk (25 hours, RUB1,600-8,400), Irkutsk (8 hours, RUB750-4,000), Novosibirsk (40 hours, RUB2,200-10,400), Omsk (50 hours, RUB2,600-7,600), Yekaterinburg (63 hours, RUB3,300-9,000), Perm (70 hours, RUB3,500-9,600), Vladivostok (61 hours, RUB3,300-16,000), Ulaanbaatar (22 hours, including a 12-hour scheduled stop at the border), and Beijing (66 hours, once per week).

Ulan-Ude is the first major Russian city on the train journey from Mongolia.

By bus

The bus station “Selenga” (also known as “Yuzhniy”) is at Korabelnaya st 32, at the end of Sovetskaya st. It is 1.5km from the train station and it can be reached on foot or by marshrutka #30 or #29. There is a baggage storage room open from 8:00AM to 8:00PM. Sometimes it is referred to as the "South Bus Station"; however, the north bus station no longer exists.

Note that many buses/marshruktas, including those to Irkutsk, Lake Baikal, Arshan, and Chita, also stop at or leave from the train station. Buses/marshruktas are generally less comfortable than the train; however they are usually cheaper and faster. Many small towns in Buryatia cannot be reached by train, and bus is the only public transportation option to reach these areas.

Get around

By foot

The central tourist area of Ulan Ude is compact and is very walkable.

By taxi

Taxis are plentiful but drivers rarely speak any English.

By public transportation

There are marshrutkas, buses, and a few tram routes. Trips on public transportation cost less than RUB30.


City center

The largest Lenin head in the world


Ethnographic Museum gate

Religious buildings

The Odigitrievsky Cathedral



Cedar oil (Кедровое масло) and other cedar products are a specialty of this region. Small Buddha statues are a common souvenir and are said to bring good luck. Mongolian socks, muttons, hats etc. out of camel wool can serve as a gift too.


Try local buryat cuisine. Mainly it's small meat dumplings called "buuza", steamed "Pozi", fried "Sharbin", or "Khushuur". Soups include meat broth "Bukhlyor" and noodles "Shuleen". Sweet baked goods served with jam or condensed milk are called "boovy".

The fish "omul" is unique for the region, as it exists only in the Baikal lake; the fish's meat should be transparent.

Local cuisine


Food can be bought in shops; look for the signs with "магазин" ("Magazine", literally: store).


The local Baikalpharm brand of vodka is very popular and a bottle makes a great souvenir.



Most hotels and hostels offer free WiFi and many have computer terminals. Almost all accept credit cards. Hotels and hostels will usually provide a visa invitation and registration for an additional fee.


Mid range

Stay healthy



The international code for Russia is +7; the code for Ulan Ude is 301.

For information on purchasing a SIM card in Russia, see Russia#Contact.

Note that SIM cards purchased elsewhere, such as in Moscow or Saint Petersburg, may be subject to roaming charges.


Free WiFi is available in most hotels, shopping malls, university buildings, cinemas, restaurants and cafes, and some public areas and parks. There are also plenty of WiFi hotspots for which you must pay. There are internet cafes in the city centre. You can also buy a mobile GPRS card to enable data transfer via the cellular networks. For more information, see Russia#Contact.



Go next

In addition to continuing on to cities on Trans-Siberian Railway and the Trans-Mongolian Railway, it is worth making a diversion to Lake Baikal, the deepest and oldest lake in the world and, by volume of water, also the largest freshwater body of water. It contains 20% of the world's liquid fresh water and is 2km deep. The lake can be reached by bus.

Routes through Ulan Ude

Novosibirsk Irkutsk  W  E  Chita Khabarovsk
Irkutsk  N  S  SühbaatarUlaanbaatar Beijing

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, February 06, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.