Ulan-Ude - the capital of the Buryat republic - was founded in 1666. The original name of the city was Verkhneudinsk. Renamed Ulan-Ude in 1934. The city flourished as a major stop on the tea-caravan route from China. Nowadays Ulan-Ude is pleasantly green and is one of the most likable cities in eastern Siberia. A one day stay in Ulan-Ude is sufficient to see the city and to taste the traditional Buryat cuisine.

The main square is dominated by the world`s largest Lenin head.


The most popular Buryat attractions are datsans - Buddhist monasteries. As a rule, datsans are photogenic and exotic. The well known Ivolginsk Datsan the center of Siberian Buddhism is just 35 km from central Ulan-Ude right on the way to Chita. Admission is free but donation boxes abound. Once inside you can light a butter candle (zula) and fill in wish slips. The more you pay, the better the chances of a wish come true.

Getting ready to sin?

Within the datsan is the beautiful wooden Etigel Khambin Temple honouring the 12th Khambo Lama (his passport name was Dorzho Itigelov). His body was exhumed after 70 years after his death and inexplicably his flesh had not decomposed. On special occasions the temple displays the revered body in a refrigerated display box, attracting pilgrims from across the Buddhist world.

A wax copy of the 12th Khambo Lama

The exhumed body of the 12th Khambo Lama


A traveler can easily explore Lake Baikal from the Buryatian side. The road runs right along the shore for quite some time offering a good view of the lake. The beach is long, clean and sandy. Camping is allowed almost everywhere.

There is a cozy hotel in the village of Maksimikha where you can stay with comfort.

The lake is shallow here and in August the Baikal water is warm enough for swimming which you can hardly afford on the other side of the lake.


A good time for a car traveler to come to Baikal is March. The scenery is pristine white and there is no need to rent expensive boat excursions. This month the lake is still solidly frozen and one can drive across the ice to any settlement located on the shores of Baikal. Say from Listvyanka in the south to Severobaikalsk in the north, from Severobaikalsk to Maksimikha on the eastern side and so on. Air temperatures are below zero C but rather balmy in early spring.