After the car drama from this morning, we left Dasha’s SUV at the repair shop and got Gobi Desert directions from his friend. His friend had a couple of small, playful children. It was a joy to watch their energy as they climbed all over their dad as though he were a jungle gym. We then made our way through horrible traffic to the Ulaan Baatar black market bazaar.
The Black Market here in Mongolia’s capital is massive. Wait until you see all the things you can shop for here. It’s like Walmart on steroids!
Ulaan Baatar Black Market Bazaar (Naran Tuul) – It is incredible!
The bazaar is absoloutely huge. I’ve never seen a bigger market, and I’m pretty sure it’s even bigger than a super-sized Walmart! Both the indoor and outdoor sections are packed with stalls, and each stall is packed with merchandise.
This section is my favorite. I love the brightly painted saddles and other horse riding gear including bits, rope, and stirrups. I bought a rain poncho and a sun hat, since that’s all I needed. I decided I could live without a jacket, since I brought plenty of layers and now had a rain poncho.
You’ll see all this horse gear in use, in places where there are horses. Here’s my blog post on horses around Mongolia.
If you visit Gobi Desert, you’ll see camels instead of horses.
For the Home
A ger, like a yurt, contains furniture, just like my home or yours.
Pickpocketing is a very common crime in Ulaan Baatar, according to all the people I spoke with before traveling (people who had lived there and Mongolian people who now live in the USA) as well as Dolgormaa’s family. Therefore, I only bring a bit of money and my iPhone into the bazaar. I think the phone made Dasha nervous, but I really wanted to be able to take photos. Luckily, the market was nearly empty of customers, so it was easy to keep space between myself and anyone else.
Pro Tip: Don’t get Pick-pocketed!
If a place is known for pickpockets, do NOT take any unnecessary money or credit cards with you. Not even under your clothes. Pickpockets know every trick, and you won’t outsmart them. If you change currency that day, do not return to your hotel through a crowded area, where it is much easier for a pickpocket to target you. Instead, walk the extra blocks around the crowded area or take a taxi back to your accommodation. You can also ask your local host / hotel reception desk how they handle this situation. Locals get pickpocketed, too. I was with my hosts when the daughter nearly had her cell phone stolen!
At the market, I thought these big pots were for restaurants. Once I learned more about how people live in the countryside, I found out that these pots are used by families for cooking meals on wood-burning stoves.
An extended family often lives in two or three homes, but one person will cook for everyone. This means, each meal feeds several adults and several children, necessitating the big pots for soup, pasta, and rice dishes.
These hats are the ones kids wore during their dance performances yesterday. It’s fun seeing all the hats, again! I want to try some on, but Dasha doesn’t seem to be in the mood for playing around. We’re both tired after the long day.
There is so much more in the Ulaan Baatar Bazaar, including camping and fishing gear, cloth for making clothes or a deel, jewelry, underwear and any other garment you may wear, including shoes, and more. Everything you might want to buy is available here.
How To Get to the Black Market?
A bus is the easiest way, since buses have dedicated lanes, and traffic in UB is horrible. Ask your accommodation for the best route. It’s a very popular place, and they’ll know. You can also walk from the city center. Or, if you’ve already bought your horse, you can ride it over!
9 am until 7 pm every day, except Tuesday (closed). Some days and times are quieter than others.
Free to enter.
Safety, Food and Bathrooms
Pick-pockets and bag slashers are more prevalent during busy times. Always wear your backpack or bag in front of you, not under your arm or behind you.
Food is sold, but I was told it’s not safe, since there are not any food regulations on food made and sold in this setting. It’s a mostly uncovered place, so on warm days, bring water.
Bathrooms are available, but I avoided them. This market is huge, and I’m not sure how clean they are.
Additional Information for Mongolia Itinerary Planning
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