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for hungry customers.
Nomin Supermarket SUPERMARKET $ MAP GOOGLE MAP Southeast of the central park in the new town, this is the best place for self- caterers.
Bulgogi Family KOREAN $$ MAP GOOGLE MAP (meals T6000-12,000; 10am-midnight; ) Bright, friendly, genuine Korean restaurant featuring bulgogi (grilled meat), spicy soups, tasty bibimbap (rice topped with meat, vegetables and an egg, choice of hot or cold) and noodle dishes, all mains are accompanied by an array of obligatory little side dishes.
Alternatively, cook your own meal on the teppanyaki grill in the middle of your table.
Picture menu and some English spoken.
Texas Pub AMERICAN $$ MAP GOOGLE MAP (meals T6500-12,000; 11am-midnight; ) Though Texans are about as common in Darkhan as Mongolians who can’t ride a horse, the menu at this dark wood, modern bar features enough burgers, fries, steaks and sandwiches to put a smile on the face of any Lone Star State resident (and a visiting traveller or two).
Wednesday is cocktail night and there’s live music Monday and Saturday.
Empire PUB MAP ( noon-late) One of the hottest spots in town, this friendly pub is a great place to drink with both expats and locals.
Information Golomt Bank ( 9am-6pm Mon-Fri, 10am-3pm Sat) This bank is 200m west of the taxi stand.
There are also ATMs at the train station and the bus station.
Internet Cafe (per hr T600; 8am-10pm) At the same location as the Telecom Office.
Telecom Office ( 24hr) ATM and post office are also located here.
Getting There & Away BUS From the main bus station, buses depart hourly between 9am and 8pm for Ulaanbaatar (T10,000, 3? hours).
Two buses a day leave for Erdenet (T10,000, three hours) at 11am and 5pm.
For Kh?vsg?l (T33,500, 13 hours) buses depart several times weekly.
MINIVAN, TAXI & JEEP Plenty of shared taxis (T15,000) do the three-hour run to Ulaanbaatar, departing from the bus station in the new town.
The station also has share taxis to Erdenet (T15,000, 2? hours).
For Sükhbaatar (T6000, two hours), vans leave from outside the market in the new town; there are signs for different destinations (in Mongolian).
For Amarbayasgalant Khiid hire your own jeep near the market or a taxi from the taxi stand; a round trip should cost about T130,000 but you’ll need to bargain.
TRAIN Darkhan is the only train junction in Mongolia: all northern trains to/from Ulaanbaatar, and all trains to/from Erdenet stop here.
Travelling to Ulaanbaatar (hard seat/hard sleeper/soft sleeper T5000/10,000/15,300), a daytime train (272) leaves Darkhan at 8.
48am, arriving in Ulaanbaatar at 4.
An overnighter (264) departs Darkhan at 11.
40pm, arriving at 6.
Other trains leave in the middle of the night.
The daily five-hour trip between Darkhan and Erdenet (hard seat/soft seat/soft sleeper T2900/6200/9800, five hours) leaves Darkhan at an ungodly 3am.
The daily Ulaanbaatar–Sükhbaatar train (271) leaves Darkhan for Sükhbaatar at 5.
55pm (hard seat/hard sleeper/soft sleeper T2300/4200/6200, about three hours).
Getting Around Darkhan is spread out, so you will probably have to take a taxi to get between the new and old towns.
OPEN FOR BUSINESS? Opening times (for museums, monasteries etc) are never exact.
Places open and close at the whim of the manager (or keeper of the keys) so be flexible when visiting these sites of interest.
TOP OF CHAPTER Amarbayasgalant Khiid Far in the wilds of Selenge aimag, this monastery (www.amarbayasgalant.org; GPS: N 49°28.
672’, E 105°05.
121’) is considered to be one of the top three Buddhist institutions in Mongolia (along with Erdene Zuu in Kharkhorin and Gandan in Ulaanbaatar) and the country’s most attractive and intact architectural complex.
It is well worth visiting on the way to/from Kh?vsg?l Nuur, or other areas in northern or western Mongolia.
As it’s about six hours away from Ulaanbaatar on mostly decent roads, it can also be done as an overnight trip from the capital, either solo or with the aid of one of several tour companies.
Amarbayasgalant Khiid was built between 1727 and 1737 by the Manchu emperor Yongzheng, and dedicated to the great Mongolian Buddhist and sculptor Zanabazar , whose mummified body was moved here in 1779.
It is in the Manchu style, down to the inscriptions, symmetrical layout, imperial colour scheme and roof guardians on every roof corner.
In spite of extensive restoration by UNESCO, there’s a sense of genteel decay and gradual takeover by nature, from the faded wooden beams, thickly coated in bird droppings, and riotous greenery blocking some entrances, to the scurrying marmots and cawing jackdaws that seem to rule the place.
The monastery was largely spared during the 1937 purge, possibly because of sympathetic and procrastinating local military commanders.
These days about 30 monks live in the monastery, compared with more than 2000 in 1936.
Most of the temples in the monastery are normally closed, so if you want to see any statues or thangkas (scroll paintings), you’ll have to find the monks with the keys in the monks’ quarters, the yellow concrete buildings on the right side (east) of the monastery.
The richly decorated main temple, Tsogchin Dugan, has a disturbingly life-like, life-size statue of Rinpoche Gurdava, who was a lama from Inner Mongolia who lived in Tibet and Nepal before returning to Mongolia in 1992 and raising much of the money for the temple’s restoration.
Photography inside the temple seems to be allowed, but unlike some less-than-respectful local tourists, do not turn your back to the deities.
Ceremonies are usually held at 10am, so arrive early or stay overnight to see them.
A couple of new monuments – a golden Buddhist statue and a stupa – are situated on the hills behind the monastery.
You could continue hiking up the mountains for even better views of the valley.
Festivals & Events Gongoriin Bombani Hural PRAYER CEREMONY ( 14-15 Aug) The most interesting time to visit Amarbayasgalant Khiid is when the Gongoriin Bombani Hural is held.
As part of the rituals, the locals hike up to the eight white stupas in the hills around the monastery.
Festival-goers usually camp in the fields near the monastery – like a Buddhist version of Woodstock, only minus the illegal substances.
Sleeping There are excellent camping spots all around Amarbayasgalant Khiid.
Stupa Ger Camp TOURIST GER CAMP $ (per 2-person ger T30,000) Located 300m west of the monastery, with four stupas just to the south of it, this camp has flush toilets, hot showers and a restaurant.
It is operated by the monks of Amarbayasgalant so any money you spend here goes towards the continued preservation of the temples.
It’s particularly popular with homegrown tourists.
IF Tour Ger Camp TOURIST GER CAMP $$ ( 9119 0808, 9918 9981; iftour@yahoo.com; ger/r/cabin T40,000/50,000/60,000; May-Oct) This camp, furthest west
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