I spent about a year living and working in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. It was a great year of fun and good times. Mongolians are a jolly bunch, lively and friendly. One thing that did stand out was the amount of Irish (“Oirish”) pubs in the city. I counted just under 20, but was assured that the real figure was close to 40. I can’t really explain why there are so many Irish pubs in the city. I figured some Mongolian Googled the words “good bars” and the search engine came up with “Irish pubs”. So perhaps Mongolians think that “Irish” actually means “decent pub”. I say that as I felt a lot of Mongolians really didn’t know much about Ireland.
Another factor could be that during Ireland’s mini economic boom, the “Celtic Tiger”, many Mongolians got work permits to go and work in Ireland, as it was easier than getting a visa for the UK. As the Irish economy faltered a few years after, the Mongolians without work returned and quite a few of them started opening Irish themed bars. I did meet an awful lot of Mongolians with rather cool Irish accents.
Either way most of the Irish bars in UB were mostly a load of rubbish, as most “Oirish” pubs are. (Read here for my opinions on Irish bars in general). Overpriced, teeming with foreigners, and lacking in soul and some real Irish spirit. Having said that, Ulaanbaatar’s night life is pretty damn good and if you are prepared to hang out with the locals you will have a mad time. For a country with just over 2.5 million people there sure are a lot of decent pubs, clubs and restaurants going around.
The biggest Irish bar was The Grand Khaan Irish Pub, a good place for food, with great service, and where all the hot shots of the city hang out. A bit expensive and really doesn’t offer much in terms of decent entertainment, but not that bad for a quiet drink and a chat in the day time.
My favourite Irish bar was The Dublin Irish Pub, which for an “Oirish bar” wasn’t too bad. They say they were the first Irish bar in the city, but truth be told the city still has to have a real authentic Irish pub. I was a regular customer there and managed to get a tab running, which is always a bonus. Had decent food, good music on the jukebox, had a chilled out atmosphere and sometimes on special nights an impromptu music session would get going. The only negative was the bar staff had terrible English and were a bit dim.
Of course some of the bars do have Guinness, which isn’t too bad in all fairness. But I usually stuck to Tiger beer or the local brew Chinggis Beer, much cheaper than overpriced western styled beers.
Anyway I will return someday to UB as I loved the people of Mongolia, tough people but full of friendship and kindness.