If you're taking the Trans-Manchurian or Trans-Mongolian rail routes instead of the traditional Trans-Mongolian all the way to Vladivostok, then Ulan-Ude will be one of your last stops in Russia. And in fact, it doesn't feel much like Russia at all - it has a huge Asian and Mongolian influence and there are Buddhist temples throughout the city. It's also home to the largest bust of Lenin in the world!
Ulan Ude, is a relaxed city and the population is made up of mainly Buryats, an Asian looking people with small almond-shaped eyes that forsook their nomadic lifestyle and adopted a simple agricultural life in Siberia. The giant monument head of Lenin sits at the centre of the city’s square, weighing 12 tonnes - a stark reminder of the country’s history.