Today Ulan-Ude still preserves its status as a major transportation hub connecting the three countries as well as Russia's east and west. Yet the city wasn't open to foreigners before 1991. Ulan-Ude has many important cultural landmarks, the main attractions are the breathtaking richly decorated mansions of merchants located in the historic town. The 42-ton statue of Vladimir Lenin's head (the biggest one in the world) on Ulan-Ude's main square has also become a favored tourist attraction. The King Gates arch which has become the unofficial symbol of the city is also an important sight.
Ulan-Ude encompasses many unique churches and datsans as well. Thus visiting the Khambyn Khure, Zungun Darzhaling, Odigitria Cathedral and the Holy Trinity Church is a must when being in town. Among the city's best museums is the open-air Ethnographic Museum of the peoples of Transbaikal, displaying historical finds and a one-of-a-kind collection of traditional Siberian architectural wooden monuments.