Erdenet is Mongolia’s third largest city (after Ulaanbaatar and Darhan), but also its smallest, since there are only three designated cities. This is a city built by copper ore. A discovery of Asia’s richest copper deposit led to the almost overnight building and population of Erdenet, also known as Bresnev’s Gift by the Mongols. In Mongolian Erdenet means precious treasure.
It is set in a really lovely valley with wooded hills on each side.
There is not much here for the tourist. The Selenge Hotel is the most dependable in town. Recently all the others were closed for ilicit trade violations, though they may be reopened by now.
There is a good museum above the old theatre, and the copper mine has its own museum in the Culture Palace on the square. Erdenet boast one of Mongolia’s rare public indoor Olympic sized swimming pools which has a very nice sauna downstairs that you may be able to talk your way into.
This is a compact city for a population of 70,000, and it is fun to shop the main street shops and the open air market south of town.
Erdenet is also a hotbed of Mongolia’s Christian movement. A church that was started here in the early 1990’s has become a mother of churches all over Mongolia and beyond. Mongolian Christian ambassadors are trained in Erdenet and go out all over their former empire.
GETTING THERE Train tickets for the overnight train to Erdenet (stops in Darhan) are available at the main station in Ulaanbaatar. Driving there is also an option now that there is a good road the whole way.
Erdenet is the jumping off point for trips overland to Lake Hobsgol and Moron and beyond.