Tsetserleg is the capital of Arkhangai province, in Central Mongolia. As far as Mongolian cities go, it is one of the more pleasant and friendly ones. It sits right in the heart of the Khangai mountains, and is a popular place to stock up on supplies, eat a decent meal, and launch an expedition out into the countryside.
Map of Tsetserleg
See below for a map of town, including the locations of accommodation, attractions, and transportation.
The Gangin Gol flows north of the town, and offers good fishing for Lenok. Get your fishing permit from the Protected Areas Office, which sits opposite the Fairfield Guesthouse. For those less interested in fishing, the Gangin Gol also provides a pretty hiking route.
The last Lonely Planet review of Hotels in town is a bit dated. These days the best accommodation in Tsetserleg is at the Fairfield Guesthouse. Now let me preface this by saying I'm usually one to avoid religion-based institutions. Yes, Fairfield is run by a couple of Australian Missionaries. But they are fantastic and friendly people who do not impose their beliefs on others, and have given up years of their life to a non-for-profit business aimed at increasing the skills of local people. The Mongolian staff run the place day-to-day these days, and are all extremely friendly and helpful; they can also arrange private jeeps and local drivers for hire. Five stars to that joint; it's great!
Now the trick is to visit www.fairfield.com.mn and book ahead during the high season, because the place fills up a week ahead and the alternatives for accomodation in Tstetserleg are limited.
Take the Naran Hotel next door, for instance. The 2005 Lonely Planet noted this was clean, neat and friendly, and generally the best hotel in Tsetserleg. However, the first sign that things might be amiss is the nightclub downstairs (open all hours), and the angry drunk stumbling outside. The receptionist then oozes unhelpfulness, and throws your keys at you. You go up to the dirty room. The nightclub/bar doesn't have cold beer, so you head out elsewhere and come back later. There's a call girl waiting at your door. Oops! Wrong room: it's for the five angry drunks who've booked the room next door. Apparently the Naran rents rooms by the hour. You hear gruff yelling and somewhat alarming feminine whimpering all night. Your wife can't sleep and wants to kill you for taking her there. It was a long night and I do not wish the same on you: book ahead at the Fairfield the next time you're heading to Tsetserleg!
The only other decent hotel in town is the Zamchin Hotel, which lies a bit on the western side of town. Other than that, accommodation is limited and I'd consider camping rather than bothering with another hotel.
There are a number of local restaurants in Tsetserleg serving the usual fare. They're allover the main street and none particularly stand out. The Fairfield Guesthouse started out as a bakery/ restaurant, and undoubtedly has the best restaurant in Tseterleg. Another reason to stay there.
Transport to Tsetserleg
There are buses which leave from Ulan Bator to Tsetserleg every day, leaving from the Dragon bus stop in UB and stopping in the centre of town near the Fairfield guesthouse (see map). Fairfield can book you a bus ticket back to UB, free of charge.
There is a jeep stand on the main road, with shared and squashed jeeps going to nearby destinations such as Tariat (near popular White Lake, or Karakorin. The trip to Uliastai in Zavkhan province is long and arduous by shared jeep, and takes 10-12 hours. The trip to Moron (near Lake Hovsgol) passes up through some very rugged mountains and is impassable after rains. It passes through some remote and beautiful countryside (and some great fishing spots), possibly best seen at a leisurely tour rather than squashed in a jeep with 10 others.