Your next trip starts here

Go from dreaming to planning with trip planning options made to help you craft your ideal itinerary.

Attractions

Must-see attractions.

tourism kyrgyzstan

Remote even by Kyrgyzstan standards, magnificent Köl-Suu lake stretches over 10km through a sheer mountain gorge that reaches nearly to the Chinese border…

tourism kyrgyzstan

Issyk-Köl Oblast

The two-day trek to stunning Ala-Köl is for many visitors a highlight of the entire Kyrgyzstan experience. Though less than 1.5 km², the range of massive…

Ak Örgö Yurt Workshop

Ak Örgö Yurt Workshop

This workshop became famous after one of its products won the 'most beautiful yurt' competition at the 1997 'Manas 1000' festival and had its work…

Ak-Köl

Winding 10km up a dirt road off the Kazarman–Chaek highway, brilliant Ak-Köl lake reflecting the surrounding peaks and the village beyond are a real…

Shygaev Museum of Modern Art

Shygaev Museum of Modern Art

Built into the hometown studio of Kyrgyzstan's national artist, Yuristanbek Shygaev, this delightful space is one of the most engaging museums in the…

Copyright Stephen Lioy - Photography and Travel Media

State Museum of Fine Arts

Collections of Kyrgyz embroidery and felt rugs, a splendid variety of paintings, and rotating exhibitions of local and international touring works all…

tourism kyrgyzstan

Köl-Tör Lake

This turquoise-hued glacial lake is one of the most beautiful in Chuy oblast, and the surrounding peaks and verdant pastures certainly don't do anything…

Sary-Chelek Lake

Sary-Chelek Biosphere Reserve

Though the full Unesco Biosphere Reserve includes seven mountain lakes and numerous rare flora and fauna, the star attraction for most visitors is the…

Latest stories from Kyrgyzstan

Filter by interest:

  • All Interests
  • Adventure Travel
  • Art & Culture
  • Beaches, Coasts & Islands
  • Food & Drink

Barskoon gorge, Kyrgyzstan vs Gur-e-Amir (Guri Amir) in Samarkand,

Mar 20, 2024 • 7 min read

Planning a trip to Central Asia? If you have to choose between going to Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan, we can help.

Red Eyed Tree Frog

Sep 30, 2020 • 6 min read

tourism kyrgyzstan

Nov 10, 2019 • 4 min read

tourism kyrgyzstan

Oct 21, 2019 • 3 min read

Inylcheck deep in the mountains, close to China and requires a permit

Jan 30, 2019 • 2 min read

Southern Kyrgyzstan women in traditional dress at the World Nomad Games yurt camp at Kyrchyn Jailoo © Stephen Lioy / Lonely Planet

Apr 23, 2018 • 5 min read

An unshelled walnut sitting on brown leaves on the forest floor © Stephen Lioy / Lonely Planet

Feb 20, 2018 • 5 min read

Wide landscape shot of brown mountains, a valley dusted with snow and blue sky dotted with white clouds © Megan Eaves / Lonely Planet

Jan 12, 2018 • 7 min read

Hiker soaking in the majesty of Peak Lenin on a day hike from Tulpar Köl © Bradley Mayhew / Lonely Planet

Aug 1, 2017 • 6 min read

tourism kyrgyzstan

Apr 4, 2017 • 2 min read

in partnership with getyourguide

Book popular activities in Kyrgyzstan

Purchase our award-winning guidebooks.

Get to the heart of Kyrgyzstan with one of our in-depth, award-winning guidebooks, covering maps, itineraries, and expert guidance.

Kyrgyzstan and beyond

Young boy wearing traditional kalpak felt hat.

NOMADasaurus Logo

TRAVEL to KYRGYZSTAN – Tips and Information Guide [2024]

Everything you need to know to travel to Kyrgyzstan, from the best things to do, places to visit, budgeting, travel itineraries and plenty more!

This beautiful landlocked country, formerly part of the Soviet Union is probably most popular travel destination in Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan tourism is growing year on year, so take the chance to visit one of the worlds most spectacular countries.

Travels to Kyrgyzstan has increased dramatically in recent years as travellers come to hike, camp and horse trek through Kyrgyzstan’s stunning scenery.

As first of the Central Asian nations to relax their visa policies, (it’s visa-free for most western and developed nations) a strong tourism network has developed.

From Community Based Tourism (CBT) operating all over the country to guesthouses and independent guides there are plenty of ways to access the stunning scenery for which this country is famed.

Hikers marvel at stunning treks from Karakol, Kochor, Arslanbob and even the countries capital Bishkek. Since hiking makes a huge part of travelling here it should be assumed that you will need a reasonable level of fitness to access them.

Whilst some are naturally easier than others, it’s safe to assume you will be dealing with something more than a Sunday afternoon stroll. The vast majority of treks are between 1 and 5 days, however, there are some that are longer.

If you fancy saving your legs then jump on the back of a horse and take on the countries most spectacular horse trek to Song Kol. You could spend a few days relaxing and swimming at Issyk Kul.   

With plenty of off-the-beaten-path destinations, treks and trails the opportunities to explore are limitless.

For more specific information on what to see and do, how to get there and around and other Kyrgyzstan travel tips be sure to read through our Kyrgyzstan travel guide.

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide

If you’re planning to travel to Kyrgyzstan make sure to read this guide to prepare you for visiting one of the world’s stunning countries.

General Info

  • Capital: Bishkek
  • Other Main Cities/Towns: Osh, Karakol and Jalalabad
  • Currency: Kyrgyz Som
  • Language: Kyrgyz and Russian
  • Population: 5,849,296
  • Area: 199,951 sq km
  • Electricity Voltage: The standard voltage is 220V at 50 Hz frequency
  • Electricity Sockets: Type C and F

Looking for an adventure?  Check out our incredible small group Kyrgyzstan tours !

How to Travel to Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is serviced by two main airports; Bishkek and Osh. The vast majority of international flight will land in Bishkek.

If you’re looking at flying into Osh from overseas then you will either have to transfer in Bishkek or the regional hubs of Almaty in Kazakhstan or Tashkent in Uzbekistan.

Flights to Kyrgyzstan can be pricey depending on where you’re flying from. I would recommend researching across a number of platforms and book your flights as early as possible. 

Although Kyrgyzstan is well connected to its neighbours, if you’re flying from outside of the region it’s very likely you will need to transfer.

If flying from Asia, Chinese Airlines may be among the cheapest, however, you will have to transfer in China. Flying from the west the choices are far more varied.

As the majority of international flights require a layover, it’s wise to check if there are any visa requirements in the country you are transferring in.

It is also a good idea to browse for flights in incognito mode, or alternatively you can clear the cache in your browser periodically.

Many travel sites will charge higher fares if they know you are visiting their sites frequently to search for flights.

Google Flights also offers some of the best initial research for fares from your destination, from there it’s worth doing more detailed research.

However, be sure to check fares directly with the airline as there may be unspecified fees and regulations not listed in the Google Flights results.

If you find a flight on a site like Skyscanner or Kayak check the cost of booking the flight directly with the airline. It’s not uncommon for the flight to be much cheaper when booking directly through the airline.

5 Interesting Facts About Kyrgyzstan

  • The hero at the centre of the “Epic of Manus”, an epic 500,000 line poem, is celebrated all over the country with statues, airports, roads universities and even a planet.
  • 40 is a lucky number. It’s a reference to the 40 clans of the great Manas. The country’s flag features a sun with 40 rays as nod to the country’s luckiest number.
  • Only 36% of the country’s residents live in an urban location. Yurts and a nomadic lifestyle are still central to Kyrgyz culture.
  • Mountains cover 80% of the country – Get ready hiking, camping and breath taking scenery.
  • Horse milk, “kumyz,” is the national drink. It’s certainly an acquired taste.

Best Time to Visit Kyrgyzstan 

Travelling to Kyrgyzstan is limited to the warmer months if trekking is your goal. The ideal time is June to early September. However, even in June, you may find some routes and passes are closed especially if the preceding winter was a long and harsh one.

Do be aware that July and August are peak months to travel to Kyrgyzstan so whilst it may be slightly riskier weather-wise to visit in June or early September you can expect to see fewer travellers and enjoy cheaper accommodation.

If skiing is your game , February and March are particularly good months to travel to Kyrgyzstan.

The best places to carve the slopes are at Karakol Ski Resort, and in the backcountry of Jyrgalan, Boz Uchuk and Jalpak Tash. There are also some mellow ski resorts close to Bishkek.

Those planning longer trips to Central Asia may want to spend the hotter summer months travelling in Kyrgyzstan and its mountainous neighbour, Tajikistan and spring or autumn in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan.

This allows you to access to the best weather in each country. You do not want to find yourself in Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan in the middle of the summer!

Travel Itinerary Suggestions

  • Bishkek 1-2 Days: A great place to start or end your Kyrgyz adventure. With plenty of Soviet Architecture and parks to explore it’s certainly a great place for some downtime. There are some hiking trips into the nearby mountains; Ala-Archa being particularly stunning. Here’s our Bishkek article to help you plan your trip.
  • Karakol 4-5 Days: There is ample hiking here, whether it’s hiking to Altyn Arashan , Jeti Oguz or the Jyrgalan Valley there are oodles of treks of varying difficulty and length. Jeti Oguz is probably the most stunning single day trek in the area. However, head to Altyn Arashan or the Jyrgalan Valley for some awesome multi-day treks.
  • Kochkor 5-7 Days: Kochkor itself is a pretty nondescript town consisting of one main high street, a market and plenty of taxi drivers. However, it’s what can be accessed from here that draws people. Firstly there is the stunning Song Kul, possibly one of Kyrgyzstan’s top horse treks. In addition, there are stunning hikes to Kol Ukok and beyond.
  • Naryn 2 Days: This is the starting point for a road trip to Kyrgyzstan’s stunning south-east, culminating in a hike to Kol Su.
  • Osh 1 Day: Kyrgyzstan’s second city is home to a famous bazaar and the rather stunning Suleiman Too. You may stay longer if venturing out to some of the area’s hiking trails. 
  • Arslanbob 2-3 Days: Home to stunning treks through the world’s largest walnut forest, Arslanbob is justifiably popular thanks to excellent home-stays and spectacular scenery.

Budget for Travelling in Kyrgyzstan

Travelling in Kyrgyzstan is reasonably easy on your wallet, however doing horse treks, rafting and 4×4 trips out into the wilderness can rack up the costs quicker than you may imagine. However, there are a few little tips to help you save a few pennies here and there.

Accommodation: Guesthouses and Yurts are the name of the game in Kyrgyzstan. A private room in a guesthouse is usually between $19-25 which usually includes breakfast. Prices for accommodation in Bishkek is usually more expensive than other parts of the country.

Yurt stays vary depending on how many meals you are getting, but it’s fair to budget between $10 and $15 dollars per person including breakfast and dinner. These rates may go up in depending on location and time of year.

Food: Cheap and cheerful. You won’t spend more than a few dollars for local classics like manti, shashlik and Lagman. However, outside of the Central Asian staples it’s more pricey.

Alcohol: Cheap, but stick to beer as spirits can sometimes contain fake alcohol and there have even been stories of anti-freeze being used in some vodkas (not too dissimilar to parts of Russia).

Tours: For any hike check if you need a guide. For many you DON’T but check online otherwise some tour agents will encourage you to book a guide that you don’t need. Politely inform them if you don’t need one. However, there are some routes where a guide is a must. Tour operators of your guest house are usually the best places to book yurts for multi-day hikes.

For horse treks and 4WD trips expect to spend between $40-70 per person, per day. This price includes yurt accommodation options and is based on 4 people. Naturally the fewer the people, the more expensive it will be.   

Kyrgyzstan tourism is very well suited for backpackers. Staying in family-run guesthouses, your own tent or yurts will certainly save you plenty of money. Limiting how much you eat out and how much you drink are always solid options for saving a few pennies when travelling.

For hikes and treks, not using a guide and staying in your own tent are great ways to save money. However, you should only avoid using a guide if you are sure the trails are clearly marked and you are a confident hiker.

In addition, utilising marshrutkas (shared minivans) as opposed to private taxis can lead to some substantial savings on the transport front. 

To account for everything a healthy budget is $30-$50 per person for a single traveller and $40-$80 per couple per day. Remember it is always better to budget slightly more than you need to cover for accidents and emergencies, so I would recommend budgeting for slightly more than this.

If you are looking to take some of the tours mentioned above then you will need budget a little more than I’ve suggested here. 

Naturally staying in a tent, cheap guesthouses and taking advantage of hiking trails where guides are not necessary will naturally lead to a lower budget. 

Flashpacker

Staying in boutique guesthouses and taking private taxi’s for the majority of your trip will be a 20-50% increase on a backpacker budget. Instead of eating at local restaurants you occasionally opt for a taste of home and a couple of cheeky beers.

This can be as expensive as you want it to be. Maybe you want a guide for your entire time, or want to horse trek across the country. Although the latter is not luxury, the price will certainly be.

Outside of Bishkek 5 star hotels are certainly not common, however hiring private guides and transportation will certainly add to your bill.

It is just about impossible to have a purely luxury holiday in Kyrgyzstan, as the infrastructure just isn’t there for it. That’s not to say you can’t have a very comfortable time, just don’t expect to be staying in world-class resorts.

Yurt Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide

Top 5 Places to Visit in Kyrgyzstan

Every traveller who has been to Kyrgyzstan will have their own favourite place. Usually a particular spot, on a particular hike where a combination of exhaustion and snow-capped mountains combine to leave you in awe.

Here are my top 5 places to visit in Kyrgyzstan

Jyrgalan:  After 7 visits to Kyrgyzstan and now running adventure tours in the country, the owners of this website, Alesha and Jarryd, can honestly say that Jyrgalan is the best place to visit in Kyrgyzstan. This little village just outside of Karakol is a trekker’s paradise, and is worth spending a few days in town anyway. Click here to see why they love it so much .

Song-Kul: One of the countries most popular destinations, Song Kul is truly spectacular. Whether you’re hiking or on the back of a horse it’s hard not to be completely overwhelmed, especially as you cross the pass down to towards Song-Kul. Here it’s as much about the journey as it is the destination.

Kol-Ukok: This awesome two-day hike from Kochkor offers spectacular views, but you certainly have work for it. Once you have your eyes on the prize, stunning mountain scenery will unravel in front of you.

Ala-Archa: For those that don’t have a lot of time in Kyrgyzstan, but still want to experience its epic mountain scenery Ala-Archa is an awesome option. Only an hour from Bishkek it is an easy escape.

Sary Mogol:  If you head to the southern part of the country past Osh you’ll enter the Alay Mountains, which are some of the wildest, most untouched peaks in the entire country. The little dusty village of Sary Mogol is right near the base of Peak Lenin, a 7134m high mountain which can be climbed as part of an expedition and is an excellent launch point for trips along the Pamir Highway . It’s a lovely town.

Top 5 Travel Experiences in Kyrgyzstan

Hiking – Naturally this is one of the top travel experiences in Kyrgyzstan. With awesome hiking trails all over the country , you are spoilt for choice. With everything from day hikes to multi-day treks available, there is something for every hiker. 

Sleeping in a yurt – A quintessentially Kyrgyz experience and unless you have your own tent, it’s an essential one when undertaking a multi-day hike. As the temperature drops at night yurt’s remain warm and comfortable.  We highly recommend checking out Feel Nomad Yurt Camp on the south shore of Issyk Kul.

Swimming in lake Issyk Kul – Swimming in one of the world’s highest alpine lakes is an awesome thing to tick off your bucket list. Taking a dip surrounded by stunning mountain vistas is fantastic, if a very chilly, experience. Check out our guide for things to do in Issyk Kul .

Taking a Horse Trek – Horse treks are a highlight when travelling Kyrgyzstan. Whilst your legs get a break, your backside will certainly feel the pain. However, hanging on for dear life as your horse goes galloping across mountain pastures is a once in a lifetime experience that certainly makes up for the aches and pains.

Sunsets and Star Gazing – After a long day of hiking and a home-cooked meal, watching the sunset set followed by a spot of stargazing is a great way to round off the day.

Skazka Canyon Travelling To Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan Travel Tips

Travelling in Kyrgyzstan is getting easier every year, but it still requires an adventurous spirit and a bit of patience due to the lack of infrastructure outside of Bishkek.

To help you make the most of your trip, I’m going to share with you some of my best Kyrgyzstan travel tips.

What is Community Based Tourism?

One of the reasons that travel to Kyrgyzstan has developed so quickly is because of the community-based tourism network in existence throughout the country.

In effect, this allows the money that comes from tourism to reach more of the population. It connects herders, guides and drivers with tourists and helps them to receive the benefits of hosting, guiding and driving tourists. 

The main hub for this network is the CBT office that exists in almost every major town in the country. However, this is not the only agency doing such work.

There are a number of smaller independent agencies offering community-based tourism through a different name.

In addition, there are a number of guesthouses that have connections with local guides, herders and yurt camps and can also arrange everything for you.

There are also a number of former guides that are starting up their own tourism companies utilising their own network and knowledge. 

Do your research and find out which organisation offers what you are looking for. Here’s the main website .

Language Issues

Travelling in Kyrgyzstan does not have the same language challenges as travelling in China for example. However, it is important to remember that English is not widely spoken, save for tour agents and some guesthouse staff (certainly not all).

Outside of this it can be very hit and miss, and in truth, it’s usually more of a miss. Knowing a small amount of Russian is extremely useful for guesthouses, transport and general communication.

Money Changing

You will be able to access ATMs that accept foreign cards in Bishkek however it can be hit and miss outside of the capital, Karakol and Osh. It’s best to bring some additional US dollars in cash just in case.

These can be converted to Kyrgyz Som at any bank in the country, however, do be aware that the dollars have to be in excellent condition.

Transportation In and Around Kyrgyzstan

The best way to get around Kyrgyzstan is by marshrutka or private taxi. Internal flights are most reliable between Bishkek and Osh and there is a limited train service but it’s unreliable and inconvenient and in truth is best avoided.

Kyrgyzstan’s Geography

Before going into detail about the transport options in an around Kyrgyzstan it’s important to understand a little about the countries geography.

With 80% of the country covered by mountains and some roads in a poor state of repair, some journeys will take much longer than you would think. For example, expect it to take between 6 and 8 hours to get from Bishkek to Karakul by marshrutka.

Another thing to bear and in mind is the challenges of travelling across the centre of the country, for example from Kochkor to Osh, can be unreliable.

The main reason for this is the stretch of road that goes from Naryn to Jalal-Abad. This is a 4WD road that is closed in winter, however, do not be surprised to see some old Ladas taking on the terrain.

The road is in poor shape and it is closed in winter. Mudslides are a risk, but not as much as in Tajikistan. In addition, you may have to take two taxis to get all the way along this stretch of road.

Speak with your accommodations staff, the local CBT (who can also help to arranged a private taxi) and check online to keep up to date.

A convenient and affordable way of travelling between Bishkek and Osh, but outside of the two main cities, it’s not really a viable option.

By far the most convenient way to travel in Kyrgyzstan and indeed Central Asia and the Caucasus. These converted transits ferry people all over the country.

If you’re stopping off at a smaller destination, then take a marshrutka that passes it and let the driver know where you want to get off. However, do be aware that you are likely to be charged the full fare.

One of the best things about marshrutkas is that they are cheap, sometimes a tenth of the price of a private taxi. In major towns, prices are usually clearly printed on a sign and the money will be collected by a driver or there will be a ticket office with a price list.

Knowing a little bit of Russian is extremely useful as it is very unlikely anyone will speak English.

Often marshrutka stations are a bit of a free for all, there seems to be no clear order or logic as to where they park.

There will be a card behind the windscreen with the final destination, which more often than not will be written using the Cyrillic alphabet (the alphabet used to write both Kyrgyz and Russian).

If you can’t read Cyrillic’s then you will need to go and ask someone. Even if they cannot understand you people are extremely accommodating and will often go out of their way to help you. 

It can be a squeeze inside and some will only leave when full. I would recommend getting to the station a bit earlier to make sure you can get a seat. There were plenty of times when I visited that our marshrutka left full to bursting leaving a large crowd behind.

If you have large luggage that cannot be stored in the back you may be charged extra as they may need to put your luggage on the seat. Another reason to get there early. 

Private Taxi

More expensive than a marshrutka and generally more reliable, private taxi’s are a good option. Sometimes they may be the only option you have. The route across the centre of country springs to mind.

The cost they give is usually per seat and they won’t leave until their car is full. This means you may be waiting a while for them to fill up the remaining seats.

However if you pay for these empty seats they will be on their way, however, they may stop and pick up people on the route, and still charge them full price, without giving you any money back. 

Rental Vehicles

This is a very new market, so you will need to do some very detailed research. Be warned, it is very expensive.

Accommodation in Kyrgyzstan

Whilst there is a lot of accommodation in Kyrgyzstan there is not a huge variety. The vast majority are family-run BnB’s and guesthouses. These are often excellent value for money and give you the opportunity to build up a great relationship with the owner.

Generally, luxury accommodation is limited to Bishkek or the northern shore of Issyk Kul for the Russian tourists the descend in the summer months

Hostels are mainly clustered around Bishkek and Osh. These are a great place to connect with other travellers and get travel tips from the staff and other guests. These are generally rarer outside of the countries two main cities, but they can be found.

Guesthouses and BnB’s

This is probably the main accommodation option in Bishkek. Many families have taken advantage of the increased tourism to Kyrgyzstan by renting rooms in their homes to weary travellers.

The vast majority will include breakfast and in some more rural areas, they will also offer dinner, however, do be aware that this is usually an additional charge. Expect an extremely warm welcome and lots of conversations through google translate and hand signals.

Staying in these family-run BnB’s will leave you with some wonderful memories.

Unless you have a tent this will be your only option for multi-day treks. Very often you will book through your guesthouse or CBT and then pay upon arrival. More often than not the price includes dinner and breakfast the next morning.

Shared Apartments and Houses

There are a few of these floating around on booking sites in Bishkek and they are an excellent option. However, do be aware that it is likely you will need to register with the police if you entered the country on an E-visa.

For the majority of people who do not need an e-visa though, then Airbnbs are cheap and plentiful in Bishkek. Sign up using this link to get USD$35 off your first stay on Airbnb.

Western-style hotels are rare outside of Bishkek and Osh and more often than not are probably not worth the extra costs. However Soviet-era hotels are not uncommon, but may not be what you’re looking for.  

Kyrgyz Eagle Hunter

Food in Kyrgyzstan

The Central Asian staples can be found all over Kyrgyzstan and as good as some of it is you may crave something else after a while.

Bishkek has a wide variety of restaurants serving everything from western fast food to Italian, Chinese and Japanese cuisine. So if you want a break from the local delicacies then this will be the place to get your fill.

Shashlyk – One of the meals that define the region – grilled meat kebabs. Usually lamb, although chicken and beef can also be found here and there. Usually served with a scattering of red onions on a huge skewer.

Manti – These steamed dumplings come in a variety of styles with fillings both meat and vegetarian options available.

Samsa – More often than not they are wrapped in crispy, flaky pastry and have a taste similar to that of a cornish pasty (for those that know this delicious English snack). These can be found in restaurants, bazaars and from carts on the street. Like manti, they come in both meat and vegetarian varieties.

Lagman – A thick noodle dish covered in vegetables and meat in a spicy, vinegary sauce.

Beshbarmak – This literally translates as 5 fingers, since that’s what you eat it with. It consists of horse meat (occasionally beef or lamb) boiled it’s own broth and served over boiled noodles.

Safety in Kyrgyzstan

Generally speaking, Kyrgyzstan is quite safe, however, normal precautions should be taken. Avoid unlit streets and parks at night if possible. Also, keep your valuables safe and locked away especially if staying in a dorm.

In the past plain-clothed “policeman,” looking to shake down tourists were a big problem. They would ask to check your passport and occasionally would rifle through your possessions and wallet.

Strangely enough, this would usually end with some of your money disappearing or maybe even a fine for some unknown reason.

However this has dropped off in recent years, but it’s still a problem, especially around Osh Bazaar in Bishkek. If this happens to you try and offer them a copy of your passport and do not sign anything that you do not understand.

Drink driving in Kyrgyzstan is a problem, particularly at night. If taking a taxi, be sure that the person driving is not drunk.

All of this aside, Kyrgyzstan is generally safe and it’s very unlikely you would come across this.

Packing list for Kyrgyzstan (Men and Women)

  • Travel towel
  • Hiking boots
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Hiking trousers x2
  • Thick socks
  • Shorts/Leggings x2
  • Trainers/Casual Shoes
  • T-Shirts x4
  • Fleece/Hoody x2

Miscellaneous items

  • Sleeping bag
  • Mosquito repellent
  • An unlocked smartphone so you can place a Kyrgyz SIM card in it
  • Sanitary products (it may be hard to find them outside of Bishkek)
  • Plasters and cream for blisters

Final Tips for Travel in Kyrgyzstan

Learn a little bit of Russian – It will make your life a lot easier. Phrases around transport and money are most useful and for such basic phrases google translate is usually pretty accurate.

Get a local SIM card – This will make it easier to contact drivers and guesthouses in advance. Everyone there has WhatsApp and often this is how they prefer to communicate. Megafon, Beeline and O! are the main companies. We use Megafon on our own trips there, as they have the best coverage.

Compare CBT with other options – The CBT network is awesome for sure but sometimes other companies may have something available that is more in line with your interests. Sometimes guesthouses may offer their own tours and guided horse treks so they are definitely worth consulting as well.

Don’t expect a horse trek to be pain-free – If you have ridden a lot before then you’ll know what to expect. However if not, be prepared for horse treks to leave you backside and thighs in agony. They are definitely worth the pain though!

Travel Time and Distance – Very often journeys take longer than advertised, plan this into your itinerary. A safe bet is to budget a journey from one town to another to be an all-day affair.

Seasons – Even in early summer, some hiking trails may still be closed if the winter was a particularly long one. If you do end up going in June do be aware that there is a good chance that some trails will still be closed.

Read Our Kyrgyzstan Blog Posts

The 23 best things to do in kyrgyzstan, 14 awesome things to do in issyk kul, kyrgyzstan [2024], the 23 best things to do in bishkek, kyrgyzstan (2024 guide), 24 incredible places to visit in kyrgyzstan (2024 edition), 23 awesome things to do in osh, kyrgyzstan (2024 guide), the ultimate guide to the bulak-ashuu lakes trek in kyrgyzstan, should you travel to kyrgyzstan in winter (2024 guide), the ultimate guide to mountain biking in jyrgalan, kyrgyzstan (2024 guide), peak lenin base camp trek – kyrgyzstan hiking guide [2024], the ultimate travel guide to sary mogol, kyrgyzstan (2024), the ultimate guide to skiing in kyrgyzstan (2024 edition), the ultimate guide to the truly nomadic land trek in kyrgyzstan.

  • Where to go
  • Types of tourism

tourism kyrgyzstan

  • Food and drink
  • Health and wellness vacations
  • Historical, Cultural sites
  • Holidays in jailoo
  • Hunting with eagles
  • Jeep and motorbike tours
  • Mountain, Passes, Valleys
  • Mountaineering
  • Natural reserves, National Parks
  • Natural wonders
  • Sites/Settlements
  • Ski resorts
  • Unesco list
  • Whitewater rafting and kayaking
  • World Nomad Games
  • Kumis treatment
  • Skiing and snowboarding
  • Hiking & trekking
  • Horseback tours
  • Living in yurts

Tourism types

Welcome to the mesmerizing world of Kyrgyzstan tourism! Nestled in the heart of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. With its breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and adventurous opportunities, this enchanting country has something to offer every type of traveler.

Discover the beauty and wonder of Kyrgyzstan tourism which encompasses a wide range of experiences catering to the diverse interests of visitors. Whether you are an adventure enthusiast, a nature lover, a history buff, or a cultural explorer, Kyrgyzstan has it all. This hidden gem boasts stunning alpine mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and lush valleys that will leave you in awe. The country's natural beauty is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

We present to you different types of tourism in Kyrgyzstan which make this destination truly unique: adventure tourism, nature tourism, cultural tourism, ecotourism, and historical tourism. Prepare to be amazed by the wonders of Kyrgyzstan tourism and embark on an extraordinary journey that will leave you wanting more.

Adventure awaits in Kyrgyzstan. Embark on thrilling trekking and hiking expeditions in the majestic Tian Shan Mountains. Feel the rush of adrenaline as you conquer challenging peaks and explore remote corners of the country. For those seeking even more excitement, Kyrgyzstan offers mountaineering, skiing, snowboarding, and paragliding opportunities.

Immerse yourself in the rich cultural tapestry of Kyrgyzstan. Explore ancient Silk Road cities like Osh and Karakol, where historical sites and architectural wonders tell stories of the past. Engage with the friendly locals and experience their nomadic heritage, traditions, and vibrant festivals. Take the chance to witness the World Nomad Games, a celebration of Kyrgyzstan's cultural heritage.

Kyrgyzstan also offers ecotourism opportunities for conscious travelers. Stay in traditional yurts, experience a sustainable nomadic lifestyle, and support local communities. Engage in wildlife spotting, birdwatching, and environmental conservation efforts as you explore the country's pristine national parks and protected areas.

Kyrgyzstan's historical treasures will enthrall history buffs. Visit ancient sites like Tash Rabat, a 15th-century caravanserai along the Silk Road, and marvel at the intricate petroglyphs at Cholpon-Ata. Explore historical mosques, mausoleums, and fortresses that witness Kyrgyzstan's rich past.

Whether you seek adrenaline-pumping adventures, tranquil nature retreats, cultural immersions, sustainable experiences, or a journey through history, Kyrgyzstan tourism has it all. Pack your bags and prepare for an unforgettable experience in this captivating Central Asian destination.

Experience the magic of Kyrgyzstan tourism and create memories that will last a lifetime. Choose the type of tourism in Kyrgyzstan that interests you today and take the trip of a lifetime!

Adventure tourism

We’re in Myanmar right now and it’s SO epic… click here to follow along on Instagram.

  • Meet the Team
  • Work with Us
  • Czech Republic
  • Netherlands
  • Switzerland
  • Scandinavia
  • Philippines
  • South Korea
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • Budget Travel
  • Work & Travel
  • The Broke Backpacker Manifesto
  • Travel Resources
  • How to Travel on $10/day

Home » Asia » Kyrgyzstan » Places to Visit

22 of the Most Stunning Places to Visit in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is an extremely diverse country geographically. Here, you will find almost every type of landscape imaginable: towering peaks, vast plains, colorful deserts, huge swathes of woods, all of these and more. There’s even an enormous lake that could be mistaken for an ocean (if oceans had mountains behind them).

There are so many things to see in Kyrgyzstan; more than one could hope to see in a lifetime. Sorting through the many places to visit in Kyrgyzstan could be overwhelming, especially for those with limited time in the country.

To help get everyone amped about visiting this awesome country, I’ve assembled a list of some of my favorite destinations in Kyrgyzstan. In writing it, I’ve made sure to cover as many bases as possible without bombarding you. Included are outdoor adventures, cultural oddities, and cities where travelers can plan their next move.

Kyrgyzstan is an amazing place, there is no doubt in my mind. Consider these suggestions and find out which are perfect for your next trip!

The Most Magical Places to Visit in Kyrgyzstan 

Faq on the best places to visit in kyrgyzstan, a final note on traveling safely in kyrgyzstan.

Let’s not mince words and get right to it: these are the definitive Kyrgyzstan locations that you need to visit next time you go!

tourism kyrgyzstan

Unlock Our GREATEST Travel Secrets!

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best travel tips delivered right to your inbox.

1. Issyk Kul

One of the prettiest lakes you’ll ever see with lots to do.

yurt camp on issyk kul kyrgyzstan

Issyk Kul is probably the first place in Kyrgyzstan that everyone hears about. Immensely large, unfathomably deep, and totally out-of-this-world, Issyk Kul is one of the most unique locations on earth. Where else can you see red-sand beaches, crystal clear water, and snowy-mountains all in one place? 

The south shore is the best part of Issyk Kul to visit. Unlike the north shore, which is mostly inhabited by lake resorts and vacationing Russians, the south is much wilder. Some of Kyrgyzstan’s top attractions, like Jeti Oguz, Barskoon Gorge, and Fairytale Canyon, are also located on this side of the lake. 

When visiting the southern part of Issyk Kul, you must stay in one of the many yurt camps that dot the shore. Aside from offering a more authentic lodging experience, they also benefit from spectacular locations. Most are built right on the shores of the lake, which means you’ll get those views, that water, and that cool red sand when stay at one.

The north shore is definitely more resorty. If you’re not into that kind of vacation, you can skip most of this part of the lake BUT be sure to drop by Chopon Alata. There are some cool petroglyphs here that are worth seeing if you’re passing through. 

How to Get to Issyk Kul

issyk kul swimming in kyrgyzstan

Issyk Kul is one of the most popular places to visit in Kyrgyzstan and is easily reached from Bishkek. 

  • By car: Leave Bishkek, get on the A-365, and just drive east – you’ll make it to Issyk Kul in a couple of hours. 
  • By public transport: Minibuses leave from Bishkek’s Western bus station regularly. Prices are around $5 one way. Most drive along the northern edge of the lake.
  • By private taxi: Expect to pay at least $15-20 per seat for a private taxi. Will most likely be shared with other tourists.

Where to Stay Around Issyk Kul

There is a TON of accommodation around Issyk Kul. We’re talking everything from hotels to hostels to guesthouses to yurt camps. Any way you look at it, there something for everyone around Issyk Kul.

  • Recommended yurt camp: Bel-tam Yurt Camp
  • Recommended guesthouse: Tashtanbay Ata Guest House

2. Fairytale Canyon or Skazka Canyon

Psychedelic rocks and fantastical shapes in the desert.

fairytale canyon top destinations in kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is most well-known for its mountain scenery and lush, rolling pasture-lands. But did you know that it also has amazing desert landscapes as well? Any Kyrgyzstan backpacking adventure needs a bit of both.

Yes, the southern areas around Issyk Kul are rife with canyonlands and petrified oddities that you would normally find in the American Southwest. Red is a common color in these parts although shades of yellow, orange, and even purple sometimes pop up. 

The most colorful spot in the region is without a doubt Fairytale Canyon . Here, the geology is vivid and nearly every color imaginable is present. Everything merges and molds together into new and fantastical forms.  In my opinion, the whole area kind of looks like a surrealist painting. I like to imagine that whilst Gaugin admired French Polynesia, Dali would be totally inspired by the liquid landscapes at Fairytale Canyon.

How to Get to Fairytale Canyon

fairytale canyon desert of kyrgzystan

If you’re on an organized tour in Kyrgyzstan, your operators will be able to arrange all the necessary transport. For those that have their own car: just drive along the A-363 on the southern shore until you see the turnoff for Fairytale Canyon on the right.

If you’ve taken public transport to Bokonbaevo, you can arrange a private taxi for around $20-$25 that will take you to the canyon. The taxi will wait whilst you explore and then take you back to town when you’re ready.

Where to Stay Around Fairytale Canyon 

Most people visit Fairytale Canyon as a day trip from Bishkek or somewhere else on Issyk Kul. For suggestions on where to stay in either, check out the above section for Issyk Kul or stay at our favorite hostel in Bishkek (and Kyrgyzstan for that matter) Tunduk Hostel .

3. Altyn Arashan

Hot springs, wooden cabins, and mountain views – the Kyrgyz idea of paradise

altyn arashan hot springs near issyk kul kyrgyzstan

This really is one of the most perfect places to visit in Kyrgyzstan. Altyn Arashan is a semi-wild resort area that provides guests with comfortable lodging, splendid mountain views, and the chance to soak in hot springs. I shit you not, the water from these springs is the perfect temperature and spending an afternoon bathing in them is probably the best post-hike treatment that I’ve ever received. 

Before I get lost in the memory of those heavenly hot springs, let me say that there is still plenty more to do around Altyn Arashan. Lots of people venture here to explore the greater valley, either on foot or by horseback. Some choose to go all the way up the valley to get a better view of the peculiarly tent-shaped Palatka Peak. Either way, any manner of exploring Altyn Arashan is like walking in paradise.

Insider tip: Be on the lookout for the special bonsai tree next to the river.

How to Get to Altyn Arashan

The road (if you can call it that) to Altyn Arashan is very, very rough. Normal cars cannot drive on it, which leaves backpackers with two options:

  • Have someone drop you off at the unofficial Altyn Arashan parking area and then walk for about 3-4 hours to reach the heart of the valley.
  • Organize a ride with a special 4×4 transport that is able to handle the road. Note that this option entails a very bumpy ride and a premium price of about $30 per seat.

Where to Stay Around Altyn Arashan

When visiting Altyn Arashan, you absolutely have to stay in a wooden cabin. They are warm, comfy, cozy, and a highlight of the trip. The local Kyrgyz who manage the individual cabins usually have a private sauna facility on the premises as well. Be sure to double-check as not every cabin has access to spring water.

I highly recommend booking a cabin ahead of time as they fill up quick. The best way to book ahead is to call the cabin reception to reserve a room. Local people from Karakol can help you do this.

An epic mountain lake that changes colors with the weather

ala kul lake hike kyrgyzstan adeventures

Those who have already done some research on hiking in Kyrgyzstan have probably already heard about Ala-Kul . For those who haven’t heard of Ala-Kul, it is a stunning alpine lake set high in the mountains above Karakol. Just take a look at the photos – although they pale in comparison to the real thing, they should make you chomping at the bit to visit Kyrgyzstan.

Ala-Kul is a painfully beautiful lake and it can even be said that it has a “personality.” It’s a well-known fact that the waters of Ala-Kul change color on a regular basis depending on the weather. When it’s bright out, the water is an energetic azure; when it’s stormy they change to a deep and melancholy cobalt. This poly-chromatic phenomenon most likely inspired the name Ala-Kul as well – it means “Lake of Many Colors” in Kyrgyz.

Because it is 3500 meters high, Ala-Kul is not lacking for jaw-dropping views as well. Whilst hiking to the lake, you’ll see soaring peaks in almost every direction. The lake itself is also enclosed by its own set of rugged mountains, which only adds more grandeur to the scene.

Insider tip: If you have time, make the short 2-hour hike from Karakol Valley to see Karakol Peak – the highest mountain in the Ala-Too.

How to Get to Ala-Kul 

ala kul lake hike best in Kyrgyzstan

The only way to get to Ala-Kul is by walking. Most do so over the course of 2-3 days trekking. 

The trail to Ala-Kul starts in the Karakol Valley, ascends 1,300 meters to the lake, gains another 300 meters to Ala-Kul Pass, and finishes with another 1,300 meter descent to Altyn Arashan. This is a fairly broad overview of the walk though. For more information, be sure to check out our Kyrgyzstan hiking guide .

Where to Stay Around Ala-Kul

If you’re planning on spending the night at Ala-Kul (which you should be) then camping will be your only option. This means you will either have to pack a tent up with you (hire a porter if this seems arduous) or book a spot at Ak-Sai Travel’s established campground. The latter costs about $50 per tent and includes breakfast and dinner. 

Be sure to pack the right outdoor gear if you plan on staying overnight. Have a nice warm sleeping bag as well as a good sturdy backpacking tent to keep safe and comfortable.

5. Sary Jaz

An untouched jailoo in Kyrgyzstan that sees few visitors

sary jaz enlychek hidden places in kyrgyzstan

Sary Jaz is a yet-to-be-discovered location in Kyrgyzstan that we think deserves more attention. Set on the Chinese-Kazak border to the southeast of Karakol, Sary Jaz offers more than just the usual Kyrgz adventures.

For one, the area located immediately on the Kazak border is full of interesting caves that are rarely known to outsiders. From the jailoo, one can also see one of Kyrgyzstan’s highest mountains, the mighty Khan Tengri, on a clear day.

But the trip doesn’t end there. South of Sary Jaz is Enylchek . Whilst primarily known as the beginning of the Khan Tengri expedition, Enylchek itself is also fascinating. As a former mining region, Enylchek is full of old abandoned Soviet buildings and facilities. You can visit the ruins of the Soviet town and then afterward take a dip in some local hot springs!

Because of the close proximity of Sary Jaz to the Chinese border, permits are needed to visit the region, which you can get from a local tour operator of your choosing.

How to Get to Sary Jaz

Sary Jaz and Enylchek require a 4×4 vehicle to visit. Sections of the journey will require off-roading so make sure you’re comfortable with rough roads or hire a driver/guide.

Sary Jaz and Enylchek are located relatively close to one another but are separated at a crossroads. The crossroad in question is at the military checkpoint where you will need to present your permits. Driving south from the checkpoint, the turnoff for Sary Jaz will be on the left whilst Enylcheck will be straight ahead.

Where to Stay Around Sary Jaz

There are a couple of host families in Enylchek (yes, people still live in the abandoned town) that sometimes take in travelers. If you want to stay with one, it would be a good idea to have a local guide to translate for you.

Camping is way more likely in Sary Jaz and Enylchek. There is a lot of open land in these parts so finding a site shouldn’t be a problem.

6. Song Kul

An alpine wonderland that hosts wandering nomads in the summer

sunset at song kul lake kyrgyzstan

Song Kul is a bit of a marvel for two very particular reasons: 1) it looks like something straight out of Alaska or Iceland and 2) it’s only a couple of hours from the capital. It sounds crazy to me, the fact that you can literally be in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing but horses and mountains, and only in the course of a few hours drive; it’s unheard of! But such are the wonders of Kyrgyzstan.

The name Song Kul belongs mostly to the large lake in the center of a jailoo though there is a lot more going on around this area. Sprawling meadows and the numerous 4,000-meter peaks looming above are all a part of Song Kul. Their presence makes Song Kul seem more Arctic than Central Asian at times. 

But the part that really makes Song Kul worth visiting are the people. Song Kul is a very popular place during the summer for Kyrgyz families and many come here either to let their horses graze or to host travelers. Most have small yurt camps to accommodate people. If you stay at one of these, you will be showered with good food and maybe not so good kumis (fermented mare’s milk). 

How to Get to Song Kul

young nomad in kyrgyzstan song kul

Song Kul is accessed normally in one of two ways:

  • By SUV either rented or owned by a driver. Drive time from Bishkek is usually around 3-4 hours drive. Make sure you got some clearance on your car and a pair of chains – the roads are rough and snow is possible all year.
  • By 2-3 days horse trekking. If you’re interested, then be sure to read our guide horse trekking in Kyrgyzstan to learn more.

Where to Stay Around Song Kul

It’d be foolish NOT to stay in a local yurt camp when visiting Song Kul. In fact, this is probably one of the best places in Kyrgyzstan to sleep in a traditional yurt – the views are hard to beat and the hospitality of the people is unrivaled. 

Most yurts cost about $15 per night and include dinner and breakfast.

mockup of a person holding a smartphone in white background with Holafly logo

A new country, a new contract, a new piece of plastic – booooring. Instead, buy an eSIM!

An eSIM works just like an app: you buy it, you download it, and BOOM! You’re connected the minute you land. It’s that easy.

Is your phone eSIM ready? Read about how e-Sims work or click below to see one of the top eSIM providers on the market and  ditch the plastic .

The hiking capital of Kyrgyzstan and Chinese Dungan enclave

karakol things to do trinity church

For those who want to go hiking in the Ala-Too Mountains – which hosts superlative locations like Ala-Kul and Altyn Arashan – Karakol will be their primary base of operations. If you need a break from hiking, the town has a number of cultural sites, which should keep people busy for a few days in-between their adventures. 

Karakol is a great place to start trekking due to its prime location at the foot of the mountains and a decent array of services. There are several local outfitters in Karakol that can help equip you for an epic trek, whether you’re in need of a new tent or a full-on guide. Visit Karakol is a fantastic tour operator that comes recommended by us.

Karakol is also a bit of cultural curiosity. It was the landing place for many displaced Dungan Muslims when they have driven away from China in the late 19th-century. The local Dungan Mosque is one of the stranger religious buildings I’ve seen and actually has some East Asian features. The local delicacy in Karakol is also lagman – a type of fried-noodle that originated in Kashgar, China.

Insider tip: My favorite shashlik (Russian kebabs) in all Kyrgyzstan can be found at Kafe Aychurok.

How to Get to Karakol

camels in karakol kyrgyzstan

There are lots of buses that travel between Karakol and Bishkek. Buses leave from Bishkek at the Western Station and arrive at the Avtovokzal stop in Karakol. Vice versa is the same.

Those driving can head to Karakol along the southern or northern shore of Issyk Kul (both are the A-363 road). Note that the northern shore is a better-paved road but the southern shore is more scenic. 

Where to Stay Around Karakol

Karakol doesn’t really have a central business area and, consequently, lodging is kind of spread throughout the entire town. There are still plenty of hotels and guesthouses, but it just doesn’t seem like it at first. These are some of our preferred places to stay in Karakol:

  • Recommended hostel: KbH-Karakol
  • Recommended hotel: Riverside Karakol
  • Recommended guesthouse: Evergreen Guesthouse

8. Jeti Oguz

The Seven Bulls – seven red-rock towers at the base of the Ala-Too Range

jeti oguz top destinations in kyrgyzstan

Jeti Oguz is yet another example of how Kyrgyzstan looks so much like the Western American landscape. Meaning “seven bulls” in Kyrgyz, Jeti Oguz is a collection of blood-red rocks at the base of the Ala-Too Mountains. Their prominent shape, height, and absolutely brilliant color, which is wonderfully juxtaposed against the green hills, make them unforgettable. 

To get the best view of Jeti Oguz, simply climb up the eastern slopes next to the road . The viewpoint at the top of the hill offers the best panoramas. 

Don’t forget to drop by the Broken Heart on your way to Jeti Oguz either. Its name comes from both the distinctive crack running down the rock and from the tragic love stories that surround it.

How to Get to Jeti Oguz

visit kyrgyzstan best place jeti oguz

Jeti Oguz is located very close to Karakol and the drive there is only about 30-minutes long. You will either need your own car or hire a private driver or tour. There are plenty of taxi drivers in Karakol so finding one shouldn’t be a problem. Expect to pay $7-$8 one way with a taxi.

Where to Stay Around Jeti Oguz

Jeti Oguz is already one of the most popular places to visit in Kyrgyzstan. Unfortunately, this means that there is quite a bit of infrastructure built up around the monoliths. A dozen guesthouses surround the rocks and there is almost always a decent-sized crowd in the area.

9. Tulpar Kul and Peak Lenin BC

One of the easiest ways to see a 7000+ meter peak up-close

tulpar kol pik lenin kyrgyzstan

Normally, you’d expect a full-on expedition would be required to see 7000+ meter peak. After all, it sometimes takes days for a trekker to see one in Nepal or India sometimes.

What if I told you that you could see an ultra-peak in only a matter of hours , would that interest you?

Peak Lenin is well-known for being one of the most accessible ultras in the world. Its base is a mere 5-hour drive from Osh and, even then, its summit can already be seen hours before from the highway.

When driving to Peak Lenin, the first notable place you’ll see is Tulpar Kul. This area is essentially a collection of small alpine lakes and this is where the majority of yurt camps are. You’ll have to stop the car here but you can further up the valley of Peak Lenin to reach its first base camp.

Peak Lenin Base Camp is within a few hours walk from Tulpar Kul. That means that, if you left Osh early, you can arrive at the base camp of an ultra in less than a day . What a crazy world we live in these days. Oh, and the name is a hangover from the days of the Soviet Union – we have written a whole post setting out more tips and fact about Kyrgyzstan .

How to Get to Peak Lenin BC

tulpar kul lenin peak in kyrgyzstan

Hire a car or a driver in Osh to take you to Sary Mogul first. If you go with a driver, make sure that you don’t get ripped-off. Ask a friendly local to help negotiate prices with the driver and try to pay less than $50 for the entire car, one-way. 

Once you arrive in Sary Mogul, head to the local CBT office and book a jeep transport up to Tulpar Kul. You’ll have to pay another $40 but it’s round-trip. The CBT driver will drop you off at their private yurt camp at Tulpar Kul.

Where to Stay Around Tulpar Kul

Stay at the CBT yurt camp or whichever one the driver leaves you at. They’re all nice and cozy. All of them will cost $15/night and include dinner and breakfast.

Eager adventurers can also spend a night at the Peak Lenin Base Camp. There’s one established campground there that also costs $15/night.

10. Arslanbob

A charming mountain village that hosts waterfalls and the largest walnut forest in the world

Arslanbob, Kyrgyzstan

Arslanbob is somewhere that manages to fly under the bulk of tourists’ radars. A lot of travelers just pass through here on their way to Osh or when heading back to Bishkek. Whilst a day in Arslanbob is still enjoyable, spending more than one is totally worthwhile.

Arslanbob is most well-known for hosting the largest walnut forest in the world . This forest is a great source of pride for the natives and it is a pretty big part of their life. In the autumn, almost everyone runs away into the forest to pick walnuts and during this time there are lots of harvest celebrations. If you want to experience a real festival in Kyrgyzstan, this is one of the best places to do it. 

Aside from the massive woods, there are also lots more things to do in Arslanbob. Close to town are a couple of very pretty waterfalls that make for great day hikes. If you wanted to go on a multi-day backpacking trip, walking to the nearby Holy Lakes is a great way to spend 3 or 4 days in the mountains.

How to Get to Arslanbob

holy lakes arslanbob kyrgyzstan

Arslanbob is about 3.5 hours drive north from Osh. If you’re self-driving, be mindful that the main road crosses into Uzbekistan and that you may need border permits. To avoid crossing the border, drive via Uzgen and J alal-Abad .

If you take public transport, you will transit through Jalal-Abad and Bazar Korgon . 

Where to Stay Around Arslanbob

There are plenty of cute lodges in Arslanbob! Some of our favorites are the simply-named Friendship and Halal Muslim Guesthouse . Grab a bowl of walnuts and just relax in the gardens of one of these.

11. Barskoon Gorge

Former center of the world and holiday home for Yuri Garigan, now gold-mining town.

barskoon gorge waterfall in kyrgyzstan

Barskoon is full of little fun oddities. From the moment you arrive, you are greeted by a very out-of-place statue of Yuri Garigan aka the most famous Cosmonaut ever. Shortly after, you see a tree covered with knitted wear, as if it were prone to catching a cold during chilly evenings. (These bundled-up trees are called “wishing trees” and they’re actually a common sight in Kyrgyzstan.) 

Barskoon has a certain magnetism to it and lots of people are attracted to this place for one reason or another. Some come to see the many waterfalls while others simply enjoy having a picnic here. If you ask any Canadians nearby, they’ll probably say they enjoy the mountains of gold being excavated in Barskoon .

Regardless of intentions, Barskoon is a very lovely place to visit in Kyrgyzstan. It’s verdant, scenic, and very relaxing. It may not be the center of the world, as local Karakhanid philosopher Mahmud al-Kashgari once believed, but it’s close enough.

How to Get to Barskoon Gorge

Travel east along the south shore of Issyk Kul and take a right onto the A-364. Drive another 30 minutes or so until you reach a relatively developed area with yurt stays and camps. If you see the Yuri Garigan statue, you’ve arrived. 

Where to Stay Around Barskoon Gorge 

There is a local yurt camp that you can stay at in Barskoon if you like. Most people visit Barskoon Gorge as a daytrip from there lodge in Karakol or Issyk Kul.

12. Bishkek

Kyrgyzstan’s surprisingly cosmopolitan capital

sunset in bishkek kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek , is like the Denver of Central Asia: flat, close to the mountains, and a little underrated. Also in common between the two cities is that both have an unquenchable thirst for the outdoors and, believe it or not, an amazing beer scene as well! Kudos Bishkek, kudos. 

My random comparisons being finished, Bishkek really is a misunderstood city. Most imagine it to be a typical, post- Soviet wasteland with nothing but brutalist architecture and melancholic citizens. These couldn’t be farther from the truth.

There are lots of reasons Bishkek is worth visiting. For one, the people are actually extremely modern and, for that matter, very good looking. The aforementioned beer scene is a great surprise and dropping by the likes of Save the Ales or Blonder Pub makes for a great afternoon. Also, there is plenty of green-space to walk around in the city, particularly around the center and Ala-Too Square . 

In the end, Bishkek is a great example that not everything is grey beyond the Iron Curtain.

Insider tip: My favorite speakeasy is hidden near Giraffe Coffee and doubles as a beauty parlor during the day.

How to Get to Bishkek 

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

All roads in Kyrgyzstan eventually lead back to Bishkek since it is the capital and most populous place in the country. If you need any help finding Bishkek, just follow the signs or ask some friendly locals. 

Bishkek is also only a 3-hour drive from Almaty, Kazakhstan . Like Bishkek, Almaty is also very international but, that being said, is much bigger and busier than Bishkek. Thanks to recent economic booms, Almaty is actually quite hedonistic these days and is sometimes referred to as the “New York City of Central Asia.” No Borats here.

If you make it to Almaty, be sure to explore the areas outside the city as well. Charyn Canyon is an epic destination and is only 3 hours away from the city.

Where to Stay Around Bishkek

Bishkek is one of the easiest places to find accommodation in Kyrgyzstan. Hotels and guesthouses make up the grand majority of lodging in Bishkek though there are plenty of private apartments and hostels in the city as well. Avoid staying in yurt camps in the city – it’s not really the same as being in the mountains. 

Here are some places to stay in Bishkek:

  • Best Hostel in Bishkek: Capsule Hostel
  • Best Hotel in Bishkek: Futuro Hotel

tourism kyrgyzstan

Wanna know how to pack like a pro? Well for a start you need the right gear….

These are packing cubes for the globetrotters and compression sacks for the  real adventurers – these babies are a traveller’s best kept secret. They organise yo’ packing and minimise volume too so you can pack MORE.

Or, y’know… you can stick to just chucking it all in your backpack…

13. Burana Tower

One of the few archaeological sites in Kyrgyzstan

burana tower day trips from bishkek kyrgyzstan

There aren’t a lot of historical sites in Kyrgyzstan. Those that do exist are usually of the decrepit Soviet-variety or are simply a scattering of markers from wandering nomads e.g. Chopon Alta and Saimaluu-tash. Remember: most of Kyrgyzstan’s history is defined by migrating horsemen and migrating horsemen don’t really have a lot of time to build big things.

The Burana Tower is one of the few notable historical buildings in Kyrgyzstan. Built by the Karakhanids, it and the surrounding ruins are all that remains of the ancient city of Balasagun . The tower used to be higher (45 meters) but at some point partially collapsed (it has since been partially restored). The rest of the city is practically buried. 

Though humble compared to other Central Asian architectural marvels, like Registan and Khiva, the Burana Tower is still interesting to visit. With the Ala-Archa Mountains in the background, the setting couldn’t be more perfect. Plus, the old bal-bals (warrior totems) are pretty cool to see as well.

How to Get to the Burana Tower

burana tower stones and mountains kyrgyzstan

The easiest way to see the Burana Tower is to book a tour with a local company. We recommend going with Show Me Bishkek .

If you want to go independently, you’ll either need your own car or take a combination of buses and taxis to reach the tower. If you’re going with the latter option, you’ll first need to take a matrushka from the Western Station in Bishkek to Tokmok and then grab a taxi to Burana. Altogether, the trip should cost around $15 in total. 

Where to Stay Around Burana Tower

The nearest town is Tokmok although most people will probably stay in Bishkek since it’s only 90 minutes away. Check the previous sections for suggestions on where to stay in Bishkek.

Kyrgyzstan’s second-largest and most authentic city

things to do in osh see lenin statue

Kyrgyzstan’s southern capital exists in stark contrast to the northern one. Where Bishkek feels international, modern, and bustling (relative terms), Osh is far more traditional and culturally rich. Gone are the khaki shorts and the designer label fashion; in are covered shoulders and Islamic dress codes. 

Please don’t let that intimidate you – these are what make Osh so interesting. Osh is an ancient city that dates back thousands of years and has a much more fascinating history (for good and bad). The locals take great pride in this and enjoy talking about how culturally rich their home is.

Osh is where you go to get proper Kyrgyz food as well. Street food is very popular around the city and you can find vendors selling freshly-fried treats on almost every corner. Be sure to drop by Kurmanzhan Datka Cafe for authentic Kyrgyz dishes and Cafe Brio for the best coffee in Kyrgyzstan

Insider tip: Osh is also semi-well-known for it’s street murals.

How to Get to Osh

Whilst it is possible to drive to Osh, it is not the best way to arrive. The road from Bishkek to the city is long, hard, and only fit for those who don’t mind a bumpy ride. The drive is scenic and road trippers will probably find the journey pretty fun. Just be sure to allocate 2-3 days for the journey.

Flying to Osh is WAY more convenient than driving. Tickets with Air Manas are dirt cheap at the moment – costing less than $40 for one way – and the flight is only 45 minutes long. That’s a 3-day-long land expedition that you just saved yourself, people.

Where to Stay Around Osh 

There are a couple of decent hostels and guesthouses in Osh, Biy Ordo being our top suggestion. The Osh CBT , whose primary role is a tour agency, also doubles as a guesthouse.

All that being said, Osh can seem pretty bereft of lodging at times. Airbnbs are in fairly short supply and hotels don’t seem to be a thing here. Both feel a little expensive given their (lack of) amenities.

15. The Pamir-Alai Mountains

Kyrgyzstan’s remote mountain range – hosts some of the best hikes in the country 

kyrgyz patagonia best places to visit in kyrgystan

There are over 158 mountain ranges in Kyrgyzstan. Of those 158, most are a part of the Tian Shan; only 4 are outside of it. It goes without saying that Tian Shan receive the overwhelming majority of visitors. 

Yet the Pamir-Alai Range in Southwestern Kyrgyzstan offer some of the best scenery in the country. Far removed from mass tourism, these mountains are pristine and spectacular to behold. For trekkers who are willing to go the extra mile and travel a bit further, the Pamir-Alai could be a wonderland for them.

The 4-day Height of the Alay trek over Jiptick Pass is a highly-regarded hike in the Pamir-Alai. But personally, I cannot rave more about the Turkestan Mountains , which is often referred to as the “ Patagonia of Central Asia .” Here you will find towering granite spires, perilous mountain passes, and not a soul in sight. It is one of the most beautiful places in Kyrgyzstan and also one of the most peaceful.

How to Get to the Pamir-Alai

karavshan valley best hikes in kyrgyzstan

Osh will be your primary gateway into the Pamir-Alay Range. Get there, via land or air, and the mountains will be yours for the taking. Refer to the Osh section (#5) for more details on traveling there.

Where to Stay Around the Pamir-Alai

Outside of Osh, there isn’t a whole lot of tourist infrastructure. There might be an occasional guest house or two in larger towns, like Batken , but planning on staying in one of these is going to be a dice-roll.

If you want to do the Kyrgz Patagonia trek, then you’ll most likely spend a night in or near the tiny town of Ozgorush . There is a KCBTA guesthouse in Ozgorush that is run by a super nice family and I wholeheartedly recommend staying there. Contact the CBT Osh office to get you in contact with the family.

If you book a trekking tour of Kyrgyz Patagonia with KCBTA, be sure to use the discount code TheBrokeBackpackerKGZ312 to get 10% off ! This code works on all KCBTA tours.

16. Ala Archa

Playground for Bishkek’s weekend warriors

ala archa national park near bishkek kyhrgyzstan

One of the best things about Kyrgyzstan is that nature – I mean really amazing nature – is never too far away. Case and point: Ala Archa National Park . 

Ala Archa National Park is literally in Bishkek’s backyard. The park, which hosts several 4500+ meter peaks, can be seen from just about anywhere in the city. Getting to the park isn’t difficult at all either: the entry gate is only an hour away from the city! How many cities can offer that kind of alpine accessibility?!

Just because Ala Archa is close to the city doesn’t mean it’s a slouch of a national park either. As mentioned before, there are multiple 4500+ meter peaks in addition to several glaciers that you can visit. One of the most popular hikes in the area is the walk up to the Ak-Sai Glacier – it’s strenuous but can be done in a long day. 

Many people that grew up in Bishkek believe that they grew up in Ala Archa as well. Why not join some locals and get a taste for what it’s truly like to live and grow up in this amazing country? Go for a walk in the mountains and don’t forget the post-hike beer back in Bishkek either!

How to Get to Ala Archa

ala archa ak sai glacier trek

There is a regular marshrutka (265) that leaves from the Osh Bazar in Bishkek and ends at Kashka-Suu near the beginning of Ala Archa. From there, you will have to hitchhike to get the main entrance of the park.

The easiest way to get to Ala Archa is by having a private form of transport, either in the form of a rental, a tour guide, or a private taxi. A round trip with a taxi driver will cost around $30-$35.

Where to Stay Around Ala Archa

There are a couple of mountain hotels located at the entrance to Ala Archa. If you need some more rugged digs, stay at a campground instead or go backpacking into the wilderness. 

For those who are just on a day trip, find somewhere cozy to sleep back in Bishkek.

tourism kyrgyzstan

Our GREATEST Travel Secrets…

Pop your email here & get the original Broke Backpacker Bible for FREE.

17. Chong-Kemin

A pastoral national park that is great for white-water rafting, cultural festivals, and horse riding

If Kyrgyzstan is the Colorado of Central Asia – Coloradostan, if you will – then Chong-Kemin would be Crested Butte. Peaceful, slow and with lots of outdoor activities, Chong-Kemin is one of the best places in Kyrgyzstan to just relax. This place has everything that a mountain retreat ought to: wood cabins, white-water rafting, meadows, and, of course, lots of great views. 

Chong-Kemin is most well-known for its diverse flora and fauna. Whilst you can find the usual Kyrgyz suspects here, like horses and huge swathes of fir trees, there are a number of endangered species also found in Chong-Kemin. Snow leopard, golden eagles, and bear have all been spotted in the valley. To protect these fragile ecosystems, Chong-Kemin was made a national park in 1997.

You don’t have to be an animal lover to admire the Chong-Kemin valley. Spending a night or two watching the stars, sitting by the fire, going for a hike or two, will be more than enough to appreciate this place. Time moves more slowly than usual in Chong-Kemin and for those who need a real break, this is a great spot to unwind. 

How to Get to Chong-Kemin

Chong-Kemin is located quite close to Bishkek and is only about 2 hours drive from the city. Having a car or going with a tour operator will be the easiest way to get to the valley.

Luckily, there are also regular buses to and from Chong-Kemin via Kaindy . From the Eastern Bus Station in Bishkek, there are two buses leaving per day to Kaindy that take around 2.5 hours each.

Where to Stay Around Chong-Kemin

When visiting Chong-Kemin, you absolutely have to stay at Chong-Kemin Guesthouse. The guesthouse is a gorgeous facility – everything is made from local timber and is decorated with handcrafted felt. It honestly looks like a Rocky Mountain lodge set in the middle of Central Asia. The owners are extremely hospitable as well and they serve some mean food to go along with it. 

18. Sary Chelek

An off-the-beaten-path lake that most locals will say is the best place to visit in Kyrgyzstan  

colors of sary chelek lake in kyrgyzstan

I talked to a lot of native people about their favorite place to visit in Kyrgyzstan and got lots of responses: Arslanbob, Enylchek, Altyn Arashan, being a few examples. The one place that seemed to be a unanimous answer though was Sary Chelek.

Seriously, almost every single person that I have spoken to in Kyrgyzstan gushes about this place, almost more so than Altyn Arashan. They described it as perfect, wonderful, and without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in Kyrgyzstan. 

Sary Chelek is a lake located in a very remote part of northwestern Kyrgyzstan. Getting to Sary Chelek is a bit of journey – 10 hours from Bishkek by car – though no one really complains about the ride. The trip is pretty scenic, as you cross the western extremity of the Tian Shan, and the final destination is, of course, worth every minute.

Sary Chelek is a gorgeous azure color. The lake is itself is framed by the rugged Chatkal Mountains in addition to large swathes of fruit-bearing trees. If you happen to be at the lake by yourself (chances are high) it will certainly feel like you’ve died and gone to Kyrgyz heaven. 

How to Get to Sary Chelek

sary chelek lake top destinations in kyrgyzstan

It will take about 10 hours driving from Bishkek to arrive at Sary Chelek. About half the road is unpaved so you will need to be a confident driver.

Supposedly, you can make it Sary Chelek by bus, but I’ve never entertained this thought because it would be a very, very long ride. Contact the local Kara-Suu KCBTA for information on using the bus.

Where to Stay Around Sary Chelek

There are a couple of hotels and guesthouses at Sary Chelek and a couple more further back on the road. Most don’t have an online booking portal, so you’ll need to call ahead to make reservations.

If you don’t get a room, camping will be your only means of staying the night near the lake.

19. Naryn Province

A frontier region that offers old ruins, a mysterious lake, and arctic-like conditions

kel suu naryn region best places to visit in krygyzstan

Naryn is located in the far south of Kyrgyzstan on the border of China. It’s a fairly large province that offers quite a bit. Here is a brief overview of some things to do:

  • Tash Rabat: An old ruined outpost set deep in the mountains. Out of the way but still one of the most impressive archeological sites in Kyrgyzstan.
  • Ak-Sai Valley: The “South Pole of Central Asia.” The reason for this title is that the area a) looks very similar to Arctic regions like Iceland and b) get’s really fucking cold. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Kyrgyzstan was recorded here and it was a crazy -56 degrees Celsius. That’s almost as low as the average surface temperature of Mars.
  • Kakshaal-Too: One of the most unexplored mountain ranges of Kyrgyzstan. Rugged, sheer, and very wild.
  • Kel-Suu : An alpine lake that disappears during times of drought. Easily accessed via a moderate hike from the Ak-Sai Valley.

How to Get to the Naryn Region

naryn region of kyrgyzstan

The town of Naryn is easily reached from Bishkek after about 3 hours of driving. Local marshrutkas leave for Naryn from the Western Bus Station in Bishkek though not many are available. Most fill up early in the morning, after which only private taxis are available.

Once you get to Naryn, get out. Take your jeep or meet your driver and explore the surrounding area. Naryn itself is pretty uninspiring and doesn’t offer a lot of activities.

Where to Stay Around Naryn

Despite it’s shabby reputation, there are actually quite a few places to stay in Naryn. There’s a hotel ( Khan Tengri Hotel ) , a good guesthouse ( Guest House Jamal ) , even a hostel ( Kubat-tour Hostel ) if you wanted to meet some fellow backpackers!

Still, camping out in the Ak-Sai Valley is far preferable to staying in Naryn. Get your supplies and get out into the jailoos.  

20. Konorcheck Canyons

A Utah-esque landscape in the middle of Central Asia

konorchek canyons best places to visit in kyrgyzstan

Fairytale Canyon gets a lot of attention from travelers – most visit here after hearing about Kyrgyzstan’s rainbow-like desert landscapes. Whilst the Fairytale Canyon is pretty damn cool, it’s not the most epic place in Kyrgyzstan to see this kind of scenery. This is another great reason to visit Kyrgyzstan .

The Konorcheck Canyons are a whole different level. Larger, wilder, and more intense in every way, these canyons are for the real desert raiders. Of course, those vivid colors that Kyrgyzstan is so well known for are still present.

To really appreciate Konorcheck, you will need to go on a moderate hike. The standard trail is about 6 miles long and offers plenty of scenery. Bold backpackers can choose to extend their trip via a number of side trails and can even camp out around the canyons. With the stars above and the red rock below, it can be a very trippy feeling camping out in these deserts. 

How to Get to Konorcheck Canyons

How to Get to Konorcheck Canyons

Konorcheck Canyons is located right off the side of the main A-635 highway, which makes it quite accessible. From Bishkek, it’s a 2-hour drive. From western shores of Issyk Kul, it’s between 60-90 minutes.

Where to Stay Around Konorcheck Canyons

Unless you’re camping, you’ll have to stay in a guesthouse nearby. Chong-Kemin is very close and makes for a great base for day-trippers. Otherwise, Bishkek and Issyk Kul are also within an hour or two’s drive.

grayl geopress filter bottle

Drink water from ANYWHERE. The Grayl Geopress is the worlds leading filtered water bottle protecting you from all manner of waterborne nasties.

Single-use plastic bottles are a MASSIVE threat to marine life. Be a part of the solution and travel with a filter water bottle. Save money and the environment!

We’ve tested the Geopress  rigorously  from the icy heights of Pakistan to the tropical jungles of Bali, and can confirm: it’s the best water bottle you’ll ever buy!

21. Jyrgalan

The new “hot” place to visit in Kyrgyzstan at the moment

Jyrgalan is becoming the next popular place to visit in Kyrgyzstan. Chalk it up to recent exposure from travel bloggers or new government initiatives but Jyrgalan’s face is plastered all over the internet at the moment. 

Jyrgalan’s newfound attention is not unwarranted. Set in the foothills of the Ala-too mountains to the southeast of Karakol, Jyrgylan is surrounded by pastoral beauty and evokes images of a Swiss town in the Alps. The mountains, the fir trees, the nomadic culture; everything that you’d expect from Kyrgyzstan is here.

But what sets Jyrgalan apart? Well, for one Jyrgylan is appropriate for all types of travelers, whether they’re looking for an epic hike (see Boz-Uchuk Lakes ) or just a couple of peaceful days in nature. Secondly, Jyrgalan is still relatively underdeveloped. But given all of the recent exposure it’s been getting, this could change very soon.

How to Get to Jyrgalan

Jyrgalan is about 90 minutes away from Karakol by car. If you plan on driving yourself, be aware that Jyrgalan’s current location on Google Maps is wrong – the real location is roughly 42.607749,79.010816.

There are regular marshrutkas traveling to Jyrgalan from A k-Tilek Market in Karakol. The ride costs 80 soms and and takes less than 2 hours.

For more information on how to get to Jyrgalan, refer to their official webpage.

Where to Stay Around Jyrgalan

Here are a couple of places to stay in Jyrgylan:

  • Recommended hostel: Hostel Ulan
  • Recommended guesthouse: Alakol-Jyrgalan Guest House
  • Recommended yurt camp: Jyrgalan Yurt Lodge

22. Khan Tengri and Enylchek Glacier

One of the most beautiful mountains in the world that requires an expedition to see

khan tengri most beautiful mountain in kyrgystan

This is the hike to end all hikes in Kyrgyzstan: the mountain monarch, the celestial king, the god himself, Khan Tengri . Khan Tengri, which means “Lord of the Heavens” in Kazahk, is arguably the most beautiful mountain in all of Central Asia. It’s shape – a near-perfect pyramid – gives it an air of regality, grace, and power. Few other peaks can compete with Tengri and it is, without a doubt, the absolute ruler of the Tian Shan.

As befitting a grandiose mountain such as itself, visiting Khan Tengri isn’t necessarily an easy task. To do so, one must either undertake a multi-week expedition on the Enylchek Glacier or charter a very expensive helicopter ride to base camp. Whilst the latter is probably the most convenient way to see the peak, the former is more rewarding. 

If you really want to have an adventure and see one of the most stunning places in Kyrgyzstan, then Khan Tengri is your ticket. Seeing the crown of the mountain light up like fire at sunset is an otherworldly sight and certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity. 

How to Get to Khan Tengri 

khan tengri base camp trek

You have two options of visit Khan Tengri: by helicopter or by trekking. Here is an overview of both:

  • By helicopter : this is the easiest and most expensive way to see Khan Tengri. Ak-Sai Travel – the current owner of the only helicopter going to Tengri – currently charges $750 for a simple day trip to the base camp of the mountain.  
  • By trekking: Most people arrive at Khan Tengri via a multi-week expedition and you will absolutely need to use a local adventure company to organize one. Food and shelter will be in short supply along the glacier, but with the right team you should be able to visit Tengri in relative comfort. Prices usually vary between $2250 and $2500 for a 15 to 16-day itinerary.

Where to Stay Around Khan Tengri

Camping – that’s about the only way to sleep near Khan Tengri. That’s unless you enjoy sleeping under a nice warm rock, of course.

Find out what people want to know about the best places to visit in Kyrgyzstan

Where should you go in Kyrgyzstan?

Kyrgyzstan is all about nature and Ala Archa offers a really accessible way to get into the mountains as it’s just outside the capital.

What are the most beautiful places in Kyrgyzstan?

The Khan Tengri and Enylchek Glacier offer some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, let alone Kyrgyzstan. It’s well worth the effort to visit!

What is the best time to visit Kyrgyzstan?

Kyrgyzstan can get super cold in the winter and the mountains and passes can be hard to visit. Come in summer and take in the busy bazaars and lush green countryside.

What are the famous landmarks in Kyrgyzstan?

There’s not much in the way of world famous sites, but that’s what makes the country amazing to visit. The most well known is probably the fascinating capital of Bishkek.

In general, Kyrgyzstan is a very safe place to visit. In the mountainous areas there is hardly any sort of crime, and since travelers will be spending 99% of their time in places like this, they will hardly notice anything. 

That being said, Kyrgyzstan is not totally safe. There are still instances of violent crime and police corruption can be horrible, especially during times of government strife. Since the political situation in Kyrgyzstan can change on the drop of a dime as well, you can never really know when shit is going to hit the fan.

Remember though, these kind of things only happen in the cities or, in the case of the police, on some major highways. Like any other city in the world, the key to staying safe is keeping your wits about you and being street smart. Be cautious at night and don’t be overly trusting of strangers. Exhibit all of the usual precautions you would when traveling and you should be fine.

horse trekking in kyrgystan safey

In regards to the crooked cops, they’re more of an annoyance than an actual threat. If one starts to harass you and really wants a bribe, just insist that you’ve done nothing wrong and stand your ground. To be safe, carry a copy of your passport on you and don’t give in to any strange demands. A lot of the times, it comes down to a battle of attrition between you and the officer – whoever walks away first loses.

Nature is the real killer in Kyrgyzstan. Flooded rivers, avalanches, rock fall, ill-tempered horses; all of these things can really ruin your trip. You’re much more likely in Kyrgyzstan to get swept away in a river crossing then a stabbing. Brush up on the usual smart hiking habits and be respectful of the elements.

Grab Some Travel Insurance Before Heading Out

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

tourism kyrgyzstan

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Even if you are only going on a short trip to Kyrgyzstan, you should always travel with insurance. Have fun on your backpacking adventure, but please do get insurance – take it from someone who has racked up tens of thousands of bucks on an insurance claim before, you need it.

tourism kyrgyzstan

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!

Ralph Cope

Share or save this post

promotional sidebar image for booking.com

Did you to these places on your own or on a sponsored government tour for influencers?

I ask because having just finished a month long trip to Kyrgzstan, I found nearly nothing written in a travel blog to be honest and accurate. Fluff from govovernment paid tours.

Yes, we visited these places on our own and of our own volition. The government wasn’t involved in any way shape or form outside of granting us permits. We hired some local tour guides as well for some the off-the-beaten-path destinations, like the Batken, but that’s about all the assistance we got.

Unfortuante that you think was a sponsored post; I meant every word I wrote. Can you share some of your own experiences in Kyrgyzstan? I return whenever I can and like to discover new perspectives on the country.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.

Journal of Nomads

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide: 20 Useful Things you should know to visit Kyrgyzstan in 2024

Are you an independent traveler and planning to visit Kyrgyzstan soon? Then this is the Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide you’re looking for! Here is everything you need to know about traveling to Kyrgyzstan!

The Kyrgyz Republic – or simply Kyrgyzstan –  is a small landlocked country in Central Asia. The country is defined by the beautiful Tien Shan mountain range which occupies 80% of the country, lush valleys, and hundreds of crystal-clear alpine lakes.

Journal of Nomads Hiking at Kel Suu Lake - Adventure Tours Kyrgyzstan - Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide

Kyrgyzstan is also a land of nomads who still strongly value their centuries-old nomadic traditions.

They are expert horsemen and national games in which they demonstrate their equestrian skills, such as Dead Goat Polo , which are an integral part of the Kyrgyz culture.

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide - Kyrgyzstan Culture - Best experiences Kyrgyzstan - Journal of Nomads

If you like being in the wilderness and you’re interested in learning more about the nomadic lifestyle in Central Asia, then you’ll absolutely love Kyrgyzstan! It’s one of the few off-the-beaten-path countries where you can still get a taste of the authentic nomadic culture.

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide: 20 Useful Things you should know to visit Kyrgyzstan in 2024

I lived and traveled in Kyrgyzstan for 11 months and keep returning yearly to organize adventure tours and explore new destinations in the country. I consider it as my second home.

At this point, I’d say I became an expert when it comes to Kyrgyzstan travel and like to share my love for it with you.

This Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide brings together all my knowledge and experience. I cover everything from visas, entry requirements and safety to transport, accommodation, food, useful apps and cultural etiquette to help you prepare your Kyrgyzstan trip to the fullest!

Are you looking for a  customized guided tour  in Kyrgyzstan and/or other countries  in Central Asia ? Do you need help  planning your itinerary ?

Have a look at my   C e n t r a l   A s i a  tour and itinerary planning services !

Kyrgyzstan Tours - Journal of Nomads

Disclaimer: This posts might contain affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase through these links, I may earn an affiliate commission. Thank you for helping to support this website!

Kyrgyzstan Travel Essentials

  • 20 things you need to know before traveling to Kyrgyzstan
  • The 25 best places to visit in Kyrgyzstan
  • The top 28 things to do in Kyrgyzstan
  • The 14 best hikes & treks in Kyrgyzstan
  • The 9 best horse riding destinations in Kyrgyzstan
  • Kyrgyzstan Budget Guide
  • Kyrgyzstan Adventure Tours & Kyrgyzstan Tour Planning
  • Visa: Required Kyrgyzstan travel documents
  • Getting there: Search for flights to Bishkek or Osh
  • Where to stay : Find a yurt camp,homestay, hotel, hostel or guesthouses
  • Travel Insurance: Choose the best travel insurance for Kyrgyzstan

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Visiting Kyrgyzstan in 2024 – Kyrgyzstan Entry Requirements

1.1 kyrgyzstan covid requirements.

Travelers can now enter Kyrgyzstan without a negative PCR test of proof of vaccination. There are also no restrictions anymore within the country.

1.2 Kyrgyzstan Vaccination Requirements

You don’t need any mandatory vaccinations to travel to Kyrgyzstan.

Vaccinations for Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended, especially if you are visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.

The government of Kyrgyzstan requires proof of yellow fever vaccination only if you’re arriving from a country with a risk of yellow fever.

Sary Jaz Kyrgyzstan places to visit

2. Do I need a visa to travel to Kyrgyzstan?

Kyrgyzstan has the most liberal visa regime in Central Asia. Citizens from Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Brunei, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE and Saudi Arabia can visit the country for up to 60 days within 120 days without a visa .

Citizens from Mongolia and Ukraine can stay up to 90 days within 180 days without a visa and citizens from Malaysia and Turkey are allowed to stay visa-free in Kyrgyzstan for up to 30 days .

Travelers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Cuba, Georgia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, North Korea, Russia, Tajikistan, and Vietnam can stay for an indefinite time !

All the other countries have to obtain a visa. Check this website to see what visa you’re eligible for.

Since 1 September 2017, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan has launched the e-Visa system , for which you can apply here . The e-visa for Kyrgyzstan costs US$61 and it takes about one week to get it.

However, sometimes these things take longer in Kyrgyzstan so apply at least one month ahead to be certain! Some nationalities will also need a Letter of Invitation (LOI) while applying for the visa.

You can check your visa requirements for Kyrgyzstan here:

Can I extend my Kyrgyzstan visa?

It used to be possible to renew the Kyrgyzstan visa by doing a visa run into one of Kyrgyzstan’s neighboring countries. However, the law changed in October 2023 and visa runs aren’t possible anymore.

If you want to stay longer than 60 days within 120 days or 90 days within 180 days, you’ll need to apply for an e-visa or visit a Kyrgyz Embassy outside of the country. Almaty in Kazakhstan is probably the best place to apply for a new visa.

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide - Travel to Kyrgyzstan - Visit Kyrgyzstan - Kok Kiya Valley - horseman - Journal of Nomads- renew visa for Kyrgyztan

How to renew your Kyrgyzstan visa

What happens if I overstay my Kyrgyzstan Visa?

If you’re overstaying , you need to pay a fine and get an exit visa at the Department of Registration located at 58 Kievskaya street in Bishkek. The total cost of overstaying is currently around $60 USD.

Ala too square - Top attractions in Bishkek

3. When is the best time to visit Kyrgyzstan?

The best time to visit Kyrgyzstan is from late spring (mid-June) to early autumn (end of September) if you want to do some hiking and horseback treks in the mountains and stay at the yurt camps of the Kyrgyz nomads.

However, you can visit Kyrgyzstan all year round, depending on what you want to see and do during your trip.

3.1 Why Is summer the best time to visit Kyrgyzstan?

Summer (July and August) is the high season in Kyrgyzstan.

This is the time when all the mountain passes are accessible so ideal if you want to go for day hikes or multiple day-treks, camping, mountain biking, or horse riding.

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide: 20 Useful Things you should know to visit Kyrgyzstan in 2024

The Complete Trekking Guide to Kyrgyzstan with the best day hikes and treks

The best and most beautiful places to visit in Kyrgyzstan - Where to go in Kyrgyzstan - Journal of Nomads

Summer is also the time of the year when the semi-nomads have their yurt camps set up in the jailoos (summer pastures) so their herds of sheep, goats, horses, and cows can graze freely in the wild. They often have an extra yurt available for travelers and tourists.

If you like to stay with a semi-nomadic shepherd family and learn more about their daily life in the mountains, then summer is the best time to visit Kyrgyzstan!

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide: 20 Useful Things you should know to visit Kyrgyzstan in 2024

Many folkloric events and national festivals are being held during summer. The most popular ones are:

  • The National Horse Festival in July during which skilled horsemen love competing in various horse games.
  • The Birds of Prey Festival in August, during which Golden Eagle Hunters take part in contests. Horse games and folkloric shows are also part of the festival
  • The Kyrgyz Kochu Festival, also an event celebrated in August, marks the annual migration of the nomadic shepherds and their flocks from the high summer pastures to the lowlands in winter. Horse games, national games and folk music are the highlights of this festival.

Kok Boru Kyrgyzstan's National Sport

3.2 Are spring and autumn a good time to visit Kyrgyzstan?

Late spring (end of April – June) and early autumn (mid-September – October) are also still good times to visit Kyrgyzstan.

Not all mountain passes will be accessible and you won’t see many yurt camps (only yurt camps belonging to local tour companies stay from mid-May to end-September) but you can still visit some beautiful places and go hiking in the lower mountains.

Places in Kyrgyzstan that are worth visiting in spring and/or autumn:

  • The stunning lakes at Sary Chelek National Park
  • Hiking or horse riding in the Lower Alay Mountains
  • Participating in the walnut harvest in Arslanbob in October
  • Enjoying the first (or last) summer vibes at Lake Issyk Kul

Things to do in Kyrgyzstan in autumn - Journal of Nomads

9 places to visit in Kyrgyzstan in spring and fall, including best hikes

Sary Chelek Lake Kyrgyzstan - Sary Chelek Travel Guide - Journal of Nomads

3.3 Should I visit Kyrgyzstan in winter?

Winter (November – March) in Kyrgyzstan is usually very cold (-25°C or lower in the mountains) and most mountainous places aren’t accessible.

But if you don’t mind cold and you love skiing and snowy landscapes, then traveling in Kyrgyzstan during the winter will be a unique and magical experience!

The Ultimate Travel guide for backpacking in Kyrgyzstan - Journal of Nomads - yurts in winter

  • 6 reasons why you should visit Kyrgyzstan in winter

6 reasons why you should visit Kyrgyzstan in winter

One of the top things to do in Kyrgyzstan in winter is skiing!

There are about 20 ski resorts in Kyrgyzstan with Karakol being one of the best ski resorts in Central Asia. For more information, read The Complete Guide to Skiing in Kyrgyzstan.

ski in kyrgyzstan

While some areas might be harder or impossible to access when it snows, it doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to do in Kyrgyzstan during the winter.

Here are some options:

  • going on a horseback trek to Son Kul lake in winter
  • bathing in the hot springs in Altyn Arashan
  • witness the golden eagle hunters in full action as the hunting season starts in late October and lasts until the end of February
  • go paragliding and cat skiing in Jyrgalan

Kyrgyzstan Itinerary for winter

1 0 – d a y I t i n e r a r y t o v i s i t K y r g y z s t a n i n w i n t e r

horse riding in Kyrgyzstan

If you want my help with planning a customized itinerary and activities suitable for the season you’re traveling to Kyrgyzstan, don’t hesitate to contact me !

4. Where should you go in Kyrgyzstan?

There are so many beautiful places to visit in Kyrgyzstan that you could easily spend months in the country! It also depends on your interests and preferences.

Kyrgyzstan isn’t a destination for urban exploration like its neighbor Uzbekistan . With the exception of Bishkek , Osh and Arslanbob , most towns and cities aren’t really that interesting to visit. The most interesting places are found in the countryside and mountains.

If you’re interested in historical and world heritage sites, then you should definitely visit Burana Tower , Tash Rabat, and Sulaiman Too Sacred Mountain .

Tash Rabat - Landmark in Kyrgyzstan - Kyrgyzstan Travel - Where to go in Kyrgyzstan

If you love nature, mountains, and alpine lakes, then you can’t miss out on the areas and lakes of Kel Suu , Son Kul , Ala Kul , Issyk Kul and Sary Chelek .

Kel Suu Lake Kyrgyzstan - The Complete Travel Guide how to visit Kel Suu Lake in Kyrgyzstan

However, there are many more stunning places to visit in Kyrgyzstan than only the few I mentioned above.

Kel Suu Lake - Cynthia Bil - Journal of Nomads Adventure Tour

The 25 most beautiful places to visit in Kyrgyzstan

Engilchek Ghost Town USSR Kyrgyzstan interesting places to visit Kyrgyzstan

5. What are some fun things to do in Kyrgyzstan?

Kyrgyzstan offers a wide variety of cultural and outdoor activities. Try to put at least one of the following in your itinerary to experience what Kyrgyzstan is all about:

  • Go for a hike in the mountains . Kyrgyzstan is one of the top trekking destinations in the world! Even if you’re not super fit, there are still some beautiful day hikes you can do without breaking too much of a sweat.
  • Go horse riding . Horses play a central part in the daily life of the Kyrgyz people and horse treks are one of the highlights when traveling in Kyrgyzstan.

Horse Riding in Kyrgyzstan - Best destinations horseback trek Kyrgyzstan - Horse riding Karakol

The Complete Guide to horse riding in Kyrgyzstan with the best horse riding destinations

  • Sleep in a yurt camp. Experiencing the nomadic life in Kyrgyzstan will be another highlight of your visit to Kyrgyzstan. I’ll share more details about staying at a yurt camp below in the section Where to stay in Kyrgyzstan
  • Attend a folkloric festival with national horse games . The nomadic games in Kyrgyzstan are a must-see! However, it’s not always clear when or where these festivals are going to happen. I got lucky to be a few times at the right place on the right moment. The best place where you might get to see a spontaneous game of Kok Boru would be at Son Kul lake.
  • Participate in a cultural workshop to learn more about yurt building, felting or cooking a traditional meal. The best place for this is on the southern shore of lake Issyk Kul.

Kyrgyzstan Overland Tour - Yurt Camp Stay Kyrgyzstan

T h e 2 8 Top Things to do in Kyrgyzstan

Three Dragon Gorge - Horseriding in Kyrgyzstan - Trekking Kyrgyzstan - Alay Mountains - Kyrgyzstan Trekking Tours - Journal of Nomads

6. Kyrgyzstan Travel Insurance

It’s not mandatory to have travel insurance to travel to Kyrgyzstan but I highly recommend getting one if you’re planning on hiking , skiing or horseback riding in the mountains.

An accident can happen fast and it’s better to be fully insured to avoid expensive medical costs.

I highly recommend the backpacker insurance provided by HeyMondo as it covers adventurous activities such as horse riding, skiing and trekking at high altitude. Read here for all info and details.

Need Travel Insurance for Central Asia ? I use and highly recommend HeyMondo Travel Insurance . As a reader of Journal of Nomads, you get a 5% discount off your insurance plan!

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide: 20 Useful Things you should know to visit Kyrgyzstan in 2024

The 3 best budget-friendly travel insurance companies

7.  How to get to Kyrgyzstan

7.1 where do you fly into for kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan has two international airports.

Manas Airport (FRU) in Bishkek, the country’s capital city, is the largest international airport in Kyrgyzstan.

There are a number of airlines that fly into Bishkek. I recommend Turkish Airlines or Pegasus (via Istanbul ) or Fly Dubai (via Dubai), depending on where you’re flying from. Search for the best deals here .

Osh Airport is a small international airport in the southwest of the country with about 30 international flights per week, mainly to and from Tashkent (Uzbekistan) and Moskow (Russia).

Sunset in Osh Kyrgyzstan - Osh, Places to visit in Kyrygzstan - Journal of Nomads

How to get from Bishkek Airport to the city

Bishkek airport is a 30-minute drive from the city center

The standard rate for a taxi from the airport to the center of Bishkek is between 600 and 800 Kyrgyz Som (KGS) – around $7 to $10 USD -, depending on the taxi company.

Most likely you’ll be welcomed by many taxi drivers who’ll be eager to give you a ride for double the standard rate. Insist on paying not more than 800 som. If they don’t accept, walk away and you’ll find a taxi driver who will drive you to the city center for the standard price.

You can also look for a taxi company named BTaxi right outside the airport exit or Manas Taxi on the 1st floor of the airport. Those are both trustworthy companies that work with a fixed rate of 600 som.

There are ATMs at the airport where you can withdraw the money needed for the taxi. You can withdraw more money or exchange currencies once you’re in Bishkek to avoid the expensive fees at the airport (see the section exchanging money in Kyrgyzstan).

You can also take marshrutka #153 or #380 (minibus) from the airport to Bishkek. They run daily from 6.30 am to 8 pm, the ride to the city center takes about 50 minutes and costs 40 KGS .

What are the best things to do in Bishkek

13 Top Things to do in Bishkek – Bishkek Travel Guide

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide - Rondreis Kirgizie - Bishkek Kyrgyzstan capital cityal

How to get from Osh Airport to the city

Osh airport is a 10-minute drive to the city center of Osh. A taxi from the airport costs 300 KGS .

You can also take marshrutka   #107a and #142a , the minibus that goes daily from the airport to the city center. It costs 10 KGS .

Panoramic view Osh Kyrgyzstan City Guide - Things to do in Osh Kyrgyzstan - Journal of Nomads

1 4 Top Things to do in Osh – Osh City Guide

7.2 How to travel to Kyrgyzstan by road

You can enter Kyrgyzstan overland from China, Kazakhstan , Uzbekistan and Tajikistan .

You can usually enter Kyrgyzstan overland by bus, mashrutka (minivan), shared or private taxi or self-driving.

If you’re driving with your own vehicle, you need vehicle insurance and sometimes a special permit to cross borders. You also need to pay an eco-tax if you arrive from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan or China but you don’t need to pay import tax or have a customs-cleared document.

  • Kyrgyzstan’s land borders with China are currently still closed for tourists. The land borders with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are open.

There are 2 open borders between Kyrgyzstan and China. The busiest and easiest border crossing is in Irkeshtam . Crossing at Torugart requires paying for an expensive, certified Chinese guide. This border is also often closed in winter.

From Tajikistan

There are 3 open borders between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The most popular one is in Kyzyl Art but you’ll need a GBAO permit to travel along the Pamir Highway. There are also borders in Kulundu and Isfara where you don’t need a permit.

From Uzbekistan

The easiest border to cross from Uzbekistan into Kyrgyzstan is at Dostyk , near the city of Osh. A mashrutka or taxi will drop you off at the border on the Uzbek side, you cross on foot and then you can take a taxi or mashrutka to Osh on the Kyrgyz side.

You can also travel directly from Tashkent (Uzbekistan) to Bishkek by bus or from Tashkent to Osh by train and bus .

From kazakhstan

There are 5 open borders between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The easiest border to cross is at Kordai , near Bishkek. Here’s how to get from Almaty (Kazakhstan) to Bishkek by public transport .

There’s also a very small border at Karkyra near Karakol. This border is only open from May to October and most suitable if you’re self-driving.

There are no marshrutkas or shared taxis going to this border. Going there by private taxi easily costs $50 – $100 and you’ll be stuck at the Kazakh side unless you don’t mind hitchhiking.

How to travel overland from Europe to Asia - Best travel routes - Journal of Nomads

How to travel overland from Europe to Asia

The Ultimate Travel guide for backpacking in Kyrgyzstan - Journal of Nomads - landscapes in Kyrgyzstan

8. Is Kyrgyzstan a safe country to visit?

Kyrgyzstan is absolutely a safe destination for tourists!

I dislike how most websites from the Departments of Foreign Affairs advise against traveling to Kyrgyzstan as it’s supposedly dangerous and how there’s a chance for terrorist attacks and kidnapping…

Terrorist attacks can happen everywhere, even in Europe! Remember what happened in Paris and in Brussels a few years ago…

And yes, the Kyrgyz people might kidnap you into their homes and force-feed you. But you’re free to leave whenever you’ve finished your plate.

I have never questioned my safety in Kyrgyzstan before, not even while I was traveling as a woman alone.

I went several times into the mountains with only male guides and companions. They cooked for me, helped me whenever I was struggling, they often checked if I was ok and some even called me “chef”. They cared for me like I was a princess.

Trekking in Arslanbob - The Complete Guide to Arslanbob Walnut forest Kyrgyzstan - Arslanbob Things to do

If you’re a woman traveling alone or with a girlfriend, you’ll get approached by men (and women) asking if you’re married. 9,8 times out of 10 they don’t ask this because they’re after you.

Marriage and having children are very important in the Kyrgyz culture so it’s a very commonly asked question. The same as when people would ask about your job in Western countries.

The men, and in general the people of Kyrgyzstan, are in my experience gentle, friendly, and kind. They also have big respect for women. There’s always an odd duck, but that is something you encounter in every destination.

Yurt stay in Kyrgyzstan - Alay Mountains - Kyrgyzstan Trekking Tours - Journal of Nomads

You also don’t have to worry about scams . Most markets and shops have standard prices so bargaining is also not really a thing in Kyrgyzstan (but you could always try).

You only have to watch out for taxi drivers. They tend to higher their prices when they see you’re a tourist. Inform yourself about taxi rates beforehand and don’t be afraid to bargain or walk away if you have the feeling they’re ripping you off.

Kyrgyzstan Tours - Stay in yurt camps of nomad shephers

Is Kyrgyzstan safe? 15 usefult things to know before you go

Alay Mountains Hikes - Hiking in Kyrgyzstan - Trekking Guide - Journal of Nomads

9.2 Which credit cards are accepted in Kyrgyzstan?

Visa is the most accepted credit card in Kyrgyzstan and you can use it in most restaurants, shops, and hotels in the larger cities in the country (Bishkek, Osh, Karakol, Jalal-Abad).

MasterCard and other credit cards are accepted in some places in Bishkek and Osh but you’re better off using Visa.

Cash is still king in Kyrgyzstan and you should definitely carry enough cash with you to cover your expenses when leaving the cities.

9.3 ATMs in Kyrgyzstan

You’ll find plenty of ATMs in the cities where you can withdraw KGS and in some cases USD. It’s not possible to withdraw other currencies. Most ATMs only accept Visa.

My go-to bank is Demir Bank as they accept both Visa and MasterCard and KICB .

Most ATMs have a withdrawal limit of 20.000 KGS or 200 USD. Fees may be added by your home bank.

9.4 Exchanging money in Kyrgyzstan

USD, EURO, and currencies from the neighboring countries like Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are accepted everywhere, other currencies might be harder to exchange.

The best place to exchange currency in Kyrgyzstan is in Bishkek . There are many currency exchange offices in Bishkek but the ones with the best exchange rate are on Manas Avenue, between Sierra Coffee and Chuy Avenue. Those offices might look small and dodgy but they’re trustworthy.

You can also exchange currency in banks but they usually offer a lower rate and you’ll also need your passport as the banks ask for it.

You can also exchange currency in Osh. The best place in Osh to exchange currency is at one of the small exchange offices at the big market called Kelechek.

Tip: Use big 50 or 100 EURO or USD bills and make sure they are crisp and not damaged or wrinkled otherwise the offices will exchange at a lower rate.

9.5 How much money do you need in Kyrgyzstan?

Kyrgyzstan is a cheap country to travel and one of the cheapest in Central Asia.

If you’re backpacking on a tight budget, you can get by with a daily budget of 50 USD if you’re only taking public transport, staying in homestays, cheap hostels or camping, eating in local restaurants, or buying food at the markets and sticking to free activities.

If you’re a mid-range traveler, meaning you have a budget to cover additional activities and day tours such as horse riding and visiting historical sites and you want to combine public transport and private taxis, stay at guesthouses and yurt camps, and eat at budget and/or mid-range restaurants, you’ll get by with a weekly budget of 850 USD .

If you like to stay at a yurt camp, you’ll nowadays pay around 20 USD per person night, including breakfast and dinner.

Kyrgyzstan on a budget. How much does it cost to travel in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan Money Guide: How much does it cost to travel and live in Kyrgyzstan

Adventure Tour Kyrgyzstan, Overland Expedition - Tash Rabat

9.6 Should you tip in Kyrgyzstan ?

Tipping is not part of the culture in Kyrgyzstan and is therefore not required.

Restaurants in the larger cities usually include a 10-15% service fee in the bill.

When you go on a tour, you’re also not expected to pay an extra tip to the guide, driver, horsemen, or porters afterward. However, they will appreciate it as wages are low in Kyrgyzstan.

If you’re happy with the services of your driver, guide,…, and you like to tip them after the trip, I’d use the 10-20% rule as a tipping guide.

Holy Lake Arslanbob Trekking Guide - The Complete Guide to Arslanbob Walnut forest Kyrgyzstan - Arslanbob Things to do

10. Transportation in Kyrgyzstan : How to get around in kyrgyzstan

You can get around in Kyrgyzstan by marshrutka (minibus), bus, (shared) taxi, train, and airplane.

10.1 Getting around Kyrgyzstan by minibus (marshrutka)

A marshrutka is a minibus that looks like a van and it’s the cheapest and most popular way for the locals to get around in Kyrgyzstan.

It’s very easy taking a marshrutka to get around in a city or town or to travel between two different towns. While it’s not the fastest way to get around as these minibusses stop everywhere,  it’s definitely a cultural experience!

Taking a marshrutka within a city

Every marshrutka has a number. It’s sometimes a little confusing which one you have to take so ask at your hostel or hotel which one you need or use the apps Bus.kg and Maps.Me to find your way around.

Bus.kg tells you the route of each marshrutka. Maps.me is easier to use as you just type in the name of your location and destination and it shows you which marshrutkas are going there.

Marshrutkas don’t have a fixed time schedule but you’ll find them everywhere! Just stand on the side of the road and wave them down. The driver will stop for you.

You pay the driver as soon as you get in the van. The standard price for a ride within a city or town is 10KGS .

If you want to get off, move towards the front of the minibus (use your elbows if needed as it can get very crowded in there) and ask or sign the driver to stop.

Tip: When you see someone visibly older than you getting on the marshrutka, give up your seat voluntarily if you want to avoid a scene. Especially the old ladies can give you a lot of trouble if you don’t want to stand up for them. They might look old and sweet but they can be fierce!

The Ultimate Travel guide for backpacking in Kyrgyzstan - Journal of Nomads - people of Kyrgyzstan

The Kyrgyz women are the sweetest until you refuse to give up your seat for them…

Taking a marshrutka between towns and cities

If you want to travel between towns and cities, you can take a long-distance marshrutka. You can find them at the bus stations. Just go to the station and say where you want to go.

People will show you the ticket office where you have to pay for your ticket and they will also point you in the direction of the marshrutka you need.

The prices depend on how far you want to go and how popular the route is but the average price is around 300KGS for a 4-hour ride.

After paying for your ticket, you’ll receive a receipt that you have to show the driver before you get on the marshrutka. The minibus leaves when it’s full.

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide: 20 Useful Things you should know to visit Kyrgyzstan in 2024

10.2 Getting around by shared taxi

Another common way to get around Kyrgyzstan is by shared taxi.

Sharing a taxi means that you share the car with other people and you split the costs so you pay per seat. It’s about twice or triple the price of a marshrutka but a faster way to get around.

Some taxi drivers like to double the rate for unwary tourists so if you don’t want to get ripped off, make sure that:

  • you make it clear that you want to share the taxi (say ‘taxi sovmesti’) so you don’t pay the full price and
  • ask your hostel/hotel about the rates or ask the other passengers how much they pay.

The standard price for a long-distance ride should be between 800KGS and 1200KGS per person.

The best way to get from Bishkek to Osh (or vice versa) is by shared taxi. For this 12-hour ride, you pay around 1500KGS per person.

If you want to take a taxi within Bishkek and you can’t be bothered by bargaining for the price, install the Yandex Go app on your phone ( only possible when you have a local SIM card) . This app works similar to Uber .

10.3 Getting around by train

There are very few trains in Kyrgyzstan due to the mountainous terrain of the country. There’s a railway route that goes from Bishkek to Balykchy (Issyk-Kul).

It’s a very scenic train ride that brings you to the western shore of Lake Issyk-Kul but it’s very slow (5-6 hours) and only runs during the summer.

For prices and timetables, check with the train station in Bishkek.

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide: 20 Useful Things you should know to visit Kyrgyzstan in 2024

10.4 Domestic flights in Kyrgyzstan

If you’re in a hurry and you don’t want to make the long drive from Osh to Bishkek or vice versa, then there’s always the option of taking an airplane between both cities.

There are daily flights between Bishkek and Osh, the flight itself lasts 45 minutes and a one-way ticket costs around $50. You can book tickets on this website .

Hiking from Kyzart to Song Kul - A Complete Guide to Trekking in Kyrgyzstan with the best and most beautiful hikes of the country - Journal of Nomads

10.5 Hitchhiking in Kyrgyzstan

Hitchhiking in Kyrgyzstan is quite common among the locals.

You’ll see a lot of people standing on the side of the road, waving cars down as a sign that they want to get a lift but it’s standard to pay the driver to share the costs of the petrol for the journey (very similar to taking a shared taxi).

So it’s not really hard to hitchhike in Kyrgyzstan, the challenge is in finding a FREE ride.

Hitchhiking in the snow - - Hitchhiking in Kyrgyzstan - Journal of Nomads

The Pleasant and Unpleasant Surprises of Hitchhiking in Kyrgyzstan

10.6 Driving in Kyrgyzstan

Self-driving in Kyrgyzstan is definitely an option if you want to travel to remote places. It’s often difficult to reach certain mountainous areas and alpine lakes by public transport.

The state of the main roads is generally good but as soon as you’re heading into the mountains, the condition of the tracks is variable. The roads can be deteriorated by potholes, bumps, and debris so drive carefully!

I recommend renting a 4×4 if you’re planning on driving in the mountains. Iron Horse Nomads and Travel L and Kyrgyzstan are the best car rental service to contact.

Note: some rental companies won’t allow you to drive to certain regions like Kel Suu lake as the road is in a bad state.

Driving rules in Kyrgyzstan:

  • You need an international driver’s license and vehicle insurance.
  • Drive on the right side of the road.
  • The speed limit in towns or cities is between 40 and 60 km/h. The limit outside the cities is generally 80km/h.
  • It’s mandatory to keep your low-beam headlights on, even during the day.
  • Watch your speed as animals roam freely on the streets.
  • Some police officers are still corrupt. If they’d fine you for speeding or any other reason, ask for a receipt first. You can also try to negotiate the price of the fine down to 1/4 or 1/2 but you won’t receive a receipt as the officer will pocket the money.

Kyrgyzstan Tour - 8-day Overland Expedition - roadtrip avontuur Kirgizie reizen - Journal of Nomads

11. Tours in Kyrgyzstan

As you could read above, it’s possible getting around Kyrgyzstan by public transport but most places of interest in Kyrgyzstan are remote and can’t be reached by minibus or shared taxi.

If you have an adventurous spirit, you can try to reach these places by hitchhiking. But you’ll need time and patience as most places are so remote that there’s little to no traffic going there.

You can also try and find a private taxi to drive you and negotiate prices. But some destinations, such as Kel Suu lake , Altyn Arashan and Sary Jaz Valley simply can’t be reached without a 4×4. Even reaching the popular Son Kul lake requires arranging private transport.

Kyrgyzstan Travel Tours - Offroad Adventure -Journal of Nomads

Your best option is to arrange a private tour to get there.

Kyrgyzstan has a great Community-Based Tourism network, referred to as CBT, throughout the country. You’ll find a CBT office in nearly every major town that will connect you with local guides, drivers, homestays and yurt camps. The majority of their profit goes to the local communities.

While some CBT offices are great and professional, like the CBT in Osh and Arslanbob, others still require improvement when it comes to organization, availability and liability.

Some guesthouses also offer their own tours and guided (horse) treks so if you’re traveling independently and are interested in going on a small guided trip in the region, it’s worth consulting them as well.

There are also many independent tour guides and small local travel companies throughout the country that offer a wide variety of tours, from small trips to a certain area to fully-guided tours around the country.

If you don’t really know which one to contact, get in touch with me . Throughout my time in Kyrgyzstan, I worked with various small local travel companies and tour guides that were very professional and liable and I can connect you with the ones meeting your interests and needs.

And of course, I’m now briefly going to promote my own group tours in Kyrgyzstan .

Every summer, I organize a wide variety of tours, from Overland Road Trips and Adventure Tours to Trekking Adventures , Horse Riding Trips and Highlights of Kyrgyzstan Adventures , some of these tours guided by yours truly.

Would you love to go on an epic adventure on foot, on horseback or by 4×4 to the most beautiful places in Kyrgyzstan with a small group of adventurous travelers?

Check out my 6 Fantastic Kyrgyzstan Adventure Tours!

Kyrgyzstan Adventure Tours

If group tours aren’t really your thing and/or you’d like to have a similar guided trip with your partner, friends, family or organization, I also offer tour planning services in Kyrgyzstan and/or can connect you to a suitable tour guide or local travel company.

12. Where to stay in Kyrgyzstan – Accommodation in Kyrgyzstan

12.1 hostels, hotels and guesthouses in kyrgyzstan.

There are plenty of hostels, hotels, and guesthouses in the big cities and major towns in Kyrgyzstan.

Hostels are the cheapest option, starting from $8 per night for a bed in a dorm . You can also find a nice private room, starting from 12 USD per night .

There are also some really nice hotels and guesthouses in Bishkek, Osh and other major towns, from mid-range to luxury. The average price for a room in a mid-range hotel usually costs around $30 per night.

I always use booking.com to find the best hostel and hotel deals.

12.2 Homestays in Kyrgyzstan

Staying with a local family in a homestay is a great opportunity to learn more about Kyrgyz daily life!

Kyrgyz families open their homes to foreigners who can stay for a night or more in one of the shared rooms in exchange for a fee, which varies from 500 to 1000 KGS per person per one night .

Don’t expect too much luxury, it’s after all a family home so it’s very likely that you’ll sleep on thick comfortable blankets on the floor like the Kyrgyz people do.

How to find these homestays?

Most homestays can be found through the CBT offices in the area. You can also just ask around in a town or village for a homestay (prozhivaniye v sem’ye) and the locals will bring you to one.

Nowadays, you can already book some of these homestays directly online: check out the homestays in Kyrgyzstan here .

Just remember that, even if someone invites you spontaneously to stay at their home, they will expect some kind of payment, whether it’s money or a gift.

The Ultimate Travel guide for backpacking in Kyrgyzstan - Journal of Nomads - homestays

12.3 Staying in a yurt in Kyrgyzstan

Yurts are one of the most essential parts of the Kyrgyz culture.

A yurt is a round tent, usually covered with felt or wool which are water repellent and warm and can be easily patched if needed. The top of the yurt is a wooden circle, called a tunduk, which forms one of the most essential symbols of family and the universe. The tunduk is also represented on the Kyrgyz flag.

28 top things to do in Kyrgyzstan - Journal of Nomads - building a yurt

While most of the Kyrgyz people nowadays live in houses or apartments, semi-nomadic shepherd families still move to the summer pastures during the warmer months where they live in yurt camps and tend to their herds.

Kyrgyzstan shepherd life nomads

During summer you’ll find many yurt camps across the Kyrgyz countryside. Staying in one of these yurt camps is definitely a must-try experience when traveling to Kyrgyzstan!

Many yurt camps in popular places like Issyk Kul and Son Kul are nowadays specially made to accommodate travelers.

The small yurt camps are family-owned, serving as an extra way of making an income for the shepherd families and still offer a one-of-a-kind experience. Others have been created by small travel companies and offer a more “luxurious stay” (you’ll still have to poo in a hole tho…).

You don’t necessarily have to book your stay in advance. You can just arrive and ask if they have a yurt available.

Here are some yurt camps you can also find online:

  • Feel Nomad Yurt Camp at Lake Issyk-Kul.
  • Yurt Camp Ali-Nur at Lake Song Kul
  • Jeti Oguz Winter Yurt Camp near Karakol
  • Yurt Camp Lenin Peak near the Pamirsky National Camp

Things do do Issyk Kul Lake - Feel Nomad Yurt Camp

If you’re seeking a more “authentic” yurt stay experience and want to participate in the daily life of a Kyrgyz shepherd family, you’ll have to travel to less touristic places such as the Alay Mountains .

Just remember that, even if the family invited you over to stay at their yurt, you’re still expected to give some form of payment (money or useful gifts such as food) as a sign of respect.

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide: 20 Useful Things you should know to visit Kyrgyzstan in 2024

12.4 Camping in Kyrgyzstan

Wild camping is allowed in Kyrgyzstan as the camping spirit in the country is omnipresent, it’s the Land of Nomads after all.

You can set up your tent nearly everywhere and nobody will bother you. You also shouldn’t worry about any wild animals such as wolves, bears, or snow leopards unless you’re planning to go deep into the mountains. Just check with the local CBT to make sure…

ideal camping spot - Ala Kul - Journal of Nomads

In certain areas, such as in Arslanbob and Sary Chelek , you need to register at one of the local CBT (Community Based Tourism) offices and pay a small fee if you want to camp there.

However, don’t worry too much about this, just set up your tent and if you’re supposed to pay, someone will come and tell you.

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide: 20 Useful Things you should know to visit Kyrgyzstan in 2024

13. Kyrgyzstan Food and drinks

Kyrgyzstan isn’t exactly a culinary destination like f.eg. Georgia . The food in Kyrgyzstan wasn’t love at first bite for me.

It’s not that it’s bad but I find often it a bit bland. Some dishes would be delicious with the use of extra spices.

However, you must know that the traditional dishes originate from the nomadic times and people had to manage with what was available, which was mostly meat and dairy products.

Nowadays, Kyrgyz food is a lot more varied, with lots of influences from China, Russia, Turkey, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Most meals consist of mutton, beef and chicken meat served in dumplings, noodles, rice, or alongside potatoes.

There are plenty of western and traditional restaurants in the major cities and local eateries in every town and village throughout the country. The food is mainly served with water or soft drinks. Soft drinks are served by the bottle, not by the glass.

Tea is available everywhere but if you’re a coffee-lover, you’ll have to be satisfied with instant coffee. You can find some good coffee bars in Bishkek, Osh and Karakol but expect to pay more when you order a proper espresso or cappuccino.

The best place to try Kyrgyz food is at a homestay where the family uses fresh ingredients and their own traditional family recipes.

At nearly every homestay or yurt camp, you’ll find small bowls with sweets, biscuits, bread and dried fruits on the table. You should definitely try the homemade butter, jam and clotted cream when available!

Food in Kyrgyzstan - Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide - Journal of Nomads

If you’re traveling during summer, you’ll find your dose of vitamins in the wide variety of yummy fruits and vegetables on the markets and small stalls at the side of the road.

In wintertime, there’s less choice but you’ll still be able to find tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, apples, pears, etc.

13.1 5 Kyrgyz Dishes you have to try

Beshbarmak is the national food of both Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan as it originates from their shared nomadic past. The name means ‘five fingers’ because nomads traditionally eat this dish with their hands.

Beshbarmak is usually made from chopped boiled meat (beef or mutton) mixed with noodles and chyk , an onion broth. Traditional beshbarmak is made from horse meat.

Laghman is an Uyghur dish made from meat, vegetables and noodles. Bozo laghman comes with fried noodles and gyozo laghman with boiled noodles and broth.

The Ultimate Travel guide for backpacking in Kyrgyzstan - Journal of Nomads - food in Kyrgyzstan

Plov is the most popular dish in Central Asia. While it’s considered to be Uzbekistan’s national dish, you’ll also find it everywhere in Kyrgyzstan.

Plov is made from rice, onions, carrots, spices and meat. You can also ask for the vegetarian option where the meat is replaced by dried raisins.

Where to eat in Tashkent - Plov Uzbekistan

Manti is another popular dish in Central Asia. Each region has its own version.

Manti are dumplings filled with ground lamb meat but in Kyrgyzstan, they also fill them with beef, cabbage, potato or pumpkin.  

Shashlik is grilled beef, mutton or chicken meat on a skewer. It’s a simple dish and you’ll find it everywhere in Kyrgyzstan.

13.2 Is vegetarian food available in Kyrgyzstan ?

It’s nowadays not so hard anymore to find vegetarian food in Kyrgyzstan. You can eat almost all the traditional dishes. Just say “bez myasa” (without meat) when ordering.

Vegans, on the other hand, will have a harder time as nearly all the dishes contain animal products. My suggestion would be to stock up on fruits and vegetables at local markets and cook your own meals.

13.3 What is the national drink of Kyrgyzstan?

Don’t leave Kyrgyzstan without trying some kymys . It’s a very popular drink among the nomads and it’s made of fermented horse milk. It tastes very sour and it contains some alcohol.

Despite being a Muslim country, alcohol is omnipresent in Kyrgyzstan and especially vodka is also a very popular drink (Kyrgyzstan used to be part of the Soviet Union). It’s so cheap here that people even use it to defrost the windshield of their cars in winter…

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide: 20 Useful Things you should know to visit Kyrgyzstan in 2024

14. Packing list for Kyrgyzstan

14.1 what should i wear in kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan has a continental climate with hot summers and cold winters but because it’s a mountainous country, the weather varies a lot depending on where you are.

It can be very hot in the summer (35°C) in the lower areas such as the capital Bishkek , but as soon as you go into the mountains, the temperature can go down to 10°C. If you’re at a high altitude, you might still get snow.

Kyrgyzstan - Kel Suu lake - Adventure Tour - My favorite travel photos of 2018 - Journal of Nomads

In the same way, winters at lower elevations are much milder (-5 to 0°C) while the temperature can get as low as or lower than -30°C in the mountains.

Pack appropriate clothes for the period in which you’re traveling.

In winter you should always bring warm clothes, a down jacket, a hat, a scarf, thermal underwear, warm boots and maybe a few lighter clothes for the mild days in Bishkek.

The summer in Bishkek and other cities located under 1000 meters can be very hot so bring light clothes.

If you’re planning on hiking and camping in the mountains during the summer, you should also bring warm clothing as the temperature at night can drop to 0°C!

Sary Mogul Pass - Best of Alay Mountains Trek - Alay Mountains - Kyrgyzstan Trekking Tours - Kirgizie Trekking Avontuur Journal of Nomads - Cynthia Bil

Women shouldn’t wear miniskirts, short shorts, and revealing tops.

With the exception of the capital city where young people follow the latest Western fashion, most people are still very traditional and will take offense if you show a lot of skin.

T-shirts with short sleeves and knee-length skirts, dresses, and shorts are okay, except for when you visit religious buildings and sites. There you should cover your arms and wear a long skirt or trousers.

THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO TREKKING IN KYRGYZSTAN WITH 14 OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL HIKES OF THE COUNTRY!

The Complete Packing List for Kyrgyzstan

14.2 Travel essentials for Kyrgyzstan

The packing list that I mentioned above includes everything you need for traveling and trekking in Kyrgyzstan but here’s a brief overview of all the essentials:

  • Water Filter Bottle : I highly recommend bringing a reusable bottle with a microfiltration decive. It allows you to safely drink the tap water and fresh mountain water from rivers and streams without becoming sick. When you drink water using a bottle like this, any dirt, bacteria or parasites will be trapped in the fibers of the filter, while the clean water passes through. I use and highly recommend the Lifestraw Water Filter Bottle . Another way to filter water is by using a steripen .
  • Power bank : you won’t always have electricity available to charge your electronic devices, especially not when you’re planning on spending time in the mountains and staying in yurt camps. I use and recommend Anker Power Bank as it has a 20,000mAh cell capacity providing at least 5 full charges for my phone. I can even charge my camera batteries with it!
  • International travel adaptor : the power sockets in Kyrgyzstan are of type C and F (the same as in Europe). The standard voltage is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. In case you need an adaptor, I use and recommend this all-in-one Universal Travel Adaptor as you can use it worldwide.
  • Biodegradable toilet paper : you’ll have to be comfortable using a squat toilet in Kyrgyzstan. With the exception of the guesthouses where you’ll have a western-style toilet, most toilets will be outside in the form of a separate small building with a hole in the ground. Sometimes there’s toilet paper but you should definitely bring biodegradable toilet paper with you. I mention biodegradable as the toilet paper disappears in the ground so we can keep it environment-friendly!
  • Same goes for biodegradable wet wipes . Most yurt camps and some homestays don’t have showers so wet wipes are very handy if you want to refresh.
  • Immodium (or any other anti-diarrhea medicine): a lot of the travelers eventually suffer from diarrhea at one point or another throughout their first trip to Kyrgyzstan. As prevention, I use activated charcoal (it helps your body get rid of toxins and unwanted substances, ask about it in your local pharmacy).
  • Paracetamol: You’ll often be at altitudes of 3000 meters and above. You might feel slightly light-headed and have a little headache during the first day and evening if you’re not used to high altitudes. That’s why paracetamol (or other painkillers for headaches) can be useful. After that first day, you should be fine!

Read The Complete Packing List for Kyrgyzstan to know exactly what to pack!

Backpacker Travel Insurance - Best Travel Insurance for Backpackers - Journal of Nomads

15. Are drones allowed in Kyrgyzstan?

Yes, drones are allowed in Kyrgyzstan!

There is some misinformation on the internet stating that your drone will be confiscated upon entry into the country. This is only the case in Uzbekistan .

I’ve been traveling to and around Kyrgyzstan with my drone since 2017 and I’ve never had any problems.

You can fly your drone everywhere in Kyrgyzstan, except near airports, border areas, military, and governmental buildings, and urban centers.

Travel Photography Tips - WHAT’S IN MY CAMERA BAG – BEST GEAR AND CAMERAS FOR BLOGGERS AND TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHERS- Journal of Nomads

What’s in my camera bag – My photography essentials and cameras

Tolpar Kol Lake - Lenin Peak Basecamp -

16. How is the internet in Kyrgyzstan?

High-speed wi-fi is available in all the big cities in Kyrgyzstan. If you’re a digital nomad like me and you need to work online, you can count on the internet in Bishkek, Osh, and Karakol.

All restaurants, cafes, hotels etc. offer a free connection for guests. If you rent an Airbnb or apartment, internet will be included. It might be a bit slower in some hostels but in general, it’s reliable and fast.

However, power cuts aren’t unusual in Kyrgyzstan, even in the capital city so I highly recommend buying a sim card to hotspot your phone if the power goes out.

Just keep in mind that only 25% of the country has mobile coverage (although, with Elon Musk’s Starlink this might change quickly). You won’t find much coverage in rural areas and none in the mountains.

If you’re planning on doing some treks, you should install a navigation app that can be used offline (see Recommended apps in Kyrgyzstan below).

16.1 Which is the best sim card in Kyrgyzstan and how to get one?

If you’re planning on traveling in the northern part of the country ( in the regions of Chuy, Issyk Kul, Naryn and Talas ), Beeline KG will provide the best coverage.

If you’re planning on traveling to southern Kyrgyzstan ( in the regions of Jalal-Abad, Osh and Batken ), then Megacom will be your best provider.

You’ll find a Beeline and Megacom booth at the airport or at any of the shopping malls in Bishkek or Osh where you can buy a prepaid data SIM card. You’ll have to show your passport to register and pay a small signup fee (max 200 som). 

They both offer weekly or monthly data plans and you can easily recharge your phone credit online. Check out the info and data plans for Beeline KG and Megacom and how to recharge online.

You can also recharge your credit by using a self-service terminal in a supermarket. You have to enter your mobile number and feed the booth with coins and notes. The language is mainly in Russian but it’s quite easy to figure out what you have to do with the help of the graphical elements on the screen.

16.2 Recommended apps for Kyrgyzstan

  • M aps.Me : This is one of the most practical apps you could use to navigate in Kyrgyzstan. You download the map of the country so you can use it offline. It gives you very accurate directions (Google maps gets lost in Kyrgyzstan…) and shows you where you can find the nearest restaurants, bus stations, ATM, hotels, places with wi-fi, points of interest, etc. This is also a great app to use while hiking as it shows most of the trails.
  • 2GIS : This is very similar to Maps.Me but only works for big cities such as Bishkek and Osh. You can download the map of the city for offline use. This app only works in Russian but it’s the most popular and accurate navigation app in Central Asia.
  • Booking.com : You’ll need internet to use this app but it’s a great tool to find (last-minute) accommodation in the country.
  • Bus.kg : Useful app to find out the routes of the city marshrutkas and where to catch these minivans
  • Go.Yandex: Great app to use if you want to take a taxi in Bishkek or to and from the airport. It works very similar to Uber. Just enter your location and a taxi will arrive within 10 minutes. It also shows you how much the ride will cost.
  • Google Translate: Translates written and spoken Russian or Kyrgyz. Only Russian is available to download for offline usage.
  • Xe currency: very handy to check exchange rates, also works offline.

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide - Son Kul Lake - Journal of Nomads

17. Culture and etiquette in Kyrgyzstan

The Kyrgyz people are descendants of ancient Turkic tribes and have been nomadic cattle breeders for centuries.

Nowadays, a large part of the population remains semi-nomadic, which means that they live in yurts during the summer months and return to their houses in the towns and cities during winter time.

My favorite travel photos of 2018 - Journal of Nomads - nomadic shepherd Kyrgyzstan

The Kyrgyz people are in general very hospitable people, especially in small villages where they aren’t used to seeing foreigners.

They will most likely invite you for a tea or a meal (bread and homemade jam are very popular) in their home and take plenty of selfies with you.

If you can, bring a small gift (sweets are always appreciated) and take off your shoes at the door. Eating and drinking are taken seriously and you’ll be overwhelmed with food.

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide: 20 Useful Things you should know to visit Kyrgyzstan in 2024

However, in more touristic destinations the people are used to being hospitable in exchange for money. They will welcome you in their home to spend the night but will expect payment in exchange.

Don’t feel offended or abused when this happens, see it as a way of helping out the locals.

The common greeting is a handshake but is used by men mostly. Men shake hands to greet and congratulate each other and also to say goodbye. Typically men do not shake hands with women.

If a man extends his hand first to a woman, a woman is supposed to shake it. If a woman extends her hand first to a man, the man will shake it but this is not a very common thing.

So if you’re a woman, just wait until a man initiates it, and don’t be offended if he doesn’t. It’s after all part of the culture.

Some more useful things to know:

  • Always show respect towards older people by shaking their hand or offering your seat.
  • Say thank you in the gesture of a silent bow: place your right hand on your heart and incline your head slightly
  • After sharing a meal together, the Kyrgyz people give thanks by sharing some words of gratitude while having their hands open and then make a washing gesture by waving their hands over their faces.
  • People don’t know how to queue in Kyrgyzstan. Don’t be surprised when someone jumps in front of you in a waiting line so dare to be assertive or you’ll never make your way to the cash register…
  • You won’t find any knives on dining tables, only forks and spoons.
  • Give or receive something by using your right hand. The left hand is considered “dirty” as it’s the one used in the bathroom
  • Blowing your nose in public is considered to be rude but spitting on the floor is absolutely fine, except in ones house of course…
  • If you need to go to the bathroom and there aren’t any toilets available such as when hiking in the mountains, hide yourself well (even guys!). If a local would see you squatting, he/she will be very offended by it!

18. What is the Religion in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is a multicultural and multi religious country. The vast majority of the Kyrgyz people are nowadays Sunni Muslims as Islam became the dominant religion in Kyrgyzstan in the 19th century.

The Islam practiced in Kyrgyzstan is often infused with the elements of the pre-Islamic traditions and tribal customs of the ethnic Kyrgyz people.

The people in the southern part of Kyrgyzstan are more conservative and traditional. They practice their religion more strictly, meaning you’ll see or hear them praying 5 times a day, alcohol is mostly a no-go (except when drinking kymys) and while women usually don’t wear a hijab (with the exception of Arslanbob ), they always cover their heads.

The northern part of the country is less conservative and has more Russian and Western influences. You’ll see both Russian Orthodox churches as mosques and the people, even if they practice Islam, usually won’t say no to good shot of vodka.

19. Do people in Kyrgyzstan speak English?

Russian and Kyrgyz are the two official languages of Kyrgyzstan. It’s one of the two former Soviet republics in Central Asia that continued using Russian as the official language.

After the independence of the country in 1991, Kyrgyz was designated as the second official language and is now the most widely spoken language in the country. It’s a Turkic language and has a lot of similarities with Kazakh and Turkish.

English is spoken, but mainly by tour guides and the younger people who study in the cities. If you want to be able to communicate with the locals, I’d suggest you learn some Kyrgyz or Russian .

l study Russian by using the audio classes of Pimsleur . This is a great learning method to study a new language.

11 Tips to learn Russian Quickly and Effectively

11 Tips on how to learn Russian efficiently

A phrasebook will definitely be useful. I recommend both the Lonely Planet Central Asia Phrasebook and the Lonely Planet Russian Phrasebook & Dictionary . I also recommend installing the Google Translate app and download the Russian language pack for offline use.

Hitchhiking in Kyrgyzstan, meeting fun Kyrgyz people, Journal of Nomads

20. Recommend books about Kyrgyzstan

When traveling in Kyrgyzstan, I would recommend bringing a small pocket phrasebook like the Lonely Planet Central Asia Phrasebook & Dictionary as it contains some useful phrases.

I would also recommend reading one or more of the following books.

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide: 20 Useful Things you should know to visit Kyrgyzstan in 2024

Kyrgyzstan Bradt Travel Guide one of the most comprehensive travel guides about Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide: 20 Useful Things you should know to visit Kyrgyzstan in 2024

Lonely Planet Central Asia , is ideal if you’re also planning on visiting other destinations in Central Asia

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide: 20 Useful Things you should know to visit Kyrgyzstan in 2024

Kyrgyzstan : a beautiful photography book that focuses on the costume and dress of Kyrgyz people, with stunning photos of Kyrgyz people in traditional settings.

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide: 20 Useful Things you should know to visit Kyrgyzstan in 2024

Tales of Manas : read all the tales about Kyrgyzstan’s most epic and legendary hero.

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide: 20 Useful Things you should know to visit Kyrgyzstan in 2024

The Silk Roads: A New History of the World : a journey through time, a revelatory new history of the world, connecting all the vast webs of roads to gain a greater understanding of modern history.

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide - Travel to Kyrgyzstan - Visit Kyrgyzstan - Kok Kiya Valley - horseman - Journal of Nomads

I hope you found all the info you were looking for to prepare your Kyrgyzstan trip and I’m wishing you a fantastic time in one of my favourite countries in the world!

If you still have questions about your upcoming journey, let me know in the comments below or send me an email .

Related Posts

Kyrgyzstan on a budget. How much does it cost to travel in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan Money Guide: Costs of Living and traveling in Kyrgyzstan in 2024

Tashkent to Osh - Osh to Tashkent - Dzuma Mosque - Tashkent tourist places of interest

The best way to get from Tashkent to Osh and from Osh to Tashkent, crossing the Dostyk border (Kyrgyzstan – Uzbekistan)

Traveling in Central Asia Packing List - what to wear in Central Asia - Kyrgyzstan - The Complete Travel Guide how to visit Kel Suu Lake in Kyrgyzstan

Best Tips and complete Packing List for Traveling in Central Asia in 2024 – When to go and what to wear when visiting Central Asia

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide - Son Kul Lake - Journal of Nomads

  • 8 beautiful lakes in Kyrgyzstan

Best time to visit Kyrgyzstan - Where to go in Kyrgyzstan in spring and autumn - hiking in Kyrgyzstan in spring and autumn - Journal of Nomads

9 places to visit in Kyrgyzstan in spring and autumn, including best hikes

Karakol Trekking - Best hikes in Karakol - Kyrgyzstan Trekking - Journal of Nomads

Hiking in Kyrgyzstan: The 21 best Jyrgalan and Karakol Trekking Trails

More kyrgyzstan travel resources.

  • The Complete Travel Guide to Kyrgyzstan
  • The 14 best hikes in Kyrgyzstan
  • The 25 most beautiful places in Kyrgyzstan
  • 15 useful safety tips for Kyrgyzstan
  • The complete packing list for Kyrgyzstan
  • 28 Things to do in Kyrgyzstan
  • 13 Top Things to do in Bishkek – City Guide
  • How to visit the Osh Bazaar in Bishkek
  • 14 Top Things to do in Osh – City Guide
  • 15 Best Things to do in Karakol – City Guide
  • The 21 best hikes in Karakol and Jyrgalan
  • Tash Rabat Travel Guide
  • The complete travel guide to Kel Suu Lake
  • The complete travel guide to Arslanbob
  • How to visit Sary Chelek Lake and Nature Reserve
  • Top things to do around Issyk Kul Lake, a one week itinerary
  • Facts and legends of the Burana Tower
  • Everything you need to know about horse riding to Song Kul lake
  • A comprehensive guide to skiing in Kyrgyzstan
  • Visit Kyrgyzstan in winter by using this 10-day Kyrgyzstan winter itinerary
  • Here are the 7 best hikes in the Alay Mountains near Osh
  • Use this day-by-day itinerary to hike independently to Ala Kul lake
  • Hike independently to Son Kul lake by using these 2 itineraries
  • 8 great day trips and hikes near Bishkek
  • Ready steady goat! An insight into Kok Boru, Kyrgyzstan’s unusual national sport
  • Meet the Golden Eagle Hunters of Kyrgyzstan

16 thoughts on “Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide: 20 Useful Things you should know to visit Kyrgyzstan in 2024”

Hi! Do you have any recommendation on what sim card data plan to get for travellers? I read that the data plans are rather complicated (or different) in Kyrgyzstan. Is there a fixed plan for a fixed amount of data for a fixed period? Or it goes by top up? And I suppose it is easy to get them at the airport upon arrival?

Hi Dianshan, the data plans go by a fixed amount per month but you can always top up if needed. You can get them upon airport arrival or in Bishkek in any shopping mall.

Wonderful, just what we needed. My wife and I are going to trek for two weeks this summer i Kyrgyzstan. Your information and beautiful pictures make us look even more forward to visit the country.

All the very best Johnny

Hi Johnny, thank you so much for your kind words! Wishing you a fantastic trip in Kyrgyzstan! Warm wishes, Cynthia

What a great article! We’re currently dreaming of going to Kyrgyzstan again – we’ve been there before and we love, love love it! Here’s to a year with loads of travel plans and new experiences!

– Veronika

Thank you Veronika! Are you planning on returning in 2023?

Thanks a lot Cynthia, it is really helpful and comprehensive, i am planning to go to Bishekek this weekend, and hopefully i enjoy it, I will definitly keep a print of this complete guide, my concern are villages and how to reach there and enjoy the nature.

Thanks again. Amir Manama – Bahrain

You might not be able to reach certain places at this time of the year due to snowfall. You might need the help of tour companies to get to certain areas. Please see my Kyrgyzstan winter itinerary as that one might help! If you can’t get to a place or village by public transport, you can always look for a taxi as well. Enjoy your time in Kyrgyzstan!

Hi Cynthia,

thanks for sharing your experience. It is very helpful and interesting for all of us that fancy going to this beautiful country.

I am planning to visit Kyrgyzstan next summer and it is not easy to see everything within 8-9 days. My main concern is about how to get around: do you recommend hiring a car (I have seen it is very expensive with a low standard, around 60-80usd/day)? or do you suggest using local means of transport (my concern is, if I want to go from a town to a village, then do some hiking there, how can I get another transport from this remote area to the next place? ).

Hope you can help

Hi Gianguido, It really depends on which places you like to visit in Kyrgyzstan. If you’re planning on going to Issyk Kul and Son Kul, you’ll be able to get there by public transportation or by (shared) taxi. If you’re interested in hiking to Ala Kul, you can get a minibus to Karakol and a taxi to drop you off at Karakol Valley from where you can start the hike. If you want to visit regions like Kel Suu, you won’t be able to get there by public transportation. If you have a look at our posts like “Best places to visit in Kyrgyzstan” or “one week itinerary Issyk Kul”, we give information on whether or not it’s possible to get to these places by local transport. Hope this helps!

This is a great post, an enjoyable and informative read. I’m travelling solo to Kyrgyzstan for a month this summer so it’s nice to have so many tips about one of the more undiscovered parts of Asia. Thanks so much!

Hi John, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed reading this post. You’ll have a fantastic time this summer in Kyrgyzstan! We might cross paths as we’ll be there as well 🙂 Any particular places you already know you want to visit?

Very comprehensive, ultimate travel guide indeed, thanks for sharing Cynthia!

Sad to hear about the “corruption” with the traffic police, if we may add, also look out for fake police and pickpockets – reportedly common at the Osh Bazaar.

Wishing everyone a safe and fun trip in Kyrgyztan 🙂

Thank you David, glad to hear! I haven’t heard or didn’t come across the fake police but yes, people have to watch out for pickpockets at the Osh Bazaar.

Thanks Jack! 🙂 Are you planning on traveling to Kyrgyzstan any time soon?

Leave a Comment Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

  • Skip to main content
  • Skip to secondary menu
  • Skip to footer

ZigZagonEarth

Plan unforgettable road trips!

DESTINATION GUIDE – KYRGYZSTAN

The Kyrgyzstan Tourism is going to boom in the coming years: discover why and why you should visit right now.

Welcome to the Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide! Kyrgyzstan is a country covered with mountains, jewel lakes and nomadic people. When traveling through the country, you can only feel connected to nature and yearning for a simpler life. This Travel Guide will help you discover in photos the things to do and see around the country. The detailed information and tips for each destination will also help you plan your own trip.

MAKE THE BEST OF YOUR TIME IN KYRGYZSTAN!

Kyrgyzstan Tourism - Travel Destination Guide, Map, Things to do

Each post includes info, planning tips and many pictures!

This page contains affiliate links, which means that if you use them, I get a small commission on your purchase at no extra cost for you. (more info on the Disclosure page ).

KYRGYZSTAN TOURISM - General Posts

If you have reached this Travel Guide, you are probably thinking of traveling to Kyrgyzstan. If you are still unsure or just want to day dream, below are some general articles to show you how incredible The Kyrgyz Republic is home stunning sceneries, rich traditions and adorable people.

Below are some summary posts to show you how incredible Kyrgyzstan is:

9 reasons to visit Kyrgyzstan

9 reasons to visit Kyrgyzstan

Video landscapes of Kyrgzystan

Video: Landscapes of Kyrgyzstan

Portraits of Kyrgyz people

Portraits of Kyrgyz people

Travel guide Kyrgyzstan - Top 7 favorite places to visit

My favorite places in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz yurts and Nomadic culture

Yurt and Nomadic culture

Photo essay summer transhumance in Kyrgyzstan

Transhumance in photos

what to expect foodwise in Kyrgyzstan

Food & Drinks of Kyrgyzstan

Photo-essay - old cars in Kyrgyzstan

Cars in Kyrgyzstan

Travel Guide Kyrgyzstan - best of photos s

Best of photos from Kyrgyzstan

As I wrote on my huffington post article " Tourist please stay away from Kyrgyzstan... or not " I am torn between wanting the country to keep its authenticity and for the world to discover its beauty.

TOURISM KYRGYZSTAN MAP

Here is a map of Kyrgzystan with the main things to do all around the country. Those are numbered and correspond to the posts or descriptions in the following sections of this guide.

Tourism Kyrgyzstan Map - places to visit, travel guide

PLANNING AND PREPARING YOUR TRIP TO KYRGYZSTAN

Thinking of visiting the beautiful Kyrgyzstan, the pearl of Central Asia? Here are some posts to help you plan and prepare your trip: visa, language,

Planning your trip to Kyrgyzstan article

Planning your trip to Kyrgyzstan

Prepare and pack for your trip to Kyrgyzstan 1

Preparing your trip to Kyrgyzstan

Book your trip

If you appreciate all the free content in these online travel guides, consider completing your bookings through my affiliate links. This way I get a small commission on your purchase at no extra cost for you. This helps me to continue bringing you tons of information to plan your trip. Thanks for your support!

  • Book your accommodations - Book from a large choice on Booking.com (my trusted travel booking site) or Compare prices on hotelscombined.com
  • Rent your car - planning a road trip? Compare fares and book on rentalcars.com
  • Book your organized tours, visits and tickets via GetYourGuide.com and Viator.com - I love them both

GET EQUIPMENT YOU NEED

  • CLOTHES, SAFETY ITEMS, PACKING PRACTICAL ITEMS, LUGGAGE, ELECTRONICS... Get it on Amazon (US, UK and Canada only)

GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

  • I wish you a very smooth trip, but my policy is: better be prepared. I personally use World Nomads.  Get a quote online here .

PROTECT YOUR ELECTRONIC DATA

  • Don't use unsecured wifi without a VPN service to avoid risking electronic theft - NordVPN is one of the best rated VPN service

THINGS TO DO - AROUND BISHKEK

Kyrgyzstan Tourism starts in Bishkek, the capital city. Located in the North of the country, it is full of trees, squares and statues with the backdrop of high mountains. Discover some of the top things to do in Bishkek as well as a location not far away from it: the Burana Tower where I was lucky to see two girls playing the traditional Kyrgyz Guitar.

Travel Guide Kyrgyzstan: Plan your visit to Bishkek

1a -  Visiting Bishkek

Travel Guide Kyrgyzstan: Plan your visit to the Osh Bazaar in Bishkek

1b -  Bishkek's Osh Market

Travel Guide Kyrgyzstan: Plan your visit to the Burana Tower

2 -  Burana Tower

TOURISM - REGION OF ISSYK-KUL

The main toursitic area of Kyrgyzstan is Lake Issyk-Kul, the second largest altitude lake in the world. It is quite impressive with its intense colors and the surrounding mountains. All the valleys around it have a lot to offer. Discover some posts with geological, natural, historical and cultural places to discover as you tour the lake.

Travel Guide Kyrgyzstan: Plan your visit to Cholpon-Ata Petroglyphs

3 -  Cholpon-Ata Petroglyphs

Travel Guide Kyrgyzstan: Plan your visit to the Valley of Altyn Arashan

5 - Altyn Arashan valley

Travel Guide Kyrgyzstan: Plan your visit to the Karakol animal market

7-  Karakol and its animal Market

Travel Guide Kyrgyzstan: Plan your visit to Jeti-Oguz Seven bulls

8 -  Jeti-Ogüz

Travel Guide Kyrgyzstan: Plan your visit to the valley of flowers

9 -  Valley of Flowers

Travel Guide Kyrgyzstan: Plan your visit to  Skazka canyon

12 -  Skazka Canyon (Fairy tale canyon)

Travel Guide Kyrgyzstan: Plan your visit to the Issyk Kul lake

Around Issyk-Kul lake

4 - Rukh Ordo Cultural Centre - site to discover the Kyrgyz culture

6 - Ala-Kol lake​ - beautiful small lake at 3500m, in a bowl with snowy mountains around

10 - Sarychat-Ertash Reserve

11 - Barksoon waterfall : on a road going to a gold mine, just accross from a but of Youri Gagarine. Requires steep climbing.​

CENTRAL KYRGYZSTAN TOURISM

Outside of the beaten path, away from the wifi, you can discover the natural beauty of Kyrgyzstan. It is like driving in the museum where each turn reveals a new painting or structure. Don't just believe me, check the pictures in the post below, pack your bag and go there. My top experience here was my yurt stay near Song-Kul lake.

Photo essay: drive from Issyk kul to Song Kul, Kyrgyzstan square

Drive: Lake Issyk-Kul to Song-Kul

Travel Guide Kyrgyzstan: Plan your visit to Song Kul lake

13 -  Song-Kul lake

Painted landscapes of Kyrgyzstan Song Kul to Kazarman square

Song-Kul to Kazarman

Driving from Kazarman to Arslanbob Kyrgyzstan 2

Kazarman to Arslanbob

Travel Guide Kyrgyzstan: Plan your visit to Arslanbob and its walnut forest

19 -  Arslanbob

Travel Guide Kyrgyzstan: Plan your visit to Sary-Chelek Nature Reserve

20 -  Sary-Chelek National Park

Travel guide Kyrgzystan: the Naryn river and Toktogul reservoir

21 -  Naryn River Toktogul Reservoir

Travel Guide Kyrgzystan - Driving through Talas Ala Too Mountain Range from Toktogul to Bishkek

Toktogul to Bishkek

  • 14 - Kol-Suu - 3500m high alpine lake in the Tian Shan mountains
  • 15 - Chatyr-Kol - yellowish-green alpine lake in the Tien Shan mountains
  • Check out this great post and pictures by Eric and Taylor about their trip to both Kol-Suu and Chatyr-Kul
  • 16 - Tash Rabat Fortress - 31 room - stone caravanserai at 3200m in atlitude from  the 15th century - Check the pictures from Eric and Taylor 
  • 17 - Uzgen Historical Complex - located in Uzgen, one the of the most ancient cities in Kyrgyzstan. It dates from the 11th / 12t century and includes 3 mausaleums and  a minaret
  • 18 - Sulaiman-too Mountain - World Heritage site in the city of Osh, sacred mountain worshipped over several millennia
  • 22 - Manas Mausoleum (Gumbez of Manas) - located near Talas, it is landmark of the Silk Road period - Built in 1334

TOUR REVIEW

independent review wandering Earl tour Kyrgyzstan

Review Wandering Earl tour

Of course there are much more things to do in Kyrgyzstan. I am only sharing the ones I have experienced myself. Feel free to share yours in the comments when you come back from your trip!

GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS

travel packing lists - essential travel items 2

Travel Checklists for packing

Travel Safety Tips - hotel safety tips 2

Travel Safety Tips

Best compact binoculars for Travel and safari

Best Travel Binoculars

Inspired? Which ones do you want to experience?

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS, PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT

Reader Interactions

' src=

August 18, 2015 at 8:51 AM

Salut Claire

Je suis tombée sur ton blog il y a quelques temps, nous étions sur le meme tour en Namibie. Juste un petit clin d’œil pour dire que je m’amuse à voir tes destinations car elles sont très similaires aux miennes! J’avais finalement passé 3 mois en Nouvelle Zélande peu de temps après la Namibie et j’étais allée en Jordanie juste avant ca. Je suis actuellement au Kyrgyzstan et je poursuivrai en Ouzbékistan. Je regarde donc régulièrement les destinations que tu choisis! A bientôt. Camille

' src=

August 19, 2015 at 10:18 AM

Salut Camille! Quelle surprise! Amusant que nous voyagions sur les même destinations. Fais mois signe quand tu passes par Paris. Claire

' src=

January 15, 2017 at 8:32 AM

That was a beautiful place I’ve ever seen

' src=

February 21, 2017 at 4:01 PM

Hi there, we are planning a trip to Kyrgyzstan in early May touring the Son-Kul area. (we are doing a longer tour in Kazakhstan after Kygyz.) Absolutely loved your photos. Want to know in which season you sent to Song-Kul/Issyk-Kul? Would the Steppes be green in early May? And would it be cloudy/rains?

February 21, 2017 at 6:30 PM

Hi Najma Those photos were taken the first half of June. I would believe the Steppes will be green in May but there might still be a lot of snow – it can be very variable as you are in the mountains.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Par Claire Robinson Region Lovers SARL 76600 Le Havre FRANCE VAT FR21845103191

Follow ZigZag on Facebook

Follow ZigZag on Pinterest

Website in French: ZigZagvoyages.fr

Website in German: ZigZagreisen.de

Website in Spanish: ZigZagviajes.com

And discover the French regions:

Normandielovers.fr LoireLovers.fr CorsicaLovers.fr Provencelovers.fr

Privacy / Terms of Use / Disclosure Policies / Refund policy

Become an affiliate for the ZigZag road trip guides

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ZigZagOnEarth.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, Amazon.uk and Amazon.ca

Tips and how to travel to Kyrgyzstan (2024)

By Joan Torres 43 Comments Last updated on April 11, 2024

Kyrgyzstan travel tips

From first-class treks to a very accessible nomadic culture, horse riding and hospitable people, traveling to Kyrgyzstan is the experience, and destination, for those seeking an off the beaten track (but easy) adventure.

After spending two entire months traveling in Kyrgyzstan , I have compiled all the necessary information that will help you plan your trip, from visas and bureaucracy to accommodation, transportation and plenty of cultural facts.

Visit Kyrgyzstan

In this Kyrgyzstan travel guide you will find:

Table of Contents

  • Travel insurance
  • Best time to visit
  • How to get in
  • Is it safe?
  • Top 5 experiences
  • The country, people, and culture
  • Food and alcohol
  • Nomadic life
  • Accommodation
  • Transportation
  • More information

eSIM card for browsing when traveling in Kyrgyzstan

With Holafly , you can now get an electronic SIM card for Kyrgyzstan from home with just 2 clicks.

5% discount with the following code:

AGAINSTTHECOMPASS

Read: Packing list for trekking in Central Asia

🪪 Visa for traveling to Kyrgyzstan

The most liberal visa regime in central asia.

Most nationalities get a 60-day free visa on arrival, both at the airport and overland.

If you want to renew it, you just need to cross the Kazakh border (1 hour from Bishkek) and come back on the same day.

These countries are: EU countries (except for Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Romania), Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Kuwait, Monaco, New Zealand, Oman , Qatar, Saudi Arabia , Singapore, South Korea, United Arab Emirates , United States, Uzbekistan , Vatican City. Japan and Russia can get an indefinite stay. 

The rest of nationalities can apply for a Kyrgyz e-visa

Since September 2017, most of the remaining countries can apply for an e-visa through the official portal . It takes around 1 week and costs 63USD. 

Moreover, if you are in possession of an e-visa, you can travel to Kyrgyzstan both via land and air. 

Be aware that when applying for an e-visa, most nationalities will also need to be in possession of an LOI, EXCEPT for citizens of:

Brazil, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Indonesia, Israel, Macedonia, Mexico, Philippines, Romania, San Marino, South Africa, Serbia, Thailand, Turkey, Venezuela.

If you are not on any of the above lists, read the Kyrgyzstan visa section of Caravanistan  for further information on visas.

Extending your visa does not seem to be possible anymore

We tried to extend our visa and they said that, since May 2017, extensions aren’t possible anymore. We tried to extend it in both Karakol and Bishkek. 

It is easier to  travel to Almaty   and come back. 

Overstaying can be expensive

If you overstayed, you won’t be let to get out of the country unless you are in possession of an exit visa, which you can get at the foreign office located at 58 Kievskaya street in Bishkek, after paying the respective fine.

Kyrgyzstan tourism

🚑 Travel Insurance for Kyrgyzstan

If you visit Kyrgyzstan, travel insurance is a must, as accidents do happen in the mountains. Actually, during a horse trek in Tash Rabat , I fell off the horse and had to stay in bed for nearly 2 weeks.

It was a pretty bad (and scary accident). I had to go to the hospital, all the way to Bishkek, where they carried out different kinds of tests on me which, in the end, turned out to be expensive. Luckily, I was fully insured.

For Kyrgyzstan, I recommend IATI Insurance :

  • Different plans for all budgets
  • It covers a big bunch of adventure activities, including trekking in high altitudes
  • Covers both short-term trips and 1-year long trips.
  • Readers of this blog can get a 5% exclusive discount

⛅ Best time to visit Kyrgyzstan

My favorite month for traveling to kyrgyzstan: september.

Why? July & August would be the ideal season for trekking, especially if you plan to go high in the mountains as, during these two months, the weather is warmer and the likelihood of rain is lower. However, Kyrgyzstan is becoming a popular destination, which means that some areas may be crowded.

In September, nevertheless, most crowds will be gone, and the weather will still be warm enough for trekking, and that is why I consider September to be the best month for visiting Kyrgyzstan .

Travel in Kyrgyzstan during High season (mid-June to Mid-September)

  • Pros: Best season for trekking, loads of nomads
  • Cons: Crowded, plus it can be really hot in Bishkek and other low-altitude areas

Read my packing list for trekking in Central Asia

Travel in Kyrgyzstan during Shoulder season (Spring and Autumn)

  • Pros: In late spring and early autumn, you can do some cool treks
  • Cons: High mountains may be not accessible, unpredictable weather, nomads may not be there

Travel in Kyrgyzstan during Low season (mid-November to March)

  • Pros: Winter landscape, snow, no people
  • Cons: No trekking, no nomads

tourism kyrgyzstan

🛫 How to get to Kyrgyzstan

How to travel to kyrgyzstan by air.

Getting to the International Airport of Bishkek is fairly easy, as it has quite a few connections with several airports in Europe. Moreover, you should also check Pegasus, a budget airline from Istanbul with daily flights to Bishkek. Alternatively, check out the flights to Almaty, as they are usually cheaper and it is very close to Bishkek. 

How to travel to Kyrgyzstan by land

Kyrgyzstan shares a border with:

  • China – There are 2 open borders, Irkeshtam and Torugart. Crossing at Torugart requires having a special, expensive Chinese permit. Crossing via Irkeshtam is fairly easy and you can read the full report here . 
  • Tajikistan – There are 6 border crossings and 4 of them are open to foreigners. The most obvious is the  Kyzyl Art border crossing , which is the one that follows the Pamir Highway. For more information, read the   latest Caravanistan updates .
  • Kazakhstan – There are like 7 border crossings, but the easiest ones are Karkara and Kordai. For more information, read the latest Caravanistan updates . 
  • Uzbekistan – There are nowadays 4 borders but only 3 are open as of 2019. For more information, read the latest Caravanistan updates . 

tourism kyrgyzstan

⚠️ Is it safe to travel to Kyrgyzstan?

Remember to get travel insurance for Kyrgyzstan IATI Insurance  covers high altitude trekking + offers long term plans, so it’s perfect for Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia Get your 5% exclusive discount by purchasing via this link .

Something you need to know is that the term Stan doesn’t mean a place is dangerous, but Stan means land , so Kyrgyzstan means the land of Kyrgyz. 

Kyrgyzstan is a safe destination. Period. 

I mean, just check the FCO advice and you will see that all they say is that Kyrgyzstan is a very safe country, and here you need to take into account that the FCO advice is always absolutely biased, meaning that tends to see danger where there is not, especially in the Middle East .

Solo travelers will be just fine and whereas I can’t speak for women, I know many women who have been there, and all they told me was positive experiences. 

The only potential danger you may hear about is that Bishkek used to be infamous for its after-midnight crime, mainly targeting drunk people on their way home from the bars. The situation, however, has dramatically improved but, if that is a concern for you, just take a taxi when you go back home.  

Burana tower

🛖 Top 5 experiences in Kyrgyzstan

For all the places to visit, don’t forget to check my 1-month Kyrgyzstan itinerary

Stay with Kyrgyz nomads

Experiencing the nomadic life is one of the greatest Kyrgyz experiences. From staying in a yurt to helping them preparing kurut , their local cheese, during our 2-month journey across the country, we met loads of nomads with we had awesome experiences. 

However, with the tourism increase, some nomadic camps have become too commercial, and what I recommend is that you try to find the most authentic ones. How? Well, by getting off the beaten track but also, if you go to Song Kul, instead of staying at the CBT camp where everybody stays, just go across the lake. 

tourism kyrgyzstan

Watch nomad games, but try to find out where the local games happen (don’t go to the touristic ones)

The ancient nomad sports in Kyrgyzstan are just crazy, and bizarre.

From horse wrestling to playing polo with a dead goat instead of an actual ball (Ulak tariysh), the nomadic games of Kyrgyzstan are, definitely, a must-see. 

Every summer, some tourist organizations, like CBT, organize nomad games for tourists, in Song Kul and places like that, but I recommend you find the local ones, as the vibe is just great, plus they do a larger variety of sports. 

To be very honest, I didn’t manage to see a local game in Kyrgyzstan, but I did in Tajikistan, near the Kyrgyz border (where most Tajiks are ethnically Kyrgyz), and it was just awesome.

Go trekking on a horse

Many people may feel bad for riding a horse, but the truth is that Kyrgyzstan is the land of horses and even today, in the rural areas, they are the preferred way of transportation.

Those horses are really used to go over high altitude mountain passes, and you definitely get a different experience, and perspective than going on foot. 

tourism kyrgyzstan

Go trekking in some of the most mind-blowing mountains ever

I truly believe that, in a matter of years, Kyrgyzstan will become the trekking destination of reference, competing directly with Nepal and Argentina, and the reason is that its mountains are absolutely jaw-dropping, plus they are much more accessible than any other destination I know. 

Visit the remotest Silk Road Heritage sites

Kyrgyzstan has only a small bunch of Silk Road Heritage sites, but the few it has are truly epic, remote and placed in the most epic locations. 

tourism kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is about nature and nomadic life  With very few Silk Road Heritage sites compared to its neighbor Uzbekistan , in Kyrgyzstan, there’s not much to do besides wandering around its gorgeous mountains and experiencing the nomadic life. The truth is that, with the exception of Bishkek and Arslanbob, most towns in Kyrgyzstan are pretty boring as there is no distinctive architecture, soul and social life, as Kyrgyzstan has been a nomadic land for many centuries. When you travel in Kyrgyzstan, you will see that towns are merely used as a base to explore the mountains or take a rest from them.

📚 Books for traveling to Kyrgyzstan

For more books to Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia, check:

The best 28 books on Central Asia

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide by Bradt

By far, the best and most complete book guide to Kyrgyzstan. Bradt writes the most awesome guides, as they are always filled with great cultural insights and personal experiences. I always buy their Kindle version for whatever country I go to.

tourism kyrgyzstan

Central Asia Guide by Lonely Planet

A classic. If you are traveling throughout the region, this might be a more economical option, rather than buying one guide per country but remember that it is not as insightful as Bradt’s.

tourism kyrgyzstan

Don’t forget to check my list of the best books on Central Asia and the Silk Road

🕌 15 facts about Kyrgyzstan, its people and culture

1 – Kyrgyzstan used to be part of the Soviet Union – It acquired its independence in 1991, with the collapse of the USSR.

2 – The origin of the Kyrgyz – Kyrgyz people are an ethnic nomadic group which is believed to have come from a region within Siberia, during the 10th and 15th centuries.

Originally, they used to have red hair but, over the centuries, they have mixed with all kinds of groups, especially Mongols and Turks.

3 – Kyrgyz make up 66% of the population – The biggest minority are Uzbeks (15%), followed by Russians (10%).

4 – It’s a Muslim country. Well, not really – Like in most Soviet countries, religion is not a big deal anymore, especially in the north of the country.

In the south, people tend to be more traditional, so you may see more mosques or men with beard and Muslim hats, but nothing relevant. During Ramadan, I was in Bishkek and didn’t see any sign of people fasting.

Alcohol is available everywhere and there is no sex segregation. You will see that women of all ages will always come to you to start a conversation.

5 – However, Saudi Arabia wants to reverse this – They are funding the construction of mosques across the country.

Read: 35 Tips for traveling to Kazakhstan

Kyrgyzstan people

6 – Kyrgyz is the national language but Russian is widely spoken – Kyrgyz, a Turkic language, is the country’s official language.

Russian is spoken by most of the population, except in the south of the country, which has a significant Uzbek population who, for some reason, don’t really speak it.

7 – English is a problem – Communicating with people is one of the biggest issues in Kyrgyzstan, as very few people speak English. 

8 – At least, you must learn the Cyrillic alphabet – Extremely useful, especially when it comes to reading restaurant menus and bus directions.

9 – Bishkek is surprisingly Westernized – When you arrive in Bishkek and discover all those restaurants and bars where local people hang out, who dress incredibly well, you realize that this is not what you were expecting.

10 – The rest of the country is more traditional – Outside of Bishkek, most people still live a traditional life, where people’s main life goal is getting married and having children as early as possible. I met several 20-year old women who already had two kids.

11 – Kidnapping brides is still a big deal – And what do I mean by kidnapping brides? In Kyrgyzstan, a man can take a random woman who is just walking on the street to his house and, if both parents agree, he can marry her and the woman can’t say anything.

I know, it’s not a real kidnapping but it’s a crazy tradition and, even today, some locals told me that this is practiced by 20% of the population, especially in small, rural villages.

If you want to know more about, check out this video:

12 – The most hospitable people in Central Asia – In this region, the Kyrgyz are famous for their hospitality. When we went trekking in the mountains, I remember that there was not a single day when someone didn’t invite us to his or her yurt to have some tea and bread with home-made jam and butter.

Traveling in Kyrgyzstan is very pleasant, as the Kyrgyz people, who will always bless you with their smiles, are kind and hospitable by nature.

13 – You can’t believe how clean they are – When you visit Kyrgyzstan , you will realize that these people have a real obsession with cleanliness.

Even in youth hostels, sometimes I could never go to the toilet because there was someone cleaning it. In guest houses and home-stays, women spend the entire day mopping the floor and cleaning the kitchen.

I don’t know whether it’s true or not but, a Russian man told me that, during Soviet times, Kyrgyz people had a bad reputation for being dirty. In order to change this general opinion, they became obsessed with cleanliness.

14 – Girls are pretty, very pretty – Kyrgyz women are stunning, especially in Bishkek. On the other hand, all foreign women say that, in general, Kyrgyz men are not very handsome.

15 – Always remove your shoes – You must always remove shoes when you enter any house, yurt and even hostels and guesthouses.

Read: 70 Tips for traveling to Pakistan

Kyrgyzstan girl

🐪 About nomadic life in Kyrgyzstan

The most accessible nomadic life in the world.

From time immemorial, the ethnic group known as the Kyrgyz have been a nomadic people who tend to move continuously throughout the mountains and valleys of the region with their cattle.

Today, a large proportion of the Kyrgyz population still live a nomadic, traditional life, not very different from their ancestors.

In summer, which is from June to September, you will find hundreds of nomad camps everywhere, either next to the road or in the remotest mountains, where they settle so their horses, cows and sheep can graze freely.

It’s their summer job

During the summer months, Kyrgyz nomads move from cities to the mountains, so their herds of cows, sheep, goats and horses can graze freely.

When the season is over, they sell some of these animals, as well as dairy products and meat. This is the only source of income most of them rely on.

They live in yurts

Yurts are perhaps the most iconic symbol of Kyrgyzstan. These cozy skin-made tents, which can be seen all across the country, can be incredibly warm during the freezing nights.

tourism kyrgyzstan

You can always stay with them, no matter where you go

Whether you just want to get a warm meal or spend the night, wherever you go trekking, the nomads will always welcome you, at least in my experience.

But remember that, even if they don’t ask, they may expect you to pay something.

Get off the beaten track because the touristic areas are too commercialized

If you go to popular places, such as Song Kul for example, most nomad families have spare yurts, which have been built for tourists.

Whereas there is nothing wrong with staying there, the experience won’t be very authentic.

If you have a chance, try to find yurts around the Alay Valley, the Pamirs or even in less popular treks around Karakol . In these yurt camps, you may sleep in the same yurt as the family and even join in with their daily tasks.

tourism kyrgyzstan

🍲 Facts about food and alcohol in Kyrgyzstan

1 – Food is not amazing but it’s OK to fill your stomach – You will not love it but, after traveling in Kyrgyzstan for 2 months, I was not especially bored of it.

2 – The typical food – Lagman (a hearty noodle soup), manty (meat dumplings) and shorpo (meat broth) are the staple food.

3 – But don’t trust mantys – While traveling in Kyrgyzstan, the only day I got slightly sick was after eating some street mantys . Be careful where you order them, as the meat they are filled with may have been outside of the fridge for days.

4 – In small towns and villages, only staple food – In bigger towns, you can easily find more choices, like salads, kebab or Western food. However, in villages, you’ll have to fill your stomach with lagman and mantys.

5 – You are expected to know what to order from the moment you enter the restaurant – It’s your first day in Kyrgyzstan, the first time you enter a restaurant, holding a menu written in an alphabet which you’ve never seen before.

However, they will expect you to know what to order within 10 seconds of giving you the menu. If you tell them to wait for 5 or 10 minutes, they won’t really understand you and will stand next to you. It’s very weird but you’ll get used to it. 

6 – If you are vegetarian, you are fucked – It’s said that Kyrgyzstan is the country with the highest consumption of meat per capita in the world.

At most restaurants, it’s extremely difficult to find vegetarian dishes and, when you ask for something vegetarian, they kind of freak out.

Even sometimes, when I ordered a salad, it came with pieces of cooked beef in it. True story.

7 – Even chicken is difficult to find – If you find chicken on a menu, just order it!

8 – Beer and vodka are available everywhere – Welcome to the ex-Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan! Despite being a Muslim country, alcohol consumption is present everywhere, even in small villages and towns.

9 – Get used to people being completely smashed at 9am – You’ll definitely meet Kyrgyz men who are massively wasted, who can barely walk, quite early in the morning.

10 – You must try kymys – If you go to the mountains and stay with nomads, ask for kymys , which is fermented milk. Most people don’t like it, as it has a weirdly sour, strong taste.

It has some small percentage of alcohol. However, if you don’t like it the first time, give it another chance. I tasted it in four different places and in two of them it was surprisingly good.

11 – Kyryt is the snack in fashion – Kyryt are some sort of cheese and yogurt balls which are available all across Central Asia but Kyrgyzstan is where they are most prevalent.

Again, some people don’t like them but, like kymys , some of them were good, some of them weren’t.

12 – A fruit paradise – If you come during the season, markets are filled with all kinds of fruits, incredibly tasty and ridiculously cheap. In summer, you will find plenty of nectarines, watermelon, strawberries, raspberries and much, much more!

Kyrgyzstan food

🐴 Horses in Kyrgyzstan

It’s the land of horses.

Horses are as much part of their culture as the yurts. From epic horse treks over 4,000-meter mountain passes to herds of tens of horses grazing in stunning meadows, if you like horses, you are going to love Kyrgyzstan.

They learn how to ride a horse at the same time as walking

When you are in the mountains, you will see plenty of kids (including little girls) riding big horses.

You must go horse trekking

Trekking over high mountain passes, riding one of those beautiful beasts is one of the highlights of Kyrgyzstan.

Ah, in case you are wondering, no, you don’t need any previous riding experience. A guide will always come with you.

But be careful!

Horses are no joke. They are dangerous so don’t try to gallop if you don’t have any experience.

I actually had a pretty bad accident, felling off a horse in Tash Rabat when I tried to gallop (I am a stupid, inexperienced man). I had to stay in bed for two weeks and fully recovered after one month. I could have been much, much worse, so be careful.

Horse riding Kyrgyzstan

Hiring a horse is cheap

It costs around 700KGS ($10) a day plus 1,000KGS ($15) for the guide, which can be split between several people. If they try to charge you more, they are ripping you off.

But be aware that they eat them!

When you see a herd of horses grazing over a dreamy meadow, don’t get too much in love with them because many of them will end up in a butchery!

Horse games

Horses are so rooted in their culture that they are also main protagonists in their national sports. Among many others,  Ulak Tsrtysh  is the most popular game, which is a form of polo where they play with a dead goat which is beheaded right before the game begins. Violence in any match is more than guaranteed.

For more information on horses, read:  Horse riding in Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan

Horse wrestling

🏔️ Trekking in Kyrgyzstan

Around 90% of the of the country is above 1,500 meters and with that, I’ve told you everything already.

Kyrgyzstan is home to some of the finest world-class hikes. For decades, travelers with a slight sense of adventure, who wanted to savor some first-class hikes, used to go to Argentina, Switzerland, and Nepal. However, just a couple of years ago, the most intrepid travelers quickly realized that trekking in Kyrgyzstan could easily rival Patagonia and the Himalayas.

For more information, check:

Hiking in Kyrgyzstan, everything you need to know

Lenin peak base camp

💻 Internet and connectivity in Kyrgyzstan

Esim for browsing, calling and traveling in kyrgyzstan.

Basically, an eSIM is a regular SIM card with a digital format that works like a normal physical SIM card, with the added benefit that you can buy it from home before the beginning of your trip, hence avoiding the hassle of buying it at your destination. 

With Holafly , you can get a SIM Card for a wide range of destinations, including Kyrgyzstan . 

Moreover, you can benefit from a 5% discount with the following code:  AGAINSTTHECOMPASS

Kyrgyzstan has the best internet in Central Asia

High-speed Wi-Fi is available almost all across the country, even in high altitude towns such as Sary-Mogol and Sary-Tash, something I would have never expected.

About getting a SIM Card for traveling around Kyrgyzstan

If you get a local SIM-Card, 3G is also quite fast. Get a mobile company called O! For just a few dollars, they offer weekly deals for both internet data and calls. This mobile company has street stalls all over the country.

Get a VPN for traveling in Kyrgyzstan

You should always use a VPN when you travel, especially when you connect to public Wi-Fi networks.

Your connection will be much safer. 

Moreover, you will be able to access content which is typically censored in Kyrgyzstan. 

I recommend ExpressVPN – Extremely easy to use, fast and cheap. 

If you want to learn more about VPN, check: Why you need a VPN for traveling .

💰 About money, budget and costs

In Kyrgyzstan, they use the Kyrgyz SOM and, approximately:

1 USD = 85 SOM

Kyrgyzstan is a very cheap country to travel, the cheapest country in Central Asia, and a budget backpacker’s dream. You can easily find home or yurt stays for 10USD a day, including dinner and breakfast. Meals cost around 1-2USD in local eateries and between 2-4USD in mid-range places.

Expect to pay 10-15% extra for service Except in cheap, local eateries, you will always pay an extra 10-15% for service when the bill comes.

Public transportation within cities costs 15c and buses between nearby towns, less than 1USD.

Budget backpackers can easily travel around Kyrgyzstan on 20USD a day .

ATMs are available everywhere and, in many of them, you can select the option that you want to cash out USD, instead of KGS. In my experience, the maximum I was able to get was 200USD at a time.

Exchanging money

I’ve never seen so many exchange offices, especially in Bishkek, where you find one in absolutely every corner.

Scams, getting ripped-off

I felt that nobody tried to rip me off – except for taxi drivers, of course, perhaps because mass tourism hasn’t arrived here (yet).

Song Kul

🏨 Accommodation: where to stay in Kyrgyzstan

Staying in a homestay in kyrgyzstan.

Everybody has a home stay. Kyrgyzstan has the peculiarity that, no matter where you go, locals offer their houses to foreigners for home stays. 

Whether it is a remote village or a touristic destination, as soon as you arrive, women will approach you, asking if you want to stay at their house, and they are always superb: comfortable, clean and nicely decorated. You will not want to leave!

However, remember that they always expect you to pay, even if you are in a very remote village and you get randomly invited by someone to stay, even if they don’t ask you for money, they are expecting you to give something.

Price is always per person, not per room so, if you travel alone, Kyrgyzstan can be great

There are homestays all over the country, and you can easily find and book them online.

Staying in a yurt in Kyrgyzstan

A yurt is a round tent typically used by nomads in Central Asia and Mongolia, which is usually covered with animal skins.

In the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, if there are nomads, there will be also yurts, since that’s what they use for shelter.

They are incredibly warm and cozy and staying in one is a must-try experience for anyone traveling in Kyrgyzstan.

Staying in a hotel in Kyrgyzstan

In Bishkek, Osh and pretty much any larger city, you can also find regular hotels.

Kyrgyzstan homestay

🛺 How to move around Kyrgyzstan – Transportation

Traveling around kyrgyzstan by public transportation, mashrutka is the way to go.

Mashrutkas are some kind of vans and mini-vans that connect all cities and towns in Kyrgyzstan.

They are extremely cheap and it’s very easy to move around with them, as you can find a station (or more) at every bazaar in absolutely every town. You just need to get on at the station and say which city or town you want to go.

Shared local taxis

Late in the evening, for long distances or in very remote towns, marshrutkas don’t run that often, so you will have to take a local shared taxi.

They are more expensive but, definitely, faster than marshrutkas . However, some drivers are completely nuts and may drive at over 120km per hour along narrow mountain roads.

A few things to keep in mind:

Remember that old women have the power – In any bus, marshrutka or taxi you go, women can choose any seat they want, even if you arrived one hour before them. In city buses, always give up your seat to any women over 40-50 years old. If you don’t, they will tell you to stand up. When I fell off the horse and had to stay in bed for 2 weeks, I was sitting in a marshrutka on the way to the hospital. I could barely stand up and, when a woman entered and told me to move and I couldn’t explain why I couldn’t, I created a lot of trouble until she understood.

At 40ºC, windows are still closed – Kyrgyz are afraid of air currents and no matter what time of the year it is, even if it’s the peak of the summer and 40ºC outside, they like to travel with the windows closed and the AC switched off. Sometimes, you can negotiate with the men but, if there are old ladies, forget about it.

Remember to be patient – Ninety percent of Kyrgyzstan is composed of high mountains which means that, every time you want to go from town to town, you will have to cross them, making your journey particularly slow. In addition, in some more remote destinations, shared taxis and marshrutkas leave once they are full and, sometimes, it takes some time to fill them. Just keep in mind that traveling in Kyrgyzstan can be particularly slow.

Hitchhiking in Kyrgyzstan

Hitchhiking is extremely easy and common among the locals. However, remember that, in Kyrgyzstan, everybody is a taxi driver so if you are looking for a free ride, you will need an extra dose of patience.

yurt kyrgyzstan

❗ More information for traveling in Kyrgyzstan

📢 In my Travel Resources Page you can find the list of all the sites and services I use to book hotels, tours, travel insurance and more.

What is CBT?

CBT (Community Based Tourism) is a very popular tour agency in Kyrgyzstan that can arrange any kind of activity you want to, from yurt stays to trekking, taxis, permits and anything you can think of.

CBT has offices all over the country and it is so popular because, despite being a tour agency, they offer very cheap and competitive prices.

However, bear in mind that, of course, it will always be cheaper to arrange things on your own.

Check the best books about Central Asia and the Silk Road

All guides and articles for traveling in Kyrgyzstan destination

  • Kyrgyzstan Itinerary
  • Horse riding in Tash Rabat
  • Trekking in Kyrgyzstan
  • Trekking the Ala-Kul
  • Trekking in Karakol
  • China-Kyrgyzstan border crossing
  • Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border crossing
  • Reasons to Visit Kyrgyzstan

Travel guides to other countries in Central Asia

  • Tajikistan Travel Guide
  • Travel Guide to Uzbekistan
  • Travel Guide to Kazakhstan
  • Pakistan Travel Guide
  • Afghanistan Travel Guide

Traveling to Kyrgyzstan

43 comments

I wouldn’t say that’s all you need to know, but it’s a nice start 🙂

Do come back, you ain’t seen nuttin’ yet!

Hi Caravanistan, nice to meet you online 😉 It’s not all but writing more than 3,500 words would be too abusive 😉 More articles coming soon. Cheers!

Very informative blog, thanks! I’m looking at travelling to Kyrgystan on my bike (the northern half of the country, around Naryn, and wonder how much rain I should expect. The climate charts indicate it’s pretty dry, but most blogs mentions seemingly frequent downpours and rain. Would you say that rain is a serious downside there in July-August?

Hi Christian, July & August is mostly dry, but it can rain of course, especially in high altitudes

From past few posts of your’s i had an imaginary tour of this beautiful country. You have shared very nice things about this country.

You should definitely pay a visit! Cheers.

Thank you for providing such a wonderful list of a new website as I hardly needed them.Thank you so much once again. Keep it up.

Nice article! I never knew much about this country until I read your post. Now I really am curious about exploring this place. Thanks for sharing!!

You totally should put it on your next summer travel list 😉 Thanks!

Looks that all the things that I have heard about this country all are rumors. It looks that this city is very peaceful and beautiful. I will definitely visit this country.

I hope it’s true 😉 You’ll enjoy it!

Excellent article Joan. I appreciate the details you put in there. Few points like you are expected to know what to order from the menu and closed windows at 40ºC left me in splits 🙂 🙂

Thanks! Yeah, these a few curiosities which are important know 🙂 !

This was incredibly useful! Kyrgyzstan has been on my places to go and I will totally refer back to this when I plan to make that trip. Thanks for sharing!

I really hope you go and glad you found it useful 😉

hello is it possible to travel to Kazakhstan from Kyrgyzstan should i need to get transit visa or without visa i can travel ?

Hello, it may be possible but it depends on your nationality.

Completely true. Except #21. That russian man obviously exagarrated on his words saying “long back kyrgyz was dirty” (as if he existed long back). The thing is in kyrgyz culture, women take a main role in house keeping, caring of kids, while men as a main provider. Thats why from the early age mothers guide daughters to be independent and know how to cook, clean, and be a support for parents and her future husband. BTW #71 – as for the simcard, its freely distributed at the exit of the airport (beeline, o, megacom) with few free load inside. Tho u have to approach service senter within a few days along with your original passport and get it registered to continue the service. I advised you to avail megacom it has a fast and cheap internet data (20Gb per month – 3.6$, 50Gb – 5.8$, 100Gb – 8.7$, with free call and sms within a network). Its much better if your phone suports 4G. Thats it 🙂 For any inquires kindly contact my WhatsApp#: +996 700 800 900

Hello! Thank you for your feedback, very much appreciated 🙂 ! As per your first comment, I don’t really know what are the exact reasons, as I am just putting into a few words what some people told me! However, in any case, what you are describing (claiming that women take care of the household) is very generic and happens to almost every culture and country in the world, so it doesn’t really explain why Kyrgyz are so obsessed with cleaning. As per your second comment, I will update my post accordingly as soon as I can!

Thank you for this amazing article. Agree with everything,. If you need any guidance in Kyrgyzstan, I can help you

Tell me how are high crime rate in kyrgyz and how hight rare of safftey??

Hello AIgerim, I am planning a trip from US to either Almat (cheaper & still close to Bishkek) Looking for someone to guide through Nature. trekking, hiking, hot springs, polar plunge, experience falcon hunting, Yurt sleeping with authentic Nomads. On a budget, Waiting for a flight price drop in Aug. So no set time yet , But Aug-Sept.

This was a great read! I definitely want to visit this country! Thanks x

Hi! I am from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and I absolutely love the way you descibed our reality! You definetly noticed unique features of kyrgyzstani life. Shared your post on Facebook, hope you’ll get more view and we’ll get more tourists 😀 Thank you! BTW, there are several really good ski resorts (the best one in Karakol) in Kyrgyzstan, so turists are more than welcome in winter season!

Thanks for for sharing it, really 🙂 and it’s my pleasure to say nice things about Kyrgyzstan. It is actually one of my most favorite countries. Yes, I had heard about the ski resort and heard it’s great!

I had not had Kyrgyzstan on my radar at all, until reading this blog from you! I love to travel and I love to hike, so now you have me excited to give Kyrgyzstan a try this summer. However, I have reached out to each of the three companies that you recommend for guide services, as I am only English-speaking, so I will need a guide to help me navigate the trails and communicate with the locals.

I live in the US, so am trying to communicate with these companies by email, but it’s been over a week, and no reply from them. Do you recommend my going to Bishkek in June and trying to find an English-speaking guide then? Or is that not realistic? I’m a very experienced traveler and hiker, but as a woman, I am also cautious because I travel alone.

I appreciate your advice. Thank you! And thank you for the inspiration to travel to Kyrgyzstan. 🙂

Hey Lyenne! It is actually better if you go to their offices once you are in Bishkek, or even at the destination in particular, like in Karakol. You will definitely find guides and, most importantly, it will be cheaper

Hello Thank you for your detailed information, it looks amazing Last year also I and my boyfriend we visited all this places, it was taken 20 days. Before coming to Kyrgyzstan we contacted with local companies and got all informations. Decided to do it by ourselves. When we land to Bishkek airport it was difficult to communicate with people, because people’s are dont speak English or French. And in Bishkek we changed our plan booked tour for 19 days. Because our friends recommended. Everything was great. Our guide was professional and speaks English very well.

In Kyrgyzstan some places no internet connection where is big mountains. And you need to take warm clothes, during the summer we see some snow 🙂

Hey Joan 🙂 , I’m so glad to have come across your page. Its so exciting and deeply informative. The descriptions are stunning and have given me a Stronger YES to go to Kyrgyzstan already!

I would like to know your advice on the below, -How many number of days (minimum) would you recommend to see around Kyrgyzstan? (Song Kul, Issyk Kul, Ala Kul, Ak-suu, all these gems and horse-treks in my mind) -What time of the year would be ideal to do the visit? -What are the “you can’t afford to miss” things to do and or places to visit in Kyrgyzstan? -Is it safe to travel as a couple or groups traveling is better for safety? Looking forward to your responses; to plan our trip.

Thanks in advance 😀

Hey Fatima, thanks for your comment, here are my responses: – I think you’d need minimum 2 weeks to visit these places – June to September is best and when the weather in the mountains is warmer – Besides the places you mentioned, I loved Alay Vallay and Tash Rabat – Kyrgyzstan is safe for anyone 🙂

I like your style of writing – informative, honest with a sense of humour. I have a plan to visit just one country for a week in Central Asia in 2020. While googling and reading up, I came across your blog and find it has all the info I need in my deciding process. So, the idea I have now is if I’d like to experience a nomadic mountaineous life, go with Kyrgyzstan and if I’d like to explore bazaars and ancient towns/architectures, go with Uzbekistan.

yes, that’s right 🙂 thanks,

Absolutely wonderful descriptions. Very insightful and helpful, especially considering that you made it a point to inform your readers about certain subtler aspects of Kyrgyz culture that would otherwise surprise people when they visit, not knowing what to expect. Reading about all your travels and adventures here has only made me think strongly about visiting Kyrgyzstan this year 🙂

Keep up the good work, and all the best with your other travels and writing as well!

Thank you so much for your kind words, Cyd!

Hi Joan, thank you so much for your interesting and inspiring info on Kyrghystan! Based on that we would like to go there for a 10 days trip first half of September, after a 10 days trip in Uzbekistan. as we only have 10 days, we would like to do it by car with a driver in order not to loose too much time: do you have any suggestions or drivers we can contact?

Hi there, sorry but unfortunately, I don’t personally know of any guide/driver!

I loved Bishkek. I didn’t go to trek just to visit and fell in love with the city, culture, and how inexpensive it was! The clubs are fun, karaoke was incredible, food excellent, and very easy to get around via taxi. The hotel I stayed at was 5 star quality under $40USD a day and the food there was some of the best I had in the country. I went to the mountains as well and saw amazing scenery. Snow on the mountains, wild horses, and wildlife. I was shocked at how western Bishkek was. I honestly felt like I was in an Asian neighborhood in the middle of Los Angeles. The people were extremely friendly, the woman are beautiful, but there is some things as a westerner you have to get used to. Lots of pushing and shoving when its crowded seemed pretty normal and if you are shopping be aware of counterfeit items. Other than that the country was beyond what I expected and I will be back soon!!! Issyk Kul is the next destination for me next time I am there and I would love to visit Osh. My entire 3 week journey including plane ticket, food, going out, and my incredible hotel was less than $2000. Its the biggest hidden secret in the world right now.

Thanks for the article. I have lived in Kyrgyzstan for many years. Mountains, Bishkek, Issyk-Kul. It’s very beautiful there. The people are hospitable.

Is it possible to get visa on arrival? or need to apply thru online (e-visa) before coming to Kyrgyzstan?

what’s your nationality?

Hi I enjoyed your article about Kyrgystan. Most likely we will be going and hopefully this summer! That’s why I searched for the info online. So…. I’m a vegetarian. I was told to take a jar of jam with me but I don’t think this will cut it 😉 We are planning to hike and spend as little time in a city as possible. How f****d i quote :))) do you think I am?

We don’t want to carry our bags all day, we prefer them to be dropped off to the next location. Or maybe we can afford a porter for a day or two. My partner had a shoulder op. So he is still bit vulnerable. I also read that you recommend to book hikes when we get there.

Can you recommend any local tour companies? When I try the online places you mentioned prices are high.

Is it best to fly to Bishkek or other cities have better hikes in the area?

We don’t want to get to high up, I don’t like cold or be in snow.

We would do probably 2-3 weeks.

Can you please recommend me best trails and places, and give me advice on planning? Thanks Kat

Hello, sorry for late answer. Vegetarians may have a hard time, since even the local shorpo (soup) is meat based… Cheese, bread, nuts, jam, fruits… That’s the type of food you find in the mountains. You can also find instant noodles in shops.

I don’t know any specific tour company, but you can easily arrange or find many in specific villages and towns in Kyrgyzstan.

For trails and places, you can check following guides: https://againstthecompass.com/en/trekking-in-kyrgyzstan/ https://againstthecompass.com/en/backpacking-kyrgyzstan/

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  Notify me when new comments are added.

Join our Expeditions

From Syria to Iraq in Pakistan, Against the Compass is finally running expeditions to the most epic and off-the-beaten-track countries.

We have scheduled expeditions for every month of the year.

Latest posts

  • How to travel to Afghanistan during Taliban rule (2024)
  • How to visit Los Llanos in Venezuela
  • How to visit Angel Falls and Canaima National Park
  • Things to do in Haiti in a 1-week itinerary
  • Is Syria safe to visit in 2024?

The 15 Best Places To Visit In Kyrgyzstan

tourism kyrgyzstan

Home to glaciers, deserts, alpine meadows and several 7,000 metre plus mountains, Kyrgyzstan is a country full of untouched pristine nature. But Kyrgyzstan offers much more than amazing landscapes to the seeking traveller. Its people, ordinary people with proud nomadic traditions and a great sense of hospitality brings this extraordinary landscape to life. Here at Wild Frontiers, we  have highlighted the best places to visit in Kyrgyzstan, maximise your time in the country, so let’s jump into it.

Ala Archa Gorge

Visit the Ala Archa National Park in Kyrgyzstan

This grand, rugged but very accessible gorge is situated about an hour's drive south of Bishkek. Now converted into a national park, it offers scores of walking and trekking possibilities, including hikes to glaciers and for serious mountaineers, climbs to some of the region's highest peaks. 

In the Kyrgyz language, Ala-Archa means bright juniper and it grows in abundance over the mountain slopes. The Alamedin River, flowing along the gorge is beautiful but treacherous. Ala-Archa national park is a favourite place with the citizens of Bishkek, who like to relax by a waterfall and enjoy a picnic in the summer. Experienced hikers can climb up to the stunning Ak Say Canyon and Ak Say Glacier.

Arslanbob Village

Best Places to Visit in Kyrgyzstan - Arslanbob Village

Situated 1,600 metres above sea level on the south-facing slopes of the Ferghana range, Arslanbob boasts striking mountain scenery, friendly locals and the most prized walnuts in the country. Alexander the Great is said to have brought back large quantities of nuts from Central Asia but had to give them up once he reached Greece as a payment to the boatmen who transported his troops. 

The population is predominantly Uzbek and Arslanbob is considered to be rather conservative, as it close to may Muslim holy sites and due to its isolation from the rest of the country.

Bishkek is a must place to visit in Kyrgyzstan

The capital of Kyrgyzstan is Bishkek, an attractive modern city with wide avenues, set against the backdrop of snow capped mountains with an abundance of green spaces. In 1825 the Khan of Kokand established a clay fort here called Pishpek. Following the Russian Revolution, the town was renamed Frunze after the famous Bolshevik general who was born here. It reverted to its original name Bishkek in 1991 following Kyrgyz independence.

Chon Kemin Valley

Known for its outstanding natural beauty, the Chon Kemin Valley encompasses a diverse array of flora, fauna and landscapes. From semi-deserts to glaciers, hiking through Chon-Kemin’s national park provides an opportunity to spot snow leopards, maral and golden eagles. Another popular way to explore the park is by horse back or down the river on a raft before camping in a secluded valley or a yurt camp. History lovers will be amazed by the many ancient burial mounds, some dating back to the 4th century BC.

Jety-Oguz Canyon

Visit Jety-Oguz Canyon when in Kyrgyzstan

Twenty-five kilometres west of Karakol is the Jety-Oguz Canyon. These red sandstone cliffs are said to resemble bulls and the name itself means 'Seven Bulls'. It is said that these splendid animals grew to huge proportions because of the lush pastures in the valley. 

There is a village nearby and walks can be taken into the canyon. Below the cliffs is one of the few surviving Issy-Kul spas. It was built in 1932 and there are a variety of pools and treatment rooms.

MORE INSPIRATION IN KYRGYZSTAN

Explore the Karakol Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral

Karakol is the administrative centre of Issy-Kul province and a good base from which to explore the lake. It was founded in 1869 after the commander of a nearby garrison realised that with its mild climate and fertile soil it was well suited for settlement. Today the town is famous for its surrounding apple orchards and there is a very good Sunday market. 

Things to see include the Chinese mosque, which was built entirely without nails by Chinese artisans in 1920, and the Holy Trinity Cathedral. There are also good walks to be had in the valley of the Karakol River.

Khadjy Sai Village

A small village by Lake Issyk Kul where several archaeological digs discovered the remains of a 10th century caravanserai. The village is home to a collection of cafes and restaurants.

Lake Issyk Kul

Issyk Kul Lake in Kyrgyzstan

Lake Issyk Kul meaning "warm lake" is the second largest mountain lake in the world. Measuring 182km long by 58km wide, the lake is heated from below by thermal activity and never freezes even in the depths of winter. 

In the summer the water temperature reaches 25-28 degrees centigrade (warmer than the air) and you can swim in the clear blue waters enclosed on all sides by the snowy peaks of the Tien Shan Mountains. Most of the resorts are on the north shore of the lake and the area between here and Almaty in Kazakhstan is excellent trekking territory.

Mountains of Heaven

Camp in the Tein Sham Mountains

The Tien Shan, or Celestial Mountains, are quite simply one of the most beautiful mountain ranges on earth. Though perhaps not as immediately dramatic as the mighty Himalaya or Karakoram, the colour, variety, shapes and simple wildness of the Tien Shan will still have you buzzing with wonder. 

But what makes a trip into these mountains so special isn’t just in the views, it lies in the fact that here you really feel as though you are among them, a part of them, not simply staring up at far-away peaks. Living with nomads in their yurts or camping by wild rivers in forests of pine, for the most part many miles away from ‘civilisation’, after a few days in the Tien Shan will feel like a nomad yourself!

Discover the Naryn River when in Kyrgyzstan

The province of Naryn is a territory of wild beauty with alternating white peaks, valleys and gorges and an abundance of wildlife. Despite the rugged terrain, the Central Tian Shan has been inhabited since ancient times and numerous rock drawings and burial sites testify to this fact. It was also a main caravan route on the Silk Road and one can visit the beautifully preserved 15th century Tash Rabat caravanserai. The largest lake in Naryn province is Song Kol lake. 

Surrounded by snow-capped peaks, the lake's colour changes from violet to dark blue to pink, depending on the time of day. The highest lake is Lake Chatyr Kul around which the spectacular Torugart Pass runs all the way to the Chinese Border.

Osh a places to visit in Kyrgyzstan

Osh is Kyrgyzstan's second largest city. It is one of the region's most ancient towns with a history stretching back to the 5th century BC and legends tell of it being founded by all sorts of people from King Solomon to Alexander the Great. It was a major hub on the Silk Road. Today it has a strong Uzbek feel which is unsurprising as 40% of the population are Uzbeks. 

The huge daily Jayma Bazaar is one of Central Asia's best markets, it is spread out along the river and is at its busiest on Sunday. Just outside the town is a rocky outcrop known as Solomon's Throne. It has long been a place of Muslim pilgrimage as Mohammed is supposed to have once prayed here.

Samsy Valley National Park

The beautiful valley of Samsy has traditionally been seen as a holy place and is one of the most stunning areas in the Tien Shan Mountain range. Aptly named the "heavenly Mountains" the thick fir tree forests, rushing rivers and glaciers make this a brilliant place to explore by foot or on horseback. If you are lucky you may even spot a Snow Leopard or Black Bear both of which make their homes in this area.

Son Kul Lake

Places to visit in Kyrgyzstan? Lake Sol Kul

Lake Son Kul is an alpine lake and the second largest lake in Kyrgyzstan. It is situated in the Northern Province on a high mountain plateau. The shepherds of the Kochkor, Naryn and At Bashi regions often use the green mountain meadows surrounding the lake for their summer pastures. There are a wide variety of herbs and grasses in the surrounding area as well as 66 species of waterfowl which make their homes on the lake.

Tamga is a small town on the shores of Issyk Kul Lake, an endorheic lake in the northern Tian Shan mountains. The lake is renowned for its biodiversity and as the sight of an ancient metropolis. Highlights include the sanatorium, the Christian/Muslim cemetery and the petroglyphs. The town is known as a centre from which to take horse riding trips to witness the beauty of the surrounding nature reserve.

Tash Rabat Caravanserai

Sheltering in the lee of a black granite cliff, in what must surely be one of the prettiest valleys in the country, this ancient Silk Road caravanserai, constructed of dark stone with a huge arched entrance, domed roof and corner turrets, appears like some ancient eastern castle, a mythical outpost from some long-forgotten legend. 

Before it, sweeping out of sight behind a sheer ridge is a wide green valley, dotted with yurts and hundreds of animals: horses, cattle, yaks and sheep. With a friendly family to stay with in cosy, well-equipped yurts, wonderful walks and rides in the mountains passes, a visit to Tash Rabat is one of the highlights of any trip to Kyrgyzstan.

Harry Foskett

Harry Foskett

View harry foskett's latest blog posts, related tours.

Tourism Teacher

Tourism in Kyrgyzstan

Disclaimer: Some posts on Tourism Teacher may contain affiliate links. If you appreciate this content, you can show your support by making a purchase through these links or by buying me a coffee . Thank you for your support!

Tourism in Kyrgyzstan has a lot of potential! But why is this such an important industry and how is it best managed? Read on to find out…

Geography of Kyrgyzstan

The tourism industry in kyrgyzstan, statistics about tourism in kyrgyzstan, popular tourist attractions in kyrgyzstan, popular types of tourism in kyrgyzstan, impacts of tourism in kyrgzstan, social impacts of tourism in kyrgzstan, environmental impacts of tourism in kyrgyzstan, crime and safety in kyrgyzstan, faqs about tourism in kyrgyzstan, to conclude: tourism in kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan, often termed the “Gem of Central Asia,” boasts an intriguing blend of untouched landscapes and rich cultural heritage. Nestled amidst towering mountain ranges, this nation offers travellers a unique insight into nomadic traditions and pristine natural beauty. This article explores the multifaceted allure of Kyrgyzstan’s tourism landscape.

Tourism in Kyrgyzstan

  • Location: Kyrgyzstan is situated in the heart of Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, China to the east, Tajikistan to the south, and Uzbekistan to the west.
  • Terrain: The country is characterized by diverse and rugged terrain. The Tian Shan mountain range dominates the landscape, covering about 80% of the country. The highest peak is Jengish Chokusu (also known as Pik Pobeda), standing at 7,439 meters (24,406 feet). Kyrgyzstan also has many glaciers, alpine meadows, and deep valleys.
  • Issyk-Kul Lake: One of the most prominent geographical features of Kyrgyzstan is Lake Issyk-Kul, the second-largest alpine lake in the world. It is located in the northeastern part of the country and is surrounded by picturesque mountain ranges. The lake is known for its crystal-clear waters and is a popular tourist destination.
  • Fergana Valley: Kyrgyzstan shares a portion of the Fergana Valley with its neighboring countries, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. This fertile valley is known for its agricultural productivity and is surrounded by mountains on all sides.
  • Rivers: Several rivers flow through Kyrgyzstan, with the most significant being the Naryn River and its tributaries. These rivers provide water resources for irrigation, hydroelectric power generation, and recreational activities such as white-water rafting.
  • National Parks and Reserves: Kyrgyzstan has established several national parks and nature reserves to preserve its unique ecosystems. Some notable protected areas include Ala Archa National Park, Sary-Chelek Biosphere Reserve, and Jeti-Oguz Gorge.
  • Climate: Kyrgyzstan has a continental climate, characterized by hot summers and cold winters. The climate varies depending on the altitude, with lower elevations experiencing warmer temperatures and higher elevations having cooler climates. The country enjoys abundant sunshine throughout the year.
  • Biodiversity: Kyrgyzstan is home to diverse flora and fauna. The mountainous regions host a variety of plant species, including coniferous forests, alpine meadows, and wildflowers. Wildlife in Kyrgyzstan includes snow leopards, ibex, bears, lynx, and various bird species.
  • Bordering Regions: The southern part of Kyrgyzstan is part of the Ferghana Valley, which is a densely populated and agriculturally rich region. The northern region is characterized by vast plains and mountain ranges.
  • Natural Hazards: Kyrgyzstan is susceptible to natural hazards such as earthquakes and avalanches, particularly in mountainous areas. The country also experiences occasional droughts and landslides.

The geography of Kyrgyzstan offers stunning natural beauty, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, trekkers, and nature lovers. Its mountainous landscapes, pristine lakes, and unique ecosystems contribute to its appeal as a tourist destination.

The tourism industry in Kyrgyzstan is an emerging sector that has been gaining attention in recent years. The country’s stunning natural landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and adventurous opportunities make it an attractive destination for travelers seeking off-the-beaten-path experiences. Here is an introduction to the tourism industry in Kyrgyzstan:

  • Natural Beauty: Kyrgyzstan is known for its breathtaking natural beauty, including majestic mountain ranges, pristine alpine lakes, expansive grasslands, and picturesque valleys. The country offers opportunities for hiking, trekking, mountaineering, horseback riding, skiing, and camping, attracting adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers.
  • Cultural Heritage: Kyrgyzstan has a vibrant cultural heritage shaped by its nomadic traditions, Silk Road influences, and diverse ethnic communities. Visitors can explore ancient historical sites, traditional Kyrgyz yurt camps, nomadic lifestyle experiences, and attend cultural festivals to gain insights into the rich cultural tapestry of the country.
  • Silk Road Connections: As a part of the historic Silk Road, Kyrgyzstan offers a unique glimpse into the ancient trading routes and cultural exchanges that shaped Central Asia. Cities like Osh and Karakol have historical significance and architectural landmarks that showcase the region’s Silk Road heritage.
  • Nomadic Tourism: Kyrgyzstan is known for its nomadic traditions, and visitors have the opportunity to experience the traditional Kyrgyz nomadic lifestyle. Staying in yurts (traditional portable dwellings), interacting with nomadic families, and participating in activities like horseback riding and eagle hunting are popular experiences for tourists.
  • Ecotourism and Wildlife: With its diverse ecosystems, Kyrgyzstan offers ample opportunities for ecotourism and wildlife observation. The country is home to rare species like the snow leopard, Marco Polo sheep, and various bird species. Visitors can explore national parks, nature reserves, and engage in wildlife conservation activities.
  • Lakes and Water Activities: Kyrgyzstan boasts several stunning alpine lakes, including Lake Issyk-Kul, Son-Kul, and Song-Kol. These lakes offer opportunities for swimming, boating, fishing, and other water activities. Lake Issyk-Kul, in particular, is a popular summer resort destination.
  • Trekking and Mountaineering: The mountainous terrain of Kyrgyzstan attracts trekkers and mountaineers from around the world. The country offers numerous trekking routes, including the famous Tian Shan Mountains and the Pamir-Alai ranges. Peaks like Lenin Peak and Khan Tengri are sought-after destinations for mountaineering expeditions.
  • Cultural Tourism: Kyrgyzstan’s rich cultural heritage and historical sites attract cultural enthusiasts. Cities like Bishkek, Osh, and Karakol offer museums, art galleries, historical monuments, and architectural landmarks that provide insights into the country’s history and culture.
  • Community-Based Tourism: Kyrgyzstan promotes community-based tourism initiatives, allowing visitors to engage with local communities and support sustainable development. Homestays, guesthouses, and community-run tours provide opportunities to interact with locals, experience their daily life, and contribute directly to the local economy.
  • Festivals and Events: Kyrgyzstan hosts various cultural festivals and events throughout the year. These celebrations showcase traditional music, dance, crafts, and cuisine, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of Kyrgyz culture and traditions.

The tourism industry in Kyrgyzstan is steadily growing, and the government is actively promoting sustainable tourism practices to preserve the country’s natural and cultural heritage. With its unique offerings and off-the-beaten-path experiences, Kyrgyzstan has the potential to become a sought-after destination for adventurous and culturally curious travelers.

Here are 10 key statistics about tourism in Kyrgyzstan:

  • Tourism Growth: The tourism industry in Kyrgyzstan has experienced significant growth in recent years, with a steady increase in the number of international visitors.
  • Tourist Arrivals: In 2019, Kyrgyzstan welcomed approximately 6.4 million tourists, a notable increase compared to previous years.
  • Source Countries: The majority of international tourists visiting Kyrgyzstan come from neighboring countries such as Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, and China. However, there has been an increase in visitors from Western Europe, North America, and other parts of Asia.
  • Adventure Tourism: Kyrgyzstan is particularly known for adventure tourism, attracting outdoor enthusiasts interested in activities like trekking, mountaineering, horseback riding, and skiing.
  • Cultural Tourism: The country’s rich cultural heritage and historical sites also contribute to its tourism sector, with visitors interested in exploring Kyrgyz traditions, nomadic lifestyle, and Silk Road connections.
  • Ecotourism Potential: Kyrgyzstan’s diverse ecosystems and pristine natural landscapes make it an attractive destination for ecotourism. The country offers opportunities for wildlife observation, nature walks, and exploring national parks and nature reserves.
  • Community-Based Tourism: Community-based tourism initiatives have been growing in Kyrgyzstan, allowing visitors to engage with local communities, stay in traditional yurts or homestays, and experience the local way of life.
  • Winter Tourism: Kyrgyzstan is gaining recognition as a winter tourism destination, with its mountainous terrain providing opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports.
  • Sustainable Tourism: The Kyrgyz government is committed to promoting sustainable tourism practices to preserve the country’s natural and cultural heritage. Efforts are being made to protect national parks, promote responsible trekking and mountaineering, and support community-based initiatives.
  • Tourism Infrastructure: The tourism infrastructure in Kyrgyzstan has been improving, with the development of accommodations, transportation networks, and tourism facilities in popular destinations. However, there are still opportunities for further development to meet the growing demand.

These statistics highlight the growing popularity of Kyrgyzstan as a tourist destination, particularly for adventure, cultural, and ecotourism experiences. The country’s unique natural beauty, cultural heritage, and commitment to sustainable tourism contribute to its appeal among international visitors.

Tourism in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan offers a wealth of diverse and captivating tourist attractions. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Issyk-Kul Lake: Known as the “Pearl of Central Asia,” Issyk-Kul is one of the world’s largest alpine lakes and a major tourist draw. Visitors can enjoy its crystal-clear waters, relax on sandy beaches, and indulge in water sports like sailing, windsurfing, and jet skiing.
  • Ala Archa National Park: Located near Bishkek, the capital city, Ala Archa National Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. It features snow-capped peaks, lush valleys, and scenic hiking trails suitable for both beginners and experienced trekkers.
  • Song-Kol Lake: Nestled high in the mountains, Song-Kol Lake offers a tranquil retreat amidst breathtaking scenery. It is a popular destination for camping, horseback riding, and experiencing the traditional nomadic lifestyle by staying in yurts.
  • Karakol: This charming town on the eastern shores of Issyk-Kul Lake serves as a gateway to various attractions. It is renowned for the picturesque Karakol Valley, hot springs, the Dungan Mosque, and the historic Russian Orthodox Church.
  • Tash Rabat Caravanserai: Located in the remote Tian Shan Mountains, the Tash Rabat Caravanserai is a historical site that once served as a resting place for Silk Road travelers. Today, visitors can explore its well-preserved stone structure and gain insights into the region’s trading history.
  • Burana Tower: Situated near Tokmok city, the Burana Tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and all that remains of the ancient city of Balasagun. Visitors can climb to the top of the tower for panoramic views and explore the nearby open-air museum.
  • Jeti-Oguz Gorge: Known as the “Seven Bulls,” Jeti-Oguz Gorge is famous for its distinctive red rock formations resembling bulls. It offers opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, and enjoying the scenic beauty of the surrounding landscapes.
  • Sary-Chelek Nature Reserve: Located in the western part of the country, Sary-Chelek is a pristine nature reserve with a stunning alpine lake surrounded by dense forests. It is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, offering opportunities for hiking, wildlife spotting, and nature photography.
  • Osh: As the second-largest city in Kyrgyzstan, Osh holds historical and cultural significance. The city boasts the ancient Sulayman Mountain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the lively Jayma Bazaar, where visitors can explore local handicrafts, spices, and traditional Kyrgyz cuisine.
  • Altyn Arashan: Situated in the picturesque Ala-Too Mountains, Altyn Arashan is a popular hot spring destination. Visitors can hike through scenic landscapes, relax in natural hot springs, and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding peaks.

These attractions showcase the natural beauty, cultural heritage, and adventurous spirit of Kyrgyzstan, making it an ideal destination for travelers seeking unique and off-the-beaten-path experiences.

Kyrgyzstan offers a variety of tourism experiences that cater to different interests and preferences. Here are some of the most popular types of tourism in Kyrgyzstan:

  • Adventure Tourism: With its stunning mountainous landscapes and diverse terrain, Kyrgyzstan is a haven for adventure tourism. Trekking, mountaineering, rock climbing, and horseback riding are popular activities, allowing visitors to explore the country’s vast wilderness and enjoy breathtaking views.
  • Ecotourism: Kyrgyzstan is known for its pristine natural environments and rich biodiversity. Ecotourism allows visitors to immerse themselves in the country’s unique ecosystems, including national parks, nature reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries. Hiking, birdwatching, and nature photography are popular ecotourism activities.
  • Cultural Tourism: Kyrgyzstan has a rich cultural heritage shaped by its nomadic traditions, Silk Road history, and diverse ethnic groups. Cultural tourism allows visitors to experience traditional Kyrgyz culture, attend cultural festivals, stay in yurts (traditional nomadic dwellings), and interact with local communities.
  • Nomadic Tourism: Kyrgyzstan’s nomadic heritage is a unique aspect of its tourism industry. Nomadic tourism offers visitors the opportunity to live with nomadic families, experience their way of life, learn traditional skills, and participate in activities such as milking livestock or making traditional crafts.
  • Ski Tourism: The mountainous regions of Kyrgyzstan, such as the Tien Shan and Pamir-Alai ranges, offer excellent conditions for winter sports. Ski tourism is gaining popularity, with ski resorts and backcountry skiing opportunities attracting both locals and international visitors.
  • Wellness and Spa Tourism: Kyrgyzstan is home to several natural hot springs known for their healing properties. Wellness and spa tourism offer relaxation and rejuvenation experiences, where visitors can soak in mineral-rich hot springs, enjoy spa treatments, and indulge in wellness retreats amidst tranquil surroundings.
  • Cultural Heritage Tourism: Kyrgyzstan’s historical sites and architectural landmarks attract cultural heritage enthusiasts. From ancient petroglyphs and archaeological sites to historical monuments and museums, visitors can explore the country’s rich history and learn about its cultural significance.
  • Food and Culinary Tourism: Kyrgyz cuisine is known for its hearty and flavorful dishes influenced by nomadic traditions and neighboring Central Asian cultures. Food and culinary tourism allow visitors to sample traditional Kyrgyz cuisine, participate in cooking classes, and explore local food markets.
  • Festival Tourism: Kyrgyzstan hosts various cultural festivals throughout the year, celebrating traditions, music, crafts, and sports. Festivals like the Nomad Games, Eagle Hunting Festival, and World Nomad Games attract both domestic and international visitors interested in experiencing the vibrant cultural celebrations.
  • Wildlife and Nature Tourism: Kyrgyzstan’s diverse ecosystems support a wide range of wildlife, including snow leopards, ibex, Marco Polo sheep, and various bird species. Wildlife and nature tourism offer opportunities for wildlife observation, birdwatching, and nature photography in protected areas and nature reserves.

These types of tourism in Kyrgyzstan highlight the unique experiences that Kyrgyzstan has to offer, ranging from adventure and ecotourism to cultural immersion and relaxation. Visitors can choose the type of tourism that aligns with their interests and discover the beauty and cultural richness of the country.

Tourism in Kyrgyzstan

Tourism in Kyrgyzstan plays a significant role in the economy and has several economic impacts. Here are some key points regarding the economic impacts of tourism in Kyrgyzstan:

  • Employment Generation: The tourism industry in Kyrgyzstan creates employment opportunities, both directly and indirectly. It provides jobs in various sectors such as hospitality, transportation, travel agencies, tour guiding, handicraft production, and food services. This helps to reduce unemployment rates and improve the livelihoods of local communities.
  • Contribution to GDP: Tourism contributes to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). It brings in foreign exchange earnings through visitor spending on accommodation, food and beverages, transportation, attractions, and souvenirs. The revenue generated from tourism activities contributes to the overall economic growth of the country.
  • Development of Infrastructure: The growth of tourism often requires the development of infrastructure such as hotels, resorts, restaurants, transportation networks, and recreational facilities. This infrastructure development not only benefits tourists but also improves the overall infrastructure of the country, benefiting both tourists and local residents.
  • Stimulates Local Businesses: Tourism in Kyrgyzstan provides opportunities for local businesses, including small and medium-sized enterprises, to thrive. Local handicraft producers, souvenir shops, restaurants, and tour operators benefit from the demand created by tourists. This stimulates economic activity at the local level, promotes entrepreneurship, and contributes to the diversification of the economy.
  • Regional Development: Tourism in Kyrgyzstan helps to distribute economic benefits across different regions of Kyrgyzstan. Popular tourist destinations outside major cities receive investments for infrastructure development and job creation. This helps to reduce regional disparities and supports balanced economic growth across the country.
  • Foreign Investment: The growth of tourism in Kyrgyzstan attracts foreign investment in the sector. International hotel chains, travel agencies, and other tourism-related businesses may invest in the country, bringing in expertise, capital, and technology. Foreign investment contributes to the overall development of the tourism industry and the broader economy.
  • Source of Government Revenue: Tourism generates tax revenue for the government through various channels such as hotel taxes, tourism-related licenses and permits, and income taxes from tourism-related businesses. This revenue can be reinvested in infrastructure development, conservation efforts, and the improvement of tourism services.
  • Cultural Preservation: Tourism in Kyrgyzstan can provide economic incentives for the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage. Traditional handicrafts, festivals, and cultural sites attract tourists, creating opportunities for local communities to preserve and showcase their traditions. This contributes to the safeguarding of cultural heritage and the transmission of traditional knowledge.
  • Export of Services: Tourism is considered an export of services as it involves international visitors spending money in the country. The revenue generated from tourism acts as an export, helping to balance the trade deficit and improve the country’s overall balance of payments.
  • Economic Diversification: Tourism in Kyrgyzstan plays a role in diversifying the economy. It reduces dependence on traditional sectors such as agriculture and mining by creating alternative sources of income and employment. This diversification contributes to the resilience and sustainability of the economy.

Overall, tourism in Kyrgyzstan brings economic benefits by generating employment, contributing to GDP, stimulating local businesses, promoting regional development, attracting foreign investment, generating government revenue, preserving cultural heritage, and fostering economic diversification.

Tourism in Kyrgyzstan has several social impacts that influence local communities, culture, and overall society. Here are some key points regarding the social impacts of tourism in Kyrgyzstan:

  • Cultural Exchange: Tourism in Kyrgyzstan promotes cultural exchange between visitors and local communities. Tourists have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Kyrgyz traditions, interact with locals, and learn about their way of life. This cultural exchange enhances mutual understanding, appreciation, and respect for different cultures.
  • Preservation of Cultural Heritage: The tourism industry creates incentives for the preservation and promotion of Kyrgyz cultural heritage. Traditional arts, crafts, music, dance, and festivals are showcased to tourists, helping to revive and sustain cultural traditions. This preservation contributes to the cultural identity and pride of local communities.
  • Community Empowerment: Tourism in Kyrgyzstan can empower local communities by providing them with economic opportunities. Local individuals and communities are involved in tourism-related activities such as homestays, craft production, and cultural performances. This engagement allows communities to showcase their cultural heritage, earn income, and participate in decision-making processes related to tourism development.
  • Socioeconomic Development: Tourism in Kyrgyzstan contributes to the socioeconomic development of communities. The income generated from tourism can be reinvested in community projects, infrastructure development, education, healthcare, and other social services. This improves the quality of life for local residents and helps to reduce poverty levels.
  • Job Creation: The tourism industry in Kyrgyzstan creates employment opportunities for local residents, especially in rural areas where other job prospects may be limited. Jobs in hospitality, tour guiding, handicraft production, transportation, and other tourism-related sectors provide income and livelihood options for individuals and families.
  • Education and Awareness: Tourism in Kyrgyzstan can promote education and awareness about environmental conservation, sustainable practices, and cultural heritage. Local communities become more conscious of the importance of preserving their

Tourism in Kyrgyzstan, like in any other destination, has both positive and negative environmental impacts. Here are some key points regarding the environmental impacts of tourism in Kyrgyzstan:

  • Biodiversity Conservation: Kyrgyzstan is known for its rich biodiversity, including diverse ecosystems, wildlife, and protected areas. Tourism can contribute to biodiversity conservation by raising awareness about the importance of preserving natural resources and supporting the establishment and maintenance of protected areas.
  • Sustainable Tourism Practices: Tourism in Kyrgyzstan has been increasingly adopting sustainable practices to minimize its environmental footprint. This includes promoting responsible tourism, waste management, energy conservation, water conservation, and encouraging visitors to respect and appreciate the natural environment.
  • Pressure on Natural Resources: The influx of tourists can exert pressure on natural resources, particularly in popular tourist destinations. Increased water consumption, waste generation, and energy use can strain local resources and ecosystems. It is crucial to manage visitor flows and implement sustainable practices to mitigate these impacts.
  • Wildlife Disturbance: Unregulated tourism activities can potentially disturb wildlife habitats and disrupt natural ecosystems. It is important for tourists and tourism operators to adhere to responsible wildlife observation practices, such as maintaining a safe distance from animals and following guidelines for visiting protected areas.
  • Infrastructure Development: The development of tourism infrastructure, such as hotels, lodges, and transportation networks, can have environmental implications. Proper planning and sustainable design principles are essential to minimize the environmental impact of infrastructure development, including considerations for energy efficiency, waste management, and sustainable building practices.
  • Waste Management: The increase in tourist arrivals can lead to an increase in waste generation. Effective waste management systems are necessary to handle the disposal and recycling of waste generated by tourists. Encouraging responsible waste practices and promoting the use of reusable or eco-friendly products can help minimize the environmental impact.
  • Climate Change: Tourism-related activities, such as transportation and energy consumption, contribute to greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. It is important for the tourism industry in Kyrgyzstan to prioritize sustainable transportation options, promote energy efficiency, and support initiatives to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Cultural and Natural Heritage Protection: The promotion of tourism in Kyrgyzstan should balance the preservation of cultural and natural heritage sites with the need to generate economic benefits. Sustainable tourism practices should prioritize the protection of these sites, ensuring that visitor activities do not degrade or damage cultural or natural assets.
  • Environmental Education and Awareness: Tourism in Kyrgyzstan provides an opportunity to educate visitors about the importance of environmental conservation. Promoting environmental education and awareness among tourists and local communities can help foster a culture of responsible tourism and encourage environmentally-friendly behaviors.
  • Collaboration and Partnerships: Addressing the environmental impacts of tourism in Kyrgyzstan equires collaboration among stakeholders, including government authorities, local communities, tourism operators, and tourists themselves. Collaborative efforts can lead to the development and implementation of sustainable tourism strategies, ensuring the long-term preservation of Kyrgyzstan’s natural environment.

Overall, the environmental impacts of tourism in Kyrgyzstan can be mitigated through sustainable practices, responsible tourism initiatives, and effective management strategies that prioritize the protection and conservation of the country’s natural resources and cultural heritage.

Tourism in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is generally considered a safe country for tourists, but it is always important to exercise caution and take necessary precautions while traveling. Here is some information about crime and safety in Kyrgyzstan:

  • Safety Levels: Kyrgyzstan has a relatively low crime rate compared to many other countries. Violent crimes against tourists are rare, and the overall level of violence is low. However, like any other destination, petty crimes such as pickpocketing and theft can occur, particularly in crowded areas and tourist hotspots.
  • Political Stability: Kyrgyzstan has experienced political unrest and demonstrations in the past. It is advisable to stay informed about the current political situation before traveling and avoid areas where protests or demonstrations are taking place.
  • Street Safety: Exercise caution when walking in urban areas, especially at night. Stick to well-lit and populated areas, and avoid displaying expensive items or carrying large amounts of cash. Be cautious of your surroundings and be aware of your belongings.
  • Scams and Fraud: Like in any tourist destination, be cautious of scams and fraudulent activities. Be skeptical of strangers offering unsolicited assistance, and be careful when using ATMs to avoid card skimming or theft.
  • Transportation Safety: Use reputable transportation services and licensed taxis. Ensure that the vehicle you are using is in good condition, and use seatbelts whenever possible. Be cautious when crossing the road, as pedestrian safety measures may vary.
  • Outdoor Activities: Kyrgyzstan is known for its beautiful landscapes and outdoor activities such as trekking and mountaineering. If you plan to engage in these activities, it is recommended to use experienced guides and reputable tour operators who prioritize safety and follow proper procedures.
  • Travel Documentation: Keep your travel documents, including your passport and visa, secure at all times. Make copies of important documents and keep them separate from the originals. It is also advisable to register with your embassy or consulate upon arrival in Kyrgyzstan.
  • Local Customs and Traditions: Familiarize yourself with the local customs and traditions to show respect to the local population. Observe dress codes in religious sites, and be mindful of cultural norms and traditions.
  • Natural Hazards: Kyrgyzstan is prone to natural hazards such as earthquakes and avalanches in certain regions. Stay informed about the current weather conditions, especially if you plan to engage in outdoor activities, and follow local authorities’ guidance.
  • Travel Advisories: Before traveling to Kyrgyzstan, it is recommended to check travel advisories issued by your government or relevant authorities. These advisories provide updated information about safety and security concerns specific to the country.

It is always advisable to use common sense, remain vigilant, and follow local laws and regulations while traveling in Kyrgyzstan. By taking basic safety precautions and staying informed, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience in the country.

Now that we know a bit more about tourism in Kyrgyzstan, lets answer some of the most common questions on this topic:

Tourism in Kyrgyzstan

Q: Do I need a visa to visit Kyrgyzstan?

A: Citizens of many countries can enter Kyrgyzstan visa-free for a specified period, typically up to 60 days. However, it’s essential to check visa requirements based on your nationality before traveling.

Q: What is the best time to visit Kyrgyzstan?

A: The best time to visit Kyrgyzstan is during the summer months from June to September when the weather is pleasant for outdoor activities and the mountain passes are accessible. However, each season offers unique experiences, so it depends on your interests.

Q: Is it safe to travel to Kyrgyzstan?

A: Kyrgyzstan is generally considered safe for tourists. However, like any destination, it’s important to exercise caution, be aware of your surroundings, and follow basic safety practices.

Q: What are the must-visit attractions in Kyrgyzstan?

A: Some popular attractions in Kyrgyzstan include Issyk-Kul Lake, Ala Archa National Park, Song Kol Lake, Karakol, Osh Bazaar, and the historical sites of Burana Tower and Tash Rabat.

Kyrgyzstan’s tourism sector showcases the nation’s rich cultural and natural assets. As the industry grows, it brings both opportunities and challenges for this Central Asian jewel. Effective strategies and sustainable practices will be key to preserving Kyrgyzstan’s unique appeal for future generations.

If you enjoyed this article about tourism in Kyrgyzstan, I am sure you will like these too:

  • 55 Amazing Facts About South Dakota
  • 30 Fun Facts About Ukraine 
  • 25 coldest countries of the world + interesting facts
  • How Many Continents Of The World Are There? + Detailed & Fascinating Facts
  • The 10 World’s Largest Glaciers

Liked this article? Click to share!

  • TRAVEL GUIDE TO KYRGYZSTAN

Welcome to Kyrgyzstan!

Welcome to Kyrgyzstan!

Kyrgyzstan is the pearl of Central Asia and one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

POPULAR PLACES TO VISIT IN KYRGYZSTAN

Ala Archa National Park

Ala Archa National Park

Jety-Oguz Gorge

Jety-Oguz Gorge

Ala-Kul Lake

Ala-Kul Lake

Tash-Rabat

Burana Tower

Arslanbob Forest

Arslanbob Forest

Welcome to Kyrgyzstan!

Kel-Suu Lake

Sary-Chelek Lake

Sary-Chelek Lake

Son-Kul Lake

Son-Kul Lake

Sustainable tourism.

One of the goals of our project is to develop sustainable tourism in Kyrgyzstan. Too.kg Sustainable Development Policy The term...

INFORMATION TO HELP YOU PLAN YOUR TRIP

Safety in the mountains

Safety in the mountains

Maps and Navigation

Maps and Navigation

Outdoor Equipment and Bike Stores

Outdoor Equipment and Bike Stores

Outdoor Equipment and Bike Rentals

Outdoor Equipment and Bike Rentals

Mobile Network

Mobile Network

Traditions and culture of Kyrgyzstan

Travel to Kyrgyzstan: A Short Guide

Stay safe

Kyrgyz national dishes and drinks

Traditions and Culture of Kyrgyzstan

Traditions and Culture of Kyrgyzstan

Money and Costs

Money and Costs

Latest blog posts.

Read our blog and get update to every Trips and Tours.

Travelife Partner Award

Travelife Partner Award

The Travelife Partner Award recognizes our commitment to social and environmental sustainability. We meet more than 100 criteria related to sustainability management, office operations, vendor relations and customer communications. We are working on further improvements to eventually reach the Travelife […]

The Ala-Archa National Park is one of the most attractive places for tourists and local residents near Bishkek. The gorge is located 30 kilometers south of the capital. Ala Archa is the natural park with many opportunities for camping, hiking, […]

Jety-Oguz Gorge (also Dzheti-Oguz, Dzhetyoguz etc.) is one of the most popular sights in the Issyk-Kul Region. It is located 30 kilometers from the city of Karakol and attracts many local and foreign tourists. Jety-Oguz from Kyrgyz translated as “7 […]

Ala-Kul (also Alakul, Ala-Kel, Ala-Köl) is a large high-mountain glacial lake, located in the eastern part of the Terskey Ala-Too Range on the southern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul, near the city of Karakol. The lake is located in a vast […]

Tash-Rabat (also Tashrabat) is an ancient caravanserai located in the territory of Naryn region, not far from the border with China. It was one of the key parts of the ancient Great Silk Road. The caravanserai is located at an […]

Burana Tower is the main architectural monument of Chui Valley and the famous Great Silk Road. The tower was the highest minaret of Central Asia and was also the heart of the capital of the Karakhanid state of the city […]

Travel Guide to Kyrgyzstan

Too.kg offers this travel guide to direct your travels around Kyrgyzstan. You will find all the necessary information for a comfortable, safe and interesting trip in our country. On our website you can find information about the following things: visas, border crossings, addresses, phone numbers of bus stations, equipment shops and rentals. You will also find information about the culture, cuisine, history and traditions of the country. We offer a comprehensive list of Kyrgyzstan’s sights – from the well known Lake Issyk-Kul and Ala-Archa Gorge, to the lesser traveled Tien Shan and Pamir Mountains. After deciding on your destinations within Kyrgyzstan you can find all the necessary information for your trip. This information includes: the exact location with GPS coordinates, a relief map with zoom function (capable of enlarging all the mountain paths and trails), information about roads and tourist infrastructure and a detailed geographical and historical description. Attractions are conveniently divided into categories. In the menu under “Where to go” you can find a complete listing of Kyrgyzstan’s sights. For ease of use, you can search for information on the sites that interest you based on their region or their geographical attributes. To make it easier, the sights are available under the “Map” tab. Here you can see routes through Google Maps. In “Thing to do” you can find the places where you can do your favorite type of activity: from extreme mountaineering and rafting to easy hiking and traveling by car. Also on the website are regularly published announcements of interesting events for tourists such as, ethno-cultural festivals, World Nomadic Games, etc.

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Enter+Ctrl .

tourism kyrgyzstan

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors:, your comment (optional):.

  • Get involved

The tourism Kyrgyzstan wants, the tourism Kyrgyzstan needs: Adventure and Sustainable Tourism

October 19, 2022.

tourism kyrgyzstan

“Rethinking Tourism” is the global theme driving the travel industry forward in 2022. The pandemic highlighted the urgent need to transform the tourism sector and only accelerated trends that had started even before – sustainable tourism that is concurrently good for the planet, for the local people, and the local economy. The transformation is underway, and Kyrgyzstan has not been left behind.  

The tourism industry is an important source of economic growth and job creation. In the case of Kyrgyzstan, tourism accounted for only 5.1 % of the country's GDP before the pandemic, dropping to about 3.5 % during 2020/21, but the sector is considered one of the key priorities for the country’s economy. This is reiterated in the Kyrgyz Government’s programme for tourism development for 2019-2023. The programme aims to improve the image of Kyrgyzstan as a destination for adventure, eco and agri-tourism, to ensure compliance with international standards, and to boost the sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP to 7 % by 2023.

Over the last decade, there has been a steady rise in the number of foreign tourists coming to Kyrgyzstan, , and accommodation facilities have almost doubled. However, the potential for adventure tourism has not been fully tapped since it is hindered by underdeveloped infrastructure, lack of qualified staff, and a dearth of fully-fledged touristic offer and promotion. Majority of tourists are from the neighboring countries, missing on the potential to attract flows from major European markets and the US, who are typically attracted by cultural and adventure activities. It is estimated that currently only 15-20% of the country’s tourism potential is being utilized. The perspective of looking into the region holistically as one touristic product is also being overlooked despite its promise to increase the attractiveness of the offer and promote regional integration.

Since 2018, UNDP’s Aid for Trade project has been supporting adventure tourism in Kyrgyzstan as one of the “green” industries with high potential to create jobs for the local people, especially women, and improve livelihood of the local communities. By working with the micro, small and medium tourism actors in Osh, Jalal-Abad, Naryn and Issyk-Kul regions of Kyrgyzstan, the project has offered extensive capacity building with trainings and knowledge resources in tourism management, marketing, and safety. With the grants to purchase new tour equipment, support to develop and test new tours, and networking to create stronger value chains, businesses have expanded their innovative offer even further, enhancing the experience of tourists visiting Kyrgyzstan.  

For example, when tourists visit the Jany-Aryk village of Naryn region of Kyrgyzstan, they can get to know the nomad lifestyle of Kyrgyz people by lodging in a yurt camp. Aizada and Ruslan Zholdoshbekov, the couple who run the camp, also manage the tour operating company Son Kol Travel and offer guided tours to visitors. Aizada started her career as an interpreter for the company and served visitors at the guesthouse. With the Aid for Trade project, Aizada was involved in a cycle of trainings on tourism management, digital marketing, created a network with other tourism businesses, developed horse-back riding tour and received a project grant to purchase equestrian equipment.

tourism kyrgyzstan

"Very beneficial was also the support we received to develop and test two additional tour products that we now offer to our guests – the winter tour to the Son-Kul Lake, and the hiking tour between Zhumgal-Kazarman”, Aizada proudly shares. In combination with their networking through regional tourism forums and exhibitions, they have increased the number of customers and partners – other project beneficiaries. “Compared to 2019, the number of visitors has increased by 12 times, and most of them are from abroad” Aizada adds. “This has allowed us to employ six more people, four of which are women”. With a high unemployment rate among rural women in Kyrgyzstan, Aizada and Ruslan work is making significant change, bringing income and development to their village.

tourism kyrgyzstan

Aid for Trade’s support also has been very intensive in the Issyk-Kul region, home to the second largest mountain lake in the world and most developed tourism spot of the country. For decades, the Issyk-Kul Lake has been a popular destination for visitors from neighbor countries opting for traditional beach holiday. Recently, it is being increasingly recognized as an adventure tourism hub and attracts more foreign visitors who are seeking an active experience rather than just a  static vacation.

Similarly to the support provided to Aizada in Narun, the project involved Danyar from the Karakol city of Issyk-Kul region, who owns a yurt camp and manages the tour company “Kara Kyz”. After a series of trainings, networking and marketing activities, Danyar managed to grow the business.

“With the increase in the number of tours in the company, there was an urgent need to increase the capacity of the team in matters of management, marketing and logistics. And for competitiveness in the market, it became necessary to develop new destinations and routes both in the region and in the republic.” Danyar says. They received a grant to purchase new camping gear, and now offer hiking tours around the lake as well as traditional culinary experiences in their yurt camp.

tourism kyrgyzstan

The Issyk-Kul Lake is also the first nature reserve in Kyrgyzstan, with endemic biodiversity. Another local tour operator, a guide and an active defender of the ecosystem, Ermek Shabykeev, has received support from Aid for Trade to further develop his creative touristic offer: horse-back riding and hiking tours blended with photo and video shooting sessions. This is precisely in line with younger generations of tourists hyped about having instant photos from their active vacation on their social media profiles. Ermek promotes these tours in specially protected natural areas. He has been supported by the Aid for Trade project to install bins for plastic collection in the Ak-Bulun micro-reserve. Also, he created and tested a new four-day horseback and hiking tour, connecting the Ton district of the Issyk-Kul region and the Kochkor district of the Naryn region. By enriching and diversifying the offer, now not only more local and foreign tourists visit the region but also spend longer days exploring the surroundings and the local culture, which ultimately has a positive effect on the influx and the local economy.

Global trends are changing and shaping the future touristic demand and offer. By providing continuous and wide support to adventure tourism actors, they will be better prepared to recognize tourism trends and to respond with full-fledged and innovative products. The development of adventure tourism benefits local communities, especially women, and taps into the emerging trend of sustainable tourism. This is a clear signal for the need to utilize as much as possible of Kyrgyzstan’s natural potential for such offer.

About the Aid for Trade project

The Aid for Trade in Central Asia, a project funded by the Government of Finland, has been implemented in Kyrgyzstan since 2009. In the current IV phase (2018 - September 2022), the project focused on three selected value chains: dried fruits and nuts, natural honey, and sustainable adventure tourism.  These particular value chains were selected as they can utilize Kyrgyzstan’s natural and ecological attributes and climate in a sustainable and green manner, while growing in size, improving quality, increasing exports and creating new decent jobs for all, especially for women. 

With the support provided during this latest project phase, nine new tour products have been developed, tested and are being successfully sold. In December 2021, five contacts were signed between Kyrgyz and foreign tour operators, resulting in sales of about USD 32,800 so far. Aid for Trade’s extensive support to promote berkutchi, a nomadic tradition with eagle hunters, has spurred so much interest to even catch the attention of a Netflix crew. The documentary which they filmed with the local protagonists will promote the local Kyrgyz traditions worldwide once released in late 2022. Finally, the Aid for Trade Phase IV contributed for opening of 117 new jobs in the tourism sector of Kyrgyzstan.

Central Asia Group Tour 2024-2025

Kyrgyzstan Travel

Kyrgyzstan Travel

Kyrgyzstan travel transports you to the Swiss Alps of Central Asia, an astonishingly gorgeous land which remains unspoiled by overcrowded cities or excessive tourism. Kyrgyzstan is the real deal – delightfully simple and laid-back, its people are adaptable and hard-working, its nature pristine and inspiring, its opportunities for adventure numerous and diverse.

Nomads follow the footsteps of their ancestors into alpine pasturelands, where visitors can join them for an authentic taste of their itinerant life. History is engraved in every fortress, tower and petroglyph dotting the landscape, which serve as silent reminders of the land’s dramatic past. Horses, donkey carts, well-worn buses and sleek new vehicles vie for country roads, while friendly Kyrgyz display their unique culture through a tapestry of soulful songs, colorful felts and time-honored traditions.

If your curiosity is piqued, use this Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide to become acquainted with this tiny nation and to answer your questions regarding Kyrgyzstan tourism.

Your Guide to Kyrgyzstan by a Local Travel Expert

  • 1. Is Kyrgyzstan Worth Visiting?
  • 2. Your Dream Vacation
  • 3. Visa Matters
  • 4. Is Kyrgyzstan Safe for Travel?
  • 5. Choose Your Transport
  • 6. Kyrgyzstan Travel Seasons
  • 7. Kyrgyzstan Travel Map
  • 8. How Many Days Do You Need in Kyrgyzstan?
  • 9. At Your Service
  • 10. Holidays and Festivals
  • 11. Curious about Kyrgyz Cuisine?
  • 12. Dos and Don’ts in Kyrgyzstan
  • 13. Speak the Language
  • 14. Virtual Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide: Further Reading
  • 15. Did You Know That…

Is Kyrgyzstan Worth Visiting?

Although Kyrgyzstan remains an enigma to much of the world, it has long been the #1 destination in Central Asia for backpackers and has seen a gradual influx of tourists of every kind over the past few years. And just what draws travelers to this tiny landlocked nation?

Kyrgyzstan is stunning, its silhouette defined by some of the most glorious peaks of the majestic Tian-Shan Range, not to mention alpine lakes, extensive forests, lush pastures, foaming rivers and red-rock canyons.

Kyrgyzstan is welcoming, a nation whose super relaxed visa rules are an apt reflection of the friendly, laid-back people you’re bound to meet all along your journeys. The country has long been considered one of the most tourist-friendly destinations in Central Asia, a reputation it has no desire to relinquish any time soon.

Kyrgyzstan is adventurous, for where else can you live with a nomadic family in an authentic yurt, travel on horseback through mountains, whitewater raft through remote canyons and explore ancient and Soviet history all within the span of a week?

Your Dream Vacation

Ascend the snowy heights of glacier-covered peaks on horseback, hike the enchanted valleys of Fairy Tale Canyon and enjoy simultaneous swimming, sunbathing and mountain views at Lake Issyk-Kul. Local history spans time and space, from petroglyphs in Cholpon-Ata to castle remains at Tash Rabat and the giant Lenin statue waiting to greet you in Osh. Equally versatile is Kyrgyz cuisine, offering a whole buffet of new and delicious foods.

Permeating each experience is the delightfully authentic, traditionally nomadic culture of the Kyrgyz, expressed through rambunctious sports, colorful national dress, finely woven handicrafts and long-held traditions forged over centuries in this beautiful, rugged land.

While nearly impossible to embrace it all, consider which of these highlights you wish to include in your Kyrgyzstan travel itinerary:

Chon Kemin, Kyrgyzstan Travel

Visa Matters

One of Kyrgyzstan’s many redeeming qualities is that it is the easiest country in the region to visit, thanks to its 60-day visa-free entry policy which extends to citizens of more than 50 countries, plus unrestricted access granted to a dozen nations, including Japan and Russia. Most tourists who do require a visa need only submit an electronic application, with very few nationalities requiring the dreaded Letter of Invitation.

Learn all about Kyrgyzstan visa requirements and support here .

Is Kyrgyzstan Safe for Travel?

Any locale ending in ‘stan’ tends to get a bad rap these days, a reputation wholly undeserved by as welcoming a nation as Kyrgyzstan. As of mid-2020, the nation maintained its Level 1 Category in the US Department of State’s travel advisory system, i.e. among the safest nations in the world to visit. Tourists who have gone before you can likewise testify to the hospitable, kind-hearted nature of Kyrgyzstan’s people, most of whom are eager to assure you leave with a glowing impression of their country and culture.

Our top travel safety tips for Kyrgyzstan would be to exercise normal safety precautions with your valuables, remain vigilant when traveling alone or at night, be aware of natural hazards such as altitude sickness and sudden changes in weather, and avoid unwarranted travel in the border areas near Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. With these guidelines in mind, come prepared to feel welcomed and well-cared for by the Kyrgyz people.

Choose Your Transport

Convenient access to Kyrgyzstan via flights from Russia, Turkey, the UAE and other locales allows you to save your energy for in-country experiences versus trying to track down a route into the nation. Additionally, a dozen land border crossings provide access into Kyrgyzstan from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and China, many of which may be crossed with a private car or motorbike as well as on foot.

In-country transport includes a conglomerate of buses, trains, minibuses and private cars, the latter of which can double as a taxi at a moment’s notice. While the whole system may appear chaotic to the untrained eye, it actually works quite efficiently and ensures that there is often more than one option for reaching your destination.

Kyrgyzstan Travel Seasons

Unlike the rest of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan welcomes its most beautiful and tourist-friendly season in summer, not spring. Yet the country is so filled with natural splendor that each time of year offers its own incentives in turn:

Winter: Ski and snowboard season stretches from mid-November through March, and with drastically fewer travelers, most accommodations and tour operators offer discounted prices. Unpredictable weather can impact travel plans, so come with an adventurous spirit.

Autumn: The weather may grow a little moody, yet autumn in Kyrgyzstan equates with fewer tourists, bazaars filled with home-grown produce and travel opportunities ranging from horseback riding and rafting to city and historical tours.

Spring: Frequent rainfalls that puncture the early weeks of Kyrgyzstan’s shortest season give way to fields of flowers and lush mountain scenery by May.

Summer: With little rainfall, pleasant mountain temps and festivals galore, summer is the ideal season for hiking, mountain exploration, yurt camp stays and lounging near Lake Issyk-Kul.

  • Kyrgyzstan Climate and Weather
  • When is the best time to visit Kyrgyzstan?

Kyrgyzstan Travel Map

Use the Kyrgyzstan map to locate the country’s major destinations and find out what each one has to offer:

Kyrgyzstan Travel Map

How Many Days Do You Need in Kyrgyzstan?

The simple answer to this question is ‘As many as you can manage’, for Kyrgyzstan is so full of outdoor opportunities that it’s simply impossible to cram it all into a few days. Plus, its mountainous terrain and laid-back culture make it difficult to travel efficiently from one destination to the next. That being said, the following may be helpful as you plan your Kyrgyzstan travel itinerary:

  • Bishkek – Far more than just a landing point, the capital offers an impressive variety of shopping, entertainment and dining options amidst wide boulevards and historically significant sites. How long should I stay? 2-3 days if you wish to take day trips to nearby attractions Major Sites: Ala Too Square, Oak Park, Osh Bazaar How to get off the beaten path: Take a day trip to Ala-Archa Gorge or Burana Tower in ancient Balasagun.  
  • Osh – Capital of southern Kyrgyzstan which is heavily influenced by Uzbek culture. How long should I stay? 1-2 days Major Sites: Suleiman-Too Mountain, Lenin statue (largest in Central Asia), Navoi Park How to get off the beaten path: Relax at Kyrgyz-Ata National Park or explore Uzgen historical town and bazaar.  
  • Jalalabad – Trailing only Bishkek and Osh in population, this former Silk Road power is regarded as a holy city. How long should I stay? 1 day Major Sites: Lenin Street, mineral springs at Jalalabad Sanatorium, Arslanbob’s walnut forest How to get off the beaten path: Book a homestay in nearby Kara-Sulu Village or Sary-Chelek National Park.  
  • Karakol – Traditional town on Lake Issyk-Kul, 4th-largest city in country and launching point for mountain treks. How long should I stay? 1-2 days Major Sites: Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, Dungan Mosque, Przhewalsky Memorial Museum How to get off the beaten path: Dine with a minority Uyghur or Dungan family or learn to make local bread while staying with a family in nearby Jergalan.  
  • Cholpon-Ata – Resort and historical town along Lake Issyk-Kul. How long should I stay? 2 days Major Sites: Cholpon-Ata Petroglyphs, Rukh Ordo Cultural Center, Issyk-Kul State Historical and Cultural Museum How to get off the beaten path: Overnight in a yurt camp in the mountains or go parasailing over Issyk-Kul.  
  • Naryn – Regional capital of the most mountainous and traditional province in Kyrgyzstan. How long should I stay? 2 days if you wish to explore the surrounding regions Major Sites: Koshoy Korgon Fortress, At-Bashi Village, Naryn River rafting How to get off the beaten path: Head to the Torugart Pass, stopping at Tash Rabat Caravanserai on the way.  
  • Kochkor – Small but pleasant mountain town and convenient stopover for tourists passing through the region. How long should I stay? 1-1,5 days Major Sites: Altyn Kol Handicrafts, Song Kul Lake, Kochkor Regional Museum How to get off the beaten path: Explore the Chong Tuz Salt Caves or overnight in a yurt at Kol Ukok Lake.  
  • Talas – Among Kyrgyzstan’s westernmost cities, Talas borders Kazakhstan and receives very few tourists. How long should I stay? 1 day Major Sites: Manas Ordo, Kirov Reservoir, Tuyuk-Tor Petroglyphs How to get off the beaten path: Explore Besh-Tash National Park or Herzen Museum in nearby Ak Dobo Village.

At Your Service

Kyrgyzstan is a wonderfully flexible nation for tourists: it offers a plethora of accommodations, multiple options for in-country travel and space among its mountain pastures for everyone from independent backpackers to tourist groups and families with children. For those who could use a little help navigating all the options, explore our info pages below or send us an email with further inquiries.

Services provided by Advantour include:

Kyrgyzstan Holidays and Festivals

Kyrgyz holidays honor the past and perpetuate beloved traditions through unparalleled festivities. Be it the country’s distant nomadic history or its hard-earned victories over recent world conquerors, the nation knows how to celebrate in style. Consider incorporating one of these celebrations into your Kyrgyzstan travel itinerary:

Folk Festival, Kyrgyzstan Travel

Nooruz (21st March) – The traditional New Year of Central Asia and the Persian world is celebrated in full pomp in Kyrgyzstan, where song and dance, games, traditional foods and a myriad of outdoor activities welcome the arrival of spring. Best place to celebrate: Lake Issyk-Kul or Bishkek, although every city and village will have special events

Victory Day (9th May) – Spawned in Soviet times, Victory Day commemorates the triumph over Nazi Germany with grand parades, speeches, concerts and ceremonies honoring WWII veterans. Best place to celebrate: Bishkek

Independence Day (31st August) – Kyrgyzstan’s second 20th-century victory is commemorated with military marches and a speech from the president, as well as more lighthearted activities including national sports, dances, ethnic foods and fireworks. Best place to celebrate: Bishkek

National Horse Games Festival (July, date varies) – Equestrian activities, long central to the Kyrgyz nomadic lifestyle, are given free reign at this unforgettable event defined by traditional horse races and lively competitions, national dress, local foods and displays of Kyrgyz craftsmanship. Best place to celebrate: Kyzyl-Oi village on Son-Kul Lake

Birds of Prey Festival (early August) – A delightful carnival centered around demonstrations of Kyrgyz hunting birds, the festival also includes such diverse activities as felt making, horse races, traditional dance shows and a presentation on how to construct a yurt. Best place to celebrate: Issyk-Kul Lake

Curious about Kyrgyz Cuisine?

Kyrgyzstan offers the standard Central Asian fare of fresh breads, savory samsa pastries and manty and chuchvara dumplings. For those eager to try localized favorites, be sure to sample the following:

Beshbarmak, Kyrgyzstan Cuisine, Kyrgyzstan Travel

Classic nomadic dish of homemade noodles, potatoes, and beef or horse meat.

Kuurdak, Kyrgyzstan Cuisine, Kyrgyzstan Travel

A one-plate wonder of meat, potatoes, onions and spices.

Ashlam-fu, Kyrgyzstan Cuisine, Kyrgyzstan Travel

Dungan cold soup packed with noodles, meat and veggies.

Boorsok, Kyrgyzstan Cuisine, Kyrgyzstan Travel

Puffy fried dough balls sure to test your willpower.

Dried fish, Kyrgyzstan Cuisine, Kyrgyzstan Travel

Salted and delivered from the waters of Issyk-Kul to a roadside stand near you.

Oromo, Kyrgyzstan Cuisine, Kyrgyzstan Travel

Swirls of delicate, homemade noodles stuffed with meat or potatoes.

Dimlama, Kyrgyzstan Cuisine, Kyrgyzstan Travel

A mouth-watering combo of steamed beef and fresh vegetables.

Kurut, Kyrgyzstan Cuisine, Kyrgyzstan Travel

Sour, salty milk balls offered in flavors ranging from basil to hot pepper.

Maksim and Bozo, Kyrgyzstan Cuisine, Kyrgyzstan Travel

Grain-based sour drinks unique to Kyrgyzstan, a must-try cultural experience.

  • Beshbarmak – classic nomadic dish of homemade noodles, potatoes, and beef or horse meat
  • Kuurdak , a one-plate wonder of meat, potatoes, onions and spices
  • Ashlam-fu – Dungan cold soup packed with noodles, meat and veggies
  • Boorsok – puffy fried dough balls sure to test your willpower
  • Dried fish – salted and delivered from the waters of Issyk-Kul to a roadside stand near you
  • Oromo – swirls of delicate, homemade noodles stuffed with meat or potatoes
  • Dimlama – a mouth-watering combo of steamed beef and fresh vegetables
  • Kurut – sour, salty milk balls offered in flavors ranging from basil to hot pepper
  • Maksim and Bozo – grain-based sour drinks unique to Kyrgyzstan, a must-try cultural experience

Read on for a more in-depth look into Kyrgyzstan cuisine.

  • Kyrgyzstan’s National Dishes

Dos and Don’ts in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is one of the most relaxed destinations in Central Asia, both in terms of official laws and the population’s reception of foreigners. While far from comprehensive, we hope this Kyrgyzstan travel advice can point you in the right direction as you gear up for your upcoming adventure:

  • Consider the elements when planning your trip, remembering that mountain roads can become dangerous or impassible in winter and that high-altitude yurt camps can be surprisingly chilly even in summer.
  • Be flexible, allowing for extra time in your itinerary due to weather conditions, last-minute scheduling changes and unplanned opportunities that may arise.
  • Practice responsible tourism by investing your money at homestays, small cafes, family-run souvenir shops and Kyrgyzstan tour programs which support local startups.
  • Be prepared to practice local customs when in someone’s home, including removing your shoes at the door, using outhouses and sitting on the ground for meals.
  • Come prepared to embrace the new, be it a novel experience, new-to-you sport or unusual food. You won’t regret it!
  • Wait until the last minute to withdraw cash, as hunting down a working ATM can be a challenge once you’ve left Bishkek.
  • Hitchhike or accept a homestay offer without paying the driver or owner for their kindness and services, which is standard protocol in Kyrgyzstan.
  • Expect most Kyrgyz people to speak English, particularly in rural areas.
  • Overlook the rich culture found in Kyrgyzstan’s cities and small towns, which can be just as compelling as its nature.
  • Set out alone in the mountains unless you are an experienced trekker .

Speak the Language

Kyrgyz and Russian are the official languages of the nation, with the former dominating in rural areas and the latter in the capital. Kyrgyz is a historically Turkic language closely linked with Kazakh, while the prevalence of Russian in the country spread during 20th-century Soviet rule.

Virtual Travel Guide to Kyrgyzstan: Further Reading

  • Kyrgyzstan Travel Tips
  • Kyrgyzstan Tours Pages

Did You Know That...

  • Over 90% of Kyrgyzstan’s land is mountainous.
  • It is highly rural, with nearly two-thirds of Kyrgyzstan’s people residing outside the cities.
  • There are more glaciers in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan than in the Caucasus and Alps combined.
  • Kyrgyzstan’s Issyk-Kul Lake is the second largest alpine lake in the world.
  • The world’s largest walnut forest is found in Arslanbob, Kyrgyzstan.
  • Manas, a Kyrgyz poem central to the nation’s history, is one of the longest epic poems in the world.

Kyrgyzstan Guide

  • Climate and weather
  • Landmarks and Attractions
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Exhibitions & Events
  • Myths and Legends
  • Travel Restrictions - Covid-19
  • Kyrgyzstan Tourism
  • Kyrgyzstan Trip Planner
  • Best Time to Visit
  • Solo Traveler Guide
  • Things to Do in Kyrgyzstan
  • Kyrgyzstan Visa
  • Kyrgyzstan Airlines
  • Kyrgyzstan Embassy
  • Embassies in Kyrgyzstan
  • Crossing Borders

Kyrgyzstan Services

  • Private Tours
  • Group Tours
  • Cancellation Policy
  • Ski Resorts
  • Visa Support
  • Travel Agency

Solo female travel anywhere and everywhere.

tourism kyrgyzstan

Winter travel in Kyrgyzstan: here’s what you need to know

Why yes, you can travel Kyrgyzstan in winter! Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you plan your Central Asian adventure and go snowballs to the wall in Kyrgyzstan.

Fact: traveling Kyrgyzstan in winter is epic.

Though it might seem an unlikely winter destination at first—cue cut scenes of bleak Soviet winter misery and woe—Kyrgyzstan has a lot to offer during the snowy season.

Whether you’re interested in tearing up powdery backcountry on skis, hunting down a game of headless goat polo, or simply savoring #yurtlife in the snow, here’s a guide with everything you need to know to plan winter travel in Kyrgyzstan.

  • Can you travel Kyrgyzstan in winter?
  • Is it safe to travel Kyrgyzstan in winter?
  • Why travel Kyrgyzstan in winter?
  • When is winter in Kyrgyzstan?
  • Weather and average temperatures
  • What to pack for winter travel

Best travel insurance for Kyrgyzstan

How to get around kyrgyzstan in winter, where to stay in kyrgyzstan in winter, things to do in kyrgyzstan in winter.

  • Places to visit in Kyrgyzstan in winter
  • What to expect from skiing in Kyrgyzstan

How much it costs to go skiing in Kyrgyzstan

  • Gear and ski/snowboard rental
  • Best places to ski and board in Kyrgyzstan

Backcountry ski guides in Kyrgyzstan

  • Kyrgyzstan travel agencies and planning resources
  • More things to know before you go
  • Kyrgyzstan travel blog posts

Cup of tea on top of mountain in Boz Uchuk, Kyrgyzstan

Nothing warms you up like a cheeky cup of mountaintop chai .

A massive guide to winter travel in Kyrgyzstan

Can you travel in kyrgyzstan in winter.

The short answer: Yes, yes you can.

The long answer: Go read the rest of this guide. I’m bad with cold weather, yet I traveled Kyrgyzstan in winter and didn’t die. Clearly it can’t be that bad.

… but is it safe to travel Kyrgyzstan in winter?

Despite what you might think when you see a country ending in -stan, Kyrgyzstan is a safe place to travel. You’re far more likely to slip in the snow and hurt yourself than you are to be kidnapped/bombed/shot at/whatever people are afraid of these days.

As far as winter goes, beyond slippery roads and avalanche risks higher up in the mountains, winter travel in Kyrgyzstan is just as safe as any other time of year.

Man herding sheep at sunset in Kyrgyzstan

Winter sunsets in Kyrgystan be like…

But why travel Kyrgyzstan in winter?

There are plenty of reasons to visit this ‘stan in winter!

Snowy landscapes with very few people, epic skiing and snowboarding at affordable prices, and more chances to catch cultural events like kok buru are but a few of the reasons to get your bum over to Kyrgyzstan in winter.

If you love snow and/or traveling in off-season when few other tourists visit, winter in Kyrgyzstan is perfect for you.

I won’t go too deep into that snow now; here are more (epic) reasons to visit Kyrgyzstan in winter .

Want an offbeat winter destination? Consider Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia! Kyrgyzstan has all kinds of winter travel activities, from backcountry skiing and snowboarding to horse treks and yurt stays in the snow! Click through for a massive travel guide to Kyrgyzstan in winter to help you plan your trip. #CentralAsia #Kyrgyzstan #WinterTravel

Wait, when is winter in Kyrgyzstan?

Winter season in Kyrgyzstan typically lasts from December to April .

Though weather is increasingly unpredictable these days—thanks climate change—you can expect snow in Kyrgyzstan from January to March at the very least.

Kyrgyzstan’s ski season at ski bases such as Karakol runs from December to March. The best time to go skiing is in late January to February. Though snow melts by May at lower altitudes, you can still expect snow on high mountain passes in spring. You can still ski Kyrgyzstan’s backcountry in May if you have the means and skills to get high enough in the mountains.

Horse transported in a truck in Kyrgyzstan

Casual winter scenes in Kyrgyzstan

Weather and average winter temperatures in Kyrgyzstan

How cold does Kyrgyzstan get in winter? The answer depends on where in the country you are and how sunny it is. Though temperatures can drop to painfully cold, once the sun is out, you’ll feel far warmer than you might expect.

Seasons are now more unpredictable due to climate change, but here’s what you can loosely expect around January/February:

Bishkek (800 m/2,600 ft): Kyrgyzstan’s capital is relatively low, and sees plenty of sun in winter. Expect temperatures just above freezing (5-10°C/41-50°F) during the day, and slightly below freezing (-5-0°C/23-32°F) at night.

Karakol (1,600 m/5,250 ft): Because of its close proximity to salty lake Issyk Kul, winter weather in Karakol is milder than other parts of the country. Plan on temperatures around freezing during the day, and down to -10°C/14°F at night.

Jyrgalan (2,500 m/8,200 ft): Up in the mountains, Jyrgalan can get nippy. During the day temperatures will hover around or slightly below freezing, but at night temperatures can drop to -20°C/-4°F.

Osh (960 m/3,150 ft): Lyin’ low in the Ferghana Valley, Osh doesn’t get as cold as its mountainous counterparts in winter. You can expect temperatures around 5°C/40°F during the day and -5°C/23°F at night.

Way up in the mountains: I assume if you’re trekking/ski touring in Kyrgyzstan in winter, you understand that mountains can get really freakin’ cold. Prepare yourself for temperatures of -20°C/-4°F or lower; you never know what the mountains will throw at you next.

Porter carrying backpack on horse in the snow in Boz Uchuk, Kyrgyzstan

Porter on horseback carrying the group’s bags up to the backcountry ski camp… can you spot my backpack? 😉

What should I pack for winter travel in Kyrgyzstan?

Packing properly is more important in winter than any other season! Though Kyrgyzstan’s cities have a variety of gear on offer in case you forget something or want to rent, it’s easiest to bring your own equipment where possible.

Here are some packing essentials for visiting Kyrgyzstan in winter:

  • Head lamp : I love my ultra-compact, retractable PETZL headlamp .
  • Merino base layer : Thicker is better! I packed this Merino 250 base layer , a godsend when combined with other layers.
  • Down jacket : I invested in an Arc’teryx down jacket a few years ago. Though costly, it’s worth it. It’s light, packs tiny, and is extremely warm.
  • Outer shell jacket : A waterproof or resistant outer layer is necessary for snow! Outdoor Research has a solid line of affordable outer shells .
  • Warm socks: Proper socks makes a huge difference when hiking or skiing. Woolen socks are best . Make sure to pack at least two pairs!
  • Hand warmers : Trust me, you’ll appreciate these the second the sun isn’t shining. I used them to warm my feet after photographing in deep snow for hours. Stock up on handwarmers on Amazon.
  • Sunscreen: Mountain sun is extra intense in the snow! You must protect your skin when trekking or skiing in the mountains. I swear by La Roche-Posay sunscreen because it doesn’t feel slimy or sticky.
  • Steripen or LifeStraw bottle : You can’t drink tap water in Kyrgyzstan, and it’s useful to be able to fill bottles in rivers/ streams. I personally use a Steripen with my insulated water bottle (good for hot tea, too!), but LifeStraw bottles are also great.
  • Snow gloves : I use gloves with wrist leashes so I can easily take them on and off without dropping them (a must for photographers!).
  • Lightweight gloves : Ain’t nobody wants to wear bulky snow gloves all day. I packed lightweight—but still warm— gloves that work with touch screens for day-to-day wear.
  • Buff : It protects your face, holds back hair and sweat, and wraps around your wrist when not necessary. What more could you need? I love Buffs; I have a lightweight Buff for face protection and/or headband, plus a fleece-lined Buff for serious cold.
  • GoPro: There’s no better camera for the casual skiing photographer/videographer than a GoPro! I travel with a GoPro Hero 7 . Its insane image stabilization makes it perfect for action shots while skiing. Bring a selfie stick with a wrist strap to get the best angles without having to worry about losing your camera if you fall!

Travel insurance is always a good idea… especially when you’re hanging out in crazy deep snow in remote, avalanche-prone mountains a very long car ride away from adequate health care.

While traveling and skiing in Kyrgyzstan, I used World Nomads travel insurance with an add-on for skiing/ski touring. They covered all of my activities, including my phone when it was eaten by the snow during a particularly powdery fall.

Get a quote from World Nomads here

Car driving on the road on the south shore of Lake Issyk Kul, Kyrgyzstan

Here’s what you can expect views-wise when driving around Kyrgyzstan in winter. Not bad, eh?

No need for dog sleds and horse sleighs (unless you really want to). There are plenty of transportation options during winter in Kyrgyzstan.

Marshrutka minibuses run standard routes throughout the winter, unless a road is totally snowed in. Like much of Central Asia, most drivers can get anywhere with enough determination. Or think they can, anyway.

Taxis are available in cities and towns. You can either find drivers to negotiate with on the street, or arrange taxis through your accommodation.

Hitchhiking is common practice among locals. You’ll still see plenty of people hitching rides on the roadside in winter. However, know it’s common for locals to pay some money when they get a ride; cars are more like shared taxis in that sense.

Flights between Bishkek and Osh run throughout the winter, and aren’t too susceptible to weather delays.

Private drivers or group tours are a great way to get to ski bases and other more remote locations in Kyrgyzstan. The Trekking Union of Kyrgyzstan (TUK) offers affordable group trips for locals and foreigners to ski bases around the country. Community Based Tourism (CBT) offices in Bishkek and Karakol can help you arrange transportation to virtually anywhere in the country.

Can you drive from Bishkek to Osh in winter?

The road from Bishkek to Osh is open in winters. It may occasionally due to avalanches, weather-related delays are possible (pack snacks!), and it will still be slippery from snow and ice.

Tip: Be careful when finding a driver for the long ride—winter is not a time for rushing, contrary to what they might think.

Backcountry ski yurt at sunrise in Boz Uchuk, Kyrgyzstan

The ultimate Kyrgyzstan accommodation: yurts!

Finding winter accommodation in Kyrgyzstan is a bit different from summer time. Though most official hotels, homestays, and guesthouses are open in winter, yurt stays aren’t as widespread.

Winter yurt stays in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan’s iconic yurts are elusive in winter. Most nomadic families pack up and move to the cities to work once winter sets in. However, some yurt camps stay open for skiers, snowboarders, and other snow-happy tourists.

If you want to find a winter yurt stay in Kyrgyzstan, reach out to CBT Kyrgyzstan or check out some of the following:

  • Boz Uchuk : Arrange through CBT Kyrgyzstan
  • Jyrgalan Yurt Lodge
  • Song Kul : Arrange through CBT Kyrgyzstan or local tour operator in Kochkor or Kyzart
  • Ak Suu Yurt Lodge
  • Ak Tash Nomad’s Land Yurt Camp

Map of winter yurt camps in Kyrgyzstan

Locations of some winter yurt camps in Kyrgyzstan. Click here for an interactive Google Map .

Other winter accommodation in Kyrgyzstan

Apart from yurts, homestays get my vote for best accommodation in Kyrgyzstan.

There’s an impressive homestay network all across Kyrgyzstan, organized by CBT Kyrgyzstan and other local parties such as Destination Jyrgalan . If you want a truly local experience—with a healthy dose of local food and hospitality—homestays are the way to go.

Otherwise, there are many hotels and guesthouses listed on Booking.com, sometimes including homestays and yurt stays. Don’t be afraid to head to Booking first when deciding where to sleep! Browse the best Kyrgyzstan accommodation on Booking.com now.

Want an offbeat winter destination? Consider Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia! Kyrgyzstan has all kinds of winter travel activities, from backcountry skiing and snowboarding to horse treks and yurt stays in the snow! Click through for a massive travel guide to Kyrgyzstan in winter to help you plan your trip. #CentralAsia #Kyrgyzstan #WinterTravel

Helpful? Pin it!

Though there are far less tourists in winter (good for travelers, in my opinion), there are still plenty of things to do in Kyrgyzstan in winter. A bit of snow and cold doesn’t mean Kyrgyzstan screeches to a stop!

Snowboarder jumping at Karakol ski resort in Kyrgyzstan

Catching air above a sea of powder in Karakol

Shred pristine powder on skis or a snowboard

From ski bases to backcountry, Kyrgyzstan is heaven for skiers and boarders. Fresh snow, few people, unconventional après-ski scenes, and epic mountains of all grades and altitudes await you in Kyrgyzstan. Best of all, it’s all pretty freakin’ affordable compared to the rest of the world!

There are skiing opportunities for people of all skill levels across the country; head to the skiing section of this guide for more information.

Kok buru match in mountains in Kyrgyzstan

Cheer on a local kok buru team

Imagine a game of polo. Except with a headless goat carcass instead of a ball.

Yep, that’s kok buru for you.

Also known as buzkashi in other Central Asian countries, the ultimate sport of nomads is most commonly played in winter months. If you see men and horses gathering in an open field, go and say hello—there’s probably a game of kok buru on the way!

Don’t be shy; people will be happy to teach you about the game. In our case, they even invited us to play!

Paragliding in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan in winter

Oh hey Issyk Kul! Photo by Stephen Lioy .

Admire Kyrgyzstan from above while paragliding  

Ever dreamed of flying through snowy peaks while looking down at one of the world’s largest salt lakes?

… even if you haven’t, you should probably still give it a go.

Though you can go paragliding at all times of year in Kyrgyzstan—I first tried in Karakol in summer (for $18!) back in 2016—winter is a particularly epic time of year to try. Flights start higher in the mountains, at the top of Karakol ski base. At 3,000 som per person ($40) paragliding is a bit more expensive than in summer, but still a bargain compared to paragliding in other countries. Book your flight with SkyTrial here .

Snowshoeing in mountains near Boz Uchuk, Kyrgyzstan

Explore the mountains on snowshoes or cross-country skis

Infinite trekking opportunities exist all across Kyrgyzstan. Winter is no reason to hang your boots up; why not strap some snowshoes on instead?

Snowshoes and cross-country skis are available for rent in ski shops across the country, as well as through trekking organizations like TUK (prices for snowshoes and skis listed in this PDF ).

If you’re looking for a place to get your snowshoeing/skiing game on, Jyrgalan is a good place to start with its myriad trekking opportunities.

Horse riding in snow in Kyrgyzstan

Trek through snow on horseback  

Galloping might be a bit of a physics problem in deep snow, but it’s still possible to horse trek in Kyrgyzstan in winter.

Song Kul is a popular destination all year round, and a few brave souls venture out to its frozen shores on horseback every winter. Tour companies can arrange winter horse treks to Song Kul .

Snowmobiling in Jyrgalan, Kyrgyzstan

Surf powder on a snowmobile

If you can’t ski, don’t worry—you can still ride through powder on a snowmobile! I’ve driven/ridden snowmobiles in a few different places, but Kyrgyzstan was the first place where I got to ride through really deep snow. It was mad intense… and freakin’ cool.

Jyrgalan Yurt Lodge is a good place to organize snowmobile rides, though you’ll find snowmobile options anywhere there’s backcountry skiing to be had.

Traditional Dungan food at a homestay in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

Dive into a traditional Dungan feast

Dungan people are Muslims who migrated from what’s now Northwestern China to Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian countries more than a century ago. More than 50,000 Dungans live across Kyrgyzstan, and there’s a particularly significant Dungan population in the Karakol region.

Dungan food is quite distinct from other Kyrgyz cuisine (translation: it has flavor) and Dungan feasts are a sight to behold, sure to tickle your taste buds.

If you’re interested in learning a bit of history while trying a new cuisine—or just need to deviate from plov for a day—I highly recommend joining a traditional Dungan dinner in a local’s home in Karakol. A cozy solution for a cold winter night!

Salburuun eagle hunter in Jaichy, Kyrgyzstan

Watch eagles hunt for animals in the snow  

Salburuun is the traditional art and practice of eagle hunting found across Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. Hunters train wild eagles to catch animals for their meat and fur, though these days people mostly hunt for sport, not necessity.

If you want to see this tradition in action and/or want to take the Ultimate Vacation Photo with an eagle on horseback you can see eagle hunting demonstrations on the south shores of Lake Issyk Kul .

Skazka Fairytale Canyon in Kyrgyzstan in winter

Skazka Canyon, AKA Fairytale Canyon, on the south shore of Lake Issyk Kul.

Stunning places to visit in Kyrgyzstan in winter  

Technically you can get anywhere in Kyrgyzstan with enough determination, even in winter.

However, I’m assuming the average reader isn’t a die-hard mountaineer interested in multi-week ascents through meters of snow. And presumably you don’t want to be stranded in the snow in a decrepit Lada for hours.

If you’re looking for reasonably accessible winter adventures, here are a few places you can look into:

Map of places to visit in Kyrgyzstan in winter

Map of some places to visit in Kyrgyzstan in winter. Click here for an interactive Google Map .

Burana tower

The 11 th century minaret—one of Central Asia’s oldest—is stunning in winter. Mountains surround Kyrgyzstan’s most famous historic monument; from the top you can see snowy peaks for miles on a clear day. Combine your visit to the nearby Tokmok animal market (which still runs in winter) for a complete day trip.

How to get there: Burana tower and Tokmok from Bishkek

Kyrgyzstan's Burana tower in winter

Ala Archa National Park

Less than an hour outside of Bishkek, Ala Archa National Park is a great option for a day hike. Even in winter!

How to get there: Adventuring to Ala Archa in the snow from Bishkek

Kyrgyzstan’s go-to trekking town transforms into a winter sport hub in colder months. Ski or board at Karakol Ski Base, Kyrgyzstan’s best ski resort half an hour from town, or use Karakol as a jumping off point for venturing further to areas like Jyrgyalan and Boz Uchuk.

How to get there: Getting from Bishkek to Karakol

A traveler favorite in Kyrgyzstan, Jyrgalan village is extra charming under a layer of snow. Closely situated to backcountry slopes suitable for all expertise levels, and filled with homestays and guesthouses (and winter yurt camps!) for travelers of any budget, Jyrgalan is a perfect—and picturesque—base for winter adventures in eastern Kyrgyzstan.

How to get there: Transportation from Karakol to Jyrgalan

Jyrgalan, Kyrgyzstan at sunset in winter

The little village at the foot of mountains is one of the first places where locals independently stepped up to preserve their natural lands and restrict hunting. Jaichy hosts a popular yurt camp in summers, but tourists can still stay in winter. Visitors can see eagle hunting and horse games, feast on local delicacies like tash kordo (whole roasted lamb) at the homestay, or head into the mountains to visit a nearby glacier.

How to get there: Transportation around Issyk Kul’s South Shore

Bang up next to red stone cliffs nicknamed the “Seven Bulls”, this village is easily accessed from Karakol by public transport or marshrutka . Sunrise sets the bulls ablaze, and you can do day treks around the village to admire red rocks and snowy ‘scapes.

How to get there: Quick guide to Jeti Oguz

Sunrise hike in the snow at Jety Oguz, Kyrgyzstan

Arslanbob  

The lower valleys of western Kyrgyzstan are warmer and milder in winter than the eastern mountains. Arslanbob is a comfortable place to visit at any time of year, but it’s particularly notable in winter as its many homestays are still open to visitors during this time. Ski touring from Arslanbob is also possible.

How to get there: Getting to Arslanbob from Osh

Yep, it is possible to visit Song Kul lake in winter, though it will be a drastically different experience from summer! Song Kul freezes in winter, and most yurt camps are dismantled. One yurt camp does remain year-round, and many fishermen flock to Song Kul for ice fishing in colder months, staying in small cabins near the lake.

How to get there: Hiking to Song Kul in winter

Skazka Canyon (Fairytale Canyon)

A highlight of Lake Issyk Kul’s south shores, this trippy canyon is the perfect place to scramble about some surreal rock formations covered in snow. It’s a popular day trip in summer, but winter weather means you might have the place to yourself.

Female traveler skiing in Kyrgyzstan

Skiing with views like this? Yesplz!

Skiing and snowboarding in Kyrgyzstan

Winter sports are one of the main reasons to travel in Kyrgyzstan in winter—who doesn’t like crazy beautiful and affordable skiing and boarding?—but even if you’re no pro, you should consider adding a few days of shredding to your Kyrgyzstan winter itinerary.

What to expect when skiing in Kyrgyzstan

Ain’t nobody been thinking about skiing in Kyrgyzstan, I know. You’re forgiven for wondering what to expect when skiing in Kyrgyzstan—I sure as hell had no idea before I rocked up there!

Snow conditions

Snow-wise, Kyrgyzstan is dreamy. Its extreme continental climate (translation: landlocked and far from seas) means a whole lotta light and fluffy powder snow. Since so few people visit Kyrgyzstan in winter you won’t have to compete for fresh snow often… if ever. Climate change is the only real threat to your powder trails.

Ski resorts (ski bases) in Kyrgyzstan

Naturally, you shouldn’t expect Swiss-style development and infrastructure in Kyrgyzstan (or anywhere else in the world except Switzerland, for that matter).

However, Kyrgyzstan’s ski scene is more developed than you might expect. Resorts are simple, but all the ones listed below offer several lifts, rental options, cafes or restaurants, and grooming. Instructors are available, though some might only speak Kyrgyz and Russian.

Safety and avalanche risks

Avalanche control in Kyrgyzstan is… well, sort of a thing in resorts, though not as advanced as other parts of the world.

If you’re going skiing in the backcountry, you must either have avalanche safety knowledge and gear or be accompanied by a guide who can educate you and provide safety gear. Avalanches are a huge risk in Kyrgyzstan, especially given warming winter weather . The backcountry is serious business; don’t be stupid, be safe.

Backcountry skiing in powder in Boz Uchuk, Kyrgyzstan

No competition for powder here in Boz Uchuk!

Travel insurance for skiing and snowboarding in Kyrgyzstan

Travel insurance is always important, but it’s extra ideal when you’re hurtling down avalanche-prone mountains at high speeds in the middle of nowhere with limited access to quality health care. Just sayin’.

While traveling and skiing in Kyrgyzstan, I used World Nomads travel insurance with an add-on for skiing/ski touring. They covered all of the skiing both on- and off-piste that I did in Kyrgyzstan, and even covered me when I lost my phone during one of my more powdery tumbles. Easy squeezy; do recommend.

Skiing in Kyrgyzstan is, in general, pretty damned affordable.

Relative to other parts of the world, anyway. How much you have to spend depends on your skill level—obviously a heli skiing sesh deep in the Tien Shan mountains is going to cost a biiit more than a beginner lesson near Bishkek—but here are some average prices to give you an idea of how much skiing in Kyrgyzstan costs.

  • Lift pass: 800-1,200 som/US$12-17 for a full-day adult pass at a ski base
  • Ski or snowboard rental (full set): 500-1,000 som/$7-15 per day, depending on quality
  • Helmet rental: 200 som/$3 per day
  • Taxi to ski base: 1,000-1,500 som/$15-20 for full-day round trip
  • 1,000 som/$15 for one hour
  • 4,000 som for full-day
  • Snow cat rental: 30,000 som/$420 for a full day for entire machine + driver
  • Snowmobile rental: 6,000 som/$80 per person for a full day
  • Backcountry ski guide: 10,000 som/$150 per day

Slaznow cat view in Kyrgyzstan

Good views are even better when you can lazily check them out from inside a snow cat!

Gear and ski/snowboard rental in Kyrgyzstan

No one likes traveling with big bags, let alone bulky suitcases and ski bags that feel like they’re filled with rocks.

Luckily, you might not have to.

If you don’t have your own ski gear—or don’t feel like lugging your own gear halfway across the world—it’s possible to rent everything the average skier needs in Kyrgyzstan. Even winter coats and snow pants.

Ski and snowboard rental at Karakol ski resort in Kyrgyzstan

Karakol’s rental shop

Coats, snow pants, goggles, and helmets can all be rented in Bishkek at places like Gerget Sport . Many gear rental outlets outside of Bishkek have a few helmets and goggles.

Complete downhill ski or snowboard sets (skis/board, boots, poles if necessary) are available for rent both in Bishkek and Karakol and at larger ski bases. Karakol ski base has good equipment on offer. If heading to a less developed ski resort, it’s probably a better idea to rent your gear in the nearest city and bring it yourself.

Backcountry ski gear (powder skis with ski touring bindings, boots, backpacks, avalanche gear, skins, etc.) is available for rent in select outlets, notably Extreme + Tour in Karakol (Google Maps). The owners of Extreme Sport are a bit surly—they’re notorious for adjusting prices on a whim—but their gear is good, their offering comprehensive. Here’s a loose price list for Extreme Sport to help in your negotiations.

Splitboards are harder to come by. Snowboarders: BYO. Extreme Sport has the only rental splitboard in all of Karakol (and possibly Kyrgyzstan). When asked how much it costs to rent the stern Russian woman’s only response was: “Expensive.”

Best places for skiing and snowboarding in Kyrgyzstan

First timers: zil  .

Skiers on a chairlift at ZIL ski base near Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

See the line of mountains in the back? Yep, you can see Kazakhstan from ZIL!

  • ZIL ski pass price: 800/1200 som (adult week/weekend), 500/700 som (under 12 week/weekend)
  • Opening hours: 10:00 – 16:00
  • Website: http://zil.kg/
  • How to get there: Drive or taxi from Bishkek, TUK trip

If you’ve never set foot in ski before and want an easy accessible place to learn to ski for cheap, ZIL is one of the closest bases to Bishkek with all the basic amenities you’ll need: lifts, rental, guesthouses, food, sledding hill for when you give up on skiing. Because it’s so close to the capital it can get busy with locals on weekends; watch out for other beginners still learning how to stop!

Beginner: Chunkurchak  

Local skiers on a chairlift in Chunkurchak ski resort, Kyrgyzstan

Chairlift chillin’ at Chunkurchak

  • Chunkurchak ski pass price: 1,200 som (adult), 800 som (under 12)
  • Opening hours: 9:00 – 16:00
  • Website: http://www.chunkurchak.kg/ (Russian)
  • How to get there: Drive or taxi (500 som) from Bishkek, TUK trip

A bit higher into the mountains, Chunkurchak has better views and, in my opinion, more forgiving runs for beginners than ZIL. The slopes are wide open, with space for people of all skill levels to enjoy the runs and/or barrel out of control down the mountain (with a flat enough bottom to slow most to a stop).

Intermediate: Karakol

Female skier at Karakol ski base, Kyrgyzstan

The views from the top of Karakol ski base are next level, literally and figuratively.

  • Karakol ski pass price: 1,200 som (adult), 700 som (under 12)
  • Opening hours: 9:00 – 16:30
  • Website: https://visitkarakol.com/skibase_karakol
  • How to get there: Taxi from Karakol town (1,000-1,500 som round trip), TUK trip

Though Kyrgyzstan’s best ski resort has runs suitable for beginners to experts, I think intermediate skiers will have the most fun at Karakol. I was impressed by the length of the runs and numerous off-piste skiing areas, but beginners might struggle to ski anything beyond the bunny hill.

If you’re still wobbly on skis, Karakol has plenty of other things to do. Non-skiers can get passes to ride the chairlift to the top of the mountain to bask in some epic views (many people do). Craving an adrenaline rush? You can paraglide down instead of riding the lift!

Intermediate to expert (backcountry): Jyrgalan

Backcountry skiing in Jyrgalan, Kyrgyzstan

Makin’ trails in Jyrgalan

  • Get up the mountain: Ski touring, snowmobile, snow cat
  • Website: https://jyrgalan.com/what-to-do/winter-sports/
  • How to get there: Taxi or marshrutka 331 from Karakol

Ample homestays, information sources, and options for getting up the mountain make scenic Jyrgalan one of the most tourist-friendly backcountry ski destinations in Kyrgyzstan. There are grades for every kind of skier in the hills and mountains around the area, and experienced skiers and boarders can safely ski many of the areas without needing a guide.

Expert (backcountry): Boz Uchuk

Ski touring in Boz Uchuk, Kyrygzstan

Skinning up in Boz Uchuk

  • Get up the mountain: Ski touring
  • Website: https://cbtkyrgyzstan.com/tour/backcountry-skiing-in-the-tien-shan-mountains/
  • How to get there: Taxi to base, 3-4 hour ski tour to Boz Uchuk yurt camp

With its skiing yurt camp hidden in a narrow gorge eventually opening up into a wide mountainous valley, Boz Uchuk is the perfect example of Kyrgyzstan’s backcountry potential. You can skin up the mountains all around the area, float down through fields of untouched powder, then cozy up in a yurt once your legs are done for the day. A guide is necessary to ski in this area.

Expert (backcountry, heli skiing): Suusamyr Valley

  • Get up the mountain: Helicopter, ski touring, snow cat
  • Website: Mountain Project can help arrange heli skiing tours.
  • How to get there: Taxi or shared taxi from Bishkek

Suusamyr Valley is high in the mountains (think 2,000m base and higher for skiing) to the southwest of Bishkek. The offbeat valley is a common destination for those interested in heli skiing in Kyrgyzstan. Powder is light and fluffy throughout the season, and both snow cats and helicopters are available to get you to the best lines. Paragliding is also an option. If you’re trying to cater to a variety of skier abilities, Suusamyr also has its own ski resort, Too Ashuu .

Local ski guides are highly recommended when free riding in Kyrgyzstan. They know the lay of the land better than anyone else, and are more aware of potential avalanche risks. Most guides speak Russian at the very least, and many speak English, too.

Russian ski guide in Kyrgyzstan

Our ski guide for the week, Pavel. An avid skier and mountaineer, he knows Kyrgyzstan like the back of his hand. You can contact him over Whatsapp at +996555886686 if you’re interested in hiring him.

Where to find freeride ski guides in Kyrgyzstan

If you want to hire a ski guide in Kyrgyzstan, you can either reach out to one through organizations like CBT Karakol or Destination Jyrgalan , or look on websites like Maty Planet to find freelance backcountry ski guides. Ski rental shops such as Extreme + Tour can also connect you with guides.

Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia is an epic off the beaten track destination for skiing and snowboarding. With cheap ski resorts suitable for every skill level and untouched backcountry with fresh powder all winter long, Kyrgyzstan is the ultimate ski destination you've never heard of. This guide has everything you need to know about skiing in Kyrgyzstan, including best ski accommodation, ski rental in Kyrgyzstan, best places to ski in Kyrgyzstan, and more. Read on for everything you need to know to plan your trip! #Skiing #Snowboarding #Kyrgyzstan #CentralAsia

Travel agencies and travel planning help in Kyrgyzstan

When planning a trip to Kyrgyzstan, you’ll probably need to reach out to local agencies at some point. They can help you with everything from booking guides and horses in remote areas, finding homestays or home cooked meals, or organizing transportation and trekking to hard-to-reach places.

While planning you trip to Kyrgyzstan I recommend reaching out to some of these organizations:

CBT Kyrgyzstan

  • Website: https://cbtkyrgyzstan.kg/
  • Good for: Homestays, transportation, yurt stays, guides, etc.

Community Based Tourism Kyrgyzstan (CBT) is the go-to for travel help in Kyrgyzstan. The CBT network spans the entire country, and they help organize everything from homestays to trekking guides. Though their monopoly on tourism doesn’t always benefit communities as much as the name might imply—and they’re more costly than organizing things yourself—there’s no denying their usefulness and access to resources.

There are regional CBT offices around the country; CBT Bishkek and Karakol are likely to be the most helpful.

  • Website: http://tuk.kg/?lang=en
  • Good for: Trekking, skiing/boarding help, gear rental

The Trekking Union of Kyrgyzstan organizes trips for both locals and foreigners all around the country. In winter they organize buses to popular ski bases on weekends. If you’re in need of camping or skiing gear—tents, camping stoves, sleeping bags, snowshoes, etc.—they also rent equipment for reasonable prices.

Destination Karakol

  • Website: https://destinationkarakol.com/
  • Good for: Winter sports and accommodation help in the Karakol region

Karakol’s tourism office can help with coordinating anything and everything from backcountry skiing to yurt stays in the eastern region.

Caravanistan

  • Website: https://caravanistan.com/kyrgyzstan/
  • Good for: Travel information, tour aggregator

The ultimate Central Asia travel resource needs a mention! Caravanistan is the go-to for all things travel in the region, and is a gold mine of information on Kyrgyzstan. Don’t miss their Kyrgyzstan forum if you have any questions. They also can connect you with tried and tested tours and guides.

Early morning in Jyrgalan, Kyrgyzstan in winter

Snowy mornings in Jyrgalan

A few more things to know about (winter) travel in Kyrgyzstan  

Some last tasty tidbits to know before you jet off to Kyrgyzstan!

Language in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz is one of two national languages in Kyrgyzstan. It’s written using the Cyrillic alphabet (the Russian one) plus a few extra letters. Learning a few basic Kyrgyz phrases is a nice gesture.

Russian, the second national language, is also widely spoken throughout Kyrgyzstan. It’s the capital’s primary language, and most people around the country speak at least basic Russian.

As far as traveler-friendly language choices go, Russian is the most useful language for travel in Kyrgyzstan. Before you go, I recommend at least learning some of the Cyrillic alphabet and a few basic Russian phrases through apps like Duolingo . If you want to go beyond basics, I use and highly recommend Pimsleur audio lessons .

Kyrgyz homestay host

Erkil serves traditional food in her home on Issyk Kul’s south shore. We had a good chat, but it was all in Russian!

Alcohol in Kyrgyzstan

Yes, it’s worth mentioning that you can have alcohol in Kyrgyzstan.

Despite being a Muslim-majority country, alcohol is widely available and commonly consumed. You’ll find everything from beer (okay) to wine (sometimes passable) to liquor (not bad) all over Kyrgyzstan.

Mobile connectivity and SIM cards in Kyrgyzstan

It’s surprisingly easy (and cheap) to stay connected in Kyrgyzstan. While traveling, I used a Megafon SIM card and had good 4G data connection in most mountainous places around Bishkek and the Karakol/Issyk Kul area.

You can buy Megafon SIM cards in mobile shops all around the cities. Bring a copy of your passport. The SIM card costs around 200 som (less than US$3). Data is affordable: 8GB of data is 350 som (about $5). Data top ups can be purchased from small shops everywhere; look for mobile operator ads.

Here’s more information on prepaid SIM cards in Kyrgyzstan .

Female travel blogger sitting in the snow in Kyrgyzstan

Snow ain’t so bad with a bit of sun on the side!

More blog posts about Kyrgyzstan

Deffo heading to Kyrgyzstan? Good on ya, maybe I’ll see you there! In the meantime, don’t miss my other blog posts on the country:

  • 6 epic reasons to travel Kyrgyzstan in winter
  • How much it costs to go backpacking in Kyrgyzstan
  • Unexpected epic at Kyrgyzstan’s 2016 World Nomad Games
  • Blasted beasts: a horse trek to Song Kul lake
  • Abandoned places and smiling faces in Min Kush
  • The Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan overland border crossing
  • The Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan overland border crossing

Have more questions about traveling Kyrygzstan in winter? Ask me in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.

Want an offbeat winter destination? Consider Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia! Kyrgyzstan has all kinds of winter travel activities, from backcountry skiing and snowboarding to horse treks and yurt stays in the snow! Click through for a massive travel guide to Kyrgyzstan in winter to help you plan your trip. #CentralAsia #Kyrgyzstan #WinterTravel #Skiing

Yay transparency! My trip to Kyrgyzstan was sponsored and they asked me to put this really long and rather dry disclaimer at the end of my posts. Don’t worry, all of my rambling and tips and photos are totally my own and I’d never steer a reader wrong (not on purpose, anyway). There are also affiliate links in this blog, which means if you buy something using those links, I’ll make a bit of change at no extra cost to you. Now, onto the fun part:  

This blog is made possible by the Sustainable Winter Tourism Development Project financed by the Government of Switzerland through the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and implemented by Helvetas Kyrgyzstan as well as by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Competitiveness, Trade, and Jobs Activity in Central Asia. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Lost With Purpose (that’s me!) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Government of Switzerland and Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation or USAID and the United States Government.

  • Central Asia

Alex Reynolds profile picture

Alex Reynolds

12 thoughts on “ winter travel in kyrgyzstan: here’s what you need to know ”.

I have heard and read a lot about Kyrgystan Winter Travel, especially about the ski season, cultural events, hitchhiking, and snowy landscapes. The blog is so good that one can visit Kyrgystan, and enjoy everything following your blog. Quite an adventurous tour you have had.

That’s what I’m aiming for! There’s certainly a lot to do in Kyrgyzstan in winter despite the cold – I’m glad this blog could be of assistance.

Your blog has such deep details regarding the Kyrgystan winter travel, that one can alone enjoy the place, just by following your blog.

That’s the idea! But I assure you, it’s even better in person 😉

Hi Really useful information, did you try horseback riding trip? I want to do it in Kyrgyzstan. How is it, if I don’t have experience? I want to book tour with “Pegas Adventure” their have more positive feedbacks.

I have gone horseback riding in Kyrgyzstan, but never in winter. I think there are certainly suitable options for beginners (falling off hurts less in the snow, hint hint!), though I do not have personal experience with that tour company.

Not impressed to be honest

Omg I’m like your biggest fan.. you’re such a huge inspiration. Can you please come to Sweden to speak because there’s rampant racism here at universities and public institutions. Stronger together ❤️

Omg omg omg I’m your biggest fan. Can you come Sweden to talk about the rampant islamophobia here

amazing post, so glad people help to this extent for new tourist. i am visiting first time with my wife and two small kids.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Lost With Purpose wordmark for GDPR cookie compliance

  • Privacy Overview
  • Strictly Necessary Cookies

This website uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best user experience possible. Cookie information is stored in your browser and performs functions such as recognising you when you return to our website and helping our team to understand which sections of the website you find most interesting and useful.

Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.

If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.

THE 10 BEST Kyrgyzstan Tours & Excursions

Kyrgyzstan tours.

  • Sightseeing Tours
  • Private Tours
  • Historical & Heritage Tours
  • Cultural Tours
  • Multi-day Tours
  • Walking Tours
  • Ports of Call Tours
  • Scenic Railroads
  • Archaeology Tours
  • Self-Guided Tours & Rentals
  • Photography Tours
  • Motorcycle Tours
  • Up to 1 hour
  • 1 to 4 hours
  • 4 hours to 1 day
  • 5.0 of 5 bubbles
  • 4.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • 3.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • 2.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • Chinese (Traditional)
  • Chinese (Simplified)
  • Special Offers
  • The ranking of tours, activities, and experiences available on Tripadvisor is determined by several factors including the revenue generated by Tripadvisor from these bookings, the frequency of user clicks, and the volume and quality of customer reviews. Occasionally, newly listed offerings may be prioritized and appear higher in the list. The specific placement of these new listings may vary.

tourism kyrgyzstan

1. Immense and breathtaking Issyk Kul lake in 1day

tourism kyrgyzstan

2. All in one-day: Bishkek city tour and Ala-Archa National Park

tourism kyrgyzstan

3. 2 Days tour to Ancient Burana and Issyk Kul lake

tourism kyrgyzstan

4. 8 Days Trekking in Kyrgyzstan: Alay Mountains Adventure

tourism kyrgyzstan

5. 10 Days tour Kyrgyzstan: Nomads, Legacy, Nature

tourism kyrgyzstan

6. Bishkek’s finest: Ala Archa Nature Park Essential Tour

tourism kyrgyzstan

7. 3 days winter horse back riding to Song-Kul lake

tourism kyrgyzstan

8. Horseback riding on the mountains of Chon Kemin National Park

tourism kyrgyzstan

9. Ancient Burana and Konorchek Canyons

tourism kyrgyzstan

10. 4 Hours Private Bishkek Food Tasting Tour

tourism kyrgyzstan

11. Private Full Day Tour to Pamir Alay Mountains

tourism kyrgyzstan

12. The dazzling winter hike at the Ala Archa National Park

tourism kyrgyzstan

13. Horseback Riding and Archery Masterclass at Chunkurchak

tourism kyrgyzstan

14. One-day adventure to the stunning Issyk Kul lake

tourism kyrgyzstan

15. The hiking paradise Ala Archa National Park, 1 day

tourism kyrgyzstan

16. Private One Day Tour in Bishkek city and Ala-Archa National Park

tourism kyrgyzstan

17. Tour of the Beautiful Ala Archa National Park

tourism kyrgyzstan

18. The perfect day: Ala Archa National Park + Bishkek city tour

tourism kyrgyzstan

19. Day Trip to Burana Tower and Konorchek Canyons

tourism kyrgyzstan

20. Wildlife Hiking Adventure in Ala Archa National Park

tourism kyrgyzstan

21. Burana Tower and Konorchek Canyons

tourism kyrgyzstan

22. Walking Osh Tour

tourism kyrgyzstan

23. The Heart of Kyrgyzstan

tourism kyrgyzstan

24. 3-Day Private Tour Around Issyk Kul Lake, all year round

tourism kyrgyzstan

25. Horse riding in Kyrgyzstan, Truly Nomadic Land

tourism kyrgyzstan

26. 3-Day tour around Issyk Kul Lake with Yurt stay and Eagle hunting show

tourism kyrgyzstan

27. A superb horse riding in Chon Kemin valley, 1 day

tourism kyrgyzstan

28. 2-Days in Song Kul Lake as Nomad - horseback riding & Yurt stay

tourism kyrgyzstan

29. 3 Days tour Issyk Kul lake: Eagle show and Nomadic living

tourism kyrgyzstan

30. The ancient Burana Tower + Bishkek city tour, 1 day

What travelers are saying.

Staseal

Mountain Biking

Horse riding.

  • Wildlife and Photo
  • Off Road and Jeep Tours
  • Silk Road and Culture
  • Yoga and Retreat
  • Tailor made
  • Our Lodging
  • Best Locations
  • Our partners
  • Current projects
  • Volunteering
  • How To Book

Visit Kyrgyzstan

Land of natural beauty, enjoy your perfect holiday, make your day great, get beyond yourself, reach the hidden treasures, authentic experiences, with true hospitality, ancient traditions, saved through centuries, great adventures, in untamed mountains, our best adventure tours, wildlife & photo, off road & jeep tours, silk road & culture, yoga & retreat, tailor made, our reviews, alicja łukowska, poland, 2022.

Hi! Thank you for the tour in june. All was great organized.

stars

Both the guide Ernist and the driver Misha do an excellent job. We hope our groups will travel with them in the future.

Madeleine Ulrich, Schweiz, 2022

Es war eine wunderbare Reise!

Alles verlief zu meiner vollen Zufriedenheit, meine Erwartungen wurden mehr als erfüllt. Kirgistan ist ein sehr schönes Land, welches vieles zu bieten hat, was ich bei uns so vermisse: Herzliche, gastfreundliche Menschen, unverbaute, weite Landschaften, in denen Mensch und Tier weitgehend im Einklang mit der Natur leben. Das tut so gut! Mein grosses Dankeschön geht an Gulzahn (Reiseleiterin/Dolmetscherin) und Saber (Fahrer). Kompetent, authentisch, mit viel Witz und absolut zuverlässig haben sie uns geführt und begleitet, mit bewundernswerter Ruhe und Gelassenheit und grossem Improvisationstalent. Auch die lokalen Guides, die Unterkünfte und Verpflegung haben immer überzeugt. Das Kontrastprogramm in Usbekistan, mit kulturellen Schwerpunkten, war ebenfalls spannend und gut organisiert. Weil ich halt eher ein Naturmensch bin, hat mich Kirgistan eindeutig mehr angesprochen und Glücksmomente ausgelöst. Besten Dank für das Organisieren dieser tollen Reise mit lieben Grüssen aus der Schweiz Madeleine Ulrich

Kim Changkee, Korea, 2019

You don’t know how wonderful it is to travel Kyrgyzstan until you are there.

You don’t know how wonderful it is to travel Kyrgyzstan until you are there. The natural beauty and the hospitality from the Kyrgyz people are beyond your imagination. Are you looking for pure happiness? Then visit Kyrgyzstan. In the summer of 2017, my wife and I traveled Kyrgyzstan independently. The experience of ten-day traveling made us never hesitate to rank it the top of our travel destinations. We wanted to keep it to ourselves so that the country might not be invaded by too many tourists. But we couldn’t help but to say “YES!” when my friends’ group wanted to go to Kyrgyzstan with us this year, which was going to be our second visit.

I met Mr. Asylbek Rajiev in 2017. When my wife and I arrived at Bishkek in the summer of 2017, we didn’t have enough information about travelling the country. It was because our holidays came suddenly and we booked the flight tickets only two weeks before we started. The owner of our guesthouse in Bishkek informed us that there was a travel agency nearby. We dropped by to encounter Asylbek at the agency. He spared more than an hour so that we could get what we wanted for the travel, and that so kindly. He was willing to help us to travel happily and consulted our itinerary based on our needs. The lady at the office was also kind enough to offer some coffee, making us feel very easy and comfortable to talk with. For the rest of the travel, his information was of great help and we thanked him until we finished our beautiful trip across the country.

When my friends’ group, composed of high school classmates and their wives, decided to visit Kyrgyzstan this year, I immediately recalled Asylbek. I e-mailed him. He was never short of my expectation. He customized the itinerary for our group of fifteen mid sixties. Although I had some special needs and demands to make the travel awesome for my group, Asylbek read exactly what we wanted and did everything that he could do to meet our desire. It worked wonderfully while we were travelling! It was really a five star tour.

For ten days again in July this summer, everyone of my group loved the tour very much. My friends’ couples couldn’t feel happier during this tour and day by day they came to love more than ever before. I’m not kidding. It seemed as if we were travelling the paradise in the dream, especially when we were horse-riding to Song Kul for two days. Not a single minute has passed without letting out exclamations at the spectacular view of snow-caped mountains and the endless slopes full of wild flowers. The route we took, which Asylbek recommended, was not on the map for the trekkers for Song Kul.

Staying at an authentic nomad family in remote meadows far off the beaten path was so wonderful, experiencing the real Kygyz nomad culture. And the awesome taste of Tash Kordo, the traditional nomadic way of cooking lamb, was out of this world. Taking a walk along the picturesque lakeshore at sunset and in the early morning, full of Edelweiss, made us feel out of this world. Ms. Bermet, our guide, spoke fluent English and took great care of us. She was smart, bright and devoted, being always capable of problem-solving. Everything went smooth thanks to her. We still miss her. The two drivers were also very nice and friendly. We have so many wonderful highlights and happy moments during the tour, we are making a special photo and video album to see and share at the after-trip party next month.

All this beautiful experience was possible because of Mr. Asylbek Rajiev, and all our group members owe him special thanks. He knows the country and people very well and is passionate about Kyrgyz tourism. I guarantee that he is one of those who organize best when and where to visit and what to do while travelling in Kyrgyzstan. Most importantly, I trust him. For me, he is such a nice person. Thanks Mr. Asylbek Rajiev! And thanks VisitKyrgyzstan!

Didem Ateş, Türkiye 2018

If I was born as an eagle...

aşağıda tur ile ilgili yazımı gönderiyorum. Herşey için tekrar teşekkür ederim.

—————————— —————————— ——— ——————— ———————-

If I was born as an eagle…

Eğer bir kartal olarak doğmuş olsaydım, tengri dağlarında yaşamak ve buradaki gökyüzünde uçmak isterdim.

İstanbul’dayım, gözlerimi kapadığımda hala Ala Archa Milli Park’ında dev ladin ağaçları arasında geziyorum, Sirota Kamp içinde çadırımızın hemen yanından gürül gürül akıp giden buz gibi nehirde yüzümü yıkamaya gidiyorum, tam uyanacağım ki burnuma mis gibi bir koku geliyor. Biri pişi yapmış sanki…Kokuyu takip ederek yemek çadırına kadar geliyorum, içeri davet ediyorlar mis gibi bir kahvaltı hazırlamış kırgız arkadaşlar, neşe içinde kahvaltıya oturuyorum. Sonra bir yağmur yağıyor, bir güneş açıyor; ışık değişiyor sürekli, sanki her seferinde herşeyi ilk defa görüyor gibi büyük bir şaşkınlıkla seyrediyorum etrafı. Hayranlığımı gizleyemiyorum.

Cakşı (güzel) yürüdük: Yolların sonunda vardığımız yerler tarifsiz güzellikte idi, her anına değdi…  — Yürümek tamam da, tırmanmak benim gibi acemi bir kampçı için oldukça zorlayıcı oluyor, fakat merakıma engel olamıyorum ve tırmanmaya devam ediyorum. Sirota Kamp yerine tırmanırken, rehberimizin uyarısıyla ara ara durup ardımda bıraktığım manzaraya bakıyorum. Dünya üzerinde hala bu kadar güzel ve el değmemiş bir coğrafyanın varolduğunu görünce umutlarım yeniden yeşeriyor, ayaklarımı yere daha bir sağlam basıyorum. Yorgunum ama çocuk gibi mutluyum.

Cakşı  (güzel) gördük: Kocaman dağlar, büyük vadiler, dev ladin ağaçları ve zarif çiçeklerini gördüm…  — Nasıl olurda bu kadar büyük dağlarda, bu kadar küçük, zarif, mini mini çiçekler açsın! Ne muhteşem bir tezat! 3016 mt. yükselikte yer alan Son Kul Gölü’nün yemyeşil ovalarında hayvanlarla birlikte yaşamanın geleneksel önemini korumayı başarmış göçebe ailelerin boz-üy’lerine (yurt çadırı) konuk olduk.  Koyun, inek, yak ve at sürülerini gördük. Yeni doğan tayların annelerinden emdikleri süt ile şişen göbeklerini gördük çok güldük.

Cakşı  (güzel) yedik: Kırgız, Dungan, Özbek mutfaklarından en güzel yemeklerin tadına baktık. — Gittiğimiz heryerde yerel halkın evlerine konuk olduk. Bizi muhteşem sofralarla ve büyük bir nezaketle karşıladılar. Yedirdiler, içirdiler ve uğurladılar. Sağolsunlar, varolsunlar. Sofralarından ve hayatlarından bereket ve bolluk eksik olmasın, kalplerimizi sevgiyle doldurdular.

Kırgızistan büyük bir ülke, o nedenle tek seferde heryerini gezmek mümkün olmadı. Bu nedenle tekrar gelmeyi aklımın bir köşesine yazdım. Büyük dağlar, ağaçlar, ovalar, göller ve kocaman kalpli güzel insanların ülkesi, nicedir merak ettiğim ve çok görmek istediğim güzel yurt! iyi ki geldim, iyi ki gördüm ve iyi ki sizlerle tanıştım. Herşey için binlerce teşekkür! Rahmat…Son olarak bu güzel geziye katılmama vesile olan kız kardeşim Nurdan’ı, Türkiye ayağını organize edip bizi oralara götüren ve kollayan Başka Rota rehberimiz Mikail ve şahane eşi Selcen’i ve tur boyunca büyük bir sabır ve nezaketle sorduğumuz her soruyu cevaplayan, her ihtiyacımızı anında karşılayan, bizim için orada şahane bir gezi programlayan ‘visit kırgızistan travel’ Ernist ve muhteşem ekibini sevgi ve saygıyla selamlıyorum.

Issık Göl’e sadece bir kere girebildim. Ve şimdiden 10 yaş gençleşmiş hissediyorum. Bir daha ki sefer daha çok gireceğim : )

Didem Ateş Grafik Tasarımcı

Barbara Banks, USA, 2017

Dear Asylbek, my apologies for being late in writing to you. It was an long, but very comfortable flight home, and a great welcome back into my family as well as busy times

Thank you so much for all that you did to make our experience in Kyrgyzstan so extraordinary. You and the whole team were top professionals every step of the way. Your dedication and hard work made it possible for us to do our work, and that will result in many clients coming to Kyrgyzstan! Thank you for all that you put into those happy, busy days.

Very best wishes,

Barbara Banks

Natalia Dronova, Russia, 2018

Many thanks to Aigerim for attention, hospitality and care.

I would like to visit Kyrgyzstan again thanks to you. This tour was one of the most memorable ones. Good luck and success to you!

Nina Watts, Canada, 2016

I returned home a few days ago and have just been copying all my images so have very much been reliving my experience in Kyrgyzstan.

Of course I have been talking about the trip and when I am describing it in just a few sentences, I realize that what impressed me the most was the people. Although the scenery is fabulous, both Canada and Norway (where I have just been visiting family) are also quite impressive, but neither can compare when it comes to the inhabitants of your country. Everyone we dealt with was polite, pleasant, helpful, welcoming, honest and a pleasure to be with. You offered such a great service I was so delighted with all the home stays.

I would like to thank you again for the fantastic organization you provided and also for the added help with the carpets and letting us use the back room on our last day. I would certainly recommend you to anyone planning a trip to Kyrgyzstan.

Please send my regards to local team and we will be sending images to them when we get organized..

With kind regards,

Eilidh Crowley, UK, 2017

Once again, thanks so much for a really successful tour.

Illiaz, you’re amazing. The care and thought that you put into everything is really appreciated, not just by us, but also the guests. I received so many great comments about you. If only we could find someone like you in Uzbekistan, then all our problems would be solved!

Aigerim, was really cool to meet you, especially thanks for egging on all the guests to get on the dance floor on the last night 🙂 And I suppose more importantly, though less excitingly, thanks for sorting out the roomings when I first arrived. Looking forward to next time!

Thanks so much again!

Meilan Lim, Malaysia, 2016

Hi Iliaz Thanks for arranging Mr Salamat to be with us during the 11 days tour. The entire journey was smooth and safe because of his many years of driving experience.

His hospitality and eagerness to help us during the trip and initiative to introduce us to your local culture and customs has made felt at home in Kyrgyzstan.

We would strongly recommend for your company to continue to engage his services for future guests to come.

Thanks again. We will definitely recommend our friends and families to come visit this beautiful country!

Regards Meilan Diana Agnes Eugene

Our most popular tours

Central asian & kyrgyz nomadic food trip, nomad games tour, pearls of kyrgyzstan: issyk-kul and song-kol lakes, on the trails of snow leopard, yoga tours 2023, horse riding tour «from talas range to sary-chelek lake», book your perfect holiday with no.1 adventure travel company in kyrgyzstan, five star service & hospitality, we cover every aspect of your adventure and quality is a huge part of this, even in remote locations, best accommodation, we personally check all our hotels, rural home stays, yurts and campsites to ensure you get nothing but the best, unique programs & destinations, based on our long year experience we design the unique tailor made tour packages for you., committed to the environment, we are committed to the "leave no trace take only photos" principles.

banner

+996 777 970779

logo

Explore. Dream. Discover.

Find your tour today, select activities, find birding hotspots, find your next adventure.

logo

Kyrgyzstan – Land of adventure!

“Get unmatched travel tour information from the people who know the land first-hand. We honor our heritage and traditions by making our tour products inspirational and through our hospitality. We dream of a world that helps people and the environment reach their fullest potential.” “Kyrgyzstan Tourism”.

tourism kyrgyzstan

GROUP TOURS 2024

Trip to song-kol & karakol every week.

Song-Kol & Karakol

Nomadic horse trek

Horseback tour

Expedition Bliss: Kulun-Ata Lake Loop Adventure

Horseback tours, trekking kyrgyzstan, off road tours, multi-active tours, winter tours, culture tours, photo tours, experience tours, central asia tours, one day tours, wildlife kyrgyzstan, most popular kyrgyzstan tours, jailoo hopping to the lake song-kul for 9 days, silk road adventure-kz,kg,uz, lake ala-kol. 3 days trekking tour., children’s quiz tour, handicraft tour.

Milti-active tour

Winter adventures in Kyrgyzstan

Family tours

Trekking to the Lake Kel-Suu

Discovery kyrgyzstan. bishkek & osh., backcountry ski tour in northern kyrgyzstan.

Backcountry ski tour

The tallest waterfall in Central Asia “Shar”.

Silk road tour: kazakhstan and kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan

Lake Kol-Ukok -nomad’s life

Mountain bike tour pro, kyrgyz cuisine tour, family traveling in kyrgyzstan., off road adventure in kyrgyzstan.

Off road adventure

Pamir Highway

Discover the lakes issyk-kol, song-kol and kel-suu., travelling from kichik-alay to pamir-alay..

Alay mountains, Lenin peak panorama

Lake hopping: Issyk-Kul and Song-Kul

Nomadic horse trek, silk-road tour: kyrgyzstan & uzbekistan.

Kyrgyzstan & Uzbekistan

DEALS AND DISCOUNTS

Journey through kyrgyz majesty: nomadic trails and alpine lake “kulun-ata” expedition., express trip to the lake song-kul., destination, turkmenistan tourism, kazakhstan tourism, uzbekistan tourism, tajikistan tourism, latest post, travelife certified sustainability award for kyrgyz tourism.

Travelife Certified sustainability award for Kyrgyz Tourism LLC Amsterdam, 19th of February, 2024. The Travelife Certified award was received today […]

review

Antonio Castro

The friends of Native Kyrgyzstan have been very helpful during my journey in Kyrgyzstan. They have organised the visits to […]

review

Marianne Carrière

Living in the netherlands, traveler and volunteer in kyrgyzstan.

“Kyrgyzstan is great country to discover! High mountains with endless trails to explore by foot or on a horseback. Nothing […]

Contact with us

[email protected]

Kyrgyz Republic. Bishkek city

Mon – Sat 9.00 – 18.00 Sunday CLOSED

© Kyrgyzstan tourism

Click one of our contacts below to chat on WhatsApp

#

Working hours: 08:00 am -07:00 pm (Bishkek time)

COMMENTS

  1. Tourism in Kyrgyzstan

    Tourism in Kyrgyzstan. Yurts and a tourist resort in Altyn Arashan. Although Kyrgyzstan 's mountains and lakes are an attractive tourist destination, the tourism industry has grown very slowly because it has received little investment. [1] In the early 2000s, an average of about 450,000 tourists visited annually, mainly from countries of the ...

  2. Travel, Tourism & Vacations to Kyrgyzstan

    Kyrgyzstan is also gaining recognition as a destination for adventure tourism. Embark on thrilling outdoor activities, including mountaineering, skiing, paragliding, and white-water rafting. The country's pristine nature and untouched landscapes offer an exhilarating playground for adrenaline seekers. When planning your trip to Kyrgyzstan ...

  3. Kyrgyzstan travel

    Asia. Kyrgyzstan (Кыргызстан) is a nation defined by its natural beauty. Joyously unspoilt mountainscapes, stark craggy ridges and rolling jailoos (summer pastures) are brought to life by semi-nomadic, yurt-dwelling shepherds. Add to this a well-developed network of homestays and visa-free travel, and it's easy to see why Kyrgyzstan ...

  4. The 25 most beautiful and best places to visit in Kyrgyzstan in 2024

    Best Places to visit in Issyk Kul Region. 6. Issyk Kul Lake. Lake Issyk-Kul is the world's second-largest mountain lake in the world. It's located at an elevation of 1609 meters in northeastern Kyrgyzstan. It's 182km long, 60km wide, and covers an area of 6236 km²! The name Issyk-Kul means "warm lake".

  5. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Kyrgyzstan

    2. Issyk-Kul Lake. 557. Bodies of Water. By marhills3388. This lake covers a vast area and on a clear day the views of the snowcapped mountains in the background are stunning. See ways to experience (9) 3. Altyn Arashan.

  6. TRAVEL to KYRGYZSTAN

    Kyrgyzstan tourism is growing year on year, so take the chance to visit one of the worlds most spectacular countries. Travels to Kyrgyzstan has increased dramatically in recent years as travellers come to hike, camp and horse trek through Kyrgyzstan's stunning scenery.

  7. Types of tourism

    The country's natural beauty is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. We present to you different types of tourism in Kyrgyzstan which make this destination truly unique: adventure tourism, nature tourism, cultural tourism, ecotourism, and historical tourism. Prepare to be amazed by the wonders of Kyrgyzstan tourism and embark ...

  8. 22 of the Most Stunning Places to Visit in Kyrgyzstan

    Issyk Kul is one of the most popular places to visit in Kyrgyzstan and is easily reached from Bishkek. By car: Leave Bishkek, get on the A-365, and just drive east - you'll make it to Issyk Kul in a couple of hours. By public transport: Minibuses leave from Bishkek's Western bus station regularly. Prices are around $5 one way.

  9. Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide: 20 Useful Things you should know to visit

    2. Do I need a visa to travel to Kyrgyzstan? Kyrgyzstan has the most liberal visa regime in Central Asia. Citizens from Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Brunei, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE and Saudi Arabia can visit the country for up to 60 days within 120 days without a visa.. Citizens from Mongolia and Ukraine can stay up to 90 days within 180 ...

  10. Kyrgyzstan: All You Must Know Before You Go (2024)

    Kyrgyzstan Tourism: Tripadvisor has 36,312 reviews of Kyrgyzstan Hotels, Attractions, and Restaurants making it your best Kyrgyzstan resource.

  11. 10 BEST Places to Visit in Kyrgyzstan

    2. Issyk-Kul Lake. 557. Bodies of Water. By marhills3388. This lake covers a vast area and on a clear day the views of the snowcapped mountains in the background are stunning. See ways to experience (9) 3. Altyn Arashan.

  12. KYRGYZSTAN TOURISM

    The Kyrgyzstan Tourism is going to boom in the coming years: discover why and why you should visit right now.. Welcome to the Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide! Kyrgyzstan is a country covered with mountains, jewel lakes and nomadic people. When traveling through the country, you can only feel connected to nature and yearning for a simpler life.

  13. Tips and how to travel to Kyrgyzstan (2024)

    CBT (Community Based Tourism) is a very popular tour agency in Kyrgyzstan that can arrange any kind of activity you want to, from yurt stays to trekking, taxis, permits and anything you can think of. CBT has offices all over the country and it is so popular because, despite being a tour agency, they offer very cheap and competitive prices.

  14. The 15 Best Places To Visit In Kyrgyzstan

    The capital of Kyrgyzstan is Bishkek, an attractive modern city with wide avenues, set against the backdrop of snow capped mountains with an abundance of green spaces. In 1825 the Khan of Kokand established a clay fort here called Pishpek. Following the Russian Revolution, the town was renamed Frunze after the famous Bolshevik general who was ...

  15. Tourism In Kyrgyzstan

    Winter Tourism: Kyrgyzstan is gaining recognition as a winter tourism destination, with its mountainous terrain providing opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports. Sustainable Tourism: The Kyrgyz government is committed to promoting sustainable tourism practices to preserve the country's natural and cultural heritage.

  16. Tourism in Kyrgyzstan: Travel Guide & Tours Kyrgyzstan

    Too.kg offers this travel guide to direct your travels around Kyrgyzstan. You will find all the necessary information for a comfortable, safe and interesting trip in our country. On our website you can find information about the following things: visas, border crossings, addresses, phone numbers of bus stations, equipment shops and rentals.

  17. The tourism Kyrgyzstan wants, the tourism Kyrgyzstan needs: Adventure

    The tourism industry is an important source of economic growth and job creation. In the case of Kyrgyzstan, tourism accounted for only 5.1 % of the country's GDP before the pandemic, dropping to about 3.5 % during 2020/21, but the sector is considered one of the key priorities for the country's economy.

  18. 12 Most Beautiful Places in Kyrgyzstan to Visit

    9. Sary-Chelek Biosphere Reserve. Deep in the western part of Kyrgyzstan lies the Sary-Chelek Biosphere Reserve, a hidden gem among Kyrgyzstan's beautiful places. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a mosaic of pristine lakes, dense forests, and diverse wildlife, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts.

  19. Kyrgyzstan Travel

    Kyrgyzstan Travel. Kyrgyzstan travel transports you to the Swiss Alps of Central Asia, an astonishingly gorgeous land which remains unspoiled by overcrowded cities or excessive tourism. Kyrgyzstan is the real deal - delightfully simple and laid-back, its people are adaptable and hard-working, its nature pristine and inspiring, its ...

  20. Winter Travel In Kyrgyzstan: The Ultimate Guide

    Community Based Tourism Kyrgyzstan (CBT) is the go-to for travel help in Kyrgyzstan. The CBT network spans the entire country, and they help organize everything from homestays to trekking guides. Though their monopoly on tourism doesn't always benefit communities as much as the name might imply—and they're more costly than organizing ...

  21. THE 10 BEST Kyrgyzstan Tours & Excursions

    This brilliant 1 day tour is an absolute gem for those who want to see one of the most beautiful lakes in the world but …. Free cancellation. Recommended by 100% of travelers. from. $165. per adult. 6. The dazzling winter hike at the Ala Archa National Park. 10.

  22. Visit Kyrgyzstan

    Tours to Kyrgyzstan, travel in Kyrgyzstan, tourism in Kyrgyzstan. × Kim Changkee, Korea, 2019. You don't know how wonderful it is to travel Kyrgyzstan until you are there.

  23. Kyrgyzstan Tourism

    Kyrgyzstan - Land of adventure! "Get unmatched travel tour information from the people who know the land first-hand. We honor our heritage and traditions by making our tour products inspirational and through our hospitality. We dream of a world that helps people and the environment reach their fullest potential." "Kyrgyzstan Tourism".

  24. U.S. Department of State Launches Partnership with Airbnb to Support

    Coinciding with this week's official visit between President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, the U.S. Department of State and Airbnb announced today a new partnership to support binational tourism with a focus on economic opportunity in rural areas. Through this partnership, the Department's flagship professional international exchange - the International Visitor ...