Scenic view of Kol-Tor lake in Kyrgyzstan at sunset

10 things I wish I knew before going to Kyrgyzstan

Anna Tretyakova Anna Tretyakova 11 January 2021
84 view 7 min. read

Are you wondering where Kyrgyzstan on the map is? Well, Kyrgyzstan on the map is located in the heart of Central Asia. This is a country whose territory is occupied by the Tien Shan and Pamir-Alai Mountains for 80% of the entire territory. Victory Peak is the highest point of these Kyrgyzstan mountains, rising more than 7,000 meters above the country. They stretch in a chain all over Kyrgyzstan, as the locals call their country. Due to the language's phonetic features, the country's name sounds exactly like this and is recorded in the list of states that are members of the United Nations as the Kyrgyz Republic.

If you look from a bird's eye view of where is Kyrgyzstan located, it becomes clear that it is protected by two mountain systems on almost all sides. Almost all borders with other countries are beyond the mountains and only a few border in the valleys at their foot. Kazakhstan, China, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are neighbours of Kyrgyzstan.

The Great Silk Road route is gaining popularity. More and more tourists began to visit Central Asia. Of course, the leading positions are still occupied by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, as the Great Silk Road is famous for the ancient cities of Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara. However, every mountaineer knows where Kyrgyzstan is located, as it is the Mecca of this sport.

However, you know, it's even good that Kyrgyzstan is not very popular among tourists yet. Since you will see this fabulous country with its own colour and identity in all its glory until mass tourism has reached these places, mysterious what to see in Kyrgyzstan here is definitely there. It will be interesting for both lovers of active recreation and quiet.
To go on a travel to Kyrgyzstan, you need to know 10 facts about this magical country.

1. Do I need a visa?

horses

Tourists from many countries can visit Kyrgyzstan without a visa, with the right to stay in the country for up to two months. Also many nationalities can obtain a Kyrgyzstan E-visaTravellers from Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus can enter the country with both an internal passport and a foreign passport. The only difference is that you will need to fill out a migration card when crossing the border with an internal passport, in which you will be stamped on arrival. If you took a passport with you, then the stamp will be put in it, and then the migration card is not needed.

If you want to visit the countries with which Kyrgyzstan borders on the map, it is better to have both passports with you. Uzbekistan, for example, will pass at the border only on a foreign passport.

When crossing the border, there will be a customs check. As in other States, there is a list of prohibited items. It includes weapons and ammunition, printed publications that can harm the state.

There are no restrictions on importing funds, and it is not limited to a certain amount. The main thing is to reduce the number of funds by the end of the trip. It will not be difficult to find out at customs, as the money will have to be declared at the entrance.

Items and equipment are also declared. It is forbidden to import things more expensive than 5 thousand dollars.

The inspection of the citizens of the Customs Union is not possible. Customs will only make sure that your cargo is safe.

2. How to get there?

kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan has two major cities-the Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek and Osh. You can choose which airport is more convenient for you to fly to by determining your trip's endpoint. The airport in Bishkek is located in the north of the country, and Osh in the south.

The approximate cost of plane tickets will be different: Bishkek -10 thousand rubles, Osh - 5 thousand rubles.

There is another way to travel to Kyrgyzstan. You can fly to Kazakhstan, to the city of Alma-Ata, and from there drive to Bishkek. The easiest way is to take a taxi, but you can also get to Kyrgyzstan capital by bus or train.

From Osh, you can also get to Uzbekistan. The border is only 30 kilometres from the city. You can take a taxi to the border post "Druzhba".

3. Where and when to go?

kyrgyzstan mountains

We have already found out where is Kyrgyzstan located. The country is located at an altitude of 2500 meters above sea level. Between the Kyrgyzstan mountains flow stormy rivers, and mountain lakes are famous all over the world. The largest and deepest lake Issyk-Kul is the most famous. Forests also exist on Kyrgyzstan's territory, but they occupy only 6% of the total area and are located high in the mountains, mainly spruce.

The climate here is different. The country is crossed by mountains – subpolar climate, in the south – subtropical, and in the north of Kyrgyzstan – temperate climate. However, there is a common feature-dry air, thanks to which the sun shines here 250 days a year.

To decide when to go, you can choose what is interesting in Kyrgyzstan that you will be interested in seeing. In the foothill valleys, summer is hot, the temperature reaches 35 degrees, and the mountains themselves are cool. Fans of ski resorts need to travel to Kyrgyzstan from late autumn to mid-spring. If you are interested in how nomads live on pastures high in the mountains, you need to plan a trip from June to September. It is recommended to go hiking in the mountains and conquer the peaks from May to mid-autumn.

If you want to combine everything and get a combined trip, you need to visit Kyrgyzstan at the end of the summer season; it will be even more comfortable early autumn. During this period, it is not so hot, and the first snow appears on the peaks of the Kyrgyzstan mountains.

4. Language and currency

money of kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz is considered the main Kyrgyzstan language in the state, but the official language is Russian. English is used only in large cities-Bishkek, Osh, Karakol.

The national Kyrgyzstan currency is the Kyrgyz som. It will not be difficult to change rubles and dollars in a bank or exchange offices (around the clock). The exchange rate for July 2020:

• 1 ruble – 1.06 soms

• 1 dollar – 76.65 soms

• 1 euro – 90.1 soms

You can pay with a card only in large cities. In the vicinity, you need to reserve cash in the national Kyrgyzstan currency. You will not be able to pay with a foreign currency.

Prices here are lower than in other tourist cities. Buying any goods or food, you will be pleasantly surprised.

5. Rental housing

traditional house

Kyrgyzstan is an eastern country and is famous for its hospitality. A guest in the house is a holiday. In large tourist cities, you can rent an apartment or a room using well-known applications. There are also cosy hostels, a stop in which will bring a minimum of costs. In the summer, you can find colourful places for housing, in the season for tourists; yurt campsites are developed for tourists. Even if the traveller has not booked a place in advance, it will not be difficult to find a place to spend the night.

6. Movement within the State

river flows

It is most convenient for a tourist to rent a car to find out what Kyrgyzstan is curious about in Kyrgyzstan and be mobile. For travelling in the mountains, it is better to take a crossover or SUV. It will cost about 3000 rubles/$ 40 per day. The car will be handed over only to the driver, who is 25 years old and older. At the same time, the driving experience must exceed 3 years, and the driver's license of the international format.

Self-road tours are very popular. This is a trip along a certain route in a jeep column of 4 to 7 cars. I buy such a trip; the tour operator provides accommodation, food and a guide to guide you along the route.

This does not mean that there are no other options. The most interesting places can be reached independently. On minibuses and buses, it will be longer; you can take a taxi.

You can also get from Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek to Osh by plane. The flight will cost 3000 soms. The railway in Kyrgyzstan is not developed.

7. Delicious cuisine

kyrgyzstan cuisine

Kyrgyz cuisine has absorbed many peoples of Asia, as it is located in its centre. The Kyrgyzstan people varied the dishes with their traditions. Almost all the dishes are prepared from meat products. National dishes:

Beshbarmak-beef broth with homemade noodles.

Lagman-lamb broth with long noodles and vegetables.

Shorpo is the national first dish of lamb meat with onions, carrots, and potatoes.

Kuurdak - meat or liver is cooked in a cauldron with vegetables.

Damdama - a vegetable stew of cabbage, carrots, sweet peppers, eggplant and potatoes. Of course, without meat, it is not eaten.

Churuk is a sausage with a specific taste, made from horse meat.

Tash-kordo - lamb that is marinated with spices. After that, they prepare a pit, cover it with stones and light a fire. After that, the lamb is laid out on the coals and covered with the animal's skin. Meat cooked in this way is very soft.

Hot tortillas are served with each dish. Some of the recipes for such tortillas are listed in the UNESCO list.

Dairy and fermented milk products are very popular in Kyrgyzstan: cheese, kurut, ayran, jalap, Mare.

8. Security measures

old woman

In Kyrgyzstan, there are restrictions on clothing, especially in the south. It is not advisable to wear shorts and T-shirts. Take better with you light trousers and T-shirts that cover the shoulders. Choose clothes in light colours; they absorb less sunlight.

The country still has a tradition of stealing brides, so we advise girls not to go on the street themselves. Especially without an escort, do not enter yurts on pastures in the Kyrgyzstan mountains.

You also need to be careful on the roads. Cross the road carefully, looking around several times, Kyrgyz drivers are reckless; few people follow the road rules. At the wheel of the car, too, look at both, it is better to be safe.

9. Colorful country

child riding horse

Travel to Kyrgyzstan is available in all plans. You don't need to worry that you don't know foreign languages, you can easily communicate in Russian. The cost of products, transport and services is significantly lower than in other tourist countries.

The scenery here is incredible. Here you will definitely be able to climb the highlands, where you can enjoy a beautiful view.

The nomadic settlements that have preserved their centuries-old customs, games and Kyrgyz cuisine are amazing.

10. There is something to see

backpacker

Kyrgyzstan is rich insights and wonders of nature.

Issyk-Kul is one the deepest lakes in the world, about which there are many legends. Many poets sang the beauty of this place of the East. Not inferior to the beauty of the lake Son-Kul and Sary-Chelek. Another wonder of Kyrgyz nature is the hot thermal springs next to the glacier. And, of course, the panorama of the mountains impresses with its grandeur. The "heavenly mountains" of the Tien Shan and Pamir are amazing in their height; many tourists strive to conquer these mountains' highest peaks. Rising in the highlands, you can see the Abshir-sai waterfall.

In Bishkek, you should definitely visit the eastern bazaars, which convey the country's whole flavour and mentality. There are preserved medieval baths. Connoisseurs of architectural monuments also have something to see.

A trip to the high-mountain pastures will be very interesting. You will fully immerse yourself in the life of a nomadic Kyrgyzstan people. Enjoy the reunion with nature, and relax from the hustle and bustle of the city.

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Anna Tretyakova

Anna travels a lot and wants to share her knowledge about countries with everyone. In 2014, she became a mother, and even that didn't make her stop. When her daughter turned 2 months old, Anna went with her to another continent. Together with her baby, they had already visited almost all European countries. The main goal was to see all the oceans of the world. The Atlantic and Arctic Oceans are already ticked on their list. Anna tries to live every day for a reason, filling every minute with new impressions.

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