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KYRGYZSTAN

“The Switzerland of Central Asia”

destination overview

Central Asia remains a place where adventure isn’t just possible: it’s unavoidable. The fabled Silk Road nations that divide Europe and Asia have been central to world history for millennia. Here, Kyrgyzstan is one of the largest and most stunning countries in Central Asia. Adorned with breath-taking topography, Kyrgyzstan is known for a lot of outdoor enthralling activities, making it a heaven for adventure enthusiasts. 

 Slightly offbeat as compared to other Asian countries, Kyrgyzstan is a hidden gem that should not be missed out on. There are more than 85 distinct mountain ranges here, which in total cover more than 70% of the geographic territory. This leads the country to often be described as the “Switzerland of Central Asia” — and to some unbelievably stunning landscape photography. Kyrgyzstan is also home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites. One of these is the Tien Shan mountain range. Another is the historic Silk Road, the ancient trade route that connected China with Europe and the Middle East.

FACTS & FIGURES

  • Kyrgyz Republic Capital: Bishkek
  • Population: 6 million
  • Area: 199,900 sq km (77,182 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Kyrgyz, Russian
  • Major religions: Islam, Christianity
  • Currency: Som

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Situated in the Central of Asia, Kyrgyzstan has very cold winters and hot summers. The winter season in Kyrgyzstan is from November to March and the summer is from June to October. During the winters, due to snow, many routes are hindered, and there is snow covering everything, so that summers are the best times to visit Kyrgyzstan as this weather is ideal for horse riding, cycling, rafting, hiking, and sightseeing. However, if one is interested in skiing and other winter sports, then visiting Kyrgyzstan in winter can be chosen.

Song Kol Lake

Belonging to the Naryn River basin and situated in the Tien Shan mountains at 3000m height. It stretches over 275 km² with a maximum depth of 15 m (49 ft). Not only the beauty of the lake is otherworldly, but the way to reach it is beautiful too. The most satisfying means of reaching this enchanting lake is on horseback. Or else if more adventurous, one can go hiking.  The lake’s silence and transcendent calm is an immediate antidote to stress and tension. Soak up the vast blue skies, revel in the silence and marvel at Kyrgyzstan’s stark natural beauty. Here, you can do easy day hikes, visit a different yurt settlement every day. You can go horse riding, learn how to build a Yurt, go camping, catch a sunset or even go stargazing. The list is endless….

Issyk Kul Lake

Lake Issyk Kul is Kyrgyzstan’s largest lake and world’s 2nd largest mountain lake. It lies at an altitude of 1,600m in the high mountain range of Tien-Shan. ‘Issyk-Kul’ means ‘warm lake’ in Kyrgyz as it never freezes even in the depths of winter. Lake is surrounded by snow-capped high mountain ranges – Terskei Ala-Too (Turned from the sun) and Kungei Ala-Too (Turned to the sun).

The local population calls Lake Issyk-Kul “The Pearl of Kyrgyzstan”. Like a small bead strung on a chain of mountain ranges it really justifies its name. These high mountain ranges give the lake mild microclimate year around. About 118 rivers and streams flow into the lake (Jyrgalan, Type and even mineral hot springs), and no rivers coming out. So that it gives healing creativeness for the waters and salinity of 0,6%. It’s water is a beautiful shade of aqua blue and can make for an unforgettable Instagram post!

Osh Bazaar

No visit to Bishkek, the bustling busy capital of Kyrgyzstan would be complete without a visit to the Osh Bazaar. Being at the same place since the past 2000 years, this bazaar is the oldest in the whole of Central Asia along with Kyrgyzstan. For tourists, this bazaar has on sale souvenirs, famous dry fruits, fresh fruits,Kyrgyz snacks, sweets, juices, chocolates, various natural products like honey etc. and wandering this market is a great way to observe and understand the local culture of the people. It’s such a huge place that you could easily spend a whole day there and not see all of it. It supposedly is one of the ten largest markets in the world.

Osh-bazar

Ala too square

Ala-Too-Square

Situated in the centre of the capital city of Bishkek is Ala Too Square which was constructed in 1984, this space is where numerous state celebrations and events are carried out. Also, at the square is a bronze statue of national hero Manas and numerous fountains. In the evening there is flowers and a fountain show to be enjoyed here. The main square of the city where the biggest flagpole with the sentinels are located. Have a walk around the place and see the historical museum, Manas hero monument and the White House.

karakol

Karakol is the administrative center of the Issyk-Kul region. However although it isn’t located right on the shores of the lake, it’s easy to make day trips to the lake or to the nearby mountains. In the 19th century, it became a strategic point separating Russian Empire from China. Today the town is famous for its surrounding apple orchards and there is a very good Sunday market. Things to see include the beautiful 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. The main reason to come here is for the superb scenery nearby, with trekking and horse riding possibilities as well as multiple opportunities for photography.

karakol

Ala Archa National Park

Ala-Archa-National-Park

Near the Capital city of Bishkek, spread across 200 sq km, and having varying altitude from 1,500 m to 4895 m, within the Tien Shan Mountain ranges, is the Ala Archa National Park. This National Park which has about 50 mountain peaks and 20 glaciers, is a habitat for various rare wildlife like snow leopard, roe deer, marmots, etc

BURANA TOWER

This incredible tower is in an absolutely stunning location, surrounded by the Tian Shan mountains and golden fields. Situated at the east of Bishkek is the 25 m high (originally it was 45m) Burana Tower. This tall minaret is all that remains of the 10th Century Balasugan city that existed between the 9th- 11th centuries. At the site is also a museum which holds historical artifacts and information regarding the site. Kyrgyzstan may be known for its sensational mountains and adventure activities, but it is important not to forget that it was also once part of the historic Silk Road. Take some time away from the peaks and head out to its other wondrous sights. The Burana Tower is worth your time and effort.

Burana-Tower

State Historical Museum

State-Historical-Museum

Located at Ala Too Square, this museum exhibits Turkic stone, Talas stone, old times ceramics, ancient coins, historical glass, and metal items, rock paintings, bronze age household items, woollen and wooden craftsmanship, embroidery and knitting work, traditional costumes and jewellery of Kyrgyzstan, nomad jewellery dating back to 1st to 5th Century AD, ethnographic objects from 19th and 20th Century.

BISHKEK PARKS

In Bishkek, sightseeing doesn’t mean rushing from one tourist attraction to another. On the contrary. Bishkek is a city where you can take your time, relax and get a feel for the life of the locals. Bishkek is a green city with lots of parks, statues and fountains. One can spend a whole afternoon exploring the parks and taking pictures. The parks are where you want to go for a walk, get ice cream and watch locals. The most popular parks in Bishkek are Panfilov Park, Oak Park and Victory Park and they definitely deserve a visit.

Bishkek-Park

Kashkasu Ski Resort

Kashkasu

Situated in the Osh Region of Kyrgyzstan, Kashka-Suu has a ski resort where you can take a cable car to the top of the peak. This is one of the best places to visit if you want to spend some time away from the city life and enjoy winter sports sourounded by beautiful scenery and fresh mountain air!

National Opera and Ballet Theatre

If you want to have interesting insights into the Central-Asian art scene and see some great performances, the Kyrgyz National Opera and Ballet Theatre is the place to visit. The performances at this theatre are very well put together. The theatre showcases performances by local students and some breath-taking performances by Russian and Kyrgyz artists. It’s the ideal activity after a day spent visiting the parks of Bishkek. It’s also totally-worth-it considering the very affordable prices of the shows.

Ballet-Theatre

THE NIGHTLIFE

nightlife

The nightlife in Bishkek can be defined in one word – Exciting!  If you find yourself in Bishkek wondering about the things to do in Bishkek at night, exploring the nightlife in Bishkek is your best bet. The bars and nightclubs in Bishkek will welcome you with good food, music and drinks served all seven days of the week. The best part is that a lot of these places happen to be pretty nominal and affordable. The city is sprawling with bars, pubs and clubs, especially around the city centre. To an outsider visiting Bishkek for the first time, the nightlife of the region will come across as a surprise.

Here is a list of popular places that you can visit to witness Bishkek nightlife:Promzona Club, Coyote Bar, Center Bar, Cheback Pub, Bar 12, Retro Metro Nightclub, Save The Ales and Munchen Pub.