Kyrgyzstan is a state in Central Asia without access to the World Ocean. It borders Kazakhstan, China, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The capital city is Bishkek.
The climate in Kyrgyzstan is diverse because of the mountainous landscape of the country, but on the major part, the climate is continental and sharply continental. The best time for visiting Kyrgyzstan is September when the summer heat gives place to the autumn comfortable warmth. Hiking and horseback riding tours are fine from April to October and the best time for going to the high mountain regions is from July to September. The skiing is season opens in November and lasts until April.
The official languages are Kyrgyz and Russian and many people can speak both of them well. The dominant religion is the Sunni Islam.
Kyrgyzstan is world known for its famous natural sight the Issyk-Kul lake. The tourists from neighbouring countries like to come here to relax on the beaches near the lake. This place is the main centre of the wellness tourism in the country.
A huge natural sight in Kyrgyzstan is the magnificent Tyan-Shan mountain range. This mountain system makes Kyrgyzstan a perfect place for all types of mountain activities from alpine skiing and snowboarding to climbing, trekking, horse-back riding, ecological tourism, sports hunting, and rafting. The centre of mountain tourism is the city of Naryn. Many hiking routes start here.
In the city of Karakol, the tourists can take advantage of both the wellness tourism and extreme sports (alpine skiing, paragliding, and climbing).
Kyrgyzstan can offer many interesting excursions to the historical and architectural monuments, including the part of the legendary Silk Road.
The airports of Bishkek and Osh welcome the flights from Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Yekaterinburg as well as from Dushanbe, Astana, and Almaty. The citizens of other CIS countries and the European citizens must take a transit flight with a transfer in Moscow or Istanbul.
One can get to Kyrgyzstan by land from the neighbouring cities. The trains run from Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. There are also bus routes from all the neighbouring countries.
The travellers from the European Union and CIS countries do not need a visa to get to Kyrgyzstan. The citizens of Ukraine and Moldova can stay in the country visa-free for 90 days, the tourists from Uzbekistan and the majority of EU countries for 60 days. The citizens of Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Romania can obtain a visa for 30 days on arrival.
The legislation of Kyrgyzstan does not have any restrictions concerning the import and the export of national and foreign currency. However, any sum of money must be declared.
The tourists can bring in Kyrgyzstan the following goods duty-free:
- some alcohol and tobacco;
- perfume for personal use;
- any other allowed goods the total cost of which must not exceed 5.000 US dollars.
It is prohibited to import:
- literature and video materials violating the Islamic principles or disseminating information against the State;
- potent medications without a doctor’s prescription;
- animals, plants, and fruits.
The tourists are not allowed to export:
- certain food;
- minerals and rock samples;
- rare birds and animals;
- jewellery without a sales receipt.
The Kyrgyz cuisine is a branch of the cuisine of the Turkic people. The staple food here is meat, fermented milk products, flour, rice, and spices.
In Kyrgyzstan, you should definitely try traditional meat dishes. A special place is given here to mutton and horse meat. The locals cook Manty, Beshbarmak (lamb with noodles), Chuchuk (horse-meat sausage), Kuiruk-boor (boiled mutton), Kuurdak (mutton or beef with spices), and Oromo (meat roll).
In the Kyrgyz cuisine, there are many different kinds of soups from light broths to thick porridge-like soups. We recommend the local version of Shurpa, Tuurama-shurpa (beans soup with meat balls), and Tuurageen-et (broth with minced mutton and noodles).
If you want to try something unusual, have roasted trout. The dish itself is nothing unique, but it is probably the only fish dish in Kyrgyzstan.
You cannot leave Kyrgyzstan without trying the local pilaf, lagman (noodles with vegetables and meat), and batta (rice with meat). Pastry is very popular in Kyrgyzstan. Treat yourself to Culchetai (boiled dough with meat), Boorsok (fried donuts), Nan (flatbread made in tandoor), pies with various stuffings, buns Sanza, and Zhenmomo (boiled dough).
Those who have a sweet tooth can try sweet balls Candolat, Kuima-kant made from eggs and sugar, Kunzhut-kand (sugar with sesame) and baked sugared fruits.
Tea and Kumis are two national drinks. Kumis is usually served with meals. Ayran has gained a great popularity in Kyrgyzstan. This a yogurt beverage with salt.
Although the Kyrgyz are the Muslims they allow themselves to drink alcoholic beverages. They produce Bozo and Dzarma (made from millet and barley). These traditional alcoholic drinks are sold in all the stores and restaurants.
The official currency in Kyrgyzstan is the Som (KGS). There are the banknotes from 1 to 1.000 soms and 1, 10 and 50 tyyn coins.
The tourists can exchange the currency at banks, in exchange offices (many works 24 hours), and in large stores. In Bishkek and Osha, one can exchange not only US dollars, but other leading world currencies and the currencies of the neighbouring countries. The best exchange rate is in the capital city. The tourists can pay with US dollars and Euro in some hotels and for renting services. At the markets in small towns, people willingly accept Russian rubles.
Credit cards are accepted almost at all banks and in some large hotels in the capital city.
One can cash traveller’s checks at some banks, in licensed exchange offices, and in some stores in the capital city. In villages and small towns traveller’s checks are useless.
Details of interest
Sightseeing in Kyrgyzstan
In Kyrgyzstan, the tourists can see the only UNESCO site. This is the Sulaiman-Too sacred mountain in the suburbs of Osh. The mountain rises above the Fergana Valley. It is situated at the crossroads of the ancient trading routes. For hundreds of years, this mountain was a leading light for the caravans moving along the Silk Road. The mountain preserved numerous places of worship, caves with petroglyphs and two mosques built in the 16th century.
The tourists can also visit, at least, one of the three UNESCO candidate sites:
- The Saimaly-Tash Petroglyphs in the Jalal-Abad Province. There you will see the largest collection of rock art not only in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia but in the world.
- The Silk Road Sites in Kyrgyzstan. On the north and on the south of the country, there are many sights associated with the Silk Road.
- The Western Tyan-Shan is a vast region which includes three reserves. They are the Sary-Chelek State Biosphere Reserve, the Besh-Aral State Reserve, and the Padysha-Ata State Reserve. Nature in these places is amazingly beautiful and in the mountains virtually untouched by the civilization, you can see endemic plants and animals.
In Kyrgyzstan, there are many other places of great touristic interest:
- The Song Kol lake.
- The Burana Tower.
- The Ala-Archa gorge.
- The Jeti-Oguz canyon.
- Tash Rabat.
- The Altyn Arashan gorge.
Souvenirs in Kyrgyzstan
In Kyrgyzstan, the tourist can buy these gifts and souvenirs:
- national costumes;
- leather vessels for Kumis;
- felt carpets;
- wooden crafts;