Kyrgyzstan, cradled within the majestic embrace of the Tien Shan mountains, is a shimmering tapestry of natural wonders. As the mountains roll and rise across 90% of its land, they unfold into verdant valleys and mirror-like lakes that captivate globetrotters from every corner. But the allure doesn’t stop at landscapes; it’s interwoven with a rich nomadic heritage that time forgot. Dive into Kyrgyzstan’s untouched realms to witness Central Asia’s heart pulse, where every step brings a dance of traditions and terrains. From heartwarming encounters with the locals to the myriad mesmerizing sights, Kyrgyzstan promises a dilemma: an abundance of awe-inspiring spots to choose from. Embark on a journey less traveled and let Kyrgyzstan’s secrets unfurl before your very eyes.
Best places to visit in Kyrgyzstan
1- Burana Tower
Burana Tower is the most important tourist attraction near the city of Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. This tower is one of the most famous historical sites in Kyrgyzstan, which tourists never tire of visiting. This 25-meter-high tower is all that remains of the ancient city of Balasagun, which flourished in antiquity when it received caravans traveling on the Silk Road. Although the tower itself may not seem attractive to many tourists, it is a must-see for history buffs. It is fascinating to imagine that this archaeological site was once a huge city and a vibrant commercial center. And near the Burana Tower, there are the tombstones of “palls” that were carved by the nomadic Turk tribes that were wandering in Central Asia in the sixth century AD. The tombstones were initially created to symbolize the dead of enemies, and later became memorials to the ancestors of those who carved them.
How to get to Burana Tower from Bishkek by public transport
You can easily reach the Burana Tower from Bishkek or on your way to Lake Issyk-Kul. Burana Tower is 8 km from Tokmok Town. There are no minibuses that go directly from Bishkek to the Burana Tower, but you can reach the tower in two hours. Initially, you have to take a minibus or taxi to Western Bus Station to take the minibus to Tokmok, the ticket costs 300 Kyrgyzstan som. The bus will stop several kilometers outside Tokmok city centre. You can see a huge monument bearing the name of the town when you reach that village.
Once you arrive, you will have 3 options:
- The first option is by using a taxi. As the Burana Tower is a popular tourist attraction, there will be plenty of taxis going to it. You can find a taxi to take you on the round trip for 300 Kyrgyzstani som, and do not pay more than that. It only takes one hour to visit the entire site.
- You can also travel by autostop, which is very easy in Kyrgyzstan and you won’t have to wait long, but the only problem might be finding a free transportation. It is very common to pay for the flight, but do not pay more than 150 Kyrgyzstani som, which is the value of travel for a one-way trip to or from the tower.
- There are also minibuses that are used to travel between the city of Tokmok and the village of Burana. And if you speak Russian, you can ask the locals where the buses are.
How to get to the Burana Tower in your own car
If you have your own car, getting to the old tower will be much easier. Head from downtown Bishkek towards Jibek Jolu Av, and continue driving until you reach the A365. Continue down this highway until you reach Tokmok. Once you reach this small town, you will find an exit road that leads to the Burana Tower.
Visiting the Burana Tower with a local guide
If you prefer to visit the Burana Tower with a local guide, you can contact one of the local guides who know the area well and speak English fluently so that you can enjoy an enjoyable trip.
Accommodation options available in Bishkek when visiting Burana Tower
It is best to visit the Burana Tower on a one-day tour, and the starting point is Bishkek. Since there are no cheap and comfortable accommodation options in Tokmok, it is best to return to Bishkek at the end of the visit and stay there. Bishkek has some budget and mid-range hotels and hostels, where you will enjoy a comfortable bed, hot shower and a comfortable atmosphere. Here are the best accommodation options in Bishkek:
- Budget accommodation options ($5-10 per person, per night): Apple Hostel, Friends Guest house, and Center Hostel.
- Medium accommodation options ($12 to $40 per person, per night): Bed & Breakfast Bishkek, Guest House Crocus and Interhouse Bishkek.
2- Ala Archa National Park
Ala Archa National Park is one of the few national parks that are easily accessible and enjoyable to visit at any time of the year. This famous national park is located in the Tian Shan Mountains, 40 km south of Bishkek. It is a wonderful mountain park located near the city of Bishkek, and offers its visitors a unique opportunity for hiking over long distances.
Ala Archa National Park is an attractive tourist destination for tourists and locals alike, where locals visit the park during the weekends to spend fun times with family and friends under the shade of the trees. With easy access to this park, which is an hour’s drive from Bishkek city center, it is an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of the capital. And if you are planning to do some interesting mountain excursions, then this national park is your ideal destination to get to know the beautiful mountainous nature of Kyrgyzstan and get used to its atmosphere.
You should bring some snacks, as there are no shops around, and you should also bring a bottle with filter and straw so that you can drink water from streams and rivers. The weather in Ala Archa is always a little cooler than Bishkek, so it’s best to bring a heavy jacket to wear in case the temperature drops suddenly. And if you visit the park in the winter, don’t forget to bring a pair of snowboarding shoes.
How to get to Ala Archa National Park from Bishkek by public transport
To get to Ala Archa National Park, you will have two options. You can take a taxi directly to Alpager base (where hiking trails begin) or you can take a shared minibus to the entrance to the national park and then travel by motorway or take a 12km taxi to reach Alpager base.
How to get to Ala Archa National Park by minibus
In Bishkek, you must take bus number 265. This shared minibus can be found at the bus stop on Moscow Street 229 (near the entrance to the Osh Bazaar). And don’t forget that this minibus will only leave once it’s full, so it won’t be the best option if you’re in a hurry.
If you have an Android phone, install the Maps.me app, type “mashrutka 265” and the app will show you exactly on the map where to find the bus stop.
The journey by minibus will cost 25 Kyrgyz som to Kash- Kasuu village, which is the closest village to Ala Archa National Park. You can also ask the driver to drive you to the national park gate for an additional 50 soums. And you’ll pay 80 soums to enter the park. At the entrance, you can take a taxi to the Alpager base for 500 som. After that, a distance of 12 km will remain, which you can cover by the Autostop method. In the summer, there are plenty of cars carrying tourists and locals.
How to get to Ala Archa National Park by taxi
If you want to get early to Ala Archa National Park and not waste time waiting for the minibus to fill up, you can take a taxi from Bishkek to the park gate for 500 som. And if you want the taxi to take you to Alpager Base (at the start of the hiking trails), you will have to pay the car entrance fee (400 som) + an additional 500 som for the taxi to get you that extra distance, which is 12 km.
How to get to Ala Archa National Park in your own car
If you have your own car or if you rent one, getting to the national park from Bishkek is very easy. You will enjoy the trip very much, and you will have the freedom to stop whenever you like along the way to take some souvenir photos. To get to the park, you have to drive south from Dooronbek Sadyrbayev Street in the city center until you reach the park. The distance to the park is 40 km from the city center, and it takes an hour to reach it.
You can also book a one-day trip to visit Ala Archa National Park.
Accommodation options available in Bishkek when visiting Ala Archa National Park
If you don’t plan to camp in the park and spend several days there, you can visit Ala Archa National Park by day and return to the capital at night. In Bishkek, you can stay at the Friends guest house & Hostel as it is located near the bus stop for Ala Archa National Park.
3- Southern Shore of Issyk-Kul Lake
The southern shore of Lake Issyk Kul is one of the most popular destinations for tourists. Lake Issyk Kul is the seventh deepest lake in the world, the tenth largest by volume, and the second largest salt lake after the Caspian Sea. The southern shore of the lake is more beautiful than the northern shore, and there are many great cultural activities to discover. You can enjoy discovering beautiful valleys and wonderful waterfalls, in addition to watching eagle hunters and staying in wonderful yurt camps. You can also enjoy hiking in the mountains surrounding the entire area.
4- Song Kol Lake
Song Kul Lake is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in Kyrgyzstan, captivating all its visitors from the very first moment. Although it is difficult to reach, tourists are keen to visit it and enjoy spending the most wonderful times there. Tourists can reach it after a long ride on horseback through winding mountain passes covered with snow. The lake is distinguished by its pristine nature and the wonderful mountain scenery surrounding it. Song Kul Lake is the second largest lake in Kyrgyzstan and is located at an altitude of 3,000 m (9,895 ft). The lake is surrounded by mountains and green meadows. Bedouins have used these meadows as pastures for their flocks for hundreds of years. Today, there are still many semi-nomadic pastoralists who settle in this area during the summer and live in tents and herds of animals.
It is possible to reach this beautiful lake on horseback at almost any time of the year. Kyrgyzstan is famous for its ancient culture in which horses play a major role, and accessing this enchanting lake on horseback is an authentic Kyrgyz experience. If you prefer hiking in the mountains, it is possible to reach the lake from a small village called Kyzart.
How to get to Song Kul Lake by public transportation
You can take a minibus from Bishkek to Kochkor and then travel by autostop or take a taxi to the village of Qizart. You can easily reach the village of Caesars in a shared local taxi for less than 2 USD. And if you want to go by private taxi, you will pay at least 10 USD.
Kochkor is one of the largest towns near Song Kul Lake, easily accessible from Bishkek. You can take a shared taxi or minibus from the Western Bus Station in Bishkek. The cost of a bus ticket from the city of Bishkek to the city of Kochkor is about 350 Kyrgyz som, and the journey takes less than 3 hours. Once in Qesart Village, you can walk over two days to reach Song Kul Lake.
How to get to Song Kul Lake in your own car
If you have your own car, it is not difficult to get to the lake. But don’t forget that you will need a 4×4 vehicle to make this trek in the rough terrain. You will be driving during this trip at your own risk, and your car may be seriously damaged due to the roughness of the road.
How to get to Songkhul Lake with a local tour guide
Songkhul Lake is a remote lake, and access to it is not easy at all. You can hire one of the local tour guides who know this area well and speak fluent English to enjoy an enjoyable trip. You can also take a group trip on horseback.
Accommodation options available near Song Kul Lake
There are many yurt camps scattered around the lake, which are run by tour companies and families. You can arrange your accommodation in the camps either by prior reservation or upon arrival there. If you prefer to arrange your stay in advance, you can book the Yurt Camp Azamat.
5- Ala Kul Lake
The beautiful Ala Kol Lake is distinguished by its clear turquoise waters, and locals describe it as the pearl of Karakol Canyon. The waters of this glacial lake change from cyan to purple according to weather conditions and seasons of the year. As with Song Kol Lake, Ala Kol Lake is not easily accessible, as it takes two full days to reach the lake. But it is worth the experience. This lake is very beautiful, as well as the road leading to it resembles the Swiss Alps, and there are also camps that spread in the valleys.
How to get to Lake Ala Col
It is impossible to reach this lake by car or by public transportation. The only way to get there is by walking long distances. Ala Colle Lake can be reached on your own or accompanied by a tour guide. To get there, you’ll need to get to the Ala Kul Nature Reserve first.
You can also take a minibus from downtown Caracol. You can also take a taxi for 400 Kyrgyz som, but it will stop between the entrance to the reserve and a broken bridge, thus saving at least one hour of walking. Once you reach the reserve, you can follow the instructions on how to walk to the lake.
Download the Maps.me app and get a map of the area. The application contains detailed maps of the area that will help you reach your destination easily without getting lost. If you don’t feel like hiking alone, you can hire a local guide or join a group of other tourists.
Available accommodation options
If you have your own tent, you can camp near the lake in the flat areas. There are also some companies that rent tents in the area around the lake. A tent for one person costs about 900 Kyrgyzstani som or a two-person tent costs about 1,500 Kyrgyst som.
6- Altyn Arashan Valley
In the Kyrgyz language, Altyn Arashan means “golden spa.” It is a green valley located near the city of Karakol and Lake Ala Kul, famous for its pristine landscapes and hot springs. The valley is an ideal destination for lovers of exciting experiences and adventures in the mountains. The charming nature of this region helps to enjoy calm, relaxation, and restore focus, mental clarity and physical activity. You can also take many wonderful souvenir photos. This area is ideal for camping, horse riding and hiking in the unspoilt nature. Perhaps the most important feature of this area is the natural hot springs, where you can enjoy relaxation and comfort after long walks in the mountains.
Hot springs in Altin Arashan Valley
Kyrgyzstan has a lot of glacial lakes in the middle of the mountains, but if you prefer warm waters, you will be happy to know that there are plenty of natural hot springs in Kyrgyzstan! These hot springs are very beneficial for health. Locals often visit the hot springs in pursuit of curing ailments. A small resort has been built with small swimming pools in private cabins. If you prefer a more natural environment, it is also possible to find small ponds near the river, where you can enjoy free hot water. The hot springs of the Altyn Arashan Valley are perhaps the most famous springs in Kyrgyzstan. The temperature of the water is usually about 50 degrees Celsius, and it helps to cure many diseases of the nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems.
Horseback riding in Altin Arashan Valley
Altin Arashan Valley is an ideal riding destination, as there are no bumpy or dangerous terrain. Regardless of whether you have great riding experience or not, you will have a great time. And you can rent horses in Ak-Suu village to enjoy a wonderful ride through the mountains with a guide from the locals. You can also take a walk until you reach the hot springs. There, you can rent horses and enjoy exploring the valley.
How to leave from Ak-Suu village to enjoy trekking in Altin Arashan Valley
The Altyn Arashan valley and hot springs can be reached through Ala Kul Lake or through Ak-Suu village, also known as Teploklyuchenka. And if you want to start the journey from Ak-Suu village, you will have to reach this small village first from Karakol by public transport or by your own car. The starting point of the trip to the hot springs is in the south of the village. In the first part of the trip, you will discover the beautiful nature along the beautiful Arashan River, where the pastures are full of flowers and horses.
After a few kilometers, you will start to see the beautiful snow-capped mountaintops that give the valley its distinctive character. In this area, the hiking trails become steeper and pass through pine forests, eventually leading to an open area where the hot springs are located. Along the way to the hot springs, you will encounter mountain goats, horses and aardvarks. You can also use a four-wheel drive vehicle to reach the hot springs, but it will be an arduous means of transportation, as the road is very bumpy.
How to get to Altin Arashan Valley from Ala Kul Lake
You can access the valley from Ala Col Lake as part of a 4-day excursion.
How to get to Altin Arashan Valley from Karakol by public transport
You can take a minibus or a shared taxi from Karakol to the village of Ak-Suu, and this trip will cost about 15-25 Kyrgyzstani som per person. Once in this village, you can walk into the valley, take a jeep or arrange a horseback ride.
How to get to Altin Arashan Valley from Karakol in your own cars
If you have a 4WD vehicle, it will be very easy to reach Altin Arashan Valley from Karakol. You will first need to drive from the city of Karakol to the village of Ak Su. Ak Su village is only 12 km from Karakol, and the journey takes only 16 minutes. Then you’ll have to head south on Gagarin Street to Lenin Street and then across the bumpy mountain road until you reach the hot springs.
Accommodation options in Altin Arashan Valley
If you have your own tent, the best thing to do is camp in the valley. You can camp anywhere in the valley during the summer because the weather is great, and there are many suitable areas for camping. There are also some camps and lodges where you can stay near the hot springs. During the seasons which are crowded with tourists, you have to book in advance, otherwise you can arrange accommodation when you get there. The Ala-Kul Guest House in Altyn Arashan is an ideal place to stay in this area, where you can stay in a room or in a tent, and the hotel staff can help you arrange horseback trips and discover the highlights of the area.
7- Jeti-Oguz Valley
Getty Oguz is the name of one of the famous valleys of Kyrgyzstan, and also refers to one of the amazing rock formations located 25 km southwest of the city of Karakol. This valley is famous for its unparalleled tranquility. This magnificent rock formation resembles 7 bulls, and its name is inspired by this shape. This area is sacred to the indigenous people. The original rock has been eroded over time, and there are currently about 9 or 10 red rock formations overlooking the valley.
Tourists come to the Jeti-Oguz Valley to admire the rock formations other than the Seven Bulls. For example, there is a rock called a broken heart, which is a common factor in many tragic love stories. In the summer, you will also come across a lot of beekeepers who bring their hives to the valley full of flowers. And if you are visiting this destination with your own vehicle, it is easy to enjoy visiting all the major attractions in one day. And if you want to stay longer, this valley is an ideal destination for picnics, camping and honey tasting.
How to get to the Jeti-Oguz Valley from Karakol by public transport
If you use public transportation to get to the Jeti-Oguz Valley, you should go to the village of Jeti-Oguz Kurort, which is located near the Seven Bulls, and not the town of Jeti-Oguz, which is 12 km from the rock formations. To get to Jeti-Oguz Kurort from Karakol, head to the Tilek Market in Karakol, and from there take the 355 ferry to Jeti-Oguz Kurort. There is no fixed time for the buses, but they usually leave in the late morning and possibly afternoon. The journey costs 100 Kyrgyz som and takes about 45 minutes.
It is best to take a shared taxi from Caracol to reach the Seven Bulls. A taxi ride costs about 150 Kyrgyzstani som per person. But you must make it clear to the driver that you want to go to Jeti-Oguz Kurort, not to Jeti-Oguz.
How to get to the Jeti-Oguz Valley from Karakol in your own car
If you have your own car and want to go to Jeti-Oguz Kurort from Karakol, you must take the A363 motorway heading west. You will first have to drive towards the village of Jeti Oguz and then head south towards the village of Jeti-Oguz Kurort. The distance between the city of Karakol and the village of Jeti-Oguz Kurort is about 31 km, and the journey takes about 37 minutes.
Accommodation options in the Jeti-Oguz . Valley
There are not many hostels and hotels in the village of Jeti-Oguz Kurort. And if you want to stay in a place that offers stunning views of the Seven Bulls Rocks, Guesthouse Emir is your ideal choice, as it is located right under the rocks, and almost all rooms offer views of these amazing rock formations. This inn has a great location near shops and restaurants.
8- Jyrgalan Valley
The Cairglan Valley is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in Kyrgyzstan, and this famous valley is located east of Issyk-Kul Lake. This valley is an ideal destination for lovers of tranquility, simplicity and pristine nature, as it is located among the snow-capped mountains. In the middle of the valley, there is a small village bearing the same name as the valley. In the past, the valley was a center for coal mining, and it was thriving under the Soviet regime, but things changed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Many families have left the area in search of work elsewhere. Fortunately, things have changed a lot over the past few years. There are currently 6 lodges, and new walking and hiking trails and bike paths are being developed, in addition to organizing horseback tours. Thus, the Jyrgalan Valley has become one of the best tourist destinations in Kyrgyzstan.
When it comes to Cairglan Valley , it will not be an option to take excursions to discover the area or not, but you should consider whether you will choose a day trip or a multi-day trip. There are plenty of great excursions to choose from, and they vary in difficulty levels. Whether you have a lot of hiking experience or not, you will find something to suit you in this pristine natural environment. There are short walks for half a day and trips that last for several days, during which they reach an altitude of about 4000 meters.
How to get to Cairglan Valley from Karakol in public transport
There are minibuses from Karakol to Cairglan, and they leave from Ak-Tilek Market three times a day. The cost of a ticket from Karakol to Cairglan is about 80 som per person. You can also visit the offices of Destination Karakol to arrange a ride to Cairglan in a shared taxi, and get information on all the different trips you can take in the valley.
How to get to Cairglan Valley from Karakol in your own car
Cairglan Valley is only 60 km from Karakol, and there is a good road connecting them, so your car journey will be easy. To get there, you will drive north on the A363 for just over an hour.
Accommodation options in the Jairglan Valley
There are many hostels and guest houses, including Alakol-Jyrgalan Guest House , which is a wonderful place with a warm atmosphere and is well versed in all the walking trails and activities available in the area. After enjoying the interesting excursions in the mountainous region, you can return to the hostel to enjoy comfort and tranquility and eat delicious meals. The inn is also distinguished by its great location, next to the area’s best attractions and the most important hiking and trekking trails. The lodge also includes the famous Russian sauna, where you can relax and rejuvenate after long trips through the valley.
9- Lake Kel Suu
Although it is difficult to reach Kel Su Lake, it is considered one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in Kyrgyzstan. The lake was formed thousands of years ago when part of the surrounding mountains collapsed to form a huge natural reservoir. The lake is surrounded by high cliffs of great beauty. There are many rocky caves that you can explore on foot, and there is also a small island in the middle of the lake that you can reach by boat.
There are a lot of fun activities that you can do near the lake. You can discover the whole area on foot, on horseback or by boat. And if you want to explore the more remote parts of the lake, you can hire a boat from the locals. And if you like horse riding, you can also rent a horse from local shepherds. You can also swim in the lake, but the water is very cold, with a temperature of about 6 degrees Celsius.
This natural lake is one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in the Kyrgyz Republic, and it is also one of the highest lakes in the world. The lake is located in the Kok-Kiya Valley at an altitude of 3,520 meters near the Chinese border. The air in this area is very fresh and fresh. Sometimes you can see eagles soaring over the mountains, and herds of wild yaks roaming the natural pastures. It is indeed a wonderful destination with untouched nature.
Since this lake is not completely enclosed, its water level changes dramatically throughout the year. Sometimes the lake is completely empty of water and you can then roam the dry lake bed. Access to this lake requires a border pass by contacting the local CBT office in Naryn. Given the lake’s remote location, you’ll need a 4WD vehicle to get there.
How to get to Kel Su Lake?
This lake is very far, the road to it is very bumpy and there are many river crossings where there are no bridges. Even with a four-wheel drive vehicle, the water level in these rivers would make it daunting. There are no local minibuses that go there, so it is best to contact a local tour company to arrange going to this lake.
Accommodation options near Lake Kel Su
There are many suitable places for camping in the valley near Kel Su Lake. There are also some camps that provide accommodation near the lake. You can arrange your accommodation when you arrive at the lake, or you can pre-book your accommodation online. Yurt Camp Jyrgal, Kol-Suu is one of the best accommodation options in this area. It is a camp that is owned and operated by a local family, and they will help you organize trips to discover the whole area.
You will also enjoy the delicious taste of Shepherds Meat. Also, the beds in the tents are clean and comfortable, and there are two solar powered lights that come on when it gets dark. The stove is also lit to keep warm at night.
10- Tash Rabat
Tash Rabat is a famous roadside khan that was very popular when Asian merchants flocked to the area through the Silk Road in abundance. These merchants would take refuge in the khan to rest for a few days. In addition to being an ideal destination for travelers, the khan also provided fodder and care for the animals that pulled carts along the Silk Road. In these times, there were similar places scattered along the Silk Road that provided shelter for the merchants in these difficult environments in which the bandits abounded.
Khan Tash Rabat is distinguished by its unique architectural design, which led many researchers to believe that the place was a Buddhist monastery in the past before it was turned into a khan. Standing amidst the green mountains surrounding it, this khan gives the place a positive energy of peace and tranquility. The whole area is very quiet, and the silence is only broken at times by the sound of herds of horses galloping through the hills. Tourists can spend a few days in this area to enjoy the peace and relaxation in the camps, in addition to taking walks to discover the quiet mountainous area surrounding the khan. The best time to take these picnics is before sunrise to watch the sun slowly rise from behind the mountains and cast its golden rays on the khan.
And if you are an adventure lover, you can rent a horse from one of the camps for $3 an hour to go and enjoy exploring the valley and spend some time on the trails that were part of the Silk Road. You can go on a trip alone or with a guide to visit some of the most remote peaks in the region.
How to get to Khan Tash Rabat in public transport
There are no buses to Khan Tash Rabat. The best way to get there is to take a shared taxi from Naryn. You can do this by contacting your local CBT offices and arranging with them. The distance between Narin and Khan Tash Rabat is 117 km, and the trip there in a shared taxi costs about 3000 som.
How to get to Khan Tash Rabat in your own car
The journey from Narin to Tash Rabat takes just over two hours. The road connecting them is well maintained, but you may encounter some potholes and bumps here and there along the way. To reach your destination, you will drive south on the A365 motorway.
Accommodation options near Tash Rabat
Tash Rabat is an ideal place for camping, there are plenty of open places in the valley near this archaeological site where you can camp without any problems. And if you don’t have your own tent, you can rent a tent and various camping equipment (folding mattress, sleeping bag and cooking stove) at reasonable cost with Trekkers Union of Kyrgyzstan in Bishkek before heading to Tash Rabat. And if you want to discover an authentic Kyrgyz experience, you can stay in one of the camps scattered in the area for between 800 and 1000 Kyrgyzstan som per person, and the price includes breakfast and dinner. You can arrange your accommodation in these camps upon arrival in the area.
11- The city of Osh
Osh is a melting pot of many cultures, where you can enjoy delicious food, listen to music and admire folklore clothes. This beautiful city reflects a unique blend of Kyrgyz, Uzbek and Tajik cultures. Although Bishkek is the official capital of Kyrgyzstan, Osh is the country’s cultural capital. Osh is a vibrant city and an important center of culture and art, often called the “Berlin of Central Asia”. The city of Osh has many markets and holy places, as well as a cultural diversity unparalleled anywhere else in the country.
And when tourists come to Osh, they often extend the time of the visit so that they can discover the most important landmarks of the city and enjoy the various interesting activities on offer.
How to get to Osh from Bishkek in public transport
The road from Bishkek to Osh is long, but the Ala Bel Mountain Pass will take in the most beautiful mountain scenery. This road is not suitable for large vehicles, such as buses, as it is rather narrow and bumpy. You can get to Osh by shared taxi, minibus or cargo truck. The flight takes about 14 hours, and it is preferable to travel by plane from Bishkek if you do not have enough time. If you are more adventurous, you can take a shared taxi or bus from the Western Bus Station in Bishkek. Traveling by taxi costs about 1,000 or 1,200 Kyrgyzstani som. Cargo trucks are a convenient means of transportation to get to Osh as they have bunk beds. The trip usually starts between 3 pm and 6 pm. These trucks originate from the Dordoi Market in Bishkek.
How to get to Osh from Bishkek in your own car
The distance between Bishkek and Osh is 727 km, and it can be covered in 12 hours. If you have your own car or are renting one, it is best to stop for a rest in one of the towns along the way before continuing your journey. You can stop in Karakol, a small town located in Jalalabad province near Toktogul Lake. You can also stop at The Ala Bel Mountain Pass and enjoy an amazing panoramic view of the mountains.
Flights from Bishkek to Osh
The easiest and fastest way to travel to Osh is to fly from Bishkek, and the flights are distinguished by their cheap prices. There are several flights connecting the two cities throughout the day, and flights take only about 45 minutes, so air travel is a great option if your time is limited. And you can take a minibus to get from the airport to the city center of Osh Nazir about 250 som.
Accommodation options in Osh
Osh is the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan, and the city sees the construction of more quality hotels and hostels every year. There are also many budget accommodation options suitable for tourists who want to save money and discover the most important tourist attractions in the city and share experiences with other tourists in the evening. Below is a list of the best hotels and hostels in Osh, where you can enjoy a relaxing and relaxing time after long and interesting trips in the city.
- Apple Hostel Osh Hostel Apple Hostel Osh
Abel Hostel Osh is one of the best places to stay in Osh. The inn is located slightly from the downtown area and is distinguished by its wonderful atmosphere of tranquility. This lodge is ideal for tourists heading to visit the Pamir Mountains. The hosts are friendly and welcoming and can help you arrange your trip to this wonderful city. The lodge features a garden and outdoor showers to cool off the summer heat. The lodge also offers free Wi-Fi in all rooms.
- Saima Hostel Saima Hostel
This wonderful lodge has a kitchen equipped with plenty of utensils and cooking utensils, where you can prepare your own meals. This inn is owned and operated by a local family and will go a long way in planning a visit to the city’s top attractions. The inn has quiet and comfortable rooms. The inn is a popular destination for cyclists on the Pamir Expressway.
- Ryan Hotel Rayan hotel
If you are looking for more comfort and tranquility, the luxurious Rayan Hotel is your ideal destination. Rayan Hotel includes a luxurious restaurant that serves delicious dishes, in addition to a sumptuous breakfast buffet. All rooms are air conditioned, which is an indispensable option during the hot summer months. Each room has a flat-screen TV with a range of pay channels, a kettle, a shower, toiletries and a desk. Free Wi-Fi is available at the hotel.
12- Peak Lenin
Mount Lenin is the Kyrgyz version of Mount Everest, and it is one of the highest peaks that tourists come to climb in Kyrgyzstan. Although it is commonly believed that the summit of Mount Lenin is easy to climb, the truth is otherwise, it requires good physical fitness, as well as a lot of preparation. This mountain attracts mountain climbers from all over the world, and it is located on the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, so getting there requires a border permit. In order to reach the top of the mountain, you must get used to the atmosphere of the heights first, and then sign up for a guided trip to climb the nearby peaks for 3 weeks, as a kind of training.
Popular Kyrgyz foods tourists should try when visiting Karakol
The city of Karakol is an important historical and cultural center, and the cuisine of this ancient city is famous for its blending of Western and Eastern cooking styles. Caracol’s many signature dishes, which date back decades, blend the culinary traditions of the country’s indigenous people with the creativity of visitors to the city. The city of Karakol has a wide range of markets and restaurants that are characterized by a great deal of diversity, with sights, sounds and smells that you will not find anywhere else. The best way to discover these amazing experiences is by connecting with the locals. You can taste the most delicious dishes in the food stalls in the markets or in restaurants, where the chefs excel in presenting their creativity. And if you want to discover a deeper and more authentic experience, you can have a delicious dinner at a Dungan family. You will enjoy an exceptional meal full of unparalleled flavors that will make you discover a new side of the city of Karakol. Before visiting the city of Karakol, you can see the most important restaurants and cafes in the city, in addition to the various types of food, including delicious vegetarian dishes.
The specialties of Caracol
The city of Karakol is famous for serving a variety of delicacies representing four different ethnicities, and here is a list of the most famous and must-try dishes when visiting Karakol.
1- Ashlan-Fu . dish
Ashlan Pho is a popular delicacy that can be considered the official dish of Karakol. It is a spicy soup dish with exceptional texture and taste, where two types of noodles are used, thick rice noodles and thin wheat noodles, as well as chili sauce, vinegar and lots of herbs. And to complete the fun, you can also order piroshky, which is fried bread stuffed with potatoes. You can find this distinctive dish in all restaurants and food stalls scattered in the city. And in the Little Bazaar in Karakol, you will find an aisle dedicated only to serving Ashlan Pho. You can also discover an amazing family dining experience with the local Dungan people.
2- Laghman dish
Lagman, made using hand-cooked noodles, is popular throughout Central Asia. But in Karakol, you will be introduced to the three main types of noodles, the specialty soupy Laghman noodles, the fried Boso Laghman and the boiled Guyru Laghman. You can try different types of this delicious dish, as it is prepared in a variety of ways and using different ingredients, according to the different ethnicities, Uyghurs, Uzbeks and Dungans. There are many restaurants in Karakol that serve vegetarian Lagman dish upon request.
3- Manti pancakes
Every country is famous for its special kind of pancakes. Manti dumplings are a favorite in Central Asia. These pancakes are usually smaller than the palm of the hand, and are filled with various ingredients, including pumpkin, lamb and onions, and then steamed. Caracol is famous for its juisai dumplings stuffed with vegetables. And if you want to add some spicy flavour, you can order Laza, a local sauce made of roasted hot peppers.
Ganvan is a dish inspired by the Dungan people, and is a popular dish throughout Kyrgyzstan. This delicious dish consists of spicy meat and vegetable sauce, and is served with steamed rice, not noodles. The ganfan can be prepared with vegetarian ingredients upon request. Spicy lovers can order Laza, a local sauce made of roasted hot peppers.
5- Samsa wonders
These baked pastries are usually stuffed with onions and lamb, as well as potatoes. Delicious samsa pastries are similar to Indian samosas, often in the shape of a triangle or a golden half crescent topped with sesame. Samsa is eaten hot and can be used as a delicious snack during travels.
The most famous Kyrgyz food
1- Beshbarmak dish
Beshbarmak is one of the specialty Kyrgyz dishes prepared using lamb or any other type of meat, which is cooked in its broth for hours and then added to the prepared noodles by hand. And the word beshbarmak means “five fingers,” indicating that it is eaten directly with the fingers of the hand. Rich in meat, broth and noodles, it’s a perfect after-trip choice. This popular dish is served in the mountains, but there are also some restaurants serving it in Karakol.
2- Kuurdak dish
A hearty Kyrgyz dish made of seasoned fried meat, onions and potatoes. This complete dish features a unique blend of flavors, spices and ingredients. This delicious dish is eaten at any time of the year, especially during the winter months.
Oromo is a Kyrgyz dish that is distinguished by its delicious flavor and beautiful appearance. It consists of layers of handmade dough stuffed with cabbage and carrots, and small pieces of meat can also be added with onions. The dough is rolled and cooked in a special frying pan. Oromo is best served with kaymak (sour cream). Oromo takes a long time to prepare, so you must place your order at least an hour in advance.
This dish is a rich broth with chunks of meat, vegetables, potatoes and fresh herbs. This dish is an ideal choice on cold days and after long trips.
5- Kymyz or Kumis
Kumis is a local Kyrgyz dish, which is fermented mare’s milk. This delicious dish is characterized by its high nutritional value, but do not eat too much of it the first time. This dish is useful for digesting hearty Kyrgyz dishes. Qaymeez is similar to the kefir and Ayran dishes spread in the Central Asian region.