Picturesque nature, ancient cities, exotics — all of this is gathered in one place called Kirghizia. It sounds amazing, but this country has not yet become a tourist center in Asia, although it has everything to spend an unforgettable holiday. Here you can marvel at the famous mountain ranges and the cleanest alpine lake, visit unique historical monuments, check out a real colorful yurt, go skiing or snowboarding, and even enjoy a beach holiday. Kyrgyzstan offers its guests a variety of leisure activities and welcomes every traveler heartily!
|Bishkek||6 389 500||Kyrgyz, Russian||Som||199 951 km²|
Kyrgyzstan is located in Central Asia and can rightly be considered a country of mountains. They occupy more than three-quarters of its territory. The northeastern part of Kyrgyzstan is located within the Tian Shan range, and the south-western regions are within the Pamir-Alay range. Kyrgyzstan has no access to the sea but has more than 30 thousand rivers (the largest is Naryn) and more than 2 thousand lakes. The country's pride is Issyk Kul lake, which is the seventh-deepest in the world.
Kyrgyzstan's closest neighbors are Kazakhstan (in the north), Uzbekistan (in the west), Tajikistan (in the south-west), and China (east and south-east).
Officially, the Kyrgyz Republic is divided into 531 administrative and territorial units. The division is quite complicated and ramified:
- 2 cities of national importance;
- 7 regions;
- 40 districts;
- 29 cities;
- 453 rural districts.
It should be noted that cities of national importance (Bishkek and Osh) have a special way of organizing local self-government. They are included in the list of administrative-territorial units of the first level. They also include regions:
- Batken (administrative center at Batken city). It is located in the south-western part of Kyrgyzstan and is considered to be the most complex geopolitical region, as this is where the enclaves of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are located.
- Jalal-Abad (city of Jalal-Abad). It is the northeastern part of the Fergana Valley and the third-largest region in Kyrgyzstan. It is here that the country's generating power is located, as well as mineral springs and natural attractions.
- Isıq-Köl (Karakol city). This is the easternmost region, where the famous Issyk Kul Lake is located. The region is actively developing a tourist industry, and guest houses and health resorts are being built, offering mud and thermal water treatment.
- Naryn (Naryn city). It is the largest region of Kyrgyzstan, which is situated in the central part of the country. The region is known for a large number of tourist routes, picturesque nature, and active development of agro-tourism.
- The City of Osh. It is situated in the south-western part of Kyrgyzstan and is a border region. The city of Osh is one of the oldest Asian cities and offers tourists a large number of historical and cultural monuments.
- Talas (city of Talas). It is situated in the north-west and is the smallest region of Kyrgyzstan by area. On the territory of the region, you can find a lot of archaeological and historical monuments, as well as picturesque natural spots.
- Chuy (Tokmok city). It is located in the northern part of Kyrgyzstan and is considered to b the most developed region in terms of industry and agriculture. The capital (Bishkek), which is an independent administrative unit, is located in the region.
What to see and where
Osh is the second-largest city in Kyrgyzstan, which tourists from all over the world love. Its history is more than three thousand years, and it has managed to preserve the amazing oriental flavor to this day. The main attraction in the center of Osh is the sacred mountain Sulaiman-Too. It is also called "Throne of Sulaiman (Solomon)" and is often considered to be the second Mecca for Muslims. Legends say that Sulaiman-Too has healing properties, so tourists should definitely climb to its top. In addition, a museum was opened right in the mountain, and the largest mosque in the region was built at its foot. Another highlight of the city and its surroundings is a large number of caves, many of which are considered to be the largest in Kyrgyzstan. Another attraction for tourists in Osh is a walk in the city parks, a visit to a real medieval bath, guided tours of mosques and ancient cemetery, as well as shopping in the oriental bazaar.
Karakol is a unique city, which is located at the crossroads between East and West and has absorbed all the brightest and most interesting of several cultures. Most tourists come here in winter when the ski resorts begin their work. Numerous slopes of different complexity levels, tracks for skiers and snowboarders, high level of service, and picturesque nature — for the sake of such a holiday, not only residents of different regions of Kyrgyzstan but also travelers from other countries strive here. In the warm season, Karakol also offers a lot to do. There is a famous Dungan Mosque in the city, which impresses not only with its appearance but also with a unique construction method. It was built without a single nail. Besides, in Karakol, you can visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral and the Tatar Mosque, admire gingerbread houses in the Russian Quarter, walk in Victory Park and River Park, visit the Museum of History of the city.
Jalal-Abad is the third-largest city in Kyrgyzstan in terms of population, and one of the most peaceful and quiet cities in the country. Life here flows in a measured way, despite a large number of tourists. Travelers go to Jalal-Abad mainly for the sake of picturesque nature. On the outskirts of the city, you can walk in a real walnut grove with centuries-old trees, go hiking to waterfalls, scuba dive or paraglide, go fishing, and experience kumis treatment. However, the main reason why Jalal-Abad is popular among tourists is a medical resort with a sanatorium where you can improve your health with the help of mineral springs and mud baths.
Talas is a small town in the valley of the same name, often called the Land of Manas (the legendary hero of the Kyrgyz epos). In 1995, the Museum of the History of the Epic of Manas was built here. In it, you can see the mausoleum and other burials, as well as a rich collection of ancient artifacts: tools, clothes, military uniforms, leather dishes, and much more. The Talas Valley is a unique natural area, which is separated from other regions of Kyrgyzstan by a chain of mountains. It is no wonder that several tourist zones deserve attention here: Talas, Besh-Tash, Manas, Kirov, Sandalysh, Toktogul. All of them are located in the vicinity of the city and offer travelers picturesque gorges and caves, untouched forests and groves, rich wildlife, and flora.
Issyk-Kul is a lake that every tourist in Kyrgyzstan should see. There are a lot of cities, towns, resorts, and recreation centers along the coast, but the northern part of the lake deserves the most attention. The area from the village of Tamchy to the village of Korumdu is best-developed in terms of tourism and beach recreation. Issyk-Kul is the seventh deepest lake in the world and fascinates with its beauty. The water here is very clean and has incredible blue color.
Things to consider when going to Kyrgyzstan
Despite the fact that Kyrgyzstan is not a leader in terms of the number of tourists, travelers from around the world come here annually. If you also want to visit this country, we recommend you to consider the following points:
- Upon arrival in Kyrgyzstan, foreign tourists must apply to the local police department for registration. They have five calendar days for this purpose. If you plan to spend less than two months in the country, you do not need to register.
- It is better to exchange currency in Bishkek, as capital banks and exchangers offer the most favorable rates. Moreover, it can be difficult to find a currency exchange in the province. The same goes for ATMs. You should exchange enough money and withdraw it from your bank card before traveling to remote regions of Kyrgyzstan.
- Prices in public catering establishments are quite low, so you won't have to save on food. At the same time, portions are large, and the dishes themselves are quite caloried and fat. They tend to leave 5-10% of the total sum for good service in the restaurant.
- It is common to bargain at local markets and bazaars. If you are not in a hurry and know how to conduct dialogue, the initial price can be reduced by 30%. It is noteworthy that you can bargain even if you check into a hostel or a rental apartment.
- Islam is spread almost all over Kyrgyzstan, but the rules and restrictions in terms of religion are not as strict as in other countries. Nevertheless, tourists should follow the generally accepted rules and not appear in crowded places in too revealing clothes.
- Public transport in Kyrgyzstan is not very well-developed. There are practically no trains and few public buses. Shuttles or special taxis for 4-6 people are most often used to travel between cities. The cost of a taxi trip for one passenger will be only 20-30% higher than that of a shuttle bus or a bus.
The best time to visit Kyrgyzstan
If you dream of visiting Kyrgyzstan during a holiday or festival, you can plan your vacation in early February (winter sports festival), mid-March (international dog festival and Nooruz, a spring equinox day), early June (sports and music festivals), July-August (equestrian festival, Osh Fest, J-Fest Summer).