Kyrgyzstan Quick Guide

A visit to this spectacularly beautiful country of Central Asia will provide endless opportunities for adventure seekers, with everything from trekking and river rafting to skiing and surfing available. With its diverse landscape, rich culture, and lively people, it is little wonder that Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan has become one of the most popular destinations for visitors. However, if you are planning a trip to Bishkek, here are some helpful suggestions to make your stay more enjoyable.

Visa and Immigration: obtaining a visa to enter this fascinating country can be a difficult process. Before applying, however, it is important to note that visa requirements do vary by country and can change at any time. For citizens of certain countries travelling to countries of the former Soviet Union or for citizens of Moldova, travelling to Bishkek requires a visa. For those travelling to other countries of central Asia, a visa will not be required, but it is highly recommended.

Getting a visa to travel to this part of central Asia is easier than most people think. It is possible to apply for a visa at the embassies of the country of travel, or via the embassies of countries that you wish to visit. There are consular posts in many cities throughout the country, including Bishkek and Shepte. These posts will usually issue visas upon presentation of the proper identification. For individuals travelling on their own, or to neighbouring countries, it is often easiest to apply at the closest embassy or consulate.

Another important part of your journey to this beautiful country of central Asia is your stay there. There are many different types of accommodation available for you to choose from while traveling to this region of the world. If you are travelling to Bishkek, a great place to start your journey would be the cosmopolitan Bishkek Hotel. While here, you will be able to experience traditional Russian cuisine, meeting some of the locals, and exploring the rich culture of this former capital. Other areas of interest in central Asia include Ovulon, Shepte, Pushkar, and Kefoten, each offering its own unique experience. For those traveling to Tajikistan, there is an interesting history to explore, including the rebuilt fortress.

Before departing for your trip, it is wise to make sure you have a valid visa in hand. To get a feel for the currency exchange rates in the country of you are visiting, and to help get used to purchasing and understanding the buying and selling of goods and services, you can purchase a 'karastan' or 'tourist' visa online. This is one of the easiest ways to learn the ropes when traveling to any country in the world and can also be helpful when applying for a visa in the future.

The most popular way of traveling in central asia for tourists and families is by means of a 'beaten track' across Mongolia and China. Bicycles, horses, foot and camel transport are all commonplace along these long and open stretches. Once you begin your trek, however, be prepared to camp out in the evenings if the weather becomes extreme and the day becomes extremely hot. It is worth noting that Mongolia and China are both extremely popular as trekking destinations, so you could easily find yourself surrounded by other tourists on a number of these short but incredible treks.

A more exciting way of traveling through the country of Kyrgyzstan would be on horseback or by camel. There are numerous rickety villages throughout the country that have been constructed with a little bit of help from the local population. On horseback or on camels, you will be able to travel all around the stunning landscape and experience the true culture of the people of these villages. If you are traveling with family, be prepared to spend a lot of time together just trying to keep up with each other's stories. Once again, a good Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide can help you decide how to approach this.

The best way to enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, and overall experience of staying in a traditionally styled village is to engage the services of a local guide. However, it can be difficult to find a local guide that is both trustworthy and honest. When you travel to an area such as Kyrgyzstan where the people are known for their hospitality, you can rest assured that you will be treated to an excellent level of care and quality service. A good way to find out if the people you are hiring are trustworthy is to look for reviews. You can also ask your fellow travelers whether they have traveled to the area before and whether they were treated well. A good way to see if someone has a reputation for being an honest person is to look for recommendations, especially if they are working with a reputable tour operator.

What vaccinations do I need?

Up to date information for vaccinations before you travel to Kyrgyzstan are available from the NHS Fit for Travel website.

Is it safe to travel?

Best time to visit?

The most suitable time to visit northern Kyrgyzstan is from June to September; March to October is perfect for Southern Kyrgyzstan.

Do I need a Visa?

British nationals don't need a visa to enter and stay for up to 60 calendar days.If you think you may spend more than 60 days in Kyrgyzstan, you should get a visa from a Kyrgyz Embassy before you travel or on arrival at the airport in Bishkek.

See which forms you may need for entry into Kyrgyzstan.

What currency do i need?

The official currency of Kyrgyzstan is the Kyrgyzstani Som (KGS). If you're looking to transfer or spend money in Kyrgyzstan you can grab amazing Kyrgyzstani Som deals via (GBP to KGS).

What about the wildlife?

Wild boars, brown bears, Siberian Ibex, wolves, foxes, porcupines, Turkestan Lynx, Tien Shan Elk, Golden Eagle, and over 150 other bird species to name a few.

What is the traditional food?

Russian food? Beshbarmak is the Kyrgyz national dish, although it is also common in Uzbekistan and in Xinjiang (where it is called narin). It consists of horse meat (or mutton/beef) boiled in its own broth for several hours and served over homemade noodles sprinkled with parsley.

What Languages are spoken?

Kyrgyzstan is one of three former Soviet republics in Central Asia to have Russian as an official language, Kazakhstan (de jure) and Uzbekistan (de facto) being the others. The Kyrgyz language was adopted as the official language in 1991. You can learn some basic Russian before you travel to Kyrgyzstan and really impress the locals!

How much do you tip?

The currency in Kyrgyzstan is the Kyrgyzstani Som (Most restaurants include a 10% – 15% service charge in the bill, even small hole-in-the-walls. Always make sure to look for it when the bill is presented. If there's no service charge, there's no real need to tip, although it's appreciated if you do.).

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Useful Numbers

  • Police: 102
  • Ambulance: 103
  • Fire: 101
  • UK Embassy: +996 312 303 637

Time Difference

The GMT time difference is 6 hours

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Learn Russian

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Kyrgyzstan Guidebook

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