Bishkek is the perfect first stop for your Kyrgyz adventure! You’ll definitely want to stay a few nights in Bishkek to get to know the city – but remember that you’ll come back again at the end of your trip before you fly back home.
This capital city is situated in the central-northern part of Kyrgyzstan and is home to unique gardens, markets, and magnificent monuments. Stroll through the city and check out Soviet-era statues of Lenin, the Parliament building, and Victory Square with its monument to World War II. After monument-hopping, take a break and relax in one of the city gardens or enjoy Kyrgyz crafts and local dishes at the Osh Bazaar, the city’s main market and a great place to learn about the culture.
Looking for suitable accommodation for a stay in Bishkek? You can find a capsule room in a hostel for only €8 per night.
The town of Cholpon-Ata lies on the northern shore of Lake Issyk Kul. There is a lot to do and see in Cholpon, as it’s both a health resort and cultural oasis. To get to Cholpon-Ata, it’s best to take the local bus from Bishkek, which costs about €4.
One of the biggest events in the city is the biennial World Nomad Games. This event offers you the chance to see traditional Central Asian sports in action. The Games take place in the city's hippodrome, where concerts and live events are also held. If you want to learn more about nomadic culture, make sure to visit the Nomad Museum.
Spend some time outdoors at Lake Issyk Kul or visit the glacial boulders north of the city. The landscape in this region is beautiful, but the petroglyphs carved into the rocks are the most exciting things here. Be sure to try the local seafood, too, which tastes even better with a view by the shore!
You can also visit the Snow Leopard Rehabilitation Centre or relax in the Orto-Oruktu hotsprings. If you have some time left, it's also definitely worth it to take a hike around the area.
A hostel in Cholpon-Ata is the perfect accommodation at an affordable €7 per night for a single bed in a four-bed dorm.
Continue by bus to Karakol, a city surrounded by mountains located in the eastern part of the country, the perfect destination to dive deep into the local culture. The city is home to fascinating sites, including the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Dungan Mosque, and Karakol History Museum, making it a haven for history lovers. After sight-seeing, head to a local Banya, a Russian bath house, to unwind from the day.
Travellers who want to experience the culinary aspect of the culture should consider themselves lucky, too, as there are several great dining opportunities in Karakol and amazing local markets like the Ak-Tilek Bazaar. If you want an even more unique experience, take a Laghman noodle making course or enjoy a Dungan Family Style dinner tour. Just make sure to come with an empty stomach, because up to 150 courses can be served. Delicious!
In Karakol, you can get a hostel for €4 per night for a six-bed dorm.
The trip from Karakol to Kaji-Say costs about €2 by bus. Kaji-Say is located directly on the south side of Lake Issyk Kul. In Kaji-Say, you’ll realize that nature is the biggest attraction, but there are some remarkable historical sites, too, such as the Soviet-era Lenin statue and the deserted Pension Utyos.
Here in Kaji-Say, explore the Manjyly-Ata Valley, which is known as the Valley of Sacred Springs, as it is believed that each spring cures a different disease. In total, there are about 17 larger springs in the whole valley. You can also hike through the Kadzhi-Saz Gorge and enjoy the view of Issyk Kul – the lake is truly an incredible sight.
The best accommodation in Kaji-Say is a guesthouse for just €5 per night for a single room.
The next stop, Song Köl, can be reached by taxi from Kaji-Say for €45. Try to spend at least two whole days here.
In the middle of the country is the beautiful Song Köl Lake, an alpine lake in the Tien Shan Mountains. Explore the area on horseback (Kyrgyzstan is famous for its horses). There’s no better way to experience the lake and horse culture than on a ride through this breath taking landscape. If that’s not your thing, no worries: there are also very beautiful paths and trails for hikers.
As you explore the region, you’ll certainly notice the yurt tents that are scattered everywhere. They are part of the local culture and staying in one is perfect way to make your outdoor experience in Song Köl something very special and authentic. You can stay in a yurt for just €11 per night.
From Song Köl, it is best to drive back to Bishkek to fly back home. The trip to Bishkek costs about €32 by taxi and train.