Our flight to Kyrgyzstan was lastly booked! As we seemed over our itinerary, we had been wanting to get a glimpse in any respect the locations we might be seeing, however after digging by way of the online for 20 minutes, we didn’t provide you with a lot. For the primary time, we’d be moving into blind, uncertain of what to anticipate of our journey. It was going to be a real journey.
Kyrgyzstan remains to be rising as a vacationer location, particularly to Individuals. It’s presently extra in style amongst Russians, Europeans, and Japanese vacationers.
WHAT YOU MUST KNOW BEFORE VISITING KYRGYZSTAN
1. BEST TIME TO VISIT KYRGYZSTAN (HIGH / LOW / SHOULDER SEASON)
- Excessive Season – Most individuals go to in the course of the summer season months. Between July to September, the climate is nice for trekking, the times are longer, and there are numerous festivals held all through the nation. Some festivals to look out for are the nationwide pageant of arts and crafts, delicacies and folklore pageant, felt pageant, searching birds’ pageant and horse video games pageant. On the flip aspect, lodging are closely booked and the cities are extremely scorching except you go to sure areas just like the Naryn, Issyk-Kul, or Talas areas).
- Low Season – Between late-October by way of March, most rural lodging are closed as a result of hikes are inaccessible within the coronary heart of winter, however folks do nonetheless go to for snowboarding and winter sports activities.
- Shoulder Season – For those who’re trying to keep away from crowds, the perfect time to go to is between Might and June, and September to mid-October. Flowers are blooming and vacationers are a lot fewer in quantity, however a number of the mountains should have snow on them.
2. KYRGYZSTAN VISA REQUIREMENTS
If you’re a citizen of one of many international locations listed under, you possibly can go to Kyrgyzstan as much as 60 days with no visa. For visits over 60 days, that you must get three months visa by way of on the Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic to the USA & Canada.
- North America: USA, Canada
- Australasia: Australia, New Zealand
- Asia: Brunei, Japan, Singapore, South Korea
- Europe: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Eire, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Vatican, UK
- Center East: Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia
See the total checklist of nations that want to use for a visa upon arrival or one month previous to arrival. US Residents could also be eligible for a 5-year visa.
three. ANY SCAMS / SAFETY CONCERNS
Out of all of the “stans”, Kyrgyzstan is probably the most open to Westerners and terrorist assaults are uncommon. From what we hear, there aren’t many scams to fret about. Taxis can overcharge except you employ one with a meter. It at all times helps to have smaller payments.
With reference to security, there isn’t a lot to fret about both. We spent one night in Bishkek and locals stated it’s secure to stroll round in a lot of the metropolis even at evening. Like most locations, there will probably be pickpockets in crowded areas. Watch your pockets on public transportation, particularly mini busses-locally referred to as “marshrutka”, and in addition at bazaars. You’ll be able to learn extra about journey advisories from the US embassy.
four. RUSSIAN OR KYRGYZ? (BASIC PHRASES TO KNOW)
For those who’re attempting to get across the nation solely understanding English, you’re going to have a tricky time. Even if in case you have a translator like we did, there are nonetheless loads of moments that get a bit misplaced in translation. Relying on who you ask, and what area you’re visiting, you’ll get a distinct reply on which language is greatest to be taught.
General, Russian will probably be most versatile for vacationers, since you should use it in surrounding international locations as properly. You’ll additionally discover that almost all cities have adopted it as the principle language. Kyrgyz is the most effective language to be taught for those who plan on dwelling there.
That being stated, the Kyrgyz folks have made a giant push to carry onto their heritage and language as properly. Meaning increasingly individuals are studying Kyrgyz as an alternative. For those who’re in distant villages or within the Southern a part of the nation, you’ll discover locations that solely converse Kyrgyz. In any other case, Russian will get you by in most locations!
Listed here are some primary phrases that can assist you get began:
- Good Morning – Dobraye Ootro (Russian) + Kutmanduu tanyngyz menen (Kyrgyz)
- Good Night time – Dobroy Nochi (Russian) + Tününgüz beypil bolsun (Kyrgyz)
- Good day – Zdrastvooyte (Russian) + Salamatsyzby (Kyrgyz)
- Hello – Preevyet (Russian) + Salam (Kyrgyz)
- Thank You – Spasibo (Russian) + Rahmat (Kyrgyz)
- What’s your identify? – Kak vas zavoot? (Russian) + Sizdin atyngyz kim? (Kyrgyz)
- My identify is… – Meenya zavoot… (Russian) + Menin atym… (Kyrgyz)
- Sorry – Eezveeneete (Russian) + Kechiringiz (Kyrgyz)
- Goodbye – Da Sveedaneeya (Russian) + Kosh kalyng (Kyrgyz)
- Bye! – Paka (Russian) + Korushkoncho (Kyrgyz)
Helps to be taught a little bit of Cyrillic. I had these pictures saved to my telephone after I needed to learn indicators.
The foreign money of Kyrgyzstan is the Som. After we had been there (Sept 2017), one USD was roughly 68 KGS. Though most main inns take bank cards, you want money useful for almost every part else. So far as altering cash, it’s virtually unimaginable to get Som outdoors of Kyrgyzstan. When within the nation, search for banks or licensed cash changers. Jacob discovered it tough attempting to alternate cash at a financial institution with out understanding any Kyrgyz or Russian.
LOCAL TIP: You’ll want to ask for a superb mixture of smaller payments.
6. BUDGET + TIPPING
For budgeting, every part is comparatively cheap. Even once we forgot shampoo, we had been capable of purchase a giant bottle for roughly $2 USD in a distant village. Here’s a information for every part else.
- Hostel: 400 – 600 KGS (Shared Room) or 900 – 1200 KGS (Non-public Room)
- Yurt / Homestay: 400 – 850 KGS
- Breakfast or Lunch: 100 – 250 KGS
- Dinner: 150 – 500 KGS
- Horse (per Day): 700 – 1000 KGS
- Information (per Day): 1200 – 2500 KGS
Normally, tipping isn’t anticipated however at all times appreciated, particularly within the tourism trade. In bigger worldwide inns in Bishkek, the western type is the norm, so anticipate to pay a small sum to bell boys or cleaners.
For guides and drivers in Central Asia tipping is part of their wage and, although not obligatory, tipping is a superb approach to present your appreciation of their providers.
Tourism is so new right here that there isn’t a customary for tipping, however right here’s what we did:
- Guides: $6 USD per particular person per day.
- Cooks / Porters / Driver: $three USD per particular person per day.
- Taxis: Tipping isn’t regular
7. PACKING + HOW TO DRESS (FOR WOMEN)
We’ll put collectively an in-depth packing checklist, however right here are some things to think about. Being a lady visiting a Muslim nation, I assumed I must costume way more conservatively, however folks had been very lax, particularly within the cities of Bishkek and Karakol. We noticed folks carrying tees and tank tops, much like how we might again within the states.
We spent most of our time within the Issyk-Kul province, however for those who head to extra conservative components of the nation, like Osh, be ready to decorate accordingly. For us, the one locations we would have liked to decorate extra conservatively within the Issyk-Kul province had been at mosques and church buildings, they usually had scarves or cloaks obtainable on the entrance. After I’m uncertain of the costume code, I at all times deliver this with me. I often put on it as a light-weight layer or scarf when it will get chilly, however it may be worn 6+ other ways together with a scarf.
Our essential recommendation is to decorate to your actions (mountaineering, snowboarding, swimming and so on) and convey layers since it may be each cold and hot the identical day. We went in late September, and it was heat in Bishkek and Karakol however chilly within the mountains. In any other case, right here are some things it’s best to have with you wherever you go:
- Hand Sanitizer – it’s a tossup if you’ll discover cleaning soap in loos.
- Shampoo, Physique Wash, and so on – there weren’t any in a few of our lodging
- Bathroom Paper – most locations had rest room paper, however each from time to time, we bumped into points the place there wasn’t any.
- Journey Towel – you’ll want your individual outdoors the large cities. We use a PackTowl, since they dry rapidly and pack down smaller.
KYRGYZSTAN TRANSPORTATION / HOW TO GET AROUND
Don’t try to street journey by yourself. Roads are very tough (though a number of roads have been improved in 2017) and guidelines are usually not at all times adopted. Most the folks we met had been touring by way of bus or employed information and driver.
TYPES OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
- Buses – For those who do your analysis forward of time, you shouldn’t have any drawback getting round. Take into account that typically there are a number of places named the identical factor or have slight variations in spelling. We met a Dutch traveler who knew what bus to get onto for the Jyrgalan Valley, however when an earlier bus got here, he requested if it went to Jyrgalan. The motive force stated sure, however he discovered that there have been was additionally Jergalan and one other Jyrgalan. There was a number of ready round and backtracking concerned earlier than attending to the right vacation spot.
- Marshrutka (Minibuses) – For journey from Bishkek to Karakol, there are minibusses on the essential bus station. The distinction between this feature and common buses, is that common buses have predetermined stops. Marshrutkas have a begin and finish level, however you possibly can request a selected cease in between.
- Taxis can be found for journey between Bishkek and Karakol or Osh. Throughout the metropolis, taxis are low cost. You should utilize apps like Namba Taxi or Tez Taxi to name the cabs, though you do nonetheless have to pay money.
- Flights can be found from BIshkek to Osh.
There isn’t any good useful resource to seek out bus routes. Additionally needless to say drives can take longer than anticipated, particularly out within the rural areas. Chances are you’ll run into “site visitors” consisting of cattle, sheep, or horses that may maintain you up for some time.
IS THE WATER SAFE TO DRINK?
If you’re in Bishkek, the faucet water is mostly secure to drink. For those who’re within the rural areas, follow boiled or bottled water particularly if in case you have a delicate abdomen. We didn’t go so far as brushing our tooth with bottled water.
Whereas we had been mountaineering, they made the tea from the streams and rivers and our information and porters at all times drank from it with no filters. All of the dishes had been additionally washed there. Since cattle and livestock are raised out within the mountains, there’s fecal matter all over the place. We noticed some within the streams as properly. I suppose it will get diluted, however if you wish to play it secure, boil your water or deliver a water filter with you (we love this one).
FOODS TO TRY
We seen that in Kyrgyzstan, they eat a number of meat and drink a number of tea. There aren’t as many vegetable choices as a result of they’re historically a nomadic folks. When you have any dietary restrictions, it’s actually vital to let your hosts know forward of time since they often wouldn’t make vegetarian or gluten-free choices.
Listed here are some frequent conventional dishes in case you need to strive ordering them by yourself.
- Laghman (pictured above) – Meat, greens, and noodles served in broth. There are over lots of of native Laghman varieties. The everyday dish is in soup, which was how I favored it, however Jacob favored the Boso Laghman (fried noodles). If you wish to strive making your individual, right here’s a recipe.
- Borsok – Dough is reduce into little squares then fried. The result’s ethereal deliciousness. It’s the native donut… or extra of a beignet. We dipped them in jam and typically nutella.
- Monty – A meat, onion, and fats crammed dumplings. Often, this can be a steamed dish, however it’s also possible to get them organized fried.
- Plov – It is a tasty meat dish. Spiced rice with fried onions and carrots blended in is topped with chunks of tender, boiled meat.
- Samsy – I wish to refer to those because the native scorching pocket. Meat, onions, and fats within a breaded pocket.
- Ashlyan-Fuu – A typical low cost noodle dish that faculty children love. It is a Dungan Dish so it’s not as generally discovered.
- Kumyss – Fermented horse milk.
- Black or Inexperienced Tea – The Kyrgyz folks have tea with each meal. I not often see them drink water. Native Tip: Historically, they’ll pour the tea again into the pot thrice earlier than serving to make it possible for it’s properly blended and steeped. In addition they combine jams into their teas.
Energy sockets in Kyrgyzstan are sort C or F (the 2 little spherical inputs). The usual voltage is 220 V and frequency is 50 Hz, so for those who’re from the US, Canada, or most South American International locations, you will want a voltage converter. We at all times journey with this converter in order that we’ve got loads of inputs to cost.
TOILETS + TOILET PAPER
Relying on the place you go, one can find a mixture of squatty potties and European bogs. Rural areas might have outhouses with a gap within the floor.
Additionally, simply so you realize, the native rest room paper reminded us of a large roll of celebration streamers. Take into consideration that texture in rest room paper type.
Native Tip: Carry round a small ziplock bag of bathroom paper with you wherever you go. You by no means know if you would possibly want some. Don’t neglect hand sanitizer.
HIKING (THINK THAI HOT SCALE)
Kyrgyzstan is the hiker’s dream. There are mountains and alpine lakes, and you may hike in two superb mountain ranges: Tien Shan and Pamir. The nation could be very mountainous. 90% of the nation is over 1500 meters (4921 toes) and 41% is over 3000 meters (9842 toes).
We went to Kyrgyzstan considering we had been performing some average mountaineering, however as an alternative, did a number of the most troublesome hikes of our lives. For those who’re speaking to any native there about mountaineering, give it some thought just like the Thai scorching scale since they dwell within the mountains. Once they say it’s average, it’s troublesome, and if they are saying it’s troublesome, it begins entering into mountaineering.
Additionally, trails in Kyrgyzstan are usually not marked and due to all of the cattle, there are trails all over the place. We extremely recommend hiring a information. I don’t assume we might have discovered our means by way of on our personal. You’ll be able to contact Daniyar, who was our information.
SOUVENIRS TO BRING HOME
We often strive avoiding bringing residence souvenirs. After we do, we attempt to deliver again one thing edible or at the least sensible. We ended up bringing again a custom-made felt carpet.
- Honey – Kyrgyzstan has been well-known for his or her honey ever for the reason that Silk Highway instances.
- Kurut – smelly dried yogurt balls.
- Shirdak – conventional felt rug utilized by Kyrgyz nomads to cowl the flooring of their yurt. These are stunning and helpful.
- Kalpak – conventional Kyrgyz hat for males.
- Tea Bowls make nice souvenirs because it’s sensible and you find yourself consuming a lot tea if you’re in Kyrgyzstan.
- Yurt – We hope to order a mini one and get it made for our cats!
- DIY Felt Carpet – We made one at Ak-Orgo Ltd, which was an expertise + memento to take residence.
Take into account that memento purchasing isn’t simple in Kyrgyzstan like different in style vacationer locations. You’ll need to be way more intentional. For those who’re on a tour, they’ll often cease at a memento store close to the tip of your journey, however for those who’re touring by yourself attempt to store the place to locals go. Listed here are some solutions on the place to go.
Relying in your itinerary, you’ve gotten completely different choices on the place to remain. When within the metropolis, there are many inns and hostels to remain at.
When you head out to rural villages, your choices will probably be extra restricted. Apart from inns and hostels, Yurt camps and tenting is in style in the course of the summer season. We actually loved staying in yurts, and certainly one of our favourite spots was Joyful Nomads Village in Karakol.
Native Tip: Take into account that in the course of the offseason, late-October to March, a number of the agricultural lodging are closed.