Set in the heart of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan has few historical sites, thanks partly to a nomadic culture, Kyrgyzstan has a lot of mountains. Kyrgyzstan is the haven for walkers, trekkers, climbers, riders and any individual who cherishes the epic view.
While there are only a few people left living a truly nomadic lifestyle, the yurt is still highly symbolic and families still spend their summers in the high pastures with their livestock.
You can plan your Kyrgyzstan travel for any time of the year. The climate is continental and varies considerably according to altitude. In the summer temperatures in Bishkek can average in the mid/high-30°Cs, while in the mountains snow and rain can be falling.
You can see the primary cultural sights with decent climate, in the mid-year – visit the acclaimed Issyk-Kul Lake, and in winter - travel to the ski-resorts close Bishkek and Karakol.
In summer, you can also visit one of the ethnic-fests where you can learn more about Nomad customs and traditions of Kyrgyz people. Some of the mountain passes are inaccessible between October and the end of May. Average temperatures in the winter are 5°C in the lowlands and -30°C in the mountains.
Marshrutka are restored minibuses that are used for both inter-city and inner-city transportation. Shared taxis are mostly used for long-distance routes, such as Bishkek to Osh. Buses run between the main centres but to get anywhere else you need to hire a car and driver.
Note that both the roads and the general standard of driving are pretty poor. Although the country is only the size of Great Britain, distances are huge between key sites. Taxis are cheap and plentiful in Bishkek.
The fastest and the most comfortable way to get to Kyrgyzstan is to fly to the Manas Airport in Bishkek that receives daily flights from the largest cities of Europe and Asia. It is also possible to fly to the southern city of Osh, where you can take flights only from Central Asia and central parts of Russia.
Driving to Kyrgyzstan is conceivable from China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. You can likewise go to Bishkek via train from Moscow and different urban areas in Russia, yet it would be a long and inconvenient way.
Most accommodation is Soviet in style – don’t expect any boutique hotels here.
Yurt camp stays can be arranged through many companies. High-end ones have flush toilets, and a high (for Kyrgyzstan) standard of cuisine.
The cuisine is a mixture of Central Asian (mutton!) and Russian, although Korean food is widespread too. Popular dishes include plov (rice with lamb and vegetables or fruit), Shashlyk (kebab), Laghman (stew with noodles) and Manty (mutton-filled dumpling). Salads and vegetable dishes are usually available as starters. Flatbreads are ubiquitous and very good.
Vegetarianism is not generally understood, but many of the restaurant starters are suitable or can be adapted. The better yurt camps can cater very well for vegetarians.
Tea (chai), either green or black, is the most common drink and is served in small bowls. Cherry and other fruit juices are widely available.
The main alcoholic drink is vodka (surprise, surprise). However, the wine is surprisingly good. It is mostly from Moldova, although Georgian is available too. Take your own bottled water and alcoholic supplies to yurt camps and guesthouses.
Many travellers seem to experience stomach problems; watch hygiene and take the usual commonsense precautions. Avoid drinking tap water.
Even though Kyrgyzstan is safe for visitors, but still you should take common precautions such as dark in Bishkek, and guard against petty theft and pickpocketing, especially in the bazaars.
This Kyrgyzstan travel guide has almost everything to make your journey to this nomadic country hassle free.