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central asia

Kyrgyzstan

A Comprehensive Travel Guide

Expect

Kyrgyzstan - today known as Central Asia’s “Island of Democracy” - is one of the most underrated destinations for travelers. Thanks to its stunning landscapes and convenient location, Kyrgyzstan was home to numerous stops on history’s most rich exchange of culture and trade - the Silk Road. Ancient traders traveled through Kyrgyzstan’s vast steppes and mountainous valleys for centuries, leaving behind striking monuments and well-preserved trade posts that travelers can still explore today. Travelers will also experience the stark juxtaposition of Kyrgyzstan’s nomadic past with the Soviet Union’s cold, Stalinist architecture. So whether you’re looking to backpack through the Tian Shen mountains horseback riding by day and sleeping in yurts by night, or you’re a history lover longing to get a tangible sense of ancient history, Kyrgyzstan is a fantastic travel destination. Check out my comprehensive travel guide below for more! 

What can i 

from Kyrgyzstan?

Places to Visit

vii. plan your trip

vi. cuisine

v. climate & weather

iv. average costs

iii. know before you go

ii. places to visit

i. what to expect

a. budget travel

b. mid-range travel

c. luxury travel

Looking for something specific?

Table of contents

KYRGYZSTAN

Lake Issyk-Kul

KYRGYZSTAN

Osh

Kyrgyzstan

Bishkek

KYRGYZSTAN

Bishkek

Burana Tower

KYRGYZSTAN

KYRGYZSTAN

Chon-Kemin Valley 

KYRGYZSTAN

Ala-Archa National Park

KYRGYZSTAN

Osh

KYRGYZSTAN

Lake Issyk-Kul

KYRGYZSTAN

Ala-Archa National Park

KYRGYZSTAN

Chon-Kemin Valley 

Burana Tower

KYRGYZSTAN

Know

you go

before

Official Language(s) – Kyrgyz, Russian
Currency – Som (KGS)
Capital City – Bishkek
Credit Cards & ATMs – Credit cards are widely accepted in large cities, but less common in rural areas. If you venture into the countryside, be sure to withdraw or exchange currency beforehand.
Outlets – C & F
Popular SIM Card Providers – Beeline, MegaCom, O!

details

osh

climate & weather

Kyrgyzstan’s climate can be described as dry and continental with four clearly-defined seasons. The northern valley of Chuy region, which includes the capital city Bishkek, experiences soaring temperatures in the summers and snowy winters. Towns located on the banks of Lake Issyk-Kul such as Karakol and Cholpon-Ata have a similar climate, however due to their proximity to the water, are slightly more temperate. The climate of Central Kyrgyzstan is significantly different from the rest of the country, as it is characterized by the Tian Shan mountains - one of the longest mountain ranges in the world. Winters at such high elevations are much more harsh and form beautiful glaciers with snowcaps year-round. In the summers, these glaciers feed into the rivers of deep valleys that flow throughout the region. In the south, temperatures are similar to the north, but tend to experience hotter, more arid summers, and are less susceptible to cold spells.

recommended 

WEATHER APPS

Yandex.Weather

Всемирный прогноз погоды

Weather 24

click a season above to see the average temperatures year-round!

weather forecast

spring

spring

summer

autumn

winter

*All data courtesy of Climates to Travel. Visit their website for more information on how this data was collected here.

Average Maximum: 3 °C // 37 °F

Average Minimum: -6 °C // 21 °F

Average Sunshine: 6 hours

Rainy days:  10 days

Average Maximum: 14 °C // 57 °F

Average Minimum: 2 °C // 36 °F

Average Sunshine: 7 hours

Rainy days: 11 days

Average Maximum: 18 °C // 64 °F

Average Minimum: 6 °C // 43 °F

Average Sunshine: 8 hours

Rainy days:  12 days

march

april

may

Average Maximum: 11 °C // 52 °F

Average Minimum: 0 °C // 32 °F

Average Sunshine: 5 hours

Rainy days:  9 days

Average Maximum: 18 °C // 64 °F

Average Minimum: 6 °C // 43 °F

Average Sunshine: 6 hours

Rainy days: 9 days


Average Maximum: 24 °C // 75°F

Average Minimum: 11 °C // 52 °F

Average Sunshine: 8 hours

Rainy days: 8 days

march

april

may

spring

bishkek

Naryn

spring

summer

autumn

winter

Average Maximum: 22 °C // 72 °F

Average Minimum: 8 °C // 46 °F

Average Sunshine: 9 hours

Rainy days: 10 days

Average Maximum: 24 °C // 75 °F

Average Minimum: 11 °C // 52 °F

Average Sunshine: 10 hours

Rainy days: 9 days

Average Maximum: 25 °C // 77 °F

Average Minimum: 10 °C // 50 °F

Average Sunshine: 10 hours

Rainy days: 7 days

june

july

august

Average Maximum: 29 °C // 84 °F

Average Minimum: 16 °C // 61 °F

Average Sunshine: 10 hours

Rainy days: 4 days

Average Maximum: 32 °C // 90 °F

Average Minimum: 18 °C // 64 °F

Average Sunshine: 11 hours

Rainy days: 3 days

Average Maximum: 31 °C // 88 °F

Average Minimum: 16 °C // 61 °F

Average Sunshine: 10 hours

Rainy days: 2 days

june

july

august

summer

bishkek

naryn

spring

summer

autumn

winter

Average Maximum: 20 °C // 68 °F

Average Minimum: 6°C // 43 °F

Average Sunshine: 9 hours

Rainy days:  5 days

Average Maximum: 13 °C // 55 °F

Average Minimum: 1 °C // 34 °F

Average Sunshine: 7 hours

Rainy days: 8 days

Average Maximum: 2 °C // 36 °F

Average Minimum: -8 °C // 18 °F

Average Sunshine: 5 hours

Rainy days:  7 days

september

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

Average Maximum: 26 °C // 79 °F

Average Minimum: 11 °C // 52 °F

Average Sunshine: 9 hours

Rainy days:  3 days

Average Maximum: 18 °C // 64 °F

Average Minimum: 5 °C // 41 °F

Average Sunshine: 6 hours

Rainy days: 6 days

Average Maximum: 11 °C //  52 °F

Average Minimum: 0 °C // 32 °F

Average Sunshine: 5 hours

Rainy days: 7 days

september

october

November

autumn

bishkek

naryn

spring

summer

autumn

winter

Average Maximum: -6 °C // 21 °F

Average Minimum: -16 °C // 3 °F

Average Sunshine: 4 hours

Rainy days: 9 days

Average Maximum: -10 °C // 14 °F

Average Minimum: -20 °C // -4 °F

Average Sunshine: 4 hours

Rainy days: 9 days

Average Maximum: -7 °C // 19 °F

Average Minimum: -17 °C // 1 °F

Average Sunshine: 5 hours

Rainy days: 9 days

DECEMBER

JANUARY

FEBRUARY

Average Maximum: 5 °C // 41 °F

Average Minimum: -5 °C // 23 °F

Average Sunshine: 4 hours

Rainy days: 6 days

Average Maximum: 3 °C // 37 °F

Average Minimum: -7 °C // 19 °F

Average Sunshine: 4 hours

Rainy days: 6 days

Average Maximum: 5 °C // 41 °F

Average Minimum: -5 °C // 23 °F

Average Sunshine: 5 hours

Rainy days: 6 days

december

January

February

winter

bishkek

naryn

spring

summer

autumn

winter

what to 

wear in 

bishkek

naryn

Ashliamfu

Plov

Kurt

Borsok

browse the culinary scene - click a dish for more info

приятного аппетита!

Plov

Borsok 

Kurt

samsa

browse the culinary scene - click a dish for more info

приятного аппетита!

Borsok 

kurt

Kuurdak 

Samsa

browse the culinary scene - click a dish for more info

приятного аппетита!

chalap

KUURDAK

Samsa

Kurt

browse the culinary scene - click a dish for more info

приятного аппетита!

Ashliamfu

chalap

KUURDAK

Samsa

browse the culinary scene - click a dish for more info

приятного аппетита!

Ashliamfu 

chalap

Plov

Kuurdak 

browse the culinary scene - click a dish for more info

приятного аппетита!

Chalap

Ashliamfu

Borsok 

Plov

browse the culinary scene - click a dish for more info

приятного аппетита!

Ashliamfu (Ашлямфу)

Ashliamfu is a popular dish unique to the Dungan culture, and has spread throughout Central Asia. Dungans are a Muslim, minority group exiled from China and have taken refuge in several Kyrgyz towns near the Tian Shan mountains. Ashliamfu, consequently, became very popular in these regions. This delicious soup is usually served cold and consists of noodles, vegetables, chili and vinegar. Ashliamfu can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and is a great option for budget travelers (it's usually less than $1!). Authentic Ashliamfu is such a delicacy that some restaurants in Kyrgyzstan only have Ashliamfu on the menu!

Plov (Плов)

Plov is one of my favorite Central Asian dishes - seriously I could have it for every meal for the rest of my life and be completely satisfied! Plov is a rice dish garnished with meat, vegetables, and spices. Traditional plov is cooked in a giant cauldron-like pot called a “kazan” where everything is added, tossed, and cooked. One night my host mother let me invite my friends over to the house and she made plov for 10 people in her kazan! My favorite pairings with plov are onions and tomatoes.

Borsok (баурсаки) 

Borsok is a traditional Central Asian dish that consists of flour, water, butter, salt, and oil. They are essentially fried dough balls that can be eaten plain or paired with jam, honey, or butter. Borsok are a staple Kyrgyz dish that are served in plenty at the majority of special occasions. Bowls of these delicious dough balls line the tables for all to enjoy.

Kurt (Курут)

Kurt are small, hard cheese balls that make for the perfect pocket snack. Kurt is made by hardening soured milk in the sun and is extremely salty, so it is definitely an acquired taste. They are commonly found at local bazaars and have been a Kazakh staple for centuries.

Samsa (Самса)

Samsa’s are incredibly tasty savory pastries, filled typically with meat such as chicken or beef, vegetables, or potatoes. Samsa’s are a popular Kyrgyz dish, but also have several variations throughout Central Asia. Samsa’s from Osh, Kyrgyzstan are among the most highly rated in the country, as many restaurants there bake the pastries in traditional clay ovens called “tandoors.” Samsa’s are great snacks to have while traveling as they are filling, tasty as hell, and cheap!

Kuurdak (Куырдак)

Kuurdak is a very popular Kyrgyz dish that consists of mutton, animal fat, and onions. The meat and fat are fried with the onions, and enriched with various spices and seasonings. The dish is often served with potatoes, squash, and vegetables. This dish is quite diverse across Central Asia with several varied meat and organ options - with the exception of pork in observance of Muslim practice not eating pork.

Chalap (Чалап)

Chalap is an ancient, traditional Kyrgyz beverage similar to kumis and maksym. Chalap is the product of mixing salt, carbonated water, and kurut - cheese balls made of fermented sheep’s milk - into a drinkable beverage. It has a unique salty taste, and is definitely an acquired taste for foreigners. You can find bottled chalap in stores, but the most authentic and popular chalap is sold out of jugs by street vendors in the cities or by shepherds in the mountains. Locals love drinking chalap in the summer, citing it as a “refreshing” drink that restores electrolytes lost from the summer heat.

Kyrgyz Cuisine

приятного аппетита!

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