Kyrgyzstan Travel FAQ

Visa and Registration

People from several countries can visit Kyrgyzstan for at least 30 days without a visa. Citizens of some countries can receive visa upon arrival at the International Airport in Manas, and citizens of all countries can obtain e-visas.

To travel to all regions of Kyrgyzstan a Kyrgyz visa is not necessary, as certain regions need an additional border permit. For light hikes which we arrange and accompany, Advantour only processes boundary, because we can’t take full responsibility for mountain climbing and more extreme sports. Border licenses need to be approved for at least three weeks so be sure to apply in advance.

A group visa is issued for a group of two or more non-family member applicants traveling to the same location for the same purpose.
If you are already in Tajikistan, the permit will be issued by OVIR departments.

In favor of those requesting visas in a foreign nation, a letter of invitation (Loi or letter on visa support) is a written document. The tourism company submits a request for an evaluation of the document to the Foreign Ministry. The Foreign Minister reviews the application and retains the right to reject any appeal without any reason. Registered applications are sent to the embassy or consulate directly, where the visa is to be issued. But the issuing of a visa at the embassy is not possible. Not all would need a license to apply for a visa from Kyrgyz.

A consular fee is money charged by the embassy or consulate to issue a visa.
 

Within five days of arrival in Kyrgyzstan, people from certain countries must register. One basic rule is that you do not have to apply for a visa to reach Kyrgyzstan, but please scan a whole list so that complications do not arise. A major exception is Uzbekistan, where the public can visit, but must register, without a visa. It is possible to register with a tourism agency without going through, but the complicated bureaucracy takes more than just simple Russian and a lot of patience. Failure to register can result in fines and delays to leave the country.

Before Arrival

It takes from April to October to celebrate the major tourist time in Kyrgyzstan. Snow is on its lowest rate in the mountains at this period, opening trekking routes and roads to higher mountain destinations. Some areas, such as Son-Kul and Kel-Suu, will only be accessible between June and mid-September while Tash Rabat will be available between May and end of September. Lower elevations with decent roads, such as Bishkek, Osh and Issyk-Kul Bay, are all accessible during the year. In winter, ski resorts are open to winter sports lovers.

Summers are hot in Kyrgyzstan and winters are cool (like any average continental climate). In the mountains, except during the warmest months, temperatures will plunge below freezing, so tourists should carry warm clothes to higher elevations regardless of year. Travelers should have a hat, sunscreen and sunblock even to shield them from the sun at higher altitudes.

Direct flights to many other countries from Kyrgyzstan. Moscow and Istanbul are the largest international hub, with travelers often heading to Kirghizstan from the two destinations. Furthermore there are direct flights in Russia, from Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk and Bischkek, to Delhi, Dubai, Ulaanbaatar, Urumqi. Regional flights to Almaty, Astana, Dushanbe and Tashington are also available, but Ashgabat is not directly linked. Domestic flights to Batken, Isfana, Jalal-Abad and Osh are also available.

There are no stringent regulations or formal restrictions on women’s clothes, but tourists should be mindful of and respect cultural values. Women dress more conservatively in some parts of the country, especially in rural areas and in the southern part of the country, so women visitors are urged to cover their shoulders, mediumsize and decollete, and prevent short skirts and shorts. Anything is convenient to wear in Bishkek and much of northern Kyrgyzstan. Women should cover her hair with a veil before attending a church or mosque and wear at least a skirt that reaches to their knees.

Kyrgyzstan shares the north boundary with Kazakhstan, west with Uzbekistan, southwest with Tajikistan and south-east China. Some crossings are not available to visitors, and some are open only in season. There are border crossings where foreigners cross to and from the four borders of Kyrgyzstan regularly and reliably.

If you take prescription medications, you should bring enough to last you through your entire trip. Prescriptions should be kept in the original container with your name on them. Over-the-counter medications can be easily found in Kyrgyzstan, but might not be exactly the same as found in your home country. For this reason, we encourage you to bring over-the-counter medications in their original boxes for commonly encountered ailments, such as allergies, pain, or stomach problems.

Visitors are allowed to bring 1.5 L of liquor and 2 L of wine when entering Kyrgyzstan.
 

We will have mats to sleep, but with any other trek you can have your own personal belongings. You can rent sleeping bags, but it’s easier if you have your own. Sunscreen, a sun-drink, the suncloth, hot clothes, a raincoat and a bag to hold something, you can take your walking boots. You may hold your own personal belongings, but additional porters may be employed if you cannot carry your own personal belongings.

After Arrival

Bishkek’s water is safe to drink, but tourists can drink it before they drink. In almost every part of Kyrgyzstan, bottled water is ready and safe to drink. On treks, spring water is boiling so bottled water cannot be carried on long treks.

A lunch is about 10 USD per person in Bishkek, but maybe more depending on what you order and where you are dining. In other countries or smaller cities, meals may be cheaper. We say Kyrgyz cuisine, Navat, Arzu and Tyubeteyka, Beijing Duck and Chinatown are recommended for Chinese cuisine, and Dolce Vita, Prego, and Navigator are recommended for European cuisines.

Many restaurants and households can make meat-free selections or offer vegetarian alternatives versatile. There are also foods (such as fruit, vegetables, and bread) not including meat while there is no vegetarian meal on the menu. Please contact us if you are subject to dietary requirements in advance so that we can ensure that your requests are met.

There is much meat and bread in traditional Kyrgyz dishes, but many other foods are also available. Lamb, beef and poultry are the primary meats. Pork is difficult to find since it is predominantly Muslim in population. In summer especially, fresh fruit and vegetables are popular (just make sure to wash them well before eating). In Bishkek, too, there are various restaurants serving Russian, European and Chinese dishes.

Medical treatment in Kyrgyzstan is easily accessible, and our guides and our business will make every attempt to support you in a medical emergency. In case doctors or health workers don’t know English, we can have an interpreter. Guides can assist with basic first aid during treks. The most daunting situation for providing aid is alpinism so as to make sure climbers take care and reduce their dangers.

Yes, SIM cards are available from authorized dealers (but will require a passport to register) or from unauthorized dealers.

There are three mobile phone carriers in Kyrgyzstan: Beeline, O!, and MegaCom.
 

Visa and MasterCard are accepted by most banks and hotels. Many stores allow only cash, while some can take cards. Payments are almost exclusively in cash in smaller towns and rural areas (Kyrgyz soms). In cities in larger cities, but not in smaller towns, ATMs can be found. ATMs can accept most relevant cards and the use of ATMs as in other countries is not limited (beyond a daily limit that depends on cards). Currency transfers often exist and usually exchange rates are fair.

Yes, you can leave items either in a car or in a hotel while you are on a trek. This may require additional payment. Please check with the driver or hotel management before leaving your items somewhere.

Bazaars are an ideal way to explore the culture of Central Asia, but may cause some difficulties. Make sure you know about pickpockets to keep things and records secure. Bazaars may also be fun to photograph, but before taking photos please ask for permission.

Transportation Questions

Bishkek is connected to Moscow, Ekaterinburg and Novokuznetsk in Russia by railroad. The most commonly used railroad goes from Bishkek to Balykchy, on Lake Issyk-Kul.

There is no electronic train ticket system available in Kyrgyzstan. Tickets may be bought at most 30 days before the trip.

The most popular modes of transport in Kyrgyzstan are busses, trolleybusses, marshrutkas and taxis. There are 8 som ($0.11) buses (busses and trolleybusses) and 10 som ($0.14) for city trips (flights of fixed routes). Taxi vary from 70 som and 300 som, depending on the distance ($1.02 to $4.41). Some taxis are metered, and some need to negotiate a ticket. Metered taxis, like taxis in cities other than Bishkek, are usually less costly. Transport costs between towns would vary between 100 and 400 som, or likely higher, based on the size, between $1.47 and $5.88.

General Questions

Though the distances may not be very large, winding roads that have to pass around mountains and borders mean that journeys by car can sometimes take a while.

RouteEst. distance, kmEst. distance, milesEst. driving time
Bishkek – Osh69043014 hours
Bishkek – Cholpon Ata2601604 hours
Bishkek – Karakol4052507 hours
Bishkek – Jalal-Abad56535011 hours
Bishkek – Kochkor1951204 hours
Bishkek – Naryn3151956 hours
Bishkek – Naryn – Torugart5403351 day driving + 1 day crossing border
Bishkek – Talas2901807 hours

It offers us some benefits to sell tours without travel costs. First of all, you would have more freedom to select your path, such as the airport you want to leave or the way to Kyrgyzstan. Second, when they’re in Kyrgyzstan, many people join our tours, so no air tickets are required. You have the independence and the convenience to buy your own tickets and to choose the best fare for you. We can still order air fares, but only for airlines on our system. If you want to purchase tickets through our services, please contact us.

Buying and drinking alcoholic beverages is permitted.
 

Kyrgyzstan has a regular Euro socket outlet of 220V (types C and F). The conversion system can be bought by visitors from different conflict countries and by visitors from countries with various plug shapes. When purchasing a converter, you should consider the power and circuit of your machines.

Kyrgyzstan is legally bilingual, and the official languages are Kyrgyz and Russian. In Bishkek and in the government, Russian is more prevalent, while in rural and other towns, Kyrgyz language is the most common. Uzbek and Tajik are popular in south Kyrgyzstan, and there are Uyghur, Turkish and other Turkish-speaking groups. As the foreign language, English is becoming more popular, and German, French, and Chinese can also be found. Many people speak many languages as guides and interpreters.

The national currency of Kyrgyzstan is the som. Coins in denominations of 1, 3, 5, and 10 soms, plus bills in 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 som are in circulation. 1 som can be divided into 100 tyiyn, though tyiyn are used very rarely.

We frequently give custom tours. Please feel free to email us and we will happily assist you if you are involved in events or places listed on our website. We also can plan a tour based on the number of days that you would like to fly, even if you don’t know where you want to see exactly.

One supplement is the extra expense of booking a space alone for solos. Our tour rates are determined using a single supplement, using double rooms as a starting point.

Half board includes breakfast and either lunch OR dinner. Full board includes all three meals.
 

A double room is a room shared by two people with one king-sized bed. A twin room is a room shared by two people with two smaller, separate beds.

Local residents who live in the property maintain a guest house. It’s like a bed and breakfast or a guest house. Guest houses are typically pretty affordable lodging like a restaurant. Home stays are homes in which people live and receive guests. They are family run properties. Visitors can spend the night eating breakfast and order lunch and dinner to sample typical home-made dishes.

Homestays will provide visitors with a single bedroom, usually with beds, but also with floor mattresses. Towels and blankets are available. The bathroom can be shared even outside. WCs can be western-style or toilets can be squat, but you can be versatile. Further meals can be ordered separately from the breakfast price included with the homestay.
Typically there are no beds, however, dense mattresses and blankets are on the floors (but often no towels). Yurts are typically divided into 4-5 individuals, based on yurt size. Toilets are outside and not west-style almost certainly.

Be happy for toilets to be versatile. Toilets can range from toilets in west style to plain outhouses, with everything between them. There are squat toilets in some locations and there could be no drinking water at some sites. The public toilets on the path, which cost between 5 and 10 som ($0.07 to $0.14) will be given at cafes and at gas stations.