Kyrgyzstan is a nation defined by its topography: joyously unspoilt mountainscapes, stark craggy ridges, and rolling summer pastures (jailoos) are brought to life by semi-nomadic, yurt-dwelling shepherd cultures. Add to this natural beauty a well-developed network of homestays and the recent introduction of visa-free travel, and it's easy to see why Kyrgyzstan is rapidly becoming the gateway of choice for Western travellers in Central Asia. As can be expected in a country where the vast majority of attractions are rural and high altitude, the timing of your visit is crucial. Summer is ideal with hikes and roads generally accessible. Midsummer also sees Kazakh and Russian tourists converge on the beaches of never-freezing Lake Issyk-Köl. From October to May, much rural accommodation closes down and the yurts that add such character to the Alpine vistas are stashed away. So think twice about a winter visit unless you've come to ski.
Kyrgyzstan is situated in Central Asia, its neighbouring countries are Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tadjikistan to the south and China to its East and South-East. The former Republic of the Soviet Union became independent in the year 1991 and since then is a democratic Presidential Republic. Bishkek, formerly called Frunze, is the capital with about 1 million inhabitants, the country as a whole has about 5 million inhabitants and an area of 198.500 km².
As a result of its varied and turbulent history, the country throughout the centuries became a real melting pot of nationalities: The ethnic group of the Kyrgyz, traditionally nomads that still nowadays often live as half-nomads (see also "Kyrgyz people and their traditions"), makes up only a bit more than 50% of the population. The two other important ethnic groups are Russians and Uzbeks, both with about 15 % of the population. The Russians came into the region during the 19 th century, and especially the capital Bishkek, only 125 years old, is heavily influenced by the Russian way of life and Soviet architecture. Because of this people, also the second-biggest religious group in the mostly muslim country (83%) are Russian-orthodox.
The Uzbek people lives to its biggest part in the south of the country, close to the border to Uzbekistan. This part of the country is also much more influenced by muslim traditions than the rest. Other people out of those more than 80 nationalities and ethnic groups living in Kyrgyzstan are European ones like Germans or Ukrains, muslim chinese people like Dungans, as well as Tatars and Uighurs.
Although there are so many different people living in the region, whose lifestyle and traditions sometimes differ a lot, they all have one thing in common: The typical Central Asian hospitality, that can in no way be compared with the way guests are greeted in the western world: Never you will come across a yurt without being invited for a cup of the national drink Kymyz and a snack, never you will be invited into the house of locals without facing a table, completely full of delicacies already before the main dish is served.
Nontheless, gastronomy is only one way where hospitality is shown: The warmth and openness of the people can be felt already when you first get acquainted, and at the second meeting you're very often already considered as a family member!
Bishkek - the Capital of Kyrgyzstan
Bishkek, KyrgyzstanBishkek, the capital of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, with a population of about 1 million, located in the Chui valley at the northern foot of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too on an inclined plain, at an altitude of 700-900 meters above sea level.
Its progenitrix was a fortress of Pishpek that appeared in 1925 – a fortification to protect the caravan routes running from Tashkent across the Chui valley to Issyk-Kul Lake.
After the battle with the Russian imperial troops and Kokand conquerors this fortification was destroyed and became part of the marginal lands of the Russian Empire. In 1897 the Pishpek population listed only 6,600 inhabitants. Pre-revolutionary Pishpek was more like a dusty village of mud houses. With the advent of Soviet rule, the city became rapidly developing. In 1926 he was renamed in honor of the revolutionary and military leader Mikhail Frunze who was born here. In 1991 the city got back its old name in the new interpretation - Bishkek. According to experts, "bishkek" means a stick for beating koumiss - the national drink of sour mare's milk.
Bishkek - one of the major cities of Central Asia and the largest city in Kyrgyzstan with a population of over 800,000 people, the multinational city with over 80 nationalities. The main language of international communication is Russian.
Bishkek, KyrgyzstanThe city has many places for recreation. There are several major museums, the most interesting of which is the Historical Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Museum named after M.V. Frunze. Downtown is flecked with posters Opera and Ballet Theatre, Russian and Kyrgyz Drama theaters, Bishkek City Drama Theatre, State Philharmony named after T. Satylganov.
It kept a lot of places reminding of the city history. Especially the centre is heavily influenced by the Soviets, and you can enjoy quite a number of typical soviet-style architecture (Philharmonia – concert hall, government building, Historic Museum, Monument for the Great War of the Native Country) but also modern monuments pointing out the traditional Kyrgyz culture (Monument of Manas, Monument of Independence, as well as many statues of Akyns, manaschi and local governors of different periods). It is interesting to note that Bishkek is the only city in Central Asia, where there is a monument to Lenin on the Central Square. Bishkek remembers its history and is pleased to tell it to anyone who wants to visit the small but cozy capital. Also, the city is famous being one of the greenest in the world, due to its countless parks and avenues, which make the town a nice place to live also in the heat of the summer.
Bishkek is an easy, inexpensive city to get around in. It is on a grid and relatively small capitol city, so navigating on foot or by car is easy. The mountains to the south are nearly always in view. Bishkek is wide and flat, and it's "center" is regarded as an interestingly large percentage of the overall city, usually including the area of Sovietskaya to Manas several blocks on either side of Chui. Public transportation (mini-buses and trolleybuses) usually runs from 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning till 9:00 or 9:30 at night.
One can cover a large part of Bishkek on foot in under an hour. It is relatively easy to get a bearing even if one isn't familiar with the city. However, hazards exist: Pedestrians are not given the "right-of-way" by cars as they usually are in other parts of the world, unmarked potholes, ditches and uncovered manholes are frequent, streets are poorly lit at night and violent crime relating to drunkenness happens. Travelers are advised to visit the Alpine Zone's page on "safety" - especially concerning foot travel at night. Westerners are picked out by locals nearly instantly. In general, people are friendly but unapologetically curious.
Taxis are readily available and cheap. Official taxis are marked but most people don't have a problem getting in the unofficial ones, which may or may not have a removable taxi sign on the roof. As a rule of thumb 70-100 som is a basic price for a short ride from one part of the city to another, but it might cost anywhere from 70 to 200 soms depending on distance, time of day, venue and your charm.
It is best to give a landmark that is close to your destination, and when going to restaurants, mentioning the intersection of two streets (like Moskovskaya-Razzakova) is better than saying Navigator Bar. The drivers might be tempted to charge you more money if they figure you've got it. You will definitely have to bargain. Make sure the driver isn't drunk and agree on a price before getting in. You may or may not be supplied with a seatbelt - and can expect an heart-felt protest if you try to find one.
Additionally there is a more professional, standard priced but more expensive "Super Taxi." Super Taxi is the most reliable way to get somewhere. Order one phone (dial 152), tell them your location and destination and they will pick you up in 10-20 minutes. Fares within the city start at 90 soms. If reliability, safety and not haggling is your priority Super Taxi is the best option.
Other official taxis in Bishkek
Marshrutki are the hundreds of VW, Mercedes and other vans driving in all different directions with numbered signs. Marshrutki are cheap (8 soms in Bishkek, 6 soms in Osh) and go just about anywhere, but the trick is figuring out which one is going where you need to.
Flag a passing Marshrutka by sticking your arm and hand out parallel to the ground, hop in and pay 8 soms upon entrance (in the southern part of the country pay up exiting). Marshrutka etiquette is that passengers farther from their stop should move to the back, young men and boys should give their seats to older folks (especially women), and one should take care not to step on or otherwise insult other passengers with their feet.
Marshrutki can become very, very crowded and drivers, understandably, are not known for their customer service with confused tourists. Many tourists decide to forego Marshrutki, opting instead for taxis. The following two pieces of advice can be given for new riders:
1. Along Chui, the vast majority of Marshrutki are commuting from Osh Bazaar to TsUM and say so relatively prominently on their front sign (in Cryllic script). This route will take you within blocks of a large part of Bishkek.
2. At a bus stop, ask a local person what number Marshrutka is heading where you need to go, hop in, pay the driver, and say "asta-naveetsya" when you want to stop.
Trolleybuses are the big electric busses. The are slow, dilapidated and their electric rods frequently become disconnected from the overhead lines forcing a squealing stop. Enter from the back and pay 5 soms fare to the driver in the front upon exiting. Those who can afford it avoid trolleybuses. The best advice for trolleybuses is to stay well out of their way (and especially the path of their air horn).
Issyk-Kul (“hot lake” in Kyrgyz) is the world's second largest salt lake ( after Caspian) and is 1609 above sea level. The lake is about 180 km long by 70 km wide and 668 meters deep at the deepest point, (the average depth is about 300 meters ).The lake never freezes ( hence the name), even though surrounded by mountains.
The area was basically unknown to the Western world until Russian “explorers” like Tianshansky Semeyenov ventured into the mountains nearby. There was greater contact with the East, however, and the Chinese traveler Jan Chan Tzan reached the lake in about 128 BC as part of a 6-year journey of exploration (138-126BC). The first written account of the lake comes from another Chinese traveler, Suan Zsan, when describing his 16-year journey of exploration. The first written example of the use of the name, Isi-kul, dates from an anonymous work – “The boundaries of the world from East to West” – written in Tajik in 982 AD. It also accurately states the size of the lake.
From Bishkek the lake is approached through Boom Gorge, and it is possible to cut into the mountains here to the Chon Kemin valley. The lake lies at the bottom of a drainage hollow, or depression and has no outflow.
Issyk Kul, KyrgyzstanMountains ring the lake and there are several valleys worth visiting, Gregorievka and Simeonevka on the North, Barskoon on the South and numerous others around Karakol. To the North are the Kungei (“Sunny”) Ala-Too mountains and are criss-crossed by trekking routes including ones that connect the lake with Almaty – while to the South lie the Teskei (“Shady”) Ala- Too mountains. These mountain ranges protect the Issyk Kul hollow from winds bringing either extreme cold – or extremely hot winds. Moreover, the lake valley is a unique combination of sea, steppe, mountain climates and eternal ice zone. The very appearance of Issyk-Kul Lake is a “geological mystery”.
Issyk-Kul is a special place famous for its warm, sandy beaches, thermal mineral radon springs, alpine meadows, coniferous forests of the park type. All this is beside the enchanting and alluring peaks and glaciers, including many of the highest mountain verticals.
The lake Issyk-Kul has been held in high regard by the Kyrgyz – it is known as the “pearl of the Tien Shan” – and in 2004, the government declared the lake as the “property of the nation”.
Issyk Kul, KyrgyzstanDue to its size it sometimes appears like an inland sea, and it has a fair number of beaches. Most of these are on the Northern shore and have long acted as a magnet for tourists. There is a large number of hotels, sanatoria, guesthouses and homestays at various points around the lake, many of which can make arrangements for services to the neighbouring mountains. Some of the sanatoria have hydrothermal springs and offer mud baths.
The tourist season usually runs from June until September – but the peak season is from about 25 th July until 25 th August – and it may be difficult to find places and prices are at a premium. A number of the sanatoria, hotels, guesthouses and homestays around the lake operate all year round – although some are open only during the summer season.
Those who have health problems are offered a wide range of effective health treatment and spa. There is a beautiful resort area with mud and thermal mineral spa. There is a dead lake, an analog of the Israeli Dead Sea 200 m from Issyk-Kul Lake and 8 km from the southern highway.
Issyk-Kul region is also home to many nesting and resting migratory and wintering birds, including swans, geese, ducks, cranes and many other representatives of the fauna.
The area relishes in some 2900 hours of sunshine a year. Because of the effect of the mountain ranges North and South, it does not suffer from extreme Continental climatic conditions. Summer temperatures are usually around 25-28 °C, but as the lake lies at an altitude of some 1606m, it can get quite chilly, especially at night. Winter temperatures can be around –5 °C.
10 things to do in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan, the 90% territory of which is located on the height of 1500 meters and above, first of all it is famous for its beautiful mountain peaks and high-mountain pearl of the country – Lake Issyk-Kul. Vacation in Kyrgyzstan is not only golden sand beaches of Issyk-Kul and mountain resorts, we will tell you about 10 things to do in the country glorified by “Manas” epos; without them your trip won’t be complete.
Issyk-Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan1. See Lake Issyk-Kul - the pearl of Tyan-Shan. Crystal clear mountain lake Issyk-Kul does not freeze even during the coldest time. Its inspiring beauty reminds a fairy-tale. People say that a journey here presents more impressions than a month long travelling. Protected with the mountain chains, the valley of Issyk-Kul has several climate types: sea, steppe, mountain and the zone of glaciers. Issyk-Kul attracts with its golden sand beaches, alpine meadows and coniferous forests. The Lake is well-known for its resorts, sanatoriums and spa treatment. The resort area is rich for its thermo-mineral radon springs and offers wide range of mud and thermo-mineral treatment. It’s hard to imagine vacation in Kyrgyzstan without diving into the turquoise waters of beautiful Issyk-Kul Lake.
Burana Tower, Kyrgyzstan2. Climb the Burana Tower. No other architectural monument on the Kyrgyz land is as famous as the minaret of the Karakhanids Khanate – the Burana Tower. The tower was erected in the 11th century from bricks. Brick tower differs much from other towers built earlier in Central Asia, thus founding a new direction. According to various evaluations, the initial height of the tower was from 40 to 45 meters. Today the tower is no more than 20 meters. Make sure you take a trip there, where once there was Balasagun – the capital of the Karakhanids Khanate owning at those times a huge territory. Burana Tower was erected in the period of Khanate’s heyday and you will definitely hear many beautiful and sad legends related to the tower from your tour guides.
Arslanbob, Kyrgyzstan3. Hear the roaring sounds of the waterfall in Arslanbob. Did you know that the origin of the walnuts (known in Russian as “Gretskiy orekh”), beloved in different parts of the world, is in the valley of the Arslanbob river with the biggest nut woods. So is the opinion not only of those who live in this resort area located 1700meters above the sea level, but many other scientists as well. The story goes back to the Alexander the Great and his legions. The square of the reserve of the Arslanbob valley makes 16,300 hectares, out of which 7,255 hectares are planted with nut woods. At present around 1500 tons of walnuts are harvested annually. The mountain resort with its waterfalls, cliff gorges, nut valleys and fruit forests (pistachios, apples and cherry plums) and healing air has been the most beloved vacation resort for the dwellers of the Ferghana Valley. If you are on your vacation in Kyrgyzstan, make sure you visit Arslanbob and climb there where there are icy mountain river streams falling down the cliffs into a waterfall. There are well-known Big and Small Arslanbob waterfalls. According to one of the versions, it is the Big Arslanbob waterfall falling down from the 80 meters resembling the sound of a roaring lion had given the name to this paradise valley – Arslonbob – “Lion gates”.
4. Touch the holy rocks of Tamga-Tash. Tamga-Tash is a chain of three rocks engraved with the Tibetan inscriptions. On the first rock, a huge boulder, there is inscribed in Tibetan: “Om mani badme hum”. It is a mantra of bodhisattva Avalokiteshravra – the oldest and one of the most famous mystic formulas of Buddha tantrism. Its meaning is much wider from its literal translation: “O, pearl, shining in the flower of lotus”. Inscriptions are made on two more boulders, each of which is one km away from another. The approximate creation time of the inscriptions differs: not earlier than 8th century and not later than 17th century. And during all these centuries, Buddhist pilgrims walked to the Tamga gorge on the south shore of Issyk-Kul, to see with their own eyes and feel with their palms the roughness of the rocky sanctuary. Experience the mystery of the holy place.
Sary-Chelek Lake, Kyrgyzstan5. Draw some water from the “Yellow cup” of the Sary-Chelek Lake. If Issyk-Kul is the most famous lake in Kyrgyzstan, then the Sary-Chelek is doubtlessly the most picturesque, mysterious and fantastic. The lake, located in the height of 1873 meters above the sea level, stretches for 7,5 km long. The width of the lake ranges between 350 and 1500m. It is not that easy to get here as the lake is situated on the territory of the Sary-Chelek State Biosphere Reserve, in the western part of Tyan-Shan, on the southern ridge of the Chatkal mountain range. The reserve stretches for 23,868 hectares and is situated on the height of 1200 till 4247 meters above the sea level. There are flora and fauna being preserved there, most of which have entered the Red Book. There you can see bears, wolves, lynx, foxes, deer, boar, porcupine and rulers of the snowy cliffs – snow leopards. Fishing in rivers flowing into the lake is prohibited, but in the lake itself you can try your luck on fishing. The lake is called “The Yellow Cup” due to its amazing feature of reflecting the autumn forest on its deep waters that gets till 234 meters.
Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan6. See the “stone garden” of Cholpon-Ata. If you are on a vacation in Kyrgyzstan – you should definitely visit the museum of rock paintings under the sky stretching on the territory of 42 hectares on the shores of the Issyk-Kul Lake. Here, on the square of 4 thousand km and the width that ranges between 600m and 2000m lie thousands of boulders in the size of 0,5 and 3 meters that have petroglyphs inscribed on them. Many of the pictures of ancient artists have been done in Saka-Scythian “animal” style: pictures of hunters, scenes from hunting with tamed snow leopards. Easy to recognize are the exquisitely done pictures of argali and deer, bulls and horses. The main part of petroglyphs of Cholpon-Ata date back to the period of the 2 B.C. – 4 A.D., though there are also later pictures too. Most of the stones face south-east and south-west thus they relate their origin to religious rituals and ceremonies. It could be that these cromlechs served as astronomical tools. The best time to visit the museum is early morning or late in the evening when outlines of the pictures are seen clearly.
Tash-Rabat, Kyrgyzstan7. Visit the rocky caravan-saray under the sky. Ancient caravan-saray Tash-Rabat is located on the height of 3500m above the sea level. The stone building has been restored where once there was an inn on the Great Silk Road, and had preserved the medieval atmosphere. The first building in this picturesque gorge Kara-Koyun turned out here already in the 10th century, and in the 15th century a fundamental building was erected on its place. Tash-Rabat was used for protection from bad weather and robbers of caravan going from the Chu and Ferghana Valleys to Kashgar and back. Also it was a resting and worship place. Gorge slopes are filled with meadows where herds of horses and yaks, flocks of sheep and goats are grazing. There are no similar caravan-sarays in the entire Central Asia.
8. Buy Uzgen rice in the markets of Osh. If you are on your vacation in Kyrgyzstan, then take a trip to Osh. And when you are finally in Osh, make sure you go to one of the oldest markets of the world – bazaar “Jayma” stretching along the west shores of the river Ak-Bura for a kilometer. This bazaar is famous for its location on the crossroad of trading routes from India to Europe for already more than 2000 years. There is everything there - literally everything. Food and household appliances, crafts rows and textiles, perfumery and souvenirs, fresh fruits and pistachios, hot bread and plov. There are even some stockyard rows too. Guests from all corners of Ferghana Valley and adjoining countries flow to this biggest bazaar in Kyrgyzstan. Make sure you leave bazaar with Uzgen rice in your shopping basket. How many people, so many opinions, but the best plov is made of Uzgen rice bought in the Osh bazaar.
Suleiman-Too, Kyrgyzstan9. Climb the Mount Suleiman. Four-headed mountain range of Suleiman-Too (Suleiman Mountain) is situated in the centre of the southern capital of Kyrgyzstan, the city of Osh. For centuries pilgrims have been going to this holy mount where, according to the legend, the biblical King Solomon had prayed. It is considered that forehead and knees of the prophet have been imprinted on the rocks of that period. Unique historical and architectural monument that the founder of the Great Mogol Dynasty Bobur had cared for, lived through different moments. The place especially suffered during the rule of the Communists. In 2009, the Mount Suleiman-Too had been included to the UNESCO World Heritage List. These days the biggest part of the mountain is included in the list of the National Museum-Reserve “Great Silk Road” and comprises of the Mausoleum of Asaf ibn-Burkhiya, mosque “Takhti-Suleiman” (The Throne of Solomon) and mosque Jami Ravat Abdullakhan; both mosques are of 9-11th centuries.
World Nomads Games, Kyrgyzstan10. Visit the World Nomads Games. Plan your vacation in Kyrgyzstan to the ethnographic tourist festival “World Nomads Games” that is held in the city of Cholpon-Ata on the shores of the Issyk-Kul Lake. The event is the unique opportunity to take a trip through the time. You will see contests on ten kinds of sports: alish (belt wrestling), alaman bayge (hurdle-race on a long distance), jorgo salysh (races on amble horses), kazak kurosh, kok boru (goat bashing), kunan chabysh (races of 3-year old horses), Kyrgyz kurosh, ordo (Kyrgyz national game on bones), toguz korgool (Kyrgyz intellectual board game), er enish (wrestling on horses). World Nomads Games is not only a sport championship; it is also a rich cultural program. It also includes cooking numerous rare dishes; even the royal dish like lamb cooked in sour cream. You will also hear old songs, explore ritual dances and even the ceremony for expulsion of evil spirits.
Culture of Kyrgyzstan - The blend of various great cultures of the world
The nomadic heritage of Kygyzstan and its historical association with several cultures of the world has beautifully driven a new distinct culture of the Kyrgyz which is similar, yet beautifully apart from other cultures.
Kyrgyz villager clothes are typically nomad-like which can be explained from the past mode of life as well as the temperature of the mountainous regions where they dwell. Therefore their clothes are usually thick and made of material like woolen robes or sheep-skin coats. Clothes made from fells of wild and domestic animals and woolen-burlaps are also widely used.
Male’s apparel consists of coarse top and wide trousers paired with a sleeveless jacket, boots and a special hat made of white wool, known as Ak-Kalpak – the Kyrgyz National hat. Whereas, the women dressing consists of a long and wide A-line dress, long and wide trousers paired with a camisole and a special head-dresses (worn according to age groups and relationship status) called 'Elchek' 'Tebetei' and 'Shokulo' . Married women also wear skirts with broad belts and vibrant embellishment.
Cities of Kyrgyzstan like Bishkek have adopted more of the modern methods and traditions do not exist here as strongly as in the villages. People wear any clothes they want like jeans, shirts, shorts etc. Russian women wear exposive clothes whereas the Muslims are rather modest. However, a funny thing to notice in Kyrgyzstan is the overly formal dressing of people for football matches, work and other event but a very casual look for special occasions. You may be shock-stricken by the sight of men in 3-piece suits attending a football match and in jogging-gear for a concert in Music Hall. Another interesting fact is wearing the same clothes every day is part of the tradition and people do not prefer changes in get-up at all.
Yurta for the people of Kyrgystan is more than just a comfy housing. They are sort of spherical camps with several felt layers fastened by ropes, designed thousands of years ago by Kyrgyz who had a nomadic way of living and Yurt Inns are since then a part of culture. You can still find them all around the country. They have ample supply of carpets, juk blankets, and pillows heaped-up on special places of rest.
Yurta is divided into 2 parts. The right side, is the “women’s side' (the eptchi zhak). This is the place for kitchen utensils and dish-washing. Threads needles, needle-work, knitting and all sorts of females articles are kept in bags over here. The left side part is for male (er zhak). Here one can find fasten saddlery, kumchas (whips), knives for hunting and all the essential tools that one requires for cattle-breeding, handicraft and hunting. In the families of Kyrgyzstan kids are taught to aid their parents in chores of the household- a practice that has been carried on from generations. Yurta Inns are the sign of the preserved heritage of the Kyrgyz.
Modern living is the cities are more of an urbanized settlement. People usually live in concrete housings and apartments with proper sanitation and facilities. International standards-based hotels can also be found in the region for taking abode.
Kyrgyz music is rich and royal, which serves as a symbol of the country's heritage. Their music is both vocal and instrumental. The genres of the tunes include traditional folk as well as professionally made classical music for concerts and occasions.
All of the Kyrgyzstan's musical-instruments are categorized into 4 major groups:
- with the origin of sound from the tensions of the strings:
Conventional stringed instruments of Kyrgyzstan are and Kyl-Kyyak and Komoz. The variation amongst these two is in the way of playing the tune. Komoz is a pinch device, while Kyl-Kyyak is the device.
- with the origin of source being the tube of air in the device
Traditional wind instruments of Kyrgyzstan are countless but the most famous are Sybyzgy with diametrical aero phone and Choor with Kyrgyz conventional longitudinal aero phone.
- with the origin of sound being the tension of the membrane in the device.
The most popular of these are Dool- metal or wooden membrane-phone and Karsyldak – wooden spoon that give clicking tunes of various pitch.
- with the origin of the sound being the device body (idiophones).
Most widely known of these are Djylaajyn - idiophone involving small double or single tambourine-shaking for tune-play and as a-Musa - braced idiophone with hanging pendants that make their own sounds.
Kygyz games are very appealing and attractive to the locals as well as the tourists. These games are distinct from the world and fun.
The game of wrestling while horseriding. The game consists of two people on horseback who struggle to push the opponent off the horse. The total time given is about 10 minutes. The person who succeeds to push the competitor off the animal, falling with or without the animal wins the contest.
This is a very interesting traditional game of Kyrgyzstan. In this game the guy is required to chase the girl and kiss her while riding on the horse. This sport is usually associated with the wedding traditions of the country.
This game involves the art of picking up coins from the road horse riding.
Every player is permitted 3 consecutive tries and whoever manages to pick the coins is declared the winner of the competition.
Famous game of horse-racing.
Horse-Racing of two-three years old foals.
Each craft of Kyrgyzstan is associated with their ancient nomadic style of living. Their nomad lifestyle left its impression on the lodgings, wear and crockery of these people. Even though the nomadic life is no more, the arts and crafts of the historical significance are still the part of the beautiful heritage of the country.
The main craft includes the Carpet-weaving, woodwork, crockery-making, teasel-weaving, embroidery and making of reed-screens, leather items, jewelry, Kuraks – patchworks, and horse-saddles.
Kyrgyzstan - The marvels of nature and traditions to explore and to pump up the sport
When you are in Kyrgyzstan, the possibilities of enjoyment are endless. The region is to some extent safe and studded with the most exquisite sights one would ever get to see in his life. This is one of the very few places of the world where nature is conserved in the most original form.
Kyrgyzstan is the dreamworld of the people who have desires of adventurous journeys with a touch of traditional and natural ways. There is a a lot to explore in this country ranging from historical sites to modern constructions, from rural settlements to urban cities, from Persians to Russians, from level roads to rugged mountains and lakes, from folk music to modern songs. Every step ahead is sure to take you on a new journey of amazement and fun! It is no doubt in saying that Kyrgyzstan is where beauty and diversity lies combined.
The exquisite landscapes
In the places mentioned below, you will experience not only the very rich culture and traditions of the place, but also its modernized side. There is a lot to explore in the wonderful land of Kyrgyz.
There is also wide range of sporting activities you can engulf in when you visit these places in Kyrgyzstan. The chances of the availability of these activities depend on the region, however you can contact tourist agencies for special arrangements and guide. The list includes:
This lake is what one would call the height of natural beauty. It is probably the most attractive feature of the country. Often called “The Pearl of Central Asia", it has the ability to change color, from green to blue-ish turquoise, according to the time of the day and the positioning of the sun. The water body is enclosed by celestial Tien-Shan snowcapped ranges – the most popular mountains of Central Asia. It is the 2nd largest alpine lake of the word after Titica (USA).
The region close to the lake is renowned for its beauteous sandy-blonde shores amongst natives, Kazakhs and Russians. A lot of hotels and holiday resorts are located on the north. The region between the lake and Almaty (Kazakhstan) is fantabulous for trekking. There are also several extraordinary valleys with several climbing and trekking or even camping outlooks at south-east area of Issyk-Kul.
Ala Archa National Park
Located just an hour's drive from the Capital, this area is a marvelous place of exquisite scenery. It opens horizons to trekking, mountaineering and hiking possibilities because of the beautiful ranges and the glaciers/waterfalls; it is Kyrgystan's hiking and climbing club. Ala Archa is basically a Kyrgyz word which means 'varicolored juniper' and this juniper grows copiously over the slopes of the ranges.
Upon entree at the gate, you have to pay a small fee and then you are led to the inside of the park to discover endless range of fun-filled activities. The place is crowded on weekends but empty on working days. This place is not to miss when you go to Kyrgyzstan. You can get involved in vigorous sports or just relax by the waterfall; it’s up to you as everything has its own charm here.
Note: It is best to visit this area with a guide as visiting some parts is to be avoided.
It is one of the greatest glaciers of the world enclosed by the great Tien-Shan ranges. Located in the east-Kyrgyzstan on the Kyrgyzstan-China boundary, this 58 km extended glacier is an eye-catching wonder.
Non-climbers can use the helicopter facility to get over this glacier and adjacent Merzbachar lake which is surely giving you the experience of a lifetime.
It is a renowned natural reserve with six Alpine lakes and rich fruit and walnut woodlands. It is located at the distance of one-day drive from Jalal-Abad.
This is a wonderful place of beauty with alpine lake paired with the surrounding alpine pastureland. It's got the largest lake in Naryn region and is a habitat for pretty ducks, geese and other waterbirds . It is one-day drive from the Capital and has ravishing sights waiting for you.
Places to stay here are distinct and interesting 'Yurt Inns' where you can enjoy a shared accommodation and serving of traditional meals.
The importance of this place can be deduced from the fact that its picture is printed on the Kirghistan’s currency note. Djety Oquz is a beauteous gorge/valley which is known as “Seven Oxen” because of the seven beautiful crimson sandstones located. The area also has meadows of variety of pretty flowers which will give you a sensational time. The region is also famed for multiple trekking and climbing possibilities.
Ala Kol lake
This alpine lake is great for climbers as it has popular gorges and trek routes. It is about 3532 meters above the sea-level. The waterfall that traces its route from the lake is safe and cool making it a lovely spot for taking a dip and enjoying the swim. The region is also inhabited by many furry animals including Snow leopards that are rarely spotted.
Altyn is an extremely marvelous valley in terms of beauty with a plethora of naturally occurring hot springs. There are also man-made water pools that claim to make people healthy and wise. The fine gorges and ranges make this place great for trekkers and climbers too. You can get to this valley on a four-wheeled bus spotting very lovely sights along the way, including a spectacular waterfall.
It is an urban settlement in Jalal Abad region of Kyrgyzstan. It is adjacent to the beautiful Toktogul reservoir which gave the place its name. The area offers wide possibilities of horseriding.
Many tourist offices can be contacted if you want to explore Kyrgyzstan on a horse like the famous horseback riders of Changez Khan's era.
Broad mount pass on the Kyrgyzstan-China boundary. The pathway leads through pasturelands with shepherd-dwellings all along the route. It is situated at 2-3 hour drive from the Naryn region. Owing to its beauty and attractive sights, this pass is to check out when one visits Kyrgyzstan!
Shopping is a lovely activity in Kyrgyzstan. It is distinct from the shopping ways of the highly modernized countries of the world. There are no malls in the country. Yet, traditional Bazaars exist which are full of life during the day time with tradesmen and merchants selling off their items in negotiation prices. Bargaining with Kyrgyz is a fun-filled activity. Some of the most popular shopping centers include:
Osh and Alemadin Bazzaars
These are traditional Eastern-type shopping centers where one can find everything from clothes to cutlery. The rates are cheap and negotiable. The tradesmen here are the locals who do not speak English and may charge more from foreigners.
It is the largest super-market in the Capital city and offers almost everything from toilet articles to new electronics. It also offers traditional handicrafts and souvenirs which can be found on the fourth floor. This is a modernized shop and you may expect sellers here who are versed in English. Bargaining can also be done.
Located in Chui Prospect, this market offers a huge range of handmade wool and silk carpets. Metallic/wooden and felt articles, pots, 'chiy', and unique antiques pieces are also to be found over here. The timings of the market are 9 am in the morning till 8 pm in the evening.
Located at 57, Manas Prospect, this Art Gallery is not just a gallery but a shop too. You can buy traditional paintings, rugs, carpets, souvenirs, crafts, etc from here.
Musical/ Drama Theatres
There are numerous Musical and Drama Theaters in Kyrgyzstan, offering many different shows. Some of the most popular ones are mentioned below:
Abdylas Maldybaev - The Opera and Ballet Theatre
Located in 167, Abayrabnanova St, the theater provides resident opera and ballet institutions with guest organizations. Mainly, the shows are usually held during autumn – spring season, however performances are held at different times of the year too. The tickets cost 50 to 300 soms.
Located in Chui Prospect, this place is a gigantic theater; it has set-ups for modern and classical symphonies and local traditional and orchestral musical shows. The tickets cost range from 70 to 3000 soms as per the grandness of the show.
Kyrgyz Drama Theatre
Located just behind the government house, this theater features dramas and plays which are local as well as international. The plays are usually conducted in the Kyrgyz or Russian language. The tickets cost 20 to 200 soms, according to the length and richness of the play.
Russian Drama Theatre
Located in 122, Tynistanova St.Oak Park, this theater features a variety of international and local dramas in the Russian language. The tickets cost 30 to 300 soms.
It is a concert hall for students and teachers of musical institutions in the country. It is a hub for promotion of new music. Ticket pricing is usually promotional and cheap.