Tourism in Kyrgyzstan

Tourism in Kyrgyzstan

Is Kyrgyzstan truly the Switzerland of Central Asia? Since independence, the people and government of this small and mountainous country have dreamed of being a model of economic prosperity in our region. It is a complicated topic to evaluate in terms of political and socio-economic developments and I will leave such a burden for the economists and political scientists. However, I believe and can support it that Kyrgyzstan has the full potential of becoming a touristic Switzerland of not only Central Asia, but of Asia at large. In this post, I will highlight the major tourism potentials and trends of Kyrgyzstan, which distinguish our small, cozy country as a special travel destination.

Adventure Tourism in Kyrgyzstan

There is no use to argue about it, 
I have known for a very long time: 
There is one thing that’s better than mountains 
And it’s the mountains that we haven’t climbed

Vladimir Visotsky

Adventure tourism is often referred to involving a physical activity or cultural exchange in nature. In the case of Kyrgyzstan, adventure tourism is directly related to the activities conducted in the MOUNTAINS.

Just open google earth and type Kyrgyzstan. What are you going to see? Mountains! Approximately 90% of the country in mountainous. Two of the world’s most majestic mountain ranges, the Pamir and Tien Shan gloriously weave their way through our land. Such a natural phenomenon truly makes Kyrgyzstan a country of the Celestial Mountains. Hikes of different levels of difficulty with views to the glorious mountain peaks, wonderful high-valleys and crystal alpine lakes make Kyrgyzstan a true paradise for adventure travelers and lovers of pristine nature. Moreover, meeting with the real and hospitable semi-nomads who have been inhabiting these mountains for millennium makes these hikes not only physically active but also culturally interactive. 


Image by Hana Dragounová
Image by AndreiGarm

Cultural Tourism

 “If we danced and shared music, we’d be too busy en-joy-in’ life to start a war.” 

― E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

You can discover the cultural aspect of Kyrgyz people not only in high mountains. The legacies of freedom-loving nomadic culture and philosophy are preserved even among the most modern urban population. Up until nowadays, Kyrgyz people sustain their ancient traditions and customs in daily life. You can verify it by observing how Kyrgyz people cook, serve their guests, celebrate and simply hang out. What really doubles the attractiveness of cultural exploration of Kyrgyzstan is the hospitality of Kyrgyz people. Another hospitable nation? Really? I am sure that this term sounds overused to you; I challenge you to see it for yourself here in Kyrgyzstan!

But if you want to directly interact with culture in an organized and entertaining manner, you can find cultural tours conducted by tour companies throughout the country. And in case you are planning to go through Osh, you can check out the tours hosted by yours truly.


Spices section in Osh-bazaar
Image by Nomad Revelations

Issyk Kul Lake: The Pearl of Kyrgyzstan

In Kyrgyz language, Issyk Kul means “warm lake”. The lake is located in the north-eastern part of Kyrgyzstan, within the boundaries of the province named after the lake. In general, the province is popular for foreign adventure tourists due to high mountains, alpine lakes and the preserved semi-nomadic lifestyle. The lake itself as a beach destination is popular mostly among Kyrgyz citizens and tourists from neighboring countries and Russia. This tendency is true for an obvious reason – foreigners from abroad don’t come to Kyrgyzstan for the sand and swimming. However, this is no reason not to avoid the beaches of Issyk Kyl lake if you end up visiting this part of Kyrgyzstan. Chilling on sandy beaches and enjoying the warm water are the perfect reasons to diversify your adventure and cultural experience in Kyrgyzstan.        
Image by Андрей Ключарёв
Image by Алекса Вас
Image by AndreiGarm

Winter tourism

Kyrgyzstan is the perfect destination for winter tourism because of its alpine terrain. And indeed, our mountainous country is working hard to establish high-quality winter tourism. Currently, there are 23 ski bases and almost all of them are located in Chuy Province near Bishkek (as well as one in Karakol, Issyk Kul Province). Among them the most popular ones in terms of visits and quality are Chunkurchak, Orlovka, Zil and Karakol. While other provinces don’t host any ski bases, you can easily find country skiing activities in almost every region. For example, if you end up in the south of Kyrgyzstan in winter, there are country skiing activities provided in Alay region (Osh) and Arslanbob (Jalal-Abad).