Inspiro Group - Travel and Logistics
Inspiro Group - Travel and Logistics
Inspiro Group - Travel and Logistics
96, Boulevard Erkindik, Bishkek,
720040, Kyrgyz Republic
Tel.: +996 (312) 30-46-17, 90-12-95
Fax: +996 (312) 90-12-95

Kyrgyzstan travel information

Kyrgyzstan travel information

Dry continental to polar in high Tien Shan; subtropical in southwest (Fergana Valley); temperate in northern foothill zone. Continental - the temperature in January varies between -4C to -14C; in July varies between +12C to +40C.

Place The average temperature
in January
The average temperature
in July
Bishkek -4,6C 24,5C
Osh -3,5C 24,7C
Jalal-Abad -4,1C 25,3C
Karakol -6C 20C
Naryn -17C 17C
Talas -6,6C 20C
Balykchy -3,9 -5,8C 17,5 18C
Suusamir -20 -21C 13-14C
Song-Kul -20C 11C

Lake The average water temperature
in January
The average water temperature
in July
Issyk-Kul 4,2 5C 20 24C
Son-Kul 3C 11 12C

Entirely mountainous, dominated by the Tien Shan range; many tall peaks, glaciers, and high-altitude lakes. Highest point: Jengish Chokusu (Pik Pobedy) 7,439 m.

By plane
- Daily flights by Aeroflot from Moscow
- Two flights a week British Airways from London
- Two flights a week Turkish Airlines from Istanbul
- Ocassional flights to Urumchi (China), Delhi (India)

Turkish Airlines and Aeroflot offer direct flights to Manas International Airport in Bishkek (approx. 30km northwest of the city) from Istanbul and Moscow respectively. Additionally, British Airways offers a service (operated by BMed) from London to Bishkek, with a brief refueling stop at Tbilisi. In October 2007, BMed will be taken over by the UK-based airline British Midland Airways. In the short term, BMI intend to maintain a three flights a week schedule for the Bishkek-Tbilisi-London flight.

By car
- from Kazakhstan to Bshkek - from Almaty which takes 3-4 hours and from Taraz which takes 5 hrs
- from Uzbekistan to Bishkek the road goes through Kazakhstan and drive would take more than 10 hrs, and to Osh in the south
- from Tajikistan to Osh the road from Khudjant (Tadjikistan) and thruogh Batken (Kyrgyzstan) further to Osh. The road is one of the most difficult to drive and requires passing through Uzbek encalves. There is also a road Khorog to Osh.
- from China there two passes - Irkeshtam leading to Osh and Torugart leading further to Naryn.

Get Around
Kyrgyzstan's capital, like many places in the former Soviet Union, has an extensive network of minibuses, known as Marshrutkas. They typically have around 14 seats, with standing room for around ten extra people during busy periods. Marshrutkas are easily identifiable and display their number and basic route information (in Russian) on the front. Once you get on, pay the fare to the driver (typically five som; sometimes seven som for longer journeys). Marshrutkas can be hailed anywhere and will drop you off at any point on their route.

Bishkek also has a trolley bus system which is less extensive and generally slower. These only stop at designated bus stops. Travellers enter at the back door and leave at the front, paying the four som fare on the way out.

There are several private taxi firms in Bishkek that you can easily reach through their three digit numbers including: 150, 152, 154, 156, 166, and 188. Daytime taxis throughout the city are a flat rate of 75 soms and 100 soms past 10PM. There are also numerous "gypsy cabs" situated at nearly every intersection. While most travelers and long-time expats report no problems, you are cautioned to be aware , especially at night and near nightclubs.

The languages of Kyrgyzstan are Russian and Kyrgyz, a Turkic language related to Uzbek, Kazakh, and, of course, Turkish. Kyrgyz is more common in rural areas whereas Russian is the urban language of choice (in fact it's not uncommon to meet ethnic Kyrgyz people in Bishkek who cannot speak Kyrgyz). English, while becoming more popular, is still rarely spoken so in order to effectively communicate one must at the very least learn a few basic words (yes, no, please, thank you, etc.) in Russian or Kyrgyz, depending on the location.

Like most of the rest of the former Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan uses the Cyrillic alphabet, which can present a problem for Western travellers. However, the characters are not too hard to learn and once that is done you'll find that many of the words are familiar. For example, "" is pronounced, "rest-o-ran," which means, "restaurant."

The official currency in Kyrgyzstan is the Som. It comes in 0.1, 0.5, 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 som notes. There are some coins.

Changing money is relatively straightforward. Banks will accept a variety of major currencies while the money-changing booths that are ubiquitous in urban areas will typically only deal with US Dollars, Pounds, Euros and the currencies of the neighboring, Central Asian countries. Note, however, that neither banks nor money changers will accept any foreign currency that is torn, marked or defaced in any way, or is excessively crumpled, so be sure to carefully check any notes you intend to bring into the country for defects.

Credit Cards & ATMs
Like other Central Asian countries, Kyrgyzstan is overwhelmingly a cash economy. Credit cards are rarely used. It is therefore advisable to enter the country with an adequate supply of cash in a major foreign currency - US Dollars are the most practical choice since they are more widely accepted.

There are a growing amount of ATM's connected the major services like Cirrus. Both Kazakkommerz Bank and Halyk Bank have several ATM's throughout the city. You can either withdraw USD or Kyrgyz Som. If withdrawing som, you will receive the interbank exchange rate, which is better than local exchange offices will give you.

KazakhKommerz Locations:
- Sovietskaya & Moskovskaya
- Panfilova & Chui (across from the White House)
- Kievskaya & Turizbekov (inside Narodnye Store)
- TSUM (Western Staircase)
- and more locations coming;

Halyk Bank:
- TSUM (Eastern Staircase)
- Beta Stores

Kyrgyz food is the product of a long history of pastoral nomadism and is overwhelmingly meat-based. Those with vegetarian fixations may wish to revise their habits or purchase their own fresh fruits, vegetables, and fresh bread from one of the many small stands or food bazaars that are ubiquitous in every city. While people from the West are programmed to think of large vegetables as desirable, small and flavorful is the rule here. Washing vegetables before consumption is recommended.

Besh barmak (five fingers) is the national dish of Kyrgyzstan. For preparation, a sheep or horse is slaughtered and boiled in a large pot. The resulting broth is served as a first course. The meat is then divided up between those at the table. Each person in attendance receives the piece of meat appropriate to their social status. The head and eyes are reserved for guests of honor. The remaining meat is mixed in with noodles and, sometimes with onions, and is traditionally eaten from a large common dish with the hands, although nowadays more often with a fork or spoon.

Most other dishes encountered in Kyrgyzstan are common to the other countries of Central Asia as well. Plov or osh is a pilaf dish that at a minimum includes julienne carrots, onion, beef or mutton, and plenty of oil. Manti are steamed dumplings that normally contain either mutton or beef, but occasionally pumpkin. Somsa are meat (although sometimes vegetable) pies that come in two varieties: flakey and tandoori. Flakey somsa are made with a phyllo dough while tandoori somsa have a tougher crust, the bottom of which is meant to be cut off and discarded, not eaten. Lagman is a noodle dish associated with Uyghur cuisine. The basic ingredients of lagman (plain noodles and spiced vegetables mixed with mutton or beef) can be fried together, served one on top of the other, or served separately. Shashlik (shishkebabs) can be made of beef, mutton, or pork and are normally served with fresh onions and vinegar.

Almost any Kyrgyz meal will be accompanied by tea (either green or black) and a circular loaf of bread known as a lepeshka. The bread is traditionally torn apart for everyone by one person at the table. In the south of Kyrgyzstan, this duty is reserved for men, but in the north it is more frequently performed by women. Similarly, tea in the north is usually poured by women, while in the south it is usually poured by men.

At the end of a meal, Kyrgyz will normally perform a prayer. Sometimes some words are said, but more often the prayer takes the form of a perfunctory swipe of the hands over the face. Follow the lead of your host or hostess to avoid making any cultural missteps.

Tea and vodka are the primary drinks of many Kyrgyz residents. There are numerous different varieties of teas and vodkas. In addition, you can find many western soda brands including Coca-Cola and Pepsi, all authentic.

Kyrgyz have their own cognac distiller, which produces excellent, albeit highly sweet cognac, with the preferred brand being "Kyrgyzstan Cognac", which the locals sometimes call Nashe Cognac, meaning "our cognac".

No trip to Kyrgyzstan wouldn't be complete without trying Kymyz, pronounced "Koo-mus" made of fermented horse mare's milk. Many roadside stalls in the spring sell this sour beverage to passer-byers. Most Kyrgyz will claim outrageous health benefits to drinking it.

You can also find an excellent selection of local and imported beers as many Kyrgyz have been taking to drinking beer versus harder liquors. Locally produced beers include Arpa, Nashe Pivo, and Karabalta. Arpa is highly recommended by beer connesseiurs. While being considered a common person's beer, it's style is somewhat similar to an American Pale Ale (less hoppy than it's Indian counter-part).

There are also a multitude of bottled waters (gas and no-gas) from various regions of the country. Especially popular with southerners is the slighly saline "Jalalabad Water". There are also numerous stands selling non-alcoholic fermented grain drinks highly popular with the locals, called Shoro.

Many private citizens rent out their flats to foreigners and a fairly decent flat can be had for $30 a week. Noting that the average salary is between $20 and $30 you may think you are paying excessively. Look for cable, toilet and bath, and clean quarters. This is the least you should expect for $30 a week. More adventurous visitors may wish to stay in a "yurta." These are boiled wool tents used by nomads. Some tourist agencies in Bishkek will arrange this sort of stay, but be prepared to truly live the lifestyle of the nomad which includes culinary delicacies which may seem foreign to the western tongue.

Western norms of respect are standard. Though nominally a muslim country the Kyrgyz people are highly westernized. No special dress codes are in effect. Although standards of dress in Bishkek are Western and often revealing, in the south of the country women would be advised to dress more conservatively or risk attracting unwanted male attention. Evenings can be charged as alcohol intoxication can be quite prevalent at this time. Proceed with caution.

Inspiro Group - Travel & Logistics

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