This is our quick guide with some insights and information with practical info about Kyrgyzstan – with or without your own vehicle. We hope this can be helpful if you are planning to visit Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyzstan is THE country in Central Asia where most nationalities will not need any visa to enter the country. For a stay up to 60 days, there is a visa-free regime for most European Union countries (including Portugal and Luxembourg) and the USA. Other nationalities that require a visa, can get it through the e-visa portal and the procedure is quite simple.
It is best to visit Kyrgyzstan during the warm and dry months (May to September) otherwise you risk having snow. Some places are not reachable during winter because of snow and many off-roads become impracticable.
You do not require any special vaccines to travel to Kyrgyzstan. We have the usual ones up-to-date, including Hepatitis, Tetanus-Diphtheria-Poliom.
Alert: If you are planning to camp, avoid any contact with marmots. These animals can carry the plague, a disease that does not affect them but that is highly contagious and can cause death in humans. Don’t eat its meat and keep away from any dead carcasses and you will be fine.
4. Money & Credit Cards
We have brought Euros and Dollars and have been able to exchange them nearly everywhere, in banks or in exchange offices. We have also been able to use our credit cards (Visa and Mastercard) in the cities. The currency in Kyrgyzstan is called SOM. 1 EUR = 78 SOM
The first time we flew to Europe from Kyrgyzstan, we bought our flight tickets two weeks before our flight and had to make a ‘complex’ flight connection in order to get a decent price (250 EUR per person/one way). In this case, we flew from Almaty (Kazakhstan, very close to Bishkek) to Riga (Latvia) with Air Baltic. From there we got a Ryanair connection to Berlin and then Luxembourg.
When returning to Bishkek, we planned our flights a few months in advance and got a very cheap connection (300 EUR) from Luxembourg to Bishkek (with a stop in Istambul) with Turkish Airlines. It was a very comfortable flight and we highly recommend it.
6. Public Transports
There is no lack of public transport in Kyrgyzstan, and as tourism is growing, many travel agencies organise 4-wheel trips to connect the main tourist spots (such as the Song-Kul Lake or the Issyk-Kul Lake). This is especially good in order to reach Song-Kul. As for Issyk-Kul it is possible to reach it with a train from Bishkek, but there are so many places to visit around the lake, that you will want to be mobile. The best really is to have your own vehicle, which you can rent in Bishkek.
There are many hotels and hostels in all the places that you will want to visit, you can choose your accommodation according to your budget. But, do not forget to stay with a family in a yurt. This is the typical ‘summer house’ that families build in the jailoos for the transhumance of the summer months.
No problems with flying our drone wherever we felt like, including in Bishkek. We also did not have any problems at the border. But this was our experience and things could change anytime. We are not an institution and prefer that you check it with an official identity.
Internet is quite slow but widely available in cities.
All houses have the same system like the one used in Europe, where you can plug 220 watts.
11. Driving a motorbike
- Police: We did not have any issues in Kyrgyzstan with regards to the police. Once, when entering Karakol a policeman tried to fine us because of speed. We asked him for the proof (which he hadn’t) and after a while he finally let us go.
- Border: Border crossing from Uzbekistan was straightforward. If you plan to stay with the motorbike in Kyrgyzstan for longer than 3 months, remember to say it at the border. So that the officials can give you an extended document. We did that in order to leave the motorbike during winter in Kyrgyzstan.
- Roads: There is a lot of off-road in Kyrgyzstan, especially if you want to make detours to visit places. If you want to stick to asphalt, that is also possible, but you will miss a few great places.
- Petrol: Is of poor quality and perhaps because of that we had problems with our fuel pump, which needed to be replaced. Now we use a petrol filter to avoid any further issues.