September 6, 2014

8 Tips for Visiting Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan


After you arrive at the airport, step off the train, and park your car after your journey to Bishkek, there will be several things you probably won’t be familiar with about getting around the city.  Here are a few tips we hope will be helpful to you to make your travels more hassle-free and enjoyable.


TAXIS: When you walk out of Manas Airport, you’ll notice lots of taxis and taxi drivers lined up ready to give you a ride into Bishkek.  They may offer higher prices to you at first, but you should be about to negotiate a ride into the city for between 350 (TREE-sta pit-di-SYAT) and 1393875109_dsc_3629500 (Pit-SOT) som.  There are also specialized taxis near the airport that only run from Manas Airport into Bishkek that usually have a fixed price of roughly 500 som.

PUBLIC TRANSIT: The most budget-friendly way to get into the city is by public transport.  About 100 meters outside the airport, you’ll see mini-buses and taxi-vans also waiting for passengers.  Mini-bus 153 goes to the West Bus Station where you can get out and switch to a taxi or bus that will take you exactly where you need to go in the city.


The most time efficient and safest way to get around the city is by taxi.  You can hail a taxi on b895d04d8ce507ad5e5ef3c712558a58the street or you can call a specialized taxi service to come pick you up.  Ordered taxis are metered, but for hailed taxis, you have to negotiate the price with the driver before he starts driving and the price is usually higher.

The cheapest forms of transit around the city are buses (8 som), mini-buses called “marshrutkas” (10 som) and trolleys (8 som).  The route that each vehicle takes is listed in Russian on a placard in the front window or on the side of the vehicle.  If you take a marshrutka, you pay the driver as soon as you get on.  If you take a bus or trolleybus, you pay on your way out.


Since exchange rates vary greatly depending on the location of the exchange office, it’s best to exchange money in small amounts. 

To exchange money, you can go to a bank or to the intersection of Sovietskaya & Moskovskaya Streets, called “Mossovyet” by Bishkek residents, where there are lots of exchange offices.

Banks usually have lower exchange rates. It’s important to note that in Kyrgyzstan, you’ll receive the best exchange rates for crisp, new, large denomination bills.  If you try to exchange old, crumpled bills, you may even get denied. 37318872


When taking public transportation or walking around the city with large amounts of money, make sure you spread the money out between several pockets/places on your person.


Be careful!  Sellers can recognize foreigner travelers a mile away.  Some sellers might try to quote you a high price when you look at an item.  Do not hesitate to bargain.  Even if you’re not comfortable with the language, ever seller has a calculator you can use for negotiating. bishkek011 Haggle, but do it firmly and confidently!  Once a seller sees you holding the money in your hand you’re willing to spend, they almost never refuse at least a small discount.


If you rely on the Internet when planning things to do in the city, you should be warned that the information listed on English-language pages is not always maintained and updated.  It’s not unheard of for a traveler to look up a place to go and then upon arrival, find a completely different place altogether!  In these situations, free maps of Bishkek available in hundreds of places throughout the city and asking locals is the best way to find your way around Bishkek.


While Bishkek doesn’t have a high crime rate, it’s always best to plan your walks through the city visiting different squares, monuments, museums, bazaars, and historical sites during the day and take taxis at night.


The most popular place for a little summer rest and relaxation in Kyrgyzstan is Lake Issyk-Kul.  Lake Issyk Kul is known as the “pearl of Kyrgyzstan” for its beauty, tranquil setting, and cooler summer temperatures.  If you’d like to visit Lake Issyk-Kul from Bishkek, you can grab a mini-bus or taxi to any point along Issyk Kul’s shores from the West Bus Station. Also, we recommend planning your trip for the beginning of the week as the main wave of vacationers will have subsided and there will be more accommodation options.

Photo from source:

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