Some tips on how to travel around Bishkek
Arrived in Bishkek and do not know how to travel around the city? Then this article is for you. Let’s talk about public transportation and the safest taxi in Bishkek.
One of the very first questions that a traveler who has just arrived in a new city asks is “How can I travel around this city?”. Some, without hesitation, will catch the first taxi that comes across, another will find this option too expensive and try to find cheaper public transportation.
In Bishkek, you can travel in several ways: by public transportation, by taxi, well, and, of course, on foot. Speaking about public transportation, we mean marshrutkas in Bishkek (minibusses), buses and trolleybuses. A ride in minibusses will cost you 10 som (around 15 cents), in buses and trolleybuses – 8 som (around 11 cents).
The most popular form of transport in Bishkek is minibusses. Buses and trolleybuses are also in demand, but they travel only on certain routes and in a certain order, so sometimes it takes a long time to wait for them. Minibusses travel every 5-10 minutes and their routes are diverse and they can be reached almost anywhere in the city, specially at the Osh market or city center.
All public transport routes can be found in the 2Gis app. This app will also help you find the shortest route from point A to point B. If you want to get to a specific place, you only need to enter the address or the name of this place (for example, the Frunze restaurant) and the application will immediately indicate a transport that travels from your location to this place.
Before you get on a minibus, you need to know a few unwritten “rules” or even ‘laws”:
- Payment is always made at the beginning of the trip, that is, you must pay 10 som to the driver as soon as you enter the minibus.
There are coins in Kyrgyzstan, 1, 3, 5, and 10 som, try to use them, rather than large currencies, it is safer and saves your time since the driver will not have to give you change by counting each som.
Well, and, of course, you should not pull out your wallet in such a crowded place at all. Keep all your things close to the body, if there is a backpack, transfer it to the front side. It is recommended to hold the phone in your hands, but be careful, if you drop it, then most likely it will not be saved, it will simply be crushed.
- Always give a place to the elderly people, pregnant women, people with disabilities and children.
Even if you didn’t notice the person who needs a seat (which is very easy to do in the minibusses, because they are usually crowded, and sometimes it’s hard to see anything at all), people around will look at you as if you had committed the most inhuman act in the world, and grandmothers will curse you in Kyrgyz.
- Minibusses should stop only at bus stops, but in reality, this does not work. Minibusses stop at the bus stops only if there is a camera control or traffic police officers nearby. The rest of the time the driver will stop where the passengers ask him to stop. This, of course, causes many traffic jams and accidents, but it continues to happen. Please, do not be like everyone else, get out only at bus stops.
If you are not in a hurry, you can wait for the trolleybus or bus. The payment here is not made at the beginning but at the end of the trip.
Buses are also good for traveling not only around the city but also for traveling out of town. If you want to leave the city, then you need to go to one of Bishkek’s bus stations. The two main bus stations in Bishkek are Western Bus Station Bishkek and Bishkek East Bus Station.
Another very common form of transport in Bishkek is a taxi. Taxi prices are relatively cheap, from $1.5 to $5 per trip on average. Boarding on taxi is about 60 som (around 80 cents) and then about 12 som (16 cents) per kilometer.
Taxis are best ordered in apps. It is recommended to use Yandex Taxi Bishkek and Namba Taxi Bishkek. You can easily download them from Google Play or App Store. In these apps, you can “build” your route and see the fare in advance. Besides, if your card is tied to the app, then you do not have to pay in cash.
Walking along the streets of Bishkek we can see a lot of cars, with a “taxi” sign. Try not to get into such cars, these are private drivers who want to earn more without paying a tax to the taxi service, so your trip is not fixed anywhere and you have to pay the driver the amount that he will ask you to pay. Of course, he will try to charge you as much money as possible.
So, in general, it can be said that transportation in Kyrgyzstan is very cheap. But it is still difficult to call it comfortable and safe enough.
If you want to plunge into local life and feel what millions of people who go to work, to a university, and school feel, then, of course, take a minibus or a bus. If you prefer comfort, order a taxi. But in any case, be prepared for the fact that road ethics in Kyrgyzstan is very different from any other country in the world.
In Bishkek, you need to be able to not only travel around but also need to know where to eat tasty and inexpensive. We recommend you read our small guide on where are the best places to eat in Bishkek. If you are a vegan, then you should definitely look at an article on how to survive a vegan in Kyrgyzstan. Good luck!
Photos from sources : knews.kg, vk.com, 24.kg.