4 of the Best Places to Visit on a Walking Tour of Bishkek

People traveling to Kyrgyzstan usually come to check out its rugged scenery, but don’t discount taking a walking tour of Bishkek while visiting the Kyrgyz Republic.  Bishkek is the largest city in Kyrgyzstan with roughly 900,000 residents out of Kyrgyzstan’s total population of 5.5 million.  It’s the main hub of activity within the country, but is still pleasant for walking trips because the streets are rarely overcrowded.   There are some great historical places to visit within the capital as well as some excellent places to shop.  Little street side restaurants serving Kyrgyz and Russian dishes are everywhere and prices are extremely affordable.  Here are some destinations to check out during a guided walking tour of Bishkek:


Ala-Too Square is located in the center of Bishkek and is often used for Kyrgyz celebrations and special events.  In the middle of the square stands a massive statue called Erkindik (“Freedom”).  Ala-Too Square is the famous site of the 2005 anti-government protest that included 15,000 people gathering to protest the 2005 parliamentary elections, which caused Kyrgyzstan’s first president, Askar Akayev, to flee and resign from office.  There’s lots of history there. 


While walking around Bishkek during your vacation, stop by some of Bishkek’s handcraft stores.  The nomadic ancestry of the Kyrgyz people has made them extremely well known for their handmade felt products.  Located in various parts of the city, handcraft shops sell traditional Kyrgyz felt products as well as other innovative felt products.  They also sell dishes, clothing, purses, jewelry, games, etc. usually all infused with traditional Kyrgyz patterns and styles. 


A good place to learn about Kyrgyz history on a guided walk of Bishkek is the State History Museum next to Ala-Too Square.  It’s open from Tuesday to Sunday and includes exhibitions of rock painting, armor, nomadic artifacts from the 1st to 5th centuries, ancient coins, works from Kyrgyz artisans, traditional clothing and adornments for men and women, as well as everyday items dating back to the Bronze Age.  Also, the ceilings are completely covered in murals that’ll make you constantly want to look up. Be prepared for most informational plaques to only be in Russian and Kyrgyz. 


Osh Bazar is one of the largest and most visited bazars in Bishkek.  Every nook and cranny presents another vendor selling goods at prices that are cheaper than most other bazars.  This will throw some adventure into your trip walking around the city.  The narrow pathways of Osh Bazar can seem unending, the bazar is so large. You could spend hours exploring all there is to see there.  There are sections of the bazar that sell food (dried fruits, nuts, grains, meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, bread and spices, dairy products, national drinks, or prepared food), household goods, national clothing, tools, souvenirs, material, and even musical instruments.  The atmosphere of the bazar is an experience in and of itself and you’ll no doubt walk away with good bartering stories.

Of course these are all very popular places for travelers, and rightly so.  However, take some time during your holiday to walk around some of the smaller neighborhoods and streets in the city.  Big historical destinations and large shopping markets are excellent, but some of the hole-in-the-wall shops and restaurants add some extra spice to a walking tour of any city.  So as you’re settling into Kyrgyzstan, take advantage of the opportunities Bishkek has to offer.  It’s a great place to explore and get a taste of Central Asian life.  

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