Kyrgyzstan is a country located in Asia with name that begins with letter K. In terms of landscape, Kyrgyzstan is dominated by the mighty Tian Shan mountain range, over 90% of the country’s area is mountainous. There are more than 2,200 glaciers in the Tian Shan. The highest mountain is the 7,439 m high Dschengisch Tschokosu, which is located in eastern Kyrgyzstan in the border region with the People’s Republic of China. The largest lake in Kyrgyzstan is the over 180 kilometers long and up to 60 kilometers wide, drainless Yssikköl, which does not freeze over even in winter in icy temperatures.
The state language Kyrgyz is one of the Turkic languages. Around 65% of the population are Kyrgyz, most of whom profess Sunni Islam. Uzbeks and Russians, each with around 15% of the population, form the largest minorities in the former Soviet republic, which declared its independence in 1991.
Entry and visa
Travelers from EU countries and Swiss nationals only need a passport for a stay of up to 90 days, which is valid for at least three months upon departure.
The continental location and the high altitudes ensure a strict, dry continental climate with considerable temperature fluctuations – both between day and night and between summer and winter. The weather is changeable in autumn and spring.
Food and drink
The location on the Silk Road left influences from East and West in the Kyrgyz cuisine. In general, meat dishes with flatbreads dominate – such as shashlik with mutton and unleavened Lipioschka bread. The national dish is Beschbarmark – a ragout made from mutton, which is served on cooked noodles.
The Kyrgyz people are tea drinkers. But the fermented horse milk Koumis and the beer-like drinks Dsharma and Boso are also typical drinks of the Central Asian country.
No vaccinations are required to stay in the country. However, medical care does not meet European standards. A personal first-aid kit with your own medicines and bandages is recommended.
Those who are invited to dinner in the hospitable country often bring a small gift with them – flowers or fruit. When entering a house, you take off your shoes. Alcoholic beverages should only be consumed in moderation. And after the meal you put your hands in front of your face in thanks.
Climate and travel time
The climate in Kyrgyzstan is extremely continental. Long, hot and dry summers alternate with freezing winters. In the south of the country it can be 45 °C in summer, whereas in the winters in the north the thermometer can drop to -18 °C.
A continental climate means great differences between day and night, or summer and winter. In the lower elevations, the average temperature in July is between 20 and 27 °C, in January, on the other hand, between -2 and -8 °C.
In the higher areas there is a rather sub-polar climate, the average temperature in July is around 10-12 °C, and in January -20 to -27 °C.
Issyk-Kul is an exception. This huge lake acts as a kind of heating. Fed by many hot springs, it does not freeze over even in the cold Kyrgyz winter.
All about money
The national currency is the Kyrgyz Som.
Please take euros (or US dollars) with you in cash to change!
After your arrival in Bishkek, the guide will go with the group to change money. We do not recommend changing at the airport, as the conditions there are unfavorable.
You can change in banks, exchange offices or in the hotel. ATMs are very rare, even in Bishkek. You can pay with credit cards in larger shops and hotels.
The import of foreign currencies is not a problem if it is declared upon entry. The exchange of Kyrgyzstan Som for euros, however, can sometimes cause problems. It is better to calculate carefully towards the end of the trip and keep the exchange receipts. You may be asked for this when you leave the country.
Other essential information
Kyrgyzstan is +5 hours ahead of our winter time and +4 hours ahead of our summer time.
The mains voltage in Kyrgyzstan is 220 volts / 50 Hz. You will usually find sockets for two-pin plugs in the accommodations. Mostly Austrian and German plugs fit into the sockets. To be on the safe side, we still recommend that you bring a world travel plug with you.
During the trekking tour you will be accommodated in tents or in yurts. There are no charging options here. Please bring enough batteries with you for your camera and headlamp. The batteries discharge fairly quickly in the cold. Our tip: take it with you in the sleeping bag at night. Solar panels or power banks do a good job on trekking tours.