BISHKEK

Kyrgyzstan

Bishkek formerly Pishpek and Frunze, is the capital and the largest city of Kyrgyzstan.Bishkek is also the administrative centre of Chuy Province which surrounds the city, even though the city itself is not part of the province but rather a province-level unit of Kyrgyzstan.

Info Bishkek

introduction

Bishkek formerly Pishpek and Frunze, is the capital and the largest city of Kyrgyzstan.

Bishkek is also the administrative centre of Chuy Province which surrounds the city, even though the city itself is not part of the province but rather a province-level unit of Kyrgyzstan.

According to the post-Soviet ideology, the name is thought to derive from a Kyrgyz word for a churn used to make fermented mare's milk (kumis), the Kyrgyz national drink, which is rather debatable.

Bishkek is situated at about 800 metres (2,600 ft) altitude just off the northern fringe of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too range, an extension of the Tian Shan mountain range, which rises up to 4,855 metres (15,928 ft) and provides a spectacular backdrop to the city.

Bishkek is a city of wide boulevards and marble-faced public buildings combined with numerous Soviet-style apartment blocks surrounding interior courtyards and, especially outside the city centre, thousands of smaller privately built houses. It is laid out on a grid pattern, with most streets flanked on both sides by narrow irrigation channels that water the innumerable trees which provide shade in the hot summers.

info

POPULATION : City: 937,400 
FOUNDED :  1825
TIME ZONE : KGT (UTC+6)   
LANGUAGE : Kyrgyz (official), Uzbek , Russian (official)
RELIGION : Muslim 75%, Russian Orthodox 20%, other 5%
AREA : 127 km2 (49 sq mi)
ELEVATION : 800 m (2,600 ft)
COORDINATES : 42°52′29″N 74°36′44″E
SEX RATIO : Male: 49.30% 
 Female: 50.70%
ETHNIC : Kyrgyz 66%, Uzbek 13.8%, Russian 12.5%, Other 7.7%
AREA CODE : 312
POSTAL CODE : 720000-720085
DIALING CODE : (+996) 312
WEBSITE : http://meria.kg/

Tourism

Bishkek is the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic and sits in the Tien Shan mountain range in the Chui Valley. It is a relatively new city and has limited historical sites, but it makes a great place to start your trips to the mountains and alpine lakes of the Tien Shans.

Bishkek is, however, an interesting example of a czarist planned city; laid on a grid with wide boulevards flanked by irrigation canals and large trees, buildings with marble façades, and Soviet apartment complexes.

Many young travelers find Bishkek's nightlife a delight and the people are friendly and very hospitable. Bishkek is a city of many young people that hang out in Clubs and small cafes. Kyrgyzstan has the most liberal tourist visa regime in Central Asia, so Bishkek makes a great place to start a tour of the silk road and collect your visas to neighbouring countries.

History

According to the post-Soviet ideology, the name is thought to derive from a Kyrgyz word for a churn used to make fermented mare's milk (kumis), the Kyrgyz national drink, which is rather debatable. Founded in 1825 as a Khokand fortress of "Pishpek" to control local caravan routes and to get tribute from Kyrgyz tribes, on 4 September 1860 the fortress was destroyed by Russian forces led by colonel Zimmermann, with approval of the Kyrgyz. In 1868 a Russian settlement was founded on the fortress's spot, adopting its original name - Pishpek, within the General Governorship of Russian Turkestan and its Semirechye Oblast.

In 1925 the Kara-Kirghiz Autonomous Oblast was created in Russian Turkestan, promoting Pishpek as its capital. In 1926 the city was given the name Frunze, after the Bolshevik military leader Mikhail Frunze, who was born here. In 1936 the city of Frunze became the capital of the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic during the final stages of the national delimitation in the Soviet Union.

In 1991, the Kyrgyz parliament changed the capital's name to Bishkek (although without quorum).

Climate

Bishkek has a humid continental climate. 

Average precipitation is around 440 millimetres (17 in) per year.

Average daily high temperatures range from 3 °C (37.4 °F) in January to about 31 °C (87.8 °F) during July.

The summer months are dominated by dry periods experiencing the occasional thunderstorm which produces strong gusty winds and rare dust storms. The mountains to the south provide a natural boundary to provide protection from much of the damaging weather along with the smaller chain which runs NW to SE.

In the winter months, sparse snow storms and frequent heavy fog are the dominating features. When an inversion sets up, the fog can last for days at a time.

 ClimateJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
 
Daily highs (°C)3.24.911.218.523.62931.730.925.517.8115
Nightly lows (°C)-7.1-5.20.46.411.115.617.916.411.35-0.1-5.1
Precipitation (mm)263455676134211319454235

Geography

The central part of the city is primarily built on a rectangular grid plan. The city's main street is the east–west Chui Avenue (Chuy Prospekti), named after the region's main river. In the Soviet era, it was called Lenin Avenue. Along, or within a block or two from it, many of the most important government buildings, universities, the Academy of Sciences compound, and so on, are to be found. The westernmost section of the avenue is known as Deng Xiaoping Avenue.

The main north–south axis is Yusup Abdrakhmanov Street, still commonly referred to by its old name, Sovietskaya Street. Its northern and southern sections are called, respectively, Yelebesov and Baityk Batyr Streets. Several major shopping centres are located along it, and in the north it provides access to Dordoy Bazaar.

Erkindik ("Freedom") Boulevard runs from north to south, from the main railroad station (Bishkek II) south of Chui Avenue to the museum quarter and sculpture park just north of Chui Avenue, and further north toward the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the past, it was called Dzerzhinsky Boulevard—named after a Communist revolutionary, Felix Dzerzhinsky—and its northern continuation is still called Dzerzhinsky Street.

An important east–west street is Jibek Jolu ('Silk Road'). It runs parallel to Chui Avenue about 2 km (1 mi) north of it, and is part of the main east–west road of Chui Province. Both the Eastern and Western bus terminals are located along Jibek Jolu.

Economy

Bishkek uses the Kyrgyzstan currency, the som. The Som's value fluctuates regularly, but averaged around 61 som per U.S. Dollar as of February 2015.

The economy in Bishkek is primarily agricultural with the mass amounts of fruits, vegetables and livestock providing a co-existing system of bartering in the outlying regions.

The streets of Bishkek are regularly lined with produce vendors in a market style venue.

In the major portions of downtown there is a more urban cityscape with banks, stores, markets and malls.

The most sought after of the goods are the prevalent hand-crafted artisan pieces; these include statues, carvings, paintings and many nature based sculptures.

Subdivisions

Districts:
Leninsky
Oktyabrsky
Pervomaysky
Sverdlovsky

Internet, Comunication

Free wifi is now widespread. Most "foreinercafes" have free wifi (Coffee, Foyer, Obama, Cyclone, Pirogoff-Vodkin, Vostok Zapad, Tubeteika, Movie City Bar, Buddha Bar, etc.). There is also free wifi at the vefa shoppingcenter on the corner of Gorkiy and Soviet.

Getting mobile phone service or even internet service is rather straight forward and a good idea, even if you're here for only a few days. You can purchase a SIM card (for GSM phones) at literally hundreds of retailers from: Beeline, Megacom, and Fonex. Also, Nexi-com and Beeline have offer 3G internet services. A SIM card is approximately 100 soms (~$2.25) and you can also now re-charge it at numerous automated machines in the city, many of which feature an English language program. If you do not have a compatible phone, you can purchase a new no-frills model for as little as 1200 soms (~$27).

Prices in Bishkek

PRICES LIST - USD

MARKET / SUPERMARKET

Milk1 liter$ 0.78
Tomatoes1 kg$ 0.89
Cheese0.5 kg$ 2.80
Apples1 kg$ 1.50
Oranges1 kg$ 2.25
Beer (domestic)0.5 l$ 0.73
Bottle of Wine1 bottle$ 5.00
Coca-Cola2 liters$ 0.80
Bread1 piece$ 0.30
Water1.5 l$ 0.55

PRICES LIST - USD

RESTAURANTS

Dinner (Low-range)for 2$ 13.00
Dinner (Mid-range)for 2$ 21.00
Dinner (High-range)for 2$ 37.00
Mac Meal or similar1 meal$ 3.00
Water0.33 l$ 0.40
Cappuccino1 cup$ 1.65
Beer (Imported)0.33 l$ 1.75
Beer (domestic)0.5 l$ 1.10
Coca-Cola0.33 l$ 0.55
Coctail drink1 drink$ 3.00

PRICES LIST - USD

ENTERTAINMENT

Cinema2 tickets$ 6.00
Gym1 month$ 45.00
Men’s Haircut1 haircut$ 3.80
Theatar2 tickets
Mobile (prepaid)1 min.$ 0.05
Pack of Marlboro1 pack$ 0.85

PRICES LIST - USD

PERSONAL CARE

Antibiotics1 pack$ 2.70
Tampons32 pieces$ 8.00
Deodorant50 ml.$ 1.60
Shampoo400 ml.$ 3.60
Toilet paper4 rolls$ 1.20
Toothpaste1 tube$ 1.20

PRICES LIST - USD

CLOTHES / SHOES

Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)1$ 38.00
Dress summer (Zara, H&M)1$ 30.00
Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)1$ 58.00
Leather shoes1$57.00

PRICES LIST - USD

TRANSPORTATION

Gasoline1 liter$ 0.60
TaxiStart$ 0.90
Taxi1 km$ 0.20
Local Transport1 ticket$ 0.15

Transportation - Get In

Transportation - Get In

By plane

The Bishkek's Manas International Airport . is a 30 minute drive from the city centre. The airport is not modern, but efficient and features a VIP Hall that facilitates entry and exit if you need more comfortable services. Air traffic control is provided by the United States Air Force as part of its agreement with the Manas Air Transit Center that support operations in Afghanistan. Most of the international flights depart and arrive at very early hours of the morning.

The following airlines with world hubs operate to/from Bishkek:

and for closer destinations:

  • Air Astana - Almaty
  • Avia Traffic Company - Almaty, Dushanbe, Isfana, Jalal-Abad,Novosibirsk, Osh, Tashkent
  • China Southern Airlines - Ürümqi
  • Iran Air Tours - Mashhad
  • Iran Aseman Airlines - Mashhad, Tehran-Imam Khomeini
  • Itek Air - Moscow-Domodedovo, Ürümqi
  • Kyrgyzstan Airlines - Batken, Delhi, Dubai, Dushanbe, Islamabad, Jalal-Abad, Kazarman, Kerben, Krasnoyarsk, Moscow-Domodedovo,Novosibirsk, Osh, Tashkent, Urumqi, Yekaterinburg
  • Rossiya - St Petersburg
  • S7 Airlines - Novosibirsk
  • Tajik Air - Dushanbe
  • Uzbekistan Airways - Tashkent

There are a few ATM in the basement of the airport, and several small cafes and convenience shops that are open around the clock. Keep your baggage tag receipt with you as your receipt may be checked by airport security to make sure you have picked up the correct baggage.

A taxi to and from the city centre can be arranged for approximately 450 soms, but prepare to negotiate from a much higher price. Most international flights arrive in the very early morning hours, so the taxi drivers will demand a higher price based upon the late or early hours. If you share a taxi the price should be 100 soms per person.

The marshrutka 380. connects every 10-20 min the city centre for 40 som. The minibus parks right in front of the airport and stops at Chuy prospektesi.

Transportation - Get In

By Train

There is a twice-weekly train service to and from Moscow, called the "Kirgizia" with two days operated by the Kyrgyz railways, and the other two by the Russian railways. The train has 2 and 4-berth sleepers and a restaurant car. All trains go through Uzbekistan.

In addition, there is a service that goes to and from Balykchy on the western edge of the Issyk Kul lake. Although slow (6–8 hours) and with minimal accommodation, it is one of the most scenic rail trips in Eurasia, sneaking through a thin mountainous alpine pass to the lake.

Transportation - Get In

By Bus / car

  • To/From Osh. There are no normal buses between Bishkek and Osh. The Bishkek-Osh highway is a narrow mountainous road in a good condition, and big buses or public passenger minivans are not allowed to cross the Tor-Ashu and Ala-Bel Passes. The most popular option is a shared taxi departing from the taxi stand near the Bazaar in Osh, or from the Osh Bazaar in Bishkek until 20:00-21:00. You better start in the morning, not to miss the great view along the road. Try to reserve the front seat, even by paying a hundred soms more, because the driver will squeeze 3 passengers in the back seat. In 2012 the price was 1000-1500 soms per person. A more comfortable overnight option is the cargo-passenger minivan ('busik', ‘бусик’) from Kara-Su market, which is located 30 km from the center of Osh. Shared vans or taxis between Kara-Su and Osh are frequent and cost 30-40 soms. In Bishkek, the minivans arrive at the Dordoi Bazaar. The price is only 500-700 soms, they have comfortable sleeping bunks, but windows are small and you will pass most beautiful scenery in the night. Minivans depart daily between 15:00 and 18:00. You don't have to book seats in advance: just come there and choose the car and the driver you like. In reverse direction it's similar. Take a shared taxi to Bishkek from taxi stand near the Bazaar in Osh. They leave as they fill up. Or go to Kara-Su market to catch a cargo-passenger minivan to Bishkek. It is also possible to buy a seat from a truck for about 500. The truck leave the bazaar in Osh daily at 15:00.
  • To/From Almaty. Bishkek is approximately a 3½ hour drive fromAlmaty, Kazakhstan along a relatively good highway. A minibus from Almaty Sairan bus station costs about KZT 1300 and will take at least 4 hours, depending on how long the border crossing takes. There is a rest stop at a petrol station about an hour from the border. At Kazakh-Kyrgyz frontier you have to step out with all your luggage and make customs control by yourself. If your control last too long, the bus can leave without you. Ignore the money-hungry taxi drivers waiting for you, at the left of the road is a parking place where a local minibuses depart to Bishkek for 20 som. The immigration control going to Kyrgyzstan involves, first, a chaotic crush of people trying to get through up to 8 booths manned by Kazakh immigration officers (forget any queuing manners you may have), followed by a walk over the border river bridge, and a smaller, less busy Kyrgyz immigration building. For non-Kazakh/Kyrgyz nationals, you'll need to walk into the Kyrgyz immigration building and knock on the mirrored window door on the left as you enter to get the attention of the officer to come and take your passports for processing. He will disappear for 5 minutes and re-emerge with your stamped passports, you then go on through to meet your minibus. You can also share or rent an entire taxi from Almaty. Both KLM and Lufthansa offer bus service from the Almaty airport to Bishkek and back again so travelers can meet their early morning flights. The normal price for a seat in a shared taxi is approximately 500 som.
  • To/From Taraz. There are also additional long distance road connections to Taraz, Kazakhstan leading to Shymkent & Tashkent,Uzbekistan.
  • To/From Kashgar. Truly adventuresome travelers may want to attempt to get to Bishkek via the Chinese/Kyrgyz frontier crossing over the Torugart Pass. The pass connects Kashgar via an important route that runs along what was once the ancient Silk Road, linking Western China with the heart of Central Asia. The pass tops off at a height of 3,752 metres and is known as one of the most frustrating passes in Central Asia, as both sides can be closed for holidays, early snowfall, or for other. unknown reasons. Only attempt this route if you have time and your patience can handle it. You will need a special permit to cross the border at Torugart. For easier crossing from China, go first to Osh through the Irkeshtam Pass.


Transportation - Get Around

Transportation - Get Around

By minibus

Kyrgyzstan's capital, like many places in the former Soviet Union, has an extensive network of minibuses, known as Marshrutkas. There are hundreds of mini-buses (marshrutkas) that ply all parts of the city. They generally cost 10 som (12 at night). Ask a local which mini-bus number you should take or buy a map of mini-bus routes at tourist venues. Major stops are near the Tsum department store and Philharmonia. They typically have around 14 seats, with standing room for around ten extra people during busy periods. Marshrutkas are easily identifiable and display their number and basic route information (in Russian) on the front. There is a great English website for checking connections. To flag one down, simply hold out your right hand, parallel to the ground. Once you get on, pay the fare to the driver. When you want to get off say, "ah-stah-nah-VEE-tyeh" (Stop!). Although there are bus stops, and according to the law marshrutkas should be hailed at bus stop only, but it is not followed too much. So, in practice you can ask driver to stop anywhere and he will drop you off at any point on their route.

Transportation - Get Around

By Taxi

There are several private taxi firms in Bishkek that you can easily reach through their three digit numbers including: 150, 152, 154, 156, 166, and 188. Daytime taxis throughout the city are a flat rate of 100 soms and 120 soms past 10PM. There are also numerous "gypsy cabs" situated at nearly every intersection. While most travellers and long-time expats report no problems, you are cautioned to be aware, especially at night and near nightclubs. Generally tourists use the local taxi services which can be reached through several numbers: 150 Euro (Evro) Taxi, 152 Super Taxi, 156 Express Taxi and 188 Salam Taxi. Before 10PM most runs in the city are 100 soms and after 1000 are 120 soms.

Many taxis do not use flat rate (aug 2011); you pay by the meter or negotiate a price in advance. Short distance inside city can be 60-80 som. A taxi for a day can be negotiated. An hour drive to mountain or to a lunch and then back again later can be 800-1000 som.

Transportation - Get Around

By bus and trolleybus

Bishkek also has a bus and trolleybus system which is less extensive and generally slower. They only stop at designated bus stops and operate only till 22:00. The fare is 8 som in buses and in trolleybuses. Passengers enter at the back door and leave at the front; they pay on exit.

Hotels

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Hotels

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Shopping

If you want to fit in with the locals, be sure to get one of the stylish Kyrgyz felt hats (kalpaks) worn mainly by men. You can also get textiles such as traditional patterned carpets (shyrdaks), which are well-made but can be expensive. For cheap souvenirs, avoid the Tsum department store and head directly for the Osh Bazaar. You may have to dig around the stalls as there isn't as much variety or quality as in Tsum, but the prices can be far cheaper if you put your bargaining skills to the test.

  • Dor Doi Bazaar (Dordoy) (10 mins outside the city towards north east.). Open air market with hundreds of double stack shipping containers. It's divided into multiple sections based on the types and origins of goods.
  • GeoidKiev 107 (entrance on the left side). Geoid sells maps for trekking 1:200,000 and overview maps 1:1,000,000. 150-300som.
  • Zum Department Store. Mobile phones, clothing, wine, souvenirs, tobacco, make-up, electronics. This shopping mall is located in the centre of town off of Chui street. Complete with Mastercard and Visa ATMs, Zum also displays a great selection of food stands, just outside. Like anywhere in Bishkek, don't be afraid to haggle

Restaurants

Bishkek is probably the best choise for food in Kyrgyzstan. From typical Kyrgyz food like Besh barmak or central Asia classics as Plov, Shashlyk or Samsas can be found around the city. Also Russian dishes are fairly ubiquitous in Bishkek because of the large number of ethnic Russians who still live in the city. There are an also growing number of restaurants and cafes catering to more varied tastes from Turkish to Korean. Also Uyghur food is popular and fit the taste of many westerners as well as locals. E.g. the chain Arzu have a few restaurants.


Budget

There are hundreds of stands that sell gamburgers, a local adaptation of hamburgers but really share little in common: they are sliced döner kebab-style meat served on a bun with cole-slaw, cucumber, mayonnaise, ketchup and some chips. They usually cost around 60 som. One of the most popular gamburger stands in Bishkek is at the corner of Sovietskaya and Kievskaya, across the street from the main post office. It's a popular area for local students to pick up a cheap meal, and they even serve the rare chicken hamburger.

Throughout the city are a lot of street-side vendors selling samsis, which is a staple of most locals' lunch. The green kiosks opposite the Philharmonic Hall ticket office sell some of the freshest, cheapest and best prepared in Bishkek and they are popular with students from the nearby universities. You can usually find a row of shashlykgrills inside any bazaar or just outside any chaykhana (teahouse).

For some pre-independence nostalgia, try the cafeterias of government ministries and universities. For about one US dollar you can experience what it was like to eat Soviet-style cafeteria food.

  • Fakir (Behind Bishkek City shopping mall). Provides authentic and safe traditional Kyrgyz food and is very popular with locals. Good sized portions and excellent prices. Open for lunch and dinner. Beer and non-smoking areas available. 80-160 som.
  • FaizaJibek Jolu. Excellent local food frequented by locals. Great samsas and laghman (noodles). Dirt cheap. 80-160 som.
  • Watari. found on Frunze 557, serves delicious udon noodles, curries and soups and the numbers of Japanese expats that frequent this restaurant is a testimony to the quality of its food.

Mid-range

  • Dragon's Den5557 Frunze St, e-mail: . Across from Grand Hotel - Great food at great prices and a great expat hang-out, menu offers both great European and local favourites as well.
  • Old Edgar (Stari Edgar) (behind the Russian Drama Theatre). This is one of the most popular places with expas. In the summer, there is ample outdoor seating and in the winter, the bomb-shelter style building decorated in a nautical motif is Bishkek's most original dining venue. The food tends to be average, but the house band has entertained generations of visitors.
  • Aria. One block south of Vefa Center, this Iranian-owned restaurant serves good Iranian and Turkish dishes while also offering Russian fare. The multi-flavored kalyan-hookahs attract a varied, hipster-like crowd.
  • Cyclone Italian Restaurants136 Chui. Less expensive than the more upscale Adriatico, it features an extensive menu. It specializes in dishes featuring fresh veal, which is not in short supply in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. ~250-350 som.
  • Dolce Vita Pizza (on Akhunbaeva, to the east of Manas, about one block).Possibly the best pizza available in Bishkek. Its thin crust is baked in an open-fire oven; there is also a whole range of Italian dishes and pastas. ~250-380 som.
  • Buddha Bar (corner of Akhunbaeva and Sovietskaya). Possibly the most popular restaurant in Bishkek. Regular entertainment and a menu featuring other dishes than pizza and sushi; shashlyk is also good here. The menu is in English. ~210-300 som.
  • Metro PubChui and Turizbekova. This is where international aid workers, embassy staff, mining personnel and Manas Airport contractors come for a pint and a decent meal. Especially crowded on St. Patrick's Day and Halloween. ~210-300 som.
  • Shao LinJibek Jolu and Isanova. One of the best known Chinese restaurants in Bishkek. The quality is up to most western standards, but tends to still be a little oily. The soups are especially large - better to be shared. ~210-300 som.
  • Steinbrau PubA. Herzen St (hidden away in a residential area near the train line, about 300m east of Sultan Ibaimov St. Taxi drivers usually know it). A German beer hall with patchy, but sometimes excellent, German food and genuine beer.

Splurge

  • Four Seasons Restaurant - (across from the Hyatt) Delicious food with a large selection of European and Asian cuisine. Outside dining is available in the summer. Live music year-round, baby-sitting for the kids, and popular with foreign dignitaries. While it's not to be confused with the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City, it's a great dining experience nonetheless.

Coffe & Drink


Cafes

There are a few coffee shops in Bishkek that even feature wi-fi.

  • Kafe Coffee. Two locations- 9 Manas Ave/South of Moskovskaya & 40/1 Togolok Moldo, which is south of the City Sports Hall towards Chui. Both locations serve a variety of non-alcoholic, heavily caffeinated drinks and feature free Wi-fi. The Togolok Moldo site also has outdoor seating. As of May 2010, The Kafe Coffee located on Manas uses the SAIMA CARD - a pay system of Wi-fi.
  • Sierra CoffeeManas 57/1, VEFA Center - 3rd floor, Russian Business Center (Razakova St) and Tash Rabat Shopping Center (Gorky St). Opened its first cafe/restaurant in the Spring of 2012 on Manas St, next to the Russian Embassy, between Kiev and Toktogul. Excellent coffee and coffee specialist drinks. Breakfasts, sandwiches, wraps, soups, salads.. Free WiFi. Counter service by English speaking staff. A place to network and to meet other English speakers. Sierra also roasts their own coffee, offering fresh roasted coffee for sale in a variety of origins and roasts.
  • AdrianoIsanov 87. 24hours open. 110₩.

Sights & Landmarks

Bishkek is a pleasant city to wander with numerous leafy parks, tall trees, peppered by Soviet era statues and monuments. However there isn't a great deal to see beyond this, and the city can comfortably be 'done' in a day (or two if visiting the suburban markets). Most museums are closed on Mondays.

  • Ala-Too Square. The main city square is a vast expanse of concrete that ceased to be called Lenin square in 1991, and is the site of frequent political demonstrations and regular festivals. A statue of Lenin was the focal point until 2003, before he was banished to a much less conspicuous location behind the museum and replaced by a statue of Erkidik (freedom). At night many vendors set up photograph and karaoke booths, and there's a synchronised sound and light show in time with the fountains, however travellers should avoid visiting the square after dark. There is also a military monument with an hourly changing of guards.
  • National Historical Museum. This museum sits between Ala-Too Square and the Parliament building. On the south side is an enormous statue of Lenin that was moved from the north side of the building after the Soviet Era. The bottom story of this three floor museum displays seasonal exhibits, while the second highlights Soviet-era achievements during the Communist Era. The top floor showcases the history and culture of the Kyrgyz people. Entry costs 300 som. Closed Mondays.
  • Panfilov Park. While this park may be in need upkeep and renovation, it's a great look into the past when Kyrgyzstan was a part of the Soviet Union. Beware that few of the rides have any safety mechanisms, and the safety mechanisms they may appear to have are probably not functional. The ferris wheel offers a great view of the greater city.
  • Osh Bazaar. If you're looking for a fresh sheep's head, locally made Korean picked salad, shashlik or any other type of Kyrgyz snack, this is the city's best known food bazaar. Although it's certainly not Central Asia's most colourful bazaar, there are hundreds of products to choose from, especially in the spring and summer months when produce is fresh from farms in the outskirts of town. There is a separate clothes market south of the main produce bazaar. To get there you can take trolleybus 14 on Chuy, bus 20 or 24 on Kiev or 42 from Soviet. Like any crowded space, be wary of pick-pockets; however visiting the Osh Bazaar is a most and rewarding trip. There are also smaller markets includingAlamedin Bazaar and Ortosay Bazaar, which are open daily but are at their largest and most interesting at weekends. Dordoy Bazaar is Central Asia largest market of imports, mostly from China.
  • M Frunze Museum364 Ul. Frunze (NE of Parliament (Look for cottage enclosed in government building)). This museum houses the home of General Mikhail Frunze, the World War II and civil war general born in Bishkek (of Moldovan parents) whose name Bishkek bore until the city was renamed after independence. There are many photos and displays of early Bishkek days from an era when it was mostly a Slavic city and few vehicles existed.
  • Dor Doi Bazaar (Dordoy) (10 mins outside the city towards north east.). This is an attraction because it is the biggest market in northeast asia. Here you can by everything you can imagine since it is the main market for trading Chinese and Russian goods. The market is divided into multiple sections based on the types and origins of goods.

Museums & Galleries

  • National Historical Museum. This museum sits between Ala-Too Square and the Parliament building. On the south side is an enormous statue of Lenin that was moved from the north side of the building after the Soviet Era. The bottom story of this three floor museum displays seasonal exhibits, while the second highlights Soviet-era achievements during the Communist Era. The top floor showcases the history and culture of the Kyrgyz people. Entry costs 300 som. Closed Mondays.
  • M Frunze Museum364 Ul. Frunze (NE of Parliament (Look for cottage enclosed in government building)). This museum houses the home of General Mikhail Frunze, the World War II and civil war general born in Bishkek (of Moldovan parents) whose name Bishkek bore until the city was renamed after independence. There are many photos and displays of early Bishkek days from an era when it was mostly a Slavic city and few vehicles existed.

Things to do

  • Zhirgal Banya. You can buy tickets (300 som) for the Zhirgal Banya (baths) from the ticket office around the side. There's a sauna, ice-cold pool, and for an extra 200 som an attendant will lather you up, scrub you and then hose you down. For those into a little bit of self-flogging, birch branches are available free.
  • Karven Club. If you want to swim, the Karven Club has an outdoor pool which is perfect for a blistering summer's day, and there's a also a modern gym and fitness centre. For one hour it's 400 som but it's much better value to pay 500 for a whole day of use and hang around for as long as you like.

Nightlife


Bars

For young and single people, Bishkek's nightlife is impressive. Foreigners are welcomed at most venues with open arms, and many times they do not need to pay a cover charge.

  • 12 Bar (Razakova Str. 32). Set atop one of higher buildings this makes a great place for a rooftop drink. A plush place where Bishkek's young and wealthy go to see and be seen - hence good idea to dress up at least a little. Drinks around $2-4 a pop.
  • Fire and Ice (Chui and Erkindik). This popular, Pakistani-owned disco near the Bishkek city center is located right above a bowling alley.
  • Retro Metro. You'll find the DJ spinning from inside the front section of a tube train engine (hence the name). The 80s kitsch is a popular spot for really late night partying.
  • Promzona. A trendy Russian rock establishment with a mostly Russian clientèle. Jazz musicians play on Tuesdays with rock and blues acts on the weekends. Check out their extensive drink menu. 600 soms entry fee.
  • Sweet 60s (Molodaya Gvardia and Kievskaya; near cinema Oktyabr). Live music everyday, with jazz evenings on Wednesday and Sunday.
  • Golden Bull (On Chuy, next to the White House. Enter from the back yard of another building.). Beers cost 200 som. The new staff is not that friendly as it used to. Do not go alone in any condition. 300 som for entrance.
  • GQ Exclusive night clubпр. Чуй (Located by Sonaba not far from the Sports complex and movie theater),  +996 551 44 44 11. Upscale night club with dancing girls on the stages. Opaque floors that light up for ambience with the music. There's also a show at the bar where they light the bar on fire. Generally 500 soms entry unless you make connections.
  • Bar Kvartira (Apartment Bar), The corner of Frunze and Shopokov. Located across from Victory Square in the basement of the Circus complex, Bar Kvartira is done up like a 'typical' Russian apartment. The waitresses dress up in short-shorts, hair-curlers, plaid shirts and slippers while the waiters wear sweatpants and Russian navy tunics. Drinks are mid-range in price for Bishkek but the food is a little on the expensive side. Dance floor opens around 21:00, and goes all night if the party can keep up. Bar games on Fridays and Saturdays.

Things to know


Learn

Bishkek is a cheap place to learn Russian (or Kyrgyz). A private 1 1/2 hour lesson with a native Russian speaker should cost between $5–7. Courses are also available at the American University of Central Asia and the Kyrgyz-Russian-Slavic University. There is also a private school that caters to individual learning: The London School in Bishkek. This school offers Russian and Kyrgyz to anyone at anytime of the year for as little as 120 soms/hr. During the warmer months they are often full so book in advance.


Work

A number of international organizations have offices in Bishkek, however most employees are recruited from abroad. If you speak Russian, there might be occasional opportunities to find temporary or long-term work. There are also a number of English language schools that will employ native English speakers. Due to the current unstable political situation, there is not a large amount of foreign business investment, but there is the Kumtor Gold mine and many foreign exploration companies attempting to develop the natural resources of the country.

Safety in Bishkek

Stay Safe

While relatively safe compared to many major Asian cities, one should use caution after hours in Bishkek. It is highly recommended against taking an unaccompanied stroll after dusk and you definitely avoid parks at night.

Pickpockets are a major problem in and around markets, especially at Osh Bazaar.

Nightclubs and their surrounding areas can be a hotbed for crime in the form of theft, prostitution, or even assault by people waiting to take advantage of an unsuspecting traveler or expat.

Bishkek has a large number of prostitutes and sexual-transmitted diseases are on the rise in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia. Always take proper precautions if you plan on being sexually active.

If you are a victim of a crime, you are probably best served by reporting the incident to your embassy, rather than to the militsya (police). Sometimes militsya will approach foreigners and ask them for documents, such as your passport. It's best to keep a photocopy of your passport and leave the original at your hotel if you can.

Mid. / 5.5

Safety (Walking alone - day)

Low / 2.0

Safety (Walking alone - night)

Kyrgyzstan - Travel guide

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