Kyrgyzstan may not top the list of the most visited nations in Asia, but that is all the more reason to go. Travellers willing to veer off the regular tourist circuit are blessed with culturally-rich cities, sweeping mountain ranges and peaceful lakes, all free from the commercialisation that has come to sour many continental destinations. While the nation’s -stan suffix has left it associated with its less tourism-friendly neighbours to the south, that is no reason to think of it as anything other than a peaceful holiday destination. Read on to discover all the essential things to know before travelling to Kyrgyzstan.


Religion and Dress Code

Kyrgyzstan is a Muslim-majority country. The dress code varies slightly depending on which oblast (region) you are visiting, however you can find most people wearing liberal, Western-style clothing, especially in the in the east and Bishkek. In the west, towards Uzbekistan, it is more common to see people slightly more covered up. It is also considered respectful to cover your shoulders when visiting a mosque. That said, there are no official restrictions when it comes to dress, so you can wear whatever you feel most comfortable in.



Both the cities and the countryside run predominantly as a cash economy, so it is important to have some of the local currency (Kyrgystani Som) on you at all times. You can easily take out cash from ATMs in Som. You can also find reputable current exchange offices on almost every street in the major cities, however the most widely accepted currency is the US dollar (which can also be taken out at many ATMs). That said, in hotels and other higher-end establishments, it is perfectly fine to pay with credit card.



Kyrgyzstan is a peaceful, welcoming and friendly nation. Kyrgyz cities - including the capital of Bishkek - have a meagre crime rate, not dissimilar to European capitals, and the mountainous countryside is known to be home to some of the nation’s friendliest people. That said, it is always sensible to exercise a reasonable degree of caution whenever you’re travelling in a foreign country. Petty theft - such as pickpocketing and mugging - is the main concern in cities, so be careful to keep a close eye on your belongings, avoid flaunting any flashy items and stick to exploring more populated areas. Those keen to hike should make sure to check local weather conditions, as things can always change quickly in the mountains.


Food and Drink

Kyrgyzstan is a hot-spot for history buffs keen to dive into its Soviet past, and the best way to do that might just be to head to a restaurant, as the cuisine really hasn’t changed much in the last few decades. The food isn’t renowned for its mouthwatering flavours, but it is certainly authentic and will do a good job of filling you up. Meat is the staple ingredient, making it a little challenging for vegetarians when eating out, but chicken is rare to come across, so if you spot it on the menu and you’re keen for some variation, make sure to order it. Maksym (a sour drink made from barley, wheat, millet and corn) is the national drink of modern Kyrgyzstan and fermented milk drinks are also popular, such as kymyz (mildly alcoholic mare’s milk) and ayran. Beer, vodka and local brandy are widely available too.



The official languages are Russian and Kyrgyz and English is not widely spoken as a second language. While this is not a problem when staying in our hand-picked hotels or enjoying an excursion with one of our English-speaking guides, you may run into some confusion if you’re out exploring on your own. To make life easier, there is always the option to purchase a SIM card at the airport so that you can have Google Translate at your fingertips for the duration of your trip.

Contact one of our Kyrgyzstan specialists