Around All Kyrgyzstan
14 Days/ 13 Nights
Kyrgyzstan is a unique and beautiful country that is overlooked by travelers. The main reason people do not visit as much as other countries is because they don’t know how to explore the area.
That is why a 14-day itinerary is important to break down what not to miss on the Great Silk Road.
DAY 1: Arriving in Bishkek and exploring the city
Bishkek is the capital of Kyrgyzstan and is the most popular entry point in the country. Most international flights fly into the airport of Manas.
A convenient option for international travelers, located only thirty minutes from Bishkek. Bishkek is recommended as the best place to kick off your Kyrgyzstan adventure. It is a cultured area and is infamous for its stunning architecture.
Spend your morning walking around Ala-Too Square. An area was built in 1984 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic. A small but powerful square that still showcases the remains of Soviet Architecture.
Visit the State History Museum and the National Museum of Fine Arts. Both buildings still display this unique architecture.
Afterward, indulge in the local food scene in Bishkek. The streets are lined with local cafes and restaurants, allowing you to learn about the culture firsthand. Cultural meals include meat dishes such as horse-meat sausages and roasted sheep’s liver.
Noodles and mantys, steamed dumplings filled with ground meat and onions, are popular with locals. Samsas, which are meat and vegetable pockets, are delicious and found in local restaurants.
For the less adventurous, try their bread and tea. Their nan, which is a central Asian flatbread, is known to be out of this world. Accompany it with jam or kaymak, a creamy dairy food similar to cream cheese.
Overnight in Bishkek.
Day 2 Bishkek Day Trip: Ala Archa National Park
Located forty minutes away from Bishkek is Ala Archa National Park. An Alpine national park that sits in the Tian Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan.
The national park was established in 1976 and named after the bright-colored jumper in the park. The park is two hundred square kilometers and has many peaks and glaciers.
It takes days to fully explore the park, which is why it’s recommended to stay there for two nights.
Hike in Ala Archa National Park
There are many options in Ala Archa National Park. A favorite is to take a walk at the start of the Ala Archa River Trail.
Overnight in the Yurt. The Yurt Hotel offers double or single beds and your own dining area.
Day 3: Discover more about Ala Archa National Park
Enjoy your second day in Ala Archa National Park hiking. There are over five recommended hiking trails in the park. Which makes it great for all skill levels.
Ala-Archa to Ak-Sai Racek Hut and Glacier
For those seeking more of a workout, continue to the Ratzek Hut and Ak Sai Glacier. If you are in good shape, you can make this a full-day trip. It is a steep climb up the waterfall and can take an additional three to four hours.
getting to Ak Sai Glacier early in the morning since the full hike can take around ten to twelve hours. Be sure to bring snacks and a meal for your hike since you will be out and about all day.
The amazing glacier of the park is part of our Kyrgyzstan Itinerary.
Dinner at the local restaurants. Boyrok Cafe-Restaurant. Ala-Archa National Park is a popular dining spot. Located inside Alp-Camp Ala Archa.
Overnight in Archa National Park at the Ala Archa Hotel.
DAY 4: Head to Cholpon Ata, Issyk Kul
Cholpon Ata is a resort town on the northern shore of Lake Issyk Kul. Located four hours east of Ala Archa National Park. Visiting this stunning area makes a great addition to any Kyrgyzstan Itinerary.
Rukh Ordo Cultural Center
Spend the day visiting the Rukh Ordo, an open-air Cultural Center that features ten mini museums. Featuring dozens of sculptures and artwork that use techniques that were passed down from generations.
A guide at the museum can bring guests through an hour and a half interactive excursion. Learn all about the history of Kyrgyz and its culture. Singing and dancing the national dance is included in this tour.
Shop at Cholpon-Ata Market
Afterward, go shopping at the main bazaar at Cholpon-Ata market. Offering a variety of bread, fruits, and vegetables. A local market that showcases authentic local eats and products. Enjoy dinner at some of the food stands.
Clothes include wool garments or felt, at a very low price. Even electronics are sold in this market. So bring home a little piece of Cholpon Ata back home with you.
Overnight in Cholpon Ata at the Kapriz Issyk Kul Resort.
Day 5: Issyk Kul
Issyk-Kul lake is the seventh deepest lake in the world and the tenth-largest lake in the world by volume. Located in the Northern Tian Shan mountains in Eastern Kyrgyzstan, The waters are crystal clear and relatively warm. The beaches around this area are ideal for spending the day relaxing on the sand.
Have A Beach Day at Khadzhi-Sayskia Plyazh
Kadzhi-Sayskiy Plyazh is one of the top-rated beaches in the area. Located in the southern area of the lake. There are boats for rent for those wanting to spend the day out on the water. The beach is known for being clean and beautiful. Perfect for those wanting to add a beach day to their Kyrgyzstan Itinerary.
dinner and drinks at Barashek. A top-rated local restaurant featuring an extensive alcohol menu and delicious dishes. Shashlik, a grilled skewered cube meat dish, is popular on the menu.
Overnight Khadzhi-Sayskia Plyazh at the Sanatoriy “Goluboy Issyk-Kul’
DAY 6: From Issyk Kul to Karakol
Begin the journey from Issyk Kul to Karakol. You can either take a cab or bus for this two-hour trek.
Karakol is the fourth largest city in Kyrgyzstan and sits at the eastern tip of Lake Issyk-Kul. A town popular for its skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer.
visit the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Learn all about the history of the Cathedral while gazing at the stunning structures. Then head over to the Dungan Mosque. The historical architecture of a mosque that was built with no nails.
Afterward, visit the Bugu-Ene Zoo in Karakol. A small zoo that is known for its personal encounters with the animals. Animals include lions, bears, and lynxes. You only need a few hours at this zoo. A unique experience that should gain a spot on everyone’s Kyrgyzstan Itinerary.
Dining at Karakol Food. A hidden gem that features piping hot and delicious soups. Some soup options are kimchi noodle flavored soup and vegetable hotteok. This restaurant is recommended by locals for its mouthwatering flavor.
Overnight in Karakol at the Gostinitsa Karagat
DAY 7: From Karakol to Altyn Arashan
Only an hour away from Karakol is Altyn Arashan. Altyn Arashan is a nature preserve famous for its valleys and mountains. Animals in this area include over twenty endangered snow leopards. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to spot one of these beauties.
Altyn Arashan Hot Springs
visit the Altyn Arashan Hot Springs. A hot spring that is famous for its healing radon waters. These springs can be used to treat cardiovascular disease.
Spend your morning soaking and taking in the healing energy. The hot springs reach a temperature of 50°C. /122°F. Perfect for when the colder days of Altyn Arashan arrive.
Horseback Riding in Altyn Arashan
Add horseback riding to your Kyrgyzstan Itinerary. Sign up for a tour with Bulak Say Horseback and Trekking. A fantastic company that hosts tours through Altyn Arashan. They even offer an included car service that brings you from Karkoal to the trailhead. You can get more information about their tours on their website http://karakolhorsetrekking.blogspot.com/.
Overnight near Altyn Arashan .
DAY 8: Exploring the area of Altyn Arashan
There are many different trekking tours available in Altyn Arashan. One of the most sought-after activities when visiting this location.
Ak-Suu Arboretum Trek
If you are feeling adventurous, hike the stunning mountains. The Ak-Suu Arboretum Trek is eight miles long and makes a great day trip. Hike through the entire valley and return via the route in the forest.
Peak Palatka Hike
Another great day hike is trekking to the foot of Peak Palatka. You can do this hike with or without a guide. It is rated an easy walk with stunning views. Peak Palatka are twin peaks that are symmetrical and stunning. This peak is over 15,000 feet high, making it hard to miss.
Overnight in Altyn Arashan
DAY 9: From Altyn Arashan back to Karakol
Began your two-hour trip back to Karakol. Once you arrive, enjoy your second day in Karakol, appreciating the delicious food options.
After fueling up, visit the historic Przewalski Museum. Nikolai Mikhailovich Przewalski was a 19th-century explorer who was one of the first people to explore Central Asia.
As the day winds down, get ready to explore some nightlife in the area. Rent your own private billiards room while enjoying some ice-cold beer at Green Club. A pub is one of the only nightlife options in the area.
Overnight in Karakol.
DAY 10: From Karakol to Tash Rabat
Break up the drive by stopping in Bokonbayevo, Kyrgyzstan. A town that is the center of the Tong District of the Issyk-Kul Region. It is the largest village on the south shore of Lake Issyk Kul. Next, stop at Kolomto, a sushi restaurant that offers fresh fish and yummy rolls. Salad and meat options are also available here.
Afterward, continue your drive to Tash Rabat.
Overnight in Bokonbayevo.
DAY 11: Exploring Tash Rabat area
Continue on your journey from Naryn to Tash Rabat, about an hour and a half taxi ride. Tash Rabat is a 15th century caravanserai. Which is a place where travelers would spend time resting during their road trips.
Spend a whole day exploring Tash Rabat. It is rated the most magnificent monument in all of Kyrgyzstan. Sitting at 10,498 feet above sea level. There are local tour guides who can teach you all about the history here. A bucket list item that earns a spot on every Kyrgyzstan itinerary.
Overnight in Tash Rabat.
Day 12: Tash Rabat to Naryn
Located two hours north of Tash Rabat is Naryn. A city that is in the foothills of Naryn-Too. It is one hundred miles from the Chinese border, making it a great tourist attraction. It is also home to the longest river in the country, the Naryn River.
In addition, this area has stunning mountains and scenic views.
Raft The Naryn River
Take a rafting tour! Raft down the iconic Naryn River. Go down the crystal waters that provide natural rapids. If white water rafting is a hobby of yours, tackle the Naryn Falls canyon. A specific part of the river that provides intense rafting. The area is not recommended for those to take on alone, so a rafting guide is important.
If rafting is too intense, take a day visit to Son-Kul Lake. A fifty-six-mile drive west from Naryn. This is the second largest lake in Kyrgyzstan. It is known for its rare animal sightings and birds. It also provides tranquil scenery, perfect for relaxing.
Son Kul Lake is the highlight of our Kyrgyzstan Itinerary
Naryn Walking Tour
In the afternoon, walk around Naryn and take in the gorgeous architecture. Naryn was discovered over a century ago as a Russian garrison town. As a result, the town spotlights post-war buildings.
Walking tours are offered for those who want to learn about the history of this town. In addition, the Naryn area is filled with culture and beauty. This is why it is a must-have on any Kyrgyzstan Itinerary.
Overnight in Naryn.
DAY 13: From Naryn back to Bishkek
Spend your day exploring the towns on your way back to Bishkek. A six-hour journey that can be done by cab. At this point, you may think you have crossed off everything on the Kyrgyzstan Itinerary. But there is still so much of Kyrgyzstan to see.
A little over an hour outside of Bishkek is the Burana Tower. A very famous historical site in Kyrgyzstan. It is a large tower that exists in the ancient city of Balasagun. Visit the gravestones that sit next to the tower, which are called the bal-bals. This spot is a history lover’s dream.
Kyrgyz National Opera
If performances and art interest you, then get tickets to the infamous Kyrgyz National Opera. The shows are mostly performed by students who are locals in the area. However, there are also Russian and Kyrgyz performers and artists. Some of their shows include concerts, an evening of Kyrgyz opera, and even a gala concert. Which includes famous artists and performers. You can look up tickets and showtimes at https://www.operabase.com/.
For those looking to dance the night away, Bishkek has fun and lively clubbing options. A famous club in the area is Promzona Club. Which has live music and nightlong dance parties. The club is known to stay open all night with never-ending entertainment options. Promzona is underground and is a best-kept secret unless found. This would be the perfect way to spend your last night in Bishkek.
Overnight in Bishkek
DAY 14: Oak Park and Osh Bazaar
Before heading back to Manas airport, grab some much-needed breakfast. Spend the morning at Sierra Coffee Manas Ave. A cafe that showcases delicious American breakfast options. Including pancakes, waffles, French toast, and oatmeal. During lunch hours, they offer Mexican dishes, salads, and wraps. Don’t forget to indulge in their delicious coffee and lattes.
After breakfast, take a walk to Oak Park. The park is located near Ala-Too square and is known for its gorgeous scenery. Spend some time viewing the sculptures from artists. Get a game of ping-pong in at their complimentary ping-pong tables. Or, just lounge under a shaded oak tree. Most importantly, take in the beauty of Bishkek.
End your trip at the Osh Bazaar, a three-thousand-year-old market and bazaar. This is one of the most sought-after places to visit and add to your Kyrgyzstan itinerary. It is a highly photographed place in Bishkek. Drawing locals and visitors from all over the world. You can barter with the vendors and buy local gifts to bring back home with you.
If you take a taxi from downtown Bishkek to Manas Airport, your cost will be around $10 per car. Lastly, spend some time at the airport reflecting on your trip.
Final Thoughts about Kyrgyzstan Itinerary
Kyrgyzstan is a unique and cultured country that most travelers overlook. Spend fourteen days exploring this historic and majestic area, from the mountains and lakes to the historic buildings.
Kyrgyzstan has something for everyone. Learn from the locals and indulge yourself i
ay 1 – Bishkek
The entry point for most people into Kyrgyzstan is the nation’s capital, Bishkek. There are few cool sights to check out that will keep you occupied.
Get your fill of food other than manti, plov, shashlik and lagman. As good as they are you will be eating a lot of them over the next 3 weeks!
Statue In A Park In Bishkek
A statue one of Bishkek’s parks
Day 2 – Travel to Jyrgalan via Karakol
For Day 2, get down to the bus station and hop on a marshrutka heading to Karakol. You will need to get to the bus station early as marshrutka will fill up prior to departure.
Upon arriving in Karakol your best to get to Jyrgalan will be a private taxi. This is likely to be $20-30 depending on your negotiating skills.
Russian Church In Karakol
The rather lovely Russian Church in Karakol
Day 3 – Hiking in Jyrgalan – Bulak Ashuu Day 1
There are numerous trekking and hiking options in Jyrgalan. However, this 3-day route in Jyrgalan comes highly recommended. It’s an absolute beauty.
Here are a few posts we have on the best hiking in Jyrgyalan:
Day Hikes in Jyrgalan
Day 4 – Hiking in the Jyrgalan – Bulak Ashuu Day 2
The second day is a little easier than the first. Check out this post for more information on all of the details for this hike!
Day 5 – Hiking in the Jyrgalan – Bulak Ashuu Day 3
This is the shortest day in this hike. When you get back to Jyrgalan, take a taxi or marshrutka back to Karakol.
Day 6 – Karakol – Jeti Oguz
You may want to spend the day resting. However, the day hike to Jeti Oguz is both spectacular and not too challenging on the knees.
Bring a picnic and find a spot overlooking the stunning jailoos.
Or alternatively, you could skip this and head to Kochkor a day early to give you more time later on in this Kyrgyzstan itinerary.
Spectacular scenery whilst hiking in Jeti Orguz, a recommendation on any Kyrgyzstan Itinerary
Day 7 – Travel to Kochkor for a Horse Trek
From Karakol, you can hop on a marshrutka to Kochkor. However, make sure you get to the bus stop at least 30 minutes before it’s due to leave to ensure you will be able to get a space.
It is better to have booked the horse trek in advance if possible. This can be done through your guesthouse or the CBT in Kochkor.
We booked it through our guesthouse, Kochkor Family Guesthouse and cannot recommend them highly enough!
Day 8 – Song Kul Horse Trek – Day 1
Get ready to ache like you have never ached before! You will have some spectacular scenery on the first day. However, that is just a warm-up for day 2.
Day 9 – Song Kul Horse Trek – Day 2
The scenery on the second day of the trek as you cross passes down to the lake itself is absolutely spectacular. Once you get to the yurt camp on the lake’s edge you can hike in the hills surrounding it.
Looking out across Song Kul
Day 10 – Song Kul Horse Trek – Day 3
After getting back to Karakol, make sure you take it easy, as you will be rather achy.
READ MORE: Plan your whole trip to Kyrgyzstan using our comprehensive Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide!
Day 11 – Kol Ukok Trek – Day 1
This spectacular 2-day trek begins a 15-minute drive from Karakol. The yurt camp is about 4 or so hours from the trailhead.
You can then hike onto the lake, Kol Ukok on your first day, return to the yurt camp and then hike back the next day. Or you can hike up to the lake and back on day 2, which was what we did.
The reason for this was the weather was supposed to the be better on day 2 (incidentally it ended up being sunny on both days).
Horses At Kol Ukok
Horses grazing around Kol Ukok
Day 12 – Kol Ukok Trek – Day 2
Heading to the lake we got up just before sunrise, around 5:30 am, and started the trek to the lake itself.
The first couple of hours are not particularly spectacular. However, after the final climb, the lake appears before you, and it is worth the aches and sweats.
Hike along the lake’s edges for some spectacular mountain views beyond the lake. It is possible to carry on. However, you would need more time and your own camping equipment.
A beautiful morning at Kol Ukok
Day 13 – Travel to Arslanbob via seasonal road
Here is where we move over to the western side of the country. The most direct route is via a seasonal road to Arslanbob, home to the world’s largest walnut forest. If this isn’t open there is a much longer route that goes back around Arslanbob.
Getting to Arslanbob is likely to very likely to require you to take a public taxi. It is best to try and book this as early as possible.
Day 14 – Explore Arslanbob
Spend a couple of days exploring Arslanbob at your own leisure. There are a number of excellent day hikes in the area.
Despite its elevation, there is a lot of green here
Day 15 – Explore Arslanbob
Take another day to hike and explore Arslanbob and then travel to Osh in the afternoon/evening.
The journey to Osh is between 3 and 4 hours, if leaving in the early afternoon a marshrutka should be fine.
However, if going later than that then a private taxi will probably be your best bet.
Day 16 – Osh
Welcome to Kyrgyzstan’s second city. It is overlooked by Suleiman Too, a five peaked rocky crag, that seems to keep a watchful eye on you wherever you go. The city has is traditionally more Central Asian feel than Bishkek.
The bazaar in the heart of the city is one of Central Asia’s largest and is well worth a visit.
Day 17 – Travel to Sary-Mogol
From Osh head to Sary Mogol to take on the trek to Lenin Peak Base Camp, which is not as challenging as you might think.
Travel to Sary-Mogol can be a little tricky from Osh. However, we have an article on hiking to Lenin Peak Base Camp, which will be really useful.
Day 18 – Hike to Lenin Peak Base Camp – Day 1
Hike to Tulpar lake and onto the base camp itself. There are two base camps, the second being the advanced base camp which is further on.
If you have the time, gear and fitness then this is very possible. And it is possible to hike this route without a guide.
Day 19 – Hike to Lenin Peak Base Camp – Day 2
On your second day hike back to Sary-Mogol with weary legs and some amazing photos.
Day 20 – Back to Osh
Head back to Osh via marshrutka or private taxi.
Day 21 – Fly to Bishkek
Osh is fast becoming a cheap entry and exit point for Kyrgyzstan. Therefore you may not need to fly back to Bishkek before heading home.