Many travelers put visiting Kyrgyzstan in their Central Asia itinerary. And they do it for a reason – the country is famous for its stunning mountains, breathtaking views, and nomadic culture. The good news is that all of these are easily reachable and available as day trips from Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
Unfortunately, I visited Kyrgyzstan in November (and I definitely don’t recommend doing that) and I couldn’t enjoy all of the best Bishkek day trips. I’ve been dreaming of returning there in a more favorable month and I was actually supposed to do that in 2020 but we all know what happened then. But I will go back to Kyrgyzstan eventually, I’m sure of that.
In the meantime, a fellow blogger Rachita from Meanderwander wrote this article about the best day trips from Bishkek. Read below and plan your own trip to Kyrgyzstan soon!
The capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek is a small and vibrant city and is often considered the base for a lot of amazing hikes and day trips from Bishkek. In the city, you can learn more about this beautiful country, its culture and explore the gorgeous parks and squares that you can find here.
Moreover, it is extremely easy to reach Bishkek as you have direct flights to this city from all over the world and can even reach by road from Almaty City in Kazakhstan. If you are planning to stay in Bishkek for a while, then you can easily check out the amazing day trips from here for a pleasant break and to make the most of your time during this trip.
In this guide, I will share with you a few of the top day trips from Bishkek, how much it will cost, and how you can reach these places. So, buckle up for an awesome time on your Kyrgyzstan trip.
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How to Reach Bishkek
As I mentioned earlier, you can reach Bishkek by both flight and land.
There is one International Airport in Bishkek, Manas International Airport, that gets flights from all over the world. So, you can book a flight ticket for Bishkek and then either take a bus or a cab from the airport to reach the city.
Another popular way to reach Bishkek is by taking a flight to Almaty and exploring the city before taking a shared or private cab to reach Bishkek. It takes barely 4 hours to get from Almaty to Bishkek and the border checking is quite smooth and quick.
Finally, if you are coming from countries like Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, etc. then you also have an option to take a train to Bishkek. There are several trains daily reaching Bishkek and the ride is comfortable too. Moreover, you get to enjoy the amazing countryside views and get to meet the locals which is a unique experience as well.
5 Amazing Day Trips from Bishkek
Hike in the Ala Archa National Park
One of the most popular destinations in Kyrgyzstan, Ala Archa National Park is not only visited by tourists but locals too. You will find a lot of locals spending time here during the weekends with their family by going for a short picnic or a small hike in the national park.
There are many hiking trails available in this national park so even if you are not in the best shape, you can still enjoy a relaxing day around here without exerting too much effort and you don’t have to walk too far to enjoy nature or the river banks.
If you start early, then you can easily hike to the Ak-Sai waterfall and even the Ak-Sai Glacier which is a 2-hour and a 4-hour hike from the park entry gate. Honestly, Ala Archa National Park is one of the best getaways from Bishkek and is a great way to experience the Tien Shan Mountain range for yourself.
Entry Fee – 80 Som
How to Reach Ala Archa National Park
It is a 1-hour drive from Bishkek and you will need to take the Mashtruka 265 from the bus stop near Osh Bazaar. You can download the maps.me app and search for this marshrutka and you will get the exact location of the bus stop.
A ride to the last village closest to the Ala Archa National Park will cost you around 25 Som. If you wish to get dropped off at the entry gate, you can ask the driver to drop you for an additional 50-100 Som.
Note: Some drivers might try to rip you off so always pay the bus drivers in the exact change and avoid giving them big notes.
From the gate, you need to reach Alpager base which is around 12 km away. You can either hitchhike this part of the journey or take a taxi for 500 Som. Once you reach, you can start hiking on any trail that you wish to explore, depending on the time you have.
Explore the Historical Burana Tower
Burana Tower is one of the most famous historical sites in Kyrgyzstan and is located in Tokmok, around 80 km from Bishkek. Previously a part of the ancient Balasagun city, this is a 25m high tower which stands in the middle of nowhere.
While the tower itself won’t look impressive to you on its own, learning about the history of the ancient city that was once considered a major part of the world and welcomed thousands of Silk Road caravans from around the world, does make the entire experience of reaching here surreal for the travelers.
If you love historical facts and wish to learn more about the history of Kyrgyzstan and the Great Silk Road trades, then you should visit Burana Tower as a day trip from Bishkek. Here, you will also find ancient bal-bals in a nearby field. The bal-bals are basically gravestones made by the nomadic Turkic tribes who often roamed in Central Asia in the 6th century.
Earlier, these gravestones were for their slain enemies but later were made as memorials for their ancestors.
Entry Fee – 150 Som
How to Reach Burana Tower
Burana Tower is a 2-hour drive from Bishkek and you will need to reach Tokmok first if you are using public transportation. You will get a marshrutka to Tokmok from the Western Bus Station in Bishkek for 50 Som.
Once you reach Tokmok, you can either take a private cab to Burana Tower and return back in an hour or two by paying a total of 300 Som. Another option is to check out the marshrutka between Tokmok and Burana Tower but remember that the timing is very odd and you might not find a ride back from Burana Tower to Tokmok.
Hike to Kol Tor Lake
Kyrgyzstan is home to some gorgeous alpine lakes, one of them being the Kol Tor Lake that is located in Kegeti village and is around 90 km from Bishkek.
Situated at an altitude of 2700m, this beautiful lake requires you to do a 2-hour hike which is slightly steep but the walk through the alpine meadows and coniferous forests and the view of the turquoise blue lake makes up for all the effort. And the best part is that you can easily do this hike in less than a day and return back to Bishkek the same day.
How to Reach Kol Tor Lake
You will need to reach Kegeti Gorge to start the hiking trail to Kol Tor Lake. For this, you need to take the marshrutka 303 from Eastern Bus Station to Kegeti side which will take around 2 hours. If you miss this marshrutka, you can simply take a marshrutka to Tokmok and then hire a can to drop you at the Kegeti Gorge for 600 Som.
Learn about Eagle Hunting in Bokanbaevo
One of the most amazing things to do in Kyrgyzstan is to learn about the tradition of Eagle Hunting in the Kyrgyz family and the entire process of this. For this, you can head to Bokanbaevo village which is just a 4-hour drive from Bishkek.
Once you get here, you can book a ticket to the Salbuurun Eagle Hunting Demonstration and watch as the Eagle Hunters use their trained eagles to hunt for themselves. Once the demonstration is over, they also show you how to shoot arrows and give you a chance to try it for yourself too.
After this demonstration, you can spend some time beside the Issyk Lake or explore the gorgeous yurts here, it is up to you. If you start early, you can even cover Skazka Valley on the same day and head back to Bishkek.
Skazka Valley, also known as the fairytale valley, is a region of bare, red earth and is filled with a labyrinth of small corridors of rocks. One of the best things about this place is that since it is spread out in a huge area, you can enjoy some solitude and peace here and won’t be disturbed by the crowds.
The valley is a good place to visit if you love unique places and would like to admire the wonders of nature. And on the way back, you can spend some time on the southern shore of the Issyk Kul lake as well and watch a gorgeous sunset from here.
How to Reach Bokanbaevo
To reach Bokanbaevo, you can take a shared cab or a marshrutka to be there in 3-4 hours. A shared cab will cost you 300 Som while a marshrutka will cost you 150 Som. For the return journey, you can take a shared cab too.
If you wish to explore Skazka valley, then you can hire a private cab for 1000 Som which will include the to and from journey and an hour of wait time too.
Spend a Day in Cholpon Ata
If you love spending time on beaches, then one of the best places to visit in Kyrgyzstan is Cholpon Ata which is known as the resort town in the country. Located on the northern shore of Issyk Kul Lake, this small town is filled with guesthouses and hotels and is a popular hub in the summers.
Here, not only you get to enjoy the huge salt-water lake but can also enjoy the alpine range of the Tien Shan mountain that is located across this lake. There is also a local museum here where you can learn about the history of this region and an open-air site too with around 2000 petroglyphs that were made between 800 BC and 1200 AD.
Another great thing about this place is that the World Nomadic Games are held here every two years which was started in 2014. You can easily plan a one-day visit to this city and enjoy a picnic on the beach before heading back to the city.
How to Reach Cholpon Ata
You will find buses and marshrutkas running between Bishkek and Cholpon Ata quite frequently and the cost is only around 100 – 200 Som for the journey.
Another option is to take a shared cab that will cost you around 200 Som from Bishkek. You will get the buses to Cholpon Ata from the Western Bus Station in Bishkek.
Where to Stay in Bishkek
While day trips from Bishkek are going to be a lot of fun, you would need a place to crash at night to restore your energy and give some rest to your tired bones. Since Bishkek is the capital city and a tourist spot, you have a lot of options available here.
If you are looking for a budget-friendly stay in Bishkek, then there are a lot of hostels and guest houses for you to check out here. I would highly recommend Silk Way Hostel and Hostel 312 Bishkek in the city that are reasonably priced, clean, and provide you access to a kitchen to cook meals for yourself too.
For travelers looking for something cozy and private, a stay at Southside Bed and Breakfast is a must as you get to stay in a beautiful, wooden-furnished room and have access to several restaurants, grocery shops, etc. nearby too. The bus stand is also located close to this BnB so you can easily head to the bus station and take the bus for a day trip to any of your desired locations.
Bishkek is a beautiful city to visit and is good as a base for a few days. You have access to everything over here and it is quite easy to manage the day trips using public transport too. And the best part is that these day trips won’t cost much and can be done on a small budget too.
So, if you ever plan a trip to Kyrgyzstan or Bishkek, then do set aside some time to explore the above-mentioned day trips from Bishkek and enjoy a memorable trip to this country. Trust me, you are not going to regret going on these day trips and might have a hard time returning from Kyrgyzstan altogether.
About the author: Rachita Saxena is a travel blogger from India who has been traveling full-time for 3 years now. She shares her travel stories on her blog – Meanderwander and loves trying new food and experiences in a new destination. When she isn’t traveling, she loves reading about new places and plan her next trips! You can follow Rachita on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
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