Planning your Kyrgyzstan vacation? Not sure where to stay in Kyrgyzstan? This guide breaks down the best areas in Kyrgyzstan FOR ALL BUDGETS!
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Snow-capped mountain peaks, herds of goats and sheep dotting the hillsides, large crystalline alpine lakes glistening in the sun… I’m speaking, of course, of Kyrgyzstan – ‘Switzerland of Central Asia’!

But in a country sometimes known only for the difficulty of spelling its name, working out where to stay can be a tough ask.

That’s why we’ve put together this helpful guide to cities, areas and places to stay in Kyrgyzstan, so you can confidently explore this country of glorious contrasts!

You’ll finish reading this invigorated, excited and eager to get started on planning your trip to the east, and knowing exactly where you want to stay in Kyrgyzstan!

 

Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Kyrgyzstan

  • Best area to stay in Kyrgyzstan your first time – Issyk Kul
  • Best place to stay in Kyrgyzstan for nightlife – Bishkek
  • Best city to stay in for hiking in Kyrgyzstan – Karakol
  • Best area to sleep in a yurt in Kyrgyzstan – Song Kul
  • Best place to stay in Kyrgyzstan for families – Arslanbob
  • Best city to stay in Kyrgyzstan for culture – Osh

 

In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:

 
Issyk Kul
Number one on many lists of the attractions of this country awash with natural beauty is Issyk Kul. The ‘hot lake’, as it translates from Kyrgyz, is a national treasure and a source of pride to its people.
 
Places to Visit:
  • Check out an impressive eagle-hunting demonstration.
  • Take a sunset cruise on the lake and make some new friends for your travels.
  • Party the night away in a discotheque in Cholpon Ata!

 

Where to Stay in Kyrgyzstan

Not worried about where you’ll be and just looking for a fit for you? Check out our top picks for Kyrgyzstan in general!

 

Best Hostel in Kyrgyzstan – Tunduk Hostel

Tunduk Hostel is the place to stay for passionate travellers and people who like to have a relaxing atmosphere at home, while being in the middle of the ‘living centre’ of Bishkek! They offer private rooms, dorms, and a kyrgyz-style decorated room, “The Yurt”.

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Best Airbnb in Kyrgyzstan –  Yurt with western features

Living in Kyrgyzstan, it can be quite a unique experience, especially when you visit the country for the first time. That’s why we chose this Airbnb. The Yurt is basic and clean but can be a bit of a culture shock for people that don’t expect it. That’s why there are western amenities like a toilet (how we know it), a tiny bar and hot water. Breakfast is included too.

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Best Hotel in Kyrgyzstan – Orion Hotel Bishkek

Orion Hotel Bishkek provides 5-star accommodation in Bishkek. It also features a sauna, meeting rooms and a heated pool. Babysitting/child services, a 24-hour reception and a concierge are just some of the available services at the hotel.

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Kyrgyzstan’s Area Guide

Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Kyrgyzstan

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Issyk Kul

  • Number one on many lists of the attractions of this country awash with natural beauty is Issyk Kul. The ‘hot lake’, as it translates from Kyrgyz, is a national treasure and a source of pride to its people.
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Bishkek

  • The capital of the country, and home to 25% of its people, Bishkek is an easy winner for where to stay in Kyrgyzstan for nightlife.
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Karakol

  • The whole of Kyrgyzstan is a hiker’s paradise, with trails and mountains every which way you turn. Karakol is the gem in the east, near Issyk Kul, and is our pick for the best place in Kyrgyzstan to stay for hiking.
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Song Kul

  • Song Kul is set in a vast grassy pasture land in the mountains, though the area itself is a flat plain. It’s where millenia of nomads have pitched their yurts for the summer grazing, and where you can pitch your yurt too!
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Arslanbob

  • Located in central Kyrgyzstan, near the Uzbek border, Arslanbob is a stunning village and region nestled in the mountains (where else!?). t’s best known for its enormous walnut forest, the largest walnut grove on earth, covering 11,000 hectares.
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Osh

  • Osh is in the Fergana Valley, in the south of Kyrgyzstan and is the second-largest city in the country, after Bishkek. It has over 3000 years of history and is where a number of cultures collide.
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Located in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country a little smaller in size than the United Kingdom.

Surrounded by Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and China, its topography is 90% mountains. A lot of the top things to do in Kyrgyzstan involve mountains.

You can find adventure, with hiking, skiing, rafting, mountain biking and horse trekking in Kyrgyzstan all in hot demand.

Or relaxation, with time spent at the beaches of the alpine lakes or chilling in a yurt (the large communal tents still used by the nomadic people of the country).

And for culture, you’re spoilt for choice. The traditional ways, dress and food of Kyrgyzstan is very much still a part of everyday life in certain areas, and celebrations have very set customs in place.

History buffs will also be beside themselves, as this was a major pathway of the Silk Road, and old caravanserai are still in place, signalling where the weary travellers who connected the world once stopped for a well-earned rest.  

No matter if you’re after nightlife, a fun time with the kids, the real cultural experience or a hiking adventure, Kyrgyzstan has just the place you’re after!

Looking for more details on traveling to Kyrgyzstan? Check out our EPIC guide to backpacking Kyrgyzstan!

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Read our full review!

 

Kyrgyzstan’s Six Best Areas to Stay in…

We’ve taken Kyrgyzstan and filtered it into bite-sized pieces categorised by attraction just for you!

 

#1 Issyk Kul – Where to Stay in Kyrgyzstan your First Time

Number one on many lists of the attractions of this country awash with natural beauty is Issyk Kul. It is one of the THE places to visit in Kyrgyzstan.

The ‘hot lake’, as it translates from Kyrgyz, is a national treasure and a source of pride to its people. Its moniker comes from the fact that the waters of Issyk Kul never freeze, which is quite a feat in an area where January temperatures drop to 5°f!

Our pick for the best place to stay in Kyrgyzstan for your first time here, it offers something for every kind of traveller.

The surrounding Tian Shan mountains provide a dramatic background for swimming, if the weather permits, and for hunting out the ancient petroglyphs (rock carvings) in the area.

You can also undertake a circumnavigation of the lake by car, to see it and its surroundings from every angle. Be warned though, this is the second-largest alpine lake in the world, and the trip will take you about nine hours!

Issyk Kul is a region as well as the lake, so there’s plenty to be found beyond the shores too. Check out the info at your accommodation to find even more to keep you on your toes!

Issyk Kul, Kyrgyzstan

 

Things to See and Do in Issyk Kul:

 – Sunbathe on the beaches of Issyk Kul, taking a dip if you dare! Pro tip – the water is actually salty!

 – Find petroglyphs on rocks in the area, evidence of ancient settlement and civilisation – some are 3500 years old!

 – Check out an impressive eagle-hunting demonstration.

 – Take a sunset cruise on the lake and make some new friends for your travels.

 – Party the night away in a discotheque in Cholpon Ata! 

 

Best Hostel in Issyk Kul – Apple Hostel

This is a family-run hostel located right across the historical museum in the center of Cholpon Ata, a cultural center of Issyk Kul, the marvellous lake of Kyrgyzstan, where you can visit, not only museums and petroglyphs, but can also enjoy the beach.

View on HostelWorld

 

Best Airbnb in Issyk Kul – Yurt with western features

Living in Kyrgyzstan, it can be quite a unique experience, especially when you visit the country for the first time. That’s why we chose this Airbnb. The Yurt is basic and clean but can be a bit of a culture shock for people that don’t expect it. That’s why there are western amenities like a toilet (how we know it), a tiny bar and hot water. Breakfast is included too.

View on Airbnb

 

Best Hotel in Issyk Kul – Tri Korony

Situated in Cholpon-Ata, Tri Korony is an easy drive from Bosteri and provides free wireless internet, a private dock and a private beach. It has a spa and wellness centre, as well as a sun deck, a swimming pool and a beauty centre. Staying at the hotel is fun for the whole family.

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Best Hotel in Issyk Kul – Hotel Resort Karven Four Seasons

Set within the picturesque countryside of Cholpon-Ata, Hotel Resort Karven Four Seasons provides comfortable accommodation and a full range of facilities, such as a private beach. It is moments from the beach and offers comfortable 4-star accommodation. 

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#2 Bishkek – Where to Stay in Kyrgyzstan for Nightlife

The capital of the country, and home to 25% of its people, Bishkek is an easy winner for where to stay in Kyrgyzstan for nightlife.

To get yourself set up for an evening out, you can head to a local cafe or restaurant, to sample some local food (the best way to settle yourself into a new country). There are one or two western-style haunts too, for those used to creature comforts. 

Then there’s some craft beer pubs calling your name and some tasty drops that need sampling before you head out to check out the live music on offer (we hear Chicken Star is the place)!

And lastly, you’ve got a few underground nightclubs where you can dance until the early hours with travellers and locals alike!

You’ll need to fill your days of course too, so there’s Osh Bazaar to shop and browse local products and crafts. And if you’re of an active inclination, there are hiking trails and canyons within easy reach of the city. 

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

 

Things to See and Do in Bishkek:

 – Pick up some souvenirs or something tasty at Osh Bazaar, the large local marketplace.

 – Try real local food at restaurants. Vegans and vegetarians will need a plan in place, as the cuisine is based heavily on meat and dairy.

 – Check out one or two of the new craft beer bars in the city. 

 – Listen to live music at Chicken Star or Promzona Club.

 – Dance your legs off at an underground nightclub. Tuman is a name that crops up often so give that a go!

 

Best Hostel in Bishkek – Capsule Hostel

Welcome to Capsule Hotel, the first modern capsule hotel in Bishkek! This hostel is located in the centre of Bishkek and is 3 minutes walk to Bishkek railway station and 2 minutes walk to the beautiful Erkindik boulevard and the city’s main points of interest.

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Best Airbnb in Bishkek – Big and homely apartment

This Airbnb is more very spacious, newly furnished and in a great location, especially if you’re looking forward to exploring the nightlife. With numerous restaurants, cafes and bars, you’ll have a great experience. The home has a very homely vibe. It’s sparkling clean and the host is known for going above and beyond for his guests. During the colder months, you can even enjoy the heated bathroom floor.

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Best Hotel in Bishkek – Futuro Hotel

This 3-star property is cosy and modern. The contemporary hotel offers include a library, an express check-in and check-out feature and laundry facilities. The hotel has 20 rooms and has been recently refurbished. Welcoming and helpful staff are available 24 hours a day. 

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Best Hotel in Bishkek – Bishkek Villa Hotel

Bishkek Villa Hotel features free Wi-Fi. It also offers massage services, a swimming pool and an express check-in and check-out feature. A satisfying breakfast is available each morning, and there are also numerous restaurants and cafés nearby. 

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#3 Karakol – Best Area to Stay in Kyrgyzstan for Hiking

The whole of Kyrgyzstan is a hiker’s paradise, with trails and mountains every which way you turn.

Karakol is the gem in the east, near Issyk Kul, and is our pick for the best place in Kyrgyzstan to stay for hiking. 

You can experience the true Kyrgyz hospitality here, and may well be invited into the homes of locals to share in a meal. If not, there are options for tours to do just that, where you can learn about history and culture while sampling the delicious local delicacies!

But for hiking, it’s the Tian Shan mountains you’ve come here for! There are hikes for every skill level, from short trips of only a couple of hours to more demanding trails requiring several nights’ stays.

For equipment, there are local rental places, and guides to take you through the misty mountains, so you need not lug your gear internationally. 

The best thing is, the Kyrgyzstan hiking trails are still relatively untouched, with no hordes descending in high season, like you may have experienced elsewhere. 

Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

 

Things to See and Do in Karakol:

 – Experience dinner with a local Dungan family. The ethnically Chinese group escaped persecution in this Kyrgyz haven. 

 – Explore the historic city streets and markets.

 – Go hiking! It’s why you’re here after all.

 – Take a trip to Issyk Kul, just to the west of the city. 

 – Powder! Head to the mountains for skiing or snowboarding in wintertime. 

 

Best Hostel in Karakol – KbH – Karakol based Hostel

KbH-Karakol based Hostel is located in the quiet centre of the beautiful town of Karakol, Kyrgyzstan. It was opened in January 2017. It is 0.2 km to the nearest market and 0.2 km to the monument of architecture, Holy Trinity Cathedral. 

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Best Airbnb in Karakol – Room in amazing guesthouse

This Airbnb is truly a home far away from home. The furniture is handmade by the host, and all little details have been chosen carefully, so guests feel welcome and comfy. The location is amazing for travellers that want to explore the hiking tracks. Before you head out, you can enjoy a delicious breakfast. The host works in tourism, so she’ll be giving out the best recommendations.

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Best Hotel in Karakol – Riverside Karakol

Riverside Karakol offers complimentary Wi-Fi and provides a 24-hour reception and a swimming pool. Guests of the bed & breakfast have access to its wide range of outdoor activities, including horse riding and hiking. In fine weather, an outdoor terrace provides an ideal spot to relax. 

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Best Hotel in Karakol – Caravan Hotel Karakol

Caravan Hotel Karakol is close to the area’s popular attractions. All the rooms at Caravan Hotel Karakol feature a flat-screen TV, a mosquito net and slippers. They each provide heating, an in-room closet and an alarm clock.

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#4 Song Kul – Best Area to Sleep in a Yurt in Kyrgyzstan

Song Kul is set in a vast grassy pasture land in the mountains, though the area itself is a flat plain. It’s where millenia of nomads have pitched their yurts for the summer grazing, and where you can pitch your yurt too!

The Song Kul  (or Song Kol) lake itself is the second largest, after Issyk Kul, and the largest freshwater one, incidentally.

This area is accessed by roads coming from a multitude of directions through the mountains. Well, you can also get there by 2-3 day hike from a nearby town if you’re keen!

Every summer, many yurts are advertised as available as a place to stay by signboards outside. To book ahead can be tricky, so we’ve got a couple of options for you below. After all, Song Kul really is the best area in Kyrgyzstan to spend a night or two in a yurt.

It’s got the double whammy of the novelty factor, while also being an authentic cultural experience where you’ll likely be witness to, or part of, a normal evening and morning of a nomadic Kyrgyz family. 

Song Kul, Kyrgyzstan

 

Things to See and Do in Song Kul:

 – Sleep in a yurt. Obviously! 

 – Splash yourself with the waters of Song Kul. Take a dip if you’re tough enough!

 – Hike around the lake. There are several options here and you’ll have your cosy yurt to return to in the evening!

 – Play football with local kids, hanging around the campsites. 

 – Eat a local dinner with the family living in your yurt, if a small-scale operation.

 

Best Hostel in Song Kul – Happy Hostel

This hostel is new, and the first hostel in Kochkor. They offer dorm rooms and private rooms. There is a kitchen with amenities to use while cooking. And a Garden for pitching guests’ tents and a clean and comfortable yurt camp where tourists can rest after trekking.

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Best Hotel in Song Kul – Yurt Camp Azamat at Song Kol Lake

Yurt Camp Azamat at Song Kol Lake has 5 tents that are fitted with all the essentials to ensure a comfortable stay. Situated right next to the scenic and serene Song Kul, you’ll be living the real deal with a night in one of these babies!

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Best Hotel in Song Kul – Aikol Yurt Camp

Aikol Yurt Camp is a camping property that combines comfortable tents with amenities such as a playground, for a unique way to experience the great outdoors. The property has 6 tents, all of which are equipped with a variety of facilities to ensure an enjoyable stay.

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#5 Arslanbob – Best Place in Kyrgyzstan for Families

Located in central Kyrgyzstan, near the Uzbek border, Arslanbob is a stunning village and region nestled in the mountains (where else!?). 

It’s best known for its enormous walnut forest, the largest walnut grove on earth, covering 11,000 hectares.

The walnut was Kyrgyzstan’s first export to Europe and is what helped to put this alpine country on the map.

It’s a fantastic area for families to explore and the best place to stay in Kyrgyzstan with kids.

Part of this comes down to its small size. In a village of only 12,000 people, exploration is manageable for all ages. And with that comes friendly interactions. People just going about their daily tasks will have time for a smile and a greeting, or a wave from the car trundling up the rocky road.

If you’re visiting in summer you may find the amusement park open. There’s a bunch of open air rides, next door to the local swimming pool. Just keep an ear out for the music to guide you. The kids will thank you!

Arslanbob, Kyrgyzstan
source: Teow Cek Chuan (Shutterstock)

 

Things to See and Do in Arslanbob:

 – Visit the fairground and take the most stunning ferris wheel ride of your life. Fairy floss mandatory, of course!

 – Take a walk through the walnut forest, and sneak one or two to nibble on, if you’re in season.

 – Hike through the mountain passes near the area.

 – Check out the beautiful waterfalls in the region, named Big Waterfall and Small Waterfall. 

 – Relax into the slow-paced mountain life and try to immerse yourself in local life.

 

Best Hostel in Arslanbob – Friendship (guest house)

Situated in Arslanbob, Friendship (guest house) features free WiFi, and guests can enjoy a garden and ski-to-door access. If you would like to discover the area, skiing is possible in the surroundings and the homestay can arrange a ski equipment rental service.

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Best Hotel in Arslanbob – Halal Muslim Guesthouse

Located in Arslanbob, Halal Muslim Guesthouse features a garden, terrace and free WiFi.

An à la carte breakfast is available daily at the guest house. A range of room sizes are available to accommodate couples, groups or families. 

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Best Hotel in Arslanbob – Kok-Art Hotel Jalal-Abad

Situated in the countryside, KOK-ART Hotel Jalal-Abad is a bit of a distance from Arslanbob itself, but has you in a great base, in the nearby town of Jalal-Abad. The hotel has comfortable rooms, designed to fit the requirements of any traveller.

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#6 Osh – Best Place in Kyrgyzstan for Culture

Osh is in the Fergana Valley, in the south of Kyrgyzstan and is the second-largest city in the country, after Bishkek. It has over 3000 years of history and is where a number of cultures collide.

Marking a significant stop on the ancient pathway between Asia and Europe, Osh was considered the halfway point of the Silk Road.

When you consider travel times in those days, you can imagine the atmosphere when this milestone was reached from either direction!

With all cultural melting pots comes one incredible outcome… a fantastic variety of foods.

There are 80 ethnic groups that consider Osh home and as many traditional cuisines or styles of cooking. Try the Oshski Samsa, a dough pocket stuffed with tasty fillings and cooked in a clay oven.

Nearby Suleiman mountain (the local spelling of the biblical Solomon) is a significant religious site that deserves attention and respect. As a bonus, it’s also incredibly picturesque and the outstanding hike of the region. You’ll see ancient rituals in a modern context and have that sense of witnessing history in action. 

Osh, Kyrgyzstan

 

Things to See and Do in Osh:

 – Try the various foods on offer.

 – Hike Suleiman mountain and step back in time. 

 – Wander the old paths of the Silk Road.

 – Take a day trip to nearby town Uzgen.

 – Explore Jayma Bazaar and immerse yourself in local life.

 

Best Hostel in Osh – Biy Ordo Guest House

‘Biy Ordo” Guest House – the popular Hotel & Hostel among foreigners, which is located in the quietest part of the Osh city, is a perfect place for tourists. It has its own green yard. There are all comfortable conditions such as Wi-Fi, laundry, etc. for staying in historical city of Osh. 

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Best Airbnb in Osh – Apartment with beautiful view

Different cultures are always worth experiencing. Osh is a great city to do that, and this Airbnb will make your stay even better. You’ll have the whole apartment to yourself. It’s located on a higher floor and has an amazing view right from your balcony. The home is nicely decorated, clean and has a well-equipped kitchen. Reach out to the host for great recommendations for what’s worth exploring.

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Best Hotel in Osh- Guest House Zhukov

Situated within the picturesque countryside of Osh, Guest House Zhukov offers comfortable accommodation and a wide range of facilities, such as a 24-hour reception. It is conveniently positioned for those wanting to discover the area’s attractions. 

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Best Hotel in Osh – Sunrise Osh

There are a range of amenities available to guests of the hotel, such as a tour desk, swimming pool and room service. It also offers a safe, a laundry service and a car rental desk. There are 50 rooms at Sunrise Osh, each offering all the necessities to ensure a comfortable stay. 

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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is a treat for the senses and the soul and there are endless reasons to visit Kyrgyzstan.  Its untouched beauty will speak to the heart of every traveller, though the paths may not be as easy if you’re one used to the luxurious side of life.

Staying in our best overall hotel, Orion Hotel Bishkek, gives you the best of both worlds, with its 5-star rooms in the most urban city, set against the rugged Tian Shan backdrop.

So that’s it from our travel team, and our tips and tricks for travel in Kyrgyzstan. 

Just make sure you try the fermented mare’s milk. Cheers!

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.

Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!

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Planning your Kyrgyzstan vacation? Not sure where to stay in Kyrgyzstan? This guide breaks down the best areas in Kyrgyzstan FOR ALL BUDGETS!