Czarist Planned City of Bishkek: Kyrgyzstan’s Must Visit Destination

Places to visit in Bishkek are seen frequently in recent times on the itineraries of backpackers. They form the points of interest for travelers who want to explore new territories. Bishkek is the capital city of Kyrgyzstan. It is an extraordinary travel destination of the Central Asia region.

Bishkek was established as a fortress to control the local caravan routes and to connect with the remote Kyrgyz tribes. Today it is a vivacious city with many exciting places to visit in Bishkek. The city comprises vibrant parks, coffee shops, thrift stores, and shopping malls.

At Bishkek, you can get the best of both worlds – ancient and contemporary. It is a common sight to stare at distant mountains and sip coffee or explore local markets and bargain for European fashions.

Known for its stone bricked buildings, its well-planned architecture, and cultural happenings, there are many places to visit in Bishkek which will make your trip worthwhile.

places to visit in bishkek
Bishkek offers a traveler various places worth visiting. Photography by Andreas Meyer

Places to Visit in Bishkek

Bishkek is a picturesque city with tall trees, square lines, and modern facilities. But, there are also many historic places to visit in Bishkek. Also, the places to visit in Bishkek for food and shopping are heart warming.

Ala Too Square Main hub for local people
Victory Square Gorgeous green landscape
Burana Tower Ancient as well as contemporary
Eating places Coffee Relax, Burger House, Sierra Manas, Chicken Star
Shopping places Osh Bazaar, Dordoy Bazaar, Bishkek Bazaar

Bishkek the vibrant and colorful capital city of Kyrgyzstan is only 30 minutes away from Manas International Airport. It is a major administrative center, home to the American University of Central Asia (AUCA), and a crossroads of culture, commerce, and conviviality.

It has a diverse population, mostly ranging from native Kyrgyz, to Tajik’s, Kazakhs, Afghans, Russians, and the greater expat community – Indians, Americans, and from the European community. The people are hardworking and extremely friendly to host travelers from other countries.

places to visit in bishkek
Ala Too Square decorated with flowers. The roof has Kyrgyzstan’s flag over it. Photography by Dinara Sulayamanova

Czarist City of Bishkek: An Overview 

Location Kyrgyz Republic (One of the previous 16 Soviet Republics)
Language Russian, Kyrgyz, English
Accessibility Throughout the year (Air, Road)
Currency Kyrgyztani Som – KGS (1 INR= 1.06 KGS); (1 US Dollar = 68.66 KGS)
Best Time to Visit March to September (Early Spring to Autumn)
Safety ( families, backpackers, solo female travelers) Very Safe
Budget travel tip for first timers Book your accommodation at least one month prior to travel.

Prefer walking yourself to hiring a Taxi

Nearby countries to visit Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Russia
places to visit in bishkek
The ‘Change of Guard Ceremony’ at Victory Square. Photography by Agatochila Vasquez

How to Reach the City of Bishkek ?

There are multiple ways to arrive to Bishkek.

The easiest and the most scenic is to board the flight to Manas International Airport. Approximately 20 minutes before landing, all the flights encircle Kyrgyz mountain ranges. This provides a splendid aerial view of the beautiful, all year around snow-clad Kyrgyz mountain ranges. This is a sight to behold.

Once arriving into the airport, the transit boarders are led to another entrance, and the one’s staying in Bishkek are lead off to immigration. The immigration is fairly quick, and very comfortable.

Regardless of the time of year you choose to travel to Bishkek, when you arrive the weather will be chilly. It is advisable to carry a light sweater or leather jacket.

Outside the airport, you can hire pre-paid taxi’s. If you come from a non-Russian speaking company, you may find it difficult to negotiate with the taxi drivers because they speak little English.

To have a smooth experience, it is advised to ask your travel agency to send a pre-booked cab. If you’ve planned a trip on your own for places to visit in Bishkek, stay patient.

Another way to enter Bishkek is to drive from the city of Almaty in Kazakhstan. The drive is an entirely different experience as you will travel across the national highways, green landscapes, and high mountains. It takes around 3 hours to reach.

places to visit in bishkek
The Burana Tower. Photography by Zak

How to Travel Within Bishkek ?

Traveling within Bishkek is very easy.

Choose to Walk The city has linear roads so there are many shortcuts.
Use the Namba Taxi They are of the nature of Uber cabs.
Hire a passing cab It is recommended to always ask the price first.
Use public transport system Mashrutka (the bus)

To travel all across the city, the minimum cab fare is 200 SOM, while the Mashrutka may charge around 10-20 SOM (or more) depending on the distance.

A Balbal – The Grave Marker that was used by the Turks while roaming Central Asia decades ago. Photography by Anna Phipps

Visa Regulations for Places to Visit in Bishkek

If you require a Kyrgyz visa, it will be expected of you to provide a sponsor letter to the Kyrgyz embassy in your country. A wide variety of visas are available – study, business, travel and others.

If you are applying for a travel visa, then you will have to contact a travel agency in Bishkek, and ask them to sponsor you a visa letter. The process if fairly simple and most travel agencies are very helpful thus, easing the process.

Once you reach out to them, they will ask you to supply relevant documents. These travel agencies also offer many tours such as ‘cultural tours’, ‘tours of the Kyrgyz lakes and rivers’ etc.

Listing a few travel agencies below –


Police Registration Before Heading for Places to Visit in Bishkek

Once arriving in Bishkek, it is important that you get your police registration done. It is a fairly simple process, and is a safety requirement as per the government policies. 

places to visit in bishkek
A different kind of grave marking at Burana Tower. Photography by Victor

Top Places to Visit in Bishkek: Local Monuments and Important attractions

Bishkek is a picturesque city with tall trees, square lines, and modern facilities. But, there are also many historic places to visit in Bishkek.

Ala Too Square Main hub for local people
Victory Square Gorgeous green landscape
Burana Tower Ancient as well as contemporary
Eating places Coffee Relax, Burger House, Sierra Manas, Chicken Star
Shopping places Osh Bazaar, Dordoy Bazaar, Bishkek Bazaar

Ala – Too Square

The Ala-Too Square, earlier known as the Lenin Square is one of the most significant places to visit in Bishkek. Being the town’s center it is the meeting point for local inhabitants.

There is a statue of the local hero Manas and many fountains. While at the Ala-Too Square, visit the National Museum. It is a huge, square building, whose first floor is dedicated to Kyrgyz history and the second to information about communism.

The square is named after the Ala-Too mountain ranges that can be seen from the front of the museum.

places to visit in bishkek
The central square in Bishkek – Ala Too. Photography by Daniel

Victory Square

The Victory Square is one of the most peaceful places to visit in Bishkek. Situated at the other end of the city, it was established in 1989 to celebrate the victory of the 2nd World War.

The square is held together by three curvy columns of red granite, forming a Yurt. A Yurt is a portable tent used by the nomads of Central Asia. The reason this is one of the most mesmerizing places to visit in Bishkek is because every hour there is a “Change of the Guard ceremony.”

Places to visit in Bishkek
Victory Square, Bishkek. Photography by Robert Harding

Burana Tower

The Burana Tower is 148 feet high, and is located 80 km to the north of Bishkek, near the town of Tokmok. The tower is surrounded by the remnants of a castle and three mausoleums which were a part of the ancient city of Balasagun.

The entire outer premises act as an open air museum . There are with hundreds of balbals (grave marker used by the Turks decades ago) and petroglyphs scattered throughout the area. Strolling between their carved faces is a strange but good experience.

places to visit in bishkek
Against the backdrop of wondrous mountains, the Burana Tower stands tall and impressive. Photography by Kyrgyz Ordo

Places to Visit in Bishkek for Food 

Bishkek being the capital city has a wide variety of restaurants offering multiple cuisines. Here, you will find Kyrgyz cuisine, Russian cuisine, Turkish cuisine, Indian cuisine, and even restaurants by expats who add their own flavor to the existant American food.

Coffee Relax Coffee relax is one of the most fancy coffee shops on Toktogula street. Though a coffee shop, it serves excellent Turkish and vegetarian cuisines.

It is a little pricey, but its coffee, pastries, and ambiance make it worth it.

It has both tables and booths – its booth is themed car divided with a table in between.

The smoking and non-smoking sections are seperate. This is a good place in Bishkek to visit with family.

Sierra Manas A warm café with extremely hospitable staff.

This European styled café is the best place to visit after a tiring day of sightseeing.

Burger House If you are looking for comfort American food, then visit this joint in Bishkek Park.

They serve the best burgers, Caesar salad, and fries.

Chicken Star Started by Chihoon Jeong, an expat from South Korean, this restaurant serves the most delicious and tasty cuisine in Bishkek.

Popularly known for their chicken, they also serve really good salads and coffee.

They are also known to host music nights.

Important Food Tip – Do try out some local Kyrgyz cuisine. The Plav, dumplings, tea, and fresh saldads is something which that should be on the top of your foodie list.

places to visit in Bishkek
Steaming cup of Turkish coffee. Photo credits: Coffee Relax


places to visit in Bishkek
Tokkochi (a South Korean dish) at Chicken Star. Photography by May Leo

Best Places to Visit in Bishkek for Shopping 


After food, some of the best places to visit in Bishkek are its bazaars. Home to some of Europe’s most pulsating and intensive bazaars, Bishkek’s shopping outlets will keep you on your toes all day.

Osh Bazaar
Dordoy Bazaar
Bishkek Park

 Osh Bazaar

The Osh Bazaar is just a 15 minute drive from the city center, and costs around 150SOM for its taxi ride. You can also hire a shared cab.

This bazaar’s specialty is spices, oil, seeds, nuts, sweet items like biscuits, chocolates, crisp bread, shoes, clothes and souvenirs. There are many alleys, and most shopkeepers are friendly and willing to bargain.

places to visit in bishkek
Shop for some exotic spices, seeds and lovely produce at Osh Bazaar. Photography by Annie

Dordoy Bazaar

The Dordoy Bazaar is the clothes bazaar where you can get expensive shoes, leather jackets, and dresses of almost quarter of its original price.

There are many sections and alleys in the bazaar. There are lanes of Chinese imported items, European designs, Turkish brands, and also local Kyrgyz clothing. Here too, you can bargain and attain things at a good price.

places to visit in Bishkek
Shop for creatively woven handicrafts while in Bishkek. Photography by David Otrowski


Both bazaars have items ranging from 50 SOM to 1000 SOM – clothes are also very cheap at these two places in Bishkek.

Both these bazaars are striking, but time consuming places to visit in Bishkek. Make sure you have a whole day planned just for shopping and souvenirs as you will be spoiled with choices.

Some souvenirs you can find here are wood carved keychains, wooden chess boards which have pieces carved with Kyrgyz characteristics, dolls, and very beautiful silk scarves.

Bishkek Park

Another place to shop at Bishkek is the Bishkek Park. This is a mall where you will find many Italian, Japanese and European brands. Some brands also display clothes starting from 3000 – 7000 SOM, so if you looking for something expensive, you should visit this place in Bishkek.

Important Shopping tip – When visiting bazaars, keep your purse close to you always, carry your identification documents because there may be police who wish to check you, and try and visit scan the whole area first and then buy –because sometimes you may get the same thing at a cheaper price from another vendor.

places to visit in bishkek
Bishkek Mall. Photography by Abduhuhat Samatzoda

Plan a trip to the lively capital city of Kyrgyzstan soon and head to the beautiful places to visit in Bishkek. You will love the region and its people.

Recommended Places to Visit in Asia for Backpackers

Shanghai, China Choose it over other Chinese Cities
Paro, Bhutan Visit Tiger Nest Monastery on a Cliff
Dambulla, Sri Lanka Sacred Place for 22 Centuries
Singapore City, Singapore Visit Virtual Hollywood
Himachal, India Trek up till the Moon Lake

Happy wayfaring 🙂


places to visit in bishkek
Khushboo Shah
Khushboo Shah is a writer, artist and traveler. She chronicles her experiences on her Instagram, and often plays storyteller by narrating stories to anyone who listens. She enjoys long road trips, visiting art exhibitions where she can talk to the artist, because each artwork has a story. She is also fond of walks along nature trails, discovering exotic places, and delicious food.

Places to visit in Bishkek  Places to visit in Bishkek