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

Bishkek best places are frequently seen in recent times on the itineraries of backpackers. They form the points of interest for travellers who want to explore new territories. It is an extraordinary travel destination of the Central Asian region

Bishkek best places offers the travellers a peek into Soviet history and allows them to explore the mountains and alpine lakes of the Tien Shan range. 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. Since the city is located in the Tien Sha mountains, it also offers several adrenaline-pumping activities for adventure seekers.

Bishkek is the capital city of Kyrgyzstan officially known as the Kyrgyz Republic. 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 for art lovers and adventurers alike. The city comprises vibrant parks, coffee shops, thrift stores, and shopping malls.

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. Explore the Czarist city of  Bishkek with me in the current blog.

Also useful:

A traveler’s guide to nightlife in Bishkek

What are the best places to shop in Bishkek ?

Bishkek Best Places to Visit for Travelers

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 heartwarming.

Ala-Too Square Main hub for local people
Victory Square Gorgeous green landscape
Burana Tower Ancient as well as contemporary
Museums National History Museum, Mikhail Frunze Museum, Gapar Aitiev, Sadykov Sculpture,
Parks Dubovy, Panfilov
Adventure Activities Ala-Archa National Park, Chon-Kemin
Eating places Coffee Relax, Burger House, Sierra Manas, Chicken Star
Shopping places Osh Bazaar, Dordoy Bazaar, Bishkek Bazaar




Bishkek the vibrant and colourful capital city of Kyrgyzstan is only 30 minutes away from Manas International Airport. It is a major administrative centre, 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 travellers from other countries.

Czarist City of Bishkek: Important Travel Information

Bishkek, the capital city of the Kyrgyz Republic is located in the Tien Shan mountain range in the Chui Valley. The city is a great example of the Soviet-style, Czarist planned city.

If you are planning a visit to Central Asian countries, Bishkek is a great place to start.

Location Kyrgyz Republic (One of the previous 16 Soviet Republics)
Language Russian, Kyrgyz, English
Accessibility Throughout the year (Air, Road)
Currency Kyrgyzstani 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 travellers) 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

As a traveler, you should be aware of the most comfortable way of reaching the city of Bishkek. So let me throw some light on it.

bishkek best places If you are an explorer, go on hikes around Bishkek

How to Reach the City of Bishkek ?

There are multiple ways to arrive in Bishkek.

By Plane

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 ones 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.

Take a cab from the airport

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.

Traveling from the city of Almaty

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.

How to Travel Within Bishkek ?

Travelling 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 the public transport system Marshrutka (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.

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 –

Advantour
Travelokyrgyzstan

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. 

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. Some of the be

Ala-Too Square Main hub for local people
Victory Square Gorgeous green landscape
Burana Tower Ancient as well as contemporary
Museums National History Museum, Mikhail Frunze Museum, Gapar Aitiev, Sadykov Sculpture,
Parks Dubovy, Panfilov
Adventure Activities Ala-Archa National Park, Chon-Kemin
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 centre 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.

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 that every hour there is a “Change of the Guard ceremony.”

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.

bishkek best places Bishkek has wonderful places to visit. This is a capture from Ala Too Square

Museums in Bishkek

There are many little museums in Bishkek. If you are someone who enjoys art and history, these are the must-visit places in Bishkek. Depending on your taste, you should visit a few of them. Some of the best ones are:

The National Museum of Kyrgyzstan

This museum is one of the largest in Central Asia and you can’t miss it. It displays the history of Kyrgyzstan and many from the collection here are a part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Museum is currently closed for renovation and is expected to open soon.

Mikhail Frunze Museum

This museum is the celebration of the life of Mikhail Frunze- the general of the Bolsheviks and a hero of the Soviet Revolution. It is a good place for people who are interested in Soviet history. The only problem is that for some of the collection, there is no English descriptions.

Gapar Aitiev Studio

The museum is named after Gaspar Aitiev, the national artist of Kyrgyzstan. The museum has a collection of modern and traditional Soviet-era art. They sometimes have temporary exhibitions as well. The ticket price is 100 SOM.

Sadykov National Academy of Arts Museum

This museum houses the works of Turgunbai Sadykov, a famous Kyrgyz sculptor. This museum  was founded in 2015. It is an interesting place for all the art lovers.

Parks in Bishkek

The parks are some of the best places to visit in Bishkek. There are a number of parks in Bishkek and most of them are located near the city centre. Here is a list of the ‘no to miss’ parks in Bishkek based on my personal experience.

Oak Park or Dubovy Park

This is the oldest and the Park in Bishkek. The park is lined with tall Oak trees that provide perfect sun protection in the summer months. The special feature of the park is its open-air sculpture exhibition.

Small and big sculptures, fountains, flower beds and park benches at regular intervals, make the park is perfect place for taking a stroll or just relaxing while enjoying some great art work. The entry to the park is free and if you want to grab a bite, there are many cafes and eateries nearby.

Panfilov Park

This is another lovely park in Bishkek you must visit. The park is located near the Military History Museum and ancient music instruments museum (other museums you might want to try). It is a good place to relax.

The park also has a memorial for 28 soldiers of an Almaty infantry commanded by General Ivan Panfilov who died fighting the Nazis outside Moscow. Another interesting sculpture here is the interesting monument is the WWII War Memorial.

bishkek best places Bishkek as a travel destination offers spectacular outdoor sites

Adventure and Outdoors in Bishkek

If you are an adventurer, there are plenty of places you can explore near Bishkek city. The best among them which I strongly recommend are:

Ala-Archa National Park

This natural reserve is located inside the Ala Archa gorge. It is located at about 30 km from Bishkek and is perfect for a day trip from Bishkek.  Less than an hour away from the city, the drive will take you through beautiful villages and natural beauty.

Now to reach there you have two options. One is that you can hire a cab (1000-2000 SOM) or use the shared cab called “Marshrutka 265 from Osh Bazar. It leaves for the park every three hours starting at 8 AM (but confirm again beforehand).

The Marshrutka will take you before the first gate. From there you have to walk up to the first and then the second gate. You can pay the driver extra to drop you till there. Hiring a cab is much more convenient as the cab will leave you till the second gate and wait for you to come back as well. 

It is from the second gate that you can hike. There are two trails, one is the easy one and the other is slightly difficult as I was told. The whole experience is thrilling as you stand in the awe of the river, glacier, and waterfalls. 

You can spend a few hours here and head back to the city in the evening. If you are using public transport, remember that the last Marshrutka from the Park leaves at 5.30 pm if you are planning to use public transport.

Important Tips for visiting Ala Archa National Park in Bishkek

No matter what the weather is in Bishkek make sure you carry extra warm clothes and good footwear.

Carry some water and food items.

Chon-Kemin  Valley

Another amazing place for adventure seeking travellers is the Chon-Kemin valley. It is about 135km away from Bishkek.

You can raft in the river, do some horse riding or hike through the forests in the valley while appreciating the scenic views of the deep valley and the snow-capped peaks. There are many day tours and some 1-2 day tours available for the place.

bishkek best places While in Bishkek, try it’s many cool coffee places

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 flavour to the existent American food.

Coffee Relax Coffee relax is one of the fanciest 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 separate. This is one of the good places to visit in Bishkek to visit with family.

Sierra Manas A warm café with extremely hospitable staff.

This European style 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 salads is something which that should be on the top of your foodie list.

bishkek best places The bazaars in Bishkek offer its visitors with the most delightful things

Best Places to Visit in Bishkek for Shopping 

Bishkek is known for its markets or bazaars. Its bazaars will give you to the silk route experience. Even if you aren’t much of a shopper, you must visit these markets. They capture the essence of the Kyrgyz way of life perfectly. 

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.

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.

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.

Bishkek, as I have already said, is becoming one of the booming travel destinations in Central Asia. The place has a lot to offer for travellers looking for adventure and history. The best part about Bishkek is that it is a very affordable travel destination, not only for travellers from western countries but also eastern nationalities.

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.

Happy wayfaring 🙂

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Khushboo Shah

Khushboo Shah

Khushboo Shah is a writer, artist and traveller. 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.

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