If you take a look at the world map, you will notice that there are a lot of ‘stans’ in Asia, but Kyrgyzstan is one of the most open to the western world. They embrace tourism, and even if it is still a developing field, you can go and explore it just for your curiosity. They do have lovely landscapes in the mountains, lakes where you can relax for a day or two, and the cultural tours are interesting. If you go there for a few days, you will not get bored. However, before you start packing your bags, you need to know a few things about Kyrgyzstan so that you can have a lovelier trip.
Wondering when the best time to visit? That depends on what you are looking for. Just like any other country, Kyrgyzstan has its high, low, and shoulder season. The high season is generally crowded with tourists who go there to trek the mountains. This happens from July to September. That is also the period in which most festivals take place, so if you choose to go then, you should expect some fascinating events. The low season is October through March. Most of the trekking trails are closed off because of the bad weather and huge mountains of snow. It is too dangerous. Even so, tourists still visit Kyrgyzstan for the winter sports. There are several winter resorts that can provide a lot of fun. Lastly, the shoulder season is May through June. That is when there is still a bit of snow in the mountains, but the weather is nice, and the flowers are blooming all over the country. If you do not like crowds, it is the best time to visit Kyrgyzstan. You may have concerns about your safety, which is something natural. Even so, you do not have many things to worry about. People in Kyrgyzstan welcome tourists, and they do not have issues with terrorism. You should feel pretty safe. As you can imagine, there are a few things that can happen, but there is nothing serious. You may experience some scamming. Taxi drivers do not always turn on the meter, and you end up paying more than your trip is worth. However, if you pay attention so that the driver turns it on, you should be just fine. You should also have small bills on you at all times. Even walking down the streets alone at night is safe, although we do not recommend it. Bad people exist in every part of the world, and it is better for you to play it safe. As for communication, you may have a bad time if the only language you speak is English. The Kyrgyz people do not speak it, and even if you hire a translator, some things will be lost in translation. So what option do you have? Kyrgyzstan is an old Soviet country, so as you can imagine, Russian is one of the languages people use. There is also Kyrgyz, and more and more people learn to use it. If you want to get around, you should probably learn some basic words in both languages. Keep in mind that it depends on which region you visit. Some speak Russian, some Kyrgyz, but it would not hurt to learn a little bit of both. They are not the easiest languages to learn, but without that effort, you may have a tough time getting around. When it comes to money, Kyrgyzstan uses som, the local currency. The country is a cash-based society. You may be able to pay for your hotel using a credit or a debit card, but that is pretty much it. All the rest must be paid in cash. At the same time, you cannot get som outside the country. You can try, but chances of you finding a bank to exchange your money in som are slim to none. When you leave, it is recommended that you take US dollars. The bank will change your money, but you need to speak their language. Otherwise, you will have a tough time making the exchange. Another thing that you should know is that Kyrgyzstan’s population is mostly Muslim, but you will be surprised at how relaxed they are. You do not have to follow the same rules as in Arabic countries, for example. Women dress decently, but they do not go overboard. However, there are some regions where people practice Islam with more dedication, and if you find yourself in one of those regions, you need to dress conservatively. You do not want people giving you nasty looks while you walk among them. It is also a sign of respect. Your luggage should include a few bottles of hand sanitizer. For some reason, most bathrooms do not have soap. As you can imagine, you need to clean your hands thoroughly before meals. As for food and drinks, chances are that you are going to like it. Since the people of Kyrgyzstan have a nomadic descent, they consume a lot of milk and tea. They do have vegetables, but they are not big fans. Even so, if you have a vegan diet, you need to ask, and you will be served. But overall, the food looks very colorful and is delicious. It is perfectly seasoned. There are some traditional dishes you can try as well. You may hear about some unconventional beverages such as fermented horse milk, but if you have the stomach for it, you should try drinking it. Who knows? Maybe you will like it. If not, you should stick to clack or green tea. The Kyrgyz people have it with every single meal. The bottom line is that Kyrgyzstan is a country worth visiting. The people are welcoming, although they may seem a little bit tough in the beginning. It is one of their traits. The country is safe, and you cannot go there without doing some trekking in the mountains. The landscapes are stunning, and you will create beautiful memories.