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—  City  —
Kyrgyz transcription(s)
 - ISO 9 biškek
 - BGN/PCGN bishkek
 - ALA-LC bishkek
Bishkek cityscape


Coat of arms
Bishkek is located in Kyrgyzstan
Location in Kyrgyzstan
Coordinates: 42°52′29″N 74°36′44″E / 42.87472°N 74.61222°E / 42.87472; 74.61222
Country Flag of Kyrgyzstan.svg Kyrgyzstan
Shaar Bishkek[1] (It is, however, the capital of the Chuy Province)
 - Mayor Nariman Tuleyev
Area [3]
 - Total 127 km2 (49 sq mi)
Elevation 800 m (2,625 ft)
Population (1999)[3]
 - Total 762,308
 - Density 6,002.4/km2 (15,557.3/sq mi)
 - Estimate (2007) 1,250,000
Time zone UTC+6 (UTC+6)
Area code(s) 312
Climate chart (explanation)
average max. and min. temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm
source: World Meteorological Organization

Bishkek (in Kyrgyz and Russian: Бишкек), formerly Pishpek and Frunze, is the capital and the largest city of Kyrgyzstan. Bishkek is also the administrative centre of Chuy Province which surrounds the city, even though the city itself is not part of the province but rather a province-level unit of Kyrgyzstan.

The name is thought to derive from a Kyrgyz word for a churn used to make fermented mare's milk (kumis), the Kyrgyz national drink. Founded in 1825 as the Kyrgyz-Khokand fortress of ""Bishkek", then, in 1862, named as the Russian fortress Pishpek (крепость Пишпек)[4], between 1926 and 1991 it was known as Frunze (Фрунзе), after the Bolshevik military leader Mikhail Frunze. The historic name of the city was restored by the Kyrgyz parliament in 1991.

Bishkek, at 42°52′29″N 74°36′44″E / 42.87472°N 74.61222°E / 42.87472; 74.61222, is situated at about 800 metres (2,600 ft) altitude just off the northern fringe of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too range, an extension of the Tien Shan mountain range, which rises up to 4,800 metres (16,000 ft) and provides a spectacular backdrop to the city. North of the city, a fertile and gently undulating steppe extends far north into neighboring Kazakhstan. The Chui River drains most of the area. Bishkek is connected to the Turkestan-Siberia Railway by a spur.

Bishkek is a city of wide boulevards and marble-faced public buildings combined with numerous Soviet-style apartment blocks surrounding interior courtyards and, especially outside the city centre, thousands of smaller privately built houses. It is laid out on a grid pattern, with most streets flanked on both sides by narrow irrigation channels that water the innumerable trees which provide shade in the hot summers.



Originally a caravan rest stop (possibly founded by the Sogdians) on one of the branches of the Silk Road through the Tien Shan range, the location was fortified in 1825 by the Uzbek khan of Kokhand with a mud fort.

The Kyrgyz legend says that the place was a burial site of the hero Bishkek, the local Kyrgyz war lord who fought for the Kyrgyz independence in the 18th century.

In 1862, the fort was conquered and razed when Tsarist Russia annexed the area. The site became a Russian garrison and was redeveloped and named "Pishpek" from 1877 onward by the Russian government, which encouraged the settlement of Russian peasants by giving them fertile black soil farms to develop. In 1926, the city became the capital of the newly established Kirghiz ASSR and was renamed "Frunze" after Mikhail Frunze, Lenin's close associate who was born in Bishkek and played key roles during the 1905 and 1917 revolutions and during the Russian civil war of the early 1920s.

The early 1990s were tumultuous. In June 1990, a state of emergency was declared following severe riots in southern Kyrgyzstan which threatened to spread to the capital. The city was renamed Bishkek on 5 February 1991 and Kyrgyzstan achieved independence later that year during the breakup of the Soviet Union. Before independence, Bishkek was a "Russified" city, the majority of its population being ethnic Russians. In 2004, Russians made up approximately 20% of the city's population.[5]

Today, Bishkek is a rapidly modernizing city, with many restaurants and cafes and lots of second-hand European and Japanese cars and minibuses crowding its streets. At the same time Bishkek still preserves its former Soviet feel, with Soviet-period buildings and gardens prevailing over newer structures.

Bishkek is also the country's financial centre, with all of the country's 21 commercial banks featuring offices in the city. During the Soviet era, the city was home to a large number of industrial plants, but most have been shut down or operate today on a much reduced scale. One of today's Bishkek's largest employment centres is Dordoy Bazaar, which is one the major entrepôts for Chinese goods imported into CIS countries.

In 2002, the United States obtained the right to use the nearby Manas International Airport as an air base for its military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Russia subsequently (2003) established an air base of its own (Kant Air Base) near Kant some 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of Bishkek. It is based at a facility that used to be home to a major Soviet military pilot training school; one of its students, Hosni Mubarak, later became president of Egypt.


Bishkek has a continental, semi-arid climate averaging 322 clear days annually due to its mountainous location. Average precipitation is 380 millimetres (15 in) per year. Average daily temperatures range from −4 °C (24.8 °F) in January to about 26 °C (79 °F) during July.[6] The summer months are dominated by dry periods experiencing the occasional thunderstorm which produces strong gusty winds and rare dust storms. The mountains to the south provide a natural boundary to provide protection from much of the damaging weather along with the smaller chain which runs NW to SE. In the winter months, sparse snow storms and frequent heavy fog are the dominating features. When an inversion sets up, the fog can last for days at a time.


Bishkek uses the Kyrgystan currency, the som. The som's value fluctuates regularly, but averages around 43 som per U.S. Dollar as of September 2009. The economy in Bishkek is primarily agricultural with the mass amounts of fruits, vegetables and livestock providing a co-existing system of bartering in the outlying regions. The streets of Bishkek are regularly lined with produce vendors in a market style venue. In the major portions of downtown a regular city scape which provide home to banks, stores, markets and malls. The most sought after of the goods are the prevalent hand-crafted artisan pieces; these include statues, carvings, paintings and many nature based sculptures.

The Bishkek White House, seat of the Kyrgyzstan government, president and parliament.


Local government is administered by the Bishkek Mayor's Office. Askarbek Salymbekov was mayor until his resignation in August 2005, following which his deputy Arstanbek Nogoev took over the mayorship. Nogoev was in turn removed from his position in October 2007 through a decree of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and replaced by businessman and former first deputy prime minister Daniar Usenov.[7][8][9] In July 2008 former head of the Kyrgyz Railways Nariman Tuleyev was appointed mayor.[10]


The city is home to the Bandy Federation of Kyrgyzstan[11] which is a member of the IOC recognized[12] Federation of International Bandy. It plans to send a team to the Asian Winter Games 2011.

Sights and attractions



Though the city is relatively young, the surrounding area has some sites of interest dating from prehistory, the Greco-Buddhist period, the period of Nestorian influence, the era of the Central Asian khanates, and the Soviet period.

Ala-Too Square, Bishkek's main square
National Historical Museum

The central part of the city is primarily built on a rectangular grid plan. The city's main street is the east-west Chui Avenue (Prospekt Chui), named after the region's main river. In the Soviet era, it was called Lenin Avenue. Along, or within a block or two from it, many of the most important government buildings, universities, the Academy of Sciences compound, etc., are to be found. The westernmost section of the avenue is known as Deng Xiaoping Avenue.

The main north-south axis is Yusup Abdrakhmanov Street, is still (2007) commonly referred to by its old name, Sovietskaya Street. Its northern and southern sections are called, respectively, Yelebesov and Baityk Batyr Streets. Several major shopping centres are located along it, and in the north it provides access to Dordoy Bazaar.

Erkindik ("Freedom") Boulevard runs north-south, from the main railroad station (Bishkek II) south of Chui Avenue to the museum quarter and sculpture park just north of Chui Avenue, and further north toward the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the past, it was called Dzerzhinsky Boulevard—named after Communist revolutionary, Felix Dzerzhinsky—and its northern continuation is still called Dzerzhinksy Street.

An important east-west street is Jibek Jolu ('Silk Road'). It runs parallel to Chui Avenue about a mile north of it, and is part of the main east-west road of Chui Province. Both the Eastern and Western bus terminals are located along Jibek Jolu.

City centre

  • State Historical Museum, located in Ala-Too Square, the main city square
  • State Museum of Applied Arts, containing examples of Kyrgyz traditional handicrafts
  • Frunze House Museum
  • Statue of Ivan Panfilov stands in the park near the White House.
  • An equestrian statue of Mikhail Frunze still stands in a large park (Boulevard Erkindik) across from the train station.
  • The train station itself was built in 1946 by German prisoners of war and has survived since then without further renovation or repairs; most of those who built it perished and were buried in unmarked pits near the station.
  • The main government building, the White House, is a huge, seven story marble block and the former headquarters of the Communist Party of the Kirghiz SSR
  • At Ala-Too Square, there is an Independence monument where the changing of the guards may be watched.
  • Osh bazaar, west of the downtown area, is a large, picturesque produce market

Outer neighbourhoods

  • The Dordoy Bazaar, just inside the bypass highway on the north-eastern edge of the city, is a major retail and wholesale market.

Outside the city

  • The Ala-Too mountain range, some 40 kilometres (25 mi) away, provides a spectacular backdrop to the city; the Ala Archa National Park is only a 30-45 minute drive away.


Educational institutions in Bishkek include:


A typical Bishkek passenger van passes by the East Bus Terminal
The electronic board in the main hall of Bishkek-2, the main train station, shows Bishkek and Moscow time
A diesel loco on an overpass (over the former Sovietskaya St.) just east of Bishkek-2, Bishkek's main train station.

Mass public transport

There is public transportation available, including buses, electric trolley buses, and public vans (known in Russian as marshrutka). Taxi cabs can be found throughout the city.

There is no subway in Bishkek, but the city is considering designing and building a light rail system (Бишкекское лёгкое метро).

Commuter and long-distance buses

There are two main bus stations in Bishkek. The smaller old Eastern Bus Station is primarily the terminal for minibuses to various destinations within or just beyond the eastern suburbs, such as Kant, Tokmok, Kemin, Issyk Ata, or the Korday border crossing.

Long-distance regular bus and minibus services to all parts of the country, as well as to Almaty (the largest city in neighboring Kazakhstan) and Kashgar, China, run mostly from the newer grand Western Bus Station; only a smaller minority of them runs from the Eastern Station.

The Dordoy Bazaar on the north-eastern outskirts of the city also contains makeshift terminals for frequent minibuses to suburban towns in all directions (from Sokuluk in the west to Tokmak in the east) and to some buses taking traders to Kazakhstan and Siberia.


As of 2007, the Bishkek railway station sees only a few trains a day. It offers a popular three-day train service from Bishkek to Moscow.

There are also long-distance trains that leave for Siberia (Novosibirsk and Novokuznetsk), via Almaty, over the Turksib route, and to Yekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk) in the Urals, via Astana. These services are remarkably slow (over 48 hours to Yekaterinburg), due to long stops at the border and the indirect route (the trains first have to go west for more than a 100 kilometres (62 mi) before they enter the main Turksib line and can continue to the east or north). E.g., as of the fall of 2008, train No. 305 Bishkek-Yekaterinburg was scheduled to take 11 hours to reach the Shu junction—a distance of some 269 kilometres (167 mi) by rail, and less than half of that by road.[19]


The city is served by Manas International Airport (IATA code FRU), located approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) northwest of the city centre, and readily reachable by taxi.

Twinned cities

Sister cities of Bishkek include:


  1. ^ Law on the Status of Bishkek, 1994-04-16, article 2 (Russian). Retrieved on 2009-08-03
  2. ^ Districts of Bishkek (Russian). Retrieved on 2009-08-03
  3. ^ a b Statoids
  4. ^ 282 Гвардейский Краснознаменный мотострелковый полк имени М. В. Фрунзе в/ч 73809 п/о Подгорное Кой-Таш [1]
  5. ^ Residential Real Estate Market in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan: Current Conditions and Prospects
  6. ^ The Celestial Mountains Tour Company. "About Kyrgystan - Some weather statistics". Bishkek, Kyrgystan.. Retrieved 2009-06-16.  
  7. ^ "New mayor of Bishkek promises to solve capital’s problems". The Times of Central Asia. 2007-10-17. Retrieved 2007-10-18.  
  8. ^ Marat, Erica (2007-10-15). "Upcoming referendum sinks Kyrgyzstan deeper into crisis" ( – Scholar search). Eurasia Daily Monitor (The Jamestown Foundation) 4 (190). Retrieved 2007-10-18.  
  9. ^ "Kyrgyz capital gets new mayor". Radio Free Europe. 2005-08-22. Retrieved 2007-10-18.  
  10. ^ "New Mayor for Bishkek". Lenta.Ru. 2008-07-07. Retrieved 2008-09-25.  
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ International University Of Kyrgyzstan
  14. ^ International Ataturk-Alatoo University
  15. ^ Kyrgyz National University
  16. ^ Arabaev Kyrgyz State University
  17. ^ Kyrgyz Russian Slavonic University
  18. ^ Kyrgyz-Turkish MANAS University
  19. ^ Schedule for train No. 305, Bishkek-Yekaterinburg (Russian)

External links

Coordinates: 42°52′29″N 74°36′44″E / 42.87472°N 74.61222°E / 42.87472; 74.61222

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Bishkek (Бишкек, بىشكهك) (population in 2005 approx. 900,000) is the capital and the largest city of the Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyzstan).

The central square of Bishkek, Ala-Too square
The central square of Bishkek, Ala-Too square

Bishkek is a relatively new city set along the Tien Shan mountains in the Chui Valley. It is a relatively new city and has little in the way of historical sites, but is a great base for trips to the mountains, Issyk Kul lake and trekking to the south. Bishkek is, however, an interesting example of a planned city; laid on a grid with wide boulevards flanked by irrigation canals and large trees, buildings with marble facades, and Soviet-style apartment complexes. Many young travelers find Bishkek's nightlife a delight and the people are friendly and very hospitable. Bishkek is a city of largely young people that hang out in parks or small cafes.

Get in

By plane

Bishkek's Manas International Airport (IATA: FRU) [1] is a forty minute drive from the city center. Most of the international flights depart and arrive at very early hours of the morning.

You can connect to many cities of the world with daily flights on Aeroflot to Moscow's Sheremyetevo Airport and on Turkish Airlines to Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul. Aeroflot now uses new Airbus 320 aircraft (instead of the older and slightly cramped Tu-154) making the five-hour flight much more comfortable. Additional flights operate during the summer months. bmi flies four days a week from London Heathrow with a fuel stop in Almaty, Kazakhstan. It is nearly an 11-hour flight, and you are not allowed to leave the plane during the fuel stop. Iran Aseman Airlines flies weekly to Mashad, Iran.

You can find additional flights on local carriers to the following cities:

There are also occasional charter flights to Seoul, New Delhi, Sharjah, and Kabul.

Kyrgyzstan Airlines operates flights to the following domestic locations:

  • Osh
  • Kerben
  • Kazarman

Beware that Kyrgyz airlines do not operate sufficiently on western standards, and all of them are banned from flying over or to the European Union. As there is no state of the art landing system, fog disrupts flights. Be prepared for longer delays in winter.

Residents of the US and most European countries can purchase on arrival a 30-day visa at the airport for US$70. While there are occasional reports of requests for bribes or hassling of passengers, it is very rare. Airport personnel are generally formal and sometimes hospitable. There is an ATM in the basement of the airport, and several small cafes are open around the clock.

Manas International is also home to a US Air Force Base that provides logistics support to the forces in Afghanistan. You can see American fuel tankers and cargo jets sitting alongside old Soviet passenger jets.

Note: There are many aggressive "unofficial" taxi drivers awaiting all incoming flights. The normal rate charged by the major taxi companies to the city center is 350 soms (~$9-10), so you should attempt to bargain for a similar rate if you choose to take one of these taxis. Be very cautious with "unofficial" taxis, there have been robberies.

By train

There is a twice-weekly train service to and from Moscow, called the "Kirgizia" with two days operated by the Kyrgyz railways, and the other two by the Russian railways. The train has 2- and 4-berth sleepers and a restaurant car.

In addition, there is a service that goes to and from Balykchy on the western edge of the Issyk-Kul lake. Although slow and with minimal accommodation, it is one of the most scenic rail trips in Eurasia, sneaking through a thin mountainous alpine pass to the lake.

By car and bus

Bishkek is approximately a 3-1/2 hour drive from Almaty, Kazakhstan along a relatively good highway. There are also additional long distance road connections to Taraz, Kazakhstan (leading to Shymkent & Tashkent, Uzbekistan).

You can also share or rent an entire taxi from Almaty. Both KLM and Lufthansa offer bus service from the Almaty airport to Bishkek and back again so travelers can meet their early morning flights. The normal price for a seat in a shared taxi is approximately 500 som.

Shared taxis go to Bishkek as they fill up from Osh all day long. A seat will cost between 700 and 1000 som. It is also possible to buy a seat from a truck for about 500. The truck leave the bazar in Osh daily at 15:00.

Truly adventuresome travelers may want to attempt to get to Bishkek via the Chinese/Kyrgyz frontier crossing over the Torugart Pass. The pass connects Kashgar via an important route that runs along what was once the ancient Silk Road, linking Western China with the heart of Central Asia. The pass tops off at a height of 3,752 meters and is known as one of the most frustrating passes in Central Asia, as both sides can be closed for holidays, early snowfall, or just for seemingly random reasons. Only attempt this route if you have time and your patience can handle it. You will need a special permit to cross the border at Torugart. For easier crossing from China, go first to Osh through the Irkeshtam Pass.

Get around

There are several options for transportation in Bishkek. Generally tourists use the local taxi services which can be reached through several numbers: 150 Euro (Evro) Taxi, 152 Super Taxi [2], 156 Express Taxi and 188 Salam Taxi, Before 10PM most runs in the city are 75 som and after 100 and 200 som.

There are hundreds of mini-buses (marshrutkas) that ply all parts of the city. They generally cost 5 som for inner-city routes and 7-10 som for longer routes. Ask a local which mini-bus number you should take or buy a map of mini-bus routes at tourist venues. Major stops are near the Tsum department store and Philharmonia. There is also an aging system of electric trolleybuses that run along the major streets for 5 som per trip.

The Independence Monument on Ala-Too square, with the National Historical Museum in the background.
The Independence Monument on Ala-Too square, with the National Historical Museum in the background.
  • Ala-Too Square - The main city square is the site of frequent political demonstrations and regular festivals. At night many vendors set up photograph and karaoke booths, however travelers should avoid visiting the square after dark. There is also a military monument with an hourly changing of guards.
  • National Historical Museum - This museum sits between Ala-Too Square and the Parliament building. On the south side is an enormous statue of Lenin that was moved from the north side of the building after the Soviet Era. The bottom story of this three floor museum displays seasonal exhibits, while the second highlights Soviet-era achievements during the Communist Era. The top floor showcases the history and culture of the Kyrgyz people.
  • Panfilov Park - While this park may be in need upkeep and renovation, it's a great look into the past when Kyrgyzstan was a part of the Soviet Union. Beware that few of the rides have any safety mechanisms, and the safety mechanisms they may appear to have are probably not functional. The ferris wheel offers a great view of the greater city.
  • Osh Bazaar - If you're looking for a fresh sheep's head, locally made Korean picked salad, shashlik or any other type of Kyrgyz snack, this is the city's best known food bazaar. There are hundreds of products to choose from, especially in the spring and summer months when produce is fresh from farms in the outskirts of town. Like any crowded space, be wary of pick-pockets; however visiting the Osh Bazaar is a most and rewarding trip.
  • Dor Doi Bazaar (Dordoy), (10 mins outside the city towards noth east.). Open air market with hundreds of double stack shipping containers. It's divided into multiple sections based on the types and origins of goods. (42° 56′ 0″ N,74° 37′ 15″ E) edit


Bishkek is a cheap place to learn Russian (or Kyrgyz). A private 1 1/2 hour lesson with a native Russian speaker should cost between $5-7. Courses are also available at the American University of Central Asia [3] and the Kyrgyz-Russian-Slavic University[4].

There is also a private school that caters to individual learning: The London School in Bishkek [5]. This school offers Russian and Kyrgyz to anyone at anytime of the year for as little as 120 soms/hr. During the warmer months they are often full so book in advance.


A number of international organizations have offices in Bishkek, however most employees are recruited from abroad. If you speak Russian, there might be occasional opportunities to find temporary or long-term work. There are also a number of English language schools that will employ native English speakers.


If you want to fit in with the locals, be sure to get one of the stylish Kyrgyz felt hats (kalpaks) worn mainly by men. You can also get textiles such as traditional patterned carpets (shyrdaks), which are well-made but can be expensive. For cheap souvenirs, avoid the Tsum department store and head directly for the Osh Bazaar. You may have to dig around the stalls as there isn't as much variety or quality as in Tsum, but the prices can be far cheaper if you put your bargaining skills to the test.


A typical Kyrgyz meal will feature starchy foods like bread, rice, and potatoes, usually centered around some sort of meat, usually lamb, mutton or beef or even sometimes horse meat. Some of the more popular staples are "plov", a Central Asian dish consisting of a bed of rice cooked in oil, topped with lamb or mutton, shredded carrots, and occasionally whole garlic cloves. Shashlyk, a marinated and grilled lamb, mutton or beef kebab, is popular all over the former Soviet Union and is typically eaten with bread, raw onion slices, a voluminous amount of vodka. Samsas, much like the Indian samosa, are available at roadside stands across the city. Usually these are cooked in a tandoor oven as a puff-baked pastry and filled with onions, mutton and mutton fat.

The national dish of Kyrgyzstan is called besh barmak (literally: five fingers, because the dish is eaten with one's hands). It usually consists of horse meat, although sometimes mutton or beef is substituted in, that has been boiled and served mixed with homemade noodles. A sheep's head is usually served along side it. If you can land an invitation to a wedding in Bishkek, you'll most likely get a chance to eat besh barmak, although you can also find it are traditional restaurants.

Russian dishes are also fairly ubiquitous in Bishkek because of the large number of ethnic Russians who still live in the city. There are a also growing number of restaurants and cafes catering to more varied tastes.


There are hundreds of stands that sell "gamburgers", a local adaptation to the American hamburger but really share little in common. They are sliced döner kebab-style meat served on a bun with cole-slaw, cucumber, mayonnaise, ketchup, and some fries. They usually cost around 20 som. One of the most popular gamburger stands in Bishkek is at the corner of Sovietskaya and Kievskaya, across the street from the main post office. It's a popular area for local students to pick up a cheap meal and they even serve the rare chicken hamburger.

Throughout the city are a lot of street-side vendors selling samsis, which is a staple of most locals' lunch. You can usually find a row of shashlyk grills inside any bazaar or just outside any chaykhana (teahouse).

For some pre-independence nostalgia, try the cafeterias of government ministries and universities. For about a dollar you can experience what it was (and still is) like to eat Soviet-style cafeteria food.

  • Fakir - (Behind Bishkek City shopping mall) Provides authentic and safe traditional Kyrgyz food and is very popular with locals. Good sized portions and excellent prices. Open for lunch and dinner. Beer and non-smoking areas available. (80-160 som)
  • Faiza - (Jibek Jolu) Excellent local food frequented by locals. Great samsas and laghman (noodles). Dirt cheap. (80-160 som)
  • Cafe Stari Edgar - Located behind the Russian Drama Theatre; this is one of the most popular places with the expat crowd. In the summer, there is ample outdoor seating and in the winter, the bomb-shelter style building (decorated in a unique nautical motif, interesting considering the landlocked location of Kyrgyzstan!) presents Bishkek's most original dining venue. The food tends to be average, but the house band has entertained generations of visitors.
  • Aria - One block south of Vefa Center, this Iranian-owned restaurant serves good Iranian and Turkish dishes while also offering Russian fare. The multi-flavored kalyan-hookahs attract a varied, hipster-like crowd.
  • Dolce Vita Pizza - (on Akhunbaeva, to the east of Manas, about one block) Possibly the best pizza available in Bishkek. Its thin crust is baked in an open-fire oven; there is also a whole range of Italian dishes and pastas. (~250-380 som)
  • Doka Pizza - (corner of Akhunbaeva and Sovietskaya) Possibly the most popular restaurant in Bishkek. Regular entertainment and a menu featuring other dishes than pizza; shashlyk is also good here. Brush up on your Russian or Kyrgyz language skills as there is no menu in English (~210-300 som)
  • Metro Pub - (Chui and Turizbekova) This is where international aid workers, embassy staff, mining personnel, and Manas Airport contractors from all come together to down a pint and grab a decent meal. The staff are also quite popular and used to back and forth flirting between themselves and the expat patrons. Especially crowded on St. Patrick's Day and Halloween. (~210-300 som)
  • Shao Lin - (Jibek Jolu and Isanova) One of the best known Chinese restaurants in Bishkek. The quality is up to most western standards, but tends to still be a little oily. The soups are especially large - better to be shared. (~210-300 som)
  • Watari (corner of Frunze & Schevchenko, near the Grand Hotel) Japanese cafe with good vegetarian options. Healthy and delicious - a good break from the standard Bishkek food. (~210-300 som)
  • Restaurant Adriatico - (Chuy and Togolok Moldo) Owned by an Italian who imported his own Italian chef. The handmade mozzarella and homemade gelato are well worth the higher price. (~640-850 som)
  • Four Seasons Restuarant - (across from the Hyatt) Delicious food with a large selection of European and Asian cuisine. Outside dining is available in the summer. Live music year-round, baby-sitting for the kids, and popular with foreign dignitaries. While it's not to be confused with the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City, it's a great dining experience nonetheless.


For young and single people, Bishkek's nightlife is impressive. Foreigners are welcomed at most venues with open arms, and many times they do not need to pay a cover charge. See the "Stay Safe" section for more on how be aware while you're having fun in Bishkek.

  • Golden Bull - (On Chuy, next to the White House. Enter from the back yard of another building.) One of the most popular nightclubs in Bishkek. On any night of the week you are guaranteed to find a large and lively crowd full of locals, expats, and tourists. Out-of-towners get in free on weekends. Beers cost 100 som.
  • Fire and Ice - (Chui and Erkindik) This popular, Pakistani-owned disco near the Bishkek city center is located right above a bowling alley.
  • Retro Metro - You'll find the DJ spinning from inside a the front section of a tube train engine (hence the name). The 80's kitsch is a popular spot for really late night partying.
  • Promzona - A trendy Russian rock establishment with a mostly Russian clientèle. Jazz musicians play on Tuesdays with rock and blues acts on the weekends. Check out their extensive drink menu.
  • Sweet 60s - (Molodaya Gvardia and Kievskaya; near cinema Oktyabr) Live music everyday, with jazz evenings on Wednesday and Sunday.
  • Vasiliy Guest House, +996 772 956410 (). A Kyrgyz family living in a Russian aparatment block, run this friendly homestay. it can be easily reached by buses from centre. Breakfast with fresh bread and home made jams is delicious. The mother does handicrafts and have a good collection of traditional work for sale. Vasiliy is a guide who can give useful information on treking and other out door activities. Pick-up from and drop-off to Manas International is done in father's old Lada.  edit
  • Nomad's Home, Drevesnaya 10, +996 312 299955 (), [6]. Two Kyrgyz women, Raisa and Gulnara, run this friendly homestay. Dormitories, double rooms, and tent camping are available (with one of the double rooms inside a yurt!) Breakfast served everyday with a dinner menu available on request. Informational notes posted on the walls by past visitors can be very helpful. Pick-up from and drop-off to Manas International is available as well as visa assistance.  edit
  • Sakura Guesthouse, Michurina 38 (Walk north from the crossing of Soviet and Jibek Jolu. Turn right on the small alley between two shops. The turn is indicated also by the guesthouse's sign. Walk a bit further and then turn right on an even smaller alley. The gueshouse only has small faded sign so you might need to ask around for directions.), +996 66 63 26 (). This nice guesthouse, run by a very friendly Kyrgyz-Japanese couple, has two 6 bed dorms and a collection of single and double rooms. More facilities are under construction. There is also a small pool, a kitchen where you can do some cooking, and an area for hanging out and chatting. Bikes and motorcycles are welcome to park inside. The Japanse half of the owners might join you to the nightlife of the city if his wife is out of town. The alleys around the guesthouse are not lit and can feel a bit scary at night. Also, the mosque next door might disturb your sleep. dm. 250 som.  edit
  • South Guest House, + 996 312 472623 (), [7]. A great bargain with a nice view of the mountains outside Bishkek. The young Kyrgyz host, Nanchan, can help accommodate to your needs with traveling suggestions, sightseeing tours, before you arrive. Pick-up from Manas International is available.  edit
  • Alpinist, Panfilov 113, +996 312 595647 (), [8]. A great value in the center of Bishkek; the Alpinist has single, double, and triple occupancy rooms available with satellite TV and internet ports, a full service cafe, a conference room, and - being true to its name - a climbing wall!  edit
  • MBA Business Center Hotel, Panfilov 237, +996 312 623120. Lots of space, a friendly staff, but questionable comfort and some broken appliances at this hotel located inside an actual business center on the 4th floor. One thing worth noting is the absence of stairs that may bring you to safety in case of a fire: the elevator is the only way in (and out), since the staircase is blocked by a door at the 3rd floor. Anyway, the staff assured us that "there will be no fire"...  edit
  • Radison Guesthouse in Kyrgyzstan!, Abdymomunova 259, +996 312 32 31 81 (, fax: +996 312 32 31 81), [9]. A guesthouse downtown with a garden, air conditioning, private baths (w/ 24 hr hot water), satellite TV, and full concierge services.  edit
  • Ak Keme, Prospekt Mira 93, +996 312 540143/44/45/52 (), [10]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 12PM. Upscale hotel located about 8 kilometers from the Bishkek city center offers a conference center, a health club, indoor and outdoor pools with bar access, and spa services.  edit
  • Hyatt Regency Bishkek, Sovietskaya 191, +996 312 661234 (), [11]. checkin: 12PM; checkout: 3PM. 5-star hotel in Bishkek's business district houses Kyrgyzstan's largest in the country. Popular with foreign dignitaries and businessmen.  edit
  • Jannat, Micro Rayon 7, +996 312 911210 (), [12]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 12PM. This new hotel is located about 20 minutes outside the city center and is home to the Monte Carlo casino. Silk and felt textiles add a bit more of a Kyrgyz feel to the hotel.  edit
  • Club Hotel Bishkek, Frunze 425-B, +996 312 683888 (), [13]. checkin: 12PM; checkout: 3PM. This upscale luxury hotel is located on the 5th floor of the Dostuk Hotel.  edit
  • Park Hotel Bishkek, Orozbekova 87, +996 312 665518 (, fax: +996 312 622497), [14]. checkin: 1PM. Modern, new hotel in the business district.  edit

Stay safe

While relatively safe compared to many major Asian cities, one should use caution after hours in Bishkek. It is highly recommended against taking an unaccompanied stroll after dusk and you definitely avoid parks at night.

Nightclubs and their surrounding areas can be a hotbed for crime in the form of theft, prostitution, or even assault by people waiting to take advantage of an unsuspecting traveler or expat. Ask locals or hotel staff which areas are safer than other and take precautions if you plan on club hopping. Do NOT walk from nightclub to nightclub at night; instead spend the 100 som ($2.50) on a taxi. Potential muggers have been known to wait outside bars and clubs (especially the ones frequented by ex-pats), follow drunk ex-pats, and then rob them. Keep a cool head and be aware of your surroundings when hanging out inside and outside of nightclubs. Most clubs have numerous buff, semi-professional security guards, but you should be vigilant nonetheless. Do not leave any belongings on the table while you go to dance. Be careful around the taxi area outside the club; occasionally, unsavory characters pick this location to mug drunk foreigners as they leave the club late at night. You might not get much help from club security when it comes to theft.

Bishkek has a large number of prostitutes and sexual-transmitted diseases are on the rise in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia. Always take proper precautions if you plan on being sexually active.

If you are a victim of a crime, you are probably best served by reporting the incident to your embassy, rather than to the militsya (police). Sometimes militsya will approach foreigners and ask them for documents, such as your passport. It's best to keep a photocopy of your passport and leave the original at your hotel if you can. On the rare occasion they try to fine you for having "the wrong visa", you are most likely just being set up for a shake down. Be polite, but firm, in your refusal and insist that you be put in touch with your embassy first.

Irrigation ditches and other holes in the ground can seriously injure the unaware person - especially when walking at night. Many streets are poorly lit or not lit at all, and it is easy to fall into them. Avoid manhole covers, grates, and similar fixtures - they are frequently loose and may also cause you to fall (or they may be missing altogether)!


For some, Bishkek is a little like Eastern Europe 20 years ago; more or less like a museum relic of the Soviet Union. For others, this historical quality may make it seem more like a poor city with little character. Bishkek is not an old city and possesses few, if any, ancient landmarks, aside from those leftover from the Soviet era. For most travelers, it's just a stop on the Silk Road to refresh supplies before the return to the mountains. For many international workers and their visiting guests, however, it is home. If you come with modest expectations, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised!

  • The Spektator, 71 Kommorova, (), [15]. This monthly guide magazine features society, culture and tourism articles on Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia. It also has a fairly extensive listing of the happenings at local clubs, bars, and restaurants. View online at  edit
  • Bishkek Video Rental & Used Bookstore, 259 Prospect Chui, +996 503 928016. Su-T 10AM-9PM, F-Sa 10AM-10PM. This unique store stocks a large quantity of English-language movies and used books, and is located near the Metro Pub. They will buy your used books if you need to unload a few copies you've lugged around during your travels.  edit
  • Embassy of Tajikistan, Kara-Darinskaya (Take the trolley bus 17 to south and get off the bus at the Duplex Lounge Bar. The embassy is at the end of the road that goes to the left after Duplex.), +996 51 23 43. 10:30-?. Tajiks visas are issued in three days (including the day you submit the application) and the fees are to be paid in US dollars only. Bring a passport photo and proof of sufficient funds and prepare to write a letter explaining your travel plan and intentions. The woman working at the embassy is very friendly, helpful and speaks English. 1 USD when submitting an application, 50 USD + 50 som when picking up the visa..  edit
  • US Embassy, 171 Prospect Mira, Bishkek 720016 Kyrgyz Republic, (996-312) 551-241 (fax: (996-312) 551-264), [16].  edit
  • Embassy of Uzbekistan, Tynystanov, +996 66 30 78. You need to call them and book a time before being allowed to submit an application. Note that many nationals (including Finnish and Dutch) need a letter of invitaion.  edit

Get out

Thirty minutes outside of Bishkek the 13,000 foot (4,000) meter "foothills" of the Tian Shan range (Celestial Mountains).

  • Al-Archa National Park - This park goes the length of a beautiful valley where you can hike in several kilometers to a glacier. Inside the park is a hotel and couple of small cafes. Taxi services can take you and wait a few hours for about 1000 som ($25). From the newly renovated lodge you can trek to the stone house located at 3300m and it takes about 4-5 hours. The stone house charges 500som per night for bunk beds or you can camp. From there you can climb Corona Peak or Uchitel peak 4585m or head to glacier.
  • Burana Tower, (Just outside the close-by town of Tokmok, which can be reached with a frequent minibus departing from the east bus station of Bishkek. From Tokmok take a taxi or a bus, departing around 12 and 15, to Burana. The buses return to Tokmok around 14 and 16). A nice tower/minaret surrounded by some beautiful countryside. At the same site, there are also a small museum, some petroglyphs, burial mounds and remains of walls. 30 som to climb the tower and about 15 som to enter the museum.  edit
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:



Proper noun


  1. The capital of Kyrgyzstan.


Simple English

[[File:|thumb|Bishkek city]] Bishkek (Бишкек) is the capital city of Kyrgyzstan. It has a population of 900,000 (2005). Originally founded in 1878 as the Russian fortress of Pishpek (Пишпек), between 1926 and 1991 it was known as Frunze (Фрунзе), after the Bolshevik military leader Mikhail Frunze. In Kyrgyz, a Bishkek is a churn used to make stirred horse milk (kumis), the Kyrgyz national drink.

File:42 kg chui alaarcha
Ala-Archa, Bishkek


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