Category Archives: Things to do

Cultural and National Show in Talas

Local people in Talas would like to formally invite you to our Cultural and National Show in Talas held at Kyzyl Moinok Jailoo.

Visitors will experience a true nomadic experience at the traditional Kyrgyz Jailoo!

Kok Boru Kyrgyz Traditional Games Festival - Trio of horse riders

Programme dates

Sunday 2nd May
Sunday 21st June
Sunday 12th July
Sunday 2nd August
Sunday 23rd August
Sunday 13th September

Programme

10:00 to 11:00:
Opening of the festival will start by Kyrgyz traditional games: Arkan Tartysh, Ak terek – Kok terek, Chukoo, Joluk salmai, Kurosh.

11:00 to 12:00:
Cooking master class of Boorsok, Kyrgyz fried bread and Vegetarian Plov, Kyrgyz rice dish.

12:00 to 13:00:
Lunch.

13:00 to 15:00:
Local horse games will begin with Ulak Tartysh, played with a goat carcass. After the game, visitors will be invited to take part in the game paired up with locals. The goat game will be followed by Kyz Kuumai, a horse chasing game. After showcase of the game, visitors will get a chance to participate as well. Tyin Engmei and Er Engish, wrestling on the horse, will complete the horse games.

15:00 to 16:00:
Eagle hunting show.

Costs

1,500 som per person.

Includes ticket to the festival and cooking master class participation (lunch).

Note: Costs do not include transport to and from Talas.

To book a ticket to this festival, please contact Apple Hostel on WhatsApp:

+996 553 280 881

Eagle Hunting Festival

Experience the traditional and beautiful art of eagle hunting in the Kyrgyz Traditional Games Festival in 2020. Central Asia is the birthplace of eagle hunting and has been in existence for around 6,000 years. At the festival, you will see expert eagle hunters and their majestic eagle companions display their perfected hunting skills.

Eagle hunting close up

2-Day Itinerary

Departure date:
Friday 14th August 2020

Day 1:

Depart at 10am. Lunch on the way on your own. Arrive to the yurt camp. Dinner overnight.

Day 2:

Attend the festival from 10am to 4pm. Dinner on your own on the way. Drive back to Bishkek.

Costs

It costs 3,500 som per person.

The cost includes:
Transport there and back, tour guide, accommodation for one night in a yurt, entrance ticket to the festival, lunch at the festival.

Note: Minimum of 10 people is required to sign up to have the tour.

To book a place at this festival, please book at Apple Hostel reception.

You can also contact us on WhatsApp:
+996 553 280 881

Cultural Night at Apple Hostel

If you ever wanted to learn more about the unique culture of Kyrgyzstan, come to Apple Hostel for an evening of discovery.

Learn more about Kyrgyz culture in this FREE event.

Apple Hostel cultural night

Join Apple Hostel every Wednesday or Saturday night (18:00
to 19:00) during summer when you will learn about Kyrgyz culture
and traditions, such as etiquette for greetings and
meals, society do’s and don’ts and much more!

To sign up for this free event (2 person min.), call or message Apple Hostel (WhatsApp):
+996 553 280 881

You can also sign up at Apple Hostel Bishkek reception.

Email: applehostelkg@gmail.com
Phone number / WhatsApp: +996 553 280 881
Social media: Facebook | Instagram

Song Kol Lake 2-Day/1-Night Horse Riding Trip

If your time is limited in Krygyzstan and you still want to experience the beautiful Kyrgyz countryside by horseback on a budget, this 2-day tour to Song Kol lake will be ideal for you.

Kyrgyz landscape (Song Kol)Horse riding to Song Kol lake and the high mountain pastures are one of the most popular things to do from Bishkek.

Riding a horse Kyrgyz style is a unique experience. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or experienced horse rider, you’re sure to get fantastic memories out of this trip. Don’t worry if you’ve never ridden a horse before, our guides will explain exactly how to saddle, mount, ride and even gallop in the Kyrgyz jailoos (summer pastures). 

With this 2-day tour, you’ll get a taste of the nomadic life in rural Kyrgysztan and have the opportunity to stay in a traditional Kyrgyz yurt, meet the welcoming semi-nomadic families and herdsmen who live in the mountains at 3,000m above sea level. 

Horses at Song Kol

Watch farmers milk mares, drink some mare’s milk, try to spot some of the many species of birds who live in the area, and soak in the fresh air and the breath-taking views of the sun setting over Song Kol lake. Don’t forget to bring a tripod with you to snap some pictures of the beautiful starry sky at night with the mountains and the lake in the background. 

 

Itinerary:

Day 1: Bishkek to Kyzart by bus. Have lunch in Kyzart before horse riding for 3 hours to Song Kol. Enjoy a traditional dinner and stay the night in a yurt.

Day 2: Song Kol to Kyzart, horse ride for 5 hours. Lunch in Kyzart. Bus back to Bishkek.

Included:

  • Horse rental.
  • Horse guide (with limited English).
  • Helmet for horse riding.
  • Meals.
  • Accommodation.

Not included:

  • Transport (around 400 som by marshrutka/bus one way – #514) / private transfer from Bishkek to Kyzart is $50 per car.
  • English-speaking horse guide is $10 extra per day per group.

Duration: 2 days and 1 night.

Requirements: trekking boots/gaiters, weatherproof warm clothes, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, rain coat and warm clothes – it gets really cold at night!

Best season: Mid June – Mid September. This is a summer only tour.

Accommodation & meals: 1 night in a yurt, 2 lunches, 1 dinner and 1 breakfast.

Prices for the 2-day Horseback riding tour

  • 1 person: 7,700 som
  • 2 people: 11,000 som
  • 3 people: 15,300 som
  • 4 people: 22,000 som

To book this tour please contact us:

Email: applehostelkg@gmail.com
Phone number / WhatsApp: +996 553 280 881

Social media: Facebook | Instagram

An amazing Day Trip to Belogorka Waterfall

Belogorka Waterfall is the highest waterfall in the area standing at an impressive 60m high and 2100m above sea level. Belogorka is located 80km south-west of Bishkek and is settled in the beautiful Sokuluk gorge in the northern Tien Shan area.

The gorge is at its most picturesque during spring and summer when the mountain slopes are covered in flowers and greenery. A trip to the gorge allows for a perfect view of the striking ‘Black Finger’ mountain, named for its dark and pointed appearance. The end of the road in the gorge opens up an impressive panorama of the waterfall falling from a great height, almost vertical rocks and a magnificent peak Black spire, remarkable for its unusual shape.

To book this tour please contact us:

Phone number / WhatsApp: +996 553 280 881

Cooking Masterclass

If you ever wanted to learn and experience making Kyrgyz cuisine, this Cooking Masterclass is the perfect opportunity for you.

We invite you to join our cooking masterclasses where you have 2 options to learn new Kyrgyz food recipes:

  • In the food court next to the hostel:
    700 som per person (4 people minimum)
  • with a local family :
    1000 som per person (3 people minimum)

Ingredients are included in the price.

You have the choice between several traditional dishes to learn how to make:

  • Manty – Delicious dumplings steamed to perfection.

  • Lagman – A dish of fresh pulled noodles, meat, and vegetables.

  • Plov – A tantalising rice dish cooked in stock or broth, vegetables and/or meat with spices.

  • Vareniki (Russian traditional dish) – Yummy stuffed dumplings.
  • Borsch (Russian traditional dish) – A hearty soup full of wholesome vegetables.

To book this cooking masterclass, please contact the reception or:

Email: applehostelkg@gmail.com
Phone number / WhatApp: +996 553 280 881
Social media: Facebook | Instagram

20 common questions about traveling in Kyrgyzstan (and the answers!)

You are thinking about going to Kyrgyzstan for your next trip?

Will be your first time there?

You’re asking some questions around and nobody is able to answer?

Great! This article is made for you!

We are going to answer to the 20 most common questions that people are asking about this amazing country.

If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to post them in the comments section, we will help you to figure everything out! Don’t worry, there is no stupid question!

  1. Where is Kyrgyzstan and how can I reach it?

Kyrgyzstan is a large country (about 200 000 km²) located in Central Asia. It shares borders with Kazakhstan in the North, China in the East, Tajikistan in the South and Uzbekistan in the West. So, if you are traveling by land, you can cross easily from any of those countries by air and land. If you are coming by plane, many airlines offer good deals to flight to Bishkek, the capital city. 

2. Do I need a visa?

For some nationalities, Kyrgyzstan has a 60-days visa-free system. You only need a passport to come here and can stay up to 60 days. 

If you are not on this list, you may need to apply for a visa in any Kyrgyz embassy, or online with the e-visa system, or you will get one upon arrival at Manas International Airport in Bishkek. This works for people coming from :

If your country is not on any of those lists, you need to apply for a visa with an invitation letter to some specific embassies.

If you need more information, check the official website of the Kyrgyz MFA : http://www.evisa.e-gov.kg/

3. Is it safe? Is it okay for solo women to travel there?

Kyrgyzstan is indeed a really safe country with a pretty low rate of criminality. And, yes, it’s safe as well for solo women (this article is indeed written by a solo woman traveler! Of course, as in many big cities, you should watch out for your belongings while in a busy area (for example in the bazaars), but nothing more. Locals usually have a good attitude towards foreigners and they will help you if you have any kind of trouble. Behave positively, respect the culture and beliefs, and everything will go well! The main risk for you here, will be to fall in love with the country and to extend your stay!

4.  When is the best moment to go? What about the weather conditions?

The best moment to go to Kyrgyzstan varies depending on what you are looking for. 

If you want to hike, enjoy the colourful nature in the protected areas, watch wildlife, ride a horse, camp in the mountains, swim in magnificent lakes (and so much more!), then May to October would be the best for you. The temperatures vary where it can be really hot in summer but you will still see some snow high in the mountains.

If you want to ski, admire cities covered by snow, avoid the high season to feel the authentic local life in the villages, enjoy the hot springs while it’s freezing outside, then, yes, you can come even in winter ! Expect intense cold (it can be around -15°C) but if you are well equipped, it should not be a problem!

5. What are the traditional foods?

Kyrgyz food is mainly based on meat (sheep, horse, beef) and dairy products. You will find a large variety of traditional dishes, and you will need time to try everything ! Here are just some examples :

  • Paloo (also called Plov) is a typical Central Asian dish made with rice, meat, carrots, garlic, sometimes dried fruits – There are many kinds of Paloo ! And of course, in each region they will tell you they have the best!
  • Manty are steamed dumplings filled with ground meat and onions. You can find them in many outside kiosks all around the country.
  • Samsa (similar to Indian samosas) are available at every street corners and are usually made with bread filled with meat or vegetables or cheese, and so on.
  • Beshbarmak is a traditional Kyrgyz dish made of meat and flour. It is usually served with horse meat. Beshbarmak means “five fingers” in Kyrgyz language.
  • Lagman are fresh noodles mixed with peppers and some other vegetables. It can be quite spicy.

Tea and bread are also very popular in Kyrgyzstan.

Regarding beverages, you will find a lot of dairy products as kymyz (fermented mare’s milk) or fermented cereals as bozo, for example. For westerners, those drinks are really different from everything you have in your countries and the taste can be surprising. But it’s all part of the experience! 

6.  How can I communicate with people?

Kyrgyzstan has two official languages : Kyrgyz and Russian. They use Cyrillic alphabet (the Kyrgyz version and the Russian version). But don’t worry, if you can’t speak any of those languages, you will be fine. In big cities, you will find people who can speak English, locals are more and more used to the touristic industry. And if they don’t, be creative ! As everywhere else you can use body language, signs, drawings… You have many options !

7. What is the currency and how can I withdraw/exchange money?

The local currency is the Kyrgyz som (KGS). When we are publishing this article, the exchange rate is around 1 $ ≈ 69 KGS or 1 € ≈ 79 KGS. There are exchange offices all around the big cities, as well as banks with ATM. Visa is the easiest card to use, but some banks also accept Mastercard and American Express. The bank system is pretty reliable and stable in Kyrgyzstan, but usually the amount you can withdraw is limited (max 200 $ or 10 000 soms). Compare the rates before exchanging money. Note that in the exchange offices, they would prefer big, crisped and clean bills (100 $, 50 $, 100 € or 50 € ). For small or old bills (they are pretty picky…), the exchange rate will be lower.

8. Where should I go while in the country?

Kyrgyzstan has a lot to offer. Depending on what you are looking for, many areas will be interesting for you. The main cities are Bishkek, Osh, Karakol and Cholpon-Ata, but we strongly advise you to get a taste of the magical nature around. We provide a lot of tours that you will love. To find out more, check our Tours and treks page.

9. What is the cost of living there?

Compared with western standards, Kyrgyzstan is extremely affordable. You can eat in a canteen for 1-2 $ and have a full meal, take a long ride across the country in a minibus for less than 10 $, have a beer in a cosy bar for 1 – 2 $, … And in the market places, you’re invited to bargain ! 

10. What are the main religions?

Around 80 % of the inhabitants are Muslims, and 17 % Russian orthodox. It’s not really a conservative country compared with the countries around. You will be able to visit colourful mosques as well as gleaming cathedrals.

Russian Orthodox Church.
Russian Orthodox Church.
Central Mosque.
Central Mosque.

11. Can I go camping in the nature?

Definitely yes ! It will be very easy and safe, the summer season welcomes a lot of campers and locals are used to it. We encourage you to do it ! You should also try to sleep in a traditional yurt to understand how live the nomadic people. You don’t have your on gear ? Don’t worry, Apple Hostel can provide you whatever you need for a good trip deep in the nature! 

12. I am traveling by bicycle – How are the roads?

Kyrgyzstan became super popular among cyclists since the last 10 years. The roads are okay in most of the country, you would prefer the summer season though. The traffic can be a bit hectic in big cities but in the surrounding areas, you will have the whole road just for you! Furthermore, you will easily find places to fix your bicycle around the country.

13. How is the internet/wifi network?

Kyrgyzstan has a pretty reliable internet network and you will easily find wifi in the big cities. Cafes, bars, restaurants, malls and hostels offer free good wifi. If you are addicted to technology and need to be connected everywhere, you can buy a local sim card. Several operators offer pretty cheap packages with calls and 4G internet. We can also help you with that as we provide sim cards in our hostels!

14. Can I travel there with my kid(s)?

Sure ! They will enjoy the beautiful nature and the scenery will be a unique experience for them ! You will find plenty of activities to do with kids (short hikes, swimming, skiing, cycling, visiting amusement parks, and so on). We offer private rooms in our hostels where you can stay together, with a family atmosphere!

15. How will I travel around the country/cities?

Kyrgyzstan has a good public transport network. You can easily reach many cities or villages by marshrutkas (minibus) for affordable prices. There are many bus stations everywhere, don’t worry if you can’t read Cyrillic, the drivers are shouting their destinations ! Inside the big cities, you also have a lot of bus and minibus, as well as taxis. We advise you to install 2GIS (to find your way around a city) and Yandex (cheap taxis in the main cities) that will help you. We can provide shuttle services and we also rent cars and bicycles. Ask us about it !

16. What kind of souvenirs should I bring back home?

You will find a lot of souvenirs shops all around the country. Traditional hats (Called a Kalpak), musical instruments, clothes, horse equipment, flags, handicrafts, dolls… You will need space in your luggage ! You can find a lot of items in museums and bazaars, but we also have a souvenir shop just inside our hostel.

17. I am vegetarian/vegan, what could I eat ?

Yes, Kyrgyzstan is a meat country. But NO, you won’t die from hunger! You will easily find a lot of seasonal fruits and vegetables in the markets all around the country, as well as dry fruits, different kind of nuts, bread and so on. You will enjoy the place in accordance with your eating habits.

18. What should I do if I have a health problem there?

Kyrgyzstan can be pretty tough on some stomachs. But don’t worry, you just have to respect some easy rules to avoid being sick! If you have some troubles still though, we invite you to read our article about health in Central Asia.

19. Which books can I read about Kyrgyzstan and the region?

We advise you to read any of Tchinguiz Aitmatov’s books, the national writer of Kyrgyzstan. Most of his books are translated in several languages and he is really popular among locals; It is a nice topic to start a conversation in  a cafe.  About tourism, Bradt and Lonely Planet published several guides about Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia in general, it can help you to decide what you want to see.

20. Where should I stay while in Kyrgyzstan?

At Apple Hostel of course!

We have accommodation in Bishkek, Osh and Cholpon-Ata.

We are a family-run hostel well known by travelers, with affordable prices, comfy rooms, and all the facilities you need. Our hostels are the perfect places to meet other travelers !  For other cities, we can help you to arrange your stay in hostels/hotels/guesthouses from which we heard positive feedback from our guests. 

We hope to see you soon in Kyrgyzstan !

To book a room or dorm bed at Apple Hostel, please contact us:

Phone number / WhatApp: +996 553 280 881

Email: applehostelkg@gmail.com

Social media: Facebook | Instagram

How not to get (completely) lost in Osh Bazaar

The bazaar was built around 1983. It is built in the structure typical for Central Asia: A roofed market is located in the center while indoor halls for selling surround it.

The original bazaar should remind of traditional buildings with arches, arcades and towers at the corners.

In addition to the so-called “Green Market”, there is the Kiyal building. Kiyal (Кыял) means fantasy/dream in Kyrgyz language. Here you can find traditional clothes and souvenirs.

   

Basically, you can find anything you need at the Osh Bazaar, you just have to take your time (-;

 

This map tries to help you find your way around the bazaar. However, the bazaar is constantly changing, so we cannot guarantee that you will find everything in the same spot!

  

Have fun and don’t hesitate to ask, the sellers are very friendly!

To book this tour please contact us:

E-mail: applehostelkg@gmail.com
Phone number / WhatsApp: +996 553 280 881
Social media: Facebook | Instagram

Bishkek Architecture Tour

The following article will introduce 10 architectural sights in Bishkek. It is designed as a walking tour which is supposed to take about two to three hours. Most of the information was taken from the book ‘Architekturführer Bischkek’ by Henning Hraban Ramm and Benedikt Viertelhaus. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the buildings and history of Bishkek. Unfortunately, it is not yet translated into English or Russian. This leaflet only highlights 10 sights from more than 130 mentioned in the book, though I hope to bring any reader a bit closer to the architecture of this exciting city.

  1. Holy Ressurection Cathedral (1984)

The bright blue spires of this Russian Orthodox cathedral, opened in 1947, stand out along Jibek Jolu. On the facade you can find various forms of crosses and circles, which is most impressive on the portal with its oculuses. The spartan interior, decorated with icons and studded with candles, is open to visitors.

 

  1. National Library 1981-1984

The official Library of Kyrgyzstan was founded in 1934, but the building that houses the collection opened in 1984. To get further into the library, you will need to do what everyone else does and buy a day access pass which is only 10 som.

  1. Wedding Palace 1987

In almost every former-soviet city in Central Asia there are elaborate wedding palaces. They are community based facilities, built to give the administrative act of a wedding a celebratory glamour. The wedding palace in Bishkek is a distinctive building and is similar to sacral building in many views. 

  1. Circus 1976

The stationary circus is part of Russian culture since the late 19th century. The one in Bishkek is formed after the archetype of the circus in Moscow. Similar circus buildings can be found in Tashkent, Dushanbe, Almaty and Donezk.

 

  1. Victory Square 1985

The Victory Square was opened on 9th of May 1985, the 40th anniversary of the victory against the fascist Germany. It emphasizes the importance of the “Great Patriotic War”.

  1. Museum of Fine Arts 1974

Together with the State Theater and the Opera, the Museum of Fine Arts forms a cultural centre around the oak park. Due to several renovations, some original attributes disappeared, such as the skylights and the intersections between the different rooms.

 

  1. State History Museum 1984

The former Lenin Museum used to be a branch of the Moscow-based Lenin Museum until the Kyrgyz independence. Right now (2018) the museum is closed due to renovations.

  1. Ala-Too Square 1984

Ala-Too Square is Kyrgyzstan’s main square, located in the center of Bishkek. Ala-Too in Kyrgyz means “great mountain”, symbolizing the mountainous terrain and nature of the country.

  1. White House 1985

The White House is the official presidential office building of the President of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. This building is one of the Soviet era buildings which are very interesting to see when in Bishkek, which is definitely one of the country’s landmarks as well.

  1. Sport Palace Koschomkul 1974

The Sport Palace Koschomkul (former W.I. Lenin) is part of a bigger sport area with the Stadium Spartak on the opposite of the street. The function room takes 3,000 visitors. The entrance is at grade. To reach the function room you have to go one floor down.

To book this tour, please contact us :

E-mail: applehostelbishkek@gmail.com
Phone number / WhatsApp: +996 553 280 881
Social media: Facebook | Instagram

Osh Bazaar Food Tour

Get amongst the local Kyrgyz people and discover Osh Bazaar! It is Bishkek’s busiest bazaars full of local and fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, bread, pastries, dried fruits and much more.

On this Osh Bazaar Food Tour, you have opportunities to try a number of famous Kyrgyz snacks, including kurut, various milks and wheat drinks, as well as Kyrgyz tobacco! All included within the tour which culminates with lunch, starting from Apple Hostel.

This tour is a great introduction to Kyrgyz culture and life of ordinary Bishkek citizens.

Duration: 2-3 hours | Price: 1000 som per person


To book the Osh Bazaar Food Tour please contact us:

E-mail: applehostelkg@gmail.com
Phone number / WhatsApp: +996 553 280 881

Social media: Facebook | Instagram