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.
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.
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.
Day 1: Bishkek to Kyzart by bus. Have lunch in Kyzart before horse riding for 5 – 6 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- 6 hours. Lunch in Kyzart. Bus back to Bishkek.
Horse guide (with limited English).
Helmet for horse riding.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
Apple Hostel collaborates with local drivers to offer our guests the best way to experience the beautiful landscapes of Tajikistan by driving through it. Guests can choose between different packages, depending on their time schedule and budget.
Osh — Dushanbe // +- 1300 kilometers (gravel until Korugh). Don’t miss Murghab’s container bazaar!
Tajikistan has more to offer than just the Pamir Highway. Some of the popular side tracks are:
ZORKUL NATURE RESERVE
Murghab — Khargush // +- 250 kilometers (mostly dirt road and gravel). Don’t miss the Ak Bura meteor crater.
Side track from Pamir Highway – Khorugh // +- 350 kilometers (mostly gravel). Don’t miss the Bibi Fatimi hot springs near the Yamchun Fort.
Side track from Pamir Highway — Khorugh / +- 160 kilometers (mostly dirt road and gravel). Don’t miss the view of Pik Marx.
Dushanbe — Iskanderkul — Alaudin Lakes –Haftkul // +- 400 kilometers (mostly gravel when leaving main road). Don’t forget to park your car and hike through these beautiful mountains to lakes and passes you can only reach on foot.
Some general information
Tours to and around Tajikistan range from 3 days to 2 weeks. For price quote please contact the tour manager via WhatsApp: +996 553280881
Tours booked with food and accommodation start with lunch on the First day and end with lunch on the last day.
Bookings can be done via Aigul (+996 553 280 881).
For further details and to book a Tajikistan tour please contact us:
Kyrgyzstan is full of beautiful national parks and Karakol National Park is one of them, full of tranquility and pristine beauty.
With Apple Hostel tours, you will have an opportunity to trek and be surrounded by natural grandeur with amazing highlights such as Akakol, Keldike Gorge and Altyn Arashan.
Day 1: Transfer from Karakol town to Karakol National park entrance by car. Hike to Sirota camp, 12 km, 4-5 hours. Lunch/dinner. Overnight in tents.
Day 2: Sirota camp – Keldike Gorge, 10 km, 5-6 hours. Lunch/dinner. Overnight in tents
Day 3: Keldike gorge – Altyn Arashan, 10 km, 4 hours. Lunch/dinner. Overnight in tents
Day 4: Altyn arashan – Aksuu village, 15 km, 4-5 hours. Lunch. Transfer from Aksuu village back to Karakol town.
Price for 1 person: 28560 som 2 persons: 38870 som 3 persons: 54680 som
4 persons: 66470 som
The cost includes a tour guide service, one porter for 1 each person in the tour; one cook, meals as per itinerary, camping equipment (tent, sleeping bag, mat),transfer from Karakol to the National park and from Aksuu village back to Karakol, park entrance fee, tent set up fee, hot springs fee. If there is 1 person in the tour the cook acts like a cook/porter.
Pick up from Karakol to the site and drop off in Karakol is included.
Altyn-Arashan, which means ‘Golden Spa’ in Kyrgyz, is the most popular hike near Karakol in the north-east of the country. The hike is relatively strenuous but certainly not impossible, with some lovely gorge viewsafforded on the way and there are rich rewards once you have reached the snow glistening mountain valley.
Furthermore, the site is famous for its several hot-springs where natural sulphur infused water flows into concrete pools housed in wooden sheds. The water is hot, around 50oC and is the perfect antidote to weary bodies.
Altyn Arashan is located 20km south-east of Karakol and near Issyk-kul Lake, in an alpine valley dominated at its southern end by the 4260m tall Pik Palatka (‘Tent Peak’). The valley forms part of the Arashan State Nature Reserve which is famous for its unique wildlife, including snow leopards and a few wild bears. Don’t worry though, it’s very unlikely they will make an appearance and the only animals you are likely to see are the horses and sheep owned by local families.
Ala-Kol is on several popular trekking routes between Altyn-Arashan and the Karakol Gorge, and lies at an altitude of 3,532 m (11,588 feet) above sea level. Ala-Kol is set in a barren, rocky depression, and is surrounded by the peaks of the Terskey Ala Too range. Rocky paths and scree slopes are used to approach the lake.
3 day tour: Altyn Arashan – Alakol – Altyn Arashan
Day 1: Transfer by car from Karakol to Aksu village. Hike from Aksu to Altyn Arashan valley, 2600 m. Lunch. Dinner & overnight in a guesthouse;
Day 2: Breakfast. Hike to Alakol lake (3600 m) and back ( 26 km both ways). Lunchbox is provided. Dinner & overnight in a guesthouse;
Day 3: Breakfast. Hike back to Aksuu village. Transfer from Aksu to Karakol. Lunch on your own.
Price for 1 person: 17400 som / 2 ppl: 21300 som / 3 ppl: 25200 som/ 4 ppl: 29700 som
The cost includes a tour guide service, accommodation and meals as per itinerary, transfer by car from Karakol to Aksu and back, hot springs fee.
Join us for a tour of Bishkek by bike! Ride the city in style and see the major sights, including the Philharmonia, the Orthodox Slavic Church, Oak & Panfilov Parks, Ala-too Square, the Gallery of Arts, Circus, and Victory Square. After the tour, feel free to continue exploring the city by bike!
Duration: 2-3 hours
Price: 1,000 som per person – Includes bike and quide
“Stirrer for whipping kumys” – so translated Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. The Kyrgyz call their city “green” not only because of the abundance of ancient oaks and poplars, a thick shadow shading the busy boulevards, but also because of the soaring young spirit and optimism of the Kyrgyz capital.
Come join us for a free tip-based tour of Bishkek! Learn about the history of the city and visit its significant sights, including:
the Gallery of Arts;
the White House;
the Lenin Statue;
and Victory Square!
Duration: 3-4 hours
To find out more information / book a tour, please contact us: