Kyrgyzstan capital’s true history only begins in the 20th century after it grew from a caravan rest stop to a strategic city. This relatively new city lacks all the historic tales and ancient landmarks you might expect to find in Asia, but Bishkek’s Soviet charm makes up. Things to do include visiting the city square, national museums, several parks and of course Bishkek’s bazaar.
A true wonder and must see in not just Kyrgyzstan but all central Asia. Lake Issyk kul is the 10th large lake in the world by volume and the second largest salt water lake in the world trailing the Caspian Sea. The lake ecosystem is rich in both flora and fauna and has provided a living for fisherman for a millennium. Ancient cities that thrived 800 years are are still being excavated today.
Located in the turbulent Fergana Valley, Osh is the cultural capital of Kyrgyzstan and the country’s second largest city. While Bishkek is a new city without much history, Osh has been around for 3,000 years. The famous Sulaiman-Too mountain has been a place of Islamic pilgrimage for centuries and is also home to three excellent museums. Osh also has the biggest open air bazaar in all of Central Asia.
Karakol is Kyrgyzstan’s fourth largest city located just east of Lake Issyk Kul. Occasionally after large storms in the area, ancient artifacts from previous cities are discovered along the lake shore. Many of these are on display in the city’s regional museum. The city is also a gateway to the Tian Shan mountains and like Bokonbayevo, it’s a great place to start your adventures into the mountains.
The Tian Shan mountains are some of the highest in the world, spanning along the Kyrgyzstan’s border with China. Several mountains here top 24,000 feet (7,000 meters) and offer some of the best climbing in the world. The lower elevations are dense with wildlife like snow leopards, bears, and several species of birds of prey. Many locals maintain mountain lodges for hikers and those on horseback to spend the night, so good infrastructure makes traveling in many parts easy.
Over a thousand years ago Soghdians who were from the Persian region created a settlement in the Chuy Valley. The city was built and thrived until it was conquered by the Mongols. In modern times remnants of the castle, mausoleum and the Burana Tower are all that can be see. The Burana tower once stood at almost 150 feet but through natural disasters and time it has been reduced to half that height but still remains a famous icon of Kyrgyzstan.