Arslanbob is known for its walnuts. It balances effortlessly between pastoral life and a tourist destination, nestled in a beautiful valley; it has been popular with Kyrgyz and Uzbek families for some time.
Arslanbob was named after Arslanbob-ata, an 11th century figure. The village is known for its export of walnuts, walnut oil, and lumber from the 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) walnut forest nearby. There is a seasonal harvest in September, lend a hand!
The population is primarily Uzbek and strictly Islamic, and you will often see men wearing traditional clothes. There is no pork and hard liquor isn't sold openly.
Pilgrims visit a number of caves or places on the mountain sometimes considered holy, and the walnut forest itself is sometimes considered holy, as there is a story that it was planted by the prophet Mohammed himself. It is hard to say how many people believe in this, but it is probably best not to desecrate anything.
- Osh – Direct busses leave from Osh's New Bus Station, cost 200 som and take about 5 hr. Apparently only one or two leave a day (one at 14:00), but there is a good chance they might leave earlier if they are full. If you want to leave earlier or miss the direct bus, go via Jalal-Abad (2 hr) from the new bus station for 120 som.
- Jalal-Abad – Take a minibus from Jalal-Abad's Dzhalal-Abadskiy bus station to "Bazaar Korgon" for around 30 som. It takes an hour and drops you in right next to where the Arslanbob minibuses leave. Don't worry if the bus from Jalal-Abad seems to be going the wrong way, it takes the back road. It is a small bus station and easy to navigate. Take cash out here if you need to.
- Bazaar Korgon – Board the bus to Arslanbob (Арсланбоб) from behind the main bazaar, it takes around 2 hr and costs 60 som. It drops you in the center of Arslanbob.
The center, bazaar, and guesthouses are within walking distance.
Small trucks and jeeps serve as public transport/taxis, and take you further out of the village. The roads are rough so watch your head!
- The walnut forest.
- The small waterfall. Close to the center and often full of families and kids having a great time and splashing around. There are dozens of cheap souvenir shops on the road leading to it and one or two restaurants. Expect local tourists to take photos with you. You can take a jeep or walk. 10 som.
- The big waterfall. Further out of town on the mountain face there is a small 30 m waterfall, it's a steep and gravely path that gets hot in summer, unfortunately the top is fenced to prevent against accidents; the view of the waterfall is bad but the view of the town is OK. Take a jeep, horse, or walk. Some people (everyone on the way down!) would say it's not worth the time. 20 som.
- The holy rock.
- Hiking – There are a number of possible hikes ranging from day hikes in the forest to multi-day treks. The CBT office in town are really helpful. Though, it's unclear if proper maps are available. Checkout OpenStreetMap which shows some potential 1-day trails around Arslanbob.
Walnut oil, walnuts, local honey.
There are some small stores in the center with basic goods.
The CBT has an office in town with many tour options.
There are several local restaurants and grill shops near the center, hygiene varies. They are all shut around 20:00.
Guesthouses usually have good dinner options (though overpriced).
Beer can be purchased in stores, hard liquor isn't sold openly but the underground store has some. Respect local customs and do not drink in public, and ask your hosts before bringing alcohol into their homes.
CBT is probably your best contact, with a very well organised guesthouse network. Apparently none have WiFi but most have hot showers.
Guesthouses here are much better quality than elsewhere in Kyrgyzstan, "number 12" has fantastic views and is 550 som/night, with a wonderful old lady who cooks.
Locals often rent out a country house for their extended family, and some Uzbek tourists sleep outside in the guesthouse pagoda. Try negotiating.
SIM cards can be bought in the center.