Balykchy (Балыкчы) is a city of 51,000 people (2021) at Issyk Kul. It was the center of the lake's fishing fleet, but has suffered a major decline since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It now only on the path to the tourist sites of the lake, but largely by-passed.
Balykchy is the gateway to Issyk Kul. It sits on the western bank of the lake. It used to be known as Ribachie (Рыбачие), Russian for fisherman, and after independence was re-named with the Kyrgyz word.
It is interesting to note the micro-climates of the Issyk Kul, especially around Balykchy as there is little green or snow at all times.
Most marshrutkas going into eastern Kyrgyzstan will stop at Balykchy. Some going towards Kochkor will also stop in or near Balykchy.
- Bishkek – Marshrutkas can be 150-250 som, depending on your haggling skills. You will need to tell them where to set you down when you arrive in the city. If they try to charge you an extra 50 som for "baggage", they are blatantly fiddling you.
- Karakol – Several marshrutkas daily, 200 som.
- 1 Railway station (Рыбачье).
During summer, there is a daily slow train (4.5-5 hr for 280 km) from Bishkek that goes through a very beautiful mountain pass. The timetables do change (on 10th of September in 2018), so check. However, (as of summer 2018) the train leaves Bishkek I & II station at 06:25 in the morning, arriving at 11:20. It returns at 17:08. Prices from Balykchy are: Bystrovka/Kemin 37 som, Tokmok 57 som, Bishkek 69 som.
Beware that the train cabin will reach high temperatures in summer.
The main road from Bishkek and the Chui Valley comes to Balykchy and splits into a Northern and Southern lake route in the city.
There are numerous vendors on the main road selling smoked lake fish which is quite popular. Prices are inexpensive and expect to be hoarded when stopping. In addition, there are also several stands selling the local honey
- If you wish to go to the smaller salt lake approximately one hour from the city, you should be able to hire a taxi from the local bus station.
- There is a meeting point for marshrutkas and shared taxis to Bishkek at the western entrance of the city—ask any local or shopkeeper for the "Avtovokzal".