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Asia > Central Asia > Kyrgyzstan > Bishkek and the Northwest

Bishkek and the Northwest

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Bishkek and the Northwest occupy the northern and northwest parts of Kyrgyzstan, north of the Ferghana Valley and south of Kazakhstan.

Cities[edit]

Map of Bishkek and the Northwest
  • 1 Bishkek – The capital and cosmopolitan center of the country, beautiful and interesting.
  • 2 Kara Balta Kara-Balta on Wikipedia
  • 3 Kyzyl-Oy – A village popular with foreign tourists, has beautiful orange mountains around it and a mountain valley for hiking and yurt stay. Also gateway to the eastern regions of Kyrgyzstan.
  • 4 Suusamyr Suusamyr on Wikipedia – A small village in the Suusamyr Valley off the Bishkek-Osh highway.
  • 5 Talas – A modern far off town with the popular Manar Ordo pilgrimage complex nearby, just north of Besh-Tash National Park.
  • 6 Tashkomur Tashkömür on Wikipedia
  • 7 Tokmok Tokmok on Wikipedia – Dwarfed by nearby Bishkek, but still large by Kyrgyzstani standards, Tokmok is a dull industrial center right by the ancient Burana Tower and the ruins of an ancient Silk Road capital, Ak-Beshim. 50 com by marshrutka.
  • 8 Toktogul – Half-way between Bishkek and Osh with a beautiful water reservoir, picturesque surroundings and horseback riding.

Other destinations[edit]

  • 1 Sary-Chelek Nature Reserve (Сары-Челекский). A beautiful nature reserve very popular with locals (for weddings) and tourists likewise. Walnut forests, a crystal clear lake (with the same name) for swimming, diverse flora and fauna, magnificent view, numerous trekking routes, and horseback riding are just a few of the highlights of this park. You can hike up to the lake from Arkyt (Аркыт) village, which has many accommodation options on offer. This park is a must see like Tash Rabat, and you should not miss it. Entrance: 400 som (incl. camping), Car: 100 som. Sary-Chelek Nature Reserve (Q4408855) on Wikidata Sary-Chelek Nature Reserve on Wikipedia
  • 2 Ala Archa National Park (Just thirty minutes outside of Bishkek. Checkout the bus stops from Bishkek.). These are the 4,000-m "foothills" of the Tian Shan range (Celestial Mountains). At first, the park goes the length of a beautiful valley where you can hike in several kilometres to a glacier. Inside the park is a hotel and couple of small cafes. Taxi services can take you and wait a few hours for about 1,000 som. From the newly renovated lodge you can trek to the stone house located at 3,300 m, which takes about 4–5 hr. The stone house charges 500 som per night for bunk beds or you can camp. From there you can climb Corona Peak or Uchitel peak 4,585 m or head to glacier. Ala Archa National Park (Q40544) on Wikidata Ala Archa National Park on Wikipedia

Understand[edit]

Get in[edit]

From Issyk Kul[edit]

See Issyk Kul and the Tian Shan#Get in on how to travel between the western part of Kyrgyzstan and its eastern regions using the Kyzart Pass between Kochkor and Kyzyl-Oy.

By plane[edit]

Bishkek's Manas International Airport (FRU IATA)

Get around[edit]

See Kyrgyzstan#Get around for all general information on how to move around in Kyrgyzstan.

By bicycle[edit]

The road between Bishkek and Osh goes over two passes of about 3,600 m above sea level. At the Too Ashuu (Тео-Ашуу) pass near Bishkek, there is a 2 km long tunnel. It may be a good idea to try to hitch a lift in a car through the tunnel. But there is also a trail over the mountain ridge. Which however is almost impossible with heavy bicycles, because the trail on the northern side of the mountain is blocked by some landslides—manageable on foot though.

Note, the tunnel at the Tör-ashuu pass on the highway between Bishkek and Osh isn't at 2,500 m as it is mentioned on most maps—the tunnel is at 3,100 m.

See[edit]

  • 1 Burana Tower (take bus 212 from Tokmok center at the bazaar, or hitch-hike). All that remains of the ancient Silk Road capital of Balasagun, a massive minaret standing alone on the step. It is surrounded by some beautiful countryside. At the same site, there are also a small museum, some petroglyphs, burial mounds and remains of walls. The tower is just outside the close-by town of Tokmok, which can be reached with a frequent minibus departing from the east bus station of Bishkek (50 som). From Tokmok take a taxi or a bus, departing around 09:30, 12:00 and 15:00, to Burana. The buses return to Tokmok around 14:00 and 16:00. Or just hitch-hike. 60 som to climb the tower, 50 som (per group?) to enter the museum. Burana Tower (Q852032) on Wikidata Burana Tower on Wikipedia
  • 2 Suusamyr Valley (Суусамыр). Formed by the 3 Suusamyr River Suusamyr River on Wikipedia, this valley lies to both sides of the Bishek-Osh highway between the Too Ashuu Pass and the junction towards Talas. At 2,000-2,500 m (asl) it is bordered by the Suusamyr Too (to the south) and Kyrgyz Ala-Too (to the north) mountain ranges of the Tian Shan. The valley offers beautiful valley views of the dusk and dawn sun soaked in the warmest colours, numerous yurts for overnighting and dinning, local sheep and horse herds, impressive sights of the snow-capped mountains around the valley, and just a very relaxing and calm atmosphere as soon as you are a few 100 m away from the highway. Since most (western) tourists focus on Issyk Kul and the (south)eastern part of Kyrgyzstan, this place is also very untouristy and much more authentic. You will probably still find the one or other nomad offering horseback riding, but for far less then used to in the more touristy places. Follow the river east, by Suusamyr village, for an even more remote feeling. Suusamyr Valley (Q4446681) on Wikidata Suusamyr Valley on Wikipedia
  • Suusamyr Forest Reserve. The forest in the flood-plains of Suusamyr River, not in the valley itself but downstream the river by Kyzyl-Oy. Suusamyr Forest Reserve (Q16947371) on Wikidata Suusamyr Forest Reserve on Wikipedia
  • 4 Ötmök Pass (3,326 m). A mountain pass in the Talas Alatau mountain range. Many people stop here on their ride to/from Talas for the great view (when the weather permits). Great panorama and a few yurts to have tea and stay overnight. Otmok Pass (Q13175457) on Wikidata
  • Graves. There are a few interesting graveyards around Suusamyr village.
  • 5 Suusamyr Graveyard. The local cemetery with varying styles of impressive older graves and newer simple ones. The surrounding of the valley and nearby mosque give a surrealistic picture and feel. (Behave respectful!)
  • 6 Kojumkul Masar Memorial. A memorial and old yurt of a former hero called Kojumkul. For the full story and pictures see this article.

Do[edit]

Hiking[edit]

  • 2 Too Ashuu Pass (Тео-Ашуу). The name literally means "camel pass". It is a great stop and hike between Bishkek and Osh. Instead of going through the tunnel, a hike across the mountain range (3,575 m) will be rewarded with magnificent views. There is a ski resort on the southern slope of the mountain. Töö Ashuu (Q9363823) on Wikidata Töö Ashuu on Wikipedia
  • 3 Alamedin Gorge (Аламедин) (Marshrutkas go from Alamedin Bazaar in Bishkek, 20 som.). A beautiful valley along the 7 Alamedin River Alamüdün River on Wikipedia with
Hiking routes from Alamedin Gorge include:
  • Alamedin Gorge - Alamedin Pass - Ortokel lake - Issyk Ata (Marshrutkas go between Bishkek and Issyk Ata village.). The trail goes over 1 Alamedin Pass (4,037 m), by the beautiful 8 Ortokel glacier lake and down again to 9 Issyk Ata village thought the Issyk Ata Nature Reserve. Download coordinates: GPX, KML.
  • Alamedin Gorge - Glaciers - Ala Archa National Park (Marshrutkas to/from Ala Archa go near Osh Bazaar in Bishkek.). The trail goes across the glaciers and is a demanding mountain hike with equipement necessary. Download coordinates: GPX, KML.

Eat and drink[edit]

Please see the relevant city articles for details.

Sleep[edit]

There are many yurts in the Suusamyr Valley offering overnight stays. You cannot miss them going along the highway. Also, you will find a few on the way up to Ötmök Pass.


This region travel guide to Bishkek and the Northwest is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.