Cholpon Ata is a summer resort on the northern shore of Lake Issyk Kul.
In summer it is quite crowded, full of wealthy Kazakhs, Russians and a few locals. With the beginning of autumn the city slows down and a lot of the hotels and restaurants close over the winter.
Several marshrutkas a day from Bishkek (3-4 hr, 280 som). They leave from both the Western and Eastern Bus Stations. You might have to interchange in Balykchy.
A taxi from Bishkek takes 3-4 hr, for 1,500 som per car (Sep 2009).
Or take the very cheap scenic train into Balykchy and a marshrutka from there.
In Tamchi, 15 km to the east is small airport serving for tourists in summer.
Enjoy the sights of the highest peaks of this part of Tian-Shan .
- 1 Open Air Museum of Petroglyphs. Various petroglyphs with hunting scenes and animals (like snow leopards). However, many are barely visible and in very bad shape. Only about 2-3 are worth a picture. 80 som.
- Beach. Enjoy the beaches and crystal clear waters of Issyk Kul. Locals say that the radiation of the abandoned uranium mine on the south shore of the lake has health benefits.
- World Nomad Games. Sep. A great display of traditional and nomad sports of mostly former Soviet republics like Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, as well as Russia (particularly the Sakha, Buryatia, Altay, Kalmykia, Bashkortostan republics). But also other countries like Mongolia, Turkey, Afghanistan, and the Philippines, and even France, Germany, Hungary or the USA take part with a few athletes. The first three games were hosted by Kyrgyzstan in Cholpon-Ata in 2014, 2016 and 2018. The next games are hosted by Turkey, but the games might return in the near future. The games usually take place in the 1 Hippodrom of Cholpon-Ata and 2 in the mountains near Grigorievskoe gorge, 30-40 km north west of the town.
There are several ATMs in Cholpon Ata but most only take Visa card. For MasterCard head to the bank opposite UniCredit bank, by the eastern bus stop (going to Karakol).
- 1 Sambucca Cafe, ☏ . 10:00-00:00. Nice restaurant with live music in the summer (note there may be a 50 som charge for the music) on the left side of the main road heading to Karakol, almost opposite Zodiac. Try the great "Jarovnya" - meat on a hot iron plate. Mains 200-300 som.
- Asian place. At the end of Gorky, on the left side. The Chinese chef serves up great lakhman and shashlyk as well as other local specialties. Very popular. Mains 150-200 som.
- 2 Raduga Resort (15-20 km west of Cholpon-Ata). This resort features a less than stellar restaurant, but does have a NY Pizza franchise.
- 3 Four Seasons (nearby Raduga Resort). The Four Seasons restaurant popular in Bishkek also has a restaurant in front of the Hotel Aurora. It served good Caucasian and European dishes and is the nicest restaurant on Issyk Kul lake.
- 1 Green Pub. 08:00-23:00. Green decored pub in the city centre with heavy wooden tables.
Many inexpensive guesthouses (from 300 som pp) can be found near the bus station if you just walk around and ask. One barely needs to book ahead, even during the summer or large events.
- 1 Pegasus Guesthouse, Sovetskaya 81 (On the main road between the bus stations). Friendly but reserved host who specialises in horse tours. Rooms are comfortable with outside toilet and shower. Great meals. 500 som per night
- 2 Apple Hostel (at the main street on the other side of the historic museum and the Narodnyy supermarket), ☏ , , email@example.com. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. Clean little Hostel with nice outside area, fast internet and kitchen. Stays open until late autumn. 550 som for dorm, 500 if you also stayed in the Apple hostel Bishkek.
- 3 Tri Korony (Три Короны), ☏ , , firstname.lastname@example.org. A mid-range resort a little from the city centre. Friendly hotel with 60 rooms at low quality with products from China. Run down pool, but great beach and decent prices with full board. Double 3,500 som.
- Grigorievskoe Trail – A beautiful trail into the mountains 30-40 km northwest of Cholpon-Ata.
- Karakol – One of the gems of Issyk Kul with a wealth of outdoor and sports available, including the Altyn Arashan hot springs, Karakol Canyon, and the beautiful Ala Kul lake.