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Europe > Eastern Europe > Russia > Siberia > Eastern Siberia > Tuva > Kyzyl
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The claim to fame

Kyzyl (Russian: Кызы́л kyh-ZYHL) is the capital city of Tuva and is the geographical center of Asia.

Get in

The best option is to take the train from Moscow to Abakan (76 hours), with one-way fares varying from approximately 4,000 Rub (US$160) to 9,500 Rub (US$390). The price changes according to peak tourist seasons in Russia: by far the cheapest day to travel is the 1st of January, while July is the most expensive.

It is possible to take a bus from Abakan in neighboring Khakassia. While a night bus is an option, don't take it! The route meanders through the gorgeous Sayan mountain landscapes of the Ergaki region, which would be foolish to miss. The train from Moscow arrives in Abakan at 6AM, and apart from the bus, there will be plenty of taxi drivers offering to take you to Kyzyl (approximately 420 km from Abakan) for 1,000 — 1,500 Rub (US$40-60). There is a possibility that you may have to register at the Russian-Tuvan border — just hand over your passport to the police officer, there is no fee for the service.

Kyzyl Airport is small and offers flights to and from the Siberian center of Krasnoyarsk as well as Raduzhny, Khantia-Mansia for some odd reason. The direct flights from Moscow to Kyzyl have been resumed as of Fall 2007, the flight goes twice a week via Ufa, Bashkiria's capital, departing from Moscow on Sunday and Wednesday.

Get around

The town is relatively small, so if you are staying in one of the hotels in the centre, all of the landmarks will be within walking distance. There are no buses in Kyzyl, but there are plenty of route taxi vans ('marshrutka') and regular taxis. The cost of one ride on the marshrutka in 2008 is 14 Rub (approx. US$0.57), regardless of the distance.

See

The Centre of Asia Monument — located on the picturesque bank of the Yenisey River, where the Small and Big Yenisey Rivers join into the Great Yenisey. It is quite easy to find — just walk north from Hotel Kyzyl until you hit the river bank, then turn right and keep walking until you see it.

Shaman centre — located to the left of the Centre of Asia Monument. For a small fee, you can have your fortune told or an illness cured by a Tuvan Shaman. In summer, the government puts up a decorative yurt (traditional nomadic house) next to the centre.

National Theatre — located on the main city square opposite the White House (Government Building). Note the wooden carvings on the building, which were hand-crafted in the traditional Scythian 'animal' style.

Lenin monument — located on the main square, just next to the National Theatre.

Do

National Museum — located about 500 metres west from the National Theatre, down the main road. The new building opened in 2008, and some exhibits have not yet been moved from the old building. It features exhibits on the Tuvan flora and fauna, religion and traditions, archaeological findings from the Stone Age and the Scythian era, as well as exhibits from WWII and the Tannu Tuva Independent Republic. Surprisingly, the Museum also features paintings of renowned Russian and foreign artists, including Shishkin and Reynolds. Entry costs 100 Rub (US$4) for Russians, and 200 Rub (US$8) for foreign tourists. The Museum is open until 6PM, and is closed on Mondays.

National Theatre — In summer, the Theatre hosts different festivals (traditional dance, throat singing etc.) so keep an eye out for posters and advertisements around town. Tickets cost around 100 — 300 Rub (US$4-12).

Buy

Eat

Drink

Sleep

Budget

  • Kyzyl Hotel (Гостиница Кызыл), 13 ul. Tuvinskikh Dobrovoltsev (located in the center of Kyzyl), +739422 11107. This 4-storey low-budget hotel is the oldest in Kyzyl. Its rooms have not been renovated for over 20 years.
  • Mongulek Hotel (Гостиница Монгулек), 1 ul. Kochetova. It is the Kyzyl's biggest hotel, offering 65 rooms, including 10 single suits. Please note that some rooms do not have a shower.

Mid-range

  • Odugen Hotel (Гостиница Одуген), 36 ul. Krasnykh Partizan, +739422 32518. *** This 35 room comfortable hotel with a restaurant and a cafe might be the best choice for travelers.
  • Kotedge Hotel (Гостиница Коттедж), 38 ul. Partizan (faces the Yenisei River), +739422 30503. *** The hotel has 12 rooms.

Splurge

  • Gostiny Dvor Hotel (Гостиный двор), 38 ul. Krasnykh Partizan, +739422 30503. A small reputable hotel offering to its guests (Boris Yeltsin and Dalai Lama XIV included) 12 rooms, a courtyard and a banquet room.
  • Buyan Badyrgy Hotel (Буян Бадыргы), 1 ul. Moskovskaya (a few blocks away from the city center), +739422 56460-56318, fax: +7(39422)56318. **** It is a new business class hotel, having all possible amenities.

As an alternative to staying in hotels, you may want to rent an apartment for $63/day. A few companies offer apartments for daily rent in Kyzyl, such as, say, Apartment Hotel Ocean located at 143 ul. Kochetova (phone: +7-39422-21107).

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