Trans Eurasia travel

Your virtual guide to Eurasia! Let's travel together!


Hotels in Kyrgyzstan range from luxurious to basic gostinitsas, although overall the majority fall into the lower end of this range. As the capital and largest city, Bishkek has the largest number and the widest range, having the Hyatt Regency, the country's best and only five-star hotel, along with a handful of large, comfortable lour-star hotels that have mostly been built with foreign funding. These cost more or less the same sort of prices as would be paid in a Western city.

A fair number of Soviet-era hotels from before independence have survived and these still tend to be run on much the same lines as they were during the heyday of the USSR, giving a taste of the Soviet period that is nostalgic for some. Most large towns have at least one example of this sort of place and, depending on the alternatives available, they are at least serviceable and can sometimes represent reasonable value for money. Typically, they cost anything between US$8-20 for a double room.

In a few places a dual- or even triple-pricing policy applies in which foreigners pay twice as much as CIS passport holders, who in turn pay double that of a Kyrgyz citizen. It goes without saying that such places usually represent poor value. Some of the older state-run hotels have since been taken into private ownership and renovated, although sometimes the subsequent increase in room prices is not matched by an appreciable improvement in quality.

As well as Soviet-era hotels there are also health resorts and sanatoria from the same period, particularly on the north shore of Lake Issyk-Kul, which offer residential packages that combine health treatments with full board and the option of a variety of vacation leisure pursuits. It is usually possible just to book a room and meals at these places but they are far more used to catering for the tastes of CIS clients than those of Westerners. A more basic version of these resorts are turbaza, simple vacation camps that house guests in basic wooden huts and that are usually found in mountain valleys such as Ala-Arclia or resorts like Arslanbob.

In recent years a number of small, purpose-built boutique-style hotels have been built with foreign visitors in mind. These tend to be in the middle price range of between US$50-80 for a double room and are found mostly in Bishkek, although there are also examples of these in Karakol, Naryn, Osh and Jalal-Abad too.

Organised yurt camps are another recent innovation, which are usually tucked away at beautiful but reasonably accessible jailoos and run by Bishkek tour companies who house their tour clients there as part of a trek. These are highly popular as they offer visitors the opportunity to stay in a traditional nomadic shelter without compromising comfort too much, as the best yurt camps provide a number of distinctly non-traditional features like hot showers, indoor toilets and Western food. Full board at a yurt camp usually costs in the order of US$15-20 a day.

More authentically, it is usually possible to stay in genuine yurts just by turning up at a jailoo in the summer months; indeed, some families erect an extra yurt for the use of guests. These usually lack any proper washing facilities and normally just have a pit toilet. The meals provided are often very good although, understandably, they tend to involve a high proportion of dairy produce. The price is usually negotiable but is of the order of 400som (US$10) per person including meals.