Information & Facts
Generally most people speak Russian and most business is carried
out in Russian in Kyrgyzstan; translators are available. Business
hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, Saturday 9am to 1pm (March
Kyrgyzstan's climate is extremely diverse due largely to its
mountainous landscape. Most of the country is temperate with little
rainfall and lots of sunshine, but the south-western Ferghana
Valley area is subtropical with very hot summers. Generally the
lowlands average 21-24°F (-6°C to -4°C) in January and 61-75°F
(16-24°C) in July, while the highland mountainous areas range from
46-54°F (8-12°C) in summer and 7°F to -4°F (-14°C to -20°C) in
winter. Snowfall in winter is heavy.
The international dialling code for Kyrgyzstan is +996. The
outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g.
0044 for the UK). City codes for Bishkek and Osh are (0)312 and
(0)322 respectively. Mobile coverage is fairly widespread in
populated areas, and local SIM cards are easy to purchase.
Identification should be carried by travellers at all time while
visiting Kyrgyzstan. Although Kyrgyzstan is a secular state, most
Kyrgyz people are Muslim and visitors should respect local customs,
particularly during the holy month of Ramadan. Dress is
conservative. It is bad etiquette to take photos of people,
particularly women, without their permission. Shoes must be removed
when entering a yurt (nomad's tent), and refusing an offer of kumys
(fermented horse milk) might cause offence. Homosexuality is
Adults over 16 may bring the following into Kyrgyzstan without
paying duty: 1,000 cigarettes or 1,000g tobacco products, 1.5
litres of alcohol and 2 litres of wine, and perfume for personal
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. European plugs
with two circular metal pins are in use.
There is a risk of malaria from June to November in Kyrgyzstan,
mainly in the areas bordering Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, but most
cases are in areas rarely frequented by tourists and a generous
amount of bug spray should be sufficient to ward off the disease.
Visitors are recommended to drink bottled water only. Medical care
and medical supplies are limited and it may be difficult to find
someone who speaks English. Comprehensive medical insurance is
advised, which should include air evacuation.
Kyrgyz is the official language followed closely by
Russian, which is understood and spoken by almost everyone in
The official currency is the Som (KGS), which is divided into
100 tyiyn. US dollars are the easiest foreign currency to exchange
at banks and official exchange offices. Major hotels in Bishkek
usually accept credit cards, but Kyrgyzstan is predominantly a cash
economy. Few ATMs are often hard to come by: Bishkek has plenty,
while tehre are a few in Osh and Issyk-Kul. Travellers exchanging
money in Kyrgyzstan should note that they'll get a better exchange
rate by changing larger bills, and that many counters will not
accept dirty or or wrinkled notes.
Most foreign nationals can obtain a visa on arrival in
Kyrgyzstan. This visa is valid for one month, and costs between USD
40 and USD 100. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport
has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date
of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials
often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and
Visitors are often a target for muggings and theft, mainly in
the cities, but also occurring in the rural areas. It is therefore
not advisable to display wealth, take unofficial taxis or public
transport, or walk in unlit areas at night. There is a low threat
of terrorist activity particularly in the south west. The political
situation is tense due in part to continuing high levels of
corruption and crime, and all demonstrations should be avoided.
Tensions also exist over recognition of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek borders
and most governments advise against travel to the Ferghana Valley
area, as well as along the Tajik-Kyrgyz border. While major cities
such as Bishkek and the Issyk-Kul region are fairly stable, it is
advised that the situation could deteriorate rapidly in any area of
the country. Avalanches and mudslides in mountainous areas are
common in the spring with the snow melt, and this leads to frequent
road closures and disruption to transport.