Planning a trip to Central Asia’s most incredible hidden gem? With our guide, we will show you exactly what to add to your 2 week itinerary in Kyrgyzstan, including the best hiking trails, off-the-beaten-path destinations, and amazing cultural experiences you can’t find anywhere else in the world.
The Ultimate Kyrgyzstan 2 Week Itinerary
We’ve split this guide into four main destinations in Kyrgyzstan: Bishkek, Issyk Kul, Karakol, and Osh. Each of these places has loads of exciting adventures from day trips to multi-day excursions.
Bishkek: 3-4 Days
Bishkek, the bustling capital city of Kyrgyzstan, rises up from the plains like an oasis in central Asia. From the city center, you’ll get incredible views of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too Range that stretch for miles.
Thanks to its rich culture and close proximity to national parks, Bishkek is the best place to start your 2 week itinerary in Kyrgyzstan. We recommend spending at least 3 days in Bishkek; not only should you take in the sights and sounds of this capital city, but you’ll want to explore all of the nearby attractions, too.
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan Itinerary
To make your trip planning easier, here are the best things to do in Bishkek to add to your Kyrgyzstan 2 week itinerary:
✔ Osh Bazaar
The Osh Bazaar is a must-visit when exploring Bishkek. This market will make you feel like a local and give you a taste of Central Asian traditions at prices you can afford.
From fresh fruit to unusual spices, the Osh Bazaar offers a unique atmosphere. Spend at least a few hours roaming around this market before heading back to your hotel.
Note: Always keep your purse and wallets close to you. As with any big city, pickpockets are known to spend time in this crowded market.
✔ Ala Too Square
Ala Too Square is located in the middle of downtown Bishkek. Your visit to the capital city wouldn’t be complete without stopping here to admire the many flowers and fountains. This oasis will help you escape from the busy city and noise pollution, even if it’s just for an hour or two.
The best part about Ala Too Square is the history behind it. Kyrgyzstan gained its independence just 30 years ago. As a former Soviet state, you can find a lot of Russian influences around the city, but Ala Too Square shows just how far this small nation has come.
Bishkek Day Trips
Let’s face it.. Bishkek doesn’t offer the most exciting activities within the city limits, but you’ll find endless adventures just outside of this metropolis.
Thanks to these incredible day trips, it’s smart to spend at least a few days in Bishkek so that you can fit all of these excursions into your 2 week Kyrgyzstan itinerary.
To make the planning process easier, here are a few of the best day trips from Bishkek:
✔ Ala Archa National Park
Your 2 week itinerary for Kyrgyzstan would be incomplete without visiting Ala Archa National Park. Luckily, this iconic national park is located just under an hour outside of Bishkek.
The terrain in Ala Archa National Park ranges from high mountains to deep valleys, which means there are endless hiking opportunities for all types of adventurers. But, if you’re up for the best adventure that this park can offer, be sure to head out to Ak-Sai Racek Hut and Glacier.
Note: You can even visit Ala Archa National Park in the winter. Pack appropriate clothing for a winter wonderland.
✔ Kol Tor Lake, Kegeti Gorge, and Waterfalls
Another Bishkek day trip to add to your 2 week Kyrgyzstan itinerary is Kol Tor Lake located in Kegeti Gorge.
Kol Tor Lake is a little over two hours from Bishkek, making it easily accessible for those staying in the city. This beautiful lake, located high up in the mountains and surrounded by snow-covered peaks, creates an unforgettable scene.
The hike to Kol Tor Lake (and back) is approximately 15 kilometers. If you’re lucky enough to visit Kol Tor Lake on a clear day, we recommend sipping tea and watching the clouds float over the picturesque milky blue water.
Along the way, you can gawk at the towering waterfalls that cascade down into the valley. Don’t forget to pack your camera!
✔ Burana Tower
A 2 week trip to Kyrgyzstan isn’t complete without visiting Burana Tower, located just an hour and a half east of Bishkek. This site is an abandoned minaret and stands as one of the oldest constructions in Central Asia.
Climb to the top of Burana Tower and look out toward the majestic Tien Shan Mountains in the distance. Be sure to bring at least 200 soms (Kyrgyz money) with you as you’ll need to pay to enter and climb the tower.
Where To Stay In Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
As your first stop in Kyrgyzstan, we recommend staying in Bishkek’s best hotel (at least in our opinion!). Bishkek Centrum Hotel is just a quick walk from Ala-Too Square and offers amazing service, modern amenities, and the best restaurant in the entire city.
We also stayed at Golden Hotel while visiting Bishkek and we only have positive things to say. The staff were outstanding and went out of their way to help us book taxi transfers.
Issyk Kul: 2 Days
Next up on your Kyrgyzstan 2 week itinerary is Issyk Kul, the country’s largest lake and one of the deepest lakes in the world. It’s conveniently located just three hours east of Bishkek, which means you won’t need to hop on an airplane to explore this part of the country.
With glistening blue water and picturesque views of surrounding snow-covered mountains, Issyk Kul has so many exciting adventures waiting for you. Here are a few activities you should add to your list when passing through the Issyk Kul region:
✔ Chong Kemin Village Horse Trek
For an epic adventure, take a horse trek through the Chong Kemin Valley. Just east of Bishkek, Chong Kemin village features gorgeous landscapes and a lush green valley, perfect for horseback riding.
As one of the most popular things to do in Kyrgyzstan, add this horse trek day trip to your Kyrgyzstan 2 week itinerary.
Note: We strongly suggest booking your tour with Visit Alay. Not only do they have the most professional (and fun) guides, but they work with local communities so that the entire country benefits from tourism.
✔ Issyk Kul Hot Springs
Hot springs are famous for their relaxing healing properties and they’re the perfect place to hang out after a long day exploring Kyrgyzstan’s many incredible hiking trails.
Whether you choose to find the wild hot springs near Altyn-Arashan or you decide to rent a room at a resort hotel that offers spa-like treatments, you won’t be disappointed.
✔ Song-Kul Lake
Song-Kul Lake isn’t nearly as big as Issyk Kul Lake, but it just might take the cake for its beauty.
During your visit to Issyk Kul, you simply cannot pass up the trek to Song-Kul Lake. This lake is surrounded by jagged snow-covered mountains and features bright turquoise waters.
We strongly suggest booking a tour to Song-Kul Lake (or any other trekking destination for that matter) so that you don’t get lost. The local guides go above and beyond to make sure you have a fantastic time.
Karakol: 3 Days
Where to next on your 2 week journey through Kyrgyzstan? Karakol!
This small city is located 5-6 hours east of Bishkek and features many beautiful hiking trails and the best ski resort in Kyrgyzstan. Whether you decide to visit during the summer for warm weather or in the winter for snow, hot springs, and skiing, you are going to fall in love with this part of Kyrgyzstan.
✔ Ski Karakol
With plenty of scenic mountains and annual snowfall, adding a ski or snowboard trip to your 2 week Kyrgyzstan itinerary is a must. The ski resort in Karakol features 360º beautiful landscapes and is the highest ski resort in Central Asia.
And the best part? It’s wildly affordable compared to other ski resorts around the world.
You can find out more about the ski base at Karakol here.
✔ Ak Suu Hot Springs
If you’re looking for a relaxing activity that’s not too strenuous, definitely check out Ak Suu Hot Springs. These hot springs are an excellent way to relax after a multi-day trek or a day full of skiing.
These mineral-rich hot springs have temperatures hovering around 44º C, making it the perfect place for a spa day. You can find out more about Ak Suu Hot Springs here.
Day Trips From Karakol
Of course, we recommend spending a day or two exploring the city of Karakol and all it has to offer, but the real adventures await just outside the city limits. Here are two day trips from Karakol that you need to add to your Kyrgyzstan 2 week itinerary:
✔ Ala Kul Lake
Arguably the most scenic lake in Kyrgyzstan is Ala Kul Lake. Just an hour and a half south of Karakol, this lake is surrounded by craggy peaks and features bright turquoise waters.
We recommend hiking to this lake with a tour guide so that you can fully enjoy your trip without getting lost. The trek should take about four days to complete and I must say, it isn’t for the faint of heart. But, if you’re up for a challenge, this multi-day hike is unforgettable.
✔ Jyrgalan Valley
Just a short drive from Karakol, you’ll find Jyrgalan Valley. This valley features some of the best hiking in Kyrgyzstan.
And while you’re in the area, if you’re up for it, try some kumis. Kumis is fermented horse milk, a popular drink in Central Asia. Many kumis producers live in the surrounding villages and many are willing to share their delicacy with you.
Where To Stay In Karakol, Kyrgyzstan
During your stay in Karakol, we recommend booking a room at My Hotel Karakol. Although it isn’t located in the city center, you will appreciate the hospitality, cleanliness, and modern amenities of this hotel.
For a more central location and budget-friendly prices, we suggest KbH-Karakol Based Hostel. It’s located in the center of town and offers clean rooms with plenty of amenities that will make your trip effortless.
Osh Region: 5-6 Days
Once you’ve finished your tour of northern Kyrgyzstan, it’s time to jump down to the southern region. And the best place to start is in the capital of the south, Osh, which serves as a gateway to some of the country’s most epic adventures.
The easiest way to reach Osh is by plane from Bishkek. Keep in mind, you won’t find airline tickets from Bishkek to Osh on common sites like Skyscanner or Orbitz. Instead, you’ll need to use a local carrier like TezJet or Avia Traffic Company.
Once you arrive in Osh, keep in mind that the city itself isn’t overly exciting. Be prepared to pack your bags and head out to one of the many nearby regions for the best hiking, horseback riding, and yurt stays in the Pamir-Alay Mountains.
Here are a few activities to add to your 2 week Kyrgyzstan itinerary:
✔ Sary Mogol
About three hours outside Osh, you’ll find Sary Mogol, a small village nestled in the Alay Mountains. Sitting at the base of Peak Lenin, you’ll get sweeping views of this 23,000+ foot mountain that towers over the surrounding region.
Sary Mogol is a great place to book a bed in a homestay during a multi-day trek. Whether you’re hiking to Tulpar Lake or Sary Mogol Pass, the village’s central location is extremely convenient.
✔ Peak Lenin + Tulpar Lake
One of our favorite days in Kyrgyzstan was spent at Tulpar Lake. The lake paints a perfect reflection of Peak Lenin in the background, the tallest peak in the Pamir-Alay range.
During our tour, we drove up to Tulpar Lake and enjoyed the views before continuing on to the hiking trail. The trail brought us through Peak Lenin base camp and up to Travelers Pass, which sits at over 14,000 feet.
Despite the high altitude, we stuck around, ate lunch, and gawked at the massive glaciers and jagged peaks. If you’re in southern Kyrgyzstan, a trip to Tulpar Lake and Peak Lenin cannot be missed.
Note: If you want to reach the summit of Peak Lenin, just know that it is a strenuous, challenging, and technical climb that takes at least 3 weeks to conquer. For an easier and more achievable hike, stick to Traveler’s Pass!
✔ Sary Mogol Pass + Beshkol Lake
If you have a couple of days in the region, we highly recommend hiking to Sary Mogol Pass as this was our favorite memory from Kyrgyzstan.
The hike to Sary Mogol Pass will take 4-5 hours depending on your speed, but make sure to take your time, especially if you aren’t acclimated to high altitudes. While the hike is pretty moderate for avid hikers, the high elevation will make it much more difficult.
At the top of Sary Mogol Pass, you will spot the glowing emerald Beshkol Lake. This was a huge highlight for us during our Kyrgyzstan trip.
Note: In order to reach Sary Mogol Pass and Beshkol Lake, you’ll need to lace up for a multi-day trek. We spent 3 days hiking through the Alay Mountains to various homestays each night.
If you decide to trek this loop in southern Kyrgyzstan, I strongly suggest signing up with the same tour company we did: Visit Alay. Our guide Azi was the best of the best and it couldn’t have been a better experience for us. It was truly the best tour we have ever been on to date.
Where To Stay In Osh, Kyrgyzstan
In general, there aren’t many tall buildings or fancy hotels in Osh City, so if you’re looking to stay somewhere modern, we strongly suggest staying at Rayan Hotel. This hotel offers clean rooms and great service for a fairly reasonable price.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for something a bit cheaper, consider booking a room at Cube House Osh. This hotel is a short walk from the city center and offers good amenities and helpful staff.
Note: Do NOT stay at Level Hotel in Osh. Although it is rated highly on the internet, we had two very unpleasant stays. We had every reason to believe that illegal activity was happening in the room next to us during BOTH of our stays. It was apparent that the hotel knew what was going on and allowed it to happen. Do yourself a favor and stay at one of the other hotels mentioned above.
Kyrgyzstan 2 Week Itinerary Map
Kyrgyzstan Travel Highlights
If you’re short on time during your trip to Kyrgyzstan, we recommend adding these travel highlights to your itinerary. Although each of the above recommendations is outstanding and should definitely be on your radar, these are the four can’t-miss places in Kyrgyzstan:
👉 Sary Mogol Pass
👉 Issyk Kul
👉 Peak Lenin
👉 Ala Kul Lake
Kyrgyzstan Safety Tips
In general, Kyrgyzstan is a very safe country. In terms of safety, as long as you’re aware of your surroundings and abide by the local laws, traveling in this region should be uneventful.
With that said, there are a few precautions you should take when traveling in Kyrgyzstan, so here’s what you need to know:
Adventure travel is the most popular type of travel in Kyrgyzstan, which means you’ll likely find yourself in the mountains. Be aware that Kyrgyzstan has very tall mountains (much taller than the United States or Europe) and altitude will start to become a factor.
Very few travelers know that altitude will not only affect your ability to hike, but it can also cause you to become ill. Altitude sickness, also known as AMS (acute mountain sickness) occurs at elevations higher than 8,000 feet.
When altitude sickness sets in, you may become dizzy and nauseous. Headaches are also common for those suffering from AMS.
If any of these symptoms occur, descend down to a lower elevation immediately. AMS can lead to death in severe cases, so it’s not something you want to mess with.
I’m not trying to scare you. I just want you to be aware of the potential danger.
To combat AMS, make sure you are very hydrated and have had plenty of food to eat during any of your excursions. We have found that drinking Liquid IV is a fantastic way to stay hydrated on top of the tallest mountains.
✅ Border Conflict
In previous years, Kyrgyzstan and other nations have had political disputes. However, trekking and traveling in Kyrgyzstan is completely safe for foreigners in 2021.
✅ Hire A Guide
Although Kyrgyzstan is absolutely safe for travelers, we do recommend hiring a guide for your excursions. Not only will you save time on planning, but you won’t get lost in the remote wilderness.
Again, we strongly suggest going with Visit Alay.
What To Pack For Kyrgyzstan
Before venturing to Kyrgyzstan, I was pretty frantic because I wasn’t sure what to pack. After spending time in the country, I’ve found that packing for Kyrgyzstan is relatively easy. Above all, I recommend keeping it simple.
Here are the things you shouldn’t forget when packing for your Kyrgyzstan trip:
The one thing we wish we had brought during our trip to Kyrgyzstan was a filtration system. A filtration system like Sawyer Products will allow you to refill your water bottle as often as you need to without getting sick.
Note: This is the same filtration system we typically use when hiking and camping. Not only is it effective, but it is also very affordable and can be used with any water bottle.
As you’ll likely be spending a lot of your time outdoors, we suggest packing plenty of warm clothing including, a winter hat and gloves. Even though we visited Kyrgyzstan at the beginning of September, the weather was frigid at night and high up in the mountains.
Warm Clothes + Rain Jacket
There’s no need to pack three suitcases full of clothes, but you will want layers, layers, and more layers. I recommend packing a base layer to keep you insulated, a few breathable long sleeves, and a windbreaker or raincoat.
For us, it was really helpful to have layers so that we could easily take them off or put them back on during our excursions.
Sunscreen + Sunglasses
Regardless of the time of year you visit Kyrgyzstan, you’ll want to bring sunscreen. Getting fried in the sun is never fun. Along those same lines, bring a pair of sunglasses. The intensity of the sun at high altitudes can be overwhelming.
Kyrgyzstan 2 Week Itinerary FAQs
As a more off-the-beaten-path destination, I’m sure you have plenty of questions about Kyrgyzstan. To help you fully prepare for your trip, here are the most frequently asked questions:
How Do I Get To Kyrgyzstan?
The easiest and fastest way to get to Kyrgyzstan is by plane. If you’re flying from the United States or Europe, you’ll likely have a layover in Dubai before continuing onto Bishkek.
How Much Does It Cost To Travel In Kyrgyzstan For 2 Weeks?
After exploring Kyrgyzstan, I continuously compared it to Switzerland because of its landscapes. Luckily, the prices don’t match what you would find in Switzerland.
We were pleasantly surprised to see that the cost of living in Kyrgyzstan is wildly affordable. You can expect food, accommodation, and domestic flights to be a fraction of what you’d pay elsewhere in the world.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Kyrgyzstan?
The best time to visit Kyrgyzstan is during the summer (June, July, August). During the summer, the weather is warm and the hiking trails are mostly clear of snow.
Keep in mind, summer season is the most popular time to travel to Kyrgyzstan, so you’ll likely run into more travelers. We decided to visit Kyrgyzstan during the first half of September and saw very few other travelers. If that sounds more appealing to you, consider visiting in the fall.
How Do I Get Around Kyrgyzstan?
While we didn’t attempt to use public transportation during our trip to Kyrgyzstan, we did utilize taxis, domestic airlines, and guided tours.
For the 2 week Kyrgyzstan itinerary mentioned above, I recommend hiring a guide to take you around. Hiring a guide will make your entire trip a heck of a lot less stressful.
Do I Need Travel Insurance For Kyrgyzstan?
As full-time travelers, we recommend having travel insurance for any destination you plan to visit. For years we have used SafetyWing as our travel insurance provider. Not only do they cover hundreds of countries around the world, but they are also the most affordable option ($42 for an entire month of travel? Yes please!).
You can sign up and buy SafetyWing travel insurance by clicking here.
Do I Need A Visa For Kyrgyzstan?
Depending on where you are from, you may need a visa to visit Kyrgyzstan. As Americans, we didn’t need a visa as our trip was under 60 days in length.
Travelers from most EU countries do not need to obtain a visa either if their stay is under 60 days. You can find out more about Kyrgyzstan’s visa policies on their official website here.
The Wrap-Up: Kyrgyzstan 2 Week Itinerary
Kyrgyzstan’s rugged and remote landscape has something for every traveler, whether you want alpine treks to glacial lakes or a cultural experience in a local yurt. Although it would take a lifetime to explore all of Kyrgyzstan, this 2 week itinerary will give you a taste of the best this country has to offer.