Soviet Union and 21st century: time-travelling in Bishkek

Bishkek is the biggest city of Kyrgyzstan, located on the former Silk Road, 30km of Manas international airport, and one hour from Kazakh border.

Bishkek may not thrill when you arrive, but its highlights are easily visited in a couple of days, which make Bishkek a good place to start or end your trip in Kyrgyzstan or Central Asia.

Bishkek is a city of contrasts. Old Ladas, new cars. Young, modern teenagers, and an old man in national dress. A new shopping center, and a travelling funfair from the Soviet Union. Lenin standing in front of the university, and a Mosque under construction. Contrasts everywhere, it’s what make this city interesting. Until 1991, Kyrgyzstan was part of the Soviet-Union. This history is visible in the architecture, the large avenues, the cars, flats and of course Lenin.

Bishkek is a « green » city.

In summer almost every day temperature reaches 30°C, but the green trees follow every avenue providing shadow. In the whole city, water (coming directly from the mountains) is flowing in little canals, thanks to city the city is remaining green, even in the middle of the summer when rain is rare.

Highlights in the Kyrgyz capital:

  • Ala-Too square: former Lenin Square in the Soviet Union, this square is located in the north-east part of the city center. You can find here the State Historical Museum, the Kyrgyz flag with the guards, and the fountains which gather a lot of people.
  • Green areas: especially during the hot days in summer, enjoy the shadow in one of Bishkek’s parks (Panfilov Park and Dubovy Park in the North, Ataturk Park in the South).
  • Bazaars: Bishkek has many daily markets. The most important are Osh Bazaar (3km to the East from city center) and Dordoy Bazaar (biggest market in Central Asia, 7km to the North). You can easily get to every market by Marshrutka.

From Bishkek it is only one hour travelling to Burana Tower (by Marshrutka or Taxi). From the city center you can see the snow-topped mountains of Kyrgyz Alatau Range. Make an excursion to these mountains, to one of the waterfalls, or spend the night in the mountains after one day of hiking.