How to deal with money in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan is one of the cheapest destinations in Asia and mostly for Europeans it´s a great place with great prices. As a tourist in Kyrgyzstan, you can easily be happy – you can travel, eat, drink and buy souvenirs for relatively small amount money. Moreover, you might be exempted from visa requirement, because Kyrgyzstan provides visa-free regime for citizens of some countries within 60 days. Before coming, please, visit official website of your embassy in Kyrgyzstan for more information.
National currency is the som (currency code – KGS). Banknotes are in denominations of 5000, 1000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 3 and 1.
|1 EUR||1 USD|
|70 KGS||51 KGS|
It´s not difficult to change money in Kyrgyzstan, there are exchange desks all over Bishkek, Osh and Issyk-Kul area. In the countryside there are few facilities, so change enough cash in order to get back without any problems to a bigger city. Cash in US dollars or euros is the easiest to exchanged, be prepared for some problems with exchanging banknotes lower than 50 US dollars or euros. Therefore it´s recommended to exchanged only 50 and higher banknotes (clean and unbroken, if possible), because they are the most readily accepted and get a better rate. Other currencies can be changed in banks, but note that all banks are closed weekends. Whenever you change money, ask for a receipt showing the amount in both currencies and the rate and don´t forget to check received money in order to avoid some misunderstanding.
The most preferable way to pay in Kyrgyzstan is in cash, but if you need a huge amount of money, keep it hidden all the time and be careful about pickpockets at crowded places (bus, marshrutka, markets,…). Don´t give a thief any opportunity to ruin your amazing time in Kyrgyzstan!
Credit cards and ATMs
It´s an excellent idea to bring a credit card, but only as an emergency backup, because outside of Bishkek the acceptance of credit cards is limited. Visa is the most recognized brand, but others (American Express, JCB, MasterCard) also can be accepted. ATMs are easy to find in Bishkek (also at most banks and shopping centers), but keep on mind that smaller cities have fewer possibilities. Some ATMs in Bishkek, Jalal-Abad and Osh dispense both US dollars and KGS. ATMs can charge a service fee of around 2%.
Tipping and bargaining
It is not common to tip in Kyrgyzstan. However, most restaurants and cafes add an automatic 10% service charge (or even more) to the bill. Fixed prices can be found only in bigger shops, in smaller once don’t expect to get a receipt. On the other hand, this gives you chance to bargain, what is usually accepted at markets. Try your luck and convince the seller to lower the price!
- Bottle of water 20 KGS
- Bottle of beer 90 KGS
- Snickers bar 28 KGS
- Bread 25 KGS
- Milk 45 KGS
- Tomato (1kg) 50 KGS
- Pack of cigarettes 50 KGS
- Average restaurant meat 300 KGS
- Bus, trolleybus 8-10 KGS
- Marshrutka 10-12 KGS
- Taxi 50 – 80 KGS for boarding + 10 KGS for each kilometer
- 100km bus ride 125 KGS
- 1L of petrol 40 KGS
- Internet per hour 30 KGS
- Night at a hotel 5000-15000 KGS
- Night at a hostel 500 – 2000 KGS