If you want to get to places easier.
Getting to places in Kyrgyzstan is a real adventure all the time you use any means of transportation without a guide. Given the quality of the roads, the lack of English speakers, the sometimes crazy driving morale and the mountanious landscape, some new experiences await you in every vehicle!
In the city
Let’s start with the most popular way of traveling in the city (also in other post-Soviet countries as well), the marshrutka. These usually Mercedes-type minibuses drive along set routes in Bishkek and all the bigger cities in Kyrgyzstan. They have no strict schedule and can stop anywhere along the route if a passenger wants to get on or off.
To know which one you need, I advise you to download the bus.kg application on your phone. You just have to pin the points of departure and arrival on the map of the app, and it will tell you which marshrutkas can get you there. Pay 10 soms (12 soms after 9 p.m.) to the driver when you get on and then pay attention so that you’ll know where to get off. If you are there just say „Astanovitie” or „Stop” and he will let you out. Being a foreigner it might be scary at first, but I assure you; travelling with marshrutkas is fun, cheap and you get to live like a local. Doesn’t it worth it?
In some cases you can take buses and trolleybuses as a slower and sometimes less comfortable alternative for 8 soms -which you have to pay only when you get off- but there are only very few routes of them.
The most comfortable and fastest way of getting to places is of course taking a taxi. Of course it comes with a price. Depending on the distance –using a meter is rare- you will pay 100-300 soms. You should know, that the moment they recognize that you are a tourist without a local guide they will try to rip you off with the fare. So it is up to you if you let them, or take up the negotiating fight.
Of course if you live in the center everything you need is within walking distance. Going on foot you will notice that a lot of times there are no pedestrian traffic lights in the crossings, so you have to pay attention to the car lights parallell to you. Not to mention the drivers, who have the tendency of ignoring red lights, using a turn signal or the lines on the road. That’s also why renting a car might be a convinient but risky move if you are used to a Western driving morale.
If you want to leave Bishkek, you have several options. There are some marshrutka lines that commute between Bishkek and neighbouring cities, such as Tokmok. If the distances are longer taxi drivers are one option, but be prepared that you might not be the only one in the taxi; they usually take 4-5 people at the same time. So if you want the faster or more convinient option, then you should travel with plane. There are daily flights to Osh, and weekly ones to Jalalabad and Batken.
Driving on the countryside, expect the unexpected; holes on the road, rocks from above and packs of horses and cows crossing. If you come during winter be prepared to travel with horses, once the roads are full of snow and ice. See? It really is an adventure all the time.