|Kyrgyzstan » Travel info » Transport|
Nowadays there are almost no internal flights within Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyz air companies "Kyrgyzstan Aba Joldoru", "Altyn Air" frequently flies only to Osh and Jalal-Abad on a regular basis. During the summer time air companies fly to Cholpon-Ata in Issyk-Kul region. Tickets can be bought at the offices of air companies, in many other ticket agencies or at the departure terminal of the airport. Tickets can be paid for in national currency or in US Dollars although some credit cards are accepted. Access to the Central Tien-Shan region is via helicopter, which takes climbers up the Inylchek Valley. Heli ski tours also served by helicopter.
Domestic flight duration from Bishkek
There is only one railway line, which runs from Bishkek to Balykchi at the western end of Lake Issyk-Kul. Osh city, in the south of the country, can be reached by rail via Tashkent (Uzbekistan). Passengers should store luggage under the bed or seat there is a special space, and should not leave the compartment unattended. Passengers should bring their own food and drink on any train journey. Tickets can be bought at the train station and also on the board conductor.
Kyrgyzstan is served by a reasonable road network, it has 28,400km (17,400 miles) of roads. Traffic drives on the right. Drive carefully after it gets dark as the roads outside the cities are not lit at all and the locals have some bad habits walking by the roads in night time. They also can astonish you with their driving style and with the quantity of the people inside the car. Left or right turn signal flashing for a long time should be considered as "I’m not going to turn, I just like it flashing". But despite all above it is generally safe to drive in Kyrgyzstan.
There are regular bus connections to all parts of Kyrgyzstan. Buses can be overcrowded but they are currently the cheapest, safest and fairly reliable form of internal travel in Kyrgyzstan.
Taxis can be found in all major towns. They are readily available and cheap. Travelers must agree a fare in advance, and not to share taxis with strangers. As many of the street names have changed since independence, it is also advisable to ascertain both the old and the new street names when asking directions. It is best to give a landmark that is close to your destination, and when going to restaurants, mentioning the intersection of two streets (like Chui-Turusbekova) is better than saying "The Metro pub".
Official taxis are marked but most people don’t have a problem getting in the unofficial ones, which may or may not have a removable taxi sign on the roof. As a rule of thumb 30-40 som is a basic price for a short ride from one part of the city to another, but it might cost anywhere from 40 to 150 soms depending on distance, time of day, venue and your charm. The drivers might be tempted to charge you more money if they figure you’ve got it. You will definitely have to bargain. Make sure the driver isn’t drunk and agree on a price before getting in. You may or may not be supplied with a seatbelt – and can expect a heart-felt protest if you try to find one.
Additionally there is a number of more professional, standard priced but more expensive "City Taxi", "Mobi card Taxi" or "Super Taxi". They are the most reliable way to get somewhere. Order by phone (dial 152 or 182), tell them your location and destination and they will pick you up in 10-20 minutes. Fares within the city start at 75 soms at day time and 100 soms at late evening and night time. If reliability, safety and not haggling is your priority Super Taxi is the best option.
Car hire is not available. Cars with a driver can be hired in travel agencies by the trip, by the hour or by the day or week. Documentation: Licences for long-stay residents intending to buy or import a car can be obtained from the Protocol Department of the Foreign Ministry. An International Driving Permit and two photos are required.
Bishkek is served by taxis, buses and trolleybuses, Public transport is cheap and generally reliable. Bishkek is an easy, inexpensive city to get around it. It is on a grid and relatively small capital city, so navigating on foot or by car is easy. The mountains to the south are nearly always in view. Bishkek is wide and flat, and it’s "center" is regarded as an interestingly large percentage of the overall city, usually including the area of Sovietskaya to Manas several blocks on either side of Chui. Public transportation (mini-buses and trolleybuses) usually runs from 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning till 9:00 or 9:30 at night.
Mini-buses – "Marshrutki"
Marshrutki are the hundreds of VW, Mercedes and other vans driving in all different directions with numbered signs. Marshrutki are cheap (5 soms in Bishkek, 4 soms in Osh and Karakol) and go just about anywhere, but the trick is figuring out which one is going where you need to.
Flag a passing Marshrutka by sticking your arm and hand out parallel to the ground, hop in and pay 5 soms upon entrance (in the southern part of the country pay up exiting). Marshrutka etiquette is that passengers farther from their stop should move to the back, young men and boys should give their seats to older folks (especially women), and one should take care not to step on or otherwise insult other passengers with their feet. Marshrutki can become very, very crowded and drivers, understandably, are not known for their customer service with confused tourists. Many tourists decide to forego Marshrutki, opting instead for taxis. The following two pieces of advice can be given for new riders:
1. Along Chui, the vast majority of Marshrutki are commuting from Osh Bazaar to TsUM, along Sovietskaya st they are coming from "sleeping areas" or microdisricts plased in the upper part of the city also to TsUm and say so relatively prominently on their front sign (in Cryllic script). These routes will take you within blocks of a large part of Bishkek.
2. At a bus stop, ask a local person what number Marshrutka is heading where you need to go, hop in, pay the driver, and say "ostanovite pojaluista zdes" when you want to stop.
3. Basically they can be stopped just everywhere though breaking the traffic rules.
Trolleybuses are the big electric busses. There are cheep and slow, some can be dilapidated and their electric rods frequently become disconnected from the overhead lines forcing a squealing stop. Enter from the back and pay 3 soms fare to the driver in the front upon exiting. Those who can afford it avoid trolleybuses.
One can cover a large part of Bishkek on foot in under an hour. It is relatively easy to get a bearing even if one isn’t familiar with the city. However, hazards exist: Pedestrians are not given the "right-of-way" by cars as they usually are in other parts of the world, unmarked potholes, ditches and uncovered manholes are frequent, streets are poorly lit at night and violent crime relating to drunkenness happens. Westerners are picked out by locals nearly instantly. In general, people are friendly but unapologetically curious.
Transport on package tours generally provided by travel company and included in the price.
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