Some of my old friends back in China have asking me which country is the most beautiful. I often tell them it's just next door (theoretically, not really technically), Kyrgyzstan! Although I've only visited a tiny bit of Central Asia, I can say I loved it, nice food, untouched nature, unique shepherd lifestyle, etc.
So my trip to Kyrgyzstan was around 20 days, I went to Bishkek, Osh, Naryn, Kel-Suu, and Issyk Kul.
- To get to Naryn from Osh, had to take a detour via Bishekek because the road C-D wasn't open (May 5, 2018)
- Didn't go to Song Kul (E) due to there still snow on the way, can't reach Song Kul in early May.
There's no trains in Kyrgyzstan, so you'll have to depend on minibuses or Marshrutka, you probably find it hard to get any info online regarding timetables, because there isn't timetable, they get going when it's full.
Many other countries use this system as well. Marshrutka isn't bad, I mean, it's not very comfy of course, but you see more local life as well, I've met some Kyrgyz singing ladies on the way.
Transport in Kyrgyzstan: Marshrutka experience with local Kyrgyz singers on the way to Osh
Central Asia cities aren't the most pleasant, I mean Bishkek and Osh aren't bad, Astana also isn't bad, but they just aren't the best cities, expect if you are really interested in those huge empty Soviet style squares ans statues, but of course you find more life and culture in markets there
Osh is an old market city along the ancient Silk Road, you still see quite a big markets in the city, There's also a holy mountain called Sulaiman. But I think the city isn't that impressive but that's just Central Asia in general I believe.
Osh: old market city along the Silk Road and holy mountain Sulaiman
Had to take a detour from Osh to Naryn:
Kyrgyz nature was stunning, I was totally fascinated by the out of-the-worldly beauty of Kel Suu lake Tian Shan Mountains are just breathtaking.
The secluded Kel-Suu Lake hidden among Tian Shan Mountains, Kyrgyzstan
On the way to the lake it was absolutely beautiful.
My favourite part in this region is the Kyrgyz traditional life : the region is lack of modem accommodation outside Naryn city, in the summer you can find many yurts but when I was there, there weren't many yet, so I just stay in the local's house.
Staying with a shepherd family in the most remote Köl-Suu lake in Kyrgyzstan
Was invited for a tea inside one of the very few newly set yurts along the way, but they didn't accept guest stay yet:
a look at Kyrgyz shepherd lifestyle and their wool-felt Yurt
Song Kul is the lake most famous for the dotted yurts and traditional shepherd life. I was supposed to get to Song Kul when someone in Naryn comfirmed it's possible, but in the end had to skip the lake and go to Issyk Kul instead.
The most visited place in Kyrgyzstan, my Kazakh friend told me that many Kazakh would travel to Issyk Kul in the summer, the only swimmable lake in the region. There are many beautiful lakes in Central Asia, but few of them are warm enough to swim. When I went there in the middle of May, water was still quite cold though, so I did horseriding, went to the animal market and did some sightseeing.
Loved the Karakol Sunday Animal Market!