Backpackers Hostel Free & Easy in Bishkek
47, Ulitsa Kara-Koo, Bishkek, 720047, Kyrgyzstan
More about Bishkek
View from the balconies
Ala Too Square
Sun Shining on Lenin!
The panorama and fields of flowers
Overlanding or flying??? (Iran to Kyrgyzstan)
Overland vs. flying (Iran to Kyrgyzstan)
I am visiting Iran in March-late May and I'm deciding whether to enter Central Asia by
1) overland via Turkmenistan or
2) by airplane to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
On one hand, I can see NO benefit in going overland since I need to arrange a difficult/expensive Turkmen transit visa in Iran, and a tourist visa to Uzbekistan, as "proof of onward travel" .
Honestly, I am more interested in Kyrgystan, and Tajikstan because of the high mountain ranges. It's going to be hot in the late spring/early summer, and Uzbekistan and Turkemistan are pretty flat compared to their mountainous neighbours. Therefore, I prefer Kyrgyz and Tajik
Anyways, that's why I am considering just flying (Iran-Kyrgyzstan) and since I am Canadian, a free visa on arrival (30 days) awaits me at Bishkek airport. Another added bonus compared to going overland.
Does anyone see the benefit of going overland? Of course, I already found an airline flying Mahshad, Iran directly to Bishkek, only a 4 hour flight, and the price is bound to be cheap. In August 2008, and Iran Aseman flight crashed killing everyone on board just 2km outside Bishkek airport.
So I guess now I'm only looking for an excuse NOT to go overland? And no the crash isn't enough, though maybe it should be? Nah, not by me.
Arriving in Bishkek by air is again beneficial because of the free visa on arrival, and the relative ease in getting a Tajik visa in Bishkek, as well as the new Chinese/Tajik border crossing recently opened (2004).
The only concern remaining is where to get a Chinese tourist visa to enter Xinjiang?
Bishkek, or Dushanbe?
Also, I am interested in entering Pakistan, and India after China, via the Karakourom highway (from Kashgar to near Islamabad). Where do I get those visas? Which embassies hand them out easier?
My possibilities are
Bishkek, Dushanbe, Tehran, or Dubai, but I have no idea when I am going to enter China, India, or Pakistan, so I need open entry dates on the visas, thus giving me freedom to travel at my own speed.
Thanks for any insight.
Re: Overlanding or flying??? (Iran to Kyrgyzstan)
Don't bother overlanding. By the way, the visa isnt free at Bishkek airport, it wills et you back 40USD - I have been told it is possible to get a two month visa these days, although don't bank on getting naything more than a month-long one.
Tourist visas to China can be obtained in Bishkek, there is a special office on Chui prospect (I think building 115 - there or thereabouts). But I heard they have recently shut down western China to tourists owing to the Tibetan unrest. So good luck with that...
Have a look at our free mkagazine at www.thespektator.co.uk for a guide to Bishkek/Kyrgyzstan, and articles about travel in the CA region.
Travel Tips for Bishkek
Ugly monuments - wonderful mountains
Bishkek itself is nothing really special, wide streets, a lot of green and ugly oversized Soviet - and very few post-Soviet - monuments. But everywhere you have a view of the fantastic mountains bordering Bishkek at the south and forming almost all the rest of the country. My best memory is indeed the wonderful surroundings of Bishkek making it a good starting point to explore this wonderful country
Kyrgyz men love to play chess....
Kyrgyz men love to play chess. There as a corner in the central park where there are always dozens of, mostly somewhat elderly, men waiting for a worthy opponent, or just enjoying the match between others. Just go and take a look at one of the boards, you'll surely be invited to play a game (so was I as you can see in the picture). The great thing about chess is ofcourse that the rules are the same all over the world, so anyone can play, regardless of the language you speak!
Don't just visit the city...
Don't just visit the city center, but take a walk through the outskirts as well. As you can see the mountains rise up on the south-side of the city, quite a contrast to the flat horizon in the north.
You probably didnt travel to Kyrgyzstan to go bowling, but there is a fairly good bowling alley in the building behind Hyatt Hotel. They sell alcohol here, so it can be quite fun even if you are not a sworn bowling-addict. It is also a disco upstairs if my memory is correct, or was it downstairs?
Pay for the drinks as you order them, if you pay it all in the end there will probably be some "errors".
Quiet and friendly enough!
A peaceful city more akin to Europe than Central Asia, Bishkek's tree-lined streets feel very similar to a small city in America. There are many restaurants and hotels town, and there seems to be a good nightlife.