Beta Stores is a massive Turkish-owned supermarket and department store. They also sell souvenirs, have a good restaurant and sell OMO. OK, you now want to know what OMO is. It’s the best washing powder for clothes in the world. If you need to wash clothes, this stuff must have special chemicals to get clothes as white as they do. On the ground floor of Beta you start out in housewares and then around to the supermarket area. They have a large amount of deli counters, fresh produce and just about anything you would normally find in a hypermarket.
Upstairs is the Beta Gourmet Restaurant. Apparently it gets good reviews. Just at the entrance they also have a Beta Fast Food Restaurant.
Also upstairs are several small retail units selling souvenirs and postcards. Please note: they close at 6pm. They also sell fridge magnets, wool based crafts, textiles, ceramics, some beautiful items and some real crap. Prices are a bit pricey for Bishkek, but you can at least get your postcards.
Beta stores also have an ATM and the will happily make change for a 1000 Som note if you buy anything. They are open from 09:00-21:00 every day.
They have a second location on Unusalieva 11/2 (telephone +996 312 425 580)
What to buy:
Souvenirs, deli items, good wine, fresh fruit, alcohol
What to pay:
A little more expensive than Narodnyj, but more upscale brands.
Narodnyj translates as ‘Folk’ or ‘People’ and they really mean it. They have at least 40 locations in Bishkek! All the ones I saw were open 24 hours a day – 7 days a week. The largest one is in the first 3 photos. Most of the details below and the contact details are for this location. Outside of the entrance they have 5 fast food places: Mama Noodles, Bigemot Hamburger, Kyrgyz Flavored Chicken, a Donner/Schwarma place and a Kielbasa shop. Inside they have a massive array of alcohol at the back of the store. They have a reasonable deli counter, fresh produce, housewares and plenty of other food stuffs. I found the staff nice enough and in the main store they didn’t even make me check my rucksack with security. They have ice cold soft drinks and beer as well. I found the staff at all the locations I went into nice enough. If I asked for anything they always smiled and help right away, even the security guys. I did find some of their prepared (already cooked and chilled) meals a bit salty. The deli items I had were excellent.
So if you need the necessities of life (beer, sausages, water and something to wash your clothes with) – you will never be more than 500 meters from a Narodnyj store in Bishkek!
Please see their website for a map, the address and contact details of all their Bishkek locations
What to buy:
Cold beer, warm vodka and some deli meats in teh middle of the night.
What to pay:
Their prices are very reasonable. you can eat like a king for less than $5.
Hidden on the 1st floor of the building, it is here that you can buy detailed contour maps of Kyrgyzstan. They have 1:200 000 maps of the whole country, in Cyrillic. (Good opportunity to brush up on your Russian letters.) I have read that they have a good English map of Ala-Archa as well as some other more detailed hiking maps, but we did not try them.
What to pay: Relatively little - few 100 som for 8 maps in 2003
I love Tsum! Every post-Soviet country I visit, I make an effort to visit their Tsum Department Store - holdovers from the Communist-era.
Bishkek's is one of the best I have been to. Take the escalators to the top floor for all the cool souveniers, etc.. You can also find several stalls that sell some very interesting antiques from the Soviet Era. On my last trip I purchased a camera from the 1930s. Very Cool!
What to buy: Antiques;
What to pay: Varies - Remember to haggle!
Bishkek's central department store. Within walking distance to the Hyatt and the Opera House. It survived the looting and riots of March 2005 with minimal damage while its 2 main competitors (Silk Way and Plaza) were destroyed.
What to buy: This is the place to buy the newest DVD's, many of the movies are still playing at theaters. You can buy cd's or mp3 disks of your favorite artists cheap. This is also the place for software. You can buy almost any software on the market for approx $4.00. Examples: Photoshop, 3DMax, Lightwave, Windows XP, MS Office, and Adobe Premiere.
This is all located on the 3rd floor along with small appliances.
The first floor you can download new ring tones for your phone, or pint out pictures from your digital camera for pennies.
The 4th floor is for major appliances and souveniers. Here I suggest you find what types of souveniers interest you and check out the prices. Later go to a bazaar and the same item will usually be priced much less.
What to pay: CD - $4
DVD - $6