Kyrgyzstan

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Flag of Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan
Information
Language: Kyrgyz, Russian
Capital: Bishkek
Population: 5,482,000
Currency: Som (KGS)
Hitchability: <rating country='kg' />
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<map lat='41.07935114946899' lng='75.12451171875' zoom='5' view='0' float='right' />

Kyrgyzstan (also Kirgizia or Kirghizia) is a country in Central Asia. Opposite to the general impression hitch-hiking is very well possible in this beautiful place of earth. To realize this, the most important fact you have to keep in mind is, that it is absolutly common here to wave down cars and pay for the ride, basicly every car can work as a shared taxi, especially on the main roads like from Osh to Bishkek. So it is very important that you always (!) say in advance that you have no money to pay for the ride. It will be very helpful if you learn simple sentences like this in Russian language, otherwise the language barrier will be a problem. Even when a truck stops or the driver seems to be very helpful, always mention the money issue to avoide unpleasent surprises in the end of the ride. Despite the fact that it is expected to pay, a lot of people will be willing to take you for free if you can explain them your story. Especially older people are more interested in helping young people on the road and are proud that foreigners only have good words about the beauty of Kyrgyztan. Waiting time for a lift is very short, in some more remote regions nearly everyone will stop. As soon as somebody agrees to take you for free, you can be sure it is really like this. The concept of hitching rides for free is just unknown and strange for the people, be prepared to be asked a lot of questions like how you can survive without money, where will you sleep, where are your children.

Despite the fact that some locals and travellers who actually never tried it by themselves, will tell you that hitching is a pain in the ass or even impossible in Kyrgyztan, it is absolute recommended and a positive experience. Taxi drivers can be very pushing and indiscrete from time to time.

"I hitched from Osh-Arslanbob-Song Kol-Issyk Kul- Karakol and based on my experience, here are my tips: learn how to say 'no money' (nyet tienge) 'how much/many' (skolka) and other basic words you'll use to explain where you're going and basic conversation, like if they say 'Kuta' they're asking where you're from. My travel buddy spoke a good bit of Russian so she managed well for us. We went through Karzaman-Aktul-Song kol- Kochkor which was very scenic and VERY remote. I recommend it as almost everyone invited us for tea and food, took pictures with us and if you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, ask a yurt family for a bed, they probably won't accept your money and it's a great experience. When truck drivers are passing and looking, indicate that you are going their direction and they will usually stop due to the extra effort, but they never charge and are reliable rides, especially through mountain passes where cars usually don't go and the roads are dirt. We payed twice when we were desperate but it was very easy to find rides! Definitely go here and do the mountain passes, it's incredible to experience in the back of a truck!" -- User:rwescott

Personally I had a great time hitch hiking in KGZ all around the country with cool people, short waiting times and offered places to sleep (for free) all the time. Worth to mention my girlfriend speaks Russian and we could explain our situation, that made it much easier of course. Because of hitch hiking I had the chance to get interesting contact to people. I didn't like the fact that in KGZ everything and everyone gets labeled with "Hospitality". Taxi drivers, homestays, guides, CBT...they all want your best, your money, so of course they are friendly, but if this is the definition of hospitality, also workers from my local Mc Donalds are hospitable. This honest hospitality, like getting into houses of people not used to strangers and without money as highest value, I witnessed because of hitching and it was cool! --dorfdisco

File:Locals h-hiking in Kyrgyzstan.jpg
This old woman stopped Kyrgyztans favourite car, the Audi 100

This is an excellent guide for all CIS countries in general, but unfortunately in Russian. http://ve.free-travels.ru/articles/?region=CIS

It's not unusual to hitch rides with horses.

Note that all of the Daewoo Tico cars are shared taxis.

The Kyrgyz slang for no money is "Ach Che Jook" and it makes them laugh.

Border Crossing

To China

You'll need a valid visa to cross.

To Kazakhstan

  • Korday is the best place to cross border cause crowds of people crossing border, so customs pay less attention to your person.
  • Also there is Aisha-bibi check point between Talas and Taraz and another one between Merke and Biskek.

To Tajikistan

  • Only Bor-Dobo and Batken border controls are available for foreigners. The most fast road with Karamyk is still only for locals.

To Uzbekistan

There is still no clear info about Uzbek-Kyrgyz border. After riots in Osh region in 2010 border was closed. Only Dostlyk checkpoint near Andijan is working now and pass only foreingners to Kyrgyz direction. Strange but still.

Number Plate

Kyrgyz cars have Rooms with a red stripe on the left, which depicts Kirghiz emblem. The first number indicates the letters Region - see table below

Letter Province
A Batken
B, E Bishkek (City Bishkek)
C, S Chyi region (around Bishkek)
D Jalal-abad
I Issyk-kul
N Naryn
O, Z Osh
T Talas

MDV - Ministry of Internal Affairs, yellow numberplate KGS (and letter of region) - cars of foreign companies. Sometimes others are old Soviet numbers.

Danger

Some parts of the borders to Tajikistan and to Uzbekistan have landmines.

In order to avoid problems with drivers, be very clear before entering the car that you will not be able to pay. The Russian phrase Bez deneg firmly and loudly stated will generally suffice. Some parts of Kyrgyzstan frequented by trekkers have seen incidents of robbery, and contact with police should be avoided because they have a reputation of extorting money from tourists -- look to general travel forums for non-hitchhiking advice. However, hitchhiking on the main roads is generally safe and the Russian hitchhiking community passes through the area very frequently without experiencing any danger.

Credit cards

After 2nd revolution Kyrgyzstan experiencing anarchy and luck of trust from banking system (2010). Many banks and cashpoints were closed. There is just one(!) definite cashpoint for MasterCard for all country located in Central Supermarket of Bishkek in Kazkommersbank. VISA cashpoints are more common. Cashpoints mostly located inside banks and works with bank schedule.

Cities

Experiences