View of lime green grassland leading to shores of curved lake and snowy distant mountains.

Kyrgyzstan Holidays

While the frills may be lacking, the thrill of exploration certainly isn’t. This land is a true explorer’s challenge – spend time with local nomadic families, trek the Tien Shan Mountains and even make your way to China.

Sometimes referred to as the Switzerland of Central Asia, the landscapes of Kyrgyzstan are surprisingly varied, with snow-capped peaks, pine forests and glaciers giving way to open plains dotted with nomadic encampments, flocks of sheep and gleaming blue mountain lakes.

The fact that the country is so little known is mostly down to its isolation and a lack of awareness of its very existence. Kyrgyzstan has only been a country in its own right for a few decades.

Alakol Lake, Altyn Arashan, Kyrgyzstan
Alakol Lake, Kyrgyzstan

Why we like Kyrgyzstan

The mountain vistas alone are reason enough to visit Kyrgyzstan but, while visitor numbers are increasing gradually, a short tourist season and the relative difficulty of reaching it have ensured that Kyrgyzstan is unlikely to ever become a mainstream travel destination. This means that those adventurous travellers who do make the effort to come are guaranteed a unique and unforgettable experience. The fact that British passport holders don’t require a visa is also a huge bonus.

Old man, Arslanbob village, Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyz man in Arslanbob village

What to expect on your Kyrgyzstan holiday

Architecturally there is little to see in Kyrgyzstan but this is more than compensated for by the truly magnificent scenery which can be seen when riding or trekking in the mountains. Since independence from the former Soviet Union, life has been hard for the people of Kyrgyzstan, with no natural wealth apart from a little gold. For the visitor, however, it is a land of peace and tranquillity where many people are still nomadic, living in yurts and tending their sheep and goats.

Be warned that the infrastructure leaves much to be desired, but a holiday to Kyrgyzstan is all about getting away from smart hotels and cities and instead, drinking fresh yoghurt with a tribal headman while, through an interpreter, he tries to understand how you survive with no sheep. Kyrgyzstan is also easily combined with neighbouring Uzbekistan or across the border into the China and the Silk Road city of Kashgar.

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Explore Kyrgyzstan

  • Bishkek
  • Lake Son Kul
  • Karakol
  • Tash Rabat


A selection of activities and experiences you could consider including in your holiday to Kyrgyzstan.

Traditional yurts, Song Kul, Tian Shan Mountains, Kyrgyzstan

Stay in a Yurt

Spend a night with a local nomadic family in their yurt, for a taste of the traditional life.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Kazakh Man with Eagle, Mongolia

Kazakh Eagle Hunters

Join the famed Kazakh Eagle Hunters in all their finery for a hunting expedition – meet their families and their birds, and learn about the skills involved in the capture, training and use of eagles as hunters.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Burana Tower, Kyrgystan

The Petroglyphs of Cholpan Ata

Discover the petroglyphs near Cholpan Ata and the 11th century Burana Tower, all that remains of the ancient city of Balasagun.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Tien Shan, Kyrgystan

Tien Shan Mountains

Go riding or trekking amidst the stunning mountain scenery of the Tien Shan (Heavenly) Mountains.

Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Paul Craven

Paul is the Conde Nast Traveller chosen Specialist for Central Asia and the Silk Route.

Being from a family with Army connections I can from an early age remember travelling. From camping in Europe and then later being sent to boarding school when we lived in Germany at the age of eight, complete with shorts, long socks, a cap and my suitcase. In appearance not too dissimilar to the children evacuated to the countryside during the blitz.

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