Karakol is a true gem in the rough, just awaiting a master jeweler to polish it up. It holds great potential as a future tourism destination, offering year-round trekking, mountaineering, skiing, and spaaing opportunities, set in a picture-perfect setting of traditional Russian homes.
This town was formerly called Przhevalsk (Пржевалск) during the Tsarist and Soviet era. It is located at the far end of the Issyk Kul, nestled in the Tian Shan mountains, and is the capital of the Issyk Kul Oblast (province).
Mountain view near Karakol
The city was originally founded by Russian Tsarist troops as a military outpost, and it is the resting place of Nikolai Przewalski (Przhevalskiy), the famed Polish-Russian explorer and naturalist. It is a city of traditional Russian houses, nestled between the Tian Shan mountains and Lake Issyk Kul.
Karakol was originally a Russian settlement, and it's still one of the few remaining large Slavic communities in Central Asia. Unfortunately, unemployment and the resulting alcoholism have left a toll, as many young people have left, and the soaring crime rate has made it rather dangerous at night.
Regular bus/Marshrutka and taxi services leave Bishkek in the morning for the 5–6 hour drive. The bus/Marshrutka fare is around 300-450 som (April 2014), and a seat in a taxi is 500–800 som (April 2014). If you go to Balykchy or somewhere on the lake's northern shore, these services might take you for a reduced fare.
Regular buses and taxis leave for the Kazakh border to Kegen regularly, although the border crossing at the Karkara Valley is currently closed.
From Tamchy (Issyk Kul) Airport
Tamchy is approximately 2½–3 hours away, and taxis can be arranged locally. Tamchy has limited air service on SCAT airways during the summer travel season.
Karakol has an airport, largely used for charter service and located on the northern edge of the city. In 2011 Almaty-Karakol flights flew once a week during the ski season and schedules may be reinstated again in 2012.
In December 2012 the company Avia Traffic announced that it would be running flights from Bishkek to Karakol, though as of spring 2013 these have not materialized.
Dungan Mosque This is one of the few mosques that dodged Soviet destruction. It was built in 1910 by the local Dungan community (Muslim people from north-east China, who in the 19th century had escaped from oppression by the Chinese government on account of their religion) as a house of worship. Completely of wood without nails, it is painted in numerous colors. It is still used as a Muslim house of worship, and tourists are gladly welcomed.
Issyk-kul Central Mosque of Karakol city named after Ibrahim Aji was built by initiative of Ibrahim Aji. His given name is Ma - Yoo - Ton. He invited the famous Beijing architect Chou Seu and 20 carvers with the skills of traditional Chinese architecture and composition techniques for building the mosque. In the construction of outbuildings and other work were involved local craftsmen. Construction of the mosque began in 1904 and completed in 1907. Ingenious system allows builders to build the mosque with no metal reinforcement tools. The mosque holds 42 based pillars. Encircling of the building is multi-tiered wooden cornice, decorated with images of plants like grapes, pomegranates, pears and peaches. From 1929 to 1947 during the Soviet era mosque was used as a storehouse. In 1947, the building was given to the Muslim community and to the present day function as a mosque. Besides it the mosque is registered as a historical monument and protected by the law. Today mosque operates successfully and opens for everyone who visits our city.
Working hours: 4am-10pm
Holy Trinity Cathedral This traditional Russian wooden cathedral with an onion dome has recently undergone extensive restoration work, paid for by the local Slavic community.
The story of the church goes back to July, 1869, when Karakol was basically a garrison town established as an outpost on the edges of the Tsarist Russian Empire. The Karakol church, however, was destroyed in an earthquake in 1889 which caused havoc in the town and took several lives. It took six years to complete, and was finally consecrated in 1895. During the period of construction, a yurt served the congregation as a church. It has seen considerable service, not just as a church. Over the years, particularly following the Revolution in 1917, it has been used as an educational centre housing a school, ladies’ gymnasium and an institution of Higher Education; a Sports Hall; a Theater; a Dance Hall and even as a Coal Store. Then, in 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Independence of Kyrgyzstan, the local authority once again gave the building back to the church, with the proviso that all further restorations were their responsibility.
Working hours: 8am-5pm Sat &Sun closed
Karakol Historical Museum This museum hosts numerous archeological bits from the Scythian era and many stuffed animals, culled from the mountains. While there is much to see, little of the information available is in English, and the staff do not speak English. Still, the place is worth a visit.
This small museum was the pre-revolutionary summer home of the Iliana merchant family. During the turbulent years of 1918-20 the building earned its socialist stripes as headquarters of the Regional Revolutionary Committee, and was subsequently transformed into a museum by order of the Soviet Council of Ministers in 1948. Scythian artifacts include enormous bronze pots retrieved from Lake Issyk-Kul, displayed alongside exhibits on petroglyphs in the area. Besides a comprehensive display of traditional Kyrgyz punched leather work, felt wall hangings and woven yurt decorations, the museum has a colorful collection of national costumes, examples of finely worked silver jewellery and a good exhibition of Kyrgyz applied art. One hall covers the region's flora and fauna - much of which is endangered and listed in the 'Red Book' (a Soviet inventory of protected species). The museum is also worth visiting to gain a Soviet perspective of history in the region. A couple of walls relating to Kyrgyz union with Russia and the subsequent revolution are now historical artifacts in themselves.
Working hours: Mon-Sun 9am-5pmTicket cost: 70 SOM
Przewalski/Przhevalskiy Museum and Memorial Set a few miles outside the city, the museum hosts the life story of one of the world's great explorers, who died in Karakol in 1888. It is a true testimonial to Russian colonization of Central Asia. The staff here speak English. To the rear of his resting place lies the remnants of a Soviet torpedo testing facility. The museum can be reached by taxi, or by the very old-looking buses (often orange) that line up near the small park with the statue on Toktogula st.
Nikolay Mikhailovich Przhevalsky is one of the first Russian Scientist-Geographer who started studying in details the geography, flora and fauna of the Central Asian countries. Beginning from 1870, he arranged 4 large expeditions to Mongolia, China and the Tibet. During his expeditions he revealed the exact directions of the mountain ranges and borders of the Tibet Mountains. He described the nature, relief, climate, flora and fauna in the territories under his study and discovered over 200 plant species. Przhevalsky also collected an enormous zoological collection which comprised several thousand of species of plant, animals, birds, fishes and insects. In the year of 1888, he died from typhoid fever on the eve of his fifth expedition to Central Asia; he was buried on the Issyk-Kul lakeside not far from the city of Karakol. The Memorial Museum of N. M. Przhevalsky was opened on 29 April 1957 in Karakol.Address: Village Pristan Prjevalski
Working hours: Mon-Sun 9am-5pm
Ticket cost: 120 SOM
Zoo, Near stadium. The Karakol zoo has many native species native to Kyrgyzstan such as bears, wolves, camels, and various hoofed creatures.edit
Karakol Zoological Park was founded in 1987. This is only zoo in Kyrgyzstan. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the economics of the country quickly fell into disrepair, and it concerned the newly created object culture. In 2001, there was a question about closing the zoo. However, there were found sponsors and it allowed not only to preserve the wildlife area, and keep it in a relatively prosperous state. Nowadays the buildings, cages and cells are not new, but in very good condition. There are Japanese macaques, bears, wolf, deer, camels, Prjevalski's horse, peacock and many others.Address: Koenkozov/Parkovaya
Working hours: Mon-Sun 9am-5pm
Ticket cost: 50 SOM
Victory Park (Jengish Park), Karasaeva/Abdrakhmanova (Go all the way up Abdrakhmanova until it dead ends.). Classic soviet style park and monument. Nice trees, paths, benches, lighting at night. edit
Animal Bazaar, (south of the city, along lenina). Mentioned in most guidebooks, this can be a very interesting affair. Starts early Sunday mornings. Regional herders/shepherds and farmers gather in Karakol to sell sheep, horses, dogs, goats, and other animals. edit
Early on Sunday mornings one of Kyrgyzstan’s biggest animal markets takes place around 2km north of central Karakol. Typical of such markets, you’ll observe scenes at once sad and comical, with locals improbably bundling voluptuous fat-tailed sheep into the back seats of Lada cars. The setting amid semi-derelict flour mills might seem unprepossessing, but on clear days the backdrop of white-topped mountains is more striking from here than from the town center. A series of earthen unloading plat¬forms lead north. Jostle through the chaos to reach a bigger main compound one block north, where you’ll find horse sales and vendors of beautiful embossed leather saddlery. On foot the bazaar is about 25 minutes’ walk from City Center. (Resource: Lonely Planet)
Working hours: 05am -10am, only on Sunday
Jeti-Oguz is famous for its large, red sedimentary rocks, about 2,200m. The rock have been carved out by a river from the Terskey Alatoo mountains. Years of weathering have split the rocks into seven parts. The forms of the rocks are similar to the head of the seven bulls, “Jeti”-means seven and “Oguz”-means bull in Kyrgyz. Another beautiful place to see is Broken Heart. This is a reddish rock shaped like a broken heart. For this rock, there are several legends: long ago a king who was very rich and had many wives went hunting. One day he saw a beautiful girl with black long hair. He fall in love with her at first sight, and wanted to marry her. However she was from a poor family and was already engaged. Her family ran away from the king when they learned that he wanted their daughter. But the king caught them, killed her fiancé and her family. Her heart was torn by sadness and the Broken Heart appeared in that place.
Transportation: From Karakol to Jeti-Oguz Sanatorium/Broken Heart take a private Taxi for 600 SOM, the shared Taxi for 150 SOM per person (35km) from Karakol’s Aktilek Bazaar.*Beware that after 5pm it will be hard to find a shared Taxi.
Address: Jeti-Oguz valley
Working hours: 8am-5pm
Barskoon waterfall is a geological protected area located in Jeti-Oguz District of Issyk Kul Province of Kyrgyzstan in 90 km to the south-west of Karakol on one of the tributaries of Barskaun River. It was established in 1975. Within the Barskoon valley there are two waterfalls on top of the mountain and the mountainside. At the foot of the mountain you can enjoy the beautiful river of Barskoon. During the summer time there yurts built. At the yurt you try Kyrgyz traditional drink Kymys while enjoying the beauty of the landscape.
Transportation: From Karakol to Barskoon waterfall (100km) pivate Taxi cost 2500 SOM per car or you can take Marshrutka from South Shore Bus Station to Barskoon village for 100 SOM and walk 10 km to the waterfall.*Beware that after 5pm it will be hard to find a Marshrutka / Taxi.
Address: Barskoon ValleyWorking hours: 9am-5pm
The Fairy Tale Canyon / Skazka Canyon
The canyon was named because of its bizarre rocky landscape, which for many years has been transformed by wind into amazing sculptures and formations. Some formations look like The Great Wall of China and you can also find other formations that look like snakes, dragons, sleeping giants and even whole castles. From here opens unusual view on a majestic panorama of lake and blue caps of mountains. It’s an excellent destination for children and adults alike and makes for an easy hike close to the lake.
Transportation: From Karakol to Fairy Tale Canyon (112km) pivate Taxi cost 2000 SOM per car or you can take Marshrutka to Balykchy or Bokonbaevo and ask driver to stop at the canyon for 100 SOM.
Address: 4 km from the village of Tosor
Working hours: 9am-4pm
The salty lake known as a “Dead Lake of Kyrgyzstan”. The lake was opened as a tourist destination in 2001. The water is so salty that one can read a newspaper while floating on the surface. The water contains about 132 gram of salt per liter. This lake is also popular as a “medical tour”. Mud is superheated deep beneath the earth’s surface. Many locals believe that it has healing properties.
Transportation: From Karakol to Salty Lake (134km) pivate Taxi cost 3000 SOM per car or you can take Marshrutka from South Shore Bus Station to Balykchy for 170 SOM and ask driver to stop in the village Kyzyl-Tuu and walk 400m towards to the Lake Issyk-Kul.*Beware that after 5pm it will be hard to find a Marshrutka / Taxi.
Working hours: 8am-5pm Sat &Sun closed
Slavyonski Bazar. This is a local flea market where one can find all sorts of household goods and soviet treasures.edit
Karakol Ski Base At 3040 meters, this is the highest ski resort in Central Asia. It is located approximately 30 minutes from Karakol and features 2 chalets and a hotel with a sauna. There are all chairlifts and rope lifts take you to some of the best runs. Lift tickets are only $20, and they recently purchased new ski equipment for rent.
Ak-Suu Hot Springs Hot springs located 15 km from Karakol. Easy to get there by mini-bus #350 from bazaar or on its way on Karasaeva street for less than $0.5. The bath ticket is around $0.7.
Altyn Arashan Hot Springs Hot springs located within hiking distance from Karakol.
Jeti Oghuz Hot Springs An aging Russian sanatorium with radon treatment baths.
Karakol Canyon The Karakol Canyon offers excellent hiking. It's possible to hike to the beautiful Ala-Kul lake from this canyon.
FGS : geo-physic station (2580 m.), Chong Kyzyl Suu, ☎ +996 312 564733. On the top of the Chong Kyzyl Suu valley, you will find an geo-physic and meteorologic station build in wood in 1948 by German builders. Families staying there all the year around will explain their activities and can guide you around the whole region. Possibility to sleep in the station. High routes going to Jeti Oguz through Archa Toer pass, to Kitshi Kyzyl Suu valley through Salvator pass, or Syrtha Ak-Shirak through Ashu Toer pass. Glacier lake Kashka Toer (3 hours walk), lake Shakartma (3 hours hike)250. edit
Hire a bicycle. Karakol Coffee rents bicycles fo9800 som per dayedit
Banya, various. Karakol has numerous small and medium size banyas (saunas) around the city. For around 200 som per hour you can get an entire room for yourself or you and your friends/partner. Great way to get clean after a few days of skiing or hiking around. Working since 1954 is Монча #1 on Gebze street: 55744. Another further down Toktogula: 0771555255 . edit
Trekking. There's a standard 3day/2night trek that most people do. You can get a guide and porter from any of the travel agencies in town (CBT, Eco Trek, Yak Tours) but you can seriously do it on your own if you have camping gear (all of which you can rent if you don't have). In general the path is really easy to follow, and during most times of the year you'll see at least a few other people. You can buy a good topographical area map from any of the travel agencies, which should be enough. There's a 250 som entry fee to the park (per person), and depending on where you camp, there are also tent fees, which range from 50 som to 100 som per tent. At the middle of the trek is a mountain-top lake. At one end of the trail there are a series of guesthouses, one which has a hot spring you can go into for 250 som per person. Further downstream in the river are some natural (but cooler) hot springs, which you can use for nothing. There are three pools there; one of them is heart-shaped. Almost all the water on the mountain is safe for drinking without purification. The small streams are fine, but I wouldn't risk it on the lake or big river.edit
In the town centre, there is a local Tsum that is open until 1700. They have a limited selection of outdoor goods and souvenirs. It is recommended to check prices at local bazaars, where you can buy everything. On the main street next to Caravan you will find the One Village, One Product store run by JICA. They have a variety of locally made products and handicrafts. Interesting soaps, jams, and felt products!
There is an antique shop down the main street (south) towards the bazaar, and a honey cooperative across the street.
Local Honey can be purchased at the bazaar or the Beekeepers' Cooperative.
Sea Buckthorn products can be purchased seasonally.
Karakol is known throughout Kyrgyzstan for its Dungan specialty Ashlian-fu. This is a dish of cold noodles in a spicy vinegar sauce. The best place to eat it is in the shed-like building across the street from KICB bank and the small bazaar or within the large bazaar. It usually costs around 25 som, with bread 8-25 som.
Asman, Toktogula st (across the street from the megacom office). is the place for shashlik and has a DIY water-cooling feature (opposite the central park).edit
Yak Tours. If you're looking for a good home cooked Russian meal, try Yak Tours (in high season only!). The owner's wife is an excellent cook.edit
Fakir, Gorkovo st (Next to TSUM). Biggest restaurant in Karakol, good food, slow service.edit
Kalinka, Lomonosova St. (Behind the drama theater.). Russian style dining room with affordable, decent eats, though with middling service.edit
Lovely Pizza, Tynystanov st (Pervomaya st) (near the lenin statue, walk down the avenue). Pizza, beer, hookah, nice outdoor patio. Very slow.edit
Kench, (on Telmana (Karasaeva)). Perhaps the "fanciest" place in Karakol. Good food, but higher prices.edit
Live Bar, 78 Fuchika (Masalieva) (on the road to the ski base), . Drinks, steak, shisha, karaoke. A quality establishment of the Live Bar chain from Bishkek and Cholpon Ata. Not clear if this is still working in the summer time.edit
Salam Aleykum Cafe, (near Amir hotel). It's open only in the evenings, and you can see some show of dance, music, and Kyrgyz handicraft.edit
Zarina. Oigur and Uzbek Cuisine. They have an English menu and a few vegetarian options.edit
Cafe Konak, Jusaeva Street,(Bugu central bazar) ((opposite the Bank KICB /next to the bulding Asia Center).), ☎ +996392253298. A wide selection of exquisite dishes of National, Turkish and European cuisine. You will find unusual interior, cozy atmosphere. Free WIFI.edit
Karakol Coffee, 112a Toktogula (next to the 3 story building/Zarina restaurant). Fresh ground coffee and espresso, wifi, baked desserts, snacks, drinks, and some cocktails. The owner is a very nice woman. The sandwiches are especially good. They also have decaf.edit
Bailanysh Internet Cafe, 130 Lenin Street (4 blocks up from the main bazar from Toktogula street). Coffee, wifi, breakfast. The owners also offer homestay in same address.edit
Grocery Store Nice, 120 Jusaev. Has 2 tables coffee place with free Wi-Fi and flat TV. Staff is very friendly and some speak English. If you have a tent ask to allow you to pitch it in the store's garden and stay in Karakol for free! Location is very convenient - on the main street that goes from the city center towards the mountains, just 3 blocks away from Church, central bazar and KICB Bank. edit
Amir Hotel is a nice hotel for someone who wants to have a comfortable stay at a regular-type hotel. It's clean and modern with friendly English-speaking staff.
Kyrgyz Tours Guest House, 130 Lenin Street (4 blocks up from central bazaar), ☎ +996552552529. The place is one of the best guest houses in Karakol. Located centrally, 4 blocks from central bazaar. Good option for backpackers. Have standard double room and rooms up to 4 beds. Yurt stay in a traditional Kyrgyz real yurt and camp site in garden. Car and bike parking. Laundry services. Free WiFi. Luggage storage for free. Trekking gear for rent and trekking maps for sale. Trekking information and possibility to hire professional staff for treks. Price for campsite 150som per person, rooms are from 400som depending what type of stay. Price from 2014from 400som. edit
Green Yard is a very nice guesthouse near the mountains. A room costs around 1200-1400 per night. Very nice accommodation, wifi, great breakfasts, and tea always available in the common dining room.
Yak Tours Guesthouse, Gagarina 10 (Just half a block away from the central bazaar). A nice guesthouse in an old wooden house. Beds are comfortable, rooms clean and the dog is very friendly. There is laundry service and a small restaurant within the guesthouse. However, the place only has one bathroom/toilet, so there might be some queueing in the morning. s: 350 som for a room, 100 som for a tent in the garden, it is from July 2013. edit
Hutorok (1790), Alybakova 63 (near Park Pobeda), ☎ +996 312 564733. Comfortable homestay in old style Karakol house. 2 Bathrooms, 10 beds, nice garden, good food, quiet, about 1.5km uphill walk from town near Park Pobeda. No English spoken. The houses are from 1938 and 1960. On the way to the ski resort of Karakol. Booking through Nomad's Land Ecotourism agency.650 per person. (42°28'47.70,78°24'21.31)edit
Yurt Camp, Toktogula 273 (Go south-east from the bus station, at traffic lights turn right and then 300 meters). Accomodation in real yurts, although above yurts are a non-authentic plastic covers. There are shared toilets and showers. The staff can sell you a detailed map of neigboring mountains.250 som per person (Aug 2010), don't afraid to bargain if they will you charge more. edit
Marzey Guesthouse, 6, Korolkova Street, ☎ +996 772 545620, . Lovely garden in the center of the town, in a quiet part of Karakol. All rooms are with attached bathroom. 700 soms. edit
Tagatai Hotel, Tynystanov St. More upscale, modern hotel on the quiet and tree-lined Tynystanova (Pervui Maya) street.edit
Ala-Kol Guesthouse, ☎ +996 555 900859. The guest house is located in a quiet area, and is close to the Karakol ski resort. It is owned by the couple that runs the guesthouse. It offers single, double, triple occupancy neat rooms with a fantastic view of snow covered mountain peaks opening up from the windows. Some rooms have rollaway couches. There is karaoke, sauna, video games, satellite tv, free wi-fi, transport to sights upon request. The owner's wife is an excellent cook, she prepares national meals, and serves very tasty breakfasts. As they ski, hike and paraplane themselves, the owner and staff of the house can be very helpful in advising the tours worth visiting and the sights worth seeing. Website www.alakol.kg, email@example.com
Turkestan Yurt Camp, Torktogul 273, ☎ 996550234911. Clean dormitories, some in yurts, some in rooms. They also have double rooms which are more expensive. For a four person dorm it is 300som (May 2013). The bathrooms are not attached, but they are clean enough. In winter it's a little far to the bathroom. But the rooms are clean, and the manager is a nice guy, though he doesn't speak English. They offer breakfast for 50som extra which is a good deal. It is a ten-minute walk from the center.300. edit
SunHouse Hostel Karakol (SunHouse Hostel Karakol), 3, Novstroika str., ☎ +996 779 467835. Free of charge services: Breakfast, Wi-Fi Internet, Computer with Internet access, Bed linen and towels (change every 3 days), Hotel slippers, Storage of valuable things in the safe, Self-service kitchen, Board games, books, TV, Medical kit, Tea, artesian drinking water, Hairdryer, Iron.Hostel for 32 bed places and camping. 10-15$. edit
Happy Nomads Yurt Camp, Toktogul/Elebaev str inters (200 meters from Gazprom Gaz Station), ☎ +996 770521138, . checkin: noon; checkout: noon. Happy Nomads Village is a unique village with Kyrgyz yurts that provides bed and breaksfast, shower, laundry, free WiFi, and Kyrgyz language courses. The place is run by an English speaking family. Accommodation is in three yurts with 20 beds, and they also allow you to pitch your tent for a fee. It is a 20-25 minute walk from the centre, but the owners are extremely hospitable and the breakfast comes with delicious home-made jams. Happy Nomads Village opened in February 2014.$15. edit
Sakura Karakol, Akyikat 33 (On google maps about 300m to the left of Hotel Alakol), ☎ +996555312036. The guesthouse is only open from December-March. It is located in the west part of town, in a very quiet street. The owners, Ibragim and Dilia (who speaks English) are incredibly friendly and also help organizing ski-trips. Very clean bathroom, spacious, wifi, satellite tv. Either double room or dorm. Price is the same per person.1000 som/14eu. edit
Arashan Campsite, village Maman, Kojokmatov street, ☎ +996552552529. It is a very nice camp in the garden where you can plant your tent. Located in a village very close to Karakol town, reachable by local marshrutka. Offer lunch and dinners for 250som. Price for camp 100som per person, breakfast 150som. The owner is a mountain guide, speaks good english.edit
Hostel Nice, 81a Abdrahmanov Street, Karakol (next to Victory Park), ☎ +996 708 559 918, . offers very clean nice low price well located accommodation and camping. Bed in a dorm room is just 360 som, stay in a yurt 240 som, pitching a tent in the garden is 120 som. Prices include free use of Wi-Fi, big kitchen, hot showers, washing machine, flash toilets, summer terrace. Location provides perfect access to public mini-buses taking to the animal market, bazars, regional bus stations, Altyn Arashan trek and Ak-Su hot springs. Place is run by very helpful nice English speaking family.120-360 som. edit
OVIR Kushtobaev/Kutmanalieva, 50m NW of militsia/police
coordinates:42 29.908/78 23.971
1 month visa extension at the same day
Bring your passport, two passport-pictures, one copy of the relevant pages in your passport and fill out two forms.
Go to the RSK Bank (Toktogul 271, near Turkestan yurt camp, coordinates: 42 29.696/78 23.895), go to the counter on the right, write on a pice of paper your name and the sum you have to pay (1000 som, 8/2001): then you’ll get a form and can pay the money on counter „1“. Simple, isn’t it?!? There is a 15-som fee for the transaction.
Back at the OVIR you’ll get your passport back, but you’ll be asked for another 153-som fee for the sticker. (niet receipt, certainly...)
Shared Taxis leave all day from outside the main bus station. Prices to Bishkek are 500-600 som, the trip takes 4-5 hours (and always stops for a snack outside of Balykchi). Taxis also leave for Cholpon Ata, especially during summer months.
Marshrutkas (shared vans) to Bishkek cost 350 som per seat (October 2014), and also leave all day from the bus station. A marshrutka stops more often and may take 6 hours. Buy your tickets at the каccа window, or occasionally from the driver. Sometimes, they also charge you for the luggage (100 som per person).
Buses to Bishkek leave at 20:00 and 21:00 from the backside of the bus station and cost 330 som (arriving the next morning at 530-600. Choose whether you will go by southern (station is at easternsouth way from centre) or northern shore (from bazaar) of the lake. North is more frequented.
Jeti Oghuz and the Valley of the Flowers: You must take a bus from the bazaar to the town of Jeti Oghuz which costs 25 som. Then take a taxi from the town to the sanatorium, which costs 100-150som (I paid 120). Then from the sanatorium you can walk to the Valley of the Flowers, which is about 2 km. It is worth a day trip, but be prepared if you go in May, because it was freezing outside. There is no electricity out there, or even food or water to buy. So go prepared. The yurt should cost 250som. It is worth staying a couple of nights if you want to do some hiking.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!