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Issyk Kul and the Tian Shan

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Earth : Asia : Central Asia : Kyrgyzstan : Issyk Kul and the Tian Shan
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The shimmering Lake Issyk-Kul and the towering Tian Shan Mountains are two of the biggest draws for travelers in Kyrgyzstan, and they dominate the eastern portion of the country.



  • Balykchy — the gateway to Issyk Kul, Balykchy is a former fishing town with a train service from Bishkek through a beautiful pass
  • Cholpon-Ata — an upscale summer resort surrounded by mountains
  • Jyrgalan — a small village surrounded by mountains and the gateway to the Keskenkija Loop. Trekking and horse riding trips can be arranged here. In winter, free riding and ski-ing are available.
  • Kadji Sai — a small lakeside picturesque town where you can have a radioactive bath (literally!)
  • Karakol — one of the gems of Issyk Kul, this was originally a Slavic settlement with a wealth of outdoor sports available
  • Kochkor — a small village with a park containing various Soviet structures, and a local animal bazaar, as well as an entry of point for Song Kul
  • Naryn — city bisected by Narin River, flowing through a beautiful gorge
  • Tamchy — mainly a beach resort, overnight yurt stays and horseback riding trips can be arranged here, too
  • Tamga — town with a red sand beach; named after the nearby petroglyphs

Other destinations[edit]

  • Lake Chatyr Kul — a scenic alpine lake with a high level of biodiversity
  • Lake Issyk Kul — surrounded by the massive snowcapped Tian Shan, this is the main attraction of the region (and the country, for that matter) with a touristy north shore and a rugged south shore
  • Lake Song Kul — a beautiful yet rather inaccessible alpine lake, trips there are only feasible during summer months
  • Tash Rabat — an ancient caravanserai on the Silk Road, close to Torugart Pass



You can easily get around with Russian and Kyrgyz. Some hosts speak English.

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  • Stay at a homestay in Kyzyl-Tuu on the southwestern side of Issyk-Kul, and watch your host produce handmade yurts and felt. Kyzyl-Tuu is known to have many families that live from producing and selling traditional yurts. Mayram ( +996 771310931. ) is an English-speaking host with a very nice family and two adorable daughters.

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