: Central Asia
: Issyk Kul and the Tian Shan
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
- 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.
- 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.