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Get in Kyrgyzstan

Posted by in on 6-5-13

As of July 27, 2012, citizens from 44 nations may visit Kyrgyzstan visa-free for up to 60 days. What follows below is the content of a letter distributed by the Kygyzstan embassy in Urumqi:

Notice for foreign tourists

Kyrgyzstan introduced a visa-free regime for citizens of 44 countries up to 60 days.

President of the Kyrgyz republic signed the Law “On introduction of visa free regime for citizens of some countries up for to 60 days.” the law was adopted in order to simplify procedures for issuing visas to foreign citizens and increase the attractiveness of the tourism market, tourism development and investments.

The law was entered in force on July 27, 2012.

Citizens of the countries listed below intending to visit Kyrgyzstan up to 50 days do not need obtaining entry visa to Kyrgyzstan:

The list of countries:

Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Vatican City

By plane

Bishkek’s Manas Airport has daily flights to Istanbul, Moscow, and London (via Almaty). In addition there are several flights a week to regional hubs in Tashkent, Urumqi and a weekly service to Dubai. The airport is situated approximately 30 km north of the city center. The airport is not modern, but efficient and features a VIP Hall that facilitates entry and exit if you need more comfortable services. Air traffic control is provided by the United States Air Force as part of its agreement with the Manas Air Transit Center that support operations in Afghanistan.

A visa on arrival can be issued at the airport for nationalities of many countries.

A taxi to and from the city center can be arranged for approximately 500 soms, but prepare to negotiate from a much higher price. Note that most international flights arrive in the very early morning hours, so the taxi drivers will demand a higher price based upon the late or early hours.

By train

Trains to Bishkek depart from Moscow (Kazanskaia station) a few times a week (3714km, trip takes more than 3 days) going through Kazakhstan (Kazakh transit visa is required for most of non-CIS travelers). Details can be found at poezda.net [1] or rzd.ru [2] (the second one available only in Russian and contains current ticket prices which were about 100EUR in 2008 for “plackartniy” class). On the train it is forbidden to carry portable stove fuel cans.

By car

Driving in Kyrgyzstan is by Western standards dangerous. However, the government has invested very heavily in reconstructing a core network of roads that now rival the highways in many western nations. The principal highway from Bishkek to Osh is an engineering marvel through the mountainous region. Further, the highway from Osh to the Chinese border at Irkeshtam and from the village of Sary Tash to the Tajikistan border is being reconstructed in stages to international standards. Many other highways are likewise being rehabilitated as funding permits. In addition, the maintenance roads that feed into the core network are being improved as funds become available. Likewise, maintenance is being privatized on an experimental basis. This is not to say that driving in the Republic is easy. But given the limited economic resources progress is being made.

In the cities and outlying areas locals have become used to missing road drain covers, dry dusty roads (where water tankers sometimes sprinkle water to keep dust down) and generally bad roads that are not effectively maintained.

Interesting usage of main and large roads: If your side is too damaged to drive fast then is quite normal to use the other side of the road.

If you get stopped by the police it’s likely to cost some money.

From Kazakhstan, the road from Almaty to Bishkek is the busiest. The border at Kegen may be more difficult to get across. Frequent and obvious smuggling happens in this border and it’s quite obvious that the immigration and the border guards are in cahoots with the smugglers. Visa on arrival is not possible here and if coming from Kazakhstan, make sure you have at least a double-entry/multiple entry visa for Kazakhstan in case of troubles with Kyrgyz border officials.

Watch out for mini buses pulling out too.

Journey times:

From Kazakhstan to Bishkek – from Almaty which takes 5 hours and from Taraz which takes 5 hours.
From Uzbekistan to Bishkek, the road goes through Kazakhstan and drive would take more than 10 hours, and to Osh in the south
From Tajikistan to Osh the road from Khudjant (Tadjikistan) and through Batken (Kyrgyzstan) further to Osh. The road is one of the most difficult to drive. The main road goes through the Uzbek enclaves but there is also an alternative way around the enclaves. If taking a taxi, remind the driver to go around the small bit of Uzbekistan. There is also a road from Khorog to Osh.
From China there two passes – Irkeshtam leading to Osh and Torugart leading further to Naryn.

By bus

Minibuses between Bishkek and Almaty operate from many of Bishkek bus stations, including Almatenskaya Station. There is also a bus between Osh and Kashgar.

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