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One of our writers recently traveled to Kyrgyzstan for a two-week trip that included horse trekking, village exploration, and attending the World Nomad Games. This was her first time in Central Asia and she had no idea what to expect! It quickly became one of her favorite countries. Find out why!
What to Wear in Kyrgyzstan
Written By: Megan Stetzel
Kyrgyzstan is different from some of the other ‘stans in the same region, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s a mountainous country with VERY harsh winters but enjoyable warmer months.
The people were my favorite part of my trip. We were welcomed into every yurt, restaurant, table, or conversation with widely stretched open arms. Oftentimes, I was stopped on the street by families who thrust their children at me so they could get a picture taken with their child and a Westerner. They were always warm and full of smiles.
I had no idea what to pack for my adventure so I’m happy to share my experience and advice on what to wear in Kyrgyzstan!
The capital of Kyrgyzstan is a popular stopping point for travelers in and out of Central Asia. It’s one of the only places you can get your visas sorted for all of Central Asia so many travelers end up here for a few weeks at a time.
It’s a low-key city with some quirky sights and a great cafe culture. Pretty much anything you feel comfortable in will be acceptable here. In the summer months you can get away with capris or maybe even shorts and short sleeve shirts.
I never felt as though safety was a concern in Bishkek, but I recommend leaving flashy, expensive looking clothing or jewelry at home as this is a developing nation. It’s always best not to draw attention to yourself even in the safest cities.
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Hiking and trekking is a huge activity and draw of Kyrgyzstan. The countryside, mountains, and lakes are some of the most beautiful and most untouched that I’ve ever seen. You can absolutely find hikes that are easier, but the majority are quite challenging.
If you choose to go up a mountain range, whether by foot or by horse, don’t forget extra warm layers. Even in the summer, it can get incredibly cold in the evenings or on non-sunny days once you reach higher altitudes.
Moisture-wicking layers are your best bet for both hiking and horse trekking. The trails can be tough and when the sun peeks out it can get quite toasty.
It may be surprising, but don’t forget to pack sunscreen! My face got incredibly burnt even in very cold temperatures!
Find lightweight, extremely warm layers for the evenings. They might take up a bit of room in your bag, but you’ll need them to help combat the incredible cold of the valleys and mountains at night.
I wished over and over that I’d brought gloves. While riding the horse, my hands were often the only thing that was exposed to the wind and chill, and they were absolutely freezing the whole time!
Don’t forget to bring biodegradable wet wipes for your bathroom breaks because running water and proper toilets will be scarce. The best toilet I found on the trails consisted of three pieces of corrugated metal stapled together, a pit, and a few planks of wood laid over the top with a big triangle cut out of them. Trust me, having something to clean and sanitize your hands and bottom will be necessary.
Karakol, The World Nomad Games, Issy Kul, Cholpan-Ata
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There are a number of wonderful villages and towns to visit within Kyrgyzstan, although the biggest draw is the nature. There are great markets, shops, and museums to visit in each region so make sure to sample a few on your visit!
For visiting towns, pack some kind of closed-toe shoe or mostly covered sandal as the streets are often full of potholes, uneven stones, mystery liquid puddles, glass, and miscellaneous other hazards.
Also make sure to bring a good day pack as you’ll typically be exploring for a full day at a time. Bringing extra water, snacks, warmer layers, and other daily necessities may be necessary.
A few extra tips:
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Definitely don’t leave your jeans behind! I always bring jeans when traveling, and this was one trip where I left them at home and I regretted it over and over again! It was chilly in the evenings, and people were wearing jeans!
Don’t forget a change purse. Prices are quite cheap here, so coins end up being used a lot more than you might be used to. Having a tiny change purse to corral all that loose change comes in handy.
I urge you to give Kyrgyzstan a try! The food was great, the people were wonderful, and the landscapes blew me away! There’s something for everyone in this gorgeous Central Asian country.
What are your tips on what to wear in Kyrgyzstan? Please share your comments below!
For more Asia packing tips, please read:
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Author Bio: Megan is a full-time traveler and loves to eat her way through new places, even though she is gluten-free. Find more of her stories, mishaps, and adventures on her travel blog, ForksAndFootprints or follow her on Snapchat as ForksFootprints.