The city of Bishkek, surrounded by the snow capped mountain range of Kyrgyz Ala-Too, is the young capital and centre of Kyrgyzstan. Bishkek's Manas International Airport is the gateway to the city, once there, the ubiquitous minibus is the most popular way of getting around and costs very little. Private taxis are also available, and are preferable late at night.
Orthodox Cathedral in Bishkek © Petar Milosevic
The architecture in Bishkek illustrates its troubled history. Though the city was founded in the 19th century, most of the buildings and monuments are post-World War II constructions. Wide boulevards and marble public building are coupled with Soviet-styled apartment blocks.
Some interesting sites to visit include Ala-Too Square, the State Historical Museum, Panfilov Park, and the M Frunze Museum. Local bazaars are also a fun way to spend an hour or two, especially on weekends when they are biggest and most vibrant. A unique experience in Bishkek is a visit to the local baths, Zhurgal Banya, or the upmarket Green City Spa.
The city has the liveliest nightlife in the region, and its many bars and nightclubs are welcoming to tourists. Karaoke is always a popular activity.
Bishkek is within four hours' drive of Almaty, with its mountain resorts, making the city a great weekend excursion from Bishkek, no matter what time of year.