Orthodox Cathedral in Bishkek © Petar Milosevic
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.
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.