Karakol is with about 70.000 inhabitants the biggest city at the Yssykköl. Due to its proximity to the mountain pass of the Tienshan, it was an important trading city on the Silk Road. Together with the well-developed tourist infrastructure, it has become a magnet for visitors. Mountaineers and hikers like to use the city as a stopover, because from here you can quickly get to the Engilchek Glacier with its ice giants Khan Tengri (7010 m) and Jengish Chokusu/Pik Pobeda (7439 m). The magnificent wooden houses and their carvings give the town a special flair. The Dungan mosque was built entirely of spruce wood and is reminiscent of a Buddhist pagoda.
The second largest city in the country is very fertile due to its location in the Fergana Basin and exudes southern flair with hibiscus bushes and plane trees. Osh can look back on 3000 years of history and thus counts among the historical cities of Central Asia. Due to its location at the crossroads of major caravan routes, Osh achieved wealth on the Silk Road. Unfortunately, however, not much remained of the former wealth, because in the 13th century the Mongols under Genghis Khan invaded and destroyed Osh. The most important landmark of Osh is the sacred Suleiman-Too, a rock massif in the middle of the city with a grotto and mausoleum (UNESCO Heritage Site).
Once a caravan station on the way to the Tienshan Mountains, Bishkek has now established itself as the capital. Framed by the Kyrgyz mountains, a western part of the Tienshan, Bishkek has a very special flair. The infrastructure is probably the most advanced in the country and there are countless parks, monuments and neoclassical buildings to visit. On the Ala-Too Square, the central main square, parades are held on important holidays. In the middle of the square is the Kyrgyz Museum, as well as the zoological museum and the Russian Drama Theatre Bishkek. The Osh Bazaar is not an oriental market, but with its extensive fruit and vegetable stands and a large variety of spices and household articles it is worth a visit and maybe you will find some little souvenirs for the ones at home.
Tokmok is mainly known for the Burana Tower (Karakhanid Minaret) from the time of the Kharakanids and the Sunday animal bazaar of tourist importance. As it is not far away (70 km) from the capital Bishkek, it is perfect for a day trip. The Burana Tower is one of the oldest buildings in the whole of Central Asia and was built in the 10th century. It is believed that the tower was once 40 meters high, but the upper part was once destroyed by a strong earthquake in the region.
It is a typical Kyrgyz resort, located on the shore of Lake Yssykköl. Here sandy beaches invite you to swim and at night open-air bars and discos provide good entertainment until the early morning hours. The view over the lake to the mighty peaks of the “sky mountains”. Tian Shan make Cholpon Ata an ideal holiday destination. Not far from Cholpon Ata you can visit one of the world’s largest petroglyph collections discover. A glacier has scattered around 5000 rocks in the area and they were decorated with mystical signs thousands of years ago – an open-air museum of a special kind.
Situated 1,600 metres above sea level on the south-facing slopes of the Ferghana range, Arslanbob boasts striking mountain scenery, friendly locals and the most prized walnuts in the country. Alexander the Great is said to have brought back large quantities of nuts from Central Asia but had to give them up once he reached Greece as a payment to the boatmen who transported his troops. The population is predominantly Uzbek and Arslanbob is considered to be rather conservative, as it close to may Muslim holy sites and due to its isolation from the rest of the country.