Kyrgyzstan — Transportation
Kyrgyzstan Taxis and Car Rental
Minibuses and salon cars providing a shared taxi service are found in numbers at all bus stations in Kyrgyzstan’s major cities and towns, as well as in village squares. They’re the preferred method of transport in the country and are extremely cheap to use, although travelers will have to wait until the vehicle is full before the journey begins. If you’re in a hurry, you can commission a shared taxi for yourself, but you’ll need to pay the total fare of the number of passengers the vehicle can transport. Prices are negotiable but, as a visitor, you’ll likely pay more than a local.
For more conventional taxi transport in Bishlek, there are several private taxi companies, accessible by local three digit phone numbers, including 150, 152, 166, and 188. Daytime flat fares are reasonable, with an increase after 10:00 p.m., but many cabs are either metered or offer negotiable fares.
Very few visitors to Kyrgyzstan attempt self-drive, as even the restricted number of made-up roads are poorly maintained, full of potholes, and are signposted in Cyrillic script, if at all. Add to these problems the switchback mountain roads and the laid-back approach of local drivers to road safety, and you have the best excuses in Asia for hiring a driver along with a four-wheel drive or using a reputable tour company. If you’re determined, car rental is had at Bishkek’s airport but is rarely available outside the capital.
Kyrgyzstan Water Taxis
A few ferries link villages and small towns around Lake Issyk Kul, although timetables are an unheard of luxury. Highlights are the amazing views across the waters to the peaks beyond.
Kyrgyzstan Trains and Buses
The country’s very limited rail services aren’t a great deal of help for visitors wishing to travel by train around their selected sites of interest. The single route runs only in summer between Balykchy at Lake Issyk-Kul’s western tip to Bishkek, and is slow and extremely unreliable. For trips to the southern Fergana Valley and Osh, a flight is the best option for those with a busy itinerary.
Regular bus services link Karakol with Bishkek and a few other towns in the Chui Valley, but services in general haven’t yet recovered from the Soviet era. In the Kyrgyzstan capital, you’ll find trolleybus and local bus services and, although they’re invariably crowded and take confusing routes, they cost a fraction of the ubiquitous minibuses and shared taxis.