Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan

Issyk-Kul is a large alpine lake lying in the Northern Tien Shan between two mountain ranges Kungei Ala-Too and Terskey Ala-Too. This is the second most popular destination after Baikal (it is called the Kyrgyz Baikal), if we talk about the great lakes that are not within our homeland, but close to it.

Issyk-Kul does not freeze even in winter, so you can go to Kyrgyzstan at any time of the year. Mountain air, nature untouched by production and thermal springs give a healing effect, and picturesque views will cure any depression. And in summer, when you can swim in crystal clear water (even from a hang glider you can see the bottom of the lake!), the resort is simply attacked by tourists.

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Issyk-Kul beaches

The best places for a beach holiday are concentrated in the resort town of Cholpon-Ata and the town of Bosteri. One of the most comfortable and well-maintained beaches belongs to the Blue Issyk-Kul sanatorium, located on the outskirts of Cholpon-Ata. The entrance to the water is gentle, the coast and the bottom of the lake are sandy. There is a rental of sun loungers, umbrellas and sports equipment. From entertainment – riding on bananas, catamarans and pleasure boats, admission is free.

The Blue Issyk-Kul beach is suitable for family and youth recreation. During the day it is convenient and safe to swim here with children, and discos open closer to the night.

The city beach of Cholpon-Ata attracts vacationers with clear water and a gentle entrance to the water, the bottom and shore are covered with clean fine sand. There is a rental of catamarans, umbrellas and sun loungers. You can use the changing cabin and take shelter in the shade of the canopy for free.

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For a quiet secluded vacation, go to the Laguna beach in the suburbs of Cholpon-Ata. There are many times fewer tourists here, as well as infrastructure – rare umbrellas, catamaran rentals and changing rooms. But right from the shore, crucian pecks perfectly, which attracts local and visiting fishermen here.

One of the most famous beaches of Bosteri, “Golden Sands”, belongs to the boarding house of the same name. A large selection of entertainment for all ages and tastes gathers young people and families with children here. The bottom and shore are sandy, the entrance to the water is smooth, it is convenient to bathe the kids. On the shore there is a large Ferris wheel and other attractions. Many water slides, some of which lead directly into the lake. Entrance to the beach is free.

Treatment in Issyk-Kul

Health tourism is one of the main directions of the region. Issyk-Kul is the national health resort of Kyrgyzstan, which every year attracts more and more tourists from Russia, the CIS and Europe. The reason for this is a large number of mineral springs and thermal wells, boarding houses and hospitals.

For those who want to relax on a budget, a ticket to a sanatorium is not the best option. You can save on food and accommodation by choosing one of the accommodation options in the private sector near the boarding house where you plan to undergo medical procedures.

The range of diseases offered by Issyk-Kul sanatoriums is very wide: these are diseases of the heart and digestive organs, musculoskeletal and nervous systems, skin and gynecological diseases. Depending on the specific diagnosis, specialists select the necessary procedures: Charcot shower, mineral baths, physiotherapy exercises, thalassotherapy and much more. Most of the hospitals are located on the northern coast of the lake, in the area of ​​the popular resorts of Cholpon-Ata, Bosteri, Tamchi and Chok-Tal.

Health tourism on the Issyk-Kul lake is not limited to sanatorium treatment. Healing mountain air, climate close to the sea and ample opportunities for outdoor activities contribute to the overall improvement of the body. Bathing in warm lake water, hiking and horseback riding, diving and mountain climbing will strengthen the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems, while mineral water will cleanse the body of toxins and tone it up.


Diving in Issyk-Kul is different from diving in the sea – you are unlikely to see bright corals and schools of colored fish. However, there is something to see here too, the most interesting direction is wreck diving. At the bottom of the lake, ancient settlements and other settlements, whose age exceeds 2500 years, have been preserved. Of course, almost completely destroyed buildings are often hard to guess in the silhouettes overgrown with silt, but you can find household items and even items made of gold and silver.

The cost of services is relatively small. For certified athletes, it starts from 1700 KGS per dive, for beginners – from 2000 KGS. The price includes guide services, equipment rental and video filming.

Divers should choose Cholpon-Ata or Bosteri for recreation – there are summer bases of Bishkek diving clubs. They usually work from mid-June to the end of August, when the water temperature allows diving to a depth of up to 17 m. For beginners, training is provided, the first swim is only accompanied by an instructor.

What to bring

Top souvenirs from Issyk-Kul are crowned with delicious and healthy delicacies – honey and jam. You can also take mushrooms, fresh berries, fruits and local fish Issyk-Kul chebachok with you from food. In dried and dried form, it will definitely not leave indifferent foam lovers.

For honey and jam at Bishkek airport, you need to fill out a phytosanitary certificate so that there are no problems with transportation across the border.

Of the inedible souvenirs, felt products are in demand. Take warm and comfortable slippers as a gift for the older generation, young girls will love jewelry and accessories (bags, wallets and cosmetic bags), and children will love funny animals and dolls. The most popular felt souvenir is the national Kyrgyz headdress ak-kalpak. Also, the local flavor is conveyed by miniature yurts, laid out according to the principle of our nesting dolls, and dolls in national costumes. In addition, souvenir shops are full of T-shirts, mugs and magnets with the symbols of Kyrgyzstan.

What to try

The national culinary traditions of Kyrgyzstan are close to the cuisine of Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries. A special place is occupied by meat dishes, one of the most famous is “beshbarmak”. And although this is a festive dish, for the preparation of which, according to tradition, a ram is slaughtered to treat the dearest guests, you can try it in many restaurants in Issyk-Kul. Other lamb dishes typical for these places are pilaf, shish kebab and lagman.

From dairy products, be sure to try koumiss (mare’s milk) and “kurut” (white balls that taste like our kefir). Two more rather specific sour-milk delicacies are ayran and suzmo.

For lovers of pastries, Issyk-Kul prepares cakes (necessarily in a tandoor or “kattamu” with filling), samsa, “khoshan” (patties) and much more. Local manti are very tasty, you definitely cannot find such ones in Russia.

Among alcoholic beverages, Kyrgyz cognacs and balms are in demand, they are even taken home as souvenirs. Many tourists prefer the variety “Kyrgyzstan” because of the optimal combination of price and quality. Those who prefer elite drinks should pay attention to Manas and Enesai, the cost of which is close to French cognacs.

Weather in Issyk-Kul

The climate of Issyk-Kul is temperate continental and, despite the remoteness from the seas and oceans, is somewhat reminiscent of the sea. In summer, the weather here is mild and comfortable, in winter there are no severe colds. Humidity in the east and west is very different. Precipitation in the Balykchy region is several times more frequent than in Karakol.

Beach lovers should plan their vacation for the period from May to September. At this time, the temperature of the air and water allows you to swim and sunbathe. But since this is not the only tourist destination in the region, the flow of tourists does not dry up all year round. In winter, the ski resort in Karakol is especially popular. And for those who come to improve their health in sanatoriums, the season does not matter at all.

Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan