Back in 2013 I published a guest post from Kyrgyzstan resident Stephen Lioy and he ran down the prices in this mountainous central Asian country.
I finally made it to Kyrgyzstan myself this month though and Stephen was actually one of our group of four hiking through the mountains together. (More on that in a later post.) Since I spent half my trip off the grid, with vistas like you see above, this is going to be a rather cursory view of spending there. From everything I saw, however, this country is a terrific value and will be making it into the 5th edition of The World’s Cheapest Destinations book.
All prices in U.S. dollars at the rate of 68 com to the greenback.
Food & Drink Prices in Kyrgyzstan
As long as you’re not a vegetarian, you can eat really well in this country for not much money. Even the best restaurants in town seldom have entrees above the $10 mark and more often it’s $2 or $3. The food is tasty and filling too. If you want to wash it down with beer or order a cocktail, you won’t pay much to party either—unless you pay a guy to drive to the next town and back because you’re in a dry village. (Although religion isn’t a major force here, much of the population is Muslim and many of them don’t drink.)
Basic dish in a restaurant: 40 cents to $3
Full dinner with multiple courses: $4 – $9
Loaf of bread at the market: 25 cents
Beer in a bar/restaurant: $1.25 (local) – $3 (Russian microbrew)
Beer in a store (half liter): 60 cents – $1.50
1.5-liter beer in a store: 80 cents – $2.50
Bottle of Russian vodka: $2 – $7
Bottle of local cognac: $4 – $12
Cappuccino or latte: $1 – $2.25
Iced tea (or local wheat/milk drinks) on the street: 25 – 30 cents 0.4 liters
Soft ice cream cone: 30 – 70 cents
Kilo of seasonal fruit/veggies: 25 – 75 cents
Kilo of local candy: $3 – $5
Hostel and Hotel Lodging Prices
Where you spend the night location-wise matters almost as much as what kind of place you stay in. The larger cities and towns simply have a lot more options and competition, which keeps rates low. In some ways, the higher up you go on the lodging scale, the better the value. When the best hotel in a town of 70,000 has double rooms for $65, you know you’re in a bargain destination!
Hostel dorm bed, shared bath: $7 – $18
Guesthouse bed in double or triple room: $8 – $20
Private double room in basic hotel: $9 – $25
Private double room in 3-star hotel: $35 – $60
Local 5-star rated hotel double: $55 – $175
Yurt for two: $15 – $30
Tent camping in the mountains: free
Getting Around in Kyrgyzstan
The bus system is rather rudimentary in this country and there’s only one train line. Most of the time your best option is to hop in a share taxi that will be faster and more direct. Hitchhiking is rather common, but you’ll be expected to pay just like you would with a share taxi so it’s a matter of rural necessity rather than a frugal option.
Bus from Bishkek to Karakol: $7.50
Share taxi seat from Bishkek to Karakol: $9 – $11
Taxi anywhere in Karakol city limits: $1.10
Local bus/tram in Bishkek: 30 cents
Taxi in Bishkek: $1 – $2
Taxi to international airport from Bishkek: $7.50
Train from Bishkek to Balykchy on Lake Issyk Kul: $3
Other Prices in Kyrgyzstan
Tandem hang gliding in Karakol: $18
Walking food tour in Karakol: $7.50 (4 or 5 dishes)
Trek with porters or horses and guide in mountains: $60 – $120 per person per day depending on route, equipment rentals, & food included.
Liter of gas/petrol – 60 cents
Overall, this is a bargain place to travel and if you end up loving it so much you decide to stay, it’s also one of the cheapest places to live in the world.
This trip was made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.