In this Kyrgyzstan Travel Budget Report we share what we spent during our overland journey in Kyrgyzstan and on what. We elaborate on those expenditures, detailing information on visas, car papers, gas stations and fuel, accommodation, public transport, and more.
Of course, we all have our own budgets and levels of comfort that we need on our road trip and this is meant to give a general idea of what you may expect on an overland journey through Kyrgyzstan. Some expenditures are fixed, such as visas, whereas travel expenditures on accommodation may be very different for you.
The purpose of our Kyrgyzstan Overland Travel Guides and Kyrgyzstan Travel Budget Reports is to share our overland-trip experience, which may be useful for planning your road trip. For all general information, please make use of guidebooks on the region.
The guidebooks we used in Kyrgyzstan were:
- Bradt Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide (best on where to visit what)
- Lonely Planet’s Central Asia (stronger on practicalities like where to eat and sleep).
- A dedicated, fabulous Overland 4×4 Road Trip Guidebook on Kyrgyzstan. Oun Travela is working hard on making a wonderful series of overland guidebooks designed for, yes, overlanders. Check out their website for more overland travel guidebooks!
Check it out: The Landcruising Adventure Notebook Collection
Index for our Kyrgyzstan Travel Budget Report
Our Overland Travel Information Pages for Kyrgyzstan consists of two parts: The Kyrgyzstan Overland Travel Guide, and this is the Kyrgyzstan Travel Budget Report.
In this blog post we’ll discuss the following topics:
1 – Money Matters
The Kyrgyzstan currency is Som (KGS, or лв). In Oct 2022 the rate was 79 som to a euro.
Coming from Kazakhstan, there is an ATM on the border of Korday, inside a building where you can drink/eat something. If that doesn’t work, no worries because 20 kilometers down the road is Bishkek, the capital.
You will find many ATMs in Bishkek, Osh and Karakol (we don’t know about other towns). Note that many are stand-alone (commercial) machines that charge a fee. For us, Dutch, the Demir Bank worked particularly well, as did the AKB Bank.
Most of the time we pay with cash, so we have no info on the use of credit cards or bank cards, but we do know that it’s increasingly to pay with plastic as well.
More details about money issues on Caravanistan.
Kyrgyzstan Country Stats
- International telephone code: 996
- Time: GMT+5
- Electrical voltage: 220v, 50Hz, standard two-pin round-prong plug.
2 – Our Kyrgyzstan Travel Budget Report
- Time spent in Kyrgyzstan: 292 days
- Average expenditure: € 25 /day (2 persons)
- Total distance
driven: 5809 kilometers
- Average distance/day: 20
- For our driven route, see the map in our Overland Travel Guide.
Not included: health insurance, electronics.
Notes on our Kyrgyzstan Travel Budget:
- While the overhaul is not part of this travel budget report, the fact that we stayed in an Airbnb for two months to get this overhaul done adds up to the money spent on accommodation. Additionally we spent a number of weeks in Tunduk guesthouse (Bishkek).
- Also, the average kms/day is off, compared to other countries, because of the long stays in Bishkek and camp at Toktogul Lake.
- Public transport = flights from/to Europe.
3 – Documentation 0%
(Visa & Temporary Import Document)
3a- Visa for Kyrgyzstan
Caravanistan is an up-to-date website to check whether you need a visa or not. Or check with the embassy. Europeans don’t need a visa and get 60-day free entry at the border.
You can’t extend your Kyrgyzstan visa, but a visa run across the border is easy. We did the one just north of Bishkek (Korday), walked across, drank coffee on the Kazakhstan side of the border and returned. The whole procedure, including coffee, took about 1,5 half hours.
A second visa run we did to Uzbekistan, a tiny one somewhere south of Toktogul Lake (where you can’t cross with your vehicle). Again, the procedure went in a jiffy.
3b- Carnet de Passage / Temporary Import Document for Kyrgyzstan
You don’t need a Carnet de Passage for Kyrgyzstan. You are issued with a Temporary Import Document (TID) for your vehicle at the border. It is free of charge and valid for 1 year for the Eurasian Customs Unions which includes Russia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
3c- Leaving Kyrgyzstan without the Land Cruiser
Winters are long in this part of the year. So we organized a long-term parking spot for the Land Cruiser and flew out for a long-distance hike in Turkey.
Iron Horse Nomad was helpful to organize this. Ryan, the owner, charged 50 dollars per month. Note that the vehicle is outside, either in the parking lot behind his shop or at another place. Because our Land Cruiser has leakage issues we found another place, inside a warehouse. Expensive, 70 dollars per month, but dry and the batteries were kept in a room above freezing temps.
We didn’t organize any paperwork to leave the country without our Land Cruiser and no questions were asked.
Read more: Tajikistan Travel Budget Report
4 – The Land Cruiser Repairs & Maintenance 4%
We spent money on the Land Cruiser allright, but it isn’t part of this travel budget. The big overhauls, every 3-4 years, have their own budget.
The Land Cruiser Overhaul in a Nut Shell
It was not an easy search to find a workshop to do the overhaul, which we did in January, hoping that on our return in June work could start right away. What we encountered was:
- Some took the job way too seriously, wanting to do a massive restoration job that would take 6 months. That was not our idea. We just needed patching up but they were not in for this.
- One shop simply refused, finding it too big of a job. No problem, clear answer.
- One guy was willing to do the overhaul for 900 dollars. A LOT of money for local standards, but we weren’t getting anywhere and so agreed. On our return, however, he was in the hospital and couldn’t do the job.
Thanks to Stephanie & Leigh we met Nicolai, who works by himself and is often contracted via the official ARB dealer in Bishkek who speaks English.
Nicolai had his own opinion about the Land Cruiser.
He pointed out some structural problems of metal fatigue, causing the whole bodywork to sag. The story is for a separate article/blog post. It suffices to say that he worked slow but super deliberate and did excellent work. In the end we paid about 1000 US dollars for one month of work.
We asked for a budget beforehand, which he couldn’t give. Afterward, he said he charged $10 an hour, which was something he could have told beforehand and which was the only thing that bothered us a bit (amply compensated by the job done, though).
Regular Car Maintenance
Outside the overhaul were some regular maintenance and repairs, like the change of oil, new king-pin bearings.
Expect to have vehicle repairs due to the large number of unpaved roads in Kyrgyzstan, some of which are car killers.
A problem not yet solved is the massive dent in the rear after Coen backed up on the verge of the road but hadn’t seen a massive telephone pole… Even after a year it’s still on our to-do list. The dust-screen works miracles, as it has for years 🙂
5 – Diesel & Gas Stations 7%
We had no problem finding gas stations and all had diesel. The (low) quality of diesel works just fine for our old Land Cruiser, however, people with newer cars may want to stick to big-branded stations such as GazProm and the likes to be sure to get a decent quality fuel for their vehicles’ sensitive engines. We just bought whatever came at hand whenever we needed filling up.
Fun fact: You will come across old German gas station equipment, with prices still stated in Deutsche Mark or even Euro.
Books on 4WD Driving
(click on the images to look inside)
Products from Amazon
6 – Public Transport 16%
The money spent on Public Transport = our flights to/from Europe + our flights from Tashkent to Bishkek.
In Bishkek are buses (trolley and normal), taxis, and marshrutkas (the latter mostly old Mercedes Sprinters that are filled to the brim and ply a fixed route). Note that you pay marshrutkas when you board, and buses as you exit.
Apps to can help you with pubic transport:
- 2Gis gives you all the options in one go. Find your destination and choose your mode of transport.
- Inobi gives you the bus and marshrutka options and a live view of where the busses are. Tap where you are, tap where you want to go, and it’ll show you the marshrutka routes or buses that will get you there.
- Yandex gives you the taxi option similar to Uber. How does it work:
- You need to register with a telephone number. This you need to do only once, so if you did this in another Yandex-using country, you won’t have to do it again. (Of course they can’t call you back then if you have switched telephone numbers).
- The Yandex app is in Russian and is very slow. Fortunately the Yandex app is connected with Maps me. So, in Mapsme you can see the prices and can order a Yandex from there.
- Whether you use the app or Mapsme, you need to be online to order a Yandex.
Outside Bishkek run buses, but getting to remote places is not the most evident.
7 – Sightseeing 1%
We haven’t done a whole lot of sightseeing in Kyrgyzstan, at least to places that require entrance fees but among the places we enjoyed:
- Burana Tower near Bishkek.
- Petroglyphs of Cholpon Ata, north of Lake Issyk Kul
- Przhevalsky museum, near Karakol.
The best places in Kyrgyzstan, however, are for free!
A scenery of rough mountains, glaciers, cascading rivers, forests and so much more. Everywhere you will find lots of opportunities to wild camp.
We did 2 multiple-day hikes in Kyrgyzstan:
- 6-day hike in the Alay Valley, leaving the Land Cruiser in Sary Mogul.
- 7-day hike in the valleys & Ala-Kul Lake, south of Karakol.
Journal of Nomads has written a lot about hiking. Their website arguably gives the best information on hiking in Kyrgyzstan.
8 – Accommodation & Camping 29%
Wild camping is possible everywhere, and often amidst fantastic scenery. As mentioned before, with fellow overlanders we put together a page highlighting our favorite wild camps.
In Bishkek we stayed:
- At an Airbnb for our overhaul.
- At the Apple Hostel in Bishkek, in January. Parking space for a few cars. Situated next to the West/New bus station, with supermarket around the corner and Osh Bazaar on walking distance. I didn’t find the staff particularly friendly. Small kitchen and a living room without any window.
- At the Tunduk Hostel in Bishkek, in August. Parking space for a few cars, a beautiful garden with a swimming pool, a small restaurant where they serve good breakfast (not included in the fee), and a super kind and professional hostess. Az speaks fluent French and good English. With her husband and parents, they run the place. Across the hostel runs the Yunusaliev Street – dubbed ‘K-street’ – with lots of Korean restaurants (check out ‘Korean restaurant Seoul’, as well as the nearby big bazaar (cleaner and better than Osh Bazaar, I’d argue) which is surrounded by places to eat fast-food and sushi.
In Osh many overlanders stay at the Tes Hostel in Osh, which has a big, pleasant garden and offers an extensive breakfast buffet.
Whether wild camping or staying in hotels, iOverlander is the best overlanding resource to find places to stay. It’s a non-profit project, started and maintained by fellow overlanders. To keep this great resource for overlanders going, you can contribute in (at least) two important ways:
- Donate (you will find the donate button on the iOverlander website)
- Share your own experiences of camping that add value to other overlanders (camping spots or otherwise useful points).
Read More: Bishkek – A Place to Rest & Relax
9 – Other Expenditures 43%
I keep a journal with the above-mentioned travel-budget expenditures. All money spent minus these registered expenditures is Other Expenditures.
This basically comes to money spent on groceries and eating out.
Tips, Suggestions, Feedback?
We hope you find this Kyrgyzstan Travel Budget Guide useful. Do you have questions or your own experiences to add? Feel free to do so in the comment section below. Thanks!
Don’t forget to check out the Kyrgyzstan Overland Travel Guide, which gives an elaborate overview of all things related to roads, roadmaps, navigation, traffic rules and traffic police, language, apps, SIM cards, WiFi, and more.
First published 2019 / updated Oct. ’22
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