Kyrgyzstan Travel Information
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Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. European plugs with two circular metal pins are in use.
Kyrgyz is the official language followed closely by Russian, which is understood and spoken by almost everyone in Kyrgyzstan.
There is a small risk of malaria from June to November in Kyrgyzstan, mainly in the areas bordering Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, but most cases are in areas rarely frequented by tourists and a generous amount of bug spray should be sufficient to ward off the disease. Medical care and medical supplies are limited and it may be difficult to find someone who speaks English. Comprehensive medical insurance is advised, which should include air evacuation. Update regular vaccines including the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), varicella (chickenpox), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis and polio vaccines, as well as the yearly flu shot. Some travellers may at risk of contracting hepatitis A and B, typhoid, yellow fever and rabies (when coming into contact with animals); and should therefore seek the appropriate vaccinations and take the necessary medical precautions.
Tips of 10% will occasionally be included in bills.
Visitors are often a target for muggings and theft, mainly in the cities, but also occurring in the rural areas. It is therefore not advisable to display wealth, take unofficial taxis or public transport, or walk in unlit areas at night. There is a low threat of terrorist activity particularly in the south west. The political situation is tense due in part to continuing high levels of corruption and crime, and all demonstrations should be avoided. Tensions also exist over recognition of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek borders and most governments advise against travel to the Ferghana Valley area, as well as along the Tajik-Kyrgyz border. While major cities such as Bishkek and the Issyk-Kul region are fairly stable, the situation could deteriorate rapidly in any area of the country. Avalanches and mudslides in mountainous areas are common in the spring with the snow melt, and this leads to frequent road closures and disruption to transport. There is often a high risk of earthquakes.
Identification should be carried by travellers at all time while visiting Kyrgyzstan. Although Kyrgyzstan is a secular state, most Kyrgyz people are Muslim and visitors should respect local customs, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan. Dress is conservative. It is bad etiquette to take photos of people, particularly women, without their permission. Shoes must be removed when entering a yurt (nomad's tent), and refusing an offer of kumys (fermented horse milk) might cause offence. Homosexuality is frowned upon.
Generally most people speak Russian and most business is carried out in Russian in Kyrgyzstan; translators are available. Business hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, Saturday 9am to 1pm.
The international dialling code for Kyrgyzstan is +996. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the UK). City codes for Bishkek and Osh are (0)312 and (0)322 respectively. Mobile coverage is fairly widespread and local SIM cards are easy to purchase. Internet is accessible and free wifi is available in hotels and cafes in major tourist areas.
Adults over 18 may bring the following into Kyrgyzstan without paying duty: 200 cigarettes or 250g tobacco products, 3 litres of alcohol (if over 21 years), and perfume for personal use.
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