If you’ve decided to break the norm and go to a less visited location, then you are up for a big surprise. The Silk Road, as well as the alpine lakes and mountains are going to be breathtaking, so if you know what to visit, you won’t regret choosing this destination.
Kyrgyzstan is located in Central Asia, South of Kazakhstan and west of China. The scenery will steal your heart, and you will be forever grateful for choosing this location once you stumble upon all of the beauty.
Still, given it’s not such a known location, you’re bound to ask “Is Kyrgyzstan safe to visit?”. Luckily for you, you’ve come to the right place, because this Kyrgyzstan safety guide has the information you need about the situation in the country. Let’s explore these Kyrgyzstan safety travel tips, so you can have a worry-free vacation.
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Kyrgyzstan
Overall Risks in Kyrgyzstan: MEDIUM
Even though the country is not the worst when it comes to safety, there are surely some concerns you should familiarize yourself with. For instance, at the border between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, there have been security incidents in the past, so they are not unlikely to happen.
Conversely, terrorist attacks can’t be ruled out either, as there were some attacks in the past that have drawn attention to themselves. These attacks could be indiscriminate, so even if you’re enjoying your vacation and having quality moments, terrorists won’t make an exception.
In addition, there are clashes along the Kyrgyz-Tajik border, and there’s a risk of violence near that area. There were situations where people were killed around there, so the area is not entirely safe to be in.
Also, let’s not forget about the natural disasters, because they can be a concern as well. Earthquakes are occasionally taking place in Kyrgyzstan, thus visitors should be aware of this fact before they purchase the plane tickets.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Kyrgyzstan: MEDIUM
Despite being something that is possible in every country, you’re at more risk in a foreign country because of your vulnerability and lack of knowledge about how things work. When it comes to that kind of things, asking yourself “How safe is Kyrgyzstan for tourists?” is not wrong. After all, the last thing you want to happen during a trip is being stripped of your belongings in the middle of a foreign place.
In Bishkek, particularly Osh Bazaar, there’s a risk of pickpocketing, because mean people are waiting for the right opportunity to strike. Moreover, there are situations when people are mugged, and sometimes the situation can quickly escalate and turn violent. Incidents of this kind usually happen after dark, when people can’t see the perpetrator’s face that well, or they’re alone.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Kyrgyzstan?
In order to keep yourself safe from this type of incident, make sure that if you are in crowded places, you are wary of your surroundings. Keep an eye on everyone surrounding you, hold your bag/handbag tightly in front of you, and protect your pockets, if there’s anything of value inside.
Also, endure that you return to your accommodation after dark, so you’re not targeted by thieves. If you must go out after dark, be very careful, and if possible, don’t go alone.
Another good way to ensure that your possessions don’t end up in the hands of unscrupulous people, don’t take everything with you. Take a certain amount of money with you, and put the others somewhere safe, so in case anything happens, you have some spare money. Don’t try to fight/resist the attacker, because it may turn badly, and your safety is the most relevant thing to consider.
Scam Risk in Kyrgyzstan: LOW to MEDIUM
You’ve probably seen situations like this, so it makes you ask “Is Kyrgyzstan safe to visit regarding scammers?”. Scammers can operate by being over-friendly and offering to help you, while in reality they are trying to take your cash. They may have some friends who are checking your pockets while the other distracts you.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Kyrgyzstan?
Therefore, make sure to stay away from such people, and be vigilant and keep an eye on your surroundings. That doesn’t mean you should be terrified of everyone, but you shouldn’t take stuff for granted either.
Kidnapping Risk in Kyrgyzstan: LOW
Even though bride kidnapping is still practiced in some rural areas of Kyrgyzstan, we doubt that a local will try to kidnap a foreigner - still, you should be careful when traveling throughout the country, especially while in villages.
There are no recent reports telling of kidnappings of tourists, as most criminals rely on mugging that sometimes turns violent. In short, you should not be worried about being kidnapped - instead, worry more about thief and pickpockets, as you are more likely to encounter this type of situations than kidnappings.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in Kyrgyzstan?
As mentioned before, you should be extremely careful when visiting a village or remote area. On the other hand, while you are in a city/ town, we recommend you to stick to areas that are populated by either tourists or locals, and to not go in areas that have a bad reputation.
Naturally, as you are roaming through a foreign country, we recommend you to stay indoors after sunset - keep in mind that most muggings do occur during the night and that they do tend to escalate. As you may never know what a criminal is thinking, it is better not to take any risks.
Civil Unrest Risk in Kyrgyzstan: LOW to MEDIUM
Protests and demonstrations are likely to happen, and they occur both in central Bishkek and in other parts of the country. There was a lot of violence in the past regarding the political situation in the country. For instance, in June 2010, an inter-ethnic violence erupted in southern Kyrgyzstan, which has left over 400 people dead and 100,000 displaced.
If there are any demonstrations taking place during your time spend in Kyrgyzstan, make sure to avoid them at all costs. They can turn into a mess in certain situations, thus you don’t want to be caught in something of that sort.
Terrorism Risk in Kyrgyzstan: LOW to MEDIUM
If you were wondering “Is Kyrgyzstan safe to visit regarding terrorism?”, you are just about to find the answer.
Even though the risk is not that high, you should be aware that terrorist attacks can’t be rules out. Violence and attacks have been taking place in some areas, particularly South and West of Osh. There was a suicide bomb attack against the Chinese Embassy on Bishkek’s outskirts back in 2016, reportedly carried out by the Turkestan Islamic Party.
- How to avoid terrorism in Kyrgyzstan?
Make sure you are always keeping an eye out in public, as attacks don’t make difference between locals and tourists, so you may be a collateral victim. Pay attention to the security announcements by the authorities, and be careful in public spaces and near public buildings.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Kyrgyzstan: LOW to MEDIUM
If your concern was “Is Kyrgyzstan safe for solo women travelers?”, then you’re lucky, because the country is friendly to its female tourists. Even though things are always bound to happen and you should still stay alert everywhere, the environment is relatively safe even for women. Compared to other countries, you don’t have to worry that much there.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler?
However, make sure to check the dress code and dress accordingly, because you don’t know how things are going to escalate. Given you may already draw attention to yourself considering you could look different than the usual local woman, you should keep the attention to a minimum. So, dressing properly is recommended. You should also be careful when you’re alone after dark, or preferably avoid going out by that time.
Rape Risk in Kyrgyzstan: LOW to MEDIUM
Back in 2010, the rape rate of Kyrgyzstan was at around 5.9 cases per 100,000 population - now, there are little reports telling of such cases, especially when taking tourists into consideration. Most of the rape cases that occur in this country are resulted from the bride kidnapping tradition, so to call it.
In this respect, you have little to worry about when it comes to rape - however, keep in mind that muggings and robberies can escalate and turn violent, especially if you are traveling alone. Here's how you can avoid being a victim.
- How to avoid getting raped in Kyrgyzstan?
As always, it is recommended that you do not travel alone - always have someone accompany you, especially if you plan to travel into remote areas/ villages. Moreover, it is advised that you stay within your accommodation after sunset.
Obviously, you should try your best to avoid the bad-reputed areas of the city/ town you are in - this includes any shady alleys and the suburbs. If you consider these tips while traveling through Kyrgyzstan, you should not have any problems - just consider your path and keep an eye out for danger.
Risks for People Traveling with Children in Kyrgyzstan: LOW to MEDIUM
When it comes to traveling with your children, there are little to no serious incidents that you should be worried about - naturally, the only thing that may come as an issue is you child getting lost within a crowd or in a store.
Moreover, if you plan on driving while in this country, be aware of the fact that some trips can be quite long, given the fact that petrol stations are hard to find in rural areas. Thus, you may need to pack up extra things, as in more to keep your children distracted and well fed, so to say. Furthermore, a long trip may cause them to be distressed, which can, in turn, make it harder for you to focus on your trip on or them.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
Taking into account the previously mentioned, we recommend you to really prepare for your trip - even if you are staying only within a city/ town. You would also want someone keep an eye on your children at all times - if you know you are going to engage in long road trips, it is better to have one of your friends/ relatives come with you so that you can always rely on someone taking care of your children.
If you are traveling alone, keep an eye out on your surroundings - if a thief tries to rob you, you'll have to decide between trying to run after them or staying put and taking care of your child. This is yet another reason for which we recommend you to not be alone.
Natural Disaster Risks in Kyrgyzstan: MEDIUM
Some places have a higher risk of natural disasters than others, and while Kyrgyzstan is not the worst in this regard, there are some moments where the ground may shake. Earthquakes are possible, and tremors are frequent, so you should inform yourself about the safety in case such a situation unfolds.
If you’re going in the mountains, there is a high risk of landslides and avalanches, so you should be very careful. Avalanches and landslides are a particular hazard during the spring, and they usually block roads.
Transportation Risks in Kyrgyzstan: MEDIUM
You can drive on the Kyrgyzstan roads if you have an international driving permit. You should be aware that if you’re in a rural area, petrol stations are limited, and diesel can be unavailable.
If there’s one thing you should know about safety in this country, it’s the fact that you shouldn’t pick hitchhikers. There have been reported incidents of drivers being robbed by the people they picked up, and it’s not the best situation to be in.
If you’re driving during the night, you should take care, because some roads are poorly lit. During winter, roads outside the capital may be blocked by snow.
Try not to flag down taxis, as they may be scammers. Use SMS, telephone or taxi services, as they are more reputable and even have English-speaking dispatchers.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Kyrgyzstan: LOW to MEDIUM
So far, there are no reports telling of spiked drinks being used in Kyrgyzstan's night-clubs, pubs, or bars. However, this risks cannot be taken out of consideration. Therefore, while in such a facility, you should always keep an eye on your drink and refuse any drinks from strangers.
If you plan to stay up late, so to say, it is better to have someone accompany you - someone that knows where your accommodation is and that you fully trust. There is the chance that you might be approaches, harassed, pickpocketed, or even assaulted.
Naturally, if the situation turns red, so to say, it is better to leave - in this respect, we refer to cases such as fights, violent people, or those that seem to keep their eye too much on you.
However, given the fact that there are little to no reports of aggression towards tourists, you can have fun while in a night-club, pub, or bar. Just keep an eye on your surroundings and be careful who you're talking to.
Health Risks in Kyrgyzstan
When it comes to health and health risks, be ware of the fact that Kyrgyzstan's medical facilities are not as developed when compared to the rest of the world. However, if you think that you may need medical assistance or treatment, we recommend you to come equipped with enough funds to cover the medicine/ treatment that you may need.
Naturally, you should have proper travel health insurance set up before traveling.
The emergency medical assistance number is 103 - if you are referred for treatment to a medical facility, it is advised that you contact your medical assistance/ insurance company as soon as possible.
List of Vaccines You Need in Kyrgyzstan
Weeks before your trip, you should consider checking in with your doctor for any possible vaccines you may need before you step on foreign soil. Here are some that you may require:
- Routine vaccines
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Yellow Fever
Concluding Remarks: Is Kyrgyzstan Safe to Visit?
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with these Kyrgyzstan safety travel tips, you can alone decide whether choosing it as your next destination is any good. Even though it’s not a country with such a bad situation in comparison to other places, there are certainly risks to consider.
Natural disasters, crime, terrorism, road travel and many others are things you should take into account before your plane takes off. While it doesn’t mean that something will most certainly happen, you can’t sugarcoat anything, thus being aware of the involved risks could come in handy.
Hopefully, you’ve found this Kyrgyzstan safety guide helpful, and you will have an unforgettable vacation in a country with breathtaking sceneries.