There are not many countries left on this planet still off the international tourist radar. Kyrgyzstan is one of them. Search it on booking.com and you will find barely any results. The inner Asian country is beautiful beyond belief, but due to its lack of ouristic infrastructure, you really have to pack wisely.
Normally I am not a big fan of packing lists. Any person with common sense knows what to pack for a week in the Caribbean or New York. Kyrgyzstan is different. Different because it essentially boils down to: You won’t have what you didn’t pack. Big stores are rare and limited to a handful of bigger cities. There is no H&M, Zara or Primark either, where you could easily stock up some basic shirts or underwear. Hotels virtually don’t exist outside the capital, and I doubt there exists a word for laundry parlor in Kyrgyz.
Things are changing in Kyrgyzstan, but change is slow. So if you plan to visit the country (if you are still in doubt, read my list of 20 amazing experiences to have in Kyrgyzstan) these are the items you should definitely pack for Kyrgyzstan:
Note: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. I do not recommend products I have not reviewed thoroughly myself.
There are so many beautiful mountains, hills, and treks around Kyrgyzstan, you’d need more than a lifetime to see them all. Packing a pair of very comfortable hiking shoes (above your ankles) is more than recommended. Mountains reach up to 7,000 meters of altitude and more and even the capital is located 700 meters above the sea level. Walking sticks might be a good idea as well.
2Big backpack or easily carriable suitcase
You will probably be moving around a lot. Porters don’t exist in Kyrgyzstan and if you don’t carry your luggage, nobody else will. So having it all in a big backpack or duffle sack kind of suitcase will be a good idea. Most tours are by car, but they won’t be able to park directly in front of each yurt camp, etc.
You will be hiking a lot. Having a small daypack along to store some water, photo gear, etc. will make your hikes to much more enjoyable. Pack a waterproof cover and look for a very light-weighted one, since you will notice every single gramm in the high altitudes. Personally, I am traveling with a special backpack to store my photography gear and laptop. Found one I am very satisfied with (Here is the link).
If you are girl, you might want to check out this super helpful guide to the best backpack for women, as I am honestly am not an expert in that particular area. ;-)
Kyrgyzstan and western hygiene standards don’t go together. Everything will be somewhat dirty. Absolutely don’t eat anything that wasn’t cooked (or isn’t hot anymore). Kyrgyz love to prepare salads hours in advance and leave it standing on the table, the same applies for cookies, bread and basically any other foodstuff you will find on most (rather overloaded) dinner tables.
Only drink tea (out of clean!!! china) or bottled water and skip the rest. Absolutely don’t try Kumus (fermented horse milk) or any other non-boiled drink you will find at every street corner. That being said:
- Bring strong anti-diarrhea medicine
- Bring Hand Sanitizer
There are steripens and sterilizing tablets for water, but truth be told a lot of the freshwater you find in the many rivers and streams is not exactly very clean, often very sandy or chalky.
Other than that you really should take a well-stocked travel pharmacy bag along.
- Band-Aid (plaster)
- one-way syringes
- something against a cold
- a simple fever Thermometer
- Blister Plasters
The next pharmacy might be a two hour’s drive (or a day’s ride away). Best ask your doctor what you need.