Plan Your Trip
The information you need to plan your trip to South Shore.
Lake Issyk-Kul is located in the northeastern part of Kyrgyzstan, and offers a stunning 669 kilometers of shoreline. Travelers interested in experiencing nomadic culture and Kyrgyz heritage head to the lake's southern shore, an area referred to simply as Shore Shore. It's here that the region's unique history — once a stop on the storied Silk Road and later shunned by the Soviet Union — enabled it to assume the role as steward of Kyrgyzstan's most beloved nomadic and cultural traditions.
The length of the region's northern border runs for 226 kilometers along the southern shore of the lake — from the town of Balykchy in the west to Karakol in the east. The breadth of the region extends from the lake shore all the way into the Terskey Ala-Too range of the Tian Shan Mountains. The region is central to the routes that most independent travelers take through Kyrgyzstan, making it easy to incorporate key South Shore experiences — fascinating cultural tours, unusual natural attractions, dynamic yurt camps, and unique trekking opportunities — into any trip.
Here’s what every independent traveler should know when planning a trip through the heartland of Kyrgyzstan's nomadic culture.
We cover all of the nitty-gritty practical details that you'll need to know in order to ensure a smooth, easy experience in South Shore. From how to secure your visa before arriving to the best way to manage your money when in the South Shore, the information we cover here is ideal and essential for independent travelers in the region. You'll also find information on buying a SIM card in Bokonbaevo, staying safe, obtaining medical care, and more.
South Shore appears intimidating at first for some travelers since it's not a city, but rather a region whose best activities and sites are spread throughout. However, armed with accurate English-language information, it's surprisingly easy to plan a trip through the region, ensuring that you have a place to stay every night that is convenient to the best treks, sites, and cultural activities. Our transportation page provides precise information on marshrutka routes, times, and prices. We also share a detailed breakdown of common transportation and how to use it in Kyrgyzstan. You'll want to bookmark this page while you're visiting South Shore so you can best plan your trip.
The Kyrgyz people are known for hospitality, and that proves true in South Shore. Guesthouses and hotels offer travelers comfort and support during their trip at every level of budget. The region is also a preferred destination for yurt camp experiences. These, too, are available at a range of prices and feature a range of amenities. Some yurt camps offer a rustic back-to-nature appeal, while others provide hot running water, saunas, and more. We offer a wide selection of accommodation options spread throughout the region. Use our directory to find a great place to stay in South Shore.
Travelers in the South Shore most often book meals at their yurt camp or guesthouse, allowing them a unique dining experience where they are able to sample a wide range of delicious traditional nomadic meals throughout their time in the South Shore. Bokonbaevo offers small cafes and restaurants, and some villages along the shoreline will offer cafes, informal eateries, and snack stalls. Use this page to learn how to plan your meals, how to eat vegetarian in South Shore, and which traditional foods you should sample on your visit.
South Shore is a destination surrounded by other incredible cities, villages, and experiences. Since we know you just might want to head elsewhere once you've experienced the region's nomadic culture, this page outlines other resources you need to plan your onward travels. Perhaps you're dreaming of a food crawl across Central Asian cuisines, or you hope to ride a horse deep into the mountains. No matter your goals, we've collected the English-language information to help you experience the best of Kyrgyzstan.