Museums and Historical Sites
Visit South Shore's main historical sites.
Undeveloped during the Soviet era and left to maintain its cultural heritage, myths and lore, the South Shore of Lake Issyk-Kul emerges today as a destination where Kyrgyz history and traditions live strong. The museums, historic ruins, and cultural heritage villages along the South Shore provide travelers with a timeline of historic moments that shaped Central Asia, some of which pre-date the Silk Road.
To best plan your stay in the region, find a guest house or yurt camp near the natural attractions, cultural activities, and museums that interest you most. Then it’s quite easy to arrange either independent transportation to the these sites (your accommodation can help arrange a private taxi or marshrutka), or book a guided tour through Destination South Shore. The map below provides you with basic information on the location of South Shore's main museums and attractions, and nearby accommodation and food options.
Note: To help you plan your visit we have provided taxi and marshrutka information to and from Bokonbaevo, as well as a Google Map with all sites in the region marked. Your costs will vary when booking transportation from a yurt camp, guesthouse, or a village other than Bokonbaevo. Use the maps linked below to locate these museums and heritage sites along the South Shore.
Manjyly-Ata Sacred Springs
Manjyly-Ata is a place known to locals for the curative powers of its sacred springs. At first glance, it looks like a dry, desert landscape, but in the dips and valleys between the grassy knolls, small streams bring life into the soil. Each of the 17 springs has its own name, specific taste, and ailments its curative waters are purported to treat — from blood diseases to joint pain to infertility. Discover the healing powers by wandering the many crisscrossing paths over the clay hills, then test and reflect under the shade of a sacred willow tree. Located between Bokonbaevo and Kajy-Say, Manjyly-Ata is easily visited on a day trip from Bokonbaevo. Or, you can spend the night at the nearby Manjyly-Ata Yurt Camp if you wish to explore the local hills and surroundings some more.
How to visit Manjyly-Ata: Located between the villages of Kaji-Say and Ton. 500 som return for taxi from Bokonbaevo, including a negotiated wait time. You can also take a marshrutka from Bokonbaevo towards Kaji-Say or Karakol and ask to be let off on the road by Manjyly-Ata and then walk to the entrance from there. Exact location here.
Cost: No entrance fee.
Tuura-Suu Village: Kan Dobo Museum and Ruins
Tuura-Suu Village is fit for lovers of archaeology and history. This village becomes your informal host as you uncover the unique history of Kan Dobo, once one of the country’s largest fortifications during the Kara-Khanid times (8th to the 12th centuries). The settlement featured a labyrinthine layout which over the years has yielded treasures — golden figures, detailed sculptures, bone buttons, vases, ancient coins, and ancient equestrian equipment. While most of the ruins are gone, the museum showcases artifacts recovered from the site and is located at the local village school. This unique location means school children act as your hosts and share with you the legends of their ancestors.
How to visit Tuura-Suu and Kan Dobo Citadel: Only reachable by private taxi; 600 som roundtrip from Bokonbaevo. Here is the location of Kan Dobo Citadel.
Cost: No fee to visit the museum and ruins.
Kyzyl-Tuu Village: Master Yurt Builders and Felt Museum
The 2,000 residents of Kyzyl-Tuu village have preserved an important part of Kyrgyzstan’s nomadic culture by producing traditional crafts employing the techniques and materials of their ancestors. Many locals also continue to follow Kyrgyz and nomadic traditions in their daily lives. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, when they were able to embrace their cultural heritage once again, villagers revived ancient tools, traditions, and clothing. During the summer months, villagers conduct traditional thematic events to better share with travelers the importance of Kyrgyzstan’s nomadic culture (check the Event Calendar for dates and events). Locals also produce complete yurts — both the wooden components as well as the felt), and in 2017, local yurt-builders set the world record for speed building a yurt at the World Nomad Games — from start to finish in less than 10 minutes!
Note: The Felt Museum is under reconstruction and will reopen in 2019. Yurt-building shows are bookable, however, and are demonstrated in the museum yard.
Visit Kyzyl-Tuu Village and Felt Museum: Located 30km from Bokonbaevo along the route to Karakol. From the center of Bokonabaevo take a marshrutka to Balykchy for 100 som one way. Private taxi from Bokonbaevo costs 130 som per person, one way. Exact location here.
Cost: One-hour yurt-building shows are available on-request for 6,500 som/group or 1,300 som/person. Book our Master Builders Yurt-Building Tour for a complete experience that includes round-trip transportation from Bokonbaevo and an English-speaking guide.
Museum Art Studio Ton Motives, Bokonbaevo
This art museum and gallery in Bokonbaevo showcases “miracles hidden in the stone” through a gallery of paintings by Karypbek Ryskeldiev Aitbaevichan, an artist who gathers inspiration from found object stones and the symbols and stories which appear to be held within them. The artist developed a very unusual style of work. His painting takes new life when you understand the history of the stone and the symbolism that inspired him to create his companion work of art. Incredibly, he spent several decades amassing a collection of more than a million stones. A small historical section at the back of the museum includes elements from the citadel, traditional canons, kymyz, and other objects. The artist is also actively involved with school children and teaching painting to the next generation of local artists.
Find the museum: 53, Atakana street, Bokonbaevo (in the center of the city, close to the statue of victory); open weekdays from 9:00 to 18:00. Exact location here.
Cost: No entrance fee