Bishkek hit my destiny to be just another city on another journey on this ball we are on. Bishkek re-ignited my travel spark and I fell in love with this city. Yes I banged them all out in one day, assuming, like most cities, I’d only be here for 2/3 days and needed to make the most of it.
I’m a tough backpacker to impress these days, I’ve seen it all before. From my textbook border crossing from Almaty in Kazakhstan to my base at the superb Apple Hostel Bishkek, I started sightseeing early – on my second day I got up early and backpacked my way through all the main sights.
As my travel repertoire gained new momentum by reaching Central Asia in December 2015, I was convinced nowhere here could really charm or impress me.
However on my first day here, within the first 24 hours, I knew I would be staying put just a little bit longer! Bishkek made a perfect base to get visas for elsewhere and because Kyrgyzstan borders 4 other countries (potentially 6 if you count Gorno Badakhshan and you entangle your way into Uzbek owned-Karakalpakstan as separate), it’s the easiest and best base when backpacking in Central Asia.
And I lingered long, soon winter became the spring.
“Who’d have believed you’d come along.” – Neil Diamond.
My time in the city spanned 5 months in the end (give or take a few trips away) and as I left in April 2016, I jotted down my top sights in the city, and these are the ones that made the list.
I felt like Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill cutting a squad down to 23 players, doing this, as I whittled 27 sights down to a textbook top 20.
The centre-piece of the city, of the nation, Ala Too is a calm and chilled out square from which to get your bearings in the downtown part of Bishkek.
It’s rare for a backpacker to pass through the city without at least walking past Ala Too Square.
Lots of major events take place here, it’s also the location of a few other sights on the list including the famous flagpole, the museum and to witness the changing of the guards.
My backpacking buddy Nate told me that the Tajikistan flag in Dushanbe is the world’s tallest flagpole but I mistook what he said for this one here in downtown Bishkek.