Your Unofficial Guide to Kyrgyz Republic

3 Places to Visit in Cholpon-Ata Apart from the Lake

3 Places to Visit in Cholpon-Ata Apart from the Lake

By Anushervon Shoimardonov, Aidai Chekirova and Dinara BakitzhanovaThe authors of this piece are participants of the Media and Debate Camp 2017 organized  in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyz Republic, by the International Debate Education Association in Central Asia (IDEA CA).

Cholpon-Ata is the most popular resort town on the northern coast of Issyk-Kul. But what if you get tired of swimming, or you come out of season? We will tell you about three places that you will remember for a long time that cost less than KGS 100 (USD 1.4). 


Contacts details: +996 (554) 136 904
Work hours: 9 am to 6 pm

Open-air Museum ('The Garden of Stones')

You can see tens of thousands of stones that have cave drawing of hunters and ancient animals in the museum. The territory of the museum occupies 42 hectares — 28 football fields.

The museum is unique with its animal style of stone carving. You can notice prototypes of horns, paws, wings of animals that were hunted by ancient tribes among those. Those images can be found on the patterns of Kyrgyz felt carpets. The ticket price to the museum is KGS 40 (USD 0.6).

Three thousand years ago, our ancestors, Saki, Usuni, used to write on stones. Especially I like drawings of ancient mountain goats that were hunted by sacred leopards. They are carved on the largest stone of the garden — the landmark of the museum. Tourists pay the most attention to that stone. Every year stone carvings are blurred because of the breeze blowing from the lake that grinds stones.
— Kenzhebek Bekiev, the museum сurator

Contacts details: +996 (3943) 421 48
Work hours: 9 am to 5 pm

Historical Museum

Exhibits of the historical museum cover the period from ancient times to the present. They show not only the life of nomads, but also archaeological finds of ancient settlements. Separate exhibition stands devoted to the main Kyrgyz epic, 'Manas'. You can see native plants and animals in the museum. One of the most popular exhibits is a model prototype of the Issyk-Kul lake, which duplicates the mountains and lakes.

A ticket to the museum is KGS 40 (USD 0.6) for local citizens and KGS 80 (USD 1.2) for foreign. You can get a tour in the museum in Kyrgyz, Russian and English for KGS 100 (USD 1.4).

The most popular exhibit of the museum is a ‘tush kiyiz’ (a wall carpet). This exhibit is already 101 years old. It was woven by the 15-year-old boy, whose father was a district elder. This man also adopted a Russian orphan girl. During the rebellion of 1916, when the Russian soldiers came to him, the district elder came out with a girl. She was carrying a white flag. When soldiers saw the girl, they took pity on the man. However, my favorite exhibit is the picture, which is 26 years old. I am myself on the picture during the ceremony of laying a child into a ‘beshik’ (a cradle). This was the Nooruz holiday of 1991. I was 20 years old and my son was just born. This picture is important to me as a memory.
— Asel Soodukeeva, the museum's senior guide

Cholpon-Ata's Abandoned Airport

One of the best views of the lake opens from the runway of the old Cholpon-Ata airport. It is worth going to the western outskirts of the city where it is located. The airport was used until the beginning of the nineties. Then it was closed due to non-compliance with safety standards.

The airport stopped working in 1991-1992. A new international airport opened in the Tamchi village. I saw athletes from Russia often exercising on the runway. Now it’s a recreation area for bikers, motorcyclists and skaters who ride here in the evenings.
— Zamir Usenbayev, a local resident
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