People You’ll Meet in Kyrgyzstan

When I travel to different countries, yes, I come back with stories about the beautiful places I visited and crazy experiences I had, but some of the coolest moments in my travels have been unexpected, pleasant conversations with people I met along the way. Kyrgyzstan is no different.  It’s gorgeous and affords a lot of opportunities for interesting things to do, but the cherry on top is the people that you’ll meet and come back with stories of or even long term friendships. 

Here are some people you might encounter along your journey through Kyrgyzstan.

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Market Sellers

Bazars are crazy, cool places in Kyrgyzstan’s villages and cities. On the weekend they’re usually crowded of course and to make your way through the throngs, an acceptance of lack of personal space will help you as you inevitably rub shoulders with lots of folks. The weekdays aren’t so bad though if you’re trying to avoid crowds. Anyway, there are lots of different people selling their goods at the bazars and you’ll thoroughly enjoy doing the barter dance with sellers if you’re a bargain hunter. I remember I bought some stuff from an elderly Kyrgyz man that, after finishing our transaction, started up a friendly conversation that included humbly inquiring about my marital status in case I was in need of his matchmaking services.  

Guest House Owners

Guest houses (or hostels if you will) all throughout Kyrgyzstan are run by some really sweet people. One lady that ran a guest house in a village I was passing through made a hobby out of collecting exotic plants and flowers to plant in the guest house garden which surrounded an outdoor eating platform for guests.  In Kyrgyzstan, hospitality is really important, so guest house owners take care of people really well. Often times, families live in their guest houses as well or the owners employ caretakers, so if you need something, someone’s always around. They make great homemade food and are usually very flexible with the needs of their guests.  



If you’re walking down the city streets of Bishkek when the weather is nice and warm, you’ll notice older women, babushkas, selling items on the side of the road. They might be selling knit socks, used books, homemade jam, or various other odds and ends to make a few extra som. I particularly enjoy buying from these ladies because while they’ll obviously try to make a sale if you stop to look at their stuff, I’ve never found them to be too pushy and enjoy discussing their items with them. Not to mention, their jam is usually out of this world! 

Rocco Stecher

Nomads & Shepherd Boys

If you’re checking out the countryside or in transit between cities, you’ll notice nomadic Kyrgyz families with a yurt set up by the side of the road selling national dishes to hungry travelers. There are some good national dishes to be had there! If you’re lucky, you might see them milking their horses to make the Kyrgyz national drink, kymyz (fermented mare’s milk.) You’ll also see young boys on donkeys or horses herding sheep through the pastures. I love taking pictures of these guys and they usually love it when foreigners take their picture and ham it up for the camera! 

Taxi Drivers

I can’t even count the number of fascinating conversations I’ve had with taxi drivers in Kyrgyzstan. Many of them enjoy chatting and asking questions about where travelers are from and whatnot. I was once in a taxi where the driver was trying to communicate with a foreigner who spoke very little Russian, so the taxi driver drew on his limited knowledge of 4 different languages to have a multi-lingual conversation that they could both understand. The crazy thing was, it worked! By the end, they were laughing together, exchanged business cards, and parted with a friendly handshake. 


Of course there are plenty more people to meet in Kyrgyzstan. There are eagle hunters, beekeepers, farmers, businessmen, trekking guides, expats, national drink sellers, and the list goes on. One thing is for sure though, as a whole, people in Kyrgyzstan are very friendly, so whoever you cross paths with will certainly enrich your experience as you make your way across Kyrgyzstan.