Most resorts, guesthouses, and hotels in Kyrgyzstan are located around Lake Issyk Kul, the largest alpine lake in Kyrgyzstan and the second largest alpine lake in the world (6,236 sq. km). Lake IssukKul is a popular area because of its extensive shoreline, brilliant blue waters, and snowcapped mountain backdrop, earning itself the name “the Pearl of Kyrgyzstan.” Summer temperatures are much more comfortable at the lake than in other major cities around Kyrgyzstan and there are a number of activities to take part in around the area such as swimming, water sports, hiking, cycling, and horseback riding. Resorts around the lake provide a variety of activities/services to guests including swimming pools, massage parlors, tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts, spa services, bowling centers, and saunas. Here are some popular resort towns around the lake:
Karakol is a city off the eastern shore of Lake Issyk Kul. It’s the 4th largest city in Kyrgyzstan, so there are plenty of places to stay as well as lots of restaurants and shops. Some of the most popular places to visit in the city are the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox church, a Dungan Mosque, built without the use of a single nail, as well as several museums and bazaars.
Cholpon-Ata is a city on the lake’s northern shore. Cholpon-Ata has a large outdoor petroglyph museum and a cultural center called Ruh Ordo. The cultural center features a building that represents the beliefs from 5 different religions in one place. Cholpon-Ata is one of the larger resort areas around the lake and as such, provides a wider range of restaurants and accommodations.
There are several villages with nice resorts around the lake. These villages don’t provide as much variety in the way of restaurants and shops as the larger cities, but they do provide a more down-to-earth experience of life in Kyrgyzstan and lots of good national cuisine. Villages offer a quieter, more peaceful environment for a vacation and allow travelers a chance to see more traditional Kyrgyz culture when they explore the area. Some villages scattered around the lake are: Sary-Oi, Kara-Oi, Bolon-Sogotu, Bolon-Dolonotu, Chok-Tal, Tamchy, Bostery, Tamga and Darkhan.