In Bishkek, Osh and Alamedin bazaars are popular for food and handicrafts. There are several souvenir crafts shops and galleries along Chui and Manas Avenue and also a shop in the Art Gallery that sells paintings and traditional Kyrgyz products. One of the most authentic souvenirs to bring back from Kyrgyzstan is an embroidered shyrdak, the traditional Kyrgyz felt rug used in yurts. Also popular are embroidered Kyrgyz felt hats (kalpak), leather items, jewellery and chess sets with traditional Kyrgyz figures. Traditional handicrafts produced by Kyrgyzstan’s Community Based Tourism initiative (www.cbtkyrgyzstan.kg) can be purchased at their Bishkek outlet at Gorky 65. TsUM, Bishkek’s main department store, also has a decent selection of local crafts and souvenirs on its fourth floor. Antiques, or anything over 30 years old, require a special export certificate.
Mon-Sat 0900-1800, usually closing for an hour at lunch between 1300 and 14.00. Bishkek’s main bazaars are busiest at weekends, especially Sundays.
Nightlife in Kyrgyzstan
Bishkek has by far the best nightlife in the country. Both Russian and European operas and ballets are performed at the State Opera and Ballet Theatre. The Russian Drama Theatre has Russian-language productions, while the State Academic Drama Theatre stages work in the Kyrgyz language. The State Philharmonic hosts classical music concerts as well as pop and folklore events. Bishkek also has many discos and nightclubs. These are best approached with caution as drunken attacks on foreigners are not unheard of.
Elsewhere in the country, things are very quiet at night, although some restaurants turn into dancehalls in places like Karakol or Naryn after nightfall.