A three-and-a-half- to four-hour drive will take you from Bishkek to Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan. This town is located at the huge lake, called Issyk Kul. It's not yet fully appreciated by backpacking travelers, because options for Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan hostels are extremely limited.
It's fairly easy to get to Cholpon-Ata. From the capital you can take a taxi or one of the several mini-buses, called marshrutkas, and there is even a train that runs to Balykchy. The town has two bus terminals, one with marshrutkas that go to Bishkek, the other one to go to Karakol.
Cholpon-Ata's main visitors are Russians or Kazachs. They all tend to find accommodation in hotels, guesthouses, or homestays. Most backpackers only stay for one or at most two nights, and they all end up at the same place -- there isn't really much choice in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan hostels for them. Maybe the increase of Western tourism will encourage people to open up more hostels in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan, but at the moment this one is enough. When choosing accommodation, it's wise to look for a place near the main road. That way you'll be close to the souvenir shops, mini-markets, and tour providers.
Most people visit the area because the city gives easy access to the lake. It's a bit harder to go swimming when staying in Karakol, for example. Nevertheless the region has more to offer. One unique attraction are the petroglyphs, a small domain with really old rock drawings and carvings that's well worth a visit, as it is very cheap and a pleasant walk from the main road. There is also a holy center which is quite beautiful to see.
If you get tired of Bishkek's heat and traffic, just head out to Cholpon-Ata and take a refreshing dive in the lake. Beaches are a bit crowded at times, but there are fun water activities and the view from the beach over the lake to the mountains is just breathtaking. Do not worry about accommodation; your chosen Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan hostel definitely has room for you.
Hi, I'm Margaret,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Cholpon-Ata hostels. Welcome.