Is it possible for a woman to travel alone in Kyrgyzstan?

Is it safe for a woman to travel alone in Kyrgyzstan?

Short hike in Konorchok

If you delve a little into the culture and customs of the country then this should not be a problem.  Public drunkenness and walking around topless will cause problems in many countries, including in Kyrgyzstan.  To know what is and what is not possible, here is some background information.

Life, customs and habits of women in Kyrgyzstan

 Living in the city. There is a big difference between city and countryside.  Especially in cities like Bishkek and Karakol, life, especially at first glance, is very similar to what we are used to in the West. Women dress modernly, often have a job and children go to daycare at an early age.  All younger people have a mobile phone, are on Facebook, TikTok and Instagram, and this obviously influences their views and lifestyle.  Here you can travel quietly alone by public transport, go shopping, have a drink on a terrace or visit a concert or museum.   However, it is not advisable to walk after dark in remote parts of the city that often do not have streetlights. In such cases it is better to take a taxi.  There are several on-line taxi apps that work efficiently.  Petty crime certainly does occur. You should be suspicious of pickpockets, especially on busy streets, in crowded buses and in the bazaars.  Wear your backpack or bag on your stomach and not on your back, and do not carry expensive equipment, cameras and laptops in plain view.

In the countryside it is different.  Here the woman is the one who takes care of the house, children and animals.  In the house the woman is the boss.  A man’s world is outside the home and a women’s world is inside the house.  Most men do not easily get involved in women’s affairs and vice versa.   As a woman travelling alone it is best to contact women.  They will certainly help you if necessary, or tell a man to help you.

Hospitality is characteristic of Kyrgyz society.  When you are a guest, or stay with someone, he/she feels responsible for you.  This dates back to the time when the Kyrgyz were full-time nomads.  Back then people were dependent on each other and had to be able to count on the help of other wandering nomads.  Thus hospitality was a form of mutual aid.  You will still find this hospitable attitude in the countryside.  Unfortunately there are also tourists who abuse this and expect to be able to spend the night for free.

The family is of extreme importance to the Kyrgyz.  Due to the lack of social services, people have to rely on the family for help, and also for financial support. Uncles and aunts, siblings and cousins are also expected to assist in emergencies and contribute financially to weddings and funerals.

Elderly people are treated with respect.  A young person will not easily contradict someone older, even if he/she disagrees.  Saying ‘no’ straight out is considered to be rude.  This makes it difficult for a Kyrgyz to refuse something to an elderly person or guest.  In such circumstances there will be either no response or an evasive answer.

If you delve into the local way of life, customs and habits, and bear them in mind, Kyrgyzstan is a wonderful holiday destination for a woman travelling alone.  Ecotour is happy to organise an unforgettable tour for you.

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Nomadic way of Life
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