Kyrgyzstan Risk Report
Security travel advice for Kyrgyzstan
Threat level: Medium
The current travel safety advice is to be aware, as political unrest in rife throughout the country. There have been some reports of terrorism in the country but the underlying threat is not immense. In 2015, the Kyrgyzstani security forces conducted a number of anti-terrorism operations which lead to the death of many suspects and some law enforcement officials too.
You should remain vigilant around the country’s borders as these are often areas of dispute which can lead to clashes between countries along the border.
Recent Security Risk Events
Protests and demonstrations frequently break out in the capital and around political buildings in the country, often with very little notice. Although many of these protests intend to be peaceful, they can often turn violent and aggressive so you should avoid such areas.
The border between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan is not clearly demarcated, and as such tensions between the two countries have arisen. Uzbekistan stationed around 40 soldiers on the border in 2016 to which Kyrgyzstan retaliated by employing its own troops. The border joining Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan is also disputed and there can sometimes be clashes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. In an exchange of gunfire in 2014, a Tajik citizen was killed in crossfire. You should exercise extreme caution if you are crossing the border.
In 2010, there was a serious inter-ethnic violence incident in southern Kyrgyzstan which resulted in 400 fatalities and over 100,000 citizens displaced.
On the 30th of August 2016, a suicide bomber drove his car into the Chinese embassy in Bishkek. The explosion injured three employees. It was reported that the Turkestan Islamic Party was responsible for the attack.
Muggings and theft are regular occurrences, and crime is the biggest threat to travellers. You should take extra care during your travels, particularly at night time. You should not display large amounts of money or signs of wealth when travelling in Kyrgyzstan in order to reduce the likelihood of muggings.
Kyrgyzstan has close international relations with countries such as Kazakhstan and Russia based on their communal membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States. It also enjoys positive relations with the likes of Turkey who was the first country to recognise its independence. It is a member of the OSCE, the CIS, and the United Nations.
Kyrgyzstan’s diplomatic relations with neighbouring Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are strained due to disputes in ownership of borders.
The borders of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are liable to closures without warning, especially if there is an incident between the countries at the border. You should check in advance if you plan to travel via these borders. You should use only official crossing points in the area as there is a risk of land mines at unrecognised crossing points.
Drink-driving and hit and runs are big problems in the country so you must ensure you are alert when driving. Pot holes and poor lighting, even in the large cities, are common on the roads and can cause accidents if you do not drive with caution. Be aware that local drivers may not stop at red lights, however do not follow them if they choose to do this.
You must have an international driving permit as well as a valid driving licence issued in your country in order to hire or drive a vehicle in Kyrgyzstan. If you are hiring a vehicle, it is advised that you do not hand over your passport as a deposit. Make sure you are fully aware of the fine print when hiring a vehicle, especially with regards to damage to the vehicle.
Public transport is not reliable and can get very crowded. Be vigilant in taxis too as drivers often charge more if you do not negotiate a price beforehand. Do not use unlicensed taxis, or get into a taxi that already contains a passenger.
Time now in Bishkek:
If your visit is less than 60 days, most foreign nationals including British, American and Canadians will be able to enter the country without requiring a visa. The validity of your passport should extend to at least three months beyond your intended stay. If you are unsure whether you require a visa for Kyrgyzstan, contact your local Kyrgyzstani embassy for more details.
It is advised that visitors to Kyrgyzstan are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers also get Tetanus and Hepatitis A vaccinations.
Although there is no direct risk of Yellow Fever in Kyrgyzstan, if you have been in a country where there is a risk of the disease, or transiting for longer than 12 hours in an at risk country, you will be required to provide a vaccination certificate. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Other health risks
Medical facilities in Kyrgyzstan are not up to Western standard. You may have to travel outside of the country to receive medical treatment and basic medications may not be available. Hospitals and doctors will often expect cash payment before treatment so ensure that you have adequate travel and health insurance.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
Regular tremors mean there is a high risk of earthquakes in Kyrgyzstan. You should ensure that you know the protocol for if you are caught in an earthquake before you travel to the country. You should also remain alert to announcements from local authorities and the Kyrgyzstani government.
U.S. Embassy Bishkek
171 Prospect Mira,
Telephone: +996 312 551 241
Telephone (Out of hours): +996 312 551 262
British Embassy Kyrgyz Republic
21 Erkindik Boulevard,
Telephone: +996 312 303 637
Consular enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other useful info
Police emergency: 102
Medical emergency: 103
Fire emergency: 101