From Halal Food & Travel
Kochkor is a town in Kyrgyzstan's Issyk-Kul and the Tian Shan region.
Kochkor Halal Explorer
Although Kochkor is best described as a gateway community for its surround nature (mainly trips to Song Kul), there is still much to do during your visit. The best is just to explore. The people are very friendly and willing to strike up a conversation with Muslim visitors.
Travel as a Muslim to Kochkor
Kochkor has recently built a new taxi stand / bus station on the main road. There you can negotiate shared taxi rides to Bishkek, Naryn City, Balykchi, Cholpon Ata, Kara Kol, and sometimes At Bashi or Jumgal.
If you are looking for a affordable ride, try one of the minivan taxis (also known as mashrutkas) or (if you have lots of time on your hands) one of the buses that runs from Bishkek to At Bashi.
It seems to be very easy to hitchhike from/to Kyzart Pass, Kyzart and Aral (all on the same road), because there is a huge number of trucks using it. Truck drivers do not even want money for a ride, and up to four or five people can fit inside a truck. This means you can get all the way from Song Kul for free in way day - hike to Kyzart or Kyzart Pass and take a truck from there. Behind the city there is a crossroad, with the road splinting into two, one leading towards Kyzart and the other towards Naryn. This crossroad is an excellent place to hitchhike. A taxi from the centre should take you to the crossroad for no more than 100 som.
How to get around in Kochkor
42.2160|75.7570 Kochkor is a large village, but can be easily explored on foot. However, if you want to visit a nearby village, finding a taxi might be difficult. The best thing to do is walk in the direction you want to go and wave at a passing car if you want them to stop. If they do give you a ride, it is polite to offer them money for petrol.
There are marshrutkas that run east / west on the main road from one end of the town to the other. But they keep irregular schedules.
What to see in Kochkor
Every Saturday, Kochkor holds it Animal Bazaar. There you can view Kyrgyz livestock and observe local farmers buying and selling their animals. The bazaar is also a good place to stock up on any essentials that you might be running low on.
Kochkor's park is a haven of greenery just south of the taxi stand. Within the park are various Soviet era structures in various stages of use. There you will find the Kochkor museum (which may or may not be open), the Wedding Palace, the cinema (now closed), the Cultural Hall (still open and working, inside you will find a billiard hall, library, performance hall, and antique Soviet video games), the Sports Hall.
Top Muslim Travel Tips for Kochkor
There are three competing community-tourism organisations, what makes Kochkor the best place to plan an unforgettable trip to Song Kul or other Kyrgyz jailoos. Be aware that those trip are generally only practicable in the summer months between mid May to mid September according to the daily weather conditions. For a very common two day / one night horse trip in a small group to Song Kul the rates are in total around 7000 som (1000 for accommodation in a yurt, 2600 for two days for horse rental, 1600 for transportation, 1200 for a guide, 600 for food).
- CBT Kochkor 52.21771, 75.75869 - This community based organisation has the biggest network throughout the country.
- Shepherds Life 52.21730, 75.75905 - Another professional tour organizer with a homestay in Kyzart village (20 km west of Kochkor).
- Jailoo 52.21533, 75.75518
Muslim Friendly Shopping in Kochkor
If purchasing sheep isn't what you came for, Kochkor still can offer the shopping traveler a variety of experiences. In the center, there are two bazaars, one for food and the other for clothes. If you are planning on going up into the mountains and haven't got a pullover, now is the time to get one. Also, stop in the UNIMAG (Universal Magazine) and check out the bargains there.
But what Kochkor is truly known for is the women's handicraft cooperative, Altyn Kol (Kyrgyz for 'golden hand'). Founded in the mid-90's as a way to provide an alternate source of income for struggling rural families, Altyn Kol has become world known for its handmade felt carpets (shyrdaks). If you are visiting Kyrgyzstan during late May or late November, inquire about their bi-annual exhibition at the Kyrgyz Cultural Museum in Bishkek.
Halal Restaurants in Kochkor
Kochkor offers the standard fare for travelers, Russian cafe food with a Kyrgyz taste. The main cafes are:
- Retro Restaurant Formerly known as Cafe Baba Ata, they changed names two years ago. They have REAL coffee (espresso, cappucino, etc.) barista style, an English menu, good food and generally cater well for tourists. On the main road just west of the CBT Office and west of the Adamkaly hotel, beside Beeline.
- Cafe Visit one block west of the post office.
- Ash Liyam Fu - АШ ЛЯМ ФУ - on the main road next to the police station. This little shack is run by one of the few Dungan families in town. There they serve one thing, homemade Ash Liyam Fu, a cold and spicy Dungan noodle dish. It is the cheapest meal in town (around 25 som) and is said to be a great hangover cure.
If you want to self cater, the food bazaar sells wonderful fresh vegetables and fruit in the summer (make sure to wash with purified water). You can also find bread, cheese, and a variety of confections around the center.
- Retro Restaurant and Coffee Bar - Has coffee bar with espresso machine and full coffee menu, as well as tea and hot chocolate
Muslim Friendly Hotels in Kochkor
There are currently two locally run homestay providers, CBT Kochkor and CBT+ECO. Each have their homestay networks that sometimes overlap. Both offices are located near the new bus station / taxi stand.
- Adamkaly Hotel - https://www.adamkaly.kg/ email@example.com 52.21595, 75.75487 The hotel is located central close to the traffic light junction. It is more a homestay, but still most comfortable accommodation in town. Double rooms with/without bathroom are 1000/700 som including breakfast. Wi-fi is available for 50 som.
- Happy Hostel firstname.lastname@example.org Исакеева № 67 42.2097981, 75.7559153 Phone +996 702 090 902 bunk bed 350 som A nice hostel with 20 bunk beds inside and a shared yurt. Run by friendly babushka who can not speak English, but can call her son to translate everything. Offers good breakfast for another 150 som
Telecommunications in Kochkor
Mobile signal is present in the city, but often very slow. Hostels and hotels provide free Wi-Fi, but this is again very slow. This is not their fault - the internet infrastructure is underdeveloped in this part of the country.
Explore more Halal Friendly Destinations from Kochkor
Kochkor is the gateway community to the scenic Song-Kul lake. Tours can be arranged in town.
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