Bosteri is a small resort village on the shores of Issyk Kul, the second largest salt lake in the world. The village was historically dedicated to Soviet tourism, and it is still full of Russian tourists who come to enjoy the lake and other local Kyrgyzstan adventures. Thus, a trip here means lots of downtime, relaxing, and stopping to enjoy the village. I stayed in Bosteri during the World Nomad Games, but I arrived a few days beforehand and ended up spending quite a bit of time in this little village. While it’s not as famous as other Kyrgyz towns, there are certainly a few fun things to do in Bosteri if you find yourself staying here.
Swim and Sunbathe at Issyk Kul
If you arrive during warm weather months, you’ll find the beach here crowded with Russian tourists laying out in the sunshine. The beach has soft sand, tons of snack spots, and colorfully fun umbrellas. While the lake can run on the cold side, it’s a nice spot to stop and have a swim while observing the peaceful mountains visible from across the lake.
Go Parasailing, Jet Skiing, or Enjoy Other Aquatic Sports
If relaxing on the beach is too low key, there are a ton of options for adventure sports on the water here. You can go parasailing, rent jet skis, go on a sunset cruise, and try out the (admittedly dangerous-looking) giant water slide. You can negotiate with vendors near the beach or ask your hotel to assist.
Take a Ride on the Ferris Wheel
For a quick bit of fun (and amazing photography views), take a spin on the beach-side Ferris wheel. Impossible to miss since it towers over the village, the Ferris wheel beckons from the moment you set foot in Bosteri. A spin costs 200 som (a little less than $3 USD). The wheel spins incredibly slowly, giving you ample time to chat and take pictures. A full revolution will last about fifteen minutes.
Enjoy the Roller Coaster
During the evenings, shrieks of pleasure can be heard throughout the town from people enjoying the small but sturdy roller coaster. Located near the beach and the Ferris wheel, a ride is an inexpensive way to get a quick thrill.
Get a Massage
For those who’ve come to Bosteri to relax, nothing could be better than getting a massage. I paid 800 som (about 12 dollars) for a fifty-minute massage, but I was way overserved and found myself stumbling out the door in a pleasant stupor over ninety minutes later. The massages here are the tough, dig out the sore spots kind of massage. I found it more therapeutic than purely relaxing, but I slept like a baby that night. Cupping was included free of charge. Note that telling the masseuse that something hurt only encouraged her to dig harder, so these massages are not for the faint of heart.
Visit the city of Cholpon Ata
The “big city” down the road, anyone enjoying time in Bosteri should set aside a day to explore Cholpon Ata. A very small and quiet spot by city standards, Cholpon Ata has a few points of interest you won’t want to miss. The highlight for me was the old Soviet World War 2 memorial, but there’s also an old Soviet weather station to check out. This is also the easiest place to get a sim card if you didn’t get one when arriving in the country.
See the Cholpon Ata Petroglyphs
While in Cholpon Ata, take an hour or two to see the Cholpon Ata petroglyphs. Sadly, these are not being maintained at the level needed to make sure they are preserved, so if you’re in the area take the opportunity to see them while they’re still around!
Essential Bosteri Travel Information
What to Eat
There are several restaurants in the small village If you’re staying for more than a day or two, I suggest trying a few different places. I found each one that I tried to be tasty and inexpensive. My favorite local dishes were plov and Lagman. If you need a bit of western food, try the takeaway pizza spot in the middle of town. For more about my tips for eating in Kyrgyzstan, check out my Kyrgyzstan travel advice.
Where to Stay in Bosteri
Bosteri is full of many small guesthouses. Most of them have similar accommodations: private ensuites, small balconies, and a double bed. I stayed at the Peri Resort as part of covering the World Nomad Games.
The town is fairly peaceful at night, but there are a few clubs. Tourists were dancing in front of Cafe Faluja most nights. For nightlife options here, just follow the sounds of pulsing music late at night.
Other Important Travel Tips
Bosteri is a small town, full of cafes and restaurants, small shops (magazines), and hotels and guesthouses. As such, there’s not a ton of services in the village, and you’ll need to head to Cholpon Ata for some basic things.
- Make sure to bring the cash you need. Almost no one takes credit cards here, and the ATMs aren’t in town. I took a marshrutka to Cholpon Ata to hit up the ATM. If you need to ask about finding an ATM, the Russian word is bankomat.
- There’s a pharmacy on the edge of town. If you need directions or want to find out if another one has opened closer, the Russian word is apteka.
- This one doesn’t apply to everyone, but if you need the info then you probably have the same addiction I do. There’s no Coke Zero to be found here. I did find it at the gas stations on the highway, so bring your own. Or BYOCZ, as the kids say.
- The shops (magazines) carry basic essentials like shampoo, laundry detergent, convenience store-type snacks, alcohol, and other things that you might need. They are all cash-only.
- If you want a taxi, walk to the edge of town and you’ll find some waiting. Prepare to negotiate, and don’t be surprised if you get a tourist tax. You are staying in a resort town, after all. If you want a marshrutka, you’ll need to walk out to the main highway.
5 Things You Must Have in Your Suitcase
- Lonely Planet Central Asia which is available as a paper copy or in a Kindle edition.
- Sunscreen before you get there. The only sunscreen I found for sale in Bosteri had a whitening agent in it that killed my top layer of skin and left me looking like a ghost.
- Swimsuit & Full Sized Travel Towel No beach vacation is complete without a swimsuit and beach towel, but my guess is you don’t have a ton of spare room in your pack. I recommend getting this travel towel since I’m absolutely convinced it’s best travel towel in the world. It’s pretty enough for the beach, large enough that you forget it’s a microfibre towel, and quick-drying, which is crucial if you’re going to be hiking or going from place to place. Even in hotels, I found I used my own travel towel often. Here’s a whole post about why I’m obsessed with my travel towel.
- Altitude Sickness Pills If you get altitude sickness (like I did in Quito), you’ll want to be able to take these right away. My altitude sickness in Kyrgyzstan was mild, but I didn’t go up too high. Even in Cholpon Ata or on Issyk Kul, I could still feel the effects for a few days.
- Trekking Poles Critical for anyone afraid of heights who wants to get out and see nature. I wish I’d had these with me in Kyrgyzstan and in Spain when walking the Camino.
Final Thought: Triple Check Your Travel Insurance Policy Information (Or Get One)
It’s not the most glamorous side of travel, but I always make sure to have a current Travel Insurance Policy because things happen on the road. I pay for World Nomads, and I happily recommend them. It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’re going to be doing any adventurous water sports or trekking while in Kyrgyzstan.
I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for travel insurance for two years, and I happily recommend them. It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’re going to be doing any adventure sports like horseback trekking, hiking, or traveling off-road. Even in Bishkek, you’ll be happy when you’re able to replace your stuff if it’s lost or stolen.
More Kyrgyzstan Travel Info
- Kyrgyzstan Travel Advice
- How to Get a Kyrgyzstan Sim Card
- 101 Epic History Travel Ideas (including attending the World Nomad Games)
- The World Nomad Games
Have You Visited Bosteri? Do you have any ideas for things to do in Bosteri to add to the list? Are you planning to travel there soon? Leave your best travel tips and any questions below!
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