Replies: 7 - Last Post: Jan 8, 2013 10:47 AM Last Post By: mvbergen
Nov 26, 2012 11:49 AM
Personal securityThe Canadian government would probably issue a red travel warning if there was a chance of chipping a tooth on a local beer bottle but:
Our government website says: do not travel alone; public transportation is unsafe; high rate of violent crime; lots of robberies, muggings and pickpocketing targeting foreigners; many organized gangs; etc.
The 'avoid non-essential travel' warning voids my health insurance in Kyrgyzstan.
I have done a lot of travelling and am inclined to take this with a grain of salt. Any comments about the feel of the place and whether you do need to be that much on your guard with taxi drivers, hustlers, guys hanging out, and so on?
Nov 26, 2012 12:01 PM
1Some warnings date from the political troubles and ethnic riots of a few years ago, and even then the warnings really applied only to a few places in the country.
Except for walking in large cities at night (it's best to take taxis after dark), Kyrgyzstan is pretty peaceful. I've hitchhiked all around the country over a summer, in cities, towns and rural areas, and never felt I was in danger. Even the drunk cops common to all of the former Soviet Union will soon give up and leave you alone if you just refuse to pay unspecified "fines". I met a fairly large number of other backpackers and bicyclists in Bishkek and Osh, and they also found their travels pleasant.
Nov 27, 2012 5:09 AM
Nov 28, 2012 4:32 AM
I was in Kyrgyzstan in 2009, and personally had an incident free time. I think that advice is largely over-stating the problems, but at the core there are some issues you need to be aware of. During my time in Kyrgyzstan, I met quite a lot of other tourists who had been hassled or robbed during their stay, often by the police. You need to be careful in cities after dark, and you also need to try and have as little as possible to do with the police. But with a bit of common sense, you're unlikely to run into much trouble.
You certainly need to be on guard with taxi drivers, most taxis in Kyrgyzstan are completely unregistered, and stories of taxi drivers robbing tourists are certainly not unheard of. This also applies to shared taxis, a common way of travelling from city to city. You need a bit of sense: travel during the day, use your own judgement to measure up a taxi driver before you agree to take his taxi, and when taking a shared taxi, make sure that at least one of your fellow passengers is a woman. If you don't trust your own instincts, get a guesthouse to book your shared taxi for you, for a little bit extra money. There shouldn't be problems with the minibuses that run in the north of Kyrgystan.
Kyrgyzstan is certainly more dangerous than Canada, and you need to be on guard more than you would in Canada, but that's no reason not to go, and if you keep your wits about you, you're unlikely to have any major problems.
One other note: in 2009, many tourists were having problems in and around Karakol, including some people I know who were robbed at gunpoint on a popular trek. I'm not sure what the situation is now, it might be the same, or it might have been cleaned up. If you're planning on visiting Karakol - and particularly if you're planning on hiking in the mountains there - I would ask around at guesthouses in Bishkek to try and get a feel for what the current security situation is.
Nov 28, 2012 12:12 PM
4Since 2000 I travelled in Kyrgyzstan 15 times. The situation has changed a little since then. Now in touristical area's Kyrgyz people will try to earn more on tourism than in remote area's.
In general it is a safe country, but you have to use your common sence. Use taxi's which belong to a registered company. Ask in your guesthouse ( or where you are staying) to order a taxi for you. Do not go to the slum area's or unlit area's after dark.
In the south and in Bishkek ( oblasts Batken, Osh and Jallal-Abad) it is possible that some demonstrations will occur. Just stay away then.
I was in Kyrgyzstan during the Tulip revolution in 2005 and during the revolution in 2010. Nobody tried to harm any foreigner, just be sure to know where what is going on. I got very good information from the company which organizes my tours (Ecotour) and never felt insecure. In general it is important to have a local contact which will inform you about what is going on.
Dec 19, 2012 2:53 AM
Jan 6, 2013 8:44 AM
I live in Osh for 10 years plus by now. Traveled obviously quite a bit around.
There is one rule that applies to many countries: You let your buddy organize your taxi, accommodation (if not known before), translator and so on. Your buddy can be some one from a home stay or a driver you felt is a hones guy.
Eg. if you stay in a yurt, home stay, hotel or what ever, you have them organize transport for you and you take the drivers number your self , written on a peace of paper with name and cell phone number. You also need to ask the person who organizes the transportation for you that the driver has to make sure you end up in good hands on the other side. This way I had only a view minor problems with unreliable people or promises that haven't been met.
And yes, as a stranger, you do not stroll around after dark and you harshly refuse talking to a drunk.
Jan 8, 2013 10:47 AM
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