Welcome to Cholpon-Ata
In mid-summer, Cholpon-Ata (Чолпон-Ата) awakens from its long off-season slumber to become the epicentre of an improbable northern Issyk-Köl beach scene: by day there's tanning bods, zipping jet skis and ice-cream licking tots; by night it's open-air cafes, thumping discos and young lovers breaking social mores. Most of the visitors are wealthy Kazakhs and Russians, joined by members of the Bishkek glitterati. That doesn't mean that Cholpon-Ata itself is particularly sophisticated. Most of the swankier resorts are hidden away on exclusive beaches a considerable distance from Cholpon-Ata, with a major cluster 10km east at Bosteri where you'll also find a roller coaster and Kyrgyzstan's biggest Ferris wheel.
For most westerners the beach scene is of minor interest and travellers generally stop here to glimpse the petroglyphs and organise short-notice horse treks.