Kyzyl (Russian: Кызы́л kyh-ZYHL) is the capital city of Tuva and is the geographical center of Asia.
- There is also a tourist office near the monument.
The best option is to take the train from Moscow to Abakan (76 hours), with one-way fares varying from approximately 4000-9500 руб. The price changes according to peak tourist seasons in Russia: by far the cheapest day to travel is 1 January, while July is the most expensive.
It is possible to take a bus from Abakan in neighboring Khakassia. While a night bus is an option, don't take it! The route meanders through the gorgeous Sayan mountain landscapes of the Ergaki region, which would be foolish to miss. The train from Moscow arrives in Abakan at 06:00, and apart from the bus, there will be plenty of taxi drivers offering to take you to Kyzyl (approximately 420 km (260 mi) from Abakan) for 1000-1500 руб. There is a possibility that you may have to register at the Russian-Tuvan border — just hand over your passport to the police officer, there is no fee for the service. You may even travel by bus from as far as Krasnoyarsk, but expect it to be a long evening and night in a bus. The road in Tuva is being renovated, but otherwise the trip is smooth.
- 1 Kyzyl Airport. This airport is small and offers flights to and from the Siberian center of Krasnoyarsk as well as Raduzhny, Khantia-Mansia. The direct flights from Moscow to Kyzyl go twice a week via Ufa, Bashkiria's capital, departing from Moscow on Sunday and Wednesday.
The town is relatively small, so if you are staying in one of the hotels in the centre, all of the landmarks will be within walking distance. There are no buses in Kyzyl, but there are plenty of route taxi vans operated by locals who may speak little Russian and surely no English ('marshrutka') and regular taxis.
- National Museum (Национальный музей, Natsional'nyy Muzey), Ulitsa Titova, 30 (about 500 m west from the National Theatre, down the main road). W-Su 10:00-18:00. It features exhibits on the Tuvan flora and fauna, religion and traditions, archaeological findings from the Stone Age and the Scythian era, as well as exhibits from World War II and the Tannu Tuva Independent Republic. Surprisingly, the museum also features paintings of renowned Russian and foreign artists, including Shishkin and Reynolds. 100 руб for Russians, and 200 руб for foreign tourists.
- 1 National Theatre (Музыкально-драматический театр, Music and Drama Theater), ul Lenina 33 (on the main city square opposite the White House (Government Building)). In summer, the Theatre hosts different festivals (traditional dance, throat singing, etc.) so keep an eye out for posters and advertisements around town. Tickets cost around 100-300 руб. Large Buddhist ceremonies open to all are held here. The wooden carvings on the building were hand-crafted in the traditional Scythian 'animal' style.
- 2 The Centre of Asia Monument. On the picturesque bank of the Yenisey River, where the Small and Big Yenisey Rivers join into the Great Yenisey. It is quite easy to find — just walk north from Hotel Kyzyl until you hit the river bank, then turn right and keep walking until you see it.
- Shaman Centre (to the left of the Centre of Asia Monument). For a small fee, you can have your fortune told or an illness cured by a Tuvan Shaman. In summer, the government puts up a decorative yurt (traditional nomadic house) next to the centre.
- Lenin monument (on the main square, next to the National Theatre).
- Aldan Maadir. The old museum, which is quite quaint.
- Museum of Political Repression, (Komsomolskaya Street, 5. The museum is housed in a what used to be an office of the Soviet secret police (NKVD). It houses photographs, documents, newspaper articles, biographies, lists of the repressed in Tuva in 1930s-1960s.
- Yuvan Institute of Humanities, Kochetova ulitsa 4 (Not far from the bus station). The front garden is home to some ancient Turkic anthropomorphic stone sculptures, also some stones with Turkic runes.
- Drive across one of the bridges in Kyzyl and take the back-road to the other bridge to see many eagles in their natural environment
- Across the newest bridge turn left to a popular holy spring to respectfully see the prayer flags and offerings, and taste the water; be discrete if a shamanistic ceremony is taking place
- Climb the mountain overlooking the town from the north, with its huge Buddhist mantra 'Om Mani Padme Hum' written in white stones
- Make a Yurt home visit, first hearing the explanation of the customs of the yurt, then tasting salt tea from a bowl, araka (alcoholic sour milk), pine-kernels and throat-singing and after dark visiting the spirit world under the guidance of a shaman, sitting around a bonfire on the steppe
- Drive south to the giant Arat statue overlooking the steppe around Kyzyl and the confluence of the Yenisei headwaters
- On August 15, enjoy the annual Nadym national festival held nearby at Tos-Bulak, with wrestling (Khuresh), long-distance horse-racing and archery
- Stay in the Yurt-hotel just north of Kyzyl along the Greater Yenisei valley (Bii-Khem)
- Visit one of the Buddhist temples — a nice small one is well situated on the steppe on the other side of the Yenisei, it may be seen in the distance opposite the Centre of Asia monument — and give the prayer wheel on Arat Square a whirl
- Attend a concert with traditional throat-singing, and dancing, and see national holiday displays in Lenin Square
- In winter, try the ice-slides, see the coloured ice sculptures and eat frosted buckthorn-berries with sugar
- Near the park you may meet some students from the next-door university Department of foreign languages (English, French, German) who may like to practice their language skills with you in their little cafe there — your treat
- Visit the town park towards the eastern end of town
- Go to the open air disco at the stadium
- Make a picture on one of the tanks near to the old temples in the center
- Visit the traditional agalmatolite-stone carvers in the Artists Union near the centre, and buy souvenirs
- Look around the central and suburban indoor and outdoor markets: fur hats
- There are some souvenir shops and you might buy a flag or postcards, and, if the post is opened, some new stamps from the Republic of Tuva.
- 1 Tsarskaya Okhota, Internatsional'naya Ulitsa, 2, ☏ +7 923 386 08 77. Here you can enjoy some little Tuvan and Mongolian nibbles on the deck along the river, if it isn't subfreezing temperatures outside.
There is a night-club with strip-tease.
- 1 Buyan Badyrgy Hotel (Буян Бадыргы), 1 ul. Moskovskaya (a few blocks away from the city center), ☏ +7 394 225-64-60, fax: +7(39422)56318. A business class hotel with all possible amenities. 2505 руб.
- 2 Kottedzh Hotel (Гостиница Коттедж), 38 ul. Partizan (faces the Yenisei River), ☏ +739422 30503. The hotel has 12 rooms.
- 3 Chalama Hotel, Internatsional'naya Ulitsa, 12, ☏ +7 923 383-64-48. Modern and sits above a cafe so your food needs are just a few steps away. Bar, terrace, splashtub pool, sauna (ooh), and wifi also included. 2960 руб.
- 4 Odugen Hotel (ОДУГЕН), 34 ul. Krasnykh Partizan (next to Kottedzh Hotel), ☏ +739422 30503. A small reputable hotel offering to its guests (Boris Yeltsin and Dalai Lama XIV included) 12 rooms, a courtyard and a banquet room. Restaurant and free breakfast.
- 5 AZIMUT Hotel Kyzyl, Ulitsa Chul'dum, 2, ☏ +7 394 223-70-73. Seemingly by far the best quality lodging in Kyzyl, this modern hotel has wifi, rainfall showers, and an indoor pool along with an adults-only spa and hammam. Additionally, it has a restaurant with room service and breakfast buffet. It overlooks the Yenisei River. 3795 руб.
3G connection works very well inside the city.
- Mongolia, Internatsionalnaya street, 9, ☏ +7 39422 10-445, +7 39422 10-430, email@example.com.
Many parts of the Tuva region request a special permit, to be obtained one year in advance with the Russian authorities. The fees are low if you get caught, but probably a foreigner is easy to be spotted in those areas and so you will be asked to drive back to Kyzyl.