Osh (Kyrgyz: Ош) is the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan. It's in the south of the country and often referred to as the "capital of the south". Osh is a lively place, with the largest and most crowded outdoor market in all of Central Asia, now called the Great Silk Road Bazar. The city is at least 3,000 years old and has served as the administrative center of Osh Province since 1939. The city has an ethnically mixed population of about 255,800, comprising 46% Uzbeks and only 43% Kyrgyz and other smaller ethnic groups. On the whole it is much more Islamic than other parts of Kyrgyzstan
Getting there/away: A taxi to the city centre costs around 250-400 som. A Yandex.Taxi is about 170 som. Marshrutka 107 takes 25 min to Jayma Bazaar, it then continues towards the centre parallel to Prospektesi Lenina.
The following airlines operate at the airport:
- Aeroflot - St Petersburg
- Turkish Airlines - Istanbul
- Pegasus - Istanbul, Bishkek (from €20)
- China Southern Airlines - Ürümqi
- Kyrgyzstan Airlines - Bishkek, Moscow-Domodedovo, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg
- S7 Airlines - Moscow
- Uzbekistan Airways - Tashkent
By bus or marshrutkaEdit
- Bishkek – Marshrutkas are 500-700 som per person. They are actually much more comfortable than a shared taxi, because they have sleeping bunks. It takes some time to get to the centre—in Osh marshrutkas start from KaraSu market (30 som from the center); in Bishkek from DorDoi market (12 som from the center). These vans take just 2-3 hr more than shared taxis and always run overnight, starting at 15:00-18:00. Unfortunately, you will miss the great view on the Bishkek-Osh road because of this.
- Arslanbob – One or two buses go direct between the new bus station in Osh and Arslanbob for 200 som. If you miss them, go via Jalalabad and Bazar Korgon.
- Sary Tash – Reportedly, marshrutkas go between Osh and Sary Tash, 300 som (August 2019). From Osh at 14:00 from Dostole bridge.
There are two weekly sleeper buses (Monday and Friday) from Kashgar in China leaving at 10:00 (Beijing time) and the trip takes about 18 hr. The price is ¥470 and the buses depart from Kashgar international bus station. As the road through Irkeshtam is at high altitude, remember to take warm clothes to the bus even during summer. Sit on the left for better views.
- Bishkek – Prices of shared taxis from Bishkek vary quite a lot. In spring, when seasonal workers are travelling from Osh to the capital and then to Kazakhstan or Russia, it will cost less, and vice versa in autumn. The price of a shared taxi Bishkek-Osh was 1,000-1,500 som per person as of May 2012. Taxis to Bishkek park on Zainabetdinova street.
- Jalal-Abad – Shared taxis between Osh and Jalal-Abad to/from the New Bus Station (Novy Avtovokzal) in Osh, somewhat out of town. A taxi from the bazaar to this station is 150 som (Jun 2017). The price for the ride between Osh and Jalal-Abad is 250 som (Jun 2017).
- Sary Tash – A shared taxi costs 400-500 som (May 2012). They park somewhere on Zainabetdinova street, like the Bishkek ones. Leaving Osh, they could wait for passengers quite a long time, so a better option is to just head to the highway (for example take a marshrutka to Karatai or Gulcha from the old bus station), and hitch a ride from a marshrutka or private car passing by. Trucks can be very cheap (free or just up to 200 som), but are quite slow. Cars make it in 3 hr, but a truck could take 5-6 hr or more. (In Sary Tash, usually there are a lot of trucks to Irkeshtam pass—daytime on workdays, 100 soms should be enough. But there is very very few extra transport on Pamir highway, and direct transport from Osh to Murghab could be full.)
- Murghab – A place in a shared taxi to Murghab is 1,500 som (May 2012), in Russian jeep or normal jeep, though the last one is much more comfortable. Drivers like to overcharge tourists, but remember, they badly need passengers, and finally will agree to the regular price. You don't have to pay extra for a reasonable-sized backpack or for a good seat (just be the first passenger to reserve one). But the driver might ask you extra money if you would like to stop on the way to take photos. Anyway, don't pay over 2,000 som. Jeeps to Murghab park inside the car stand to Bishkek; ask around. There are very few jeeps every day, and some days there are none. No fixed schedule, all depends on demand. When they get enough passengers, they leave. You could come to the stand in the afternoon, exchange phone numbers with a few drivers and later join one, who will be leaving first. There is no public transportation directly to Khorog; you have to change in Murghab. Note, you will pay the full fare to Murghab even if you want an intermediate destination.
Taxis are cheap, a ride from the city to the airport is about 300 som.
The city has several monuments, including one to the southern Kyrgyz "queen" Kurmanjan Datka and one of the few remaining statues of Vladimir Lenin. A Russian Orthodox church, reopened after the demise of the Soviet Union, the largest mosque in the country (beside the bazaar), and the 16th-century Rabat Abdul Khan Mosque can be found here.
- 1 Sulayman Mountain. A mountain looming over the city full of ancient sites of worship, some still in use, dating back several millennia. It is considered the most complete example of a Central Asian sacred mountain, and accordingly has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's also just a good place to have a hike and take in the views. A cave in the mountain is the site of a museum containing a collection of archaeological, geological and historical finds and information about local flora and fauna. 20 som.
- 2 Lenin Statue. One of the last Lenin statues remaining in Central Asia.
- North of the bazaar there is a park with carnival games and amusements for children
- 1 The Bazar (In the north of the town on both sides of the river). One of the largest market/bazar in Central Asia with plenty of different things for sale. If you are planning to buy souvenirs, do that here. And do not forget to negotiate. It is open daily, most dynamic on Sundays, partly closed on Mondays.
- Nirvana Restaurant. Short taxi ride outside of city center; European and local cuisine; good shashlyk, steak, chicken and beef burritos. Indoor and outdoor dining areas, with toys for kiddies. Good service, clean. They brew their own beer, the vats are visible from the dining room in a large area next door.
- The bazaar has a range of cheap local food
- Kafe "Zhyz-Byz", 226 Kurmanjan-Datka St., Osh (In the centre, road parallel to Lenin Avenue), ☏ . Very good range of local food. Two mains with drinks, around 450 som. Menu in English. Pleasant decor.
Alcohol is perhaps more elusive in Osh than in the capital, but there are nonetheless a few good bars in the city. The national beer is "Arpa", and really quite good, even by international standards. 80 som for a pint is fairly standard.
- 1 Chu-Tal (at the intersection just west of Sulaiman-Too, 50 m west of Al Mayda). A large open-air (but sheltered for bad weather) 'beer cafe' and restaurant with a nice atmosphere and a good selection of drinks. Beers cost 70-100 som for a pint, food from 100-400. Traditional 'tabchans' and western seating available. Menu is only in Russian but there are pictures so ordering is painless.
- Bayana Guest House, Prospekt Lenina 286, ☏ . Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. Cost of twin room (not per person) with private facilities - 1,400 som, including breakfast served in a lovely garden (August 2018). With TV, fridge & air-con, terrace. In the centre on Prospekt Lenina.
- 1 Konok Hostel, Kurmanjan-Datka street 262/5 (5-minute walk from Bazaar), ☏ . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 13:00. 5-minute walk from bazaar on Kurmanjan-Datka street 262/5 (difficult to see this; directly across from 3-storey Yurt) in a predominantly business and university district of the city (great location). It has one 4-bed dorm. WiFi, self-service kitchen, laundry service are available. Western toilet is kept clean. Shower has a water heater, though you have to wait around half an hour till it gets hot. Owner Meri is helpful and lovely, and though she has hearing disability you can easily discuss by writing or Speech-to-Text software. Call ahead. 500 som with breakfast.
- Osh Guesthouse, 3rd entrance, apt. 48 (A bit difficult to find, it's in the block between the Kyrgyzstan Rd. and Osh Rd. Ask the locals or the taxi drivers for directions.). Check-out: 12:00. Nice and well established but a little shabby, split across a house and nearby flat. There are three 4-bed dorms, a double room and two kitchens. Only three shared bathrooms so you might have to wait a while to get your morning shower. Laundry service (for 70 som/kg), free Wi-Fi, English and German are spoken. Many rooms have issues with cockroaches and mould, unfortunately. Alcohol and pork are banned, even storing it. Dorm US$5-7, single US$18-23 (it's possible to bargain over the phone if reservation is made in advance).
- 2 Osh-Nuru Hotel (Ош-Нуру), 1, Bayalinov, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A big former Soviet hotel with partly renovated rooms, but also budget options in old-fashioned twin rooms (from €19 per room). The staff speak English and there is a nice pool and bar. Wi-Fi is available in the rooms.
- Stari Gorad Hotel (Next to the New Mosque. Cross zainabetdinova street, first street on your right, first gate on your right. There is no sign, the entrance is in a courtyard.). Check-out: 12:00. No dorm. Clean place, only private bathrooms, kitchen available. A nice woman runs the place. She speaks English. Double room 300 som/pp.
- 3 TES guest house, Say Boyu street #5 (near the river 1½ km south of the inner city), ☏ . 10 rooms, but also a sheltered camping area where the long distance cyclists like to stay. English speaking staff. 1,800 som.
- Arslanbob – An Islamic village popular with local tourists and famous for its picturesque walnut tree forest.
- Chon-Alai – Chon-Alai is a region Southwest of Osh containing the Lenina peak, the highest mountain in Kyrgyzstan.