Kyrgyzstan, my favorite place

Why Kyrgyzstan is my favorite country in Central Asia 

After traveling for three months in Central Asia and being able to visit four countries, I can safely say that Kyrgyzstan is my favorite. I managed to visit Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan as well, and although all of the countries are lovely, there’s just something about Kyrgyzstan that makes my heart skip a beat. Out of all those countries, I’m most prone to visit Kyrgyzstan again, and here’s why. 

The landscapes are out of this world 

There’s no doubt that Kyrgyzstan is a breathtakingly beautiful country. Wherever you turn your head, you’ll see mountains. If you’re a fan of nature, I can’t think of a better place for you to visit. Some people even dare to say that it’s prettier than Switzerland! Although I don’t have enough knowledge about that matter, I can safely say that it is one of the most gorgeous places I’ve visited. There’s something romantic about the vast landscapes in Kyrgyzstan, the changing scenery, all the lakes, the snow capped mountains and all the valleys. Kyrgyzstan is eye-candy. 

The people are lovely 

Kyrgyz people are so hospitable and friendly. I always felt so welcomed and there were so many times when people invited me to their home for lunch or dinner. Even though we couldn’t communicate most of the time, we tried to speak a few words and share our life experiences. Even if they might not have a lot, they’ll share everything they have with you. And that’s more than what you can say about many other countries in the world. 

It’s so safe

Traveling as a female solo traveler can be a bit tricky sometimes. You don’t always feel safe and sometimes you cling on to people just to have company. But that’s not the case in Kyrgyzstan. I managed to travel the entire country on my own without ever feeling bothered. Although I did have hiking buddies, I was often going on buses alone and sometimes even in the cities. Not once did I feel like I had to hold on to my purse tighter or walk faster because I felt unsafe. And that makes your whole traveling experience much more pleasant. 

There’s always something to do 

Yes, hiking is probably the main thing to do in Kyrgyzstan, but even if you’re not a hiking fan, there’s plenty of things for you to do here. You could go explore the cities and marvel at the old Soviet Union architecture. You can take public transportation to stunning landscapes without having to hike. You can go to Issyk-Kul lake, swim and sunbathe all day long. You can go watch the nomadic games. You’ll never be bored in Kyrgyzstan and that’s what I really loved about this country. I still have so much left to see of it and I’m thrilled to return back one day. 

Samarkand , Uzbekistan

The best restaurants in Samarkand, Uzbekistan 

After being stuck in Samarkand for more than one week due to visa issues, I ate in as many different restaurants as possible. I tried to make my days a bit more fun by going from restaurant to restaurant and trying out new Uzbek food. Samarkand might not be the most interesting city after having seen all the interesting sights such as Registan, but it’s not the worst place to get stuck in. I found some real hidden gems with my friends and I’m happy to inform other travelers who might find themselves stuck there too, or just want to try the best food that Samarkand has to offer. 

Samarkand 

Isn’t it ironic that one of the best restaurants in Samarkand is called Samarkand? Our receptionist told us about this place after a few days at the hostel and we gladly accepted his advice. We had eaten at some local places that gave me stomach ache so I was longing for some good food. He told us it was the “best restaurant in Samarkand” so we had to try. When you enter the restaurant, it looks like a luxurious hotel. It’s decorated with majestic chandeliers, it has high ceilings and the restaurant just looks very expensive. We were very hesitant and asked the waiters several times for the menu, but they insisted we sit down. Nervous, we opened the menu and found out that… it was probably one of the cheapest restaurants we’ve visited. We were in shock. We had no idea how a restaurant that looked so posh could be so cheap. We ate, drank beer and had dessert, all for 5$ each. Not only is it cheap, the restaurant is also very good! If you’re a vegetarian, there’s some really good salad options for you. All in all, Samarkand was our favorite place and we visited it more than once. 

Platan 

Platan is this hidden gem in Samarkand that you have to know about in order to bump into it. We were fortunate enough to have met a group of people who’d been recommended this place by a local so we hurried up and went there. There’s both a restaurant and cafe area. They have separate menus, but you can usually sit in either of these areas and order from both the cafe and the restaurant. The food here was one of the best I had in Uzbekistan and I was happy to find out that it’s really affordable as well. The portions are huge too, which is always a good thing. This place is especially good for vegetarians because they even have a vegetarian section! Imagine that! If you’re traveling as a vegetarian in Central Asia, you know the struggles. Therefore, it was great to find a place that had more than just salad as an option. What makes Platan so nice as well is that it’s actually a nice place to sit down in, so we spent an hour or two here just chatting away and eating some delicious Uzbek food. 

Lavash

If you’re in the mood for some greasier food, I can highly recommend Lavash. It’s not a fancy restaurant, it’s a fast food place where you can get kebabs, tacos and pizza. Sometimes you just crave something else than plov and that’s why Lavash became a life savior. It’s cheap, it’s good and it’s not your traditional Uzbek food. That’s all you need sometimes.