Memos from Asia

“Warm Lake,” a Famous Tourist Destination in Kyrgyzstan

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View of Issyk-kul lake in Cholpon-ata. Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country located in the west of China. Between terrains of the great Tian Shan mountains, there is an ancient lake called “Issyk Kul”. The name of the lake means “Warm Lake” in the local language.

The lake has become one of the favorite destinations of the tourists. Here we will discuss what is unique in this lake and the best activities to do on and around the area.

Facts and Details

The beautiful southern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul in the summer day, Kyrgyzstan.

Issyk Kul is a warm alpine lake located in the 1,608 meters (5,276 feet) above sea level. It is surrounded by two mountain ridges of Tian Shan.

The alpine lake is one of the largest in the world, with a 6,236 km2 area (2,407.7 mile2). Also, the depth reaches 668 meters (2,191 feet), and the volume is 1,738 km3 (417 mile3).

Interestingly, the lake is situated nearer to Almaty, the biggest city of Kazakhstan, compared to the Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan.

The period of water exchange is over 300 years in Issyk Kul. (Great Russian Encyclopedia,

(Photo Credit: Chen Zhao, CC BY-SA 2.0)

The lake is popular, especially among the tourists from CIS countries (Commonwealth of Independent States). There are several factors that greatly contribute to the popularity of the lake.

Issyk Kul was praised in many poems and songs of the East from ancient times until today. Besides, the lake is famous for outstanding beauty, golden sandy beaches, and crystal clear water.

The mineralized water of the lake and healing mud can improve the health of guests. (Central Asia Travel,

View from the space

Issyk Kul, Kyrgyzstan – September 1992

The astronauts who have been in the space stated that the lake is clearly visible from the space. For instance, a Soviet astronaut A. Leonov said that the shape of Issyk Kul reminds a human eye. (,

Activities on and around Issyk Kul

The beaches of Issyk Kul belong to the government, and the majority of them are free of charge unless rented by somebody.

Sport activities

In the majority of beaches, volleyball and basketball playgrounds, ping pong tables exist, and you can make competitions by making your teams.

Boat trips

On the coast of Issyk Kul, there are several yacht and boat clubs. The cost of boat trips is not very low but reasonable. A one-hour trip on a boat costs $5 US for adults and $2 US for children.

It is allowed to swim in the lake during the trip. If you can drive a boat yourself, you can rent a boat for $30 US an hour.


Love diving? Issyk Kul welcomes divers!

Issyk Kul flooded several ancient cities such as Sikul, Chigu, and Barskhan. Initially, divers need to take theoretical training before starting excursion to the underwater museums. The trip costs $30 an hour, including underwater photo sessions and rent of equipment.


The area around the lake and landscapes of surrounding mountains can be a good place for cycling. Bike lovers usually pass 450 km (279.6 miles) a day.


Only sporty fishing is allowed in Issyk Kul. The license is given for three days and costs $7 US. Fishers should not catch more than five fish. Electric fishing rods and networks are subject to high fines. (,

Other activities

Autumn landscape with a view of Lake Issyk-Kul from the South Bank.

Additionally, visitors are recommended to become involved in snowboarding, skiing, hiking, and rafting activities to get the strongest impression from the travel to the Issyk Kul. (,

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