Kyrgyzstan Driving Advice and Car Hire Info
Driving In Kyrgyzstan
Check your government’s website for the latest information before driving abroad in Kyrgyzstan, particularly if you’re planning to travel close to the Uzbek border.
You can drive in Kyrgyzstan on the licence of most countries for up to 30 days, after which you’ll need a 1968 international driving permit.There are often no speed limit signs -Inside towns and villages, you are allowed to drive 60 kmh ,between villages, 90 kmh.
Road standards are often poor with the exception of the The Bishkek – Osh toll road (cost 350 som.) An extension of this road branches off across a 3,500 meter pass into the Talas Valley in the northwest. Plans are now being formulated to build a major road from Osh into the People’s Republic of China.
There’s no legal requirement for a vehicle to have insurance or any sort of roadworthiness test. You’re likely to encounter potholes, open drains, and uncovered manholes. Night driving should be avoided, as roads are inadequately lit. In winter, roads are rarely cleared and ice and snow make the poor driving conditions even more hazardous. Mountain roads in the Kyrgyz Republic are often narrow and treacherous, and in Winter will close without notice due to snow, ice, or rockslides. There is an avalanche danger between Toktogul and Karabalta. Guardrails and barriers preventing falling rocks are often missing. The road between Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Bishkek is especially unsafe at night or during poor weather.
The legal blood alcohol level for driving in the Kyrgyz Republic is zero but many drivers ignore this so drinking and driving is a common problem. The police may try and extract a ‘fine’ from you. All traffic fines in Kyrgyzstan should be paid at a bank not to the police so you should resist paying if asked. Try the age old trick of not understanding until they get bored or insist they take you to the police station and write out a ticket. They’ll hopefully back down at that point.
One of the worlds classic roads runs through the region. Running through the Pamir Mountains, the M41, more commonly known as the Pamir Highway runs through Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan . The road was part of ancient Silk Route and the section which passes through the 4,655-meter high Ak-Baital pass in Tajikistan is the second highest main road in the world . There is some disagreement on where the road begins with varies sources stating Mazari Sharif, Afghanistan; Termiz, Uzbekistan; Dushanbe, Tajikistan; and Khorog, Tajikistan .The highway ends in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Assuming the road begins in Afghanistan,it passes northward through Termiz , then turns east after Denau, then crossing into Tajikistan. It then continues east through Dushanbe, to Khorog, crossing the Kafirnigan, Vakhsh, and Bartang Rivers, and running close to the Pakistan Border area. From there, it continues to Murghab, where it crosses the Murghab River and begins to head North. The highway then passes through the Ak-Baital pass and past Lake Karaqul at 3900 metres before crossing into Kyrgyzstan and on to Osh – around 420 Km from Murghab. The 700 Km stretch of road between Khorog and Osh is widely acclaimed as having some of the most stunning mountain scenery in Asia if not the World. The road is unpaved for long stretches and is also prone to lengthy periods of construction to repair landslides and weather damage. I have heard of travellers covering this stretch in a day but have also seen accounts of 60 hour journeys in bad weather.
For more information on driving part of the Silk Road through Kyrgyzstan see my Classic Roadtrips page.
Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.
Kyrgyzstan Car Rental
None of the big multinational rental comapnies operate in Kyrgyzstan. If you have rented a self drive car here, I’d be interested to hear your experience. If you are a local car rental company who would like to feature on DriverAbroad.com please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on ADriverAbroad@Outlook.com.