Last updated: 28.11.2018
Kyrgyzstan is one of Central Asia’s most rugged countries. It’s covered in mountains, peppered with thousands of horses and sprinkled with white yurts filled with nomadic families. Riding a motorcycle here is special… really special. And incredibly easy. Read on for all the info you’ll need to rent a motorbike and start exploring.
Kyrgyzstan is probably the least known about country in Central Asia but ironically, it’s the easiest to get into and ride a motorbike around! The country operates a visa free system for a bunch of countries, including the UK, European Union and the USA for up to 60 days. Meaning you just fly in or enter at a land border and they’ll stamp your passport and you’re good to go. No paperwork, no fuss. To see if your country is on the visa free programme click here.
It’s also incredibly easy to rent a car or motorcycle and explore the country yourself. We visited a number of rental agencies and shops in Kyrgyzstan and found MuzToo, based in Osh, to be the best of the bunch. Here’s everything you need to know about renting a bike with them, routes, paperwork and top tips.
If you’re interested in renting a 4x4 or car then most of the details listed below are still applicable, and Oibek also rents them - you’ll find his information below
Oibek Sadykbaev, Manager at MuzToo
“MuzToo is a motorcycle rental, tour and garage business in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. We’ve been renting out bikes and arranging motorcycle tours for six years now to people from all over the world. People fly in, pick-up a bike and head off for weeks to discover Kyrgyzstan, or ride our bikes into Tajikistan and the Pamirs, Mongolia, Uzbekistan or Kazakhstan for no extra charge!”
Single bike rental
MuzToo has a fleet of Yamaha XT600E motorcycles. It’s between £60-£70 a day and negotiable dependent on your rental time. Prices include tools, oil, tubes, panniers and fully comprehensive insurance. If you’re coming with mates and renting more than one bike then they can always work on the price with you.
A 7-8-day tour is around £1,700 per person. It’s the complete package, including bike, servicing, hotels, food, support vehicle, insurance and kit. You’ll need five friends to book a private tour. Or you can always join an existing group.
Bring your own
MuzToo is legendary in overlanding circles, you can work on your own motorbike in the shop, employ one of their mechanics or even have your bike shipped anywhere in the world from there. They can help you source parts and have accommodation on site.
Can I rent riding kit?
You can either rent kit or take your own. MuzToo does have a decent selection of kit and the rental prices are very fair, but if you can take your own it’s always better, but this is entirely personal preference!
What about paperwork?
As mentioned, Kyrgyzstan is the easiest ‘Stan’ country to visit. A bunch of countries (including the USA and entire European union) get 60 days visa-free in the country.
Just buy your own personal insurance in your home country (not motorcycle insurance, but personal travel insurance) Make sure the travel insurance covers you to ride a motorcycle over 125cc and for longer than a day. Plenty of insurance companies stipulate in the small print that the bike must be 125cc and can’t be used as your main form of transport.
Take your passport, driver’s licence, a copy of personal insurance and an International Driver’s Permit. Note - You don’t need an IDP, but they’re handy as they have licence details in a bunch of languages and it means you can just hand that over instead of your valuable licence. An IDP is about £5 and can be purchased from the Post Office, you just need to take your driver’s licence, passport and a passport photograph and they’ll do it in about 2 minutes.
All the bikes are insured fully comprehensive. However -and this bit’s important - if someone hits you, or even if you crash your bike and nobody else is involved, you must get a police report. Any sort of scribbling from the police will do, just to say what happened. Even if it says ‘Timmy hit a rock and broke the bike’. That way MuzToo can claim on their insurance and you don’t get charged.
What if I break down in the middle of nowhere?
If you break down you’ll need to call MuzToo. The bikes are supplied with tools and the mechanics will guide you over the phone on how to fix the problem. If that’s not something you’re comfortable with then they will send someone to recover you. If you have an engine failure then you’ll be refunded.
The Kyrgyz police force are 100% on the ball with catching speeders. They lurk around every bend with camera guns, watching, waiting for you to nip a couple of kilometres per hour over the limit and bang – you’ve made their day.
One friend was walloped with a (20kph over the limit) 200USD speeding fine– which is ridiculous. You should never, ever pay this sort of fine… never. All fines are negotiable. But remember, there is a difference between paying a speeding (if you were actually speeding) and an obvious bribe.
If you’re caught speeding then you need to pay a fine – how much depends on how good and comfortable you are with negotiating with authority to bring it down to around 10USD. If you’re stopped for no reason, told you’re speeding when you weren’t, or the colour of your bike is wrong and you need to pay then this is an unnecessary bribe and you should not pay. Hold your ground and refuse. Paying these sorts of bribes only ruins it for the next traveller.
We’ve never seen police on gravel roads. If you plan your route well and avoid the major highways you shouldn’t see them either. They do hide on entrances to little towns and villages though so be wary. Fellow drivers should help by flashing you if police are waiting up ahead. It’s easier to just not speed though!
How do I cross borders?
The bikes come with paperwork to ride into Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and even Mongolia at no extra charge. Of course, you need to have your visas and personal paperwork arranged for the countries you want to visit, but there is no Carnet De Passage required and MuzToo will give you all the vehicle paperwork you need. So, you just rock up, present your passport and visa (dependent on where you’re from and if you even need a visa) show them the bike paperwork and off you go. Crossing borders in Central Asia is surprisingly easy and straight forward (so long as you have the right paperwork), long-gone are the days of border bribes.
How to get in contact
- To check out MuzToo’s fleet of bikes and book visit www.muztoo.ch
- We’d recommend contacting Oibek directly at [email protected] instead though, as he has direct access to the bikes and can book there and then
- His personal website is www.centralasiacarrental.com, where he also rents cars and motorcycles – including renting from Bishkek.
Head north from Osh up to Lake Song Kol. You’ll find a real nomadic experience here surrounding the icy lake. After, take the south east road to Bishkek for the mountain passes. Head to Issyk Kul lake and then back down to Osh. It’s about 1000 miles and plenty of off-roading. The route below should take around 8 days. Here are the marker points for towns along the way: Osh, Kazarman, Song-Kul, Kochkor, Tosor, Naryn, Tash-Bashat, Kazarman, Osh.
- If you’re stopped by police, just smile! Don’t give them any money, if you feel you must then negotiate and if you’re stuck pay a maximum of 10USD.
- Don’t be put off by police and bribes, it’s a lot less than an on-the-spot fine in Europe!
- Watch out for drivers, they’re not used to bikes whizzing past. But don’t worry about them, we’ve found the driving in Kyrgyzstan to be better than quite a few Western countries.
- Don’t take any photographs of official places or borders. Be super relaxed at borders, smile and it’ll all work out.
- Plan your route and pack food and water, there are long stretches with no shops – make sure you install the Maps.Me app on your phone and download the country map you are going to (it’s all free). This will work offline and show you where petrol stations and towns are as well as act as a sat-nav and GPS.
- If you’re heading to Kyrgyzstan, you should also plan a trip to Tajikistan too. MuzToo allow cross border riding and the Pamir mountains should not be missed!
- Be respectful of Kyrgyz customs; two things Kyrgyz people mention that peeves them about tourists are walking around half naked in hotels and farting in public.
Tell me a little more about Kyrgyzstan
It’s a small, landlocked country in Central Asia bordering China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. It was once part of the USSR and became fully independent in 1991. It’s one of the ‘least known’ about countries in the world and many of its people still live a nomadic way of life, living in yurts in the high mountain pastures during summer and the plains in winter. It’s a phenomenal place to explore - and you’re going to love it!
If you have any questions, comments or anything to add to this page (or even if you just want to say hey) then please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you! Drop us an email at [email protected]