Osh (Kyrgyz: Ош) is the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan, located 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 named as 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.
The Osh International Airport (IATA: OSS). is 11km from the centre of Osh. A taxi to the city centre costs around 250 som. Marshrutka 107 takes 25 minutes from Jayma Bazaar (9 som). 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
- Aerosvit - Kiev
- Uzbekistan Airways - Tashkent
There are two weekly sleeper buses (Mon and Fri) from Kashgar in China leaving at 10:00 (Beijing time) and the trip takes about 18 hours. The price is ¥470 and the buses depart from Kahsgar 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.
- To/From 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 1000-1500 som per person as of May 2012. Taxis to Bishkek park on Zainabetdinova street. Another good option is 500-700 som per person for a place in a cargo-passenger minivan. It's actually much more comfortable than a shared taxi, because it has sleeping bunks. It takes some time to get to the center (in Osh cargo vans 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 hours more than shared taxis and always run overnight, starting at 3-6 pm. Unfortunately, you will miss the great view on the Bishkek-Osh road because of this.
- To/From Murghab. A place in a shared taxi to Murghab is 1500 soms (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 2000 soms. 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.
- To/From Sary Tash. To Sary Tash place in a shared taxi was 400-500 soms as of May 2012. They also park somewhere on Zainabetdinova street. But 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 could be very cheap (free-200 soms) but quite slow. Cars make it in 3 hours, but a truck could take 5-6 hours or more. In Sary Tash, usually there are a lot of trucks to Irkeshtam pass (daytime on workdays, 100 soms should be enough) but very very few extra transport on Pamir highway, and direct transport from Osh to Murghab could be full.
During the way from Bishkek, road reaches 3600 above sea level. In the pass there is 2 km long tunnel, therefore be careful or try to hitch big care in front and get off after that.
The city has several monuments, including one to the southern Kyrgyz "queen" Kurmanjan Datka and one of the few remaining statues of Lenin. A Russian Orthodox church, reopened after the demise of the Soviet Union, the largest mosque in the country (situated beside the bazaar), and the 16th-century Rabat Abdul Khan Mosque can be found here.
- 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.
- Lenin Statue. One of the last Lenin statues remaining in Central Asia.
- 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 7/7, 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.
- Osh Guesthouse, ... 3rd entrance, apt. 48. (A bit difficult to find. It is situated in the block between the Kyrgyzstan rd. and Osh rd. Try to ask the locals or the taxi drivers for directions.). Check-out: 12:00. A nice, basic and friendly hostel in a normal Osh flat. There are three 4 bed dorms, a double room and two kitchens. The hostel has three shared bathroom so you might have to wait a while to get your morning shower. Laundry service (for 60 som/kg). Wi-Fi is included in room price. English and German are spoken. Dorm 450 som, Single 1000 som, Double 1150 som (june 2015) (possible to bargain better prices over the phone if reservation is made in advance).
- Stari Gorad Hotel (Next to the New Mosque. Cross zainabetdinova street. First street on your right. First gate on your right. No sign. Entrance 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.
- Osh- Nuru Hotel (Ош-Нуру), 1, Bayalinov, ☎ +996 3222 7 56 14, e-mail: email@example.com. A big former Soviet hotel with partly renovated rooms, but also great budget offers in old-fashioned twin rooms (from €19 per room). The staff speaks English and there is a nice pool and bar. Wi-fi is available in the rooms. Check the latest offers online.
- Konok Hostel, Kurmanjan-Datka street 262/5 (5-minute walk from Bazaar), ☎ +996772345546. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 13:00. This newly open hostel is located 5 minutes walk from bazaar on Kurmanjan-Datka street 262/5 (difficult to see this; directly across from 3-story Yurt) in a predominantly business and university district of the city (great location). At the moment it has just 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 really helpful and lovely, and though she has hearing disability you can easily discuss by writing or Speech to Text software. Call ahead. 500 with breakfast (May 2015).
Talant Toksonbaev Speaking English coordinator Tourist Information Center mob: + 996 555 077621
On most days there will be a shared van to Sary Tash and Occasional transport to Murghab. You will pay the full fare to Murghab even if you want an intermediate destination.