A summary of these resorts, and more info about skiing in Kyrgyzstan, can be found at skiing in Kyrgyzstan. For locations, see our map with the exact location of all ski resorts in Central Asia.
It is a very Soviet affair in Kashka Suu: 2 creaking ski lifts an hour’s drive from Bishkek, dragging skiers up since time immemorial. But this is the second-biggest ski resort in Kyrgyzstan measured in piste kilometers and should not be discounted. There are 5 good slopes, something for beginners and advanced skiers alike. There is some off-piste potential, but not as much as in nearby bases.
It is definitely a fun day of skiing for those with a bit of experience looking for a nice day out. Total newbies should stick to the gentle slopes of Zil or Chunkurchak.
Almost all of the runs are served by an ancient, slow, two-seat chairlift. But the hill is laid out so that you can reach a big variety of runs from that one lift: some modest steeps, groomers, and lots of tree runs. There is a separate surface lift that charges an extra 100 som for the day. There’s a skating rink as well.
As we said before, it is Soviet-y. This means: ski rental has equipment that was already in use in the heady Brezhnev days, and the cafe is not a highlight either. Biggest minus is the slope quality. Only go when there has been enough snow. Rocks and other things popping up from the ground are a frequent complaint in times when the snow cover is thin.
The town of Kashka Suu has homestays on offer, and there are 2 hotels near the lifts. Cannot comment on which is better or worse, but Kashka Suu might also make a good base for those interested in exploring the other ski areas nearby.
If you are without your own transport, you can hop in the minibus of Kashka-Suu resort itself on weekends – see their website for details. Regular taxi drivers might have a hard time getting up to the base, it’s a 4WD road in winter.
Another resort in the Kashka-Suu valley close to Bishkek, Oruu-Sai is marked by difficult slopes for advanced skiers and boarders. There is little infrastructure on-site to make you cheerful outside of the 3 surface lifts – you come for the sports. If the powder is fresh, there is some sweet riding here. With prices hovering around 500 som and less people venturing here, it makes for a quiet day out.
The slopes are not all neatly groomed, and the surface lifts are very difficult, even dangerous when you fly off-piste directly on the car road; so once again, it’s definitely not for beginners.
There are 2 hotels at Oruu-Sai. Check out a photo report of the place.
Kyzyl Beles is the highest ski resort near Bishkek, above Oruu-Sai in the Ala-Archa valley. This is where the skiing season starts and ends for residents of the capital. It’s nothing special: just 1 lift and 1 ungroomed slope, so this is mostly for the fanatics who want to ski until the last snowflake has disappeared.
If you are spending a few days skiing the different resorts in the Ala-Archa valley, you can come up here for the afternoon. The already cheap tickets then become half-price.
If you are that fanatic who wants to taste every last snowflake, you would probably prefer backcountry skiing in Suusamyr or Song Kul rather than spending your day on this tiny slope.
A small resort near Bishkek, Kolgookar has 3 surface lifts that lead to a big variety of slopes and a great panoramic view over the Chuy valley. Kolgookar is located between the ski resorts Kashka-Suu and Oruu-Sai.
The microclimate at Kolgookar makes it one of the best places near Bishkek for early and late snow. You are free to pick a path on the short, steep slopes. The varied relief means any experienced rider should be able to find a hill to their taste at Kolgookar.
Ski rental is available, but we have no indication as to the quality of the gear. Day prices for the ski lift are low. Accommodation is nearby at the Ak Tash ski resort. There is no cafe.
Located 42km out of Bishkek, in a valley just below the ski base of Kolgookar, sits a tiny ski base called Edelweiss. Nothing to get too excited over, this resort consists of 1 surface lift towing skiers up a 2 km slope at a 15-20% angle. We have heard the piste is rocky and that is the reason why it attracts few skiers. No idea about the backcountry potential here.
It’s close to other bases like Ak Tash and Kashka-Suu, so if you are planning a longer stay, you might want to come here for an afternoon to see something else.
A 4WD is preferred as the last 2 km is seriously steep and the road is in bad repair.
Near the ski base of Kashka Suu you can find the lifts of Polytech, about 30 km out of Bishkek. It’s one of the oldest ski resorts in Kyrgyzstan, operating since the 70s, so lovers of Soviet metal will love to sniff the air here, resounding with the creaking noises of pancake lifts swinging above the snow.
Nonetheless, various innovations have happened over the past 40 years and Polytech is well-loved by the sports community of Bishkek. There are 3 slopes, 1 green/blue, 1 blue/red and 1 red/black. Prices are low for a day pass or ski rental. There is no food or accommodation on site.
You can get a decent overview of the place with this photoreportage.
After Karakol, Orlovka is probably the second best ski resort in Kyrgyzstan based on the number of slopes and the quality of the infrastructure and slope preparation. It’s a 2 hour drive east from Bishkek, which means crowds are a bit smaller on weekends than at the nearby beginner slopes like Zil and Chunkurchak. In any case, you will get more options for a slightly lower price.
Snow cannons work to maintain the natural snow pack, necessary at Orlovka’s low altitude.
The hotel on-site offers pricey overnight options (it’s Kyrgyzstan, but it’s also still winter sports) and cottages are also for rent to house bigger groups. Reviews of the restaurant are generally good, but you might be waiting for hours on a busy day. Wifi exists on-site but it’s not clear in how far you can actually connect to it.
Orlovka has their own daily transfer you can book a space on.
Too Ashuu is arguably the most beautiful ski resort in Kyrgyzstan: the panoramic views are spectacular, and the sun hits your face the whole day long, since you are skiing on south-facing slopes (lack of snow is never an issue here). About 130 km south of Bishkek, Too Ashuu is located in the Suusamyr valley and offers 2 lifts and 3 slopes. Too bad there aren’t more slopes on offer, since many similar options exist closer to Bishkek, and just for the scenery many people don’t bother driving an extra 80 km for.
But, if you are experienced, it’s a great base to start ski touring the surrounding slopes: with the Suusamyr lodge nearby you can even devise a route between the two of them. The backcountry potential is nearly unlimited and the powder is as good as it gets.
Heliskiing also happens on Too-Ashuu – you need to contact a specialised operator or check the Too Ashuu website for more on that. You can also rent a parachute for a bit of speed riding.
Cute cottages with 2, 4 or 6 beds are on site for a warm and comfortable sleep. There is also a “kafeshka” serving standard Kyrgyz fare.
Just 40 km from Bishkek, Chunkurchak brands itself as a family-friendly resort. Expect lots of families at the weekend, when long queues at the lifts can happen on good days. Luckily, the wide slopes make sure there is plenty of space for all. At present, there are only 4 lifts, but 6 more are being planned.
This is a good place for beginners. Advanced skiers will find little to do here outside of a small snow park. Hiking up from the lifts opens up the backcountry, where more exciting opportunities lie for experienced skiers.
You can rent equipment on site but in Bishkek you can get it at half price. A cafe serves tea, coffee and cakes, but nothing else- bring your own food. There are no places to sit outside the cafe, which gets very busy in weekends.
If you want to stay overnight, you can do so at the Supara, a luxury resort and restaurant 3 km down from the slopes that gets good reviews.
In summer, lifts are not operating, but you can go for a leisurely hike and a picknick here.
40 km out of Bishkek, this accessible ski base is ideal for kids and beginners. Excellent slopes to learn how to ski and instructors are on standby if you need one. If you know how to ski, you will get easily bored here, though. There are no options for advanced riders. You can rent equipment on site but in Bishkek you can get it at half price.
Prices are reasonable, lift lines could get annoying on weekends but slopes are wide enough to accommodate a big number of the dangerously awkward. Tubes and sleds available for kids who want to go down the sledding hill.
Bring your own lunch – the cafe offers tea and cakes but no full meals. Should you, for some strange reason, want to stay overnight at Zil, cheap rooms for rent are available.
Oh yeah: Zil also has a golden statue of Putin.
Located 40 km out of Bishkek, close to the more popular Zil ski resort, lies Norus. With 2 lifts and 3 kilometers of slopes of easy/medium difficulty, it is suited to absolute beginners, or those who learned to ski at Zil and are ready for the next step. Advanced skiers will get bored quickly here. Pluses at Norus are the smaller crowds and lower prices versus Zil.
There is potential for decent backcountry skiing for those willing to climb another 1000m to the top of the resort at 3050m. Usually, this summit is accessed by helicopter, from where a dizzying 1200m descent follows.
A hotel and restaurant are attached to the resort. They appear to be of decent quality.
At the start of the Kashka Suu valley lies the Uzun Bulak ski resort. A small place with just 1 lift and simple slopes for beginners. Everyone more advanced will go higher up to the other resorts in the valley like Kashka Suu, Oruu Sai, Ak Tash etc.
Ski-Tatyr is located 25 km from Bishkek outside of the village Tatyr Strelnikova. It’s a small place targeted to families with their kids. 2 surface lifts and 2 easy slopes make the ideal learning environment for beginners. Instructors and ski rental are on-site. Prices are lower and crowds are small, so this is in our opinion a better option than Zil for the absolute beginner.
There are some benches outside for picknicking on a sunny day and a small cafe.
Small resort between the gorges of Alamedin and Issyk Ata. There is only 1 long chairlift, but from the top, the creative rider does have quite some options to descend back down, thanks to the lack of marking or grooming on the mountain. Freeriders can continue to climb to carve virgin snow from higher up.
Lack of snow can be an issue here, but in general, Toguz Bulak is probably a bit underestimated compared to the other resorts around Bishkek.
Cottages are available for booking on-site, in case you want to stay overnight. There is also a restaurant serving standard Kyrgyz fare.
Almaly is a tiny ski base under 2000 m. If you really want to avoid the crowd. At the moment there is only 1 surface lift. The place is developing though, and might offer more in the future, or even get connected to the surrounding valleys. Backcountry potential unknown.
Snow is likely from late November to March.
Fizkulturnik is a great name, but it denotes nothing more than a single ski lift in front of the Jannat resort. Low altitude and lack of any challenging slopes makes this one to avoid, unless you happen to be staying at the Jannat.