CURRENCY EXCHANGE AND COSTS IN KYRGYZSTAN
Kyrgyzstan is a country with well-supplied modern banking services and an efficient International Banking System, but the country is still majorly a cash-dependent economy as bargaining is really common in every transaction from market place to offices. You have to pay for everything in cash when taking Public transports.
The official currency in Kyrgyzstan is the som. The som is divided into 100 tyin and Notes are in denominations of лв1,000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1, and 50, 10 and 1 tyin. Coins exist in denominations of 1, 3, 5 and 10 som, and 10 and 50 tyin.
While travelling to Kyrgyzstan there are no major restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency. However, amounts exceeding US$10,000 or equivalent have to be declared while entering and exiting the country.
MODE OF PAYMENTS IN KYRGYZSTAN
You must keep in mind that, Kyrgyzstan is primarily a cash economy. Credit cards or travellers’ cheques are not widely accepted here. While you can use US dollars or Euros for transactions in some big hotels and tour companies but you have to keep cash of most of the local payments and transactions.
Currency transactions and money changing in Kyrgyzstan are very convenient. There is no black market for currency exchange and changing money back from Som is also easy.
Money transfers are no problem with Western Union or Money Gram. To wire money, Money Gram has services at main post offices and Western Union works through many banks.
Credit cards are accepted in some of the larger hotels and restaurants in Bishkek and can also be used at banks to withdraw cash from the counter. But there is little value of these cards outside the main cities.
There is limited acceptance of Travellers cheques in Kyrgyzstan, but some banks in Bishkek accept traveller’s cheques, with US Dollars as the preferable option. Commission charges of TC are high and its recommended to avoid it.
HOW AND WHERE TO EXCHANGE CURRENCY IN KYRGYZSTAN
Foreign currencies can be exchanged at commercial banks and at authorised bureaux de change. The US Dollar and euro are the easiest currency to exchange to Som.
Banks and licensed money-changer booths called “obmen valyot” exchange US dollars and other major currencies like Pounds sterling, Euros, Russian Rubles, and Kazakh Tenges. The money-changing booths and Banks are easily found in urban areas but cities like Jalal-Abad and Osh have fewer options.
OTHER OPTIONS TO GET CASH IN KYRGYZSTAN
ATM cash withdrawal
ATMs are progressively common in all major cities. Bishkek has the largest number of ATM’s known as “Bankomat” in Russian. Outside of the capital, several ATM’s can be found in Jalal-Abad and Osh, while you will find only 1 or 2 in Cholpon Ata, Karakol, Kochkor, Naryn, Kant, Tokmak, Talas and Balykchy. Cities like Kazarman, Batken and Arslanbob do not have any ATM. You will also find ATM at the Bishkek Airport, withdraw some cash from there only on arrival.
Demir Kyrgyz International Bank (DemirBank brand) is the first international bank in Kyrgyz Republic. Demi Bank has more than 201 ATMs spread across the country.
Some ATMs in Kyrgyzstan dispense US dollars along with Kyrgyz Som. Kazkommerzbank is one of these banks offering these facilities. Demirbank & Kazkommertsbank accept Master Cards while Visa and Maestro Cards are options in other banks.
AVERAGE COST IN KYRGYZSTAN (Credit LP)
- Hostel dorm (Bishkek) or rural homestay: 400–700som
- High-end or boutique hotel: US$60–200
- Midrange hotel: US$30–50
- Street snack: 40–60som
- Self-service cafeteria meal: 60–150som
- Good restaurant meal in Bishkek: 400–1200som
- Long-distance marshrutka ride: 150–500som
- Long-distance share-taxi seat: 300–1000som
- Long-distance car with driver per day: 3000som
- Full day horse riding with guide: 1800–3000som
- Private kok boru demonstration: 17000som
- Museum admission: 50–150som
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