This is long overdue and one of about 1,000 articles that I started and never finished. On my ongoing writing about my base in early 2016, Bishkek, it’s time to explore the pubs and bars of this city. Having been based in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan from December 2015 – April 2016, I often frequented the bars of the city, working out my favourites, trying as many bars or pubs as I could. I visited over 30 bars and pubs in the city in addition to my favourite Wi-Fi cafes for Digital Nomads. These are my textbook top ten bars in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, some of which featured on Bishkek’s First Ever Pub Crawl which I helped organise alongside Apple Hostel. Pints ahoy, Bishkek is a rocking cool city and if I had followed my afterworld instinct and headed from France to Bishkek instead of to Poland, I wouldn’t have experienced the recent depression. That aside, get visiting these bars.
The first ever pub in Bishkek I visited is still my favourite – Pinta Pub. I heard that they had live football, local beers on tap and good Kyrgyz food. I popped in on my first night in the city and they showed Arsenal v. AFC Bournemouth on TV.
Over the five month period of being based here, this became my local pub and I got to know Svetlana the manager well. It’s a great pub and they do a range of beers on tap including some unfiltered beer. Zhiguli and Babarskoe were my favourites.
It has a special place in my backpacking glory days as I was here on my first night in the city, my last night in the city and on my 36th birthday. A decent hat trick. Thanks, Pinta Pub!
The Metro Pub used to have a reputation as the place where foreigners go to pick up local girls. And while Kyrgyz girls are sexy and very cool, the newly reinvented Metro Pub is more swanky and not so sleazy. I enjoyed a few nights in here and watched some jazz music, but ultimately they have less range of beers on tap as Pinta and they are dearer.
I made good friends with the staff in Greenwich pub who once stayed open until 5am for me on a cold January night just to show AFC Bournemouth v. West Ham United. A great bar with good beer offers, live football and a good range of snacks.
A pub with the same name as me but of different spelling. This was a tad too smoky most of the time, but none the less a perfect spot to mingle, smoke shisha, drink beer and watch live sport.
5.Obama’s Bar and Grill
When you name a pub after the US President, you are likely to attract curious customers. Even moreso when you stick a life sized cardboard cut out of the lad himself. Cue loads of people popping in for a beer and a fake Obama selfie.
It was a bit dearer than the other bars but stands out as a quirky place to drink and forget about the Trump v. Clinton cow excrement.
6.Level Ethna Bar
When I had a brace of nights in the swanky Hotel Europa, next door was this trendy nightclub bar with good looking girls, cocktails and dance music. It’s not really my scene anymore, but I still enjoyed it.
I got a bit of a groove on in Center Bar, it’s a place to dance and sing karaoke and my friend Aigul and I spent a few nights in here. The beer menu is not great and the prices can be steep but it’s a good place to party late into the night, and early morning.
Chechil is a downstairs bunker bar that offers Shisha and an Irish flag on its logo. It’s not really an Irish pub though but great staff happy to talk away to me.
Although this is a burger joint and a restaurant, they do a weekly “Pub Quiz” which is a great thing to experience in Kyrgyzstan. In fact, apparently, it’s the only pub quiz in the country. Plus the burgers here are the best in Bishkek and they have good local beer on tap.
On one occasion, our crowd from Apple Hostel won the pub quiz here, spearheaded by Aigul.
Run by English lad Brian, a West Bromwich Albion fan, this is the place to be to meet British ex-patriots and watch English League football. Brian streams all the football so you can watch up to 3/4 matches a time if need be!
From the outside, the Albion looks like a cafe – do not be fooled – the cosy bar is in the back.
These are just a quick top 10 – I visited many more during my months in Bishkek. The city is progressing at a comfortable rate and remains one of my favourite cities from my recent travels.
Here’s one pub to avoid though…
Munchen Pub refused to let myself and three friends come in for even a drink so it’s a shit hole – avoid it!
This list was compiled in April 2016, so apologies if some of these bars have since closed.
Here are some videos from my time in the bars of Bishkek: