Work and Travel in Kyrgyzstan
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN KYRGYZSTAN FOR TRAVELLERS
Kyrgyzstan is a country in Central Asia. It’s rarely visited and forms part of the Ancient Silk Road that connected trade between Europe and China. It’s a land of mystery and excitement. This former member of the Soviet Union has developed well after its independence. So if you want to travel in Kyrgyzstan you’re going to experience something few do.
But there’s not a lot of information about work and travel in Kyrgyzstan. We have done our research and now our travel guide to Kyrgyzstan (https://www.lonelyplanet.com/kyrgyzstan) is going to reveal to you what you need to know before your big adventure.
1. Work in an Orphanage in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan is a nation trying to stand on its own merits. However, many children find themselves orphaned in the country because of drug and alcohol issues and poorer families who simply don’t have the means to take care of them.
This is why if you want to work in Kyrgyzstan you should ideally have a working knowledge of Russian or the local language. But it’s not a deal breaker and you can help with certain tasks, such as keeping the orphanage running and playing with the children.
Karakol tends to be the centre for these orphanages. But it’s also possible to find them in some of the other cities. Even rural orphans tend to get sent to the major cities.
2. Teach Languages at a University in Kyrgyzstan
In an effort to improve the proficiency of the universities across the country, they’re calling in native speakers of English, German, and French to help teach their languages in the universities there.
You don’t need to be a native speaker of the language for these volunteering opportunities in Kyrgyzstan, but you must have at least achieved a level of fluency.
Partaking in these classes will bring you in close contact with local people as you travel in Kyrgyzstan. Plus, you’ll be giving them vital skills that they will use for the rest of their lives.
3. Join a Cultural Exchange in Kyrgyzstan
Cultural exchanges are essentially homestays in the country. As part of your work, you’ll be staying with a host family and sharing both morning and evening meals alongside them. You’ll teach them some of your language and they’ll teach you some of theirs.
The work involved is mainly about your time. Yes, you’ll be expected to help around the house, but you’ll mainly be interacting with them as part of your volunteer experience.
You should bear in mind that the majority of these programs require you to commit at least a month of your time to your stay in the country.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR KYRGYZSTAN
Kyrgyzstan has one of the most liberal, advanced visa policies in the whole of Central Asia. The region is known for its complex visa requirements, but if you want to travel in Kyrgyzstan it’s not as difficult as you think.
For a start, the UK and the rest of Europe are able to stay in the country without a visa for at least 60 days (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/kyrgyzstan/entry-requirements). Furthermore, many former Soviet countries, plus North Korea, can stay and work in the country for as long as they want.
Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, and Japan have an agreement with the country to enable their citizens to also stay for 60 days (https://smartraveller.gov.au/Countries/asia/central/Pages/kyrgyz_republic.aspx#entry_and_exit). The same applies to North Americans, with the exception of Mexican citizens, who can get a visa when they arrive.
All other countries in the world are entitled to at least use the e-visa system (http://www.evisa.e-gov.kg/). There’s no need to ever visit an embassy of Kyrgyzstan to get your visa.
Take note that South Africans can simply pick up a visa-on-arrival.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN KYRGYZSTAN
The seasons, you’ll notice as you work and travel in Kyrgyzstan, are continental, so they won’t seem that much different from the seasons you’re used to.
Spring is an excellent time to visit the country because it’s neither too hot nor too cold. This is a great time to move into the rural areas for a homestay. Many farms in Kyrgyzstan are beginning the planting season, so there’s a demand for volunteers to help out.
You’ll get to meet real locals and enjoy a cultural exchange in the process. Bear in mind that knowing some words in Russian or the local language will come in handy.
Summer in Kyrgyzstan can get extremely hot, so you should choose your volunteering opportunities in Kyrgyzstan carefully.
Indoor projects in Karakol are the best options in summer. You may decide to work in an orphanage, for example, or even an elderly care home. More qualified working travellers could decide to volunteer their services in some of the addiction clinics during the summer.
The autumn season is much like autumn in Western countries. This is when the majority of universities begin the new year.
This is why volunteering in a university is the best option for autumn. You can run language classes and help local young people learn one of the major world languages. If you speak Russian, it’s also possible to volunteer as a translator in the universities of Kyrgyzstan.
We don’t recommend looking for work in Kyrgyzstan in the winter time. It can be extremely cold and the majority of projects simply aren’t available.
Read through the previous sections. The indoor projects may still be running, but in general this is not a pleasant time to be in the country.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN KYRGYZSTAN
Kyrgyzstan is a poor country receiving few visitors every year. However, they are a friendly people, if not more conservative than many of the countries around the world.
Volunteers and foreigners working in the country should have no problems with the locals here. However, be aware that you’ll find it extremely difficult to communicate unless you have a few words of the local language or Russian handy.
Are you ready to challenge yourself with work and travel in Kyrgyzstan?
- Edited on Dec 7 2018 by Marichka