A Traveller’s Guide to Visiting Burana Tower in Kyrgyzstan

What you need to know about the Burana Tower in Kyrgyzstan, including how to get to this ancient Silk Road minaret.

Burana Tower Kyrgyzstan

Golden grains whiplash against an Autumn breeze, stretching out towards the horizon in every direction. Snow-capped peaks loom in the distance, hinting at mountainous terrain that covers 93% of this Central Asian nation.

Over the tops of trees the Burana Tower stands tall, ancient and impressive, still surviving as one of Kyrgyzstan’s most outstanding historical sites.

70km from Bishkek, and 12km from the town of Tokmok, the Burana Tower is all that remains of the ancient city of Balasagun.

Once part of the Karakhanid kaganate that existed between the 9th- 11th centuries, Balasagun was ransacked by the Mongols in 1218. By the 14th century the city was destroyed and left in disrepair.

In the 1900s the Russians uncaringly began to tear apart the tower, using its bricks for building supplies. In the 1970s a restoration project commenced and helped restore the minaret.

READ MORE: Looking to travel to Kyrgyzstan? Don’t miss our brand new information guide!
Burana Tower Kyrgyzstan

The Burana Tower was originally built to a height of 44m, but after falling victim to both war and the elements, today it is only 25m tall. Still, it is definitely worth checking out, and is easily visited as a day trip from Bishkek.

This incredible minaret is in an absolutely stunning location, surrounded by the Tian Shan mountains and golden fields.

For less than $2 you can climb the steep, spiralling staircase and soak up the sensational views that accompany being above the leafy trees.

As long as you are reasonably fit and watch your footing, you will have no problems climbing to the top.

Burana Tower Kyrgyzstan
The view from the top!
Burana Tower Kyrgyzstan

Besides the minaret, the entire grounds now act as an open-air museum, with hundreds of balbals and petroglyphs scattered around the area.

A balbal is a grave marker that was used by the Turks when they roamed through Central Asia centuries ago. Wandering between their carved faces is an interesting experience

It is also worth visiting the local museum there, which has a small collection of artefacts discovered around the complex. It’s nothing to write home about, but you’ve come all this way. May as well check it out!

Kyrgyzstan may be known for its sensational mountains and adventure activities, but it is important not to forget that it was also once part of the historic Silk Road.

Take some time away from the peaks and head out to its other wondrous sights. The Burana Tower is worth your time and effort.

Balbal Burana Tower Kyrgyzstan
A collection of balbals near the Burana Tower.
Burana Tower Kyrgyzstan

How To Get To The Burana Tower

Visiting the Burana Tower can easily be done as a day trip from Bishkek.

From Bishkek you first need to head to the town of Tokmok. Take a city mashrutka to the Western Bus Station, and jump on a minibus to Tokmok. It should take less than two hours and cost 300 som.

When you get to Tokmok your best bet is to take a taxi to Burana. Find a driver and negotiate price (maybe around 300 som). Make sure you ask them to wait for you unless you want to be hitching back to Tokmok.

There are also minibuses that run between Tokmok and Burana. If your Russian is ok, ask a few locals.


Entry to Burana Tower: 60 som
Entry to Museum: 40 som

Burana Tower Kyrgyzstan

Pin It For Later

Burana Tower, Kyrgyzstan. Things To Do In Kyrgyzstan
Alesha and Jarryd

Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Hi, We’re Alesha and Jarryd!

Join the Team

We’ve been traveling the world together since 2008, searching for the planet’s best destinations and adventures.

Love Travel?

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter for the best travel tips, ideas and deals!

We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.


Related Posts

15 thoughts on “A Traveller’s Guide to Visiting Burana Tower in Kyrgyzstan”

  1. The western bus station doesn’t have bus to go to tokmok anymore.
    We need to go to the eastern bus station and take a minibus

  2. any places to visit near Burana Tower to complete the day trip?

    • There is not a lot around Burana Tower. There are few towns to check out but no real attractions in the area. Burana Tower is a great stop on the way to Karakol.

  3. Wow awesome pics! I wanna go there someday.. i wish

    • We hope you get there. It is a beautiful country.

  4. Simply beautiful and amazing. Would recommend to anyone. Stunning view and historical place. Best towards second half of the day…

    • Thank you so much Kemal. I agree on the second half of the day, better for photography also. 🙂

  5. Hi – another thank you for your post! The lighting is great in your photos – what time of day were you there?

    • Hi Kim, thank you so much. We were there in October. We got very lucky with weather this day. It was raining all morning and then cleared up. 🙂

  6. Wow the balbals look astonishing. I imagine there might be more places where those are found?

    • Thank you. There are other places. We didn’t get to visit though.

  7. I love you guys for how helpful your posts are for traveling in places there is little information available on, especially with providing such specific transport information. You helped me tremendously with Ganzi and now with Kyrgyzstan. I must visit The Buraka Tower! I am just starting my research for a trip in April and am looking so forward to you posting more about Central Asia.

    Thank you!

    • Thanks Jennifer! We’re always happy to help out. 😀

  8. Amazing pictures as always guys. Really inspiring me to follow your route sometime in the future. Cheers!

    • Thanks dude! Hope you get out to Central Asia soon.

Leave a comment