In Kyrgyzstan, the local currency is called the som. It exists in bills and coins. You may find bills of 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 5000. The bills all show faces of famous Kyrgyz men and women.
- The 20 som bill represents Togolok Moldo, a poet, composer and song writer.
- The 50 som bill shows Kurmanjan Datka, known by her nickname as the Queen of the South, mother of Kyrgyzstan.
- The 100 som bill portrays Toktogul Satylganov, a very famous poet and singer.
- The 200 som bill is dedicated to Alykul Osmonov, a modern poet.
- The 500 som bill represents Sayakbay Karalaev, one of the greatest Manaschi of all times.
- The 1000 som bill shows Yusuf Khass Hajib, poet, politician and philosopher.
- The 5000 som bill portrays Suimenkul Chokmorov , a great Kyrgyz actor.
Kyrgyzstan has been using the som since its independence in 1991. Its code is ISO 4217 KGS.
In 2019, 1 USD fluctuates usually between 68 and 70 KGS, 1 Euro between 77 and 79 KGS. The cost of life in Kyrgyzstan is lower than that in Europe. You’ll be able to change your money in the many exchange booths in the country.
However, be careful when choosing your bills. It’s difficult to change bills of small amounts (10, 20 Euros or USD). They may offer a lower rate. Used bills with tears or writing may also be refused or exchanged at a lower rate (around 20% less).
Make sure to change the soms you have left before your departure, as you might not be able to change them back in your currency outside of Kyrgyzstan.
You’ll find ATMs in most Kyrgyz cities that accept international VISA cards. Not all ATMs accept Mastercards. Also, be aware that most banks have low daily limits.
You’ll be able to pay by card in big hotels and restaurants, but in all other places you’ll be expected to pay in cash. Make sure you plan ahead.