This guidance is designed to describe appropriate clothing, the cultural context where you will be living and working, and the professional expectations of your workplace.
As you decide what to bring, keep in mind there is a 100-pound weight limit on checked baggage.
In general, most items you will need are available in country and locally acquired items are often the best at helping you integrate into your community. However, locally available items may not be the brands, quality, prices, or sizes you are used to. Bringing some key items from home might make your transition to service more comfortable.
This guidance has been compiled by Peace Corps staff and Volunteers and is based on their experience. Use this information as an informal guide as you make your own packing list, bearing in mind that each experience is individual. There is no perfect packing list!
This packing guidance is designed to help you think through different categories of items and consider what you might want to bring, considering work expectations, cultural considerations, and your own personal preferences.
Kyrgyzstan is a mountainous country in central Asia. The climate is continental, with cold winters, and warm and sunny summers, sometimes scorching hot at low altitudes, but cooler in the mountains. From the vast deserts of the neighboring countries, winds may bring sandstorms.
Kyrgyzstan has four proper seasons and average temperatures are:
- Lowland temperatures in the north range from an average low temperature of 35°F in January, the coldest month, to an average high temperature of 90°F in summer.
- Highland regions: The January average low temperature is about -5°F and up to an average high temperature of about 75°F in summer. Temperatures in the winter may drop as low as -20F.
Peace Corps Kyrgyz Republic provides the following items to Volunteers:
- Basic smart phone with dual sim card capability
- Power bank
- Memory stick
- Fire extinguisher
- 2 smoke/carbon monoxide detectors with batteries
- Water filter with replaceable filters
- Mosquito net (double size)
- Book “Where There Is No Doctor”
- PCV Health Handbook
- PCV Cookbook
- Bicycle helmet (upon request from PCV)
- Yak-Tracks for winter shoes
- Lending library available in the PC office
- Kyrgyz language resources
Peace Corps Kyrgyz Republic also provides a one-time settling-in allowance for household items such as: Space heater; kitchen supplies and appliances; rice cooker; bath supplies and other household items.
Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take:
- Radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted)
- Automobiles or motorcycles
- Flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers
- Valuables such as precious jewelry or family heirlooms
Do not bring any drug that has not been authorized by the Peace Corps for medical purposes without prior consultation with Office of Health Services Pre-Service. This includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Illicit drugs, including marijuana and related products such as CBD and herbal substances such as kratom, are prohibited during Peace Corps service, even if they are legal in your home of residence. If you use, possess, or distribute illicit drugs, you will be administratively separated from service.
There is a wide range of clothes available in the major cities, while the assortment is limited in smaller communities. Bishkek has the largest variety of stores including name brand stores. While most types of clothes are available in the country, the brands and quality may be different from what you are used to. Cost and quality of clothing may vary greatly from bazaars (local markets) to shopping malls, where prices are not that different from in the US.
It can be a challenge to find larger-size clothes (XXL and above) and shoe sizes 11 and above for men and 9 and above for women.
Teachers are role models, professionals, and respected community members. Therefore, there is a high expectation related to their professional dress, and they are often strict and conservative.
- According to cultural norms, professionals are not expected to wear a different outfit every day, but instead ensure their clothing is clean and pressed.
- Some schools may have requirements for teachers to wear uniforms, often a white shirt or blouse and black pants or skirt.
- All clothing and accessories required for teachers are widely available around the country.
- In winter, many areas of Kyrgyzstan can be quite cold so volunteers tend dress in layers, even in classrooms.
- Teachers usually dress in muted colors.
There is a clear distinction between male and female attire in the Kyrgyz Republic.
- At work, female teachers are expected to wear skirts below the knee or trousers; modestly cut tops (i.e., not showing cleavage); sleeves covering the shoulders (no sleeveless or tank tops). No stretch pants/leggings are allowed unless under skirts or long tops that completely cover the buttocks and thighs.
- At work, male teachers are expected to wear trousers and collared shirts that are tucked in. Sweaters, pullovers and blazers can be worn over the shirt or sweater. A blazer or sport coat is commonly worn especially in formal occasions.
- Peace Corps/Kyrgyz Republic has also established a conservative dress code for pre-service training (PST) to practice the more conservative customs in Kyrgyz Republic. Please keep in mind that dressing conservatively and covering the skin attracts less unwanted attention.
Leisure and recreational clothing
You can go jogging, do yoga inside your room, play soccer, go hiking and participate in other outdoor sports and wear comfortable clothes if they are not tight and too open. Shorts at or below the knee are appropriate. Sleeveless shirts and tank tops are not recommended. Swim suits should be modest.
Women's exercise leggings and sports bras are not widely available and may be expensive.
Shoes must be clean and polished. Flip flops or athletic shoes are not appropriate. Sandals are allowed for women if they are clean and not like flip flops.
Hiking boots, leather shoes or sports shoes are standard. Roads in the villages may be muddy or dusty, therefore, it is customary to wear a pair of comfortable outdoor shoes and keep a pair of clean, polished dress shoes at work.
Shoes are taken off at the front door. Inside, slippers or socks are expected. Slippers are inexpensive and widely available in country.
You should bring a three-month supply of any prescription and/or over the counter medications you use that are authorized/approved by the Peace Corps.
Note: Prior to service, Peace Corps supplies all volunteers with a medical kit containing basic, over-the-counter medications, as well as multivitamins.
The medical unit will replenish prescriptions after the initial three-month training.
If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pairs (of the current prescription) with you. Contact lens use will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Additional guidance for Peace Corps Kyrgyz Republic:
Peace Corps/Kyrgyz Republic provides a supplementary medical kit with antibiotics and additional medications that are not provided in the standard Peace Corps Medical Kit. These medications may be used after authorization from PC Medical Officers.
Peace Corps/Kyrgyz Republic provides COVID-19 PPE:
- Surgical masks
- Fabric masks
- Hand Sanitizers 60ml
- COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests
- Pulse oximeter (one per/service)
Peace Corps/Kyrgyzstan provides PCVs with a basic smartphone and a power bank. Volunteers who have brought laptops or tablets have found them helpful.
Electricity voltage in Kyrgyz Republic is 220 V. Most of the portable electronics: laptops, tablets, e-readers, smartphones etc. have power supply with input voltage ranging from 110 V (American) to 220 V (Europe); however, a Euro plug adapter will be needed, they are available at local stores for about 1 USD.
There is electricity available in all communities, but there may be outages with duration from a few minutes to one or two days.
Based on your interests and personal preferences there may be additional items you will want to consider bringing with you for your favorite outdoor activities or hobbies.
Teachers may consider bringing some favorite language learning resources. For example, some Volunteers have brought card games or board games specific to American culture that can be used for teaching English.