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Travel to Central Asia – Which country should you visit?

travel to Central Asia

I spent 5 months traveling through Central Asia and it was the outing of my lifetime.

It's "the worlds largest" epic field I have ever been to, and not only because this used to be the heart of the Silk Road and has some truly acclaimed ridges but likewise because, despite being a barely saw sphere, it's a highly accessible, tourist-friendly destination which I would even recommend to my mom.

Central Asia, nonetheless, is pretty big, a region where you could spend months exploring and, for those who are short of time, choosing the right itinerary that fits their journey needs can be a tough decision.

Therefore, it doesn't surprise me at all when numerous readers email me questioning 😛 TAGEND

I simply have X weeks to travel in Central Asia, which countries would you proposed to me?

The truth is that the 5 Central Asian Republics are, on the one pas, very similar- probably because they are all former Soviet Republics, day in which Soviet governors tried to implement homogeneity across their socialist state.

However, they are also very different, each country offering a truly unique experience.

In this blog, I wanted to give you a detailed overview of each one of the Central Asian Republics, as well as general excursion tips-off for Central Asia.

travel to the stans

In this Central Asia wander template you will find:

Best time to visitHow to get inHow to get outIs it safe ?Travel InsuranceWhich country you should see


BooksMore aids

Note: Geographically, Central Asia is composed not only of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan but also Afghanistan , northern Pakistan, and Xinjiang province in China. However, when you think about visit Central Asia, most travelers refer to the 5 former Soviet Republics( also known as the Stans ), which is what this traveling template is referring to as well. If you want to know more about Pakistan, predicted my Pakistan archives.

Best time to travel to Central Asia

Most of Central Asia has a continental atmosphere, with completely red-hot summers and extremely cold wintertimes but, since each country has something different to offer, each one has a specific best season to come over.

How did I coordinate my trip-up across the Stans?

As I told you in the opening, I wasted 5 months traveling in the Stans and, from a timing point of view, this is how I organized my timetable 😛 TAGEND

June 15 th to August 15 th: KyrgyzstanAugust 15 th to September 15 th: TajikistanSeptember 15 th to October 15 th: UzbekistanOctober 15 th to November 15 th: Kazakhstan

It wasn't a coincidence, but I projected it based on the following criteria 😛 TAGEND

Visiting Central Asia in summer

Summer is the ideal season for calling the mountain regions which, in my view, should be the highlight of any errand to Central Asia.

However, be kept in mind that anywhere outside those areas, the forecast will be very hot.


Kyrgyzstan- Plenty of nomads and the best season for trekking.Tajikistan- Same as Kyrgyzstan. If you simply have three weeks in August, I actually recommend you compound Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.Kazakhstan- The southeastern part of Kazakhstan is a mountainous region that belongs to the Tien Shan range. In the eastern part, you likewise find Katon-Karagay, but that's very remote.

Read: tips& compressing inventory for trekking in Central Asia


Uzbekistan- The spotlight of Uzbekistan is visiting municipalities like Khiva or Bukhara but, in summer, temperatures may contact over 40 oC, so it's not a good time to visit it them. I haven't been in Uzbekistan during the summer months but during my wander, I congregate many travelers who were complaining about this.Turkmenistan- It's a desert country and, as such, the climate can be extremely hot in summer.Some parts of Kazakhstan- Kazakhstan is vast and the mountain regions are just a tiny one of the purposes of it, most of the country comprises of endless steppe that becomes overwhelmingly sizzling in summer.

Moreover, bear in mind that time is high season, which signifies the more popular plazas will be busy.

Best time to travel in Central AsiaKyrgyzstan, month of August, at roughly 4000 m. In a different season, this sit would not look so light-green and beautiful

Visiting Central Asia in outpouring and autumn

In my opinion, these are the best seasons to visit the Central Asian Republics: most crowds are proceeded, the weather is pleasant and, if you come in late outpouring or early autumn, the mountains are still very accessible.


Uzbekistan- The condition is pleasant and the Silk road cities are less busy.Turkmenistan- Turkmenistan is free of gatherings all time long but, like in Uzbekistan, springtime and autumn have the most pleasant weather.Kazakhstan- Except for the mountain regions, these seasons are the best to enjoy the rest of Kazakhstan, specially the southern part, which includes the Aral Sea, Shimkyent, Turkestan, etc.Kyrgyzstan& Tajikistan- Unless you want to go trekking in high altitude( we got snow in the month of June ), this should be the best time, as the mountains are very accessible, most backpackers are proceeded and nomads will still be there. By the channel, the Fann Mountains in Tajikistan are best explored during this season.


If you come too early in outpouring or too late in autumn, you might not be able to go trekking or even tenting in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.

For example, I saw the mountainous region of Kazakhstan in November and had to skip any sort of trekking because it was already too cold.

travel through Central AsiaThe weather in Uzbekistan following the adjournment of September was very pleasant

Visiting Central Asia in wintertime

Most of Central Asia is carried out by snow but you can still enjoy it somehow.


Uzbekistan- If you don't mind sightseeing with freezing temperatures and gray skies, it shouldn't be a bad time to visit Uzbekistan.Kazakhstan- Same as Uzbekistan, but you really need to wear proper clothes.Turkmenistan- If you don't mind the coldnes, it shouldn't be that bad! Kyrgyzstan- In Kyrgyzstan, there is a ski resort, plus you can do some winter nomad athletics in the area around Issy-Kul.


From meeting nomads to trekking and walking around the mountains, wintertime is not a good time for any intrepid act which, in my opinion, is the main highlight in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and likewise Kazakhstan.

best central asia ountry to visitMonth of June, and check out how much snowfall. That is Mount Karakol in Kyrgyzstan

Best room to travel to Central Asia

How to travel to the Stans by breeze

With the region's increase in popularity, today, traveling to the Stans is becoming easier than ever, and you can find direct flights from many municipals in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

From Europe, the cheapest municipalities to travel to Central Asia is by flying in Bishkek( Kyrgyzstan) and Almaty( Kazakhstan ), metropolis where you can find daily flights with Pegasus.

Dushanbe( Tajikistan) is the second easiest metropolitan to travel to. You can find budget flights very, but they don't have as numerous connections.

Tashkent, in Uzbekistan, has spate of engages as well but flights to Uzbekistan are much more expensive due to airport taxes.

The capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, is a fairly isolated metropoli with expensive flights.

Do you know another of my favorite spheres? The Horn of Africa, which includes countries like Ethiopia, Somalia or EritreaCHECK ALL MY GUIDES TO THE HORN OF AFRICA

Hotel Uzbekistan, an emblematic Soviet built in Tashkent

How to travel to the Stans by acre

You can travel to the Central Asian Republics from 😛 TAGEND

Russia- From Russia, you can enter Kazakhstan from many different entry points, both by improve, bus, or even in your own vehicle.China- From Xinjiang province, you can enter Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. I participated Kyrgyzstan via Irkeshtam Pass and here you can read my full report.Afghanistan- Afghanistan shares borderlines with Uzbekistan( very straightforward and easy strip to use ), Turkmenistan( which apparently is closed ), and Tajikistan( the one that leads to the Wakhan is very safe, the other one not so much ). Iran- Iran shares a border with Turkmenistan and, presuming you have a valid visa, you can cross that strip , no problem. Read my Iran travel guide.Azerbaijan- There is no border with this country but you can take a ferry across the Caspian Sea from Baku to the Kazakh municipal of Aktau. Moreover, as long as you have a valid visa, you can also take it from Baku to Turkmenbashi, in Turkmenistan. Here you can learn more about the Caspian Sea ferry.

Kyrgyzstan, right across the Chinese border

How to travel around Central Asia

Traveling between the Stans

Crossing metes- Except for a few specific borderlines which can only exploited by nationals, today you can travel from and to any of the Stans, usurping you have a valid visa.Transportation between the Stans- It's pretty easy and you can cross all borders by either qualify, marshrutka, or regional shared taxi. The only challenging border crossings( from a transportation point of view) would be between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, for the simple reason that it is a mountainous region with very limited public transportation.

For more information, I strongly recommend you check Caravanistan border intersect reports.

Transportation in Central Asia

The coolest thing about the Stans is that traveling around on a budget, by public transportation is very easy, as you can get to pretty much anywhere around the region by 😛 TAGEND

Marshrutka- Marshrutka conveys mini-bus in Russian and it is the main way of transportation across all former Soviet Union, from Belarus to Tajikistan. They vanish pretty much anywhere and leave formerly then there full.Local shared taxi- Sometimes, the locals travel in shared taxis because they are faster than marshrutkas, or to reach faraway places where marshrutkas don't go.Train- The qualify is a beautiful way to travel around Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, but in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is not very convenient.

Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border sweep at Kyzyl Art Pass

Is it safe to travel to Central Asia?

Fact: The Central Asian Republics are one of the safest targets I have ever been to , no kidding.

I know that this is a difficult thing to prove with exactly utterances but the fact is that during my 5-month jaunt, I never had a single problem and, other than a few drunk lovers inconveniencing me, everybody was pretty cool.

Moreover, the Stans is a region where you ascertain a lot of solo female travelers, most of them claiming had a great experience with very few occurrences. Nicole has written a guide about it.

The hazards in Central Asia, however, are more related to the adventurous stuff.

In fact, I had a pretty bad horse accident in Tash Rabat, in which I hurt my back pretty badly and had to stay in bed for 2 weeks. It's the only serious incident I have ever had when traveling.

Therefore, you must travel in Central Asia with proper hurtle insurance. More on that below.

Travel assurance for Central Asia

For traveling around Central Asia, you should get travel insurance with the following points features and benefits 😛 TAGEND

It considers undertaking activitiesGood long-term plansFull COVID-1 9 coverage- because we are in a world-wide pandemic

And, for that, I strongly recommend SafetyWing, because it gleans all the above, including trekking coverage, COVID-1 9, and long-term overlanders can pay on a monthly basis you can pay on a monthly basis.


The best country to travel in Central Asia- Which one should you visit?

Here's a quick, but ended, overview of all the Stans.

Against the Compass Pro-tipMany of you have emailed me saying that you will only have 3 weeks for go in Central Asia, hitherto you plan to visit at least 3 countries around such a short time. While the idea of seeing many countries might clang plea, the only thing you will achieve with this is seeing nothing. Central Asia is a region impelled not to hasten: spending a few periods with nomads or enjoying the mountains are works one should take easy, besides that moving from one place to another takes a lot of time. If you only have three weeks, I recommend you visit a maximum period of 2 countries, preferably 1.


In my experience, this was the best country to visit in Central Asia

Lush green pastures, 7,000 m-high snow-capped tops, remote nomadic camps, and the district of horses.

Kyrgyzstan is the ultimate destination for mountain lovers and intrepid travelers, a country composed of some of the most epic mountains I have ever seen, some of them being highly accessible, while others being only suitable for real experts.

Moreover, Kyrgyzstan is a surprisingly easy and inexpensive country to travel to, with a great tourist infrastructure. In my experience, this was my favorite country to visit in Central Asia.

Visa for Kyrgyzstan- Most tribes can get a 2-month free visa on arrival.

best country to travel in Central AsiaNomad Games, often seen in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are one of the main reasons why travel to Central Asia

Top 5 events in Kyrgyzstan

Trekking in the Tien Shan range- The main reason you come to Kyrgyzstan. Just real epicness.Staying with real nomads in a yurt clique- Kyrgyzstan is home to the most accessible nomadic culture ever. They are everywhere and, for very little money, you can stay in their yurts.Trekking on the back of a horse- This is the land of mares and going over a mountain pass on a pony is a must.Hanging out in Bishkek- The capital of Kyrgyzstan is surprisingly Westernized and a great city to take a couple-of-days-break.Going to the Alay Valley and Lenin Peak base camp- My most favorite natural locate in "the two countries ", bordering Tajikistan, this is the most impressive mountain region.

best places to travel Central AsiaHorse trekking, somewhere in Tash Rabat


Trekking( every type of trekking) Getting immersed in the nomadic cultureHomestaysAll Central Asia is cheap, but Kyrgyzstan is definitely the cheapest

Further reading:

Kyrgyzstan, 1-month scheduleTips for traveling to KyrgyzstanA beginner's guide to trekking in Kyrgyzstan

how to travel around Central AsiaThe Alay Valley, one of my most favorite situates to visit in Central Asia


Far less toured than its neighbour Kyrgyzstan but similarly epic, perhaps even more, Tajikistan is another mountain destination, the heart of the Pamir range and dwelling to the Pamir Highway, one of "the worlds largest" celebrated and agitating roads in the world to drive along.

The mountains of Tajikistan are less light-green and cute than Kyrgyzstan, but that's because they are wilder, most remote, which meant that the tourist infrastructure is also poorer, so, if you are seeking a real off the beaten track experience and can't decide between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, I clearly recommend Tajikistan.

Prices are quite similar, just slightly more expensive but, since some areas are very remote and not suitable for independent backpackers, the total cost can be considerably higher, peculiarly if you wander the Pamir Highway.

Visa for Tajikistan- Most nationalities can apply for an e-visa through the official portal. It costs 50 USD and is valid for 45 days.

travel Central Asia blogThe Wakhan Valley- Left side is Afghanistan and the right side is Tajikistan- One of the most epic arranges to visit in the Stans

5 Top experiences in Tajikistan

Driving the Pamir Highway- One of the most stunning roads in the world, if not the most.Trekking in the Pamirs- Some of the wildest and most stunning treks ever but be borne in mind that those mountains are tough.Wandering along the Afghan border in the Wakhan Valley- An ancient Silk Road roadway that goes along the Afghan border and filled with epic forts and landscapes.Discovering remote mountain hamlets in the Fann Mountains- The more accessible Fann Mountains are also dwelling to unspotted urban villages and settlements.Explore the millennial municipal of Khujand- One of the oldest metropolis in Central Asia is Khujand, a traditional metropolitan in its purest Tajik form.

trekking in Central AsiaTrekking in the Tajik Pamirs. Now, we were descending from a 5,200 m mountain pass


Trekking( every type of trekking) Epic road tripsSuper remote, quirky landscapesHomestays

Further reading:

Tajikistan travel gratuitiesPamir Highway advance templateA template to the Wakhan Valley in Tajikistan

people central asiaRandom Tajiks, somewhere in the Fann Mountains. This was one of the most traditional and Muslim expanses I called in the Central Asian Republics


Once one of "the worlds largest" hermetic countries in Asia, with very strict visa policies for strangers, Uzbekistan is today, "the worlds largest" tourist-friendly country to visit in Central Asia, and the only one where you already see some mass tourism ground, even if they are- and to be fair- the vast majority of it is concentrated in exactly 3 metropolis, the rest of the country remaining fairly unexplored.

Uzbekistan has opened its borders to show the rest of the world the majesty of what used to be the heart of the ancient Silk road, a country filled with utterly jaw-dropping mosques, enshrines and old-time cities.

However, if you thought the Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva are the only reason to travel to Uzbekistan you would be very wrong, because here you likewise find some off the beaten track gems, wandering from the dried-out Aral Sea to the less-visited Fergana Valley.

I enjoyed Uzbekistan but, to be honest with you, it's my least favorite country to travel in Central Asia but this is just my highly subjective ruling, as when I wander, I wish ridges and rural areas over inspecting cities.

Visa- Some nationalities get visa on advent, but others need to apply for an e-visa- Read my visa guide for more information.

Central Asia on a budgetThe Registan in Samarkand

Top 5 know-hows in Uzbekistan

Checking out the mind-blowing mosques and madrassas- They are absolutely stunning, and the reason number one to come to Uzbekistan.Traveling back to the Silk Road seasons- Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva were some of the 3 most crucial municipalities on the Silk Road.Visit the Aral Sea- The planet’s worst environmental disaster and you can visit a city with a harbour and no sea worded Moynaq.Visiting the Fergana Valley- A real off the beaten track region and the heart of Islam in Central Asia.Walking among Soviet constructs in Tashkent- The capital of Uzbekistan is an old Soviet-planned city and a recreation region to gallivant around for a few cases epoches.

travel guide to Central AsiaThe Old City of Khiva


Silk Road tombstones& architectureThe best bazaarsA bit of off the beaten track stuff

Further reading:

Travel gratuities for UzbekistanUzbekistan backpacking itineraryA guide to visit the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan

travel Central Asian republicsThe Aral Sea


If you like touring strange things and, at the same time, seeing the most Westernized city in Asia or checking out some drop-dead mountains, "youre going to" adore Kazakhstan.

On the one hand, Kazakhstan is a huge country, the 9th largest country around the world and, in order to feel this vastness, I strongly recommend you cross the whole country on a Soviet civilize, from west to east.

On the other hand, this is home to some of the most off the beaten track entertainments in Central Asia, wandering from the disallow municipal of Baikonur to a former testing target for atom bomb, the main metropolitan in the dried-out Aral Sea and Nur-Sultan( onetime Astana ), the capital city and a town that has quite a few peculiar and opulent buildings to check out.

Moreover, the old capital Almaty is the most European-like city in all Asia and the mountains in the southeastern part of the country are just gorgeous, even if they are I couldn't really enjoy them because I was there in November, but I did enjoy a good deal traveling by civilize, the traditional Kazakh life in Shymkient, the Aral Sea and Baikonur.

Visa- Most nationalities can get a visa on newcomer valid for 30 days.

why visit Central AsiaJust before getting into a train in Kazakhstan

Top knows in Kazakhstan

Travel in a Soviet drill through the steppe- Epic multi-day journeyings through endless Kazakh steppe.Discover the exquisite mountains of southeastern Kazakhstan- Unbelievable scenery filled with alpine lakes and canyons.Hang out in Almaty- The most European city in Asia, a town where I would not mind living for a while.Visit the Aral Sea- The worst environmental disaster caused by humans and in Kazakhstan, you find the largest city, today mainly consisting of representatives of a harbor without a sea.

how to travel to Central AsiaThe endless, and famous, Kazakh steppe


Trekking( all types) Train travelBest cityWeird, quirky substance

Further reading:

Kazakhstan travel gratuitiesKazakhstan, 1-month timetableTrain travel in Kazakhstan

Asia best places to visitAksu-Zabagly Reserve


Welcome to one of "the worlds largest" secretive countries in the world.

Along with Eritrea and North Korea, Turkmenistan is, unhappily, one of the most authoritarian countries on Earth, the reason why this is also the most difficult destination to travel to in Central Asia( in fact, the only difficult one ).

Actually, this is the only country in Central Asia I haven't visited, mostly because they denied me a visa when I exercised from Tashkent. It is very high on my roll and I am sure I will roam there soon.

Infamous for being ruled by an egocentric supervisor who spends billions in construct ludicrous, and absolutely strange structures to venerate himself, Turkmenistan is the offbeat capital of Central Asia, but these curious things are not the only reason for inspecting "the two countries ", but this is also dwelling to some Silk road wonders such as the city of Merv, and wonderful desert landscapes.

Visa- There are two types of visa: 1) Transit visa, which is a 5-day visa that you can only apply for if you recruit overland and departure overland through two two countries. For precedent, Uzbekistan -> Turkmenistan -> Iran- 2) Tourist visa: You can get a longer , normal visa if you book a full expedition with a legitimate expedition operator.

Darwaza Crater- Photo by Tormod Santorv

5 Top events in Turkmenistan

Exploring Ashgabat- A city made of marble and stupid statues built with the sole purpose of satisfying the leader's needless caprices.Visiting Konye-Urgench- Minarets and turquoise-tiled mosques, like in Uzbekistan, but without keepsake shops.Camping next to Darvaza crater- A living gas hole that has been burning for ages in the middle of the desert.Checking out Merv- Probably, the most famous archeological site in Central Asia.Wandering around Yangykala Canyon- Unique influences, blueprints, and colors, this desert is definitely worth to pay a trip.


Weird, offbeat stuffSilk Road archaeological locates, cities and monumentsDesert sceneries

Further reading:

Turkmenistan, 1 week itineraryTurkmenistan travel tips-off

Ashgabat( Photo by Peretz Partenski)

Best books about Central Asia and the Silk Road

These are just my top 5 bibles. For more alternatives, read: Best books on the Silk road

Sovietistan- A solo female traveler who circulates across the 5 Stans, launching and detecting the darkest and most offbeat secrets in Central Asia.


Dictators without margins- International politics and the influence of Central Asia in the Western world, and how Western Governments have been involved in plenty of grimy professions with Central Asian dictators.


Turkestan solo- A solo female traveler who traveled in Central Asia in the 30 s, so this travelogue will help you understand what was it like to travel in Central Asia during the Soviet Union times.


The Silent steppe- The floor about the forced displacement that millions of Kazakh nomads stood during Stalin’s regime, and the author is a survivor who tells the struggles that he and his family had to go through.


Murder in Samarkand- The human rights abuse in Uzbekistan during the regime from the previous chairwoman Islam Karimov, who governed the country from its independence until 2016.


More resources for traveling in the Stans

Remember to get proper wandering guarantee for adventure ends, and I recommend Safety Wing. CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR FREE QUOTE

For everything related to visas, updated information on border crossings, etc ., your best source is going to be Caravanistan.

Guidebooks for backpacking in Central Asia

Central Asia travel usher by Lonely Planet: If you are traveling to several parts of the region, you may want to get the LP, the most complete travel guide to Central Asia. Since they talk about 5 countries in one single record, however, the information is a bit limited.


Central Asia circulate leader by Bradt: If you want to get deeper in each one of the countries, I strongly recommend you get Bradt leaders, as they have one separate bible for each country.

Bradt is my favorite label when it comes to guidebooks because their information is always so insightful and they set a are concentrated on off-the-beaten-track places.

Kyrgyzstan Bradt GuideTajikistan Bradt GuideKazakhstan Bradt GuideUzbekistan Bradt GuideTurkmenistan Bradt Guide

You may also want to get a Kindle, so you don't carry so many diaries with you.


travel to the Central Asian Republics

Read more: againstthecompass.com

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