10 reasons why you should visit Central Asia

Posted: 05/06/20 | June 5th, 2020

Last modified on: June 23rd, 2020 at 11:37

Why you should visit Central Asia, 10 reasons explained! Feel like a true adventurer and explore the history that helped shape the modern world. When you tell people about Central Asia most people have no idea what you are talking about. It sounds like Asia, but few can tell you where it is or what there is to see. As soon as you mention any of the -Stan countries, like Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan people think about Afghanistan. Oh, that must be dangerous! Which is a shame, Central Asia is easily our most favorite region we have ever been to.

10 reasons why you should visit Central Asia

Do you like adventure and off the beaten path destinations mixed with a deep and rich history of different cultures? Without mass tourism and insane prices? Then Central Asia is the place you should visit next. Read our 10 reasons why you should visit Central Asia below! In case you are already convinced to visit Central Asia, check out our 20 things to do in Central Asia.

1. Beautiful raw nature.

10 reasons why you should visit Central Asia
Stunning views in the Wakhan Valley, Tajikistan. Across the river is Afghanistan.

The nature in Central Asia is so diverse, you can find everything. Blue alpine lakes, gigantic rugged mountains, dense forests, canyons, caves, and endless deserts. Everything you can imagine, you can find it here. Kyrgyzstan for example is made up out of almost 80% mountains.

It is raw, unexplored and without mass tourism, you can still feel like a true adventurer. Exploring the beautiful Charyn Canyon in Kazakhstan, going on multi-day treks in Kyrgyzstan, or have a picnic next to the Big Almaty Lake. Then there is the Pamir Highway, the second-highest highway in the world reaching over 4600m altitude it is remote, rugged, and raw. If you need adventure Central Asia is the place to be!

2. Rich culture.

10 reasons why you should visit Central Asia
Statue of the popular game Buzkashi in Turkestan, Kazakhstan.

The whole region is a melting pot of culture. A mix of post-soviet, middle-east Islamic, nomads, and destruction by the hand of Genghis Khan. It is home to over 30 different ethnic groups including, Turks, Mongols, Russians, and Persians. You can see evidence of these cultures all around Central Asia. There are many different types of music, dances, customs, and national holidays.

3. Off the beaten path.

10 reasons why you should visit Central Asia
Camping at the Darvaza Gas Crater in Turkmenistan.

Most travelers don’t venture to this part of the world yet. The last years Uzbekistan has become more touristy and you will find more organized bus tours. But compared to Europe or Asia it’s hardly anything. There were countless times where we were the only foreigners in a place, there are a few places in the world where this is still possible.

Therefore it is still exciting, unexplored, and adventurous. Locals are still very curious and are genuinely interested in getting to know you!

Make sure to visit Central Asia soon, before more people discover it!

4. Incredible hospitality by locals.

10 reasons why you should visit Central Asia
Friendly locals at the Osh Bazaar in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

The people in Central Asia are some of the warmest and kindest people we have met. Although English is not commonly spoken, people always greet you with a smile. They will always try to talk to you and offer you food and drinks whenever they can. It happened so many times we got stopped by people for small talk and a picture. They are genuinely interested in this foreigner that is visiting their country of which they are so proud!

Football is very popular in Central Asia. We had multiple occasions when I mentioned I was from the Netherlands (Holland) they started naming all the famous dutch players. Although I don’t know anything about football, we had an instant connection!

5. Stunning architecture.

10 reasons why you should visit Central Asia
Kalta-Minor minaret in Khiva, Uzbekistan.

As early as the 8th century, the Islamic culture spread through parts of Central Asia. Most of this (if not destroyed by Genghis Khan) is still visible everywhere. Beautifully decorated mosques, caravanserais, and mausoleums can be found all over Uzbekistan. Then there is the more recent Russian period, grey soviet buildings can still be found throughout most of Central Asia, wide boulevards and Lenin statues. Which is not as beautiful as the Islamic period but very interesting nonetheless.

Modern-day Turkmenistan is a fascinating country when it comes to architecture. The style there is out of this world, weird fantasy buildings are spread all over its capital Ashgabat.

Central Asia is a fascinating mix of giant grey soviet buildings, nomadic yurts, and beautifully decorated mosques.

6. Ancient history that shaped our modern world.

10 reasons why you should visit Central Asia
The largest Lenin statue in Central Asia. In Khujand,(formerly known as Leninabad)  Tajikistan.

The history in this region is like no other. Being part of many Persian empires, occupied by Mongols, conquered by Alexander the Great, and a part of the Russian Empire. Before finally becoming independent countries after the fall of the USSR in 1991. This region has been through a lot and has a rich deep history that is very fascinating.

All of this while Central Asia was the heart of the Silk Road. Connecting Europe with the far east.

If you are into history Central Asia is the place to be!

7. Bazaars filled with amazing bread and fresh fruits.

10 reasons why you should visit Central Asia
Variety of bread at one of the many bazaars in Central Asia.

The Silk Road has left a lasting impression on Central Asia. Which connected Europe with the far east. Bazaars are big outdoor markets, selling food, clothes, and everything in between and are everywhere in Central Asia. They are extremely fun, this is where you get to experience the local life and interact with locals.

Fresh food everywhere: freshly baked bread, vegetables, fruits, meat, and all the other foods, drinks, and stuff you can imagine. Local salesmen and women will stop you to let you taste their goods and grab the opportunity to interact with you. We could not get enough of these bazaars and will recommend anyone to visit them.

Top tip: make sure to go into the bazaar hungry and find a tiny place tucked away for lunch. If you feel like cooking yourself the bazaars are a perfect way to get fresh food.

8. Safety in Central Asia

10 reasons why you should visit Central Asia
One of the dangers in Central Asia.

When you think about -Stan countries safety is usually not the first thing that comes up. But during the 3 months we spent in Central Asia we never felt unsafe. Crime in the area is very low and we have yet to hear of any bad stories happening to backpackers. As always, just use your common sense and respect the local laws and customs.

9. Easy to get around.

10 reasons why you should visit Central Asia
Local Damas(minivan) to get around in the Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan.

Although public transport is very basic, it works wonderfully. What is so great about it is that there is no need to plan anything. Shared taxi’s, marshrutkas go to almost every place you can think of.  Just go to the shared taxi stand (there is always at least one in every city) and tell them where you want to go. Yandex (Uber) is available almost everywhere and works perfectly.

If everything else fails you can always hitchhike. Hitchhiking is a common practice and is a great way to meet locals, just go to the road and stick your hand out. Sometimes you will be expected to pay a small amount for your ride. Make sure to ask before getting in!

10. Budget-friendly.

10 reasons why you should visit Central Asia
Feel like millionaires in Uzbekistan due to the inflation.

The region is very budget-friendly. We spend less than €30,- a day while traveling in Central Asia for 3 months. This includes all the food, activities, accommodations, transport, and visa fees. We have made a complete overview of our 3-month backpacking budget in Central Asia!

Average salaries are very low and Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are some of the poorest countries in the world. But people will still invite you in everywhere for food and tea.

Please keep that in mind when you are haggling over €0,10 price difference. 

10 reasons why you should visit Central Asia

So are you convinced of why you should visit Central Asia? Start exploring this beautiful region before it’s crawling with mass tourism. Get started with our 20 things to do in Central Asia and plan your own trip!

More about Central Asia:

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