The Silk road is made up of the countries of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, and is known as the Silk Road Region. This part of the world is full of unique culture, ancient history, and delicious cuisine. Here are a few of our top tips on the best time to visit, and everything you need to know before visiting Uzbekistan & Central Asia.
Here is everything you need to know before visiting Central Asia:
Uzbekistan is home to some of the World’s most beautiful Mosques (that are filled with incredible stories of history and unique cultural experiences). If you have ever seen those stunning photos of the mosques with blue Arabic tiles, golden domes, and giant archways - most likely they were taken in Uzbekistan.
Kyrgyzstan & Tajikistan are home to the Pamir (an area with some of the most beautiful mountains and valleys you will ever see) and are abundant in breathtaking scenery, mountain lakes, wildlife, and history. Set along the Ancient Silk Road Caravan Route, you can stop along the Silk Road Cities to experience the markets and Bazaars as they once were.
Kazakhstan & Turkmenistan are the largest two countries in Central Asia with their Western Border along the Caspian Sea, the largest inland body of water in the world. While many people only visit these two places at the start and end of their Silk Road journey, there are a lot of things to do and see. Some of the regions most impressive museums (filled with ancient artifacts from the Silk Road) can be found here.
1) Is it Safe to Visit Uzbekistan and the Silk Road Region?
Many people who have never visited (or heard much about) Central Asia often wonder about how safe it it is. Uzbekistan is quite a safe country to visit, all of its cities are fairly small and have quiet and relaxed atmospheres (apart from the Capital City of Tashkent). The same goes for other areas in the Silk Road Region, with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan having some of the most hospitable people you will ever meet.
Traveling solo without a tour can preset issues as often (due to cultural barriers) locals are not the most straight-forward people to deal with, especially when you are a tourist. While there isn’t a threat of danger, you can easily get ripped off by local people (and even the police) when they find an opportunity to make money off you. Always travel in a group with a local or a guide that knows the area. Not only will they take care of you, but they will also ensure that your visit is enjoyable, educational, and that you leave wanting to come back again and again.
2) When is the Best Time to Visit Uzbekistan and Central Asia?
Generally the best time to visit Uzbekistan & The Silk Road Region is during spring (April to June) and fall (September to November). During this time the weather is warm and dry without too much heat from the summer or snowfall during the winter. We advise not to travel during the winter, unless you are looking for a snowy experience (there are wonderful outdoor activities such as skiing and ice climbing if you are looking for more of an adventurous experience.).
The summer season can also be a wonderful time to visit, especially if you are traveling to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan specifically to hike, trek, and explore the Pamir Mountains. For this, the best time to visit is from June to September (in particular July and August - as that is the time when all the snow has melted from the mountain passes and the roads are all accessible).
3) What Visas do I need for Uzbekistan and Central Asia ?
Obtaining Visas (as a US or EU Passport Holder) is fairly simple when visiting the Far East, but does take some planning in Advance. While Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are Visa Free, you must apply for an e-visa to visit Tajikistan and Uzbekistan (E-visas should be applied for 1-2 weeks of submitting an application). Turkmenistan requires a Letter of Invitation to be submitted to the Embassy in order to receive your visa (visa should be applied for 1-2 months in Advance).
Kyrgyzstan - Visa Fee for US Citizens
Kazakhstan - Visa Free for US Citizens
Uzbekistan - $20 Embassy Fee + $20 Estimated Service Fee Online E-Visa
Tajikistan - $50 Embassy Fee + $20 Estimated service Fee Online E-Visa
Turkmenistan - $55 Embassy Fee + $50 Estimated Service Fee (you must receive a Letter of Invitation from your Tour Company prior to applying for your Visa)
4) How do I get to Uzbekistan and Central Asia?
There are several major Airports in Central Asia that offer a great location to start your experience, and are easily accessible via flight from countries all across the globe.
Almaty (ATA) - Capital of Kazakhstan
Tashkent (TAS) - Capital of Uzbekistan
Bishkek (FRU) - Capital of Kyrgyzstan
Dushanbe (DYU) - Capital of Tajikistan
Ashgabat (ASB) - Capital of Turkmenistan
If you are visiting multiple countries within Central Asia the most efficient route is to start your journey in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan and end in Almaty, Kazakhstan, or vice versa. Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan are small countries located in between so it makes for a smooth travel route. Search for flights from your Home City to Central Asia, and you should find lots of options!
5) What Vaccinations do I need before Visiting Uzbekistan and Central Asia?
Prior to visiting Uzbekistan and Central Asia be sure that your Routine Vaccinations are up-to-date (required), and that you have had your Hepatitis A and Typhoid Shots (recommended). Pack plenty of your daily medications, but no special medications are necessary to visit this part of the World.
6) Tips and Tricks Before Visiting Uzbekistan & The Silk Road
Not long ago during the Soviet Era Central Asia used to be a part of the Soviet Union, which means that many people today still speak Russian, especially in the cities. Each country has its own language that is more widely spoken especially in the Rural Areas, Uzbekistan - Uzbek, Kyrgyzstan - Kyrgz, Tajikistan- Tajiki, Turkmenistan- Turkmen, and, Kazakhstan- Kazakh. Here are a few phrases in Uzbek to learn before you visit:
Hello - Salom
How Are You? - Qalaysiz
Thank You - Rahmat
The major Religion in Central Asia is Islam, which means that the people tend to dress conservatively. As you are packing for your Trip, keep this in mind and pack plenty of clothing, scarfs, hats, etc… to cover your body (and protect it from the sun, heat, snow, and cold as temperatures in this part of the world can change dramatically).
The People in Central Asia are some of the kindest you will ever meet, so don’t be surprised when they invite you into their home to enjoy Tea and some homemade food. From the delicious bread, flavorful rice dishes, and spiced curries, trust me…. You will wish you could stay along the Silk Road forever.
Arzimaydi! Have a Great Trip!