Central Asia is the hidden gem of Asia
Subject: Travelling in Central Asia
With its incredible architecture, bustling markets and the romantic Silk Road, Central Asia is the ideal travel destination for those who want to get off the beaten track and see something unique. Central Asia is generally considered a safe place to travel, but it’s still a good idea to take a few common-sense precautions and follow these five simple safety tips:
1. Do your research on Central Asia
Being prepared is the best way to stay safe on your travels. Central Asian countries aren’t as well-known as more common travel destinations like Western Europe, of course, that’s part of the appeal! They’re quirky and unspoilt. Get to know a bit about the region and what they have to offer, and plan your itinerary accordingly. Also, be aware that visas are required for travel in most countries, and you’ll need to apply for them 2-3 months in advance.
The ninth largest country on earth and is a melting pot of over 130 nationalities. According to the Secret Traveller blog at 1Cover, Almaty and Astana boast futuristic skylines, a thriving pub scene and intriguing soviet-era museums.
A more difficult place to visit, due to its recent political history, but it still makes for a fascinating and worthwhile trip. Don’t miss the stunning white marble architecture of Ashgabat, the capital city.
Known for its stunning Silk Road landmarks and architectural masterpieces. Samarkand is a must-see for anyone travelling to Central Asia, with its beautiful blue-tiled public square, the Registan.
The smallest, and certainly off the beaten track. Capital city Dushanbe is the best bet for tourists, with its sightseeing, museums and parks.
is known for its beautiful mountain landscapes. Try horseback riding and camping amongst nomadic locals on the shores of Song-Kul Lake.
2. Central Asia is off the beaten track, expect the unexpected
As with any travel destination, tourists in Central Asia are vulnerable to petty crimes like pickpocketing, scams from unscrupulous taxi drivers, and lost luggage. Travel insurance can’t prevent these things from happening, but it can make it easier to sort them out so you can relax and enjoy the rest of your trip.
Setting your expectations for these less touristy areas also will help with the quality of your trip and allow you to properly prepare before setting sail.
3. Look after your health while in this part of Asia
– The World Health Organization recommends that you ensure your vaccinations are up to date before travelling to the region.
– If you’re going to explore mountainous areas of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan, you may be susceptible to altitude sickness. When travelling to high altitudes, take it easy. Avoid intense exercise, drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol.
Beyond being smart with the activities you choose, getting the proper vaccinations and being aware of climates, it’s smart to protect yourself with travel insurance.
I’ve had to undergo surgery overseas and it would have reduced my costs significantly if I had purchase travel insurance for $100.
4. Eat and drink well to stay well
Avoid food poisoning and other illnesses by following some simple food safety rules. Choose sit-down restaurants instead of street food, and look for busy restaurants that seem to be popular with locals. This is a good sign they are safe! Avoid drinking tap water and ice, and use bottled water for brushing your teeth.
A travel partner once told me to avoid restaurants that are empty and only go to busy ones. Amazon and other travel stores / websites also sell many kinds of tablets which you can put in water to purify them. These are something to look into!
5. Be money-wise while abroad
As a rule of thumb the poorer the area the more aware you need to be with your valuables. To avoid pickpockets, keep cash and valuables (such as your passport) in a money belt under your clothing. Don’t put anything in your back pocket, and wear cross-body handbags rather than shoulder bags that can be easily snatched.
I wrote a few years ago about how my phone was stolen out of my pocket while in Cambodia. I find Asia to be quite the safe place but less so in the less touristy areas.
It’s also smart to carry multiple credit cards and keep various stashes of cash. When you go out to explore take some money and maybe a credit card, but also leave a credit card with a higher limit and the bulk of your cash locked away at your home base.