Arid, precious and generous, Central Asia is the region closest to us from the “exotic” abroad. Any Russian can pronounce the list of its countries without hesitation, because the Central Asian republics are well known to us from the recent socialist past. Since the times of the USSR, the states of Central Asia have changed for the better (from a tourist point of view) side: today there are a lot of hotels, good restaurants, thoughtful leisure – and all this is quite inexpensive. As for the objects of interest for tourists, there are still more than enough of them in the region: the cities of the Great Silk Road with their mosques, mausoleums, observatories and palaces, magnificent natural landscapes – which is worth at least the piercing blue Issyk-Kul or the snow-capped peaks of the zones with hot sulfur springs, ruins of powerful kingdoms of the past and much more.
So, what is it, close, but unexplored Central Asia? First, let’s talk about the weather. A distinctive feature of the Central Asian countries is the aridity of the climate (we remember it from the epic with the Aral Sea): the summers here are truly fire-breathing, and there is very little rain, so tourism in the hot season is largely a test of endurance. At the same time, there is snow on the mountain peaks of the Pamirs and Tien Shan all year round, which attracts mountaineers and “understanding” skiers to the region – those who want to enjoy excellent snow cover and at the same time not go broke on accommodation and ski passes.
Next, you should definitely say a few words about the local culture. The way of life of the Central Asian peoples is based on hospitality and cordiality to the wanderer – who, if not nomads, knows the value of a welcome haven in the midst of harsh nature. So you will have to eat here often and in large quantities, and God forbid to refuse a meal – the owners will be terribly offended. The advantages of local cuisines are so great that you can talk about them for hours: delicious meat, a variety of dairy products, traditional “oven” bread, rich soups, honey fruits…
And here you can, without fear, stay for the night in the most primitive hotels and private houses – the owners will break into a cake, if only the traveler was happy. A pleasant bonus of Central Asian trips is the absence of a language barrier: everyone, from young to old, speaks Russian, and in general the attitude towards Russia in Central Asia is traditionally warm.
Among other things, bureaucratic red tape has been reduced to a minimum: of all the countries of Central Asia, only Turkmenistan will have to obtain a visa (I would like to believe that this unfortunate omission will be corrected soon), the states are connected by stable air traffic, and the flight time does not exceed 4 hours.
As for authentic shopping, we recommend paying attention to Central Asian wool (camel, yak and sheep), which is used to make wardrobe items, accessories and carpets, traditional silver jewelry, wood products with intricate carvings, sweets and, for those who walk on everything, Akhal-Teke horses.
According to Countryaah, Middle Asia has the following countries: