7 Incredible Places in Central Asia That’ll Give You Wanderlust
Central Asia has long been seen as an 'off-the-beaten-track destination', with most travelers thinking the area to be both difficult to reach and hard to get around. However nowadays traveling between 'the stans', as they're colloquially known as, has never been easier with frequent flights and budget airlines starting to connect the region. If you're travelling on a shoestring, there are usually frequent buses between each city along with long distance coaches. It's not the most comfortable option however, roads can often be a little bumpy and journeys quite long.
If you're looking for some amazing places to persuade you to head to this beautiful region then look no further than the following destinations.
7 Incredible Places in Central Asia That’ll Give You Wanderlust:table of contents
Still quite unpopular as a tourist destination around the world, Uzbekistan has some of the most incredible architecture ever created, with beautifully detailed designs decorating the facades. If you want to see some of the country's most beautiful structures head to Khiva, near to the border with Turkmenistan. One of the ancient cities of Khorezm, the inner city of Ichan Kala is a World Heritage Site and once an important stop on the historic Silk Road.
More commonly known as the 'Door to Hell' this incredible site in Turkmenistan is a crater filled with a natural gas field that is thought to have been burning continuously since 1971. Being up close and personal with this incredible natural phenomenon is simply breathtaking as you gaze into the flickering orange flames of the cavern. The surrounding area of the Karakum Desert is also popular as a site for camping at.
Lake Kaindy, Kazakhstan
The huge central Asian country of Kazakhstan is rarely explored by travelers, which is a shame because its home to some of the incredible scenery in the world. One of such places is the beautiful Lake Kaindy, located in the southwest of the country near the border with China. Apart from the picturesque views you'll get from hikes around this mountainous area, the lake is known for its stunningly clear-blue and green waters dotted with the towering spines of dead trees.
Pamir Highway, Tajikistan
It might not be the best quality road in the world, but you'll be too focused on looking out the window upon this incredible scenery to care about the bumpy ride. The Pamir Highway or Asia's M41, traverses through Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan as it passes 1250 kilometers of dramatic mountains and sloping valleys.
While this area of the world is often wrongly associated with terrorism groups and danger, the Pamir Highway is extremely safe, much further from the grips of that side of the world than most people think. The people and villagers you'll meet here are extremely friendly and always happy to meet tourists as not many visitors tend to traverse the region.
This incredible rock formation is one of the most unique places in the world, sticking out of the beautiful mountainous Issyk-Kul Province in Kyrgyzstan. While easily the most famous sight here is the 'Seven Bulls' a collection of seven stunning limestone peaks, there's also a number of interesting natural structures you'll find while hiking or traveling around the area. make sure to check out 'Dragon Gorge' and the 'Broken Heart' rock formations.
Another of Uzbekistan's fascinating old cities that showcases the incredible style of Uzbek architecture, Samarkand has a number of beautiful mosques and mausoleums. Head to Registan Square and prepare to be dazzled by the unbelievably picturesque and exquisitely decorated buildings that surround the plaza.
Grand Canyon? Think again, Kazakhstan has its own incredible canyon that's just as beautiful as its American cousin. The Charyn Canyon is in the far Southeast of the country, near to the border with China. It can be easily reached from the old capital of Almaty.
The huge lesser-traveled region of Central Asia is filled with some of the world's most incredible sights, from the beautiful architecture of its historic cities to the stunning lakes and mountains that cover much of the area, if scenery is your thing you won't be bored here. Apart from the amazing sites you'll find there, Central Asia has a delicious spread of cuisine, influenced from both countries to the east and west.