Tips & Hints - Central Asia Travel Information
Entry visas are required for all foreigners wishing to visit Turkmenistan. Uzbekistan, Tajikistan (limited number of visa-free countries)) Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are visa free to all EU and many other states. Please check a proper visa regime for your citizenship. If required visa agency can assist you with the process of obtaining the visas. Please be advised that your passport must have at least 6-months validity left.
We strongly encourage all customers to take a copy of their travel insurance documents (especially relevant international contact numbers) with them while on tour. We advise that you check the inclusions and procedures for lodging claims prior to your departure. These documents should be stored separately from the originals.
We will not be liable for any costs incurred by you due to your failure to take out suitable travel insurance from the date of booking.
Eating in Central Asia
Central Asian cuisine is diverse and flavoursome with a legacy stretching back thousands of years. It is important to keep an open mind and be adventurous.
In Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the cuisine is influenced by Middle Eastern and Turkic (or Mediterranean) dishes – yoghurts, dried fruit, legumes, fruit vinegars, or mild spices like cumin season the common dishes such as lagman (handmade noodles), shashlyk (kebabs), naan (flat bread) and plov (rice pilaf dish). Beef, mutton and chicken are the only meats available in most areas and feature in most dishes. Local breakfast dishes include naan and airan (like sour cream), savoury noodles with vinegar and green tea. You may also be served a fried egg, jam, honey or toast. Black tea and coffee can usually be requested.
Hotels and restaurants in this region are not generally accustomed to serving many western tourists, however by default tend to ‘spice down’ the dishes, due to the tourists they do service coming from Europe. The food is always local in style and derives from what is in season and harvested locally. Vegetarian only alternatives are not usually limited by grilled vegetables and meet-free soups. There are always plenty of salads, vegetables and bread offered at most meals.
Drinking alcohol is acceptable.
Your accommodation has been selected for convenience of location, comfort or character, and can range from a standard hotel in one city to a family run guesthouse in a smaller town. In remote areas, accommodation may be of a lower standard and may not have all western amenities. Please note that there is no international classification system for hotels and differences in facilities and quality do exist. Rest assured that all hotels used by are regularly inspected by our staff and our partners to ensure that standards meet your needs. Please note double bed requests can be made at time of booking but cannot be guaranteed.
Types of accommodation you may encounter:
Local home stay: These provide basic yet comfortable accommodation in actual local homes, so group members may be staying in a number of different houses near each other. As these are people’s real homes, the accommodation and facilities may vary between houses, generally every couple/single person will be accommodated in their own room. Dinner is served as a group in one of the larger houses and breakfast is generally served in the house you are staying at.
Guesthouse: These provide basic yet comfortable rooms in a small guesthouse. Every couple/single person will have their own room, western toilets and showers are shared, similar to a hostel. Breakfast and dinner is served in the restaurant.
Coaches: Coaches with air conditioning are used on our group tours for city sightseeing, short excursions to the countryside and longer transfers where necessary. Main and inner-city roads in Central Asia have a reputation for being very congested. For this reason, it may not always be possible to return to your hotel after sightseeing to freshen up before going to the restaurant for dinner. Roads in Central Asia have generally been improved over recent years, but traffic and/or weather conditions may extend driving times. Road construction work usually covers an enormous section of road - not just one or two kilometers as you may be used to. For this reason, the timings listed in the sections below are approximations only.
Planes: Internal flights are based on economy class, with reputable airlines. Pre-seat flight allocation is not available.
We want to be able to give you an opportunity to buy souvenirs; so in a selection of cities, we will visit a workshops or factories which demonstrates a craft or product unique to that region with pieces available to buy. We understand that souvenir hunting is not for everyone so we aim to take you to places which hold local interest. We trust you will enjoy these opportunities to learn about local arts and crafts and understand their historical and cultural importance.
Local tipping is customary in Asia but in general is expected by all service staff. Tipping size depends on the quality and satisfaction of provided services.
Seasonal weather patterns can be quite unpredictable. Up to the minute information on worldwide weather can be found on www.weather.com
In Central Asia the US Dollar and Euro are still the easiest currencies to exchange. You should be able to use credit cards at some hotels and department stores. In other towns, you will find banking facilities less reliable and may encounter staff that refuse to deal with a currency they are unfamiliar with.
Very few establishments accept credit cards. There are only a handful of ATM machines in cities and none in rural areas.
Personal Expenses & Optional Tours
Personal Expense - You will need to take some extra money to cover drinks, laundry and souvenirs, plus any additional sightseeing that may be offered to you.
Optional Tours - May be offered in each city you visit during your tour. These are not included in the standard itinerary and will only be available if time permits and if seats are available. Please ensure you have additional funds available if you feel you may wish to participate in any extra activities. Each option will be arranged locally by your guide participation and tipping for optional excursions is completely at your discretion.
Sightseeing at nearly all of the palaces, fortresses and some temples involves climbing quite a number of steps. These palaces were built to provide defense against potential invaders so nearly all of them stand on top of a hill, while the interiors have layers of narrow hallways and steps to slow down the advance of enemies once they were inside. The steps tend to be quite large, not level and sometimes without handrails. Mosques and Madrassas also tend to be built at an elevation, as this is the most auspicious position according to ancient beliefs. This means you sometimes need to walk from the bus park to the entrance, and/or need to climb some steps inside.
People with knee or hip injuries, who have poor balance or are otherwise unable to complete these activities independently should consider the suitability of this itinerary carefully.