15 Photos That Will Make You Want to Travel to Countries in Central Asia

Postcards From the ‘Stans: 15 Photos That Will Make You Pine For Central Asia

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan — which one are you visiting first?

Landlocked. The ‘Stans. The supposed heart of the Silk Road. What first comes to mind when you think of countries in Central Asia?

Underrated, under-visited, and generally overlooked top destinations, countries in Central Asia leave much to the imagination. They say Central Asia is where you’ll find the meeting of worlds: It is where tradition meshes with modernity, where Middle Eastern culture intertwines with traces of Soviet Russia. Geographically, Central Asia is the coveted spot where Europe meets Asia, which is why it was considered prime territory. Add to this mountains filled with rich mineral deposits and a terrain (and location!) strategic for trade, and it’s easy to understand why Central Asia made much of an impression in our history books.

countries in central asia

Image credit: Themightyquill

Travel-wise, Central Asia is just as rich and vibrant. It’s your gateway to endless, scenic road trips, mountain hikes that could rival the world’s most iconic peaks, and sights reminiscent of popular nature escapes in New Zealand, the U.S., and even Africa! But enough of talking. Instead of telling you why you should travel to countries in Central Asia, let us show you. These photos will make you pine for the region in no time.

Also read: What to Expect When Travelling to Central Asia: Expectations vs Reality

The ‘Stans: countries in Central Asia

First off, a refresher. Central Asia is home to five countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan. Let’s see which one catches your fancy first!

1. Kazakhstan

kazakhstan

Image credit: Boztay_Akimkhan

Did you know that Central Asia boasts of some of the world’s most eye-shocking sunsets? Dusk in Kazakhstan often sets the skies blazing a bright orange, even in the winter! Look at that, it’s simply unreal!

kazakhstan

Image credit: Polina Raevskaya

Almaty, almost every traveller’s drop-off point in Kazakhstan isn’t just a centre of sorts. The metropolis also houses several nature parks — all of which will beckon to you in a heartbeat! Here, you’ll find some of the bluest waters you’ll ever see and mountains that stretch into the horizon. Imagine then what the rest of the country offers!

nur-sultan

Image credit: Ninara

Even cities seem striking in Kazakhstan. Its ultramodern capital, Nur Sultan, looks like a scene taken from the future. While older structures remain well-taken care off, you’ll spot several skyscrapers that are cutting edge in design and function.

2. Kyrgyzstan

countries in central asia

Image credit: Marek Brzóska

When we said that Central Asia is home to several nature parks, we weren’t kidding. The Karakol Valley makes for quite an adventurous excursion, but note that it might be better suited for more experienced campers.

Karakol Valley

Image credit: Yaroslav Maltsev

Deep in Kyrgyztan’s protected mountains are hidden treasures like the Barskoon Waterfall. You’ll find it in Jeti-Ögüz, Issyk Kul. You might want to make a day trip out of it, since there are other waterfalls waiting for you in the province of Issyk Kul.

countries in central asia

Image credit: Makalu

Mountain ranges that look like paintings? Check. Kyrgyzstan will certainly not disappoint nature lovers looking for some active fun. Don’t forget to pack your hiking gear! 

3. Tajikistan

tajikistan

Image credit: Makalu

Tajikistan may have the same awe-inspiring peaks and beautiful bodies of water as its siblings in Central Asia, but…

botanical garden tajikistan

Image credit: Makalu

…you ought to know that it’s home to the famed Botanical Garden! What awaits here? An expanse of lush foliage located in the town of Khorog (also spelled as Khorugh), where you’ll spot native species of blooming flora. Perfect for those with a green thumb! If you don’t have one, then maybe a trip to the Botanical Garden will coax you into becoming a plant parent when you make your way back home. Remember, take nothing but photos!

Central Asia’s culture never fails to impress as well! In Tajikistan, traditional Tajik clothing is often colourful and embellished by intricate embroidery. Although the patterns are generally festive, they get even more detailed and eye-catching when a Tajik dress is made for occasions like weddings and family get-togethers. Why not bring home a dress like this as an extra special keepsake?

4. Turkmenistan

turkmenistan culture

Image credit: Hammuhado0

Of course, included in Central Asia’s cultural heritage are the architectural marvels that dot the country. In Turkmenistan, there are many structures that tell the region’s historical narrative, but one that you certainly shouldn’t miss is the Sultan Tekesh Mausoleum — most recognisable thanks to its conical dome with a pretty, turquoise tip. Step inside and look up; the tilework is so mesmerising, you’ll need a few moments to catch your breath.

gates of hell turkmenistan

Image credit: Ybrayym Esenov

This one’s a bit creepy, but don’t let it freak you out. In Derweze, Turkmenistan is a very popular tourist spot they call Door to Hell or Gates of Hell. One look at the fiery Darvaza Gas Crater and you’ll know exactly why it inspired those names. Although the sinkhole is said to be the result of a drilling mishap, they say its perpetual fire was manmade. The pit has been on fire since 1971. Wow, that’s almost 50 years now!

countries in central asia

Image credit: Yang Jing

When you’ve had enough of fire, make sure to visit Turkmenistan during wintertime to enjoy scenes like this.

Also read: Central Asia: A 7D6N Fun Itinerary For Your Next Big Adventure

5. Uzbekistan

countries central asia

Image credit: Darrell Chaddock

They say that Uzbekistan is where you’ll see some of the most well-preserved remnants of settlements near the former Silk Road. Bukhara is an ancient city that played a prominent role in the Silk Road’s history — it was one of the most popular stops during that time because it was a booming centre brimming with the latest products. Drop by Bukhara and step back in time. There are plenty of bazaars, too, so check them out when it’s time to go souvenir shopping!

uzbekistan souvenirs

Image credit: LoggaWiggler

Just some of the cute clay figurines you’ll see in the bazaars and markets all over Uzbekistan. We’re telling you, this is the place to shop, especially if you’re looking for handmade items and cultural keepsakes!

countries central asia

Image credit: LoggaWiggler

But wait! Don’t just shop till you drop! Leave some energy for sightseeing. In Uzbekistan (and much of Central Asia, really), mosques, madrasas, and mausoleums often feature splashes of colour as observed through intricate mosaics. Before you make them your next photo’s background, make sure that you aren’t breaking any rules or stepping on anyone’s culture. It’s best to keep in mind that while Uzbekistan is a bustling tourist spot and commercial area, it’s also a centre for religion.

Also read: 8 Things That Only Culturally Insensitive Travellers Do

So which country in Central Asia are you visiting first? Or, if you’re up for a challenge, map out an epic cross-country road trip with your best travel buddies! Don’t forget to take lots of snaps, tag us @tripzillamag, and let us know which part of Central Asia’s ‘Stans you stan the most. *wink*

About Author

Alyosha Robillos
Alyosha Robillos

In Russia, Alyosha is a boy's name popularized by literary greats Dostoevsky and Tolstoy—but this particular Alyosha is neither Russian nor a boy. She is a writer from the Philippines who loves exploring the world as much as she likes staying at home. Her life's mission is to pet every friendly critter there is. When she isn't busy doing that, she sniffs out stories and scribbles away on the backs of old receipts. She is an advocate of many things: culture and heritage, the environment, skincare and snacking, to name a few. She will work for lifetime supplies of french fries and coffee. Or yogurt. Or cheese, preferably Brie.

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