Central Asia: The Region Least Talked About but Worth Visiting

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The Central Asian region might be the last priority on your travel list, because not many people visit this region. However,  once you get there, you are sure to feel amazed, happy and satisfied that you visited this place. From natural beauty to historical sites and their amazing culture, these countries are worth visiting. Central Asia includes mainly the countries of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Here are some things you should know about countries in Central Asia if you ever make up your mind to visit there.

Kazakhstan

This beautiful country has a magical array of canyons, arid plains, impeccable deserts, ancient structures and gigantic glaciers. Kazakhstan is called a ‘vacation paradise’ due to its geographical diversity. You will get a taste of authentic Kazakh culture, interact with a nomadic lifestyle and a look at the ancient cities that are sure to mesmerize you. The capital city of Astana is the modernized face of Kazakhstan with corporate business centers and multi-storey buildings. The 150-meter-high Bayterek Tower gives you a panoramic view of the city and the Duman Recreational Complex is the ultimate stop for art lovers. The city also has the Museum of Miniatures and Seaquarium, the Ak Orda Presidential Palace, National Museum of Kazakhstan, Nur-Astana Mosque, Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, Khan Shatyr, Hazrat Sultan Mosque, and Assumption Russian Orthodox Cathedral.

The city of Almaty is the biggest cultural hub in the country and is known for its picturesque outdoors. It is set in the foothills of snow-capped mountains and will surely give you the awe-dropping background you are looking for. Aktau is another pretty town along the Caspian Sea with fascinating beauty and ancient architectural ensembles. The ancient city of Taraz holds plenty of secrets with some amazing ancient wonders like Stonehenge, and Babaji-Khatun Mausoleum. Other major tourist attractions are Lake Balkhash, Baikonur city of rockets and spaceships, the ancient and historical city of Semey, the natural dam of Lake Kaindy, the sacred sanctuary of Tamgaly-Tas, Nomad’s Land, Shymkent which is called the gateway to the heartland of Kazakhstan. The country also has the ultimate destination for trekkers at the Turgen Gorge.

Tajikistan

This country too, like Kazakhstan, owns a wealth of inspiring mountain peaks, crystal-clear lakes, and alpine meadows, along with ancient ruins and modern cities. It is a hotspot for adventure tourism, health tourism and cultural tourism. 93% of the country is covered by mountains, with Pamir and Alay being the two major ranges. Tajik culture is diverse because of the diversity of its inhabitants. Tajiks are conservative people but are very hospitable and friendly to outsiders. The city of Khujand possesses many monuments from the golden age oF science. Khujand has the mausoleum of Shaikh Muslikhiddin and Masjid Jami mosque are architectural gems. The ancient ruins of Penjikent city are worth the watch along with its buzzing bazaars, and historical monuments. For adventure lovers, a trip along the Pamir highway or the Gissar range would be perfect. There is also a historical-cultural reserve that includes the Gissar fortress, Sangin mosque, the Mausoleum of Makhdumi A’zam, and a unique botanical garden.

Uzbekistan

Bright colors, convoluted patterns, friendly people and rich cuisine is what you should expect when in Uzbekistan. This country offers a lot to explore right, from remote mountain villages, and ancient cities to UNESCO World Heritage sites. You can spend a night in the traditional desert yurt or visit the oasis cities. The major tourist sites are the cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, Tashkent, Andijan and Kokand. The Shah-i-Zinda monument with its finest majolica tilework, the Registan Square and Gur-Emir Mausoleum in Samarkand is guaranteed to leave you in awe. Bukhara has numerous holy sites and historical landmarks, while Khiva has an amazing open-air museum and bustling bazaars. Termez and Shahrisabz are other destinations not to be missed.

Uzbekistan is a major center for cultural and ethnic tourism in central Asia and is also famous for its artisans. Woodcarvers, carpet weavers, and craftsmen are the pride of this nation. It also has a rich ethnic heritage which you can get to know about by interacting with the locals who are more than willing to involve you in their daily lifestyle. Oh, and don’t forget to taste its delicious cuisine.

Kyrgyzstan

Just like other countries in central Asia, Kyrgyzstan has a number of sightseeing options. The most popular cities are Bishkek, Osh, Karakol, and Naryn. It is called a land of celestial mountains with its untouched mountain capes, immaculate valleys, clear lakes, and unique flora and fauna. The country is an amalgamation of Kyrgyz culture and Russian architecture. The capital city of Bishkek has many attractions like Kashka Suu Ski Resort, Osh Bazaar, Bishkek Park, and Ala-Too Square. The countryside includes sightseeing options such as the Konorchek Canyon, Supara which is famous for falcon hunting and horse riding, the Kegety Gorge, Burana Tower, Skazka Canyon, Song Kol Lake, Naryn Canyon, Mountain Suleiman Too, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tash Rabat, Peak Lenin, and the great Issyk Kul Lake. Sports enthusiasts can also enjoy kayaking in its crystal-clear rivers. Kyrgyzstan has a rich heritage, resonant nomadic lifestyle and traditions and great food.

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan has some famous landmarks, grand palaces, World heritage sites, archaeological sites, temples, fortresses, and pottery-strewn homes. It has 3 UNESCO Heritage sites in the cities of Nisa, Merv, and Kunya-Urgench and an archaeological site of Gonur-Tepe. The Amul Settlement in the Karakum desert has accordion-style walls and picturesque archways. The capital city of Ashgabat possesses a wide range of elaborate fountains, monuments, rotating statues, marble boulevards, cable cars and a hippodrome. The other tourist attractions outside the capital city include the mountain village of Nokhur, the desert villages of Mary, Turkmenabat, Balkanabat, the world-famous Daravaza Gas Crater; Ertugrul Gazi Museum; Turkmenistan Independence Monument, Parthian Fortresses of Nisa, Ancient Merv, Turkmen Carpet Museum, Wedding Palace, Yangykala Canyon, Seyit Jemaletdin Mosque, Garabogazkol Basin, Awaza Beach, Abiverd Ruins, Geokdepe, Kow Ata Underground Lake, and Tolkuchka-Basar.

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