Central Asia

Magical landscapes and Silk Road cities

Sandwiched between the Middle East and China, Central Asia is a land of bloody history where warlords like Genghis Khan and Tamerlane ruled and rampaged. Made up of five former Soviet states ‒ Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan ‒ it's best known for being the central artery of the ancient silk route connecting China with Europe.

Uzbekistan is the cultural highlight, home to glittering silk road cities like Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva, with their mosaic-laden madrasas, cobalt-domed mosques and souks thronging with traders. Elsewhere, it’s about experiencing untouched landscapes and the people who've lived in them for generations. Try the snow-capped Pamir and Tian Shan mountain ranges of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, where traditional herding communities ride horses, sleep in traditional yurts and hunt with birds of prey.

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Central Asia travel guide

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Exploring The Silk Road

Highlights and key routes

Does anywhere conjure the spirit and romance of adventure quite like the Silk Road? The original transcontinental trade route; the stomping grounds of Marco Polo and Genghis Khan; a ribbon weaving across desert and mountain to connect medieval Europe with the mysterious and mighty civilisations to the east.

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Things to do in Central Asia

Our recommended experiences and activities

Historical cities

Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva: little-known today, but once towering hubs of the medieval era. These remarkably preserved cities symbolise the core idea of the Silk Road: a place where east met west to create something new, and heart-stoppingly beautiful.

Traditional accommodation

Stay in family guesthouses or on working horse farms, you’ll wild camp in the Karakym desert, or in a traditional yurt camp on lake Song Kul.

Get active

Tajikistan’s Fann Mountains and Yaghnob Valley, barely on the tourist radar, offer incredible hiking and biking and genuine cultural immersion.

Going remote

Escape the cities and get out into the hinterland to encounter a patchwork of cultures, nomadic communities and some of the warmest and most hospitable people around.

Central Asia trip ideas

Journeys with our recommended operators