Silk Road Planning Advice

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JWalking
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Silk Road Planning Advice

Postby JWalking » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:24 am

Hi Everyone.

We're new members so forgive us if we ask questions that are covered elsewhere, we just need a bit of advice upfront if that's okay. Much appreciated. We are fascinated by the Silk Road and so many of the wonderful locations it covers and would love to plan a visit for next year, probably in May and June. We are in our mid 50s and prefer to book transport and accommodation independently but wondered if this is safe in this part of the world? Just after some advice on how to start planning and whether we should go for an organised trip instead?

Any advice would be most welcome.

Thanks
Jon
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Jealgu
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Re: Silk Road Planning Advice

Postby Jealgu » Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:10 am

https://caravanistan.com/planning

Start from the link above. Come back if you have more detailed questions.
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rsi
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Re: Silk Road Planning Advice

Postby rsi » Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:06 pm

Hi Jon,

I travelled last august through Kirguistan, Tayikistan and Uzbekistan and I have to say that I felt completely safe all the time. I experienced the most dangereous moments when trying to cross a street. I planned all the trip by myself. I have to say that it is quite easy to move around. So, I would advice to travel independently and with locals on shared taxis, trains, etc.
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JWalking
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Re: Silk Road Planning Advice

Postby JWalking » Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:06 am

The planning page has so much information, it's a lot to go through but fascinating. We're just doing as much research as possible at the moment. Trying to decide whether to book an organise trip or do it ourselves. Really not sure.
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Julia
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Re: Silk Road Planning Advice

Postby Julia » Wed Sep 11, 2019 9:25 am

Hi.
I travelled independently around Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Organized transportation and accommodation myself, booked trains, negotiated with taxi drivers, booked hotels and apartments for myself.
Sometimes hitchhiked and stayed with locals I met on my way for free as a guest.
I'd say it's safe travelling this way in these countries. Just follow general safety rules as anywhere.
Scams and negative things could happen like anywhere else if you're too careless.
Especially be careful with the taxi drivers. Some of them try to get extra cash from foreigners. But generally positive experience.
Also, the language matters a lot.
I speak Russian. So for me it's easy to travel here independently.
Learn basic Russian and some words in local languages to get connected with people.
Mostly local drivers, shop assistants, waiters, even hotel staff don't speak English.
Only if they work in touristic industry oriented to foreign tourists than they speak English.
But if you want to hang out among locals than mostly expect basic English from them. Anyway, locals like communicating with foreigners so if you're open and patient to explain yourself you should be fine.

And about what is better to join a tour or travel independently. I believe it's your personal decision and depends on what you like and how experienced traveller you are. And also depends on what places exactly you want to visit.
For instance, natural attractions in Kazakhstan are not easy to get to independently in limited time. That's why many travellers hire a tour guide or a driver.
But if you travel mostly between cities than public transportation works well.

Hopefully I gave you some ideas))
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blakep76
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Re: Silk Road Planning Advice

Postby blakep76 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:29 pm

Try and do the lowlands in May.

Temps in parts of all of the 'Stans, Iran etc will be getting blisteringly hot by late June. Best to move up into the hills/highlands at that point.
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JWalking
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Re: Silk Road Planning Advice

Postby JWalking » Thu Sep 12, 2019 3:46 pm

So much information Julia, thanks. I like the sound of the way that you travelled independently and am pleased to hear that you felt safe during your trip. I'm not sure I could learn Russian but would definitely try to pick up as many tourist-useful phrases of the country that I was visiting. It always helps. The whole Silk Road area is absolutely huge isn't it so I think we will restrict ourselves to just an Uzbekistan trip first and try and visit Tashkent, Samarkand and maybe Bukhara. Seems sensible rather than trying to do too much. Turkish Airlines seem to do decent flights from London via Istanbul.
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Jealgu
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Re: Silk Road Planning Advice

Postby Jealgu » Thu Sep 12, 2019 4:01 pm

Even without Russian I had a great time. There are always ways to communicate without spoken language. Download a translation app, bring a phrasebook and perhaps learn a few russian words.

There is enough beaten path in central asia where English is no problem. The level of English in the Tajik Pamirs is very high, even for people that are not very directly related to tourism.
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Julia
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Re: Silk Road Planning Advice

Postby Julia » Thu Sep 12, 2019 4:58 pm

JWalking wrote:So much information Julia, thanks. I like the sound of the way that you travelled independently and am pleased to hear that you felt safe during your trip. I'm not sure I could learn Russian but would definitely try to pick up as many tourist-useful phrases of the country that I was visiting. It always helps. The whole Silk Road area is absolutely huge isn't it so I think we will restrict ourselves to just an Uzbekistan trip first and try and visit Tashkent, Samarkand and maybe Bukhara. Seems sensible rather than trying to do too much. Turkish Airlines seem to do decent flights from London via Istanbul.


Hi.
If you plan travelling between those cities I think you'll be fine to do the trip independently. Or you could hire a guide for day visits of historical places. Architecture is beautiful and places are easy to navigate on your own. But if you want to hear interesting stories than good guide could help.
Anyway, I read history of the places on the Internet and was fine without a guide. But some of my friends like when a guide shows them around and tells some details.

And sure you can do without knowledge of Russian or Uzbek language too))
But even basic words make you look more than an average tourist in eyes of locals. And sometimes it brings the experience to new level))

Using apps is a great help. I like OsmAnd app for navigating.
For translation from language to language there are apps too.
1 x


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