4 stans in 1 month?

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Supaplex
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4 stans in 1 month?

Post by Supaplex »

Hi guys!

I was thinking about going to Central Asia in August 2015. My route would be something like Helsinki - Astana (3 nights) – Almaty (3 nights) – Charyn canyon (1 night) – Almaty (1 night) – Bishkek (2 nights) – Issyk-kul (1 night) – Bishkek (1 night) – Dushanbe (2 nights) – Khujand (1 night) – Taskhent (2 nights) - Samarkand (2 nights) – Bukhara ( 2 nights) – Ashgabat (3 nights) - Helsinki. I can spend approx. 30 days max. in Central Asia (University studies are ruining my backpaking life!) I have some questions about the trip:

1.How much in advance I have to buy my Astana - Almaty platskartny train ticket in August? Is there any chance to get it in Astana 2-3 days before departure?

2. Could someone show me the place on map where shared taxis are leaving to Khujand from Dushanbe? I can't find it.

3. What should I tell to the Turkmenistan embassy people in Almaty so that I can pick up my Turkmen transit visa from Tashkent without getting denied (They denied someones visa in April 2014)? Or is there a better place to apply for transit visa during my trip? I have a Finnish passport (EU).

4. How solid is my plan? Is there a place where I should spend more/less time or is there anything "must" along the way that I should include to this trip?

If you have any advices that I might need, I would love to hear those :)
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steven
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Re: Travel plan for ~one month

Post by steven »

Well, personally I find it more rewarding to spend more time in 1 area instead of taking a lot of transport (and getting a lot of visas!) if I have limited time, but that is preference, I guess. I am sure you thought it through. Also, I prefer nature to cities in Central Asia.

With this itinerary, I would recommend less time in Bishkek, and perhaps a stop-over in Istaravshan when coming from Dushanbe?

With the Turkmens, no need to say anything, your friend probably got rejected because he was applying for the wrong timeframe (somewhere around November possibly?). Most people get their visa.

3 days in advance could be tricky, but there is currently no other way of doing it than going to the train station yourself. There is always the bus if you fail.

I don't think
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Supaplex
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Re: Travel plan for ~one month

Post by Supaplex »

Yeah, I guess I will change my itinerary a little bit by increasing the days in nature. Pamir isn't doable because I really want to see every 5 countries. Maybe I'll spend more time in Fann mountains.

Can you tell me about the Astana - Almaty bus: where/when do the buses leave?
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steven
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Re: Travel plan for ~one month

Post by steven »

Sorry, I don't know. I am planning to spend some time in Astana next summer, perhaps I will make it there before you. If so, you can expect an article on it on the website. If not, you will be able to figure it out on the ground, it isn't very difficult and buses leave frequently enough.
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Supaplex
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Re: Travel plan for ~one month

Post by Supaplex »

Okay, thank you so much!
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bwv812
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Re: Travel plan for ~one month

Post by bwv812 »

I think you are underestimating how long it will take to get from place to place, especially if you are traveling by share taxi. 1 night in Karakol/Issyk-kul isn't much time do do very much there, other than walk around the town. (I assume you are flying from Bishkek to Dushanbe?)

For someone who is basically only seeing cities, I don't think there's really any reason to visit Bishkek at all, and certainly not for three nights. Depending on when you arrive, you probably don't need three nights in Astana, as there isn't much to do other than look at the outside of buildings and go inside the Sir Norman Foster ones that bookend the central architectural zone. Almaty is very nice, but I'm not sure your time is well-spent with four nights there, especially as it's European appeal will not be much of a contrast to you.

Very few people who travel to Central Asia will list the capital cities as highlights of their trips, but you are spending most of your time there.

I would also consider stopping for a day in Merv between Bukhara and Ashgabat, especially since it is served my night trains you can get some sleep on.

I don't think you'll have trouble getting a platzkartny ticket in Astana on short notice: I got mine one or two days in advance (though this was in September). But I'm not sure if you're factoring the 20-hour train ride into your schedule.

Are you planning on applying for your Turkmen visa in Almaty?
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steven
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Re: Travel plan for ~one month

Post by steven »

Solid advice.
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mcsmoggle
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Re: Travel plan for ~one month

Post by mcsmoggle »

I'd agree with the advice above.

Astana has some interesting architecture, but it's easy enough to see in a day or two. Aside from that there's not a vast amount to do here.

Almaty is more interesting but again most sights can be seen in a day or so - unless you're traveling out to the Charyn Canyon (excellent trip) or the various lake destinations (Big Almaty, Kolsai, Kaindy).

There isn't too much to see in Bishkek, so i'd recommend getting over to Karakol - if you can spare the time a trek into the Altyn Arashan with an overnight stay at the hot springs is a fantastic snapshot of Kyrgyzstan.

Another alternative in Turkmenistan is the burning gas crater at Darwaza - it's out of your way (several hours drive north from Ashgabat) but it was easily everyone's highlight of my trip and we stayed overnight in tents, I would go back just to see it again. Ashgabat is a surreal marble city which feels quite empty, many interesting sights had gone or been moved (Earthquake museum, Arch of Neutrality, golden Niyazov statue) when I was there (summer 2014). Plus the police are everywhere and taking photos becomes a difficult business, its worth a visit but i'm glad I didn't linger. I can vouch that Merv/Mary is a worthwhile stop too.

Enjoy your trip!
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tcarlyle
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Re: Travel plan for ~one month

Post by tcarlyle »

Since we are in the month itinerary thematic, I was wondering if you guys can help me assess if such an rough itinerary is unrealistic, feasible or if I should try to squeeze more juice in it =D

About 2 weeks in Kyrgztan, where the main focus would be doing some 2-4 days hikes, one around the Terskey Ala Too range and another one around the Ala Arch Valley. Then 2 weeks for entering Tajikistan through the Pamir highway and possibly doing some hiking either on the Pamir area or in the Fan Mountains, and finally leaving from Tashenkt/Uzbekistan. Id probably have some friends to hike with during the time in Kyrgztan, but that is not granted for the rest of the trip. So my thought was that in case I cant find some hiking partners for Tajikistan, I leave earlier to Uzbekistan and do some more city touring there.

Any recommendations are welcome =D
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steven
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Re: Travel plan for ~one month

Post by steven »

Realistic imo. I don't think you should try to do more. This is already quite a lot of moving around. With the added physical stress of long hikes, I think you will be pretty tiresd after 1 month.
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