We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Is a road trip through the Central Asian republics feasible?

Level Contributor
3 posts
6 reviews
Is a road trip through the Central Asian republics feasible?

Hi all,

I've been looking to go to Central Asia for a while, but flights from the UK to any of the 5 'stans (apart from Astana and Bishkek) are pretty expensive. So I figured that the most economical way to experience them all would be a single long multi-destination road trip. I don't know how viable such a trip is though and would like some advice. The only alternative that I can think of is to pay for tours, which are often very expensive and can feel more like being shepherded around than indepently exploring the country yourself.

In Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan I'd like to see the vast landscapes and drive/trek to the various beautiful mountain lakes. In Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan I would like to see the ancient sites on the old Silk Road too.

I'm not sure if this is possible though, and I imagine that renting a car/cars might be difficult (especially cross-border) and possibly quite expensive given the vast distances.

I don't really have any qualms with driving for many hours at a time; I find that it's usually one of the best ways to see the natural beauty of a country, and I don't mind having to spend days/nights away from civilisation (I'd also like to experience the local nomadic culture if possible).

Anyway, does anyone here know if this kind of trip is feasible, and how I should go about budgeting it/planning an itinerary. Thanks in advance!

3 replies to this topic
Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
26,292 posts
38 reviews
1. Re: Is a road trip through the Central Asian republics feasible?

I'm guessing you're from the UK.

Have you looked at a map? Have you worked out which countries you would need to drive through? Have you googled the British goverment's website for travel advisories for some of the countries you might drive through?

Have you checked on visas needed for any countries that require them, and how long is the remaining validity of your passport on the day you start the trip? Visas can add up in cost, and obtaining them can be timing consuming if you need to keep sending off your passport (always by recorded mail) for one, then the next, and so on. Some force you to decide you dates, reducing travel flexibility. Even when you have them all in place, you may still be declined entry into some countries at border crossings, or forced to enter the country by a different one.

Would you be planning on driving your own car for this trip? If so, I assume it has the steering wheel on the right. Do consider that, the moment you cross the Channel, every single country you will then drive through, the steering wheel will be on the wrong side of the road. It matters not a jot if you have no concerns about driving for long hours, doing so on the wrong side of the road means always extra vigilance is required which can be tiring, and when you are tired after a long, hard day's driving, being tired might make you less vigilant.

Are you any good at car maintenance? How easy is it to get spare parts for the car you plan to drive in the countries you will drive through once you leave European nations?

Have you checked whether you can get personal travel insurance for all the countries you wish to visit, and for the duration of your trip? Have you looked at car insurance for that kind of a trip? What about bail bonds, and other such things? IDP?

What time of year? Have you looked at weather charts and maps for some of those countries. Some have severe and prolonged winters, when any sort of road is impassable, not just in the mountains. Have you looked (there are lots of YouTube clips around when you hunt) at what the roads look like, at any time of year? Many have no tarmac at all, just gravel and dust tracks with monster potholes, needing a high clearance, robust vehicle with hardy, robust tyres. Will your vehicle be up to that?

Distances can be huge, petrol stations few and far between. You will need to consider extra fuel supplies to carry with you, but then that will require research on whether you are allowed to cross country borders carrying such! That's just one of many contradictions you may encounter to throw spanners into the planning.

This forum tends to cover conventional road trip in mostly first world countries. Not the kind of trip you envisage. As such, I very much doubt anybody can offer more relevant advice from personal experience. I certainly cannot.

For that you need to look for other travel forums. They do exist, but are not heavily used. The semi defunct Lonely Plant Thorntree forum will have some historical advice, whether it's still valid and relevant, I don't know. There are other adventurer websites that I have never looked at.

Whatever you do, arm yourself with good, paper maps and guides. For a UK based Brit, an excellent resource is Stanfords bookshop in London who also do mail order. They have knowledgeable staff on the end of a phone, too, sometimes. Get some guidebooks to central Europe, too. They're free from libraries if you can find the right ones - mostly Lonely Planet or Rough Guides - learn the basics.

Budget is mostly a piece of string question. Getting started will be expensive. Day to day expenses on the road once past Europe, pretty low, unless you fancy a few random nights here and there in posh hotels for a good bed and hot shower.

Have fun, let us know what you learn.

The Stans are also on my bucket list. They've been on it a long time. They're still on it. There's a good reason for that!

SWT

Edited: 09 June 2018, 22:58
Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
26,292 posts
38 reviews
2. Re: Is a road trip through the Central Asian republics feasible?

PS: Forgot to add. Right hand drive cars are actually illegal in Uzbekistan. It might be the same in others, I only happen to know about that one.

SWT

Seattle, Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle
Level Contributor
7,674 posts
3. Re: Is a road trip through the Central Asian republics feasible?

I'm not aware of any multi-country road trip reports for Central Asia, but there are numerous single-country TRs out there, many of which include accounts of driving tours. For example here are several on Flyertalk -

https:/…1719285-trip-turkmenistan.html

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-reports…

https:/…1910077-trip-tajikistan.html

https:/…1712963-off-road-kazakhstan.html

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-reports…

I haven't traveled in the area since Soviet days but while it's a superb part of the world I wouldn't underestimate the logistical (and political) barriers to travel in one's own vehicle there. I've seen reports that one can hire a car and driver (in Uzbekistan) for under US$100 a day; don't know if they're current but that might solve lots of problems. Flights between national capitals are not terribly expensive, e.g.

£116 for Tashkent to Almaty.

You might have a look here: https://caravanistan.com/transport/driving/

Reply to: Is a road trip through the Central Asian republics feasible?
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted