The Best of Central Asia

From Indonesia and Japan and Nepal to the United Arab Emirates, you’ve traipsed all over Asia. But there’s one part of the continent where you haven’t traveled yet. It’s time to explore Central Asia.

Photo: Ekrem Canli (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Ekrem Canli (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Samarkand, Uzbekistan: See one of the oldest inhabited—and once the greatest—Central Asian cities, which is now home to an Islamic scholar center and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Uzbekistan.

Photo: Zack Knowles (http://www.panoramio.com/photo/31758478) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Zack Knowles (http://www.panoramio.com/photo/31758478) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Khorog, Tajikistan: Go to the roof of the world to find the second-highest botanical garden on Earth, droopy mulberry trees, wild olive trees, rocky mountains, puffy clouds, a steep river valley, a glacial-fed river in Tajikistan.

Photo: Dave Proffer (stans08-339 Uploaded by russavia) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Dave Proffer (stans08-339 Uploaded by russavia) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Osh, Kyrgyzstan: Feel rejuvenated as you climb a rocky mountain, visit a hillside museum, find petroglyphs along the trail, and discover a mosque near the peak in Kyrgyzstan.

Photo: AnastassiyaL (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: AnastassiyaL (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Aktau, Kazakhstan: Get ahead of the curve when you see dramatic white cliffs, white-sand beaches, turquoise water, and new hotels along the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan.

Photo: USAID [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: USAID [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Band-e Amir National Park, Afghanistan: Dream of a war-torn country’s possible future as you explore its first national park, walk around azure lakes, and hike through red cliffs in Afghanistan.

Photo: flydime (http://www.flickr.com/photos/flydime/2891642847/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: flydime (http://www.flickr.com/photos/flydime/2891642847/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Nisa, Turkmenistan: Have an ancient complex all to yourself, explore a fortress, and find fragments from a royal throne in a dusty part of Turkmenistan.

Photo: Лобачев Владимир (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Лобачев Владимир (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan: Travel to a gorgeous lake, visit a stone garden, explore a historical museum, walk through wildflower-filled fields, and enjoy the solitude in Kyrgyzstan.

Photo: Hylgeriak / Wikipedia (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Hylgeriak / Wikipedia (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Tajik National Park, Tajikistan: Find yurts and yaks, unpaved roads, one of the longest glaciers in the world, high peaks, and empty hiking trails in a national park in Tajikistan.

Photo: David Stanley [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: David Stanley [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Merv, Turkmenistan: Try to envision the great city—full of palaces, mosques, and an intricate canal system—that used to stand in the desert of Turkmenistan.

Photo: Shymbulak Ski Resort
Photo: Shymbulak Ski Resort

Almaty, Kazakhstan: Plan your winter vacation in an area with snowy winters, a high altitude, bandy rinks, valley views, and lit ski trails in Kazakhstan.

Photo: Stomac (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.0-fr (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/fr/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Stomac (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.0-fr (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/fr/deed.en)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Bukhara, Uzbekistan: Discover what has been hiding in the “city of museums” in Uzbekistan.

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