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Nine Tips If You're Planning to Visit Central Asia

22/06/2015 17:42 BST | Updated 22/06/2016 10:59 BST

Central Asia; it's perhaps the lesser known segment of the continent to many travellers. If this is your first travel experience of the "five 'Stans" (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan), there will be some guaranteed surprises along the way. Here are nine tips to bear in mind before you head to this incredible part of the world...

1| Be Open Minded

Many people who travel to Central Asia aren't sure what to expect. So if you're visiting one of the 'Stans, be sure to remain open minded about everything. There may be some culture shocks and you may struggle with the language barriers, so be prepared for challenges; it's all a part of the experience.

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2| Pack for the Extreme Climate

The climate in Central Asia tends to be extremely hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. So it's important to pack accordingly. If you want to avoid the extreme weather, spring and autumn are the ideal times to travel, when the weather will be mild and manageable.

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3| Understand Terrorism Risks

There are some areas of Central Asia which are not safe for travel. For instance, Ferghana Valley in Kyrgyzstan poses high risks and this also includes bordering regions of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Checking GOV.UK for travel and safety advice is highly recommended.

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4| Get Visas Sorted ASAP

Visa applications can be somewhat complicated in Central Asia; if you're travelling across the whole region, there will be a lot of paperwork involved. So make sure you apply for your visas well in advance of your travel date.

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5|Plan Your Route

It doesn't matter how spontaneous you are as a traveller, knowing where you are going is essential in a place like Central Asia. Remember, this part of the world is still relatively undiscovered when compared to other destinations - so organisation with transport routes and accommodation is key. There are plenty of great informative guides out there to use in your research meaning you can get a good ideas of exactly where you want to go and what you want to do before you hit the road.

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6| Order Travel Money in Advance

In some of the more remote parts of Central Asia, you will not have any access to cash machines or banks. Even in some of the bigger cities, access to ATM machines can be limited. Make sure you carry debit and credit cards as well as cash.

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7| Don't Exchange on the Black Market

In terms of scams, Central Asia is quite safe. But the one thing you need to look out for is black market traders for foreign exchange. The exchange rates will be extortionate and you will be dealing with a lot of low value bills - so make sure you stop and count everything properly, as the inflation can be confusing.

8| Get to Know Public Transport Links

Public buses and trains are very easy and safe across Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. However, be aware of non-safe areas and border crossings when moving across countries. Another way to travel is by shared taxi; a concept which allows you to share your taxi ride with other passengers.

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9| Pack a Decent Camera

Central Asia is home to some of the most interesting and beautiful cities in the world. Mosques, madrasahs, minarets and grand buildings fill the skylines of many some of the bigger cities such as Bukhara in Uzbekistan or Turkistan City in Kazakhstan. So be sure to pack your full camera kit, including a steady tripod.

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