Central Asia

With its medieval blue-domed cities, kinetic bazaars and remote yurtstays, Central Asia encapsulates the romance of the Silk Road like nowhere else.

Footprints of History

From Alexander the Great to Chinggis (Genghis) Khan to Timur (Tamerlane), Central Asia's page-turning history litters the land at every turn. From the right angle and with one eye closed, the storied oasis caravan stops of Samarkand and Bukhara, with their exotic skylines of minarets and medressas, really do seem to be lifted directly from the age of Marco Polo. Share a round of kebabs with an Uzbek trader or wander an ancient caravanserai and historical romantics will find the past and present begin to blur into one in Central Asia.

Mountains & Yurts

East of the desert and steppe settlements rise the snow-capped Pamir and Tian Shan ranges of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, home to traditional herding communities and some truly epic mountain scenery. Here community-based tourism projects can bring you face to face with nomadic Kyrgyz herders, meeting them in their yurts and on their terms. Ride out to remote lakes on horseback, hike from one village homestay to another, or take a 4WD out to remote archaeological sites. The scope for adventure and exploration here is almost limitless.

Travel off the Map

For decades – centuries even – much of the world has regarded Central Asia as an opaque, unknowable area, synonymous with the middle of nowhere, rather than the heartland of Asia. For a certain type of wanderer, this is all part of the attraction of a land that has been largely off-limits to travelers for the last 2000 years. Head even a little bit off the beaten track and you'll likely have the place to yourself. The region's little-visited locations, namely Turkmenistan and most of Kazakhstan, are even further removed from the modern world and offer an addictive interest all of their own.

A Warm Welcome

Whether you want to explore the architectural gems of Bukhara or take a horse trek across the high Pamirs, everywhere in Central Asia you'll be greeted with instinctive local hospitality and offered a shared meal, a helping hand or a place to stay. Beyond Uzbekistan's Silk Road cities, mass tourism has yet to make any inroads in Central Asia, lending a sense of discovery to each trip. Add to this the intrinsic fascination of a forgotten region slowly emerging as a geopolitical pivot point and you have one of Asia's most absorbing hidden corners.

Explore Central Asia

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Central Asia.

Featured videos

Top 10 regions to visit in 2020



Learn more about Central Asia

Uncover the heart of travel and be inspired to see new sights with one of Lonely Planet’s in-depth, award-winning guidebooks.