You know you want to ask it—why would I want to visit Central Asia and Mongolia?
I bet you’re wondering if it’s safe and whether the tourist infrastructure is any good. Right?
But believe me, there are good reasons to come to this area of the world. Flight connections via Moscow and Istanbul are good.
Safety can change quickly all over the world but I have never felt in danger at any time.
Of course, the normal rules of travel apply. Don’t leave your luggage unattended. Be careful at night. The usual sort of thing.
Let me give you ten of the many good reasons you should head to Central Asia and Mongolia, and why I love this part of the earth:
Beautiful, unspoilt nature
Lonely steppes, rough mountains, beautiful valleys, pristine lakes, fascinating deserts and lovely forests. They are all there in the middle of Asia.
A chance to get off the beaten track
You’ll have the place pretty much to yourself. Few other people are there.
You’ll meet locals but not a lot of tourists. Few places can claim to so far off the beaten track. Sometimes it feels like you are the only person on earth.
The really great thing is, when you meet local people, you are a very welcome guest.
Hospitality is immense here. People will be happy to serve you tea and, in the unlikely case you have any problems, to help you out as much as they can.
Wildlife and animals
The domestic animals and the wildlife make a big impression.
Just imagine seeing hundreds of horses galloping in the wild or seeing shepherds with their sheep in the mountains.
How would it feel to be followed on the road by a mighty golden eagle?
What about going on an expedition to see snow leopards? Central Asia and Mongolia have them all.
Easy access to ancient history
These areas, and their cities and people, have so much history. Like the famous Silk Road with its glorious cities or the many nomadic tribes and their stories from the steppe. You can follow the historic footsteps of conquerors such as Amir Timur and Genghis Khan.
The chance to view nomadic life
There’s nowhere else in the world where the nomadic lifestyle is still as intact. People still live like they did centuries ago and they are happy to let you be part of it and their long-established traditions.
Walk in vibrant, modern cities
The cities of Central Asia and Ulaanbaator in Mongolia have a lot to offer too. They offer notable tourism sights, plus shopping and nightlife. You’ve got to experience it. The have their very own charm.
Participation in outdoor activities
You can do so much here. Skiing, biking, hiking and horseback riding are just some of the many activities you can enjoy. Fishing, motor biking, off-road driving and camel riding are some of the others.
Tuck in to delicious food
Are you veggie? To be honest, the food is pretty heavy on meat, but it’s tasty and you’ll find lots of dishes you can’t get back home. How about somsas, plov, beshbarmak, laghman, manti or kushur? Ever tried them? They’re waiting for you!
Lack of an overt tourism infrastructure
The fact that tourism is only beginning to develop makes this an exciting place to visit if you’re open to authentic experiences. It makes visiting Central Asia and Mongolia a genuine adventure. Visit and experience for yourself.
About the authors
This feature was written for MannedUp by Alex and Ati Tosun, travellers who have fallen in love with Central Asia and Mongolia. They run Indy Guide, a social-entrepreneurship project that helps travellers find guides with good local knowledge, tours with experts and homestays in rural villages. They aim to support local communities through the project. Find out more by taking a look at www.indy-guide.com.
All of the photos illustrating this post were supplied by Indy Guide, which owns their copyright and should be approached for permission before reproducing them.