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Budget Travel in the 5 Stans

San Francisco...
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Budget Travel in the 5 Stans

I read about a tour group that covers all 5 Stans. The group travels using local services (i.e. the local bus). At each destination the group has full freedom to move around independently. When it is time to go to the next destination the group meets in a central location and travels together. A guide assists with logistics and is available for recommendations. You get the feel of independent travel but get grouped together for travel.

Is anyone aware of the name or the tour group or aware of something similar?

We want to travel to all five Stans and are trying to figure the best way to go about our trip. We want to avoid the typical packaged tour.

Seoul, South Korea
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1. Re: Budget Travel in the 5 Stans

I'm also planning on traveling those central 5 countries next May.

I'll keep my eyes on your post.

Austin, Texas
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2. Re: Budget Travel in the 5 Stans

Also interested as we will be doing the 5-stans/Iran next May as well.

Maine
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3. Re: Budget Travel in the 5 Stans

hmmm...we are also exploring possibility of exploring the stans, including Afghanistan....but budget is tight...sigh...

Actually, Afghan and Turkmen are the most important stans for us....

Suggestions welcome.

4. Re: Budget Travel in the 5 Stans

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Removed on: 9:19 am, December 30, 2012
CT
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5. Re: Budget Travel in the 5 Stans

I would recommend East Site Inc. http://www.east-site.com

We took 5 Stans tour last year with them and it went very well.

This is USA-based company, Julia Feydman is the owner's name, she is originally from Uzbekistan and knows all the important details very well. Plus she personally manages tour groups from her Tashkent Office during the season, which is very accommodating.

Stroud, United...
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6. Re: Budget Travel in the 5 Stans

Hello everyone

Actually, if picked correctly, the good ol package tours are great. I have a vested interest, but that's my view for the record.

The kind of trip you have mentioned isn't really possible in Turkmenistan, where you cannot just walk around freely. I'm sure people do it in practice, or attempt to, but it's not legal and it's quite normal to be stopped in the street and asked for your papers. Believe me when I say that if you are asked for your papers or generally engaged in conversation with the police in Turkmenistan, you really really want to have a local guide with you - as in by your side.

Elsewhere doing things cheaply in a non package way is possible, but you need some basic russian to actually enjoy it. I have seen plenty of independent travellers (and I was one once, in Uzbekistan) get into a pickle over paperwork, the law, etc. Having at least some Russian, especially outside Uzbekistan and Almaty, will help enormously. If you're happy to undertake the hassle then many travellers go independently. Uzbekistan is probably the easiest, and Tajikistan the hardest (very expensive, unless you're skipping through and you're good at making friends with strangers).

There are local people in these countries also making their own way around and they have their own solutions - shared taxis, just like in Turkey, but in more basic vehicles, are relatively simple to find in every major town and city, with the exception of Tajikistan (and Turkmenistan where, as mentioned above, you cannot do this basically). A good guidebook will help you navigate from place to place.

If you're time restricted then my adivce would be to travel with a tour of some kind. You need flexibility to do a multi-country independent trip in Central Asia.

Homestays must be registered, but are the cheapest way to stay in any country.

Food is reasonably cheap, but of varying quality.

You can pick up guides at major UNESCO recognised sites in Uzbekistan - for example the entrance to the Ark in Bukhara. In Tajikistan use Robert Middleton's amazing Odyssey guide to put you in touch with people who can help you.

That's about all I can think of for now.

good luck!

Huw

Moscow, Russia
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7. Re: Budget Travel in the 5 Stans

Hello, there are free grp options in Turkmenistan.

Normally in May or in Sep. Check travelnotoria.

Probably they can help.

San Francisco...
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8. Re: Budget Travel in the 5 Stans

This is a spectacular trip I'm sure yet one must do investigating .First off the Visas....unless you're a nationality of one of the CIS then visas can be a long wait not to mention expensive .Kyrgyzstan is the most open arm welcoming when it comes to beauracracy. All the other places you'll probably need LOI s before applying that on top of visa costs ..ouch! In Tajikistan you'll need permit to go to Pamirs on anywhere within 20 km from Afghanistan.Turkmenistan you have to deal with Embassy for transit visa or buy package to go to Turkmenistan from agency in Ashgabat.The hotels in Turkmenistan can be pricey unless on a transit visa in which you have just 3-5 days to cross the country.

9. Re: Budget Travel in the 5 Stans

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Munich, Germany
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10. Re: Budget Travel in the 5 Stans

I also recommend combining homestays with camping out - and even roughing in the back seat! That's how I got myselthrough Turkmenistan and had an unforgettable trip.

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