Unless travelling with a comfortable group tour with a
double-decker air-conditioned bus, transportation in Central
Asia may well be anything from a donkey cart to a Soviet
AN2 biplane hopping the mountain villages at 180 km/h.
Standard transportation for individual travellers will
largely be the more or less well-developed bus systems
of the various countries where services have been steadily
improving throughout most of Central Asia considering
the period of independence. Nevertheless - air-conditioning
ceases to work at 45 degrees Celsius and also below that
unfortunately there seems to be a common understanding
that unlike in South-East Asia cold air is bad for you,
and unless you hired a car for yourself and made sure
the system works before you left, you should try to accept
and stick to alternative chilling methods.
The same seems to apply to many of the private vehicles
which for various reasons are not quite maintaned for
western standards. Anyhow - since you are hiring friendly
drivers who usually will take charge of the entertainment
on the lengthy overland rides try to accept the occasional
break-down or tea break at a police stop as part of your
adventure. In any case please bear in mind that the car
you get is what you pay for and that transportation with
100% western standards is certainly always available.
Sometimes it may be worth spending a few bucks more on
a ride for yourself, where you can stop for a photo and
make sure the car has some suspension.
Bringing dust masks or a scarf is certainly recommended
for most some of the sandy off-road territory. Make sure
your driver stays awake and gets a break once in a while
for your own safetly.
Airtravel in Central Asia is adventurous too, in particular
with the few remaining routings still using those nostalgic
AN24 Propeller planes the noise of which blows your ears
right out and makes you wish to return to the throaty
sounds you just escaped at the bazaar. Anyhow - also planes
are steadily getting better - most international flights
to western destinations are now performed by Boeings and
Airbuses, many popular local flights in Uzbekistan and
recently Turkmenistan are now using western planes too.
Airports and ticketing are a whole chapter by itself.
Turkmenistan has the lowest local airfares perhaps in
the whole world.
Rail travel remains highly local business and there has
not been too much effort to return the state of affairs
to the appraised Soviet standards (where the Railway was
the largest single employer in the world). There have
been a few attempts to introduce Orient Express style
tourist trains in Uzbekistan, one more comfortable train
is running in Kazakhstan, but unfortunately most of the
system remains cheap, but very low standard. If you go
for the venture - your best friend should be the provodnik
who will try to make sure that your basic needs are taken
care of. Anyhow - stock up on food and drink in advance,
bring your own sheets / sleeping bag, try to get a compartment
to yourself and do not take the 'platzkartny' carriages.
For boats - check out the Turkmenistan
Transportation section on the Baku-Turkmenbashi Ferry
across the Caspian. We apologise if most of the transport
pages are under costruction or contain just a few indications
of what is actually available. Please contact us for additional