Has anyone been to anywhere in Central Asia eg Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan? It is supposed to be very beautiful and have really friendly people, but there seem to be loads of wars going on and I'm not sure what's happening where, so which countries are safe and which aren't?
this company does trips to such places - all a bit different to the usual oz ex coach tour experiences!
hope this helps out a bit!
I really liked Uzbekistan, especially Bukhara (it's an amazingly exotic old city). Samarakand had some Amazing structures, also pretty exotic, especially when you consider the 2500 year old history. Khiva was pretty cool (real Central Asian look). Didn't really like Tashkent (too modern with boring Soviet buildings).
I also went some other places in Uzbekistan, and into Turkmenistan to Khiva Urgench (saw some interesting ruins, a Griat, exotic markek, etc.).
The people were very friendly. I was there in 1997 (pre-9/11, etc.), so it's obviousy a bit different now. I know there are warnings out now about the situation in Uzbekistan there are some other areas in central Asia that are not safe.
If it does appear to be safe in the places I mentioned, you'd really enjoy it there. I'd check the Gov'n warning websites for USA, UK, Austrailia.
I think Kazakhstan is safe but also boring compared to the others.
You can also check out the website of MIR (based in Seattle) they specialize in those places and you could maybe get there brochure and read some Info., etc.
Kazahstan is abslolutely (!!!!) safe - Almaty is beutiful. Astana (the new capital is impressive). Kazahstan might be not as good as Uzbekestan for historic sights but nature is beutiful. Is you go during winter you can enjoy nice sky resorts in Almaty.
There were some political changes in Uzbekestan a while ago but I think it's pretty much safe for turist. It's definetly something to see - esspecially Buhara and Samarkand.
I lived in Kazakhstan for a total of 9 months. if you've asthma, don't go. the pollution is pretty bad all over and the hassle of getting a visa isn't worth the sites you see. but if you're in the area anyway, then go visit. the culture is absolutely wonderful, almaty has beautiful sites and you can go hiking in the nearby mountains. during the summer it gets very hot, but it's when they've the best, freshest food. in the winter you may be stuck with potatoes and turnips.