Anyone has experiences with trains in central Asia? I am sort of considering to see how far east one can get without too much planning in advance; my current target is Tashkent, Kazakhstan, but if it works out I plan to travel on, time permitting.
But, I'm rather concerned about safety; heard a lot of stories about central Asia not being that safe, in terms of muggings, religious violence, kidnappings etc. Planning to take as little luggage and money possible, but still.
More in particular, would it be a good idea to bring my girlfriend? We both look pretty 'western' I'm afraid, and don't speak any russian. Any feedback would be highly appreciated.
I have no kbowledge of this but about the best website you can find for train travel is www.seat61.com and they have lots of details and information, it is an amazing website for train travel, they have about the Trans Siberian but they also have about different countries in central Asia.
Are you going to fly first to Tashkent or take a train already from Holland?
I mainly ask this because if you don't want to plan too much it's better to fly first to Tashkent. If you wan't to travel through Russia, you have to arrange visa and all nights (or nights in a train) in advance. Unless you buy an expensive visa with which you can travel without booking in advance, but it's probably something like 200 euro.
I think safety shouldn't be that kind of a problem, especially Uzbekistan and Kazachstan are safe enough, although the fergana valley on the border with kirgizstan maybe is not such a great idea. Maybe it's nice to travel all the way to Beijing?
Don't have any experience myself, but I read a lot about things and have some experience in other former Sovjet countries.
If you want to book something ahead to get to tashkent first, maybe try tiaratours (dutch organisation, based in breda) which has tickets to Tashkent from Moscow.
Thanks for the reply. I think I'll spend those 200 on visa; it was my intention not to make bookings in advance. And yeah, Beijing is kinda on the agenda, only my time next summer is quite limited (afraid I won't make it that far and back again in a month).