Travel Guide to Central Asia for Filipinos - Visa Requirements and Tips for SILK ROAD ADVENTURE
Central Asia is starting to gain more attention for off-the-beaten path travelers; many people still don’t even know they exist or their names but I know that one day it’s going to be very popular tourist destinations now that tourist/ entry visas are easier to get.
There are 5 Countries in Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. They usually end in “-stan,” excluding Afghanistan and Pakistan as they are considered to be part of SOUTH ASIA and not Central Asia.
“-Stan” actually means “the land of” in Persian, so it’s the land of Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tatars, Turkmen, and Uzbeks. Most, if not all, of these countries used to be part of USSR, so expect people to know Russian language.
It’s also effortless for Filipinos to enter as 3 out of 5 countries you can enter with eVisa, 1 is visa free and the 1 requires a Visa with Letter of Invitation. Since this almost unknown for us Filipinos, it would surely be educational and eye-opening. You could learn more about them when we travel, experience their cultures and discover unique places. Central Asia travel will surely be an exciting adventure you are waiting to happen. I’ve been to Central Asia last June, and it was phenomenal.
Flights from Manila to Central Asia
There are no direct flights to any Central Asian Country from the Philippines, but if you check this image, then you’ll see how to reach Central Asia. Depending on your destination, you have one to two stops.
On this summary, it will help you check the countries that you can quickly enter and the possible stops. There are direct flights via South Korea and Turkey; however, you need to get a transit visa. The most convenient one is Hong Kong, as you will arrive in Kazakhstan, however not on a capital city but Almaty has excellent spots. The best way is mostly through Almaty since it can access most of the other countries.
VISA GUIDE FOR FILIPINOS - eVISA/ VISA ON ARRIVAL/ Free VISA
Kazakh means “wanderer” or “adventurer,” so the country is the “Land of Wanderers.” Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country in the world; it’s also one of the least dense as there are 6 people per square mile. Nur-Sultan is the name of its capital; it was Astana before. You might have heard about Kazakhstan before in the famous movie Borat, the lead character is a Kazakh journalist but you’ll be surprised how different and modern the “real” Kazakshtan compared to the movie.
FREE VISA: 30 days, must enter only at the international airports of Astana (Nur-Sultan) and Almaty
What to do: See the city view at Baiterek Tower, learn how to ice skate or sea at Medeo, enjoy the tranquility and maybe camp at Big Almaty Lake or Lake Kaindy, Ride a 4x4 and listen to the whistles at Altyn-Emel National Park, and tour inside the Mausoleum of Khawaja Ahmed Yasawi.
“Kyrgyz” is derived from the Turkic word “forty,” the country means “We are Forty.” There are also 40-rays in the sun of their flag. 80% of this country is covered by mountains, so expect many treks. Bishkek is the capital and Kyrgyz, and Russian are its official languages. If you watch Got Talent (Asia’s or America’s), there’s ADEM Dance Crew, who are Kyrgyz; you should view their video.
eVISA: 30 days, via Manas International Airport or Osh Airport or through land crossings with China (at Irkeshtam and Torugart), Kazakhstan (at Ak-jol, Ak-Tilek, Chaldybar, Chon-Kapka), Tajikistan (at Bor-Dobo, Kulundu, Kyzyl-Bel) and Uzbekistan (at Dostuk)
What to do: If you love hiking, you will be in love with Kyrgyzstan, try Ala-Kul and Altyn Arashan, enjoy the scenic view at Köl-Suu or Issyk-Kul, visit the historical Burana Tower, feel like a Martian at Skazka Canyon (Fairy Tale Canyon), and visit the Dungan Mosque
The Tajik was a tribe living in this place; that’s why Tajikistan means “Land of the Tajiks.”
The capital, Dushanbe, means Monday in Tajik. This country has many glaciers and 2 UNESCO world heritage sites.
eVISA: 45 days, eVisa holders can enter through all border points.
What to do: Cycle your way through Pamir Highway, camp out beside Iskanderkul or Sarez Lake, take a picture in front of the tallest flagpole at Dushanbe Flagpole, hike at Ismoil Somoni Peak or Lenin Peak, and tour in the ancient town of Sarazm.
Uzbeks were a Turkic group living in this place; that’s why Uzbekistan means “Land of Uzbeks.”
Uzbekistan is doubly landlocked, meaning it is a landlocked country surrounded by landlocked countries. The capital is Tashkent that has many museums and Soviet-era architecture. Uzbekistan has 9 nature reserves and 2 national parks.
eVISA: 30 days, can enter at all entry points
What to do: Choose between UNESCO cultural sites in Bukhara or Itchan Kala (Khiva), check out architecture in Tashkent, hike or camp at Western Tien-Shan or Zaamin National Park, stop by Samarkand, and catch the city view at Tashkent Tower
While the country means “Land of Turkmen,” the capital Ashgabat means “city of love/devotion.” 70% of the country is Karakum Desert. The country also has 8 nature reserves and 13 sanctuaries.
Visa Requirements: VISA REQUIRED - You need to get a Letter of Invitation from a travel agency in Turkmenistan then after getting that you must submit a signed passport along with a copy of the bio-page, submit money in CASH - US dollars (Up to 10 days - 35 USD, Up to 3 months - 115 USD). You can also get the visa on arrival at the border or airport but a LETTER OF INVITATION is required.
Nearest Consulate/Embassy: Malaysia, however you can also process in countries in Central Asia
What to do: See the ancient cities of Merv and Parthian Fortresses of Nisa, feel the heat of hell in Darvaza gas crater, tour the white and gold city of Ashgabat, check out the mausoleum in Timur Qutlugh Minaret, and trek at Gaplaňgyr Nature Reserve.
ADDITIONAL TIPS IN TRAVELING TO CENTRAL ASIA
Check your route, if you are trying to travel in all of Central Asia check if the borders are open and if you can cross with your eVisa or if there is VOA
It’s better to learn a bit of Russian as people here can speak that language or download a google translate app.
Exchange at black markets rather than ATMs
Ask locals for the regular price of taxis; some may charge you high for being a tourist
Dress appropriately; most of Central Asia are Muslims but they are open-minded so you can still wear sleeveless and dress.
Prepare your VPN as many sites are blocked in most of Central Asia plus there’s not a lot of Wi-Fi
Have travel insurance in case of emergencies, this is what I personally use.
With Philippine Passport, Filipinos can enter quickly enter 4 out of 5 Asian Countries. I was there this June 2019, and I had an incredible time during my trip. I ate a lot of Plov and gained weight! HAHA!
If you want to travel in Central Asia, it’s better to fly to Kazakhstan; since Almaty is near Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, you can ride a bus (your eVisa is allowed there), next cross to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, then Dushanbe, Tajikistan and lastly to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan by flying or crossing the border by land. All you need is to get a travel agency for your LOI your trip and print the document as you can also process your Turkmenistan visa at the border with the printed LOI + cash in US Dollars..
We hope with this article, you would want to go to a gem called Central Asia, and you’ll start making that Central Asia Travel Itinerary. I began at Tajikistan, my 126th country, then to Afghanistan to Kyrgyzstan. Kazakhstan was my 129th, to Mongolia, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. I promise you; you will not regret it! Also, with your Philippine passport, nothing is impossible!
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