Yes, I am female.
I have almost all the time been with somebodey here, so had no bad experiences. But I can write what I have noticed:
if you wear skirt or something more revealing body men will be wtaching and they don't hide that they watch, so I advise not to wear shorts or skirts. In Tashkent it's OK, but in other cities, more religious onse, even T-shirt that shows your hands naked can be not OK.
In day time if you are walking alone there should be no problems. But in the evenings women here usually don't walk alone and it might be misunderstood. In this cukture parents are very stirct usually and they don't let even their sons, even at age 19 be somewhere longer than 10 p.m. About girls it is even stricter as if something would happen and she would lose her virginity no guy here would marry her, so parents are very careful about that.
But generally as from what I have seen there is no big threat here. People usually dont wan't any trouble, because they care about communities opinion very much and bad reputation is greatly feared.
Hitchhiking is not usual here, if you stop a car they always expect you to pay for the ride, so called 'taxies' - it can be any car that stops.
It is worth to come to Uzbekistan - to see Samarkand, Bukahar and Khiva. I have been for now to Samarkand and Bukahara and they are totally amazing cities. Planning to have another tour through popular places with two friends.
About documents - I've been asked to show them just once and in metro station as I've been taking photos there. The metro stations are very beautiful, but you cannot take any photos for security reasons. But I was not alone and the policemen just checked the passports and visas and it was all OK. But in streets you have to be careful about that.
Hope it helps 😊
Thanks Agne 😊
That certainly does help.
I will dress conservatively. I have 2 dresses that I bought in Uganda for dress conservatively countries. They are now 10 years old but I have not found replacements that are as good as they are because they are both conservative and attractive at the same time. Not an easy combination to find.
And about the language - almost everybodey in Tashkent and bigger cities do speak Russian. Maybe more in regions, rural areas, people might not know Russian. Generally in Uzbekistan most common language is Uzbek, but in Samarkand and Bukahara (and I think Khiva the same) most people are tajiks, so they speak Tajik. Without Russian knowledge it would be very hard here.
I dont speak Russian Agne. I had better have my pen and paper with me to write down where I want to go and a calculator to negotiate prices. Sounds like it will be like it was for me in China. When I wanted to buy a bus or train ticket or go in a taxi I used to ask any Chinese person who could speak some English to write on a piece of what I wanted.
Mell - if you give me a list of phrases ("your yurt is beautiful....."), I'll write them down in Russian for you.
Bсегда буду рад помогать!
Thanks Vinovat. 😊
I have not yet got a list but when I do it will be stuff like a bus ticket to ? please. I am not so sure I will get as far as admiring peoples yurts in Russian. :D
I am curious about what is drawing you to the 'stans. I haven't been to any of them either (seems like most people responding to your original query haven't - bad for you, haha), but i must say, I would love to explore them.
Also, have you travelled much by yourself? And if yes, where did you go? I spent a few months in Cambodia by myself, but other than that, I have always travelled with friends or family in less developed countries. I want to travel by myself more... what are your feelings about this? Does one get over the fear?
Hello Maria 😊
I am embarassed to admit that I did not even know that the stans existed until around a year ago. I am going there just to find out what it is like there. I am starting with Kyrgyzstan because it is the easiest of them as regards getting visas and women travellers.
I have travelled a lot by myself. Most of my travel buddies are ones I met while travelling alone and then hung out with them or travelled with them for a while. I rarely have somebody that I leave home with and that I travel with from beginning to end. I have been to around 40 countries over the last 20 years spanning Asia, Europe, Africa, N and S America. No, one does not really get over the fear but one goes right ahead and does it anyway. :D I was very nervous planning my trip to Iran last year and on the plane to there I wondered if I am really so curious about the world that I would put myself through this anguish. But there is rarely anything that really needs to be feared if you have prepared well for your trip information wise before you go.
very interesting. How was Iran?? I'm fascinated by the middle east as well, but it just seems too scary. I did India last year with my bf, and thankfully we got along very well despite the crazy heat. And CUba/Mexico with my sister. But I'm not sure about somewhere like Iran by myself... WHen you say you do a lot of research, what exactly do you mean? So far, I have always bought the LP (though sometimes they are a curse when you adhere too strongly) and read a bit, then visas before departure, etc, but otherwise not much. How is travel in these places different? Even for your 'stan trip, what sort of extra things are you researching?
Iran is a surprisingly nice place to travel. Sexual harassment is almost non existant which is a welcome relief for women travellers. Maybe the reasons it is absent(police state) are not so good but nevertheless it is convenient for female travellers. My research involved reading the Lonely Planet Guide to Iran, talking with Iranians on the internet and talking with other travellers who have been to Iran on the internet and reading whatever was in the media and the Amnesty reports for Iran. Also I watched a film set in Iran. There are plenty of them but I only saw one. Iran is safe so long as you stay within the law, watch what you say in public and dont wander around in the wilds. People have been arrested and put in prison for accidently venturing close to millitary bases. Iranians are very friendly, easy going and hospitable people. There are the weird attitudes toward women but these can work in your favour. Of course it would be better if the law protects women but nevertheless the society in Iran that keeps women and men separate also prevents you from getting in any trouble with men so you can fully use it to your advantage to keep you safe if you want. The information in the Lonely Planet about safety and Iranian customs is accurate.
I have an Iran blog in my profile about my visit to Iran. Have a look at that and let me know if there is more you would like to know.
I think Lonely Planets are good for guidance, rather than something to adhere to ridgidly.
I am doing the same type of research for the stans as I did for Iran and the same for most countries that I go to where I am not familiar with the culture, customs and laws. Basically I read everything I come accross and I talk with as many people about it as possible. I am generally doing constant travel research to find out about places I want to go to and to find new destinations for my want to go to list.
Are Euros an easy currency to change in Kyrgyzstan?
At least in Uzbekistan it is easy - they easily exchange dollars, euros and yen. I dont think that there would be problem in Kyrgyztan.
Thank you Agne 😊
When I arrive in Bishkek(by plane) I want to go to Kochkor right away. Where in Bishkek is the best place to catch a shared taxi or mini bus to Kochkor? Do they go from Osh Bazar or should I go to the bus station? Also, does anybody have any advise about how much it should cost?
When I was in Uzbekistan 3 years ago it was a real hassle to change US or Euros in to the local currency. They were having foreign exchange issues and at one point the banks were closed because there was no money! Another day when there was some money I had to bribe a bank manager to change my USD into Uzbek money. I don't know if things have improved there lately though......
Thanks Brian 😊
I sure hope things have improved. But I think Kyrgyzstan is generally more tourist friendly than Uzb.. anyway......
Hey, I've been to Kyrgyzstan and spent some time in Bishkek (the capital) and around Lake Isikul. It is a beautiful country. We're actually headed back to Central Asia in two weeks and will be writing about it in our blog.
How did your trip to Kyrgyzstan go? I'm doing a month-long overland travel in a few Central Asian countries around late March or April. Do I need to learn Russian or Kyrgyz? Was it easy going around alone?
@Jonathan, can I also request you to write some Russian phrases for me? 😊