Travelling to Central Asia from someone living in South East Asia seems to be quite a far stretch holiday idea. To people from other parts of Asia, these countries have only started to promote its tourism in recent years. To most of us, the area is filled with mysterious unexplored large land mass. So here’s my preparations for this upcoming trip to these exotic places.
Getting to Central Asia
From Singapore, one of the easiest way entering Central Asia region would be flying with Uzbekistan Airways, Airline code: HY. Uzbekistan Airways flies once a weekly to Singapore with stops to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as well. I have booked myself on this flight departing Tashkent to Singapore (Flight Number: HY551). Duration of flight is 7 hours 50 minutes, arriving into Singapore at 8.10am local morning time.
Other than that, to get into Central Asia region such as Almaty located in Kazakhstan, one of the best way would be to fly in from Urumqi, China. Below are some of the flights that I will be taking for this coming trip.
Embarking on a 15 Days trip, taking me from Singapore to China (Xi’an & Beijing city) and onward to Mongolia , followed by visit to Kazakhstan & back to Singapore via Uzbekistan.
Visiting the region in early April, what I will be expecting would be the end of their winter season. Certainly, it will still be very cold especially for people like us (South East Asians) who all year round often experience summer season only. Travelling to this region in April, we are looking at a low of minus 10 Degree Celsius in places like Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. A high of around 15 Degree Celsius in Xi’an. Therefore, certainly winter clothing is the must for this trip. Considering the terrain that I will be traveling, the 45L bag pack is my best bet being one of the most efficient use of carry-on luggage allow on most budget airlines.
With limited storage space and winter climate in mind, I had packed simply 3 long pants, 3 long sleeve shirts, 1 Jacket (for temperature above 10 degree) & 1 thick winter jacket. All squeezed into my 45L bag pack. Beside it, I will be taking a small bag to store essential travel needs like medicine, cameras with many memory cards, batteries as spare and water, simply things that you need for your daily survival needs.
As I will be staying in the Ger Camps with the locals in Mongolia being one of the must do things in Mongolia, I had brought along some soft toys, 1 box of pencils, 2 diary books for the kids to use. These stuff will be more beneficial than simply handing out candy or money to them.
I will be flying into Xi’an from Singapore by Tiger Airways (budget flight at SGD$240 one-way fare). Taking Tiger Airways from Singapore, I will be arriving late at 11pm plus. From there, I will explore Xi’an to visit the world famous Terracotta Army Warriors. After which, I will embark on a domestic flight to Beijing. The reason why I had to visit Beijing was that it was my intention to take what is rated as one of the must take train ride in the world: The Trans Siberian railway route , which starts embarks from Beijing to Moscow, Russia covering a total of 9,289km. However, certainly I will not be travelling on the whole length with my ultimate aim is to visit Mongolia capital, Ulaanbaatar known as the coldest capital in the world with temperature reaching a low of minus 49 Degree Celsius.
Purchasing Trans Siberian Railway Ticket
There are several websites for one to purchase the prized train tickets easily with a click of the button. One of the better site that one can get more information on the Trans Siberian train would be:
http://www.cits.net/international-trains/beijing-ulanbator-k23.html (showing train departing from Beijing to Russia/ Mongolia)
Advance booking is advised as it is not really feasible if you are only visiting China for a few days before your onward travel. I booked such ticket from Ulaanbaatar to Beijing through a travel agency and it’s common for them to deliver it to your hostel/ hotel.
One of the website that I had choose to book after comparing the fares would be : http://www.mongoliatraintickets.com
I find the above website fare is relatively cheaper as compare to more service fees charged by others. In fact, dealing with them is easier too as they respond to your enquiry via email very quickly.You need not pay anything until they passed you the ticket at your hotel.
Often there are too much information and write up on the trains. A summary that I would gathered would be :
The Beijing to Moscow (train K3) leaves at 07:40 on Wednesdays and arrives in Moscow at 14:12 on the following Monday. Prices range from US$600 and US$1000 depending on the class of sleeping accommodation.
Please check if you would need the required visas to these Central Asia countries. For Singapore passport holders like I am, do note that you can easily check on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on this website below if you need to apply the required visa.
For Singapore passport holders, one need not apply visa for less than 15 days of travel. However, please note that Visa Free for Singaporeans is only valid till 31 Dec 2017!
In a nutshell, Singaporeans need to apply Uzbekistan Visa. Steps to applying Uzbekistan Visa:
Uzbekistan Embassy Address in Singapore:
20 Kramat Lane, United House #04-01, Singapore 228773, Tel: 6734 3942
Price: USD 20-60. Price varies according to the type of visa apply.
I guess I am somehow rather ready for this adventure trip to Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, China! Stay tune to more update on embarking this trip!
Categories: Asia Region