Budgeting for Central Asia
Central Asia is not a budget destination in the same way that Southeast Asia is. Hotels and restaurant meals can eat a hole in your wallet quickly, not to mention the elevated costs of getting visas and flights to this remote part of the globe.
The good news is that higher transport costs and expenses in cities are quickly offset by the tiny outlay you need to cycle in rural areas, cook most of your own food and free camp. It’s also easy to wild camp for long stretches because of the public Soviet bathhouses in nearly every town. Just locate the local banya to get scrubbed up, soak in the sauna and you’re good to go for a few more days of tenting.
With your paperwork in order and flight booked, a couple should be able to cycle easily on €10-15 a day. There were many days where we spent under €5 for our basic needs. A budget of €20 a day for two people would allow a few more luxuries like the occasional homestay and better food in the cities. In the smaller towns, there’s often not a lot to spend your money on, aside from cabbage, carrots and bread!
Central Asia has quite the reputation for corruption and bribery but as tourists we only experienced this once at the border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The Kazakh guard wanted extra to allow us to be processed in the quicker lane for motorised traffic. We declined the offer and went with the pedestrians. You shouldn’t need a separate bribery fund!