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Uzbekistan

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Travelers — that is, humans — are always intrigued by the forbidden.

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That's what Central Asia was until recently, and now, with its open doors, it's straight-up trending. And where is everyone aching to visit? Uzbekistan.

A Silk Road thoroughfare, a civilization thousands and thousands of years in the making, a cultural melting pot with no long-standing national identity, Uzbekistan is for anyone who delights in what happens at the crossroads: With a nomadic-turned-Soviet past, this country's history, beliefs, cuisines, and architecture cannot be categorized. It all meets right here.

Start in Tashkent, the capital, and work your way to various regions like Samarkand and Karakalpakstan and the UNESCO site of Bukhara. You'll go from the jaw-dropping subway system — a work of art, truly — to riding camels in the Karakum Desert and back again. You'll stroll ancient mosques, wander between mud-brick houses, and visit the same marketplace Silk Road traders hawked goods so many years ago. In short, you should leave amazed.

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