Uzbekistan A Silk Road Country Travel Guide

Uzbekistan A Silk Road Country Travel Guide

An important country along the Ancient Silk Road, Uzbekistan is now one of the most tourist-friendly Central Asian Countries.

Transport to and around Uzbekistan

A cracked clay road in the middle of a desert in Uzbekistan

Depending on where you’re coming from, flights into Uzbekistan can be pretty pricey. Most flights will land at Tashkent International airport with the cheapest countries to fly in from being Russia or the neighbouring -stans. If you’ve got a bit of time to throw around you can enter through one of the neighbouring countries by land. This, more scenic, route will give you a chance to explore the other countries in the area including mountainous Kyrgyzstan. You will need a visa to enter Uzbekistan no matter how you enter (more about visas below). Also be prepared to have your belongings searched, including the content of your electronic devices. So, make sure you have no explicit or politically charged content that can easily be found.

Once you are inside Uzbekistan getting around is pretty easy. When travelling from city to city, trains are the way to go. You may not be riding in luxury, but they are a relatively cheap, fast and reliable way to get around the country. You can take taxis while travelling within a city, but you may get ripped off for being a tourist and may find yourself sharing the ride with others. In Tashkent, there is also a metro, which is worth a visit in and of itself.

Meats and treats! Dining in Uzbekistan

Plov, a traditional and popular meat and rice dish from Uzbekistan

Not an ideal destination for vegetarians, Uzbekistan, and most of central Asia are all about meat. The most popular Uzbek dish would have to be Plov. The dish consists of fried rice in lamb fat, meat and a variety of vegetables, different variations of this are found in different regions. 

You will also find a variety of other Central Asian dishes like kebabs and noodle dishes. In the more touristy parts of the country you can find more Western style dishes.

The best time to visit

Ancient wadi steppe ruins in Uzbekistan

Summer is hot and winter can be quite cold in Uzbekistan, so the best seasons to visit are autumn and spring. If you do decide to go during the summer, you should be aware that it’s the high season. Prices will be up and the big sites full of tour groups. If the only time you can go is during winter, pack appropriate clothing and you should be fine. Most of the sites you’ll be seeing are within cities or indoors so if you layer up you can still make the most of a chilly Uzbekistan.

Things To do In Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is all about the architecture. The stunning mosques and mausoleums, the incredibly intricate tile work and curved dome ceilings. 

Tashkent

A Mosque in Tashkent Uzbekistan

Starting in Tashkent be sure to visit the Independence and Amir Timur squares followed by at least a few of the stunning Mosques. The 16th-century Kukeldash Medressa and the Juma Mosque are a couple of good ones to get you started.  For the history buff, you can head to the History Museum of the People of Uzbekistan or the Khast Imam Complex home to the oldest known copy of the Koran which dates back to 655AD.

To get your gift shopping done head to the Chorsu Bazaar, the oldest and largest market in Central Asia. When shopping in the more touristy markets across Uzbekistan be aware that vendors may try to rip you off. Uzbekistan is a relatively cheap country, so if visiting from the UK or USA, never pay close to what you would at home.

Khiva

 City View of Khiva in Uzbekistan

Moving on to Khiva, one of the most important cities along the Silk Road and one of the best preserved ancient cities in Central Asia.
While here, you’d be a fool not to pay a visit to the Ichon Qala Fortress a UNESCO world heritage listed site. This breathtaking and incredibly well preserved medieval blue-tiled mosque is truly one of the most stunning in the region. Not to be too outshone by the Ichon Qala Fortress, there are several other fortresses worthy of a visit, and a place in your photo album. Out of town and into the desert you’ll find the Toprak Qala, built on a 9 m high platform and the Ayaz Qala with incredible views of the Kyzylkum desert. 

If rather than looking at the desert from a distance you’d rather drive through it, then the route to Bukhara from Khiva is for you. 6-hours of driving through the largest desert in Central Asia, passing by nomadic peoples, camels and old shepherds huts. 

Bukhara

Blue tiled mosque and minaret in Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Bukhara is regarded as the holiest city in Central Asia, the “Bastion of Islam”. So you can be sure there’s a mosque or two around the place. Every which way you look in Bukhara you’ll see grand old buildings, housing interiors that surpass the stunning exteriors with their beauty! Bask in the grandeur of the Bolo Khauz Mosque, Magoki Attori Mosque and the Ismail Samani Mausoleum. Visit the Trading Domes and the last emir’s summer palace: Sitorai Mohi Hosa. Really where ever you go in the city there is more stunning architecture and culture than you can poke a stick at. 

Safety and Security

How could you feel unsafe ina place as beautiful as this, blue tiled mosque in Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan might be a -stan but it shouldn’t be bundled up with the likes of Afganistan or Pakistan (though they too are generally safe for smart tourists). Everywhere you travel will have its own possible security risks, even when ducking out to get milk at home. So you should always make sure you are covered while travelling. It’s better to have travel insurance and not need it than need it and not have it, after all.

In general, however, crime rates in Uzbekistan are low and it’s a safe country to travel solo, no matter your gender. It’s important to note that you should always have your credentials on you to prove you’re a tourist. This goes two-fold if you decide to rent a car and drive around. If you don’t have ID, you may find yourself forking out bribe money to the local law enforcement in order to continue on with your day. Also, make sure you carry cash on you as few places will accept credit cards and ATMs are unreliable and few and far between.

Visas for Uzbekistan

A person holding a passport full of stamps

Visa restrictions in Uzbekistan have loosened over the last few years. A number of (mainly Asian) countries can get a 30-day visa upon arrival. For most of Europe, the USA, Australia and more, e-visas are available online from the official site.

Useful Phrases

Uzbek is the main language in Uzbekistan and it’s a phonemic language – meaning that if you say the words as they are spelt you’ll most likely be understood.

There are two types of hello one formal assalomu aleykum and one informal salom

Goodbye- Hayir / Salomat bo‘ling

Yes – Ha

No- Yo‘q

How are you?  – Qaley siz?

Fine, thank you  –  Yaxshi, rahmat

Thank you –  Rahmat

Excuse me – Kechirasiz

I can’t speak Uzbek – Men O‘zbekcha  gaplashmayman.

Do you speak English?- Siz inglizcha gaplashasizmi?

Help me please – Yordam bering iltimos

Where is the toilet? – Hojatxona qayerda?

For more East Asian adventures check out our blog on Kyrgyzstan or book your trip to Uzbekistan today!

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