Check out my travel experience in Uzbekistan including itineraries, budget tips, and all you need to know for your trip to this Central Asian gem!
My fascination with the Central Asian region has always been fueled by its unique culture.
The faces here exhibit traits reminiscent of East Asians, yet there’s a fascinating blend with Caucasian features.
Moreover, the influence of Arab culture also shapes the identity, and a significant portion of the population practices Islam.
Delving into the region’s history reveals a rich tapestry, with roots tracing back to the Samanid Empire, followed by periods under the Mongols, Timurids, and ultimately incorporation into the Soviet Union.
Today, it has emerged as a cluster of independent nations, all bearing the suffix “Tan.”
This journey marks my second chapter of exploring the Silk Road, following my initial expedition along China’s Silk Road from Lanzhou to Xinjiang.
My trip encompasses four Central Asian countries: Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and ended in Kazakhstan.
In this article, I will be focusing more on my travel in Uzbekistan. So, stay with me till the end to uncover the essence of this remarkable journey!
Before you travel to Uzbekistan
Here are some essential preparations to consider before embarking on your journey to Uzbekistan:
- Russian is the commonly spoken language. Familiarize yourself with basic words and numbers for everyday conversations, especially for price negotiations. Learning the Cyrillic alphabet can also be helpful, but don’t worry; you can rely on Google Translate too!
- Download the Yandex Go app, which is akin to Central Asia’s version of Uber, and also 2GIS, a comprehensive mapping application that includes information about public bus routes. Be prepared for the fact that not everyone drives casually here.
- Bring US Dollars as some ATMs may require a 4-digit PIN and may not work with other currencies.
- If you plan to travel by train, it’s advisable to book your tickets in advance through the Uzbekistan Railways website to secure your spot.
- Check out caravanistan.com, a valuable resource packed with information on traveling in Central Asia, including an active discussion forum.
- Keep in mind that drones are prohibited, so it’s best not to bring one to avoid any confiscation upon arrival.
These tips aren’t exclusive to Uzbekistan; some of them apply to traveling in other Central Asian countries as well.
Uzbekistan itinerary in a week
In my experience, a 7-day journey through Uzbekistan provides ample time to explore the country. Here’s a reference itinerary:
Days 1 – 2: Tashkent
As I first stepped into Tashkent, I was struck by the city’s impressive organization.
The wide sidewalks and modern buildings were immediately noticeable.
However, I couldn’t help but wonder why the streets seemed relatively quiet.
Perhaps it was the summer heat, with locals more active in the cooler evenings.
A must-visit in Tashkent is the metro station, part of Central Asia’s oldest metro system.
It boasts the grand architectural style of the Soviet Union, adorned with mosaics, statues, and other captivating artworks.
You can simply purchase a ticket for 1,400 som and explore the various metro stations, each with its unique charm.
Some interesting metro stations to visit in Tashkent are:
- Gafur gulom
- Alisher Navoi
On your first day, you can start your exploration in the vicinity of Amir Temur Square.
This area offers a diverse range of experiences, from immersing yourself in the exhibits at the State Museum of Temurid (25,000 som) to marveling at the architectural beauty of landmarks such as the Uzbekistan Hotel, Alisher Navoiy Theater, The Palace of the Grand Duke, and the Art Gallery.
Lunchtime means Besh Qozon. They serve up Central Asian grub, and Plov is their star dish.
The twist? You can watch them cook it in the kitchen, using a fire stove and giant frying pan.
Oh, and you gotta try Kazi, a horse meat sausage. It’s flavorful, and it won’t break the bank.
Right by Besh Qozon, there’s a park called Memorial to the Victims of Repression.
You can take a breather there, maybe visit the museum, or just go for a walk. Plus, you get a bonus view of the Tashkent Tower.
If you’re still up for some fun in the evening, check out Magic City.
It’s like Tashkent’s mini Disneyland. Lots of cute shops for shopping and great photo spots.
And, when night falls, they put on a sweet light show!
On your second day in Tashkent, you can visit this places:
- Chorsu Bazaar: This place is a bustling traditional market, complete with a charming dome-shaped roof. It’s a vibrant hub of activity where you can soak in the local atmosphere.
- Kukeldash Madrasah: Take a peek at this ancient school that imparts religious values and Islamic wisdom. The entrance fee is usually around 10,000 som.
- Hazrati Imam Complex: Pay a visit to the Hazrati Imam Complex, home to the tomb of Hazrat Imam al-Bukhari, known as one of the most important collectors of hadith. It’s a spot with a lot of historical and spiritual significance.
Day 3: Khiva
The journey to Khiva takes a long time – 14 hours ride by train.
But here’s the scoop: totally worth it! The old town isn’t huge, making it perfect for a laid-back sightseeing adventure.
I hopped on the night train from Tashkent, and honestly, it didn’t even feel like a long journey.
Plus, riding the rails with the locals adds some extra fun to the mix.
So, Khiva has this cool open-air museum vibe going on. You grab an entrance ticket for 150,000 som.
Oh, and bonus points: it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Once you’re there, it’s all about strolling around the historic buildings in this ancient city.
Each building doubles as a mini museum. So while you’re exploring, you’re also soaking up some rad history and culture.
Read also: The Perfect 4-Day Singapore Itinerary
Here are some intriguing spots to check out in Khiva:
- Islam Khoja Minaret: This is the city’s iconic towering structure, a true symbol of Khiva.
- Juma Mosque: You won’t find another mosque quite like this one. It boasts a unique architectural style with stunning wooden supports adorned with intricate carvings.
- Kalta Minor Minaret: Originally planned to be the largest minaret, this unique structure was left half-finished, adding an interesting twist to its design.
- Tosh-Hovli Palace: This palace is a visual treat, adorned with intricate wood and ceramic decorations featuring beautiful patterns.
- Kuhna Ark: For a stunning sunset view overlooking the old city of Khiva, this spot is an absolute must-visit.
One of the most important figures from this area was Al-Khwarizmi – a mathematician, astronomer and scientist.
What’s even cooler is that the words algebra and algorithm were inspired by a book he had written and his own name.
You can stay 1 night in Khiva. The next day, if it’s still not enough, you can explore again the old city, or continue your journey to Bukhara.
There are 2 options you can consider – hire a taxi and stop at the Khorezm Fortresses or take the train directly to Bukhara (6 hour journey).
Day 4 – 5: Bukhara
Bukhara used to be a major stop on the Silk Road, where trade and culture thrived.
It also served as the heart of the Samanid government, a time when Islamic culture and beliefs spread throughout Central Asia.
In the city’s old quarter, you’ll find iconic Uzbekistan-style structures, including madrasas, mosques, and minarets, waiting for you to explore.
Some cool places to check out on today’s itinerary in Bukhara, Uzbekistan area:
- Chor Minor Madrasa: A unique architectural gem in Bukhara, featuring four distinct domes crowning its square roof, making it a standout among the city’s historic structures.
- Nodir Devonbegi Madrasah: A cultural hub where you can catch some lively dance and music performances here.
- Kukeldash Madrasah: A significant historical site in Bukhara, known for its role in imparting religious values and Islamic knowledge
- Abdulaziz Khan Madrassah
- Ulug’bek Madrassi
- Kalon Minaret: Known as the “Tower of Death,” it survived because even Genghis Khan was impressed. It’s where they used to drop criminals from the top!
- Ark of Bukhara: A defensive fortress dating back to the 5th century AD, holds a rich history within its walls and offers a stunning panoramic view of Samarkand City surrounded by mountains from its location
- Bolo Hauz Mosque: Still actively used for worship in Bukhara, this mosque stands as a testament to the city’s rich religious heritage and offers a serene place for prayer
- Ismail Samani Mausoleum: A historical relic from the Samanid Kingdom with unique architecture.
Many of these madrasas double as souvenir shops, so you can grab some cool stuff while soaking in the Uzbekistan-style designs.
Day 6 – 7: Samarkand
From Bukhara, you can hop on the fast train, called Afrosiyob, and reach Samarkand in just 1.5 hours.
Samarkand was a key stop for Silk Road traders and served as the hub of the Timurid Empire’s government.
Personally, I’m a fan of this city. It’s modern and great for strolling around, thanks to plenty of open spaces and lots of trees.
In Samarkand, you’ve got some awesome places to explore:
- Amir Temur Mausoleum: This is the final resting place of the Timurid Empire’s founder. Its stunning design even inspired the Taj Mahal and Humayun’s Mausoleum in India. Entry is around 30,000 som.
- Registon Square: This spot is the heart of Uzbekistan’s tourism. It was built by Ulugbek and used to be a gathering spot for scholars. Entrance fee is about 50,000 som.
- Bibi-Khanym Mosque: Amir Temur’s wife built this colossal mosque. You can visit for around 30,000 som.
- Siyob Bazaar: Right next to Bibi-Khanym Mosque, this market is bustling with local vibes.
- President’s Tomb: It’s the resting place of Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan’s first president. And the view from here is stunning, with Samarkand City surrounded by mountains.
- Shah I-Zinda: A unique burial complex where the buildings have beautiful blue-tiled exteriors and are close together. Legend has it that Qutham Ibn Abbas, the cousin of Prophet Muhammad, is buried here. Entry is about 40,000 som.
From Samarkand you can take the fast train to Tashkent (2.5 hour journey) for your flight home, or continue your journey to Tajikistan.
In my next article, I’ll share my travel experience to Tajikistan. So, wait for it!
Littlenomadid engages in partnerships through affiliate programs, which mean that when you make a booking via the link provided in this article, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. This helps us sustain our travel-related content creation. If you find this article helpful, we encourage you to share it on your social media platforms. You are also welcome to use photos or images from our site, as long as you provide a proper link back. Thank you for your support.