Uzbekistan Travel Guide
- Everything you need to know for your trip to Uzbekistan-
Uzbekistan, officially the Republic of Uzbekistan, is a central Asian country and former Soviet republic. The country is most famous for its beautiful mosques, magnificent mausoleums, Silk Road sights, and classical Russian architecture. It may not be the first choice, but it must be an item on your bucket list. The combination of art, culture, architecture, and food has made this spot of central Asia a great destination for tourists around the world.
Why Visiting Uzbekistan?
Want to experience the very best of the ancient Silk Road? You are not required just to visit China or Turkey! Uzbekistan offers some of the best options for you to see this fantastic route. Uzbekistan may not be your first choice for traveling to Asia, but it will be a great experience for travelers who want to experience a new country with a rich and beautiful culture.
As mentioned, some of the Silk Road’s most iconic sites are located in Uzbekistan in the cities of Khiva, Bukhara, and Samarkand. In these cities, you can enjoy some of the finest and fascinating Islamic architecture in the world.
Besides the Islamic elements, you can enjoy remnants of the time when Uzbekistan was part of the Soviet Union, especially in Tashkent. Tashkent was destroyed because of an earthquake in 1996 and built with Soviet styles. In fact, Uzbekistan offers a combination of classical Russian architecture, stark Soviet buildings, and Islamic monuments.
The Aral Sea, one of the most surreal sights globally, is a dry scene of boats and lighthouses in the cracking bed of the fourth-largest lake in the world in ancient times. Terrible irrigation by the Soviet government for cotton quotes caused the lake’s dryness.
Uzbekistan is the home of many World Heritage Sites, including Registan, a grand square containing three prominent madrassas. Besides, the Shah-i-Zinda complex, Ulugbek observatory, Gur-Emir Mausoleum, and Amir Timur’s tomb are other historical monuments of the country.
Uzbekistan Top Destinations
Best Time to Visit Uzbekistan
Spring (March - May)
Temperature: 22°C – 31°C (71°F – 88° F)
Around March, the weather starts to rise to make it enjoyable. In spring, the weather is warm, and in March, you can expect some rainfall, but it won’t be too much to interrupt your plan.
Where to visit in spring?
Summer (June - August)
Temperature: 37° C – 39° C (9° F – 103° F)
June is still a good time for visiting Uzbekistan; however, the temperature starts to climb up by the beginning of July. July and August are the hottest months of the year in Uzbekistan. Generally, summer is not an ideal time for visiting this country.
Where to visit in the summer?
Autumn (September - November)
Temperature: 12° C – 34° C (49° F – 53° F)
Since September, the temperature starts to cool down. Generally, autumn is the best time for visiting Uzbekistan as the weather is exceptionally pleasant. It would be best if you plan to visit the country during this season.
Where to visit in autumn?
Visit anything in autumn! The best attractions to visit during this season are the cultural sites such as Minaret of Islam Hodja, Samarkand, Konigil, Termez, etc. If you are into Sufism, make sure to visit mausoleums, especially the Sheykh Zayniddin-bobo one!
Winter (December - February)
Temperature: 9° C – 12° C (49° F – 53° F)
The winter in Uzbekistan is cold, but it’s not bothersome as other central Asian countries. January and February are the coldest times of the year, but the temperature won’t drop under 0.
Where to visit in winter?
Winter is the best time for photographers. Besides, the skies are clear and fantastic. Winter is one of the best times for visiting Tashkent.
Best Uzbekistan Tours
Things to Do in Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan is a country to see the contradictions in its modernity and historic heritage. Most of the country’s activities include a visit and a stay in the older areas and the deserts. The landscape is enchanting, with a good variety in the kind of adventurous activities other than going to the deserts. Learning the peoples’ tradition and culture is also a significant part of the experience, especially when you directly learn them from the locals.
Explore all of Samarkand
Samarkand used to be Uzbekistan’s former capital, a rich city with history and heritage sites. This ancient city is famous as a melting pot of cultures worldwide, which is due to its place on the silk road. Interestingly, the city was occupied by Persians, Turks, the Mongols, and several other nations and people. It has seen many prosperous times as well as its fair share of conflicts, and it still stands gloriously.
There are several top highlights in Samarkand. So, if given enough time, all of this city is a must-see. Learn about different religions, cultures, and traditions, all in the same city.
Walk in Bukhara and Travel Through History
Another jewel left intact throughout the ages is the ancient city of Bukhara. Its buildings’ architecture is unique; the color and shape of buildings have the elements of all the cultures and people that have ever lived in Bukhara. Same as Samarkand, this city of Uzbekistan was on the silk road, and it has seen numerous nations coming and going, adding to Bukhara or taking from it.
Within this fantastic and old city, be sure to check out the Ark of Bukhara, a 5th-century town, within a town! And explore; all of the city is filled with palaces, minarets, and all other heritage sites to marvel at.
Go to the Museum Town of Khiva
Khiva is a town that is also a museum in the middle of the desert. If you are looking for a different experience when traveling, plan to spend as much time as possible in this ancient town. It has similar elements to the Samarkand and Bukhara, but it is still something different and exotic. The buildings are ancient and well-preserved, in a hard-to-reach area in hot sands, but spending time there is something recommended to all.
Discover the Modern Aspects of Uzbekistan in Tashkent
The current capital and a former soviet city of Tashkent is a young and modern part of Uzbekistan that must be visited. Many travelers forego Tashkent, as the only history and architecture to see there is about the communist Soviets, but that is a mistake. One reason to visit Tashkent is to see older and more ancient elements in a modern city! Other than that, there are other places of entertainment and enjoying yourself without visiting heritage sites.
Enjoy the Beauty of Registan Square
Registan Square is One of Samarkand’s top highlights that must be visited in Uzbekistan. This square is a significant part of the city with a lot of historical and architectural value, which has a great deal of cultural importance. At certain times there are national events or ceremonies held in the Registan Square, just like the ones in their history. Other than these events, there are also occasional performances in this social hub of Samarkand. It is always a good idea to head over to Registan Square and spend some time there and get to know some of the locals.
Pay Your Respects to Amir Timur at Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum
Amir Timur, the Timurid Empire founder, a national hero of Uzbekistan, and a great military mind being an undefeated commander and conqueror during his reign, is buried Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum. He had an auspicious history and life that led to many developments in Asia. Good or bad, the man had brought a lot of change to all of Asia. He has a relatively modest mausoleum with all of his glory and popularity. Visiting this place to learn some history and seeing the architecture is among the things that must-not-be-missed in Uzbekistan.
Marvel at the Tilework of Shah-i-Zinda Complex
Shah-i-Zinda means “Living King,” which is believed to be the mausoleum of Qusam ibn-Abbas. What is very remarkable about the Shah-i-Zinda complex is the art used to create its tiles. The colors and the designs are among the best in all of Asia and the Muslim world. It is an impressive structure with a shrine and numerous rooms, with detailed designs, that must be seen in a visit to Uzbekistan.
Try Hiking in the Mountains and Wonderful Nature of Uzbekistan
History, modernity, and culture are exciting things in Uzbekistan, but so are the mountains. The country’s highlands offer some of the best scenery that is untouched in many areas. These places, such as the Nuratau Mountains and Chimgan Mountains, are ideal places for hiking and adventuring. When hiking you get astonishing views and beautiful earth elements, all you have to do is bring the suitable gear and be careful.
Try the Cuisine of Uzbekistan
One of the things to do in Uzbekistan is to try the traditional cuisine of this country with their bread and the use of fruits as well as nuts in foods. What they cook is something very exotic with new tastes as well as ones that are seen across Asia. Whatever you want to eat in Uzbekistan, as a meat-lover or a vegetarian, you can find it in modern or traditional forms and recipes.
Go on a Desert Safari in Kyzylkum Desert
There are many exotic parts in this country, such as the Kyzylkum Desert with its incredible night sky. Some towns and heritage sites are located in some of these arid lands. Heritage sites and visits aside, a popular activity is to go on a Safari in the Kyzylkum Desert. It is a great experience and a memorable trip, especially since there is little to no pollution in the area, making it perfect for gazing at the night sky.
Local Transportation in Uzbekistan
There are different taxis in Uzbekistan, including ordinary taxis and online taxis such as Yandex. The online service offers a fixed price, and you don’t need to negotiate over it.
Uzbekistan’s only city with a metro network is Tashkent, with three main lines and quite old trains! However, it’s convenient and beautiful for reaching the city’s most spots. It is open from 06:00 to 00:00.
City buses, unlike coaches, are modern and convenient in Tashkent. However, in Samarkand, the buses are mostly like big mini-buses.
Intercity Transportation in Uzbekistan
There are only two international airports in Uzbekistan located in Tashkent and Samarkand. However, domestic flights connect Tashkent to other major cities like Samarkand, Karshi, Bukhara, Fergana, Namangan, Urgench, Termez, and Nukus.
Train service in Uzbekistan only connects a few cities, including Tashkent – Bukhara, Tashkent – Andijan, Tashkent – Urgench, and Tashkent – Termez. Also, there is a new high-speed train to Samarkand as well.
Coaches in Uzbekistan are mostly old and inconvenient. However, modern and new ones are replacing the olds.
There are a few offices in the country for car rental, but you can easily find them and rent the car for your journey.
Flight Deals to Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan Travel Costs
|Accommodation||$1.64 – $3.27|
|Accommodation||$3.5 – $7|
|Accommodation||$5 – $10|
Best Hotels in Uzbekistan
Find the best hotels in Uzbekistan using our best price search engine, or go with one of our All-inclusive tours with 4 Star hotels included. You can book our guaranteed hotels for your extra accommodation; before or after your tour days.
Uzbekistan Travel Tips
It’s not generally safe to drink tap water in Uzbekistan. Bottled water is available everywhere at a reasonable price.
While tipping is not mandatory or expected in Uzbekistan, it can be optional depending on the service satisfaction. Leaving a 10-15% gratuity at restaurants, cafes, and bars on your total bill is standard.
Within the Soviet times, Russian was the official state language. But since 1995, the Uzbek language is known as the official state language in Uzbekistan. While almost 11 languages are spoken in Uzbekistan, English is not widely spoken.
The som (S) is the official currency of Uzbekistan. You can readily exchange USD in official exchange houses at hotels and airports. You’ll find ATMs everywhere. Be careful: exchange on the black market may impose huge penalties.
While there’s no dress code for tourists in Uzbekistan, we recommend taking a conservative style. Light and easy clothing can be the best option for Uzbekistan’s climate.
Uzbekistan is a safe destination for tourists where its cities enjoy relaxed atmospheres. Police presence in the capital city, Tashkent, discourages crime. While the crime rate is relatively low, but a piece of friendly advice: take care of your valuables from pickpockets in the populated areas.
You’ll find many free public Wi-Fi spots in modern Uzbekistan at old monuments, parks, mosques, etc.
Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the new president, transformed internet access in Uzbekistan. Already prohibited apps like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media are now available with no restriction.
There’re two plug types in Uzbekistan: plug type C and F. Both types have two round pins, but the latter has two earth clips on the side. Electrical appliances in Uzbekistan run on 220.
|MoES (Emergency situations)||1050|
Currency & Money Tips
Som is the official currency of Uzbekistan, which is sometimes spelled s’om or soum with the highest banknote of 50,000S. Tourists used to pay cash US dollars for some payments like hotels. However, since 2017 tourists should pay Uzbek som. Euros and Dollars are the best currencies to be exchanged to the som.
ATMs can be found in major hotels in Tashkent, some hotels out of the capital as well as some banks. Mastercard holders should use the Asaka Bank system, but Visa holders should consider Kapital Bank or the National Bank of Uzbekistan (NBU). Also, Orient Finanz Bank for MasterCard and Ipak Yuli Bank for Visa are available. The commission would be 3%.
You can exchange your money in exchange booths at airports, hotels, the National Bank of Uzbekistan, and some private banks in the country.
Food & Drink (Uzbek Food)
Uzbekistan is like a paradise for going on a food tour. They make perfect use of their local and regional ingredients to make the best of their traditional or borrowed recipes. Their food is so good that leaving without trying it would be a big mistake. Having such outstanding cuisine in Uzbekistan, it is also an excellent plan to learn how to cook in their classes or from the locals.
Plov is the national dish of Uzbekistan and food that must be tried, more than once if possible. This food’s base is rice and lamb or beef that comes with limitless possible recipes of vegetables, herbs, and spices. Every version of Plov you find is different as everyone has a family recipe or inventing a new recipe to make this already fantastic dish much better.
This food is like a national and traditional treasure in Uzbekistan, and you have to try it no matter what. Plov is even one of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritages of the country, made with tasty ingredients and lots of love.
If you are looking for a reason to travel to Uzbekistan during spring or summer, Dimlama can be that reason. Dimlama is a traditional food of the rural areas and villages made in spring and near the harvest. This food is slow-cooked, has several layers, and needs lots of patience to prepare. The best of it is always seen in villages and at homes of the locals where they make a fresh dish. The first layer is the beef and onions and then after the color of the meat changes a bit, the vegetables such as potatoes, cabbages, carrots, and other things are added layer after layer.
It is not very difficult to prepare, but it takes time and checking. And the part about visiting in Spring and Summer is no longer necessary, as Dimlama is nowadays available in almost all restaurants.
Samsa is the Uzbek version of the famous Samosa loved all over Asia in all kinds of restaurants, cafés, and street stalls. Samsa in Uzbekistan is a baked (sometimes deep-fried) dough that is stuffed with beef or lamb with vegetables. The most traditional version of the Samsa in Uzbekistan is never deep-fried in oils; it is baked in traditional ovens and gets a beautiful appearance.
If you are a vegetarian, there are Samsa versions that have more vegetables and herbs and no meat. The vegetarian version of Samsa can be a little hard to come by, but it is also very delicious.
Chuchvara is a small version of the dumplings seen in many Asian countries. The difference between the Uzbekistan Chuchvara and the other dumplings is that they are smaller and have different ingredients. They can be as simple as being just dough, meat, and onions, or have various kinds of vegetables. Other than the modifications in what is added and not, they have multiple ways of serving as well. Chuchvara is usually prepared by boiling, but they are also cooked in a soup or other foods.
Chuchvara is always bite-sized and comes in different colors. Remember that if you plan to make them yourself, everything you want to add must be finely chopped.
Bread in Uzbekistan
Bread is an essential part of Uzbekistan’s food, usable with almost anything. They have several bread types, with different topping and tastes, making your breakfast, or meal, something to die for. These beautiful parts of their cuisine and culture are always made with love, having various designs stamped on the bread before baking.
Homemade and delicious Bread kinds in Uzbekistan are easily seen in the streets and markets since they are a staple part of their cuisine. As soon as you get the chance to have some, make sure to buy them and give them a try.
Lagman is rich and flavorful, like a noodle stew, having homemade noodles as a base along with lamb meat, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, garlic, as well as other vegetables and spices. Lagman is like a stew or soup, but it is as heave as a main meal of the day with lots of nutrients and a great texture and taste. This hearty stew can have several versions with additional regional ingredients, all of which are popular. A safe choice that everyone will love is Lagman, no matter when or where you visit.
The same noodles used in Lagman are fried and turned to “Fried Lagman” with some modifications. It no longer looks like a stew but still has most of the ingredients used in a dish of Lagman. Fried Lagman is similar to the stew version, yet it is entirely new! You must try these two dishes since they are trendy and delicious. The choice of vegetables for the Fried Lagman is more, with the optional fried-egg and other ingredients in fried form.
Shurpa is a small bowl of lamb soup that can become a simple starter before a meal or a very luxurious one. Chunks of lamb come with large slices of vegetables such as potatoes, onions, carrots, bell pepper, corn, and more! The choice for the variety of ingredients is optional. The same is right about how much of each ingredient is used. These modifications and changes are up to you or the chef making the Shurpa. The traditional way of having the Shurpa is to always have it at any gathering, as a simple soup, or a great and tasty one. The best experience of having this hearty soup is when you are in Uzbekistan’s colder areas.
Get ready to use your hands for having some of the most delicious dumplings of your life, called Manti. They are initially the Turkish version of the dumplings with only slight modifications that became very popular in Uzbekistan. The ground beef or lamb in the Manti comes with a little bit of their fat, mixed with potatoes and vegetables. Some people also add their choice of spices and use a local yogurt sauce for dipping.
All kinds of Tea are found all over Uzbekistan, and all of them are popular. People love their Tea, mostly Green Tea, which is always available before or after a meal. It is not recommended always to have Tea with your meals, but during the evening or when you have a snack or just sit to relax, try the Tea. They have some traditional ways of having Tea in Uzbekistan, which is one of the exotic aspects of their culture to discover.
Mobile & Internet
Four leading companies provide prepaid SIM cards in Uzbekistan, including Mobiuz (formerly UMS), Beeline, Ucell, and (Uzmobile). The speed and coverage of the services are acceptable. You need to provide an international passport or a document confirming the right of temporary residence in Uzbekistan’s territory to buy SIM cards. You can buy these SIM cards from Airport Booths or the official shops around the country.
|21,000 sum||Tourist SIM Lite with 200 domestic minutes, 200 domestic SMS, and 3 GB of data|
|42,000 sum||Tourist SIM with 400 domestic minutes, 400 domestic SMS, and 8 GB of data|
|30,000 sum||100 domestic minutes, 3 GB data, and 1 GB extra for Telegram, WhatsApp, and Viber messages.|
|25,000 sum||S (unlimited on-net calls) 300 domestic minutes, 2 GB data and 2 GB extra for Facebook, Telegram and WhatsApp, 300 domestic SMS|
|50,000 sum||M (unlimited on-net calls) 500 domestic minutes, 5 international minutes, 5 GB data, and 5 GB extra for Facebook, Telegram and WhatsApp, 500 domestic SMS, 20 international SMS|
|80,000 sum||L (unlimited on-net calls) 1000 domestic minutes, 15 international minutes, 10 GB data and 10 GB extra for Facebook, Telegram and WhatsApp, 1090 domestic SMS, 30 international SMS|
Holidays & Festivals
|Holiday||Date 2021||Date 2022|
|New Year’s Day||1-Jan||1-Jan|
|Day of Defenders of the Native land||14-Jan||14-Jan|
|International Women’s Day||8-Mar||8-Mar|
|Day of Memory and Honour||9-May||9-May|
Shopping in Uzbekistan
Silk Jacket is one of the main signs of Uzbeki Women in Uzbekistan. Beautiful colors and fantastic designs have made it a fantastic souvenir from this country. These clothes are not completely made of silk unless you prefer to buy them in high-end shops.
Embroidered Jackets are also other types of Uzbeki clothes found in Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara. However, Tashkent and Samarkand are less expensive than those in Bukhara.
Unlike many Muslim majority countries, women are not required to cover your head in Uzbekistan, but you can buy some of the most beautiful scarves around the country. These products are usually made of silk with the best possible quality.
You can Crochet Hats usually worn by men with fantastic colors all over Uzbekistan. They are like hats of religious people, but Crochet Hats are colorful.
Fur jackets and hats are very popular in Bukhara. It can be a fantastic gift or souvenir for your loved ones. They are beautiful in different colors.
Embroidered Bags are other souvenirs and specialties of the country with a vast range of appearance, colors, and qualities. Ensure to bring these bags to your home!