Along the road of ancient caravans

A tour of Central Asia including the cities on the Great Silk Road (Kyrgyzstan - Uzbekistan section)

 

Countries: Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan. View the route map »»
Tour duration: 14 days / 13 nights.
Best time to travel: March - June, August - October.
Itinerary: Bishkek - Issyk-Kul Lake - Karakol - Bishkek - Osh - Fergana - Margilan - Rishtan - Kokand - Tashkent -
Samarkand - Nurata - Aydar Yurt Camp - Sarmish Gorge - Bukhara - Khiva - Urgench - Tashkent.

The itinerary of this informative tour goes along a section of one the branches of the Great Silk Road (Route), across two Central Asian countries, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. You will trip along a route travelled in ancient times by numerous caravans - across the Tien Shan Mountains, past the cities of the fertile Fergana Valley, to Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara and further to Khorezm, to the fabulous medieval Khiva. On your way you will admire picturesque and unexpectedly contrasting landscapes in the cool mountains and hot desert, look into the crystal clear water of Lake Issyk Kul, ride on camels in the Kyzylkum desert and contemplate the masterpieces of ancient cities that once sprang up along the Great Silk Road. And the cuisine. An incredibly wonderful cuisine that has taken in the best local cooking traditions!

The Great Silk Road was not a mere branching trans-Eurasian system of caravan routes used to transfer expensive silk, aromatic spices, rare minerals and other valuable goods from China and India to Europe and the Arab countries. It was a unique communication highway, on which knowledge, recipes, religions, ideas and innovations travelled between the East and West.

Different parts of this transcontinental route used to change and shift in the course of time, the system of caravan roads constantly growing and branching. However, the road we are going to take in this tour was one of the basic strategic courses in the complex network of the Great Silk Road. Alongside knowledge and interesting souvenirs, you will bring home a lot of indelible impressions!

  • Itinerary
    Services & Cost

  • Itinerary in Detail

  • FAQ
  • Useful Information
    Route Map

 

Itinerary
Day 1. Arrival in Bishkek.
Meeting at “Manas” airport. Transfer to Bishkek (30 km), check-in at hotel. Leisure time. Guided sightseeing tour around Bishkek: the central Ala-Too Square, Historical Museum, flagstaff (and changing of the guard), statue of Lenin and Freedom Monument, philharmonic society, monument to Manas, Osh Bazaar. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 2. Bishkek - Issyk-Kul Lake.
Breakfast at the hotel. Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to Lake Issyk Kul (250 km), the second largest alpine lake in the world after Lake Titicaca in South America. Visiting the Burana Tower on the way. Visiting a museum of rock paintings (petroglyphs) in the open air in Cholpon-Ata. Accommodation and supper at hotel on the northern shore of Lake Issyk Kul. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 3. Issyk-Kul Lake - Karakol.
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to the city of Karakol (Eastern shore of Lake Issyk Kul). Guided sightseeing tour around Karakol: Przhevalski museum, a wooden Orthodox Russian church and impressive wooden Dungan mosque, built without metal nails by the Dungan people. Check-in at hotel or guest house.
Day 4. Karakol - Bishkek - flight to Osh.
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to the Jety-Oguz Gorge (25 km) with the famous red rocks, The Broken Heart and The Seven Bulls. After that we shall drive back to Bishkek along the northern shore of Lake Issyk Kul. Transfer to airport, flight to Osh. Meeting at airport. Transfer to hotel and check-in.
Day 5. Osh - Fergana.
Breakfast at the hotel. Guided sightseeing tour around Osh: Holy mountain Suleyman, Babur’s house, local museum and bazaar. Transfer to Kyrgyz-Uzbek border, passing through checkpoint. Transfer to Fergana, check-in at hotel.
Day 6. Fergana - Margilan - Rishtan - Kokand - Tashkent.
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to Margilan, visiting “Yodgorlik” silk factory which is famous for handmade khan-atlas. Transfer to Rishtan, visiting pottery (hand-made ceramics). Transfer to Kokand. Sightseeing tour around Kokand: Palace of Khudayar Khan, Mausoleum of Modari Khan, Juma Mosque. Transfer to Tashkent via Kamchik Pass, check-in at hotel.
Day 7. Tashkent - Samarkand.
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to railway station. Departure for Samarkand by the high-speed train Afrosiab. Sightseeing tour around Samarkand: Samarkand Paper Mill, where famous Samarkand paper is made by hand on ancient technologies; Samarkand carpet factory “Hudzhum”. Leisure time: Siab Bazaar recommended. Overnight at the hotel.

Additional options this day (not included into the cost of the trip):
  •   Wine testing in old winery named after Hovrenko;
  •   Visiting the theatre of historical costume El Merosi.

Day 8. Samarkand sightseeing tour.
Breakfast in hotel. Guided sightseeing tour around Samarkand: Gur-e Amir Mausoleum (Tamerlane’s sepulcher), Registan Square (Ulugbek Madrasah, Sher-Dor Madrasah, Tilla-Qori Madrasah), Rukhabad Mausoleum. After lunch: Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Shah-i-Zinda Necropolis, Ulugbek Observatory. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 9. Samarkand - Nurata - Aydar Yurt Camp (270 km, 4,5 hrs).
Breakfast in hotel. Transfer to Nurata. Guided sightseeing tour of Nurata: Nur (Alexander the Great’s fortress), Chashma Complex. Transfer to Aydar Yurt Camp. Overnight in yurts.
Day 10. Aydar Yurt Camp - Aydarkul Lake - Sarmish Gorge - Bukhara.
Breakfast in yurt camp. Camel riding excursion. Ride to Aydarkul Lake. Ride to Sarmish Gorge: petroglyphs (rock engravings). Transfer to Bukhara, check-in at hotel. Leisure time: strolls around night Bukhara recommended. Overnight at the hotel.

Additional options this day (not included into the cost of the trip):
  •   Folklore show in Nadir Divan-Begi madrassah;
  •   Visiting the "Silk Road Spices" tea house and testing teas prepared from herbs and spices;
  •   Visiting famous medieval Hammam bathhouse.

Day 11. Bukhara sightseeing tour.
Breakfast at the hotel. Guided sightseeing tour around Bukhara: Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Chashma Ayub Mausoleum, Bolo Khauz Mosque, Ark Citadel, Po-i-Kalyan Complex (Kalyan Minaret and others), Ulugbek Madrasah; after lunch: Lyab-i Hauz Architectural Ensemble, Kukeldash Madrasah, Nadir Divan-Begi Madrasah, domed shopping arcade. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 12. Bukhara - Khiva (440 km, 6-7 hrs).
Breakfast in hotel. Transfer across the Kyzyl-Kum Desert and along the Amudarya River to Khiva. Lunch en route. Arrival in Khiva. Leisure time. Visiting traditional workshops and souvenir shops. Overnight at the hotel.

Additional options this day (not included into the cost of the trip):
  •   Folklore show in Madrasah Alakuli-Khan;
  •   National show of rope-dancers in Madrasah Rahim-Khan.

Day 13. Khiva - Urgench - Tashkent.
Breakfast in hotel. Guided sightseeing tour around Khiva: Ichan Kala (historical inner city), Pakhlavan Mahmud Complex, Kunya-Ark Fortress, Islam Hajji Madrasah & Minaret. After lunch: Tash Khauli Palace, Juma Mosque, Muhammad Aminkhan Minaret & Madrasah, and Avesta Museum. Transfer to Urgench (35 km, 30 min). Evening flight to Tashkent. Meeting at airport, transfer to hotel and check-in.
Day 14. Tashkent. Departure.
Breakfast in hotel. Leisure time, walking in the city centre, visiting Tashkent Metro; the oldest bazaar of Tashkent “Chorsu”. Transfer to airport. Departure.

Hotels
We choose the most conveniently located and reputable hotels for our customers to stay at. The list of the hotels we offer is below. However, due to seasonal conditions and group size this list is subject to change.
Hotels 2-3* - cozy private hotels, with traditional national interiors in many of them, providing all the necessary facilities for comfortable stays; notable for very warm hosting and home-like atmosphere.
Hotels 3-4* - very comfortable hotels providing excellent facilities and services; mainly located in or near city centers.

City Hotels 2-3* Hotels 3-4*
Bishkek Asia Mountains Hotel 3* or similar Ak-Keme Hotel 4* or similar
Issyk-Kul Lake Tri Korony Hotel 3* or similar Raduga Resort 4* or similar
Karakol Green Yard Hotel 2* or similar Amir Hotel 3* or similar
Osh Sun Rise Osh Hotel 3* or similar Sun Rise Osh Hotel 3* or similar
Fergana Club Hotel 777 3* or similar Club Hotel 777 3* or similar
Tashkent Samir Hotel 3*+ or similar Ramada 4* or similar
Samarkand Arba Hotel 3* or similar Emirkhan 4* or similar
Kyzylkum desert Aydar Yurt Camp
Bukhara Siyavush Hotel 3* or similar Asia Bukhara 4* or similar
Khiva Old Khiva Hotel 3* or similar Asia Khiva Hotel 3*+ or similar

Transportation
Depending on the size of a group the following means of transportation are used during the tour:

"Chevrolet Lacetti"
(3 seats)

Chevrolet Lacetti

"Hyundai Grand Starex"
(6 seats)

Hyundai Grand Starex

"Mitsubishi Rosa"
(15 seats)

Mitsubishi Rosa
Air conditioner Audio system Safety belt Fold-back seats Lighting in saloon Air conditioner Audio system Safety belt Fold-back seats Lighting in saloon Air conditioner Audio system Safety belt Fold-back seats Lighting in saloon
Chevrolet Lacetti Chevrolet Lacetti Chevrolet Lacetti Chevrolet Lacetti Chevrolet Lacetti Chevrolet Lacetti SsangYong Istana SsangYong Istana SsangYong Istana SsangYong Istana SsangYong Istana Внедорожник Toyota Land Cruiser Внедорожник Toyota Land Cruiser Внедорожник Toyota Land Cruiser Внедорожник Toyota Land Cruiser Внедорожник Toyota Land Cruiser

 

ITINERARY IN DETAIL

Day 1. Arrival in Bishkek.
Meeting at “Manas” airport. Transfer to Bishkek (30 km), check-in at hotel. Leisure time. Guided sightseeing tour around Bishkek: the central Ala-Too Square, Historical Museum, flagstaff (and changing of the guard), statue of Lenin and Freedom Monument, philharmonic society, monument to Manas, Osh Bazaar. Overnight at the hotel.

Welcome to Bishkek - the capital and the largest city of Kyrgyzstan!
Thence our road begins, on which numerous caravans used to travel centuries ago.
The city is located in the centre of Chuy Valley, at 800m above sea level in the foothill of Kyrgyz Alatoo Range of which the highest one - Alameddin Peak (4895m) - can be seen from the city (50km to the south).
One of the branches of the Great Silk Road went along the Chuy Valley, where it intersected another road running across the Central Tien Shan. There was a caravanserai at the junction, which had been constructed on the ancient site of Pishpek (7th century) and belonged to one of the nomadic tribes. Later, when the territory was part of the Kokand Khanate, the Pishpek fortress was built there for collecting taxes from the caravans passing by. Bishkek was originally designed and built in 1868 as a Russian military garrison base. Independent since 1991, modern city of 1 million-odd population still is regarded as one of the most Russian-speaking cities of Central Asia.

Bishkek is a city of wide streets, marble-faced public buildings and numerous Soviet-style apartment blocks with interior courtyards, as well as thousands of smaller privately built houses outside the city center. It is laid out on a grid pattern, with most streets flanked on both sides by innumerable trees which provide shade in the hot summers. There are over 150 species of trees and smaller plants growing in the city.

Places to see/visit in Bishkek are: the Alatau Square, the main square of the city, with the government building and fountains. On the square you can see a flagstaff and a monument to epic hero Manas. The square is surrounded by a number of interesting objects, such as Historical Museum with its unique for CIS countries collection of bronze relieves and statues of the Soviet period, the House of the Government made of white marble, the Oak Park and the Nikolskaya Church, the city’s oldest building; under the surface of the square there is a bunker made in the Soviet period as a reserve refuge for the local Communist elite. At the Independence monument in the square you can watch the changing guards.

You should also see Lenin’s statue, as Bishkek is the only capital of the post-Soviet countries featuring a statue of this person; Museum of Fine Arts richly presenting paintings and sculptures of Kyrgyz and European artists, colourful Osh Bazaar and bustling small-size-wholesale Dordoy Bazaar. Opera goers may choose to attend impressive Opera House to enjoy opera or ballet performance given once or twice a week or opt to listen to European classic- or Kyrgyz folk music concerts given at the Kyrgyz State Philharmonic Society.

Bishkek also boasts a large number of cafes, bars and restaurants that would suit anybody with any financial situation, modern trade centres, parks, theatres, discos and other entertainment facilities.
No problems in changing you foreign currency (USD, Euros, JPY, British Pounds and Chinese Yuans) in Bishkek as well as using your travellers checks and credit cards for buying local currency (called Kyrgyz Som).

Overnight at the hotel.

Day 2. Bishkek - Issyk-Kul Lake.
Breakfast at the hotel. Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to Lake Issyk Kul (250 km), the second largest alpine lake in the world after Lake Titicaca in South America. Visiting the Burana Tower on the way. Visiting a museum of rock paintings (petroglyphs) in the open air in Cholpon-Ata. Accommodation and supper at hotel on the northern shore of Lake Issyk Kul. Overnight at the hotel.

Today we shall move to large alpine Lake Issyk Kul, the pearl of Kyrgyzstan!
Gradually gaining altitude, we drive along the fertile oasis of Chu River valley - once part of Great Silk Route travelled by merchants as well as hordes of Mongols of Genghis Khan (13th century AD) and armies of ruthless emperor Tamerlane (14th century AD). On our way we pass major towns Tokmok, Balykchi and Tamga.
The Burana Tower is an architectural and archaeological monument situated amidst the ruins of the Burana archaeological site, 12 km from the town of Tokmok. Historians suppose that the site was the location of the medieval city of Balasagun, the capital of the Karakhanids’ state (940-1212), which was one of the largest and most powerful feudal Turkic countries. At that time the Great Silk Road went past Balasagun, which made the city rank amongst the most prosperous cities of the time. In 1219 the city was captured by the Mongols and by the 14th century Balasagun stopped existing. And only the huge Burana Tower, ruins of fortresses and fortification walls and fragments of water pipes, as well as some household items and articles of decorative art found at the site testify to the grandeur that the Karakhanid capital once demonstrated.

The road winds into the picturesque narrow Boom gorge (“shoelace” in Kyzgyz) and follows the route of caravans, which in the old times would go along the Boom Canyon to Issyk Kul and further to China.

However, we shall make our way towards Cholpon-Ata, a resort town with a population of 40,000 people, situated on the northern shore of Lake Issyk Kul, where we shall sees thousands of rock paintings (petroglyphs) under the open sky! The territory of the Cholpon-Ata museum with an area of 42 ha includes, apart from rocks with century-old paintings, ancient burials, ruins of settlements, circles of stones and remains of walls.
Cholpon-Ata features a large number of hotels, sanatoria and boarding houses with highly developed infrastructure. A lot of people arrive there to enjoy the crystal clean water of the lake and the fresh alpine air.

Lake Issyk Kul (“warm lake” in Kyrgyz) - a natural wonder of Central Asia! The phenomenon of Issyk Kul lake is not only in its being world’s second largest (both by deepness and square area) alpine lake but also that, despite altitude (1.608m), it never gets ice on its surface. The lake attracts hundreds of birds (local as well migratory), is abundant in fish (trout, carp, pike-perch etc.) and provides habitat (the lake-shore riparian forests as well as surrounding mountain forests) for diverse wildlife including nearly extinct snow leopards and red wolves.
Issyk Kul is the most popular tourist destination of Kyrgyzstan. The mountains and the marine microclimate produce a wild, unique environment here. The water of the Issyk Kul is clear blue with a visibility of up to 60 feet (20 m).The water temperature in July on the surface is a comfortable 68° to 73° F (20° to 23° C), and in January it is 36° to 37° F (2° to 3° C).
Issyk-Kul also offers the opportunity to cycle, climb, ski, raft, windsurf, tour on horseback or just relax at one of the famous coastal resorts.
Recreation at Issyk Kul is associated with clear mountain air and the azure mirror of the cleanest lake, all combined with a highly developed infrastructure and amazingly beautiful nature - a paradise for a tourist! You will participate in various activities, in the water and on the sandy beach. The curative water of the lake and numerous springs around it is used to fill swimming pools, while the salutary sulphide slime in combination with other Issyk Kul’s natural factors is utilised to cure various chronic diseases.

Overnight at hotel on the northern shore of Lake Issyk Kul.

Day 3. Issyk-Kul Lake - Karakol.
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to the city of Karakol (Eastern shore of Lake Issyk Kul). Guided sightseeing tour around Karakol: Przhevalski museum, a wooden Orthodox Russian church and impressive wooden Dungan mosque, built without metal nails by the Dungan people. Check-in at hotel or guest house.

This morning we shall transfer to the city of Karakol (formerly Przhevalsk, after the Russian explorer Przhevalsky who died there an administrative centre and the largest resort of Issyk Kul Province (12km away of the Lake Issyk Kul) situated in its eastern part, at the foot of the Terskey-Alatau Range, at elevations between 1,690 and 1,850 m above sea level. Karakol was founded in 1869 as a military and administrative station on a caravan road connecting the Chuy Valley and Kashgaria. Karakol (population of 65,000) features highly developed infrastructure and boasts a large number of shops, restaurants, cafes, hotels and boarding houses; not far from the city there is a ski resort, hot springs and very many other places in the surrounding mountains good for active recreation (trekking, hiking, biking, paragliding and mountaineering).

Since ancient times the Lake Issyk Kul is historically known as fertile oasis (especially in its western edge where Karakol town is situated). Abundance of rains and deep mountain streams bring here a lot of water and make local climate extremely favourable for agriculture farming and cattle breeding. That is why the streets of the town are drawn in impressively thick and tall poplars as well as apricot, cherry, pear and apple trees. Local bazaars attract with its mix of Chinese, Dungan, Uighur and Russian faces and a diversity of local fruits and vegetables.
In Karakol you visit Przhevalski museum, a wooden Orthodox Russian church and impressive wooden Dungan mosque, built in 1910 in the style of a Chinese pagoda, without metal nails by the Dungan people.

We get accommodation in a hotel or guest house of Karakol.

Day 4. Karakol - Bishkek - flight to Osh.
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to the Jety-Oguz Gorge (25 km) with the famous red rocks, The Broken Heart and The Seven Bulls. After that we shall drive back to Bishkek along the northern shore of Lake Issyk Kul. Transfer to airport, flight to Osh. Meeting at airport. Transfer to hotel and check-in.

Today we visit Djety-Oguz (“seven bulls” in Kyrgyz) - a small village and a dyed away Soviet-time spa, hot mineral water of which, rich in radioactive rhodon, is believed to be good remedy against arthritis. Here we can see an unusual formation of red sandstone cliffs that gave the place its name - Seven Bulls. The rocks continue for 37 km, being one of the most beautiful places in Kyrgyzstan. The landscape of the gorge was formed by the Jety-Oguz River emptying into Lake Issyk Kul.
Next to the gorge’s mouth there is The Broken Heart rock, one of the most romantic places ideal for lovers. According to legend, the rock symbolises the broken heart of a girl having died because of two young men, who had killed each other in a fight for her. Loving couples like to have their pictures taken in the place.

Returning to Bishkek along a picturesque road.
Evening flight to Osh - «the southern capital» of Kyrgyzstan.
Overnight at the hotel of Osh.

Day 5. Osh - Fergana.
Breakfast at the hotel. Guided sightseeing tour around Osh: Holy mountain Suleyman, Babur’s house, local museum and bazaar. Transfer to Kyrgyz-Uzbek border, passing through checkpoint. Transfer to Fergana, check-in at hotel.

Osh is one of the oldest Central Asian settlements and is the oldest one in Kyrgyzstan. The exact date of its foundation is unknown, but the legends about the city connect its origin with Alexander the Great and even the prophet Solomon (Suleiman). According to one of the legends, once Suleiman and his army with a pair of oxen with a plow in front came to the area. When the oxen came up to the mountains, the king said, «Hosh!» («Enough!»), which was what the name of the town built where the oxen stopped came from.

Archaeological finds prove that the city is at least 3000 years old. In the 10th c Osh was considered the third largest city in Fergana Valley. It was a cross-roads of the caravan routes from India and China to Europe - those of the Great Silk Road, part of which you are moving along. Travellers and merchants with their caravans used to stay there, which made the place a trade centre.

In modern times Osh became the starting point of the Pamir Highway crossing the Pamirs to end in Khorog. Osh is also one of the Muslim religious centers in Central Asia; it has the largest mosque in the country. The only World Heritage Site in Kyrgyzstan, Suleiman Mountain, offers a splendid view of Osh and its environs. A cave in the mountain is the site of a museum containing a collection of archaeological, geological and historical finds and information about local flora and fauna. There are many legends about the mountain. It was named for the prophet Suleiman, who is believed to have been able to cure all the diseases. According to a belief, this is the place where prophet Suleyman appealed to God, and the stones still bear the imprints of his forehead and knees. Muhammad Zahiriddin Babur (1483-1530), Tamerlane’s great-grandson and the founder of the Mogul dynasty, built a khujra (cell) with a mihrab over this place sacred for any Muslim. The site of the cell is now occupied by the Takhti-Suleyman mosque, a unidirectional building of white rock, and ‘Babur’s house’ restored following historical data.

After an excursion to Osh we shall go to the border between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and, after passing it successfully, shall enter the Uzbek part of the Fergana Valley. Transfer to Fergana.
Overnight at the hotel of Fergana.

Day 6. Fergana - Margilan - Rishtan - Kokand - Tashkent.
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to Margilan, visiting “Yodgorlik” silk factory which is famous for handmade khan-atlas. Transfer to Rishtan, visiting pottery (hand-made ceramics). Transfer to Kokand. Sightseeing tour around Kokand: Palace of Khudayar Khan, Mausoleum of Modari Khan, Juma Mosque. Transfer to Tashkent via Kamchik Pass, check-in at hotel.

Today we shall almost cross the Fergana Valley, an ancient historical and cultural region in Central Asia which once bore the name of Davan (translates from Chinese as ‘a very beautiful, picturesque place’). The capital of Davan was Ershi, which in the Middle Ages was renamed into Mingtepa, its ruins, the Mingtepa archaeological site, situated today 30 km from Andizhan. Davan was famous for its ‘sky horses’ (argamak), for which the Chinese were ready to pay large sums of money and which became the reason why the Chinese troops invaded the country in 104 BC. The Great Silk Road went past many Davan cities.

Fergana Valley was once called Golden Valley thanks to its fertile fields. There are a lot of architectural monuments in the area tourists like to see. The local people still follow their centuries-old traditions in arts and crafts, cuisine and many other aspects of their everyday life.

Fergana is a relatively young city. It was founded by General Skobelev in 1876. It should be noted that at one time the city was named New Margilan, which is quite logical as Fergana is situated 12 km from old Margilan (our today’s destination), an important point on the Great Silk Road.

In the 10th c Margilan was famous for its silks a long way from it in the East and in the West. You will have the opportunity to see these unique silks and hear some interesting things about silk making at Yodgorlik - Uzbek istan’s largest traditional silk factory. You are also visiting the local bazaar where you will be able to buy a piece of fine Margilan silk and many other interesting souvenirs.
The medieval ruler of Ferghana Valley and founder of the Mughal dynasty in India Babur was born in Margilan. He wrote in the early 16th c that Margilan «pomegranates and apricots are superb… the game in Margilan is good; white deer may be found nearby». White deer are not there anymore, but the city still makes a pleasant impression on a traveler: its fruit are as superb, and it is still buried in verdure. Among the sights of the city stands out the architectural complex Kaftarlik of the 18th c. Its mosque with unique paintings and its minarets are worth seeing as well.

After seeing the sights in Margilan you are going to Rishtan, one of the oldest centers of the traditional Uzbek ceramics. They say Rishtan art of pottery is over 800 years old, passed down from generation to generation. The local masters use the fine quality reddish-yellow clay of the area, which is suitable for making a wide variety of ceramic items. Covered with the traditional blue-green glaze iskor, the decorative patterns of Rishtan ceramics is one of the richest. By the 1960s the traditional technologies had almost died out, but thanks to the efforts of the potters themselves, they have been revived. Today over 2000 craftsmen use both traditional and modern technologies to make a few million items per year. You will have the opportunity to visit a few of the large number of potter’s shops in Rishtan, see the process of making their truly unique ceramics and buy a piece or more of them.

In the evening, as you have reached Tashkent, you will have a good night rest in a hotel.

Day 7. Tashkent - Samarkand.
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to railway station. Departure for Samarkand by the high-speed train Afrosiab. Sightseeing tour around Samarkand: Samarkand Paper Mill, where famous Samarkand paper is made by hand on ancient technologies; Samarkand carpet factory “Hudzhum”. Leisure time: Siab Bazaar recommended. Overnight at the hotel.

The high-speed train Afrosiab will bring us in the morning to legendary Samarkand (also spelled Samarqand).
A museum-city, the heart of caravan trade, the junction of cultures on the Great Silk Road, Samarkand has retained an aura of a Central Asian megalopolis. Samarkand occupied a key position on the caravan routes between China and Europe; in Samarkand the Great Silk Road gave two branches, one of which led to India and the other to the Caucasian region, the latter going through Khorezm and across the steppes of the Northern Caucasus and the Black Sea to Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire.
The trade infrastructure in Samarkand was developed much better than in other cities on this unique trade road. The ancient Siab bazaar in Samarkand, which is recommended to tourists today, existed already at that time.
Its favourable situation on the junction of caravan routes made Samarkand the centre of trade and cultural exchange. Unique recipes, religious ideas, innovations and even trade secrets used to travel along the roads of the Great Silk Route together with merchants.
Samarkand carpets were particularly esteemed among merchants.
Today you visit Samarkand carpet factory “Hudzhum” where you find amazing handmade silk carpets. Without leaving the factory, you can watch all stages of the production of magnificent silk carpets from the unwinding silkworm cocoon. All necessary operations are made by hand, using only the most primitive tools. Carpets are absolutely natural: even silk threads are painted by hand with exclusively natural dyes derived from the peel of a walnut, pomegranate peel and stalks of asparagus. Patterns of standard carpets produced at the factory are varied, but performed using different variations of the national ornament what makes them unique and at the same time emphasizes the belonging to the Central Asian school of carpet weaving. Like in ancient times, the carpet pattern has certain information that a man of ability can read as easily as a book.

Next you visit Samarkand Paper Mill. Here craftsmen make by hand famous Samarkand paper on ancient technologies. Having existed until the middle of the XIX century, Samarkand papermaking gained wide popularity both in Arab countries and in Europe. With its unique smoothness, Samarkand paper was very comfortable for writing, and good density did not allow absorbing a lot of ink, that was a very important quality characteristic of the paper at that time. Moreover, some types of Samarkand paper were more comfortable for reading, thanks to the fact that the brownish tint of paper softened the contrast with ink.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 8. Samarkand sightseeing tour.
Breakfast in hotel. Guided sightseeing tour around Samarkand: Gur-e Amir Mausoleum (Tamerlane’s sepulcher), Registan Square (Ulugbek Madrasah, Sher-Dor Madrasah, Tilla-Qori Madrasah), Rukhabad Mausoleum. After lunch: Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Shah-i-Zinda Necropolis, Ulugbek Observatory. Overnight at the hotel.

This day will be wholly dedicated to Samarkand, ‘the heart of the Great Silk Road’.
First you are going to Gur-e Amir Mausoleum (Gur-Emir Mausoleum), the mausoleum of Tamerlane and the family crypt of the Timurid Dynasty. It contains the tombs of Tamerlane, his two sons, two grandsons, and his teacher. Gur-Emir (’tomb of the king’) is the precursor of the famous Humayun"s Tomb in Delhi and Taj Mahal in Agra, built by Timur"s descendants, the ruling Mughal dynasty of North India. During the reign of Ulugbek they placed a solid block of dark green jade over the grave of Tamerlane. The inscription on it says that anyone who would disturb the ruler would suffer of die. And it turned out to be true! A few days after the crypt was opened by Soviet archeologists on June 19, 1941, Nazi Germany attacked the USSR. Tamerlane’s remains were reburied with full Islamic burial rites in November 1942, at the beginning of the Battle of Stalingrad.

Then you are going to Registan, the central city’s square. It is the most spectacular Central Asian square with fascinating architectural monuments. Though the word ‘registan’ means ‘a sandy place’, you will hardly see any sand there now. Registan was initially a craft and trade center where the six roads running from the city walls met. The Registan Square, which at that time featured a huge market surrounded by caravanserais, was the place where the goods brought by the caravans were sold and new ones purchased.
On the three sides of the square stand the grand buildings of Ulugbek Madrasah (1417 - 1420), Sher-Dor Madrasah (1619 - 1636) and Tilla-Kari Madrasah (1647 - 1660). All of them boast stunning mosaics and almost all the other types of Central Asian interior and exterior decoration at its best.
Madrasah is a Muslim college, or university. It was Ulugbek, Tamerlane’s grandson, who began the construction of the first madrasah in the square in 1417. After it was completed in 1420, the square had become a center of science. Over 100 students began to live and study in this medieval Islamic university. The other two madrasahs, built in the 17th c, are as well grand and splendidly decorated. Sher-Dor Madrasah (‘a madrasah with tigers’) takes after Ulughbek Madrasah in design, but its portal bears fabulous catlike animals with suns on their backs - a symbol of authority. Tilla-Kari Madrasah (‘a gilded madrasah’) on the northern side of the square has a mosque besides madrasah facilities. The gilded interior decoration inside the mosque of this edifice is what you should never miss.
You are to see Rukhabad Necropolis (15th c) where some of the hair of Mohammed the Prophet are kept; Bibi-Khanum Mosque (15th c), which was built by 200 best architects and 500 workers brought from all the corners of Tamerlane’s empire, and 95 elephants - one of the biggest mosques in the Islamic world; and Ulugbek Observatory (15th c) where you will see a section of a medieval mural sextant, once the world’s largest.
And, it is, of course, Shakh-i-Zinda Necropolis (12th - 15th c), a complex of more than 20 mausoleums with 44 tombs, most of which are of Tamerlan’s relatives, military and clergy aristocracy. The main of them is the mausoleum of Kusam ibn Abbas, the cousin of Muhammad the Prophet. Shakh-i-Zinda means ‘living king’. According to a legend, Kusam ibn Abbas came to Samarkand with Arab conquerors to preach Islam. He was beheaded for faith in the city, but took his head and went down to a deep well where he remains alive.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 9. Samarkand - Nurata - Aydar Yurt Camp (270 km, 4,5 hrs).
Breakfast in hotel. Transfer to Nurata. Guided sightseeing tour of Nurata: Nur (Alexander the Great’s fortress), Chashma Complex. Transfer to Aydar Yurt Camp. Overnight in yurts.

Today you ride to Aydar Yurt Camp located in the Kyzylkum Desert (“red sand”; also spelled Kyzyl-Kum, Qyzylqum) via Nurata (Uzbek: Nurota), quite an interesting city on the edge of the desert and at the foot of the Nurata Mountains.

The name of the city is a compound of the words nur (“ray”) and ota (“father”). When in Nurata, you see the holy spring of Chashma Complex dating from around the 10th century BCE. According to legend, the spring formed in the crater made by a meteorite that hit the place 40,000 years ago. They also say a column of light appears over the bowl of the spring sometimes, at sunset or at dawn. The water of the spring is healing, and there is holy fish in it. Nearby is the holy well Beshpanja (“a hand”), the source of the spring. The complex Chashma also includes a mosque, one of the largest in Central Asia, and a bathhouse. Southeast of the complex lies a necropolis with graves of Islamic saints. The site is one of the major Islamic pilgrimage places in Uzbekistan.

You also see the remains of the fortress Alexander the Great built in 327 BCE, thus founding the city, and learn about the local kariz underground water supply system he built. Part of this ancient system have been restored and is used by the locals, along with modern water supply lines. It was through the military campaigns of Alexander the Great that the East and West learnt a lot more about each other, which helped create trade relations in future and found the longest trade road in Eurasia.
The yurt camp ‘Aydar is situated 7 km from the western shore of the Aydarkul (Aydar) Lake, in the Kyzylkum desert, near the village of Dongelek lost in sands, 60 km from the district centre Nurata.
In Aydar Yurt Camp, as you have arrived in it, you take the unique opportunity of staying in a yurt - a portable bent wood-framed dwelling structure covered by layers of fabric and sheep's wool felt, traditionally used by Turkic nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. The yurts are comfortable and cozy, and there are all the necessary facilities for easy stay in the camp.
The day ends with a feast dinner to a local akyn singer’s songs.

Day 10. Aydar Yurt Camp - Aydarkul Lake - Sarmish Gorge - Bukhara.
Breakfast in yurt camp. Camel riding excursion. Ride to Aydarkul Lake. Ride to Sarmish Gorge: petroglyphs (rock engravings). Transfer to Bukhara, check-in at hotel. Leisure time: strolls around night Bukhara recommended. Overnight at the hotel..

After breakfast in the camp you can go on a camel riding excursion around the nearby desert area.
To transport goods along the Great Silk Road mostly camels were used. A caravan travelling across the arid areas of Asia might consist of 3 to 300 camels. Today we shall have a chance to ride camels in a real Central Asian desert and have an idea of the caravanneers’ everyday life.
The camel is an original animal. When scared, he may spit at you or hit you with its leg or even head. That is why, when riding a camel, you should follow the advice of the experienced camel owners. Local camels (two-humped camels are called Bactrian camels) are domesticated and trained for riding. Their range of population is in Central Asia, China, Mongolia. Meanwhile their closest relatives one-humped camels - dromedary-are popular in Asia Minor and Africa, and in Australian deserts.

Next, you set out on a journey to Bukhara via Aydarkul Lake and Sarmish Gorge.
Aydarkul Lake, located at a distance of 6 km from the Aydar Yurt Camp, is an artificial lake made of the excessive waters of the river Syrdarya (also Syr Darya) in 1969. The lake is growing; scientists say it will be Uzbekistan’s largest water body within the next 100 years. Many flocks of water birds from the shrinking Aral Sea have migrated to the lake already, and Aral Sea fishermen with their vessels have moved to the lake, too. The huge mass of crystal clear water, the sand shores and the remoteness of the lake from large towns are the conditions quite favorable for fishing and birdwatching. The lake is located a long way from human settlements, so it is a perfect place to enjoy the beauties of nature and have a picnic.

As you proceed with your journey, you visit the most picturesque Sarmish Gorge (also spelled Sarmysh Gorge) with over 3,500 petroglyphs (rock engravings) of the Bronze Age. The site is one of the world’s largest “rock picture galleries”. Here, on black basalt rocks-petroglyphs displaying animals, people, hunting scenes, lifestyle.

Further we shall go to Bukhara. On your way there you will be able to appreciate the greatness of the Kyzylkum desert, which still seems to keep the images of slowly walking trade caravans.
After you have arrived in Bukhara and checked in, you have some spare time to stroll about the city and feel its unique aura.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 11. Bukhara sightseeing tour.
Breakfast at the hotel. Guided sightseeing tour around Bukhara: Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Chashma Ayub Mausoleum, Bolo Khauz Mosque, Ark Citadel, Po-i-Kalyan Complex (Kalyan Minaret and others), Ulugbek Madrasah; after lunch: Lyab-i Hauz Architectural Ensemble, Kukeldash Madrasah, Nadir Divan-Begi Madrasah, domed shopping arcade. Overnight at the hotel.

Bukhara (Uzbek: Bukhoro or Buxoro; also spelled Buchara, Bokhara, Buhara) is one of the world’s oldest cities. It is over 2,500 years old, and seems to be emanating the breath of history. The city was a large political and religious center in the Middle Ages. It is one of the seven holy cities of Islam. Bukhara boasts a large number of old mosques of different architectural styles, as well as a lot of madrasahs, minarets and mausoleums. The historic center of Bukhara is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
«Noble» and «holy» are just few of the appreciative epithets Bukhara was given in the past. According to a legend, it was Siavush, a Persian prince from the earliest days of the Persian Empire, who founded this ancient city. During the times of the Samanids (819 - 999) Bukhara, the capital of their empire, was considered one of the greatest city of the Islamic world. It had also become the center of trade between China and Western Asia and the main currency exchange of almost all Asian peoples. Bukhara featured over 60 caravanserais, in which merchants from India, China, Iran and other countries used to stay. This is where the 19th-century saying ‘he is all eyes like a Bukhara money-changer’ comes from. According to the Iranian Encyclopedia, the name of the city came from the Sogdian for «lucky place». Maybe Bukhara succeeded in trade because of this?

First, you are visiting Ismail Samani Mausoleum (The Samanids Mausoleum; 9th c. - 10th c.), one of the most esteemed Central Asian architectural monuments. It was built as the resting-place of Ismail Samani, the founder of the last Persian dynasty ruling in Central Asia. They call the times of the Samanids ‘the Oriental Renaissance’, since science and culture in the region flourished under them. The mausoleum marks a new era in the development of Central Asian architecture after the Arab conquest of the region, incorporating both pre-Islamic and Arab Islamic architectural traditions. Especially impressive are the brickwork patterns of the structure. They look different as the light changes during the day… The building survived thanks to the wit of the local people: threatened by Genghis Khan hordes, which destroyed everything on their way, they covered the mausoleum and many other buildings with earth, which saved them from destruction. The mausoleum of Pakistan"s founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah-Mazar-e-Quaid is modeled on Samanid Mausoleum in Bukhara.

On the way out of the park where Samanids Mausoleum is you are seeing Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum. Chashma-Ayub means ‘Job’s sping’ in Persian. According to a legend, biblical Job (Ayub) once visited the place during a severe drought in the area and opened a spring with a blow of his staff. The water of the spring is still pure and is considered to be healing. The mausoleum was built during the reign of Tamerlane in the 15th с by master builders the ruler had brought from Khwarezm, and so the building features a Khwarezm-style conical dome, which was uncommon in Bukhara.

Then you are going to see Po-i-Kalan Complex of the 12th - 16th c, consisting of Kalyan Mosque, Mir-i-Arab Madrasah and the famous Kalyan Minaret - a circular-pillar brick tower, narrowing upwards, 45.6 meters in height. The minaret miraculously survived many wars and invasions. Why did Genghis Khan destroy Kalyan Mosque but spare the minaret? They say that when he came up to its foot and looked up. The minaret was so high, or the wind was so strong, that his hat fell off. The khan thought that there were no buildings before which he had to take his hat off and showed mercy. There are a lot more legends about this grand structure, so it is especially interesting to listen to the guide here.

You are also seeing Ulugbek Madrasah. Ulugbek, Tamerlan’s grandson, was the famous mathematician and astronomer, ‘a scientist on the throne’. The madrasah was built by his order in 1417. It was the most significant structure of Tamerlane’s times in Bukhara.

Then comes Lab-i Hauz Complex (1568-1622) consisting of Kukeldash Madrasah (1568-1569), a khanaka monastery and hospice for Sufi travelers (1622) and Nadir Divan-Begi Madrasah (1622). All the structures of the complex stand around a large pond. It is a perfect place to relax in the outdoor teahouses around the pond in hot summertime. You can also take a look at the statue of Hajji Nasreddin on his donkey there. Nasreddin is the legendary medieval Central Asian populist wise man, remembered for his funny stories and anecdotes.

Visiting the above-mentioned Bukhara sights, you go past unique medieval domed shopping arcades. They are still used for retail sale and offer an abundance of souvenirs and other traditional merchandise: garments, old Bukhara coins, jewelry, and spices.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 12. Bukhara - Khiva (440 km, 6-7 hrs).
Breakfast in hotel. Transfer across the Kyzyl-Kum Desert and along the Amudarya River to Khiva. Lunch en route. Arrival in Khiva. Leisure time. Visiting traditional workshops and souvenir shops. Overnight at the hotel.

After breakfast you set out on a long (7-8 hours) and exciting journey to Khiva across the Kyzylkum Desert (also spelled Kyzyl-Kum, Qyzylqum) and along the Amudarya River (also spelled Amu Darya; known as the Oxus from its Ancient Greek name in historical sources). The desert was once invariably associated with images of numerous caravans moving slowly along the Great Silk Road. We shall travel a road, which follows an ancient caravan route.
You stop at the viewpoint on the Amu Darya and look round impressive view of the muddy water surface. This great Asian River is majestic and fretful; it defined the lifestyle of the locals as it was a source of water for a unique irrigation system developed in the ancient Khwarezm (also spelled Khwarezmia, Khwarizm, Khwarazm, Khwarezm, Khoresm, Khorasam, Harezm, Horezm, and Chorezm). And now, mostly due to irrational water use for irrigation purposes, the river carries nothing to the Aral Sea, which is deceasing.

Upon arrival to Khiva, you will be accommodated in a hotel decorated in national style.
Khiva is an amazing historic city called “a museum under the open sky”. Khiva was the last capital of Khwarezm, after Old Urgench, and another culturally and economically important center on the Silk Roads to the Mediterranean and Iran then. Khorezm was intersected by a transit trade road, one of the northern branches of the Great Silk Road, which began in China and went across the Pamir Mountains, via Samarkand and Bukhara to Khorezm and further to the lower region of the Volga and the Black Sea coast. In the late 18th-early 19th centuries Khiva traded actively with the Volga and Ural regions and Siberia, which raised the city’s economy to a very high level.
Khiva has no tall modern buildings and wide roads with much traffic. It seems time has stopped here to preserve what was built centuries ago. You are seeing a lot of magnificent Oriental architectural monuments and medieval adobe homes. We recommend that you also visit Khiva’s handicraft workshops where they sell traditional Khiva’s carpets, suzane tapestries, robes, embroidered scull-caps and an abundance of smaller souvenirs. Only at the restaurants of Khiva you will be able to taste authentic Khoresmian dishes, which are cooked nowhere else in Uzbekistan.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 13. Khiva - Urgench - Tashkent.
Breakfast in hotel. Guided sightseeing tour around Khiva: Ichan Kala (historical inner city), Pakhlavan Mahmud Complex, Kunya-Ark Fortress, Islam Hajji Madrasah & Minaret. After lunch: Tash Khauli Palace, Juma Mosque, Muhammad Aminkhan Minaret & Madrasah, and Avesta Museum. Transfer to Urgench (35 km, 30 min). Evening flight to Tashkent. Meeting at airport, transfer to hotel and check-in.

Today you are to start a fascinating tour around inimitable Khiva! This «open-air museum» is a great example of an oriental city, which is almost untouched by time.

Its Ichan-Kala “inner city” historic part (also spelled Itchan-Kala), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a walled medieval Central Asian town being preserved as it was in the past - an artifact town. Although protected by the state and having the status of a museum reserve, Ichan-Kala is populated with real people, mainly artisans.
Ichan Kala is encircled by brick crenellated walls whose foundations are believed to have been laid in the 10th c. The walls themselves date back to the late 17th c. Behind them there are over 50 architectural monuments and 250 old houses; most of them date back to the 18th - 19th c.
When you are in Ichan-Kala, you will be given a lot of interesting information on what you are seeing around. The large blue tower in the central Ichan-Kala square, for example, is an unfinished minaret Kalta Minor. The khan who was building it died, and the succeeding khan did not complete it because he thought that the minaret would overlook his harem and the muezzin would be able to see his wives. Ichan-Kala’s Djuma Mosque, which was built in the 10th c and rebuilt in 1788 - 1789, is famed for its hypostyle hall, which still has 112 wooden pillars of the previous 10th-century structure. Among the buildings stand out Kunya-Ark Fortress, and the complex of Pakhlavan Mahmud, the famous Khiva’s poet and powerful knight who became a local saint after death. It is also Tash-Khauli Palace and Muhammadaminkhan Madrasah housing a hotel, a currency exchange office, a travel agency, an air ticket office and a café today. Avesta Museum in Ichan-Kala deals with the history of Zoroastrianism; Khwarezm, with Khiva as its center, is believed to be its cradle. It is really worth seeing these and many other sights in Khiva "live".
Only at the restaurants of Khiva you will be able to taste authentic Khoresmian dishes, which are cooked nowhere else in Uzbekistan.
In the afternoon you ride to Urgench (35 km, 30 min), the administrative center of Uzbekistan’s Khorezm Province, from where you fly back to Tashkent.
Overnight at the hotel of Tashkent.

Day 14. Tashkent. Departure.
Breakfast in hotel. Leisure time, walking in the city centre, visiting Tashkent Metro; the oldest bazaar of Tashkent “Chorsu”. Transfer to airport. Departure.

Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan and ancient city, which was once situated on caravan routes and was an important trade centre on the Great Silk Road. Caravans going to Europe, the Arab countries and India used to call at Tashkent. Metal and ceramic items, woolen fabrics, carpets and articles of gold and precious stones produced in Tashkent were popular around the world.
We recommend that you visit the oldest Tashkent bazaar Chorsu located in Old part of the city.
The old bazaar Eski Juva (‘old tower’), better known as Chorsu (‘four courses’), impresses its visitors with its colorful merchandise, buildings, and atmosphere of the distant past and folklore all year round. It was known as far back as the Middle Ages, and it was an important part of the Great Silk Road. Just imagine yourself walking about this bazaar a few centuries ago - past merchants, packed camels, artisans, shops, shoppers… Today’s Chorsu Bazaar has, of course, been thoroughly renovated; a lot of new rows of roofed stalls and stores have been built. However, the bazaar still retains the fascinating aura of the old-time Orient.
Another reason why the bazaar is so interesting is its location next to an architectural complex dating back to the 16th - 18th centuries. The complex consists of Kukeldash Madrasah, Hodja Akhrar Madrasah and the Friday-prayer mosque Djami. According to the notes of travelers of the past centuries, the major Tashkent bazaar boasted innumerable rows of stalls with merchandise, shops, bathhouses, caravanserais, teahouses and other facilities. Chorsu was like a trade town in the past. Even today you can see a lot of workshops at a Tashkent bazaar producing jewellery, copper items, knives and other articles of traditional crafts, which the craftsmen sell right at the market. While visiting Chorsu Bazaar, you will also see a lot of interesting ethnographic details of the indigenous people’s everyday life.
Today is the final day of the tour. For the two weeks we have travelled only a small section of one of the branches of the road of ancient caravans, situated in the territory of present-day Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. It would take much more time to travel the whole Great Silk Route - a branching network of roads crossing Central Asia and connecting China with the Mediterranean. And now just imagine how it was, when people knew nothing about jeeps and aeroplanes and all those vast distances were covered on pack animals. For the long months of transportation silk, spices and other valuable goods grew considerably in price becoming actually ‘gold’, while the trade road was giving birth to new cities, which keep the memory of those long past times to this day!

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1

What nationals need visas to enter Uzbekistan?
Citizens of any countries other than Uzbekistan and the CIS countries enjoying visa-free regime agreements with Uzbekistan need visas to enter Uzbekistan or travel through its territory. These people can obtain Uzbekistan entry visas through a Visa Invitation Letter (Visa Support) from their host parties (host tour operators). Citizens of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Spain, Switzerland and the UK can apply for Uzbek visas to embassies or consulates of Uzbekistan without getting Visa Invitation Letter, independently. Please read here for more information.

2

Is it necessary to get a stay permit (temporary registration of stay) while visiting Uzbekistan?
Any foreigner to Uzbekistan is to get a stay permit within 3 working days (consecutive or not) during his / her visit to the country. If he / she stays at an Uzbekistan hotel or a guesthouse, such a stay permit for the period of stay at it is granted automatically. (Inquire whether the hotel / guesthouse you want to stay at provides such a permit unless your accommodation is organized by a host tour operator. Also make sure you are given your stay permit certificate with the seal of your hotel / guesthouse when you check out.) If you stay at other lodging facilities during your visit, you will have to get your stay permit from a local visits registration police department.

3

What is Uzbekistan’s currency? Where can I exchange money?
The national currency of Uzbekistan is the som (UZS). There are 100, 200, 500, 1,000 and 5,000-som banknotes and 25, 50, 100 and 500-som coins used currently. The banknotes are similar in size but vary in color; they depict Uzbekistan’s cultural and heritage sites.
You can exchange money at Uzbekistan’s National Bank outlets, most of the hotels and official currency exchange offices commonly located near bazaars and at shopping centers. You will need your passport and stay permit to exchange money through them.
There is also a black market of currency exchange in Uzbekistan. Although its rates are higher, we do not recommend that you exchange money through its dealers (commonly individual money changers in the street, usually near bazaars). There is a risk of falling prey to cheaters or be arrested red-handed if you go for their services.
Note that the most common foreign currency in Uzbekistan is US dollars. The US banknotes you exchange in the country should be in good condition - without defects, bad folds, worn areas and scribbles - or it will be hard to exchange them.

4

Can I use credit cards in Uzbekistan?
You can use Visa and MasterCard cards mainly in Tashkent and at fewer locations in Samarkand and Bukhara for cash withdrawals through ATMs (cash machines) in their large hotels or banks. You can also make payments with these cards at some hotels, restaurants and stores in Tashkent. However, technical failures of the card handling equipment may occur, so it is advisable to always have enough cash on you.

5

What is the difference between GMT and Uzbekistan time?
It is GMT plus 5 hours in Uzbekistan.

6

Can foreigners to Uzbekistan use the services of a local mobile network operator during their stays in the country? s
Yes, they can if they have a stay permit to show.

7

Can I bring alcoholic beverages into Uzbekistan?
A person is permitted to bring a maximum of 2 liters of alcoholic drink(s) into the country.

8

What maximum amount of cash can I bring into Uzbekistan?
There is no limit on the amount of cash in a currency that is foreign to Uzbekistan a person can bring into the country. If you bring in over 5,000 USD (or the equivalent in other currencies), you will be given a ТС-28 certificate. If you bring in over 10,000 USD, you will have to pay a 1% duty on this sum.

9

What maximum amount of cash can I take out of Uzbekistan?
The amount of cash (in a currency foreign to Uzbekistan) you can take out of the country must not exceed the sum you brought in as per your arrival customs declaration. Taking out the amount exceeding the sum you brought in is possible if permitted by Uzbekistan’s Central Bank or another Uzbekistan’s authorized bank. Note that taking out Uzbekistan soms is not permitted unless they are several souvenir coins or banknotes.

10

Can I use a photo / video camera at the tourist sites?
Photographing and videoing at the tourist sites is allowed unless a site has a prohibition sign. They charge fees for using cameras at most tourist attractions though. Photographing and videoing is prohibited in Tashkent metro, at the airports and railway stations. Using a camera at the functioning mosques is possible if allowed by the worshippers there.

11

What kind of clothes should I wear in Uzbekistan? Are there any clothing requirements for women in the country?
Clothes made of cotton and other natural textiles will be the best choice in warm and hot weather. Both men and women will feel best in T-shirts and shorts. Your footwear must be comfortable, light and strong, since you will have to walk a lot. Have sunglasses, a light headwear and sunblock lotion.
If you travel early in spring (March to the beginning of April) or at the end of autumn (October to November), it is advisable to take a windbreaker, a sweater or a similar garment. In winter the temperature may fall to minus 10°С or so, so a raincoat, a warm coat and headwear will be necessary.
There are no strict limits on women’s clothing in the country. However, you should be considerate towards the local traditions, culture and religion. While visiting religious places women should wear loose garments covering most of their arms and legs, and of course the cleavage. Headscarves will also be advisable to put on. Note that you will have to take off your shoes while entering some of the sacred places.

12

What languages do people in Uzbekistan speak?
The official language is Uzbek; it is spoken by a majority of the population. Russian is spoken by the country’s largest Slavic minority and is still used widely in business and as a lingua franca, especially in Tashkent and other major cities. Tajik is widespread in Samarkand and Bukhara for their large Tajik ethnic minorities. Karakalpak is spoken in the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan where it is an official language besides Uzbek. English is popular as a foreign language to study but there is little chance of coming across a good English speaker in the street. However, in the historic cities of Bukhara and Samarkand many young souvenir sellers dealing with foreigners speak elementary English.

 

Useful Information on Traveling in Kyrgyzstan:

Useful Information on Traveling in Uzbekistan:

Route Map

Route Map

Photos of the tour:

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Our video gallery:

Kyrgyzstan painted with sand Kyrgyzstan painted with sand In an off-road vehicle across Kyrgyzstan
In an off-road vehicle
across Kyrgyzstan
Uzbek fruit and vegetables Uzbek fruit and vegetables Lively Kyzylkum desert Lively Kyzylkum desert

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Useful links: Similar tours:
Information about Kyrgyzstan.
Information about Uzbekistan.
Remarkable sights of Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan Bazaars.
To the Heart of Tamerlane’s Empire.
Treasure Chest with Oriental Adventures.
Oriental dastarkhan (asian tablecloth).


     	

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