Oriental Dastarkhan

Gastronomic Tour to Uzbekistan.
Culinary Experiences & Chef's Masterclasses

 

Country: Uzbekistan View the route map »»
Itinerary: Tashkent - Urgench - Khiva - Bukhara - Samarkand - Tashkent
Tour duration: 8 days / 7 nights

Guarantee Dates Of Group Tours In 2017:

Group No. 1. 06.04.2017 - 13.04.2017
Group No. 2. 14.09.2017 - 21.09.2017
Group No. 3. 12.10.2017 - 19.10.2017

A Gastronomic Tour of Uzbekistan is an expert-led cultural food tour. The tour is designed to give you the exclusive experiences that best capture the unique food and culinary traditions of Uzbek cuisine.

The Uzbek cuisine is probably one of the most diverse in Asia. Situated on the caravan routes of the Great Silk Road, Uzbekistan has for many centuries been assimilating the most interesting and original recipes of food from various countries. Each meal in Uzbekistan has its own traditional way of cooking, and one and the same dish has innumerable methods of preparation throughout the country.

Let’s take the Uzbek plov, which has become Uzbekistan’s main culinary brand. In fact, the ‘true Uzbek plov’ includes about ten different recipes, each characteristic of a certain region of the country. Even with their eyes shut, a true plov-lover can easily tell by a mere taste of the dish where the plov he is eating has been cooked - in Samarkand, Fergana, Tashkent, Karshi, Bukhara or Khorezm. Welcome to Uzbekistan, where you can taste all the multitude of nuances of the Uzbek plov!

Certainly, plov is far from being the only remarkable dish in the Uzbek cuisine. Tender manty, juicy shashlyk shish kebab, aromatic samsa pasties, rich shourpa and horsemeat sausage kazy, naryn served on special occasions and khanum for an everyday family table, tandyr-kabob in Bukhara, lagman in Tashkent, nohat-shurak in Samarkand and exotic tukhum-barak and shivit-oshi in Khorezm - all of them form but a small part of the list of dishes in the Uzbek cuisine! And what about the dessert, consisting of a great number of Oriental sweets, fresh fruit, dry fruit and various kinds of nuts?

With the focus on Oriental gastronomy, this tour will give you an opportunity to immerse yourself in Uzbekistan’s rich history and culture, to learn about treasured architecture of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva - the fabled cities still keeping the memory of Tamerlane, Alexander the Great, Genghis-khan, and many trade caravans of the Great Silk Road. Tall elegant minarets, grandiose madrassahs and mosques will be branded in your mind for long. But first of all, this travel will be appreciated by gourmets. Open for yourself the world full of oriental delicacies!

No doubt, this fascinating culinary tour for foodies will become the most 'delicious' in your collection!
Discover Uzbekistan's incredible history and cuisine!

  • Itinerary /
    Services & Cost

  • Itinerary in Detail

  • FAQ
  • Useful Information
    Route Map

 

Itinerary
Day 1.
Arrival in Tashkent. Tashkent - Urgench (night train).
Meeting at Tashkent airport. Transfer to hotel and check-in. Rest after a long flight. Breakfast at the hotel. Meet the guide and other group participants at 09:30. Start of the sightseeing tour around Tashkent at 10:00: Khast-Imam Square, Barak-Khan Madrasah, Kafal-al-Shashi Mausoleum. Lunch at the Plov Centre, tasting Tashkent plov cooked with sesame oil. After lunch continuation of sightseeing program in Tashkent: Kukeldash Madrasah, the oldest bazaar of Tashkent - Chorsu, Museum of Applied Arts, Tashkent Metro. Evening meal at National Cuisine Centre (recommended dish is naryn). Transfer to the rail station for night train №56 Tashkent - Urgench (20:15-12:53). Overnight in the train.
Day 2.
Urgench - Khiva
Breakfast in train. Arrival to Urgench at 12:22. Meeting at the station. Transfer to Khiva and check-in to the hotel. Lunch at National house (recommended dishes are Khivan plov, and typical Khorezmian dish - tukhum-barak). Guided sightseeing tour around Khiva (Ichan-Kala ‘inner city’ historic old city): Kunya-Ark Fortress, Islam Khoja Minaret and Madrasah, Avesta Museum. Master-class for cooking gumma (patties) and evening meal at restaurant. Overnight rest in hotel.
Day 3.
Khiva
Breakfast in hotel. Guided sightseeing tour around Khiva: Tash Khauli-Khan Palace, Juma Mosque, Muhammad Amin-Khan Minaret and Madrasah, Pakhlavan Mahmoud Complex. Transfer to ponds for tasting fried fresh-caught fish. Back to Khiva. Leisure time. Dinner at the restaurant (recommended dish is Khorezm kebab). Overnight rest in hotel.
Day 4.
Khiva - Bukhara
Breakfast in hotel. Transfer across the Kyzyl-Kum Desert and along the Amudarya River to Bukhara. Lunch en route. Arrival in Bukhara. Leisure time. Evening meal at restaurant (recommended dish is meat). Overnight rest in hotel.
Day 5.
Bukhara
Breakfast in 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), Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Ulugbek Madrasah. Lunch at a restaurant for tasting Bukharan plov. After lunch visiting the "Silk Road Spices" tea house for tea-party: tasting teas prepared from herbs and spices, and traditional Bukharan sweets. After tea-party guided sightseeing: Lyab-i Hauz Architectural Ensemble, Kukeldash Madrasah, Nadir Divan-Begi Madrasah, domed shopping arcadeFolklore show in Nadir Divan-Begi Madrasah. Evening meal at  National House (recommended dishes are dolma, Bukharan samsa). Overnight rest in hotel.
Day 6.
Bukhara - out-of-town guided sightseeing tour - Samarkand
Breakfast in hotel. Out-of-town guided sightseeing tour (4 km from Bukhara): Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, memorial complex of the Islamic saint Baha-ud-Din Naqshband, Chor-Bakr Memorial Complex. Lunch at Uzbek chaykhona, tandyr-kabob (meat baked in tandyr oven) and shashlyk tasting. After lunch transfer to Samarkand. Transfer to hotel and check-in. Wine tasting in old winery named after Khovrenko. Master class in cooking manty at traditional House ‘U Zarify’ (recommended dishes are manty, shourpa). Overnight rest in hotel.
Day 7.
Samarkand - Tashkent
Breakfast in hotel. Guided sightseeing tour around Samarkand: Registan Square (Ulugbek Madrasah, Sher-Dor Madrasah, Tilla-Qori Madrasah), Gur-e Amir Mausoleum (Tamerlane’s sepulcher). Lunch at the plov centre and Samarkand plov tasting. After lunch: Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Shah-i-Zinda Necropolis, Ulugbek Observatory. Transfer to the rail station for train to Tashkent “Afrosiab” (17:00-19:10). Arrival to Tashkent. Meeting at the station. Transfer and check-in to hotel. Dinner at the restaurant (recommended dish is shashlyk). Overnight rest in hotel.
Day 8.
Tashkent. Departure
Breakfast in hotel. Transfer to airport. Departure from Uzbekistan.
The cost of the tour 2017 in USD for 1 person:
The cost of the tour for 1 person 735 USD
SGL supplement + 110 USD

* This tour is guaranteed and will be arranged whatever final number of persons in a group.

Cost includes: Cost does not include:
Hotel accommodation in double/twin rooms with breakfast, including early check-in on arrival;
Meals on full board basis in the best restaurants and food outlets (according to the special menu);
Sightseeing tours according to the program;
Local guides in cities;
Services of the driver with comfortable transport during the tour, including airport - hotel - airport transfers;
Train tickets (4 seats in a compartment) for night train №56 (Tashkent - Urgench);
Train tickets (economy class) for high speed premium service train «Afrosiab» (Samarkand - Tashkent);
Assorted fruit on each day of the tour;
Folklore show in Nadir Divan-Begi Madrasah;
Wine tasting in old winery named after Khovrenko;
Tasting teas prepared from herbs and spices;
Master classes for the preparation of national dishes;
A bottle of mineral water on each day of the tour;
Memorable souvenirs.
International air fare;
Sites entrance fees;
Medical insurance.
 
Additional services:
Sites entrance fees - 75 USD/per person/on all route;
Update to 2 seats in a compartment (lux compartment) for train Tashkent - Urgench - 45 USD/per person;
Additional night in hotel on arrival/ departure -
50 USD/per SGL room/per night,
70 USD/per DBL room/per night.
Visa support for Uzbekistan - 45 USD/per person.

Hotels
The cost includes accommodation in hotels 3* - it's very cozy private hotels, often decorated in traditional style. There is absolutely everything you need for a comfortable stay. Hotels that level characterized by a warm, friendly welcome in the atmosphere almost comfort.

This route involves the following accommodation:

City Hotels 3*
Tashkent Arien Plaza Hotel 3* / Samir 3* or similar
Samarkand Arba Hotel 3* / Orient Star Samarkand Hotel 3* or similar
Bukhara Siyavush Hotel 3* / Modarikhan Hotel 3* or similar
Khiva Orient Star Khiva Hotel 3* / Arkanchi Hotel 3* or similar

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

"Hyundai Grand Starex"
(up to 6 seats)

Hyundai Grand Starex

"Mitsubishi Rosa"
(up to 15 seats)

Mitsubishi Rosa

"Golden Dragon"
(up to 45 seats)

Golden Dragon
Air conditioner Audio system Safety belt Fold-back seats Lighting in saloon Air conditioner Audio system Safety belt Fold-back seats Lighting in saloon Fridge Air conditioner Audio system Safety belt Fold-back seats Lighting in saloon Fridge
Hyundai Grand Starex Hyundai Grand Starex Hyundai Grand Starex Hyundai Grand Starex Hyundai Grand Starex Hyundai Grand Starex Hyundai Grand Starex

 

Itinerary in Detail

Day 1. Arrival in Tashkent. Guided sightseeing tour around Tashkent.
Meeting at Tashkent airport. Transfer to hotel and check-in. Breakfast in hotel. At 10:00 AM guided sightseeing tour around Tashkent: Khast-Imam Square, Barak-Khan Madrasah, Kafal-al-Shashi Mausoleum. Lunch at the Plov Centre, tasting Tashkent plov cooked with sesame oil. After lunch continuation of sightseeing program in Tashkent: Kukeldash Madrasah, the oldest bazaar of Tashkent - Chorsu, Museum of Applied Arts, Tashkent Metro. Evening meal at National Cuisine Centre (recommended dish is naryn). Transfer to the rail station for night train №56 Tashkent - Urgench (20:15-12:53). Overnight in the train.

Welcome to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. It is one of the oldest Central Asian city, and the 4th largest city in the CIS with a population of around 3 million. Present-day Tashkent is in all respects a regional hub. Although Tashkent is over 2,000 years old, it does not have many historic sites. Tashkent grew to its present size mainly during the Soviet times, especially after the destructive earthquake in 1966. Today it has all the features of a modern metropolis, with a lot of Central Asian-style newly-built structures and Soviet-era buildings.

First you go to Tashkent’s Old City to see Khazrati Imam Architectural Complex (also Khast Imam), consisting of Barak-Khan Madrasah, Tilla Sheikh Mosque, Muyi Muborak Madrasah, Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum (also spelled Kaffal Ash-Shashi), Namazgoh Mosque and the new Khazrati Imam Mosque. The complex is the top Tashkent historic site and Islamic center. Thoroughly restored in 2007, the edifices of the complex, with the earliest of them dating back to the 16th century, show their original splendor now. The new mosque featuring traditional Islamic architectural elements adds to the grandeur of the site.

We shall have lunch at the Plov Centre, tasting Tashkent plov (also spelled pilaf, pilaff, pilau, pilav, polow, pulaw, pulao) cooked with sesame oil.

The most well-known and favourite Uzbek dish and its staple food is undoubtedly plov. Just think: there are over sixty different plov recipes in Uzbek cuisine. In every area it is cooked in a special way, and an experienced gourmet would easily recognize the origins of a given plov, whether SamarqandFergana, Tashkent, Kashkadarya, Bukhara or Khorezm. These types of plov differ from each other not only with the technology of cooking, but also with the ingredients. Not always plov is cooked with the lamb sometimes lamb is substituted with kazi (horse sausage), fat tail, chicken, pheasant or quail. And also rise is not the necessary ingredient, buckwheat, wheat, mash and even macaroni is used in some recipes. In comparing, the most desirable ingredients used to cook a traditional authentic Plov are: lamb, rice, onions, carrots and spices. In order to achieve the best result, all the three main features of cooking techniques should be done as: correct way of treating the cooking oil, cooking and the making ready the liquidized mixture of the meal (zirvak), and at last carefully placing rice on top of this mixture and let it cooked using generated steam.

The plov is considered a trivial and at the same time a festive dish. Neither national holiday nor birthday party or social occasion can go without it! Pilov is to be accompanied by various appetizers: kazy, khasyp, samsa, meat rolls, aychik-chuk (national mixed salad), lepyoshka etc.

After lunch you visit the old Islamic college Kukeldash Madrasah (16th c.) and the large traditional Central Asian bazaar Chorsu near it, then you see the modern part of the city, including Museum of Applied Arts boasting an abundance of fascinating exhibits, and Tashkent Metro.

Evening meal at National Cuisine Centre (recommended dish is naryn). Naryn is original noodles cooked with kazy (homemade horse meat sausage) and spices.

The main component on each table is traditional Uzbek bread (locals call it non, obi-non, patir or lepeshka in Russian). Even lepyoshka varies in taste and form in different regions of Uzbekistan. In Tashkent it is puffy and is made from fancy pastry, in Samarkand it is thick and at the same time soft, in Khiva it is thin and milky. It’s difficult to say which one is better or tastier. Samarkanders insist on their lepyoshka to be the tastiest, whereas Khiva residents contend against this statement asserting that their bread is much more delicious. Every man to his own taste. Why not to sample and decide for yourself which one you give the preference to: Samarkand, Tashkent or Khiva lepyoshka?

In the evening we shall transfer to the Tashkent railway station and on a comfortable night train leave for Urgench, the administrative centre of Khorezm Province (also spelled Khwarezmia, Khwarizm, Khwarazm, Khwarezm, Khoresm, Khorasam, Harezm, Horezm, and Chorezm), situated in the opposite part of Uzbekistan. Most of the train route’s length lies in the famous Kyzylkum Desert. Travelling by train during the night allows you to use your time in the best way, leaving the day for more interesting things.

Overnight in train.

Day 2. Tashkent - Urgench - Khiva
Arrival in Urgench. Meeting at the station. Transfer to Khiva and check-in to the hotel. Lunch at National house (recommended dishes are Khivan plov, typical Khorezmian dish tukhum-barak). Guided sightseeing tour around Khiva (Ichan-Kala ‘inner city’ historic old city): Kunya-Ark Fortress, Islam Khoja Minaret and Madrasah, Avesta Museum. Master-class for cooking gumma (patties) and evening meal at restaurant. Overnight rest in hotel.

Arrival in Urgench. Meeting at the station of Urgench. As you arrive, you proceed to Khiva (35 km; approx 30 min), an amazing historic city called ‘a museum under the open sky’. Khiva’s Ichan-Kala ‘inner city’ historic part, 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.

After checking in at hotel and resting for a while you will be offered a delicious lunchat National house (recommended dishes are Khivan plov, typical Khorezmian dish tukhum-barak).

After lunch you begin a sightseeing tour of Ichan-Kala, visiting Kunya-Ark Fortress with its most interesting exhibits, Islam Khodja Minaret and Madrasah and Avesta Museum that deals with the history of Zoroastrianism; Khorezm is believed to be its cradle.

For evening meal we go to restaurant located in medieval Madrasah, where you will enjoy master-class for cooking gumma (Uzbek patties)

Overnight rest in hotel.

Day 3. Khiva.
Breakfast in hotel. Guided sightseeing tour around Khiva: Tash Khauli-Khan Palace, Juma Mosque, Muhammad Amin-Khan Minaret and Madrasah, Pakhlavan Mahmoud Complex. Transfer to lakes for tasting fried fresh-caught fish. Back to Khiva. Leisure time. Dinner at the restaurant (recommended dish is Khorezm kebab). Overnight rest in hotel.

After breakfast in hotel we continue guided sightseeing tour around Khiva and visit Tash Khauli-Khan Palace - palace of local khans (18th -19th centuries); Juma Mosque (10th-18th centuries) which is famed for its hypostyle hall, still has 112 wooden pillars of the 10th-century mosque; Muhammad Amin-Khan Minaret and Madrasah; Pakhlavan Mahmoud Complex, the famous Khiva’s poet and powerful knight who became a local saint after death.

Transfer to lakes and same name hotel complex with restaurant for tasting fried fresh-caught fish. The original complex was recently built in the desert, on the shores of Amudarya River channel. There is a minaret, yurts, unusual buildings with original design. Here in restaurant they are preparing freshly-caught fish (carp, pike-perch etc.).

Back to Khiva. Leisure time. It is recommended to visit Khiva’s bazaar after the tour, where traditional Khorezm carpets, suzani tapestries, robes, embroidered scull-caps and an abundance of other souvenirs are offered.

Evening meal at the restaurant (recommended dish is Khorezm kebab). Kebad (shashlyk, shish kebab), is a favourite both in Asia and in Caucasus. It can be easily made from any type of meat or fish. The meat is cut in cubes which then are skewered and roasted over an open fire on the chargrill. Shashlyk is garnished with fresh vegetables, pickles, sauces, and fresh herbs, of course. Shashlyk better be eaten hot.

Overnight rest in hotel.

Day 4. Khiva - Bukhara (440 km, 7-8 hrs).
Breakfast in hotel. Transfer across the Kyzyl-Kum Desert and along the Amudarya River to Bukhara. Lunch en route. Arrival in Bukhara. Leisure time. Evening meal at restaurant (recommended dish is meat). Overnight rest in hotel.

You set out on a long and exciting journey to Bukhara (440 km, 7-8 hours) across the Kyzyl-Kum Desert and along the Amudarya River (also spelled Amu Darya; known as the Oxus from its Ancient Greek name in historical sources).
Lunch en route.

Bukhara (‘a lucky place’; also spelled Bukhoro, Buxoro, 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.

After you have checked in at your hotel, you still have some leisure time to spend before your overnight rest. We recommend that you stroll about the surroundings, feeling the charm of the city in the evening, and visit souvenir shops.

In the evening we shall go to the restaurant (recommended dish is Bodriddin meat - beef cooked to original restaurant recipe).

Overnight rest in hotel.

Day 5. Bukhara.
Breakfast in 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), Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Ulugbek Madrasah. Lunch at a restaurant for tasting Bukharan plov. After lunch visiting the "Silk Road Spices" tea house for tea-party: tasting teas prepared from herbs and spices, and traditional Bukharan sweets. After tea-party guided sightseeing: Lyab-i Hauz Architectural Ensemble, Kukeldash Madrasah, Nadir Divan-Begi Madrasah, domed shopping arcade. Folklore show in Nadir Divan-Begi Madrasah. Evening meal at National House (recommended dishes are dolma, Bukharan samsa). Overnight rest in hotel.

After breakfast you start your exploration of Bukhara - the city of poetry and fairy tales! Here the labyrinth of the city streets is home to many legends; the vertical silhouette of its minarets represents the flight of man’s genius, and every stone in the lace-like brickwork is covered with the dust of eternity. Bukhara has won the fame of a city-museum, its romantic image attracts tourists from all over the world.

In Bukhara you can perceive the Orient in full. At every step you will encounter a trader offering fine craftwork: astrakhan hats, masterly embroidered suzani, national shirts, skullcaps, knives and artfully decorated jewelry. This urge for trading seems to be inherited from the ancestors who used to travel in caravans along the trails of the Great Silk Road.

First you visit Ismail Samani Mausoleum (9th c. - 10th c.), one of the most esteemed Central Asian architectural monuments. It was built as the sepulcher of Ismail Samani, the founder of the last Persian dynasty ruling in Central Asia. The mausoleum features fascinating brickwork patterns that look different as the light changes during the day.

The next sight is Chashma Ayub Mausoleum (Chashma Ayub is translated as ‘Job’s spring’ in Persian). According to a legend, the biblical saint Job (Ayub) once visited the place during a severe drought in the area and opened a spring with a blow of his staff. This spring water is still there, fresh and pure, and is considered to be healing. The mausoleum was built in the 15th century by master builders Tamerlane had brought from Khorezm after capturing Khiva, so the building features a Khorezm-style conical dome, uncommon in Bukhara.

Then comes Bolo Hauz Complex (17th c.). It is the hauz ‘pond’ and two surviving structures of Bukhara registan central square complex - a mosque, still functioning, and a minaret. Very rich in ornaments, the mosque is called ‘a mosque of 40 pillars’ because all its 20 pillars, decorated with beautiful engravings, are reflected in the pond.

Next, you go to the Ark, the impressive Bukhara citadel (6th c. - 7th c.). It is the location the city grew from. Today’s Ark is a most interesting tourist attraction featuring reconstructions with dummies and housing a few museums.

Po-i-Kalan Complex (12th c. - 16th c.) you proceed to consists of Kalyan Mosque, Mir-i-Arab Madrasah and the famous Kalyan Minaret - a 45.6-meter-tall circular-pillar brick tower, narrowing upwards (built in 1127). The minaret miraculously survived many wars and invasions. It was used as an observation tower and an execution tool in the past: criminals were killed by being tossed off the top of it in the past, so it is also known as Tower of Death. There are a lot of legends about this grand structure.

You also see Ulugbek Madrasah, built in 1417 by order of Ulugbek, Tamerlan’s grandson, the famous mathematician and astronomer called ‘a scientist on the throne’.

Lunch at a restaurant, where you will taste the Bukharan plov. The cooking technology of the Bukhara plov, certainly, differs from all other recipes. Almost all the components of the Bukhara plov are cooked separately, and then put in layers into a special copper cauldron, where the plov is finished.   

After lunch visiting the "Silk Road Spices" tea house for tea-party: tasting teas prepared from herbs and spices, and traditional Bukharan sweets.

Tea ceremony is widespread all over Uzbekistan. Uzbek people drink tea whenever an opportunity presents itself: for breakfast, lunch and dinner, at work, at home or while being a guest in somebody’s house. The favorite tea of any Uzbek person is green tea - kok-chai. No party, no celebration or meeting of friends can go without it. Tea is served in piala (a drinking bowl) together with fruits and oriental sweets: parvarda (uzbek caramel), halva, navat(crystallized sugar), puff cookie, thick pancakes with butter, kaymak (boiled cream), dry fruits or honey.

After tea time you visit 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 that is a perfect place to relax in the outdoor teahouses around it in hot summertime. You can also take a look at the statue of a man riding his donkey there. It is Nasreddin, the legendary medieval Central Asian folk character, famed for his wit and humor. Here in Nadir Divan-Begi Madrasah you will see Folklore show.

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.

We shall have dinner at the traditional house. Be sure to order some dolma – stewed grapevine leaves stuffed with minced mutton and rice with the addition of oriental spices. The slightly sour taste of the leaves makes the dish very special! While in Bukhara, don’t miss the opportunity also to taste Bukharan samsa.

Overnight rest in hotel.

Day 6. Bukhara - out-of-town guided sightseeing tour - Samarkand.
Breakfast in hotel. Out-of-town guided sightseeing tour (4 km from Bukhara): Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, memorial complex of the Islamic saint Baha-ud-Din Naqshband, Chor-Bakr Memorial Complex. Lunch at Uzbek chaykhona, tandyr-kabob (meat baked in tandyr oven) and shashlyk tasting. After lunch transfer to Samarkand. Transfer to hotel and check-in. Wine tasting in old winery named after Khovrenko. Master class in cooking manty at traditional House ‘U Zarify’ (recommended dishes are manty, shourpa). Overnight rest in hotel.

Today you will make a ride outside the city (it’s just a 15-20 minutes ride from Bukhara), where you will see the countryside residence of Bukhara emirs called Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace (‘Star-like and Moon-like Palace’, 19th c.). The palace features a mixture of western and eastern architectural styles. In comparison with the rest of Bukhara, the climate in the palace is different: it is never hot there even on the hottest days.

Also let’s take a look at the complex of Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari, which is sometimes treated as the Central Asian Mecca. Baha-ud-Din Naqshband was a mentor of Tamerlane and a powerful Sufi, who became the founder of the Sufi Order called Naqshbandia, which soon became one of the most famous orders. The complex includes many different buildings: mosques, a minaret, a mausoleum, and a khanaqah.

Next, you go to the unique Chor-Bakr Memorial Complex (‘memorial complex of four brothers’). They began building it during the reign of the Samanids as long ago as the 16th c. It is also called Town of the Dead, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The first and the main grave the necropolis of the complex began to grow was Abu Bakr Saad’s, a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.

Our today’s lunch will feature wonderful meat baked in a tandyr (traditional Central Asian clay oven; also spelled tandyr, tandoor) - tandyr-kabob (tandyr-kebab), which is best made at the local Uzbek chaykhona situated very near Bukhara. We assure you that have never tasted anything like that!

Next, you resume your journey to Samarkand that is probably the best-known Uzbekistan’s historic city. Over 2,750 years of age, it boasts very impressive architectural monuments and has a rich history. Geographers and poets called Samarkand ‘Rome of the Orient’ and even ‘Eden of the Orient’ in the past. Samarkand, like Khiva and Bukhara, boasts world-famous masterpieces of medieval Islamic architecture, most of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

In Samarkand we will have wine tasting in old winery named after Hovrenko.

In 1868 Russian businessman D.M.Filatov organized the production of Uzbek wines in Samarkand that earned reputation in the world wine market at that time. Later the plant of Filatov was headed by M.A. Khovrenko. During the work he improved the plant, and developed new varieties of grapes, from which now wines are produced not only in Uzbekistan, but all over the world. Filatov’s gold reserves were discovered 50 years later.

Nowadays, most of them are exhibited at House Museum named after Filatov, which was opened at Professor Khovrenko Wine Plant. The museum and the plant are functioning to this day. At the territory of the plant there is its own tasting room, which hosts a tasting of the wines produced here. Local wines have the exclusive astringent flavor and aroma.

The traditional house ‘U Zarify’ will be happy to receive us for dinner. There you will be given a master class in cooking manty.

Manty - delicious steamed dumplings which indeed are finger-licking good. This is a popular meat dish among Central Asian nations. Traditionally the filling for manty is minced meat with onion and spices, which is then wrapped in thinly rolled out paste. But there exist variations and filling for manty can be made of potato, pumpkin and other stuff.

It is also recommended to taste here shourpa - a rich and thick soup that will help you enhance your physical power and regain strength if you have lost it, ranks among the foremost first-course dishes of the Uzbek cuisine.

Overnight rest in hotel.

Day 7. Samarkand - Tashkent.
Breakfast in hotel. Guided sightseeing tour around Samarkand: Registan Square (Ulugbek Madrasah, Sher-Dor Madrasah, Tilla-Qori Madrasah), Gur-e Amir Mausoleum (Tamerlane’s sepulcher). Lunch at the plov centre for Samarkand plov tasting. After lunch: Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Shah-i-Zinda Necropolis, Ulugbek Observatory. Transfer to the rail station for train to Tashkent “Afrosiab” (17:00-19:10). Arrival to Tashkent. Meeting at the station. Transfer and check-in to hotel. Dinner at the restaurant (recommended dish is shashlyk). Overnight rest in hotel.

First, you see the Registan Square and the three grand madrasahs (Islamic colleges) on its sides. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is certainly one of the world’s most impressive historic squares. The madrasahs date from different times. Ulugbek Madrasah, the earliest of them, was built in 1417 - 1420 by order of Ulugbek. Two centuries later Sher-Dor Madrasah (“Possessing Lions”) and Tilla-Qori Madrasah (“Gilded”) were erected by order of Samarkand governor. Each of the madrasahs features unique decoration: fascinating tile mosaics, delicate stone carvings, splendid gilt ceilings, etc.

Then you certainly visit Gur-e Amir Mausoleum, the sepulcher of Tamerlane and the Timurid dynasty (1404; also spelled Gur Emir). It contains the graves of Tamerlane, his two sons, two grandsons, and his spiritual mentor.

You will finish off your morning sightseeing with a fabulous lunch. And what shall we have for lunch today? Yes, plov! At the Plov centre. Why do you think shall we have plov for lunch? Because authentic Uzbek plov is made in the first half of the day, and in the afternoon you may fail to find any.  

Plov in Samarkand is very special. It is light-colored and the most dietary of all the Uzbek plovs. The Samarkand plov features less oil and more carrot, the latter being rather steamed than fried or boiled. The pieces of meat are large, which allows the meat retain its juice and taste. Samarkand cooks do not mix the plov ingredients: they are cooked in layers. When it is ready, it is also put into a lagan (a large dish) layer after layer, first rice, then carrot and chickpeas, and then the whole composition is decorated with the pieces of juicy meat.     

You should also sample the pride of Samarkand - lepyoshka (oriental flat bread). The authentic Samarkand lepyoshka should be baked in national oven - tandyr. It is rather thick and can be kept for a long time without losing its savoury smell.

There are so many places still to see.

After lunch you go see the Friday communal prayer mosque Bibi-Khanym (“senior princess” or “senior wife”; also spelled Bibi-Khanum). Built in 1404, it is one of the largest historic mosques in the Islamic world. According to Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo, a Spanish ambassador to Samarkand in Tamerlane’s times, the mosque was built by order of Tamerlane in honor of his senior wife’s mother by 200 best architects and 500 workers brought from all the corners of his empire.

Shah-i-Zinda Necropolis (12th c. - 15th c.; also spelled Shohizinda, Shah-i-Zinde means “living king”) you see next is a complex of more than 20 mausoleums with 44 tombstones; most of them are of Tamerlan’s relatives, as well as military and clergy aristocracy. The main of them is the mausoleum of Kusam ibn Abbas, the cousin of Muhammad the Prophet. According to a legend, Kusam ibn Abbas came to Samarkand with Arab conquerors to preach Islam and was beheaded for faith in the city. However, he took his head and went down to a deep well where he remains alive.

You also see the surviving part of Ulugbek Observatory (15th c.). It still has a section of the mural sextant, once the world’s largest, which Ulugbek used to compile his world-famous star catalogue, the best between Ptolemy’s and Brahe’s. Ulugbek’s discoveries greatly advanced knowledge in the field of astronomy and mathematics in the Middle Ages.

Then you go to the railway station and departure for Tashkent by the high-speed train Afrosiab (17:00 – 19:10).

Dinner at the restaurant (recommended dish is shashlyk (kebab)).

Overnight rest in Tashkent hotel.

Day 8. Tashkent. Departure.
Breakfast in hotel. Transfer to airport. Departure from Uzbekistan.

Our gastronomic tour is over. In this tour we tried to give you an opportunity to feel all the diversity and exotic nature of Uzbek rich cuisine which inherited the culinary legacies of many cultures.

The most notable dishes of indigenous cuisine were included into menu, as well as the most interesting attractions were included into your itinerary.

Unfortunately, the time limits prevent you from sampling and experiencing many more amazing things. Hospitable Uzbekistan is looking forward to your next visit!

The ‘menu’ given above is illustrative and is made based on our rich experience in organizing these kinds of tours. Here we attempted to give you an idea of which catering establishments offer the best meals typical of this or that region. Each town or city has its own range of foods, which it is particularly famous for, and our task is to recommend places to you where, in our opinion, these foods are cooked best.

If, because of your health condition or for some other reasons, you have special gastronomic preferences or a special diet, please, be sure to inform us of that in advance. We shall take all your wishes into consideration and shall offer you the best of the options we have!

 

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.

Photos of the tour:

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Video of the tour:

Traditional cuisine of Central Asia
Cuisine of Central Asia
Pilafs in Tashkent
Pilafs in Tashkent
Wine-Making in Uzbekistan
Wine-Making in Uzbekistan
Uzbek fruit and vegetables
Uzbek fruit and vegetables

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Useful links: Related tours:
Uzbek cuisine
Uzbek Plov
Uzbek Manti
General Information on Uzbekistan
Remarkable sights
Nowruz - Oriental New Year Holiday
Uzbekistan trough viewfinder


     	

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