The Pearls of the East: Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan

Heritage Tour: Turquoise-Domed Cities of the Silk Road

 

Countries: Uzbekistan - Turkmenistan View the route map »»
Tour duration: 11 days / 10 nights
Best time to travel: April - June, September - October
Itinerary: Tashkent - Samarkand - Gijduvan - Bukhara - Mary - Merv - Ashgabat - Darwaza crater - Nukus - Khiva - Tashkent

Sogdiana, the Pearl of the East. Tour of Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan

This combined Uzbekistan - Turkmenistan tour with stops at the must-see cities will guide you across two desert Central Asian republics where powerful states - Bactria, Sogdiana, Margiana and Khwarezm were located in ancestry. The ruins of ancient fortresses of Merv, Khwarezm and Afrosiab are preserved till nowadays and remind of the bygone might of perished empires. Such ancient monuments as the mausoleum of Tamerlane, the Registan Square, and the Kalyan Minaret harmoniously blend and even amplify the colour of the modern eastern cities.

Besides, this guided sightseeing tour will show you the most fascinating attraction in Karakum desert - the “Doors to Hell”, or Darwaza Gas Crater that will amaze you.

You will feel a legendary babel of real oriental bazaars and discover the culture, original traditions and hospitality of the locals.

  • ITINERARY
    SERVICES & COST

  • Visa

  • FAQ
  • USEFUL INFORMATION
    Route map
  • OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS & LEISURE ACTIVITIES

 

Itinerary
Day 1. Tashkent, arrival and city tour.
Arrival in Tashkent early in the morning. Transfer to hotel for some rest.
After breakfast start of the guided sightseeing tour around Tashkent: Khast-Imam Square, Barak-Khan Madrasah, Kafal-Shashi Mausoleum; Kukeldash Madrasah, Museum of Applied Arts, Independence Square, Amir Timur Square and Tashkent metro.
Overnight at the hotel.
Accommodation: Ramada Hotel 4* / Samir Hotel 3*
Day 2 Tashkent - Samarkand (morning train, 07:30-09:48).
Early breakfast at the hotel. Ride to Samarkand by premium service high-speed train “Afrosiab”. Guided sightseeing tour of Samarkand on arrival: Gur-e Amir Mausoleum (Tamerlane’s sepulcher), Registan Square (Ulugbek Madrasah, Sher-Dor Madrasah, and Tilla-Qori Madrasah), Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Shah-i-Zinda Necropolis, and Ulugbek Observatory.
Overnight at the hotel.
Accommodation: Grand Samarkand Hotel 4* / City Hotel 3*
Day 3. Samarkand - Gujduvan - Bukhara (road transfer, 280 km).
Breakfast at the hotel. Continuation of the sightseeing tour in Samarkand: visit Afrosiab museum and settlement. Drive to Bukhara. On the way stop in Gijduvan and visit local ceramist’s family. Gijduvan is one the centers of pottery in Uzbekistan, ceramic products in Gujduvan have its own painting style of green colors, which is not repeated in any other region of Uzbekistan.
Further transfer to Bukhara. Upon arrival accommodation at the hotel. Leisure time. Visiting the souvenir shops and workshops is recommended. Overnight at the hotel.
Accommodation: Devon Begi Hotel 4* / Fatima Hotel 3*
Day 4. Bukhara.
Breakfast at the hotel. Start of the guided sightseeing tour around Bukhara: visit Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Chashma Ayub Mausoleum, Bolo Khauz Mosque, Ark Citadel, Po-i-Kalyan Complex (Kalyan Minaret and others), Ulugbek Madrasah, Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Lyab-i Hauz Architectural Ensemble, Kukeldash Madrasah, Nadir Divan-Begi Madrasah, domed shopping arcade.
Overnight at the hotel.
Accommodation: Devon Begi Hotel 4* / Fatima Hotel 3*
Day 5. Bukhara - "Farap" land border - Mary - Merv ancient city - Mary (road transfer, 385 km).
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to Uzbek-Turkmen border “Farab” (2-hours drive from Bukhara). Border formalities. Continue driving to Mary via visits of Ancient Merv (UNESCO) en route. Upon arrival in Mary city tour with visits of Juma mosque and Russian orthodox church. Transfer to the hotel, overnight.
Accommodation: Mary Hotel 4*
Day 6. Mary - Ashgabat - Kov-Ata underground lake - Ashgabat (morning flight, 07:40-08:20 approx.).
Morning transfer to the airport for further flight to Ashgabat. Upon arrival day trip to Nohur village in the Kopetdag Mountains (visit tribal cemetery and pilgrim site; silk weaving homes), via visit of Turkmenbashi mosque-mausoleum and Kov-Ata underground lake on the way. Return to Ashgabat, transfer to the hotel and rest.
Accommodation: Grand Turkmen Hotel 4* / Ak-Altyn Hotel 3*
Day 7. Ashgabat - Darwaza gas crater (Karakum desert) (road transfer, 300 km).
After breakfast city tour with visits of National museum, Neutrality Arch, Independence park and ancient settlement of Nissa (UNESCO heritage site).
After lunch drive to Darwaza in the Karakum desert, via visits of Muddy crater and Water crater.  Arrival in Darwaza before sunset (at 18:00 approx.). Enjoy barbeque dinner on the open air; discover the burning gas crater by day and nighttime. Overnight in tents (field conditions).
Accommodation: tents
Day 8. Darwaza crater - "Khojeyli" land border - Nukus (road transfer, 300 km).
After camp style breakfast drive to the ancient settlement of Kunya Urgench (UNESCO heritage site), sightseeing tour. Continue driving to the land border with Uzbekistan. Cross the border before lunch break. Change driver and car on the border and further transfer to Nukus. On arrival transfer to the hotel and check in.
Overnight in Nukus.
Accommodation: Jipek Joli Hotel 3* (no better accommodation)
Day 9. Nukus - Khiva (road transfer, 200).
Breakfast at the hotel. Excursion to Savitskiy Museum. The I.V. Savitskiy State Art Museum is famous for its great collection of modern Russian and Uzbek art of 1918-1935, collected from all over the world. Today the museum is considered to be the world’s second largest collection of Russian avant-garde paintings. Further transfer to Khiva. Upon arrival check in to the hotel. Free evening.
Overnight at hotel.
Accommodation: Bek Hotel 4* / Zukhro Boutique Hotel 3*
Day 10. Khiva - Urgench (road transfer, 35 km) - Tashkent (evening flight).
Breakfast at the hotel. Guided sightseeing tour around KhivaIchan Kala (historical inner city), Pakhlavan Mahmud Complex, Kunya-Ark Fortress, Islam Hajji Madrasah & Minaret. After lunch: Tash Khauli Alakuli Khan Palace, Juma Mosque, Muhammad Aminkhan Minaret & Madrasah, and Avesta Museum. Transfer to Urgench to take evening flight to Tashkent. Upon arrival check in to the hotel.
Overnight at hotel.
Accommodation: Ramada Hotel 4* / Samir Hotel 3*
Day 11. Tashkent. Departure.
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to airport. Departure.

The cost of the tour 2019 in USD for 1 person:

Group 2 4 6 8 10 12 Supplement for single accommodation
Hotels of 3* 1906 1565 1554 1415 1404 1339 + 289
Hotels of 4* 2101 1757 1749 1610 1599 1534 + 462

Cost includes:

  • Accommodation at the hotels of 3* or 4* (mentioned below, or in similar, but of the same category) in double/twin rooms with breakfasts, including early check-in at the hotel of Tashkent upon arrival (after 06:00); check-in at other hotels - at 14:00; check-out - at 12:00;
  • Accommodation based on shared trekking tent (including sleeping mat, sleeping bag and pillow), including dinner near Darwaza crater (day 2) and breakfast the next day;
  • Sightseeing tours in each city according to the tour program;
  • Entrance fees at museums and historical parks mentioned in the program;
  • Services of English speaking local guides:
    • In Turkmenistan - accompanying guide for the whole tour;
    • In Uzbekistan - local guides for city tours only (from 6 persons - accompanying guide will be provided);
  • Train tickets for high-speed train «Afrosiab» from Tashkent to Samarkand (economy class);
  • Internal flight ticket from Urgench toTashkent (economy class).
  • Comfortable air-conditioned means of transportation throughout tour, including airport - hotel - airport transfers;
  • Mineral water for each day of the tour;
  • Visa invitation to Turkmenistan, including Letter of Invitation, State Registration and Travel Pass (obligatory for all foreigners).
 

Cost does not include:

  • International flights;
  • Internal flight ticket from Mary to Ashgabat - 70 USD/per person (economy class);
  • Medical insurance;
  • Visa fees to Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan;
  • Visa invitation to Uzbekistan (if necessary);
  • Photo and video shooting at museums and monuments.

Additional services:

  • Meals:
    • Half board (dinners) - 130 USD/per person;
    • Full board - 250 USD/per person;
  • Visa invitation to Uzbekistan (if necessary) - 45 USD/per person;
  • Turkmenistan tourist visa from 55+4 USD per person, when obtained at land borders (subject to change; nationality dependent);
  • Turkmenistan migration tax 10+4 USD per person, to be paid at land borders (subject to change);
  • Tourist fee per night, charged in the hotels at departure 2 USD per person per night (obligatory);

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 3* - inexpensive yet 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 4* - very comfortable hotels providing excellent facilities and services; mainly located in or near city centers.

This tour comes with the following accommodation:

City Hotels 3* Hotels 4*
Tashkent Samir 3* or similar Ramada Tashkent Hotel 4*  or similar
Samarkand City Hotel 3* or similar Grand Samarkand Hotel 4* or similar
Bukhara Fatima Hotel 3* or similar Devon Begi Hotel 4* or similar
Mary Mary Hotel 4* or similar Mary Hotel 4* or similar
Ashgabat Ak Altyn 4* or similar Grand Turkmen 5* or similar
Darwaza Tents   Tents  
Khiva Zukhro Hotel 3* or similar Bek Hotel 4* or similar

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

Turkmenistan Uzbekistan
Group of 1-2 tourists "Toyota Avalon sedan car" Group of 1-2 tourists "Daewoo Lacetti sedan car"
Group of 3-4 tourists "Toyota Sienna minibus" Group of 3-5 tourists "Hyundai Grand Starex minibus"
Group of 5-9 tourists "Toyota Hiace minibus" Group of 6-9 tourists "Toyota Hiace minibus"
Group of 10+ tourists "Bus for 45 seats" Group of 10-14 tourists "Mitsubishi Rosa minibus"

 

Visa and Visa invitation to Uzbekistan:

The citizens of Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine can enter the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan without visa. In relation to these countries there was established a bilateral visa-free regime.

The citizens of Austria, Belgium, Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Malaysia, Thailand, France, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Japan can obtain visa to Uzbekistan without preliminary issuance of the visa invitation by the inviting party from Uzbekistan (in our case, by travel agency). The citizens of listed countries can obtain visa at the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in the country of their residence during 2 working days.

Citizens of all other countries can get visa to Uzbekistan only on the basis of preliminary issued visa invitation. The visa invitation is being issued by our company on the basis of the following documents of yours:
- filled-in application form (sample of the application form is being send beforehand);
- scanned copy of your passport of good quality;
- employment verification letter.

After receiving these documents we apply to the MFA of Uzbekistan for visa invitation issuance for our tourists. The process of visa invitation issuance takes 13-15 days. On the basis of the visa invitation a tourist can get visa at the embassy of Uzbekistan in his/her country of residence (or in another country, where there is our embassy). If in the country of tourist’s residence there is no Uzbekistan Embassy, he/she can obtain Uzbek visa at the Uzbekistan in any other country (where it is located) or at the consular department of Tashkent airport on arrival.

Read more about visa to Uzbekistan here »»

Visa and Visa invitation to Turkmenistan:

Citizens of all foreign countries, intending to enter Turkmenistan, are obliged to have visa. Visa to Turkmenistan can issued only on the basis of preliminary issued visa invitation. The visa invitation is being issued by our company on the basis of the following documents of yours:
- filled-in application form (sample of the application form is being send beforehand);
- scanned copy of your passport of good quality;
- a photo of good quality (size 3:4).

After receiving these documents we apply to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Turkmenistan for visa invitation issuance for our tourists. The process of visa invitation issuance takes 7-10 working days. On the basis of the visa invitation a tourist can get Turkmenistan visa at the embassy of in any country, where there is Turkmenistan Embassy, in Ashgabat airport or at the consular department on the border.

Read more about visa to Turkmenistan here »»

 

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, 5.000, 10.000 and 50.000-som banknotes 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 to exchange money through them.
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?
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 to Uzbekistan


Useful Information on Traveling to Turkmenistan

Route Map

Route Map

 

Optional Excursions & Leisure Activities

You can go to the unique Khovrenko Winery in Samarkand set up by the Russian entrepreneur D. M. Filatov in 1868. The winery was later managed by Professor M. A. Khovrenko, a gifted viniculturist, who could maintain the production of the widely popular wines created by his predecessor and develop new ones. You can sample over 10 best Uzbek wines and visit the local museum on the premises.
The excursion costs - 20 USD per pax.
Dinners at the local Central Asian traditional style art restaurants can be a wonderful addition to the tour. The restaurants feature exquisite Central Asian interiors, wonderful cuisines and gripping shows.
Take a trip to Bukhara’s gold embroidery factory where over 100 girls and women create beautiful works using antique technologies. You can buy their embroideries and watch the production process there.
The excursion costs - 10 USD per pax.
Enjoy old Bukhara’s bathhouse Hammam Bozori Kord, which dates from the 17th century and still provides traditional Central Asian bath and healing services.
A bath session with a massage costs - 50 USD per pax.
Go to Nugay Caravanserai in Bukhara to sample and buy exclusive local red and white wines, as well as listen to experienced winemakers telling about winemaking process and wine tasting expertise.
The excursion costs - 15 USD per pax.
Take a look at the old-style paper mill and workshop where, using a centuries-old technology, they make antique Samarkand mulberry paper (nicknamed Sultan’s Paper in Tamerlane’s times). The site located in the village Koni Gil near Samarkand was built as a result of a heritage craft revival project supported by UNESCO, Japanese International Cooperation Agency, and Aid to Artisans (an international development non-profit based in Washington, DC, USA). Welcoming guests, there are also other handicraftsmen in the village: ceramists, embroiderers, silk weavers, jewelers, wood and stone engravers, miniature painters, makers of national musical instruments and toys.
The excursion costs - 10 USD par pax.
Visit the Jewish quarter and synagogue in it in Bukhara. The synagogue has an interesting history. Attached to it is the secondary school №36 where Hebrew and Judaism are taught with the permission of the local authorities.

Photos of the tour:

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Heritage group tours: Adventure group tours:
To the Heart of Tamerlane’s Empire (Uzbekistan)
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Tour to The Fergana Valley (Uzbekistan)
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The Pearls Of Kyrgyzstan
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Trekking to lake Sary-Chelek (Kyrgyzstan)
Journey to Aksu and Sabakh peaks (Kyrgyzstan)
Lenin Peak expedition (Kyrgyzstan)
Other interesting tours: Usefull links:
The Five Stans of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan)
The Great Silk Road tour (China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan)
The Disappearing Sea (Uzbekistan)
The Trip to the Country of Fires (Azerbaijan)
Treasure Chest with Oriental Adventures (Uzbekistan)
The Chimgan ring. Trekking (Uzbekistan)
Along the way of ancient caravans (Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan)
A trip to the Baikonur cosmodrome(Kazakhstan)
Exploring of Tian Shan (Kyrgyzstan)
Airline tickets
Visa to Uzbekistan
Visa to Turkmenistan
Useful Information on Traveling in Uzbekistan
Useful Information on Traveling in Turkmenistan
Uzbekistan’s Tourist Attractions
Turkmenistan’s Tourist Attractions
Business Travel & Mice
Navruz - the New Year by the natural calendar
Photo of Uzbekistan
Photo of Turkmenistan

     	

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