Sogdiana, the Pearl of the East

Heritage Tour of Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan

 

Countries: Uzbekistan - Turkmenistan View the route map »»
Tour duration: 12 days / 11 nights
Best time to travel: April - June, September - October
Itinerary: Ashgabat - Darwaza crater - Dashoguz - Konya-Urgench - border point “Shavat” - Khiva - Bukhara - Samarkand - Tashkent

Visit the area that was in ancient times the territory of Sogdiana (or Sogdia, Suguda, Sogdiane,‎ Sogd, Sugd), a region in the east populated by the tribes of the Saka and Massagetae, one of whose representatives, Spitamen, might have defeated the invincible Alexander the Great had the former not been murdered treacherously. Нere you’ll feel the atmosphere of the East and be able to have a look at the historical monuments of later periods and get to know lifestyle and mindset of modern population composed of the descendants of the proud Sogdians.

The tour “Sogdiana, the Pearl of the East” will guide you across two Central Asian republics - Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan - where powerful states - Bactria, Sogdiana, Margiana and Khwarezm were located in ancestry. The ruins of ancient fortresses of 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 tour will show you the most fascinating attraction - the “Doors to Hell”, or Darwaza Gas Crater! You will feel a legendary babel of real oriental bazaars and discover the culture, original traditions and perpetual hospitality of the local nations.

  • ITINERARY
    SERVICES & COST
  • Visa and Visa invitation
    USEFUL INFORMATION
  • FAQ
    Route map
  • OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS & LEISURE ACTIVITIES

 

Itinerary
Day 1. Arrival in Ashgabat.
Arrival in Ashgabat early in the morning. Meet at the airport and further transfer to the hotel. Rest.
After breakfast at the hotel start of the guided sightseeing tour in Ashgabat. Visit the following sites: Independence Park and Neutrality Arch, Parthian Fortresses of Nisa (UNESCO), Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque in the village of Kipchak, which is the largest mosque in Central Asia.
Overnight at the hotel.
Accommodation: Ak-Altyn Hotel 3* / Grand Turkmen Hotel 4*
Day 2 Ashgabat - Darwaza crater (road transfer, 300 km).
Breakfast at the hotel. Half-day city tour including visits to Anau mosque ruins, Ahalteke horse stables, Carpet Museum and (Sunday) bazaar. Afternoon transfer to Darwaza, with stop at Erbent. Arrival around sunset. Set up camp. Camp dinner and overnight in tent.
Accommodation: tents
Day 3. Darwaza crater - Dashoguz (road transfer, 300 km) - “Shavat” border point - Khiva (road transfer, 70 km).
Breakfast on the open air. Further drive to Dashoguz. Visit Kunya Urgench (UNESCO Heritage site).  Sightseeing program in Konya-Urgench: mausoleums of Turabek-Khanym, Sultan Tekish, Il Arslan, Minaret of Tamerlane. Transfer back to Dashoguz and further transfer to “Shavat” border point for border crossing. Arrival to the border in the afternoon. Meet by Uzbek guide and driver. Transfer to Khiva, and check-in at the hotel and overnight.
Accommodation: Shokhjahon Hotel 3* / Bek Hotel 4*
Day 4. Khiva.
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. Overnight at the hotel.
Accommodation: Shokhjahon Hotel 3* / Bek Hotel 4*
Day 5. Khiva - Bukhara (road transfer, 440 km).
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer across the Kyzyl-Kum Desert and along the Amudarya River to Bukhara. Lunch en route. Arrival in Bukhara. Leisure time. Visiting traditional workshops and souvenir shops is recommended. Overnight at the hotel.
Accommodation: Fatima Hotel 3* / Zargaron Plaza Hotel 4*
Day 6. Bukhara.
Breakfast in hotel. Guided sightseeing tour around Bukhara: mausoleum of the Samanids, Chashma Ayub Mausoleum, Bolo Khauz Mosque, Ark Citadel, Po-i-Kalyan Complex (Kalyan Minaret and others), Ulugbek Madrasah, Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah. After lunch: Lyab-i Hauz Architectural Ensemble, Kukeldash Madrasah, Nadir Divan-Begi Madrasah, domed shopping arcade. Overnight at the hotel.
Accommodation: Fatima Hotel 3* / Zargaron Plaza Hotel 4*
Day 7. Bukhara out-of-town guided sightseeing tour.
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. Return to Bukhara. Leisure time. Overnight at the hotel.
Accommodation: Fatima Hotel 3* / Zargaron Plaza Hotel 4*
Day 8. Bukhara - Samarkand (road transfer, 280 km.
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to Samarkand. Arrival in Samarkand. Visiting Afrosiab ancient settlement site and local ‘Afrosiab’ Museum. Leisure time: Siab Bazaar recommended. Overnight at the hotel.
Accommodation: City Hotel 3* / Sultan Bourique Hotel 4*
Day 9. Samarkand.
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), Rukhabad Mausoleum. After lunch: Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Shah-i-Zinda Necropolis, Ulugbek Observatory. Overnight at the hotel.
Accommodation: City Hotel 3* / Sultan Bourique Hotel 4*
Day 10. Samarkand - Tashkent (evening railway transfer).
Breakfast in hotel. Visiting Samarkand Paper Mill, where famous Samarkand paper is made by hand on ancient technologies; Samarkand carpet factory “Hudzhum”. Transfer to railway station. Departure for Tashkent by the high-speed train Afrosiab. Arrival in Tashkent, transfer to hotel and check-in. Overnight at the hotel.
Accommodation: Lake Park Hotel 3* / Shark Hotel 4*
Day 11. Tashkent.
Breakfast in hotel. Guided sightseeing tour around Tashkent: Khast-Imam Square, Barak-Khan Madrasah, Kafal-al-Shashi Mausoleum, Kukeldash Madrasah, the oldest bazaar of Tashkent - Chorsu. Depending on departure time a program schedule can be corrected. Transfer to airport. Departure.
Accommodation: Lake Park Hotel 3* / Shark Hotel 4*
Day 12. Tashkent. Departure.
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to airport. Departure.

The cost of the tour 2018 in USD for 1 person:

Group 1 2 4 6 8 10 12 Supplement for single accommodation
Hotels of 3* 2917 1753 1409 1341 1275 1234 1180 + 247
Hotels of 4* 3333 1998 1654 1586 1493 1479 1424 + 385

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 Ashgabat 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 accompanying guide for the whole tour in Turkmenistan;
Services of English-speaking local guides in cities in Uzbekistan (for days4,6,7,8,9,10,11; guide services are not included during transfers between the cities and on transfer “Tashkent-airport”);
Train tickets for high-speed premium service train «Afrosiab» from Tashkent to Samarkand (economy class);
Transportation services on comfortable air-conditioned vehicles (sedan car / minibus / bus - depending on the number of tourists in a group);
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;
Medical insurance;
Visa fees to Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan;
Visa invitation to Uzbekistan (if necessary);
Photo and video shooting at museums and monuments;
Tourist fee per night, charged in the hotels at departure 2 USD per person per night (obligatory).
 

Additional Services:

Board:
  - Half board (evening meals) - 130 USD/per person/on all route;
  - Full board - 270 USD/per person/on all route.
Visa invitation to Uzbekistan (if necessary) - 45 USD/per person;
Supplement for services of English speaking accompanying guide in Uzbekistan - 430 USD/per group.

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

This tour comes with the following accommodation:

City Hotels 2-3* Hotels 3-4*
Ashgabat Ak Altyn 4* or similar Grand Turkmen 5* or similar
Darwaza Tents   Tents  
Khiva Shokh Jahon Hotel 3* or similar Bek Hotel 4* or similar
Bukhara Fatima Hotel 3* or similar Zargaron Plaza Hotel 4* or similar
Samarkand City Hotel 3* or similar Sultan Boutique Hotel 4* or similar
Tashkent Lake Park Hotel 3* or similar Shark 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 7-10 working 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.

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.

Useful Information on Traveling to Uzbekistan


Useful Information on Traveling to Turkmenistan

 

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.

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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Useful links: Similar heritage tours: Heritage group tours:
General information about Uzbekistan
Visa to Uzbekistan
Remarkable sights of Uzbekistan
Uzbek national cuisine
Transport services in Uzbekistan
Photo of Uzbekistan
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The Trip to the Country of Fires
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Along the way of ancient caravans
Five Stans
To the Heart of Tamerlane’s Empire
Oriental Dastarkhan
New Year Holidays in Uzbekistan
The Aral Sea and Oasis of Ancient Cities
Tour to The Fergana Valley

     	

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