Uzbekistan is located in Central Asia. One of the most
interesting countries of the post-Soviet space, and Asia in
particular. A country with an ancient history, the heiress of the
ancient states of Sogdiana, Bactria, Khorezm, Timur's empire. A
significant segment of the Great Silk Road passed through the
territory of the country.
Of interest to tourists are the ancient structures of temple architecture - madrasahs, mosques and mausoleums, historical parts of old cities. Also interesting are the diverse landscapes of the country, from the Tien Shan mountain ranges with ski resorts to deserts and the drying Aral Sea.
Uzbekistan borders in the north and west with Kazakhstan, in the east with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, in the south with Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. Most of Uzbekistan is occupied by the desert, in the north - Kyzylkum, in the north-west - the Ustyurt plateau. Only the valleys of the rivers - the Amu Darya and its former tributary the Zeravshan, on which Samarkand and Bukhara stand, are inhabited there, or cities were specially built in the desert to develop any deposits. The Amu Darya once flowed into the Aral Sea, divided between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, but now all of its water is taken away for irrigation, which is why the sea has practically dried up. The disappearance of the Aral Sea is considered one of the largest environmental disasters of the 20th century.
In the east of the country, the desert turns into steppes. The left bank of the Syrdarya used to have the telling name of the Hungry Steppe, but in the second half of the 20th century, irrigation work was carried out, and now this territory is used for agriculture. To the west is the largest lake in Uzbekistan, Aydarkul.
Uzbekistan is located next to the highest mountain systems of Central Asia and, although the mountains in Uzbekistan itself are low (the highest point of the country is Khazret-Sultan peak, 4643 m, in the Gissar Range on the border with Tajikistan), they are clearly visible, occupy a significant part of the country and in largely determine its history and current situation. In the south, the western spurs of the Zeravshan and Gissar ranges of Pamir-Alay come to Uzbekistan from Tajikistan. The first separates the Samarkand region from the Kashkadarya region, the second limits the valley of the Surkhandarya, which flows from Tajikistan, in which Termez is located, from the north. The Zeravshan ridge limits the Zeravshan valley from the south, and from the north it is separated from the Syr Darya valley by the Turkestan ridge, which enters Uzbekistan with its westernmost spurs, and the Ugam ridge, already belonging to the Western Tien Shan. On the northern slopes of the latter, near the Tajik border, is the popular Zaamin National Park with walnut forests. From the Ugam ridge to the northwest, the low Nuratau ridge departs, which forms wonderful landscapes with rocky outcrops near Jizzakh. The Ugam ridge itself continues to the northeast, crossing the Syr Darya, and northeast of Tashkent, at the junction with the Chatkal ridge, creates the second high-mountainous region in Uzbekistan after the Gissar ridge. Here is the second national park of Uzbekistan - Ugam-Chatkal National Park, as well as the Charvak reservoir, from which the Chirchik River flows. Finally, the Chatkal Range separates the main territory of Uzbekistan from the Ferghana Valley, in which the Andijan, Namangan and Fergana regions are located. From the south, the valley is limited by the Turkestan Range, and the Syr Darya flows along it, which, before getting back into Uzbekistan, crosses the northern part of Tajikistan. There are no glaciers in Uzbekistan and quite a few mountains rise above the forest zone. They are mostly covered with deciduous forests.
As of mid-2022, the population of Uzbekistan is more than 35.8 million people (40th place in the world). Of these, approximately 4-6 million are temporarily outside the country, mainly on earnings (Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, South Korea, USA, Europe, UAE, etc.). Uzbekistan is the most populated country in Central Asia, as well as the third in the post-Soviet space, after Russia and Ukraine. By comparison, neighboring Kazakhstan has a population of just over 19 million, while neighboring Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan have a combined population of barely 20 million.
By religion, 94% of the country's inhabitants are Muslims, mostly Hanafi Sunnis, although there are Shiites in the Bukhara, Samarkand and Kashkadarya regions. In Samarkand and Bukhara, several characteristic Shiite buildings have been preserved.
By national composition, the majority of the population (84%) are Uzbeks. Of the national minorities, the largest groups are Tajiks (4.9%), Kazakhs (2.4%), Karakalpaks (2.2%) and Russians (2.1%). The Karakalpaks have their own autonomy in the north of the country with the center in Nukus. Russians live mainly in Tashkent and other large cities.
Central Uzbekistan is a capital region in the northeastern part of the country around Tashkent. Tashkent itself was badly damaged by the 1966 earthquake and completely rebuilt, there are good museums, and, in a small number, traditional quarters with medieval architecture, and the first metro in Central Asia. To the west of Tashkent is the Hungry Steppe, which is not very rich in sights, and to the south and east the spurs of the western Tien Shan enter Uzbekistan - real, albeit relatively low mountains here, a popular vacation spot.
Samarkand and Bukhara
Samarkand and Bukhara are the most popular regions of Uzbekistan among travelers. Everyone has heard about Bukhara and Samarkand - in Bukhara, the medieval center has been completely preserved, in Samarkand - many monuments, including Registan Square and the Mausoleum of Tamerlane. However, the region is not limited to these two cities - a large number of medieval monuments of varying degrees of interest and accessibility are scattered around it. In addition, one of the most popular land routes to Tajikistan passes through Samarkand - across the border to Penjikent and further into the mountains.
The Ferghana Valley is a region in the valley of the Naryn River, separated from the rest of Uzbekistan by a mountain range or the territory of Tajikistan. The Ferghana Valley is connected to the rest of Uzbekistan through the Kamchik road pass and the railway tunnel underneath it. This is a very populated, fertile and rather poor territory, which is why the Ferghana Valley, especially in Namangan, has a very religious population. The Fergana Valley has a rich history - the Great Silk Road passed here, the Kokand Khanate was located here, and in the Fergana Valley, primarily in Kokand, historical and architectural monuments have been preserved, unlike what travelers will see in the rest of Uzbekistan.
Northern Uzbekistan. Most of this area is desert. In the north, there was once the Aral Sea, but due to the irrational use of the waters of the Amu Darya for irrigation, the Uzbek part of it has practically dried up, and the ship cemetery in the former fishing port of Muynak is one of the two main attractions of Northern Uzbekistan. The second is the ensemble of the Khiva fortress, preserved mainly from the middle of the 18th century, included in the World Heritage List. The sights of the region are by no means limited to this, but due to its large size and low population, the traveler should have enough time and the opportunity to organize his own transport.
Southern Uzbekistan often remains outside the interests of travelers who simply do not have enough time for it. At best, they are limited to Shakhrisabz, which is included in the World Heritage List. At the same time, the two southern regions of Uzbekistan have preserved quite a lot of traces of different civilizations, from the Timurids to the Russian Empire. Desert landscapes in the north give way to middle mountains in the south, where sometimes, to see a medieval mausoleum, you have to travel through the pass and then back.
Tashkent is the capital of the state and by far the largest city in
terms of population. Tashkent was badly damaged by the earthquake of
1966, so there are not very many antiquities preserved here - although
the mahallas of the old city, the market and the Chorsu madrasah, as
well as the Khast-Imam Square ensemble are quite worthy. In Tashkent, on
the other hand, there is a lot of new architecture, large parks,
interesting museums, and, in general, a completely different atmosphere
than in other cities of Uzbekistan - here, due to the interaction of the
Uzbek and Russian population, some special mixture of east and west was
created when you a jazz concert may be held in one house, and a Friday
sermon may be held in the next house.
Samarkand is the most ancient city of Uzbekistan and all of Central Asia, it is over 2700 years old. In the past (1925-1930) the capital of Uzbekistan (as part of the USSR) and the Timurid State. The second largest city in Uzbekistan. The capital of the Samarkand region.
Bukhara is one of the ancient cities of Uzbekistan and Central Asia, it is also at least 2700 years old. In the past, one of the main cities of Islam. The capital of the Bukhara region. In the past, the capital of the Bukhara Emirate. Now a city-museum with the richest architectural ensembles of the cultural heritage of Uzbekistan.
Khiva is one of the oldest cities in Uzbekistan and Central Asia. In the past, the capital of the Khiva Khanate. Although almost no buildings older than the 18th century have been preserved in Khiva, its center, the Ichan-Kala fortress, surrounded by a wall, is an integral ensemble of clay buildings. Approximately two-thirds of the citadel is occupied by residential areas, crossed by a labyrinth of alleys, and the rest by historical mosques, madrasahs, mausoleums, the Tash-Khauli Palace and the symbol of Khiva - the Kalta-Minar minaret. Outside the wall there is a second wall, a couple of palaces and small remnants of a Russian city built after the annexation of the Khiva Khanate by Russia.
Urgench is the capital of the Khorezm region. Not far from Urgench is the city of Khiva.
Kokand is a city in the Ferghana Valley. In the past, the capital of the Kokand Khanate. One of the oldest cities in Uzbekistan.
Shakhrisabz is a city in the Kashkadarya region, the birthplace of Tamerlane. The city was founded 2700 years ago
Karshi is the capital of the Kashkadarya region.
Termez is the southernmost city of Uzbekistan. A few kilometers from Termez is the border with Afghanistan across the Amu Darya River. The capital of Surkhandarya region.
How to get there
Citizens of many countries do not need a visa to visit Uzbekistan. The visa policy of Uzbekistan is now in second place (after Georgia) in terms of liberality and openness in the territory of the post-Soviet space. It is necessary to have only a foreign passport.
An electronic visa for citizens from some other countries is issued on this website. An e-visa is issued within 2-4 working days.
Since 2018, Uzbekistan has significantly simplified customs registration - now, when entering the country, a customs declaration is filled out only if there are things that are not intended for personal use.
The declaration does not indicate foreign currency in the amount equivalent to 2000 US dollars.
If a declaration is needed, it can be downloaded in advance and filled out.
At the exit, the customs declaration is submitted only if it was filled out at the entrance. At the same time, the amount of exported currency should not exceed the amount of imported, while without the permission of the Central Bank it is allowed to freely export currency in the equivalent of 100 million soums ($10.5 thousand).
Temporarily imported valuables must also be taken back, technically this means that if you leave Uzbekistan for a short time, for example, on an excursion to Turkestan or Penjikent, you must take all your things with you.
Foreign citizens who make a trip are exempted from temporary registration if the period of their stay in each specific settlement of Uzbekistan does not exceed 3 days. In this case, it is necessary to have documents confirming the fact of stay (for example, receiving services or purchasing goods, or tickets). There is no requirement for continuous registration in one locality.
Temporary registration of a foreigner is carried out upon arrival at the destination within 3 days, excluding days off (Sunday) and holidays, despite the fact that this period is calculated from 00:01 the next day after the date of arrival (crossing the border by a foreign citizen).
For foreigners, a tourist tax has been introduced, the amount of which depends on the chosen place of temporary residence. For example, if you stay in a private house, then the fee will be 2% per day of the minimum wage ($ 0.45 for 2018), for children under 16 years old - the fee is not paid. In this case, the entire responsibility for registration rests with the receiving party. Hotels, inns and hostels pay this fee for you, including this amount in your room/bed payment.
The country has 11 airports that have international status, while travelers are likely to arrive at one of the five major airports: Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Urgench and Namangan. The national airline "Uzbekistan Airways" (O'zbekiston Havo Yo'llari) is based in Tashkent at the Tashkent-Yuzhny airfield and operates flights to many countries of the world, as well as on domestic routes.
In addition to Aeroflot, many low-cost Russian carriers also fly to Uzbekistan:
«Red Wings Airlines» (On Mondays, flights to Fergana, on Thursdays - to Namangan, on Fridays - to Navoi)
Nordwind Airlines (Fridays, flight Kazan - Tashkent)
"Nord Star" (Thursdays, flight Moscow - Karshi)
Ural Airlines (On Tuesdays and Wednesdays flight Moscow - Karshi, on Tuesdays and Thursdays flight Karshi - Moscow)
Before the pandemic, Uzbekistan had regular passenger rail links with Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine. As of March 2022, passenger rail links with these countries have not been restored for a number of reasons. Before that, the trains “Moscow-Tashkent”, “Moscow-Andijan”, “Saratov-Samarkand”, “Volgograd-Urgench”, “Tashkent-Kharkov”, “Tashkent-Almaty”, “Nur-Sultan-Tashkent”, passed through the country train "Dushanbe - Moscow", served by Russian Railways, KazZhD, UzZhD and TajZhd.
Only a very small number of tourists enter or leave Uzbekistan by train. Railway routes to the cities of Russia and Kazakhstan are mostly used by labor migrants. The journey from Moscow to Tashkent or vice versa, with stops in passing settlements and with border controls, takes three days, and from Orenburg or Samara a little more than two days. You will have to go through border control 4 times, during which the train stops 4 times at the borders. Each stop lasts from 2 to 4 hours depending on the fullness of the wagons and the "mood" of the border guards, and the absence of "accidents" due to the discovery of a wanted person, or who has a fake passport or stamp in it, etc. Modernized wagons are used Soviet-style (reserved seat and coupe), there are luxury cars. Trains always have a restaurant, but there are not always working air conditioners and sockets. Passengers usually charge their gadgets at the conductor or in the dining car for money (50-100 ₽). There is always unlimited hot water in the carriages. During stops, the toilets are closed, including during, say, a 4-hour border crossing. In winter, the cars are heated well. Usually, during the passage of the train through the territory of Kazakhstan and Russia, Kazakh and Russian policemen go from car to car in search of "offences" and selectively check passengers' documents and find fault with everything, wanting to fulfill their "plan" to detect violations. They regard smoking even in the vestibule as smoking in a public place and scare them with removal from the train at the nearest station to file an administrative case. Often poor migrant passengers "negotiate" with them for 500-1000 and even 5000 ₽. Here, both Kazakhstani and Russian policemen are distinguished by special greed. Therefore, be on the lookout, otherwise you will have to pay a bribe or really get off at the next station. The average price of tickets for such trains before the pandemic ranged from 6 to 12 thousand Russian rubles, depending on the season and seats in the car (compartments and suites are more expensive, reserved seats are cheaper). On Uzbek and Tajik trains, all conductors are men, while on Russian and Kazakh trains there are both conductors and conductors.
International bus routes launched:
Shymkent - Tashkent: buses run daily from 6:00-7:00 to 19:00-20:00 with a frequency of one hour. The fare from Tashkent to Shymkent and back is 80,000 soums. Children under 7 years old - free of charge.
Almaty - Tashkent: buses depart from Tashkent daily, three times a day (at 16:00, 17:00 and 18:00 hours). The fare from Tashkent to Almaty is 100,000 soums, for the return route - 4,000 tenge.
Bishkek - Tashkent: buses run daily. The fare from Tashkent to Bishkek is 120,000 soums, for the return route - 1,000 soms.
Khujand - Tashkent: buses depart from Tashkent daily, three times a day (at 8:00, 12:00 and 18:00). The fare from Tashkent is 50,000 soums, for the return route - 50 Tajik somoni.
Almaty - Chirchik: daily. The fare from Chirchik to Almaty is 150 thousand soums, in the opposite direction 6000 tenge.
Turkestan - Tashkent: daily. Travel time - 6 hours 40 minutes. Departure time from the city of Turkestan (from the bus station "Altyn Orda") at 07:00 and 17:00 hours, and from Tashkent (from the bus station "Tashkent") - 08:00, 18:00 (Astana time). Technical stop - 30 minutes. The fare is 2000 tenge or 50000 sum.
Samarkand - Turkestan: daily.
Be careful when choosing other routes if they promise to take you to Uzbekistan: they will only take you to the border of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan!
There are airports with regular passenger traffic from Tashkent in most regional centers, except for Gulistan and Jizzakh. Domestic flights are operated by the national airline Uzbekistan Airways - a fairly modern one, flying exclusively on Western aircraft and selling tickets via the Internet.
By the standards of Central Asia, rail transportation is very developed in Uzbekistan (their expansion did not stop even after the collapse of the USSR): there are international trains, domestic high-speed trains and electric trains. All regions (vilayats) are connected with Tashkent by direct trains. Between the major cities of the country there is a passenger high-speed railway with a length of more than 1500 km, connecting the largest cities of Uzbekistan - Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Karshi, Navoi.
Electronic train ticket
In addition to railway ticket offices or stations, tickets for railway trains in Uzbekistan can be purchased online, payment is available using VISA and Mastercard cards. To purchase an e-ticket, you must print it after purchasing it on the website. Before entering the station, two seals will be placed on it. At the entrance to the train, the conductors will leave one half of the ticket for you, and take the other half for themselves.
Like Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and some other countries, Uzbekistan is connected to the Express-3 ticketing system. The mechanism for buying tickets in Uzbekistan is not much different from other countries of this system, but it will be noticeably more expensive than buying on the website of local railways.
Throughout the country, enhanced security measures are being applied on the railway, the scheme is similar to the airport. Before entering the station, you go through a preliminary control, then checking things through an introscope, then checking in for the flight (make sure that the ticket has a check-in stamp). After registration, you cannot go back to the city. Before boarding the carriage, the conductor will check your ticket again. Formally, check-in ends 30 minutes, and boarding 15 minutes before departure, although locals run into the car even a minute before departure.
The main and busiest route is Tashkent-Samarkand. From Samarkand the railway continues in four directions:
to Navoi, Uchkuduk, Urgench and Nukus;
to Karshi and Termez;
In the spring of 2016, a direct railway was opened from Tashkent to the Ferghana Valley through the Kamchik tunnel. Trains run several times a day to Andijan.
There are four branded trains in Uzbekistan. They have seated cars, are much faster and more comfortable than ordinary passenger trains: other things being equal, it is reasonable to take tickets for these trains:
Afrosiab (Tashkent-Samarkand-Karshi) is the pride of the Uzbek railways, a Spanish-made high-speed train covering 450 km of track in just over two to three hours. The demand for it significantly exceeds the supply, it is recommended to buy tickets in advance. There is no rush demand for other destinations (although when buying on the same day, it may turn out that only the most expensive tickets remain).
"Sharq" (Tashkent-Samarkand-Bukhara) runs twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. Travel time to Samarkand - 4 hours, to Bukhara - a little more than 6 hours. Sufficiently clean seating cars without air conditioning, films are shown on the way, the conductors deliver tea, and the peddlers bring newspapers, samsa and other snacks. On the way you will be offered a free sandwich and a bag of juice.
"Nasaf" (Tashkent-Karshi). A train with seated cars, similar to Sharq, travel time is 6 hours.
"Registan" (Tashkent-Samarkand). Named after the famous Registan Square in Samarkand.
The train schedule can be found on the official website.
In Uzbekistan, one of the most ultra-budget means of transportation between cities is special intercity bus services. You can book seats and make payment both at the ticket offices of bus stations in cities and online.
The list of routes is also available on the website.
If there is tinting on the car, a fee is paid upon entering the country in the amount of $15.
To rent a car for up to 30 days, in addition to a passport, foreign citizens need an international driver's license. Of the international brands, Sixt is present here.
There are almost no differences between intercity taxis and passing cars. The driver of the first car stopped on the road will most likely go where you need to, but at the same time you will need to agree on a price with him in advance (and in non-trivial situations, also specify the route and waiting time for the car at stops). For long trips, there are usually standard places where cars (aka taxis) gather in this direction.
A feature of Uzbekistan is that a large number of cars run on natural gas. Even Soviet vehicles, including trucks, have been re-equipped for gas (gas-balloon equipment - LPG).
There are many official taxi services in Uzbekistan. Private transportation is common, but without a license is officially prohibited. For wealthy tourists, this is the most convenient way to travel around the country. So, in 2012 prices for moving Nukus - Khiva (280 km) demanded $ 70, Khiva - Bukhara (470 km) - $ 110, Bukhara - Samarkand (270 km) - $ 80 (price for the whole car). Taxi drivers usually speak decent Russian, try to answer questions that tourists have about the history and geography of Uzbekistan to the best of their ability. But you can choose a cheaper mode of transport - a train ride (to the west of the country), it will cost you no more than $60 from Tashkent to Nukus.
But with a trip to the east of the country, more precisely to the Ferghana Valley, there are some difficulties. You will have to go to the intercity taxi rank (if in Tashkent), which is located in the Kuylyuk district of Tashkent city. From there you need to take a taxi, which is almost all equipped with HBO. Taxi is not expensive, but the price is not constant: from $20-30 (30-35 thousand soums) to Kokand per person, from $25-45 (40-45 thousand soums) to Andijan, Namangan or Ferghana, Prices usually go up around holidays. If you are going to go to the cities of the Ferghana Valley, you should take a minimum of things (if you are one or two of you), since the car is equipped with LPG, there is little space in the trunk and taxi drivers are reluctant to take passengers with a large backpack; in the worst case, you will have to pay extra for one more place and put your things there. The problem associated with HBO is refueling: if you are lucky and there is no queue for refueling, then you need to stand in the cold or in the heat (if summer) for at least 15 minutes. A trip to the farthest city of the valley will take no more than 5 hours. On the way, taxi drivers can offer to eat in roadside cafes in the cities of Akhangaran or Angren: if you are hungry, then you should not refuse (the food is good, usually national cuisine).
Due to the presence of its own automaker - the GM Uzbekistan plant, Uzbekistan has large duties on foreign cars. The exception is Russian, Kazakh, Korean and Chinese cars (duties are lower due to bilateral agreements). As a result, Uzbekistan is filled with such cars as Nexia, Matiz, Lacetti, Spark, Malibu and Damas minibuses. In addition to them, Russian Ladas and the Soviet auto industry (Lada, Volga, Muscovites and others) run. The cost of new cars is very high even compared to Russia, so there are a lot of old cars.
Roads in Uzbekistan are of average quality. Near large cities there are wide stretches with good asphalt, but in many other places the situation is much worse.
The national airline offers the service of helicopter tours to the most beautiful places in Uzbekistan to all individuals and legal entities. For tours, Mi-8 VIP-class with 16 seats, and economy class - with 22 seats for passengers are used.
Helicopters deliver to the most exotic places open for tourism. These include: the Pskem valley, Maidantal, Ikhnach, Ispay lakes, the Angren plateau with lakes and a hot spring, the Kaptarkumysh rocky "bag", the Pulatkhan plateau, the peak of Chimgan.
The state, official and most common language in Uzbekistan is Uzbek.
It is spoken by almost the entire population at one level or another,
although among the national minorities of the country (mostly Russian
and Russian-speaking) those who do not know the state language, except
for its basic words, are not uncommon. Since 1993, the Uzbek language
has been officially translated into Latin, but in fact, in the media,
government agencies, signs and signs, Cyrillic and Latin are used
equally, although, of course, Latin is more preferred. By 2023,
Uzbekistan plans to finally switch to the Latin alphabet. For a fairly
large proportion of the population (about 12%, and these are not only
Russians, but also Ukrainians, Belarusians, Koreans, part of the
Armenians, Poles, Germans, Greeks, even part of the Uzbeks, Kazakhs,
Tajiks themselves), the native language is Russian, so the language
barrier for a Russian-speaking tourist in Uzbekistan is absent. Some
exceptions are the Fergana Valley and remote villages and areas where
the vast majority of the population is ethnic Uzbeks, there are few
other nationalities, and only Uzbek is used in everyday life. Even in
Soviet times, residents of remote areas and villages spoke little or
almost no Russian.
In the southern, central and partly in the eastern part of Uzbekistan, the Tajik language is widely spoken (the closest relative or actually a variant of the Persian language). For example, in the cities of Bukhara and Samarkand, the Tajik language is most common. Also, far from big cities, in some areas, towns and villages of Bukhara, Samarkand, Kashkadarya, Surkhandarya, Fergana, Namangan and Tashkent regions, Tajik is also common along with the Uzbek language. In Karakalpakstan, the westernmost region of Uzbekistan, along with the Uzbek language, Karakalpak (has the status of a regional official language) and Kazakh are widely spoken. The Kazakh language is also spoken in the Tashkent and Navoi regions. The Turkmen language is partly spoken in the Khorezm and Bukhara regions, and the Kyrgyz language is partly spoken in the Andijan region.
Of the foreign languages, except for Russian, English is the most common. Almost all young people speak English at one level or another, since this language is taught from the first grade, often by native speakers, most of whom are volunteers from Western countries. English is also spoken by almost all workers in the tourism and service sector. Also, the Turkish language has some popularity among the population, since the presence of Turkish business and, accordingly, immigrants (life is cheaper here) from Turkey is very noticeable in the country. Among the Tajik population of the country, Persian language skills are in trend. In Termez, due to the rather large diaspora of Afghans, Persian (or Dari) is also popular. Arabic (as the language of worship in Islam and the language of part of the local Arabs), French, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Korean and Japanese (as there are many tourists from their respective countries) also have some popularity. Many souvenir sellers in major centers and attractions with shops and shops speak several of the above languages at once.
There are four main tourist areas in Uzbekistan from the point of
view of an architecture and history lover. These are Tashkent, Bukhara,
Samarkand and Khiva. In each of the cities you can hire a guide ($30-40
for 3-4 hours).
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Historical center of the city of Bukhara
Historical center of Shakhrisabz city
Samarkand - crossroads of cultures
Western Tien Shan (Chatkal Nature Reserve)
Things to do
Mountain tourism - Chimgan. Water tourism - rafting on the turbulent Chatkal River. Beach holidays - Aydarkul lake, Charvak reservoir. Hiking in the forest - Sukok.
Afisha.uz is the largest Uzbek information resource in the field of culture, entertainment and leisure.
The country's currency is the Uzbek sum (UZS). This is one of the cheapest world currencies, at the end of 2022 the exchange rate is a little more than 11 thousand soums for $ or €, and about 180 soums for 1 ₽. Uzbek coins have denominations of 50, 100, 200 and 500 soums, and banknotes - from 1,000 soums to 200,000 soums. At the same time, until 2020, smaller denominations were also used in the country, up to completely meaningless ones of 1 or 5 soums, and large ones were rare or absent altogether, which is why wads of money served as the actual monetary unit, and for a 100-dollar bill they gave literally a bag of sums. Now all these difficulties are in the past, banknotes smaller than 1000 soums have been withdrawn from circulation.
International bank cards and payment systems such as Visa, Mastercard and UnionPay work. MIR cards do not work here now due to the country joining the sanctions in this regard.
There is also a national payment system UzCard and Humo, and most of the local residents use it.
From cash currency, it is better for a foreigner to have US dollars or euros. The exchange rate of Russian rubles is less favorable. Currency can be freely changed in all banks, the rate differs slightly. It is also possible to exchange directly through some ATMs.
For tourists, national clothes and fabrics, carpets, silk embroidery, and ceramic dishes are of interest as souvenirs.
In Uzbekistan, the oldest traditions of making ceramics have been preserved. In the Fergana Valley there are deposits of clay, which has almost no impurities, dishes from it have always been valued and diverged along the Silk Road both to the west and to the east. The historical center of ceramics production is the city of Rishtan in the Ferghana region, here potters made up the majority of the male population of the city, and it was in Rishtan that the only ceramics factory in Central Asia was built. On sale you can find both the products of the Rishtan plant, and handicrafts of Rishtan masters, as well as ceramics from other regions of the country.
Rishtan ceramics is the most massive. It is distinguished by a thin and clear ornament of blue and turquoise colors. You can distinguish factory work from handmade by the absence of traces of the potter's wheel on the bottom; in addition, factory products are of the same size and are easily stacked on the counter.
Bukhara and Gijuvan ceramics are only handmade. In it, the lines and patterns are large and fuzzy: the local paint spreads when glazed.
Samarkand ceramics is a little less common. It can be distinguished by the dark green or dark brown color of the dishes, on which white or gold fine patterns are applied with a needle.
Although Uzbekistan is a Muslim country, pork is present in some
dishes, but beef and lamb are more commonly used. Horse meat is eaten
only in the form of sausage (kazy). Dishes of Uzbek cuisine are very
rich and fatty, so it is recommended to drink them with hot tea. The
most popular drink in Uzbekistan is green tea. It is served absolutely
everywhere. Moreover, you can come to almost any place and order only
tea, which will certainly be brought in a teapot. Before you start
drinking, wait a bit - the tea should have time to brew. They drink
green tea from bowls.
With the exception of Tashkent, the word "restaurant" in the name means that the institution is designed for tourists. On the one hand, there, most likely, everything will be in order with sanitation, on the other hand, higher prices are guaranteed. Cafe often (though not always) simply refers to a place where you can buy a pack of juice or a bottle of water, and drink them right there. The best establishments are those where there are no tourists, but only locals. Usually they don't have any names; there is simply a poster at the entrance, where it is drawn what is offered in this place at all (often not everything is drawn; it may turn out that something has already ended, especially in the evening). As a rule, there is no menu in such places either - focus on the amount of 10-15 thousand soums per person (2015). If the place looks decent, you are unlikely to get poisoned there, but if in doubt, it is better to look for something else. Wet sanitary napkins definitely do not interfere. The portions are big, keep that in mind.
Alcohol is sold in large stores with a license and in specialized wine and vodka stores.
Dishes of Uzbek cuisine
Pilaf is a visiting card of Uzbek cuisine. It was included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list, as well as in the top ten best street food according to the Guardian. Uzbek pilaf is similar to the pilaf prepared in Russia and other countries of the former USSR, but more aromatic due to local spices and sweeter, since raisins or prunes are usually added to it.
Lagman - handmade noodles with meat and vegetable sauce. Sometimes lagman is more like a soup, but it is often thick as a second dish. Uighur or chuzma-lagman is cooked with long, elongated noodles, and in Uzbek or kesma-lagman, the noodles are cut into small strips. Both options are common.
Shurpá is a rich soup with meat and vegetables, sometimes beans. European tourists in Uzbekistan prefer beef shurpa, as not everyone likes lamb because of its specific taste and smell. It is better to eat shurpa with a tortilla.
Dzhyz is just fried meat, served without any garnish, at best with onions. Sometimes served by weight, how much you order. As a side dish, you can order the so-called fresh salad - tomatoes, cucumbers and onions, without dressing.
Manti - steamed in a special dish - mantyshnitsa. Dough with meat, onions and spices inside. There are manti with potatoes or pumpkin. They are ordered individually or in portions (usually 3-5 pieces per serving). This portion is usually enough to fill up.
Shish kebab comes in different sizes and from different meats. Usually you just choose a skewer with raw meat and it is grilled for you.
Samsa - hot pies, come with potatoes, meat and chicken. They also order by the piece, and even more often just buy on the street.
The meal is usually served with flatbread and green tea.
Do not forget also about Uzbek fruits - melons, watermelons, peaches, plums, figs.
To the surprise of most foreigners, there are quite a few legal nightclubs and bars in Tashkent that work until the morning.
Where to stay
The hotel business is well developed in Samarkand and Khiva, and quite well in Bukhara. In each of these cities you will find dozens of small private hotels, often in historical buildings and with traditional Uzbek hospitality, but at the same time with modern renovation. In the season you can count on 40-50 dollars per room, in winter and summer prices are lower. In Tashkent, the demand for hotels is strongly skewed towards business travelers and businessmen, so prices are noticeably higher. In other cities of the country, there are very few tourists, and the situation with hotels has changed little since the Soviet era: there are few places, and their quality is low.
In hotels, breakfast is usually included in the price of the room. For breakfast, you will be given so much delicious food that you will not want to have lunch, and perhaps even dinner.
Although Uzbekistan is a secular country, restraint in behavior and dress is recommended, especially when visiting mosques and mausoleums. There is no strict dress code, and on the streets of large cities you can meet women in short skirts or with bare shoulders. Women should dress more modestly when visiting the Fergana Valley, where the population is more conservative.
The local population in the summer from 11:00 to 16:00 prefers to stay at home, so do not be surprised at the small number of people on the streets during the day. The hottest months in Uzbekistan are June, July and August, the temperature can reach +50 degrees. Be sure to carry water with you, preferably bottled.
Uzbek cuisine is quite fatty and high in calories, which should be taken into account by tourists with a weak stomach.
Over the years, the police in Uzbekistan have been infamous, as local police have harassed tourists for any reason in the hope of getting some kind of bribe from them. Law enforcement reform following the death of longtime President Islam Karimov in late 2016 has brought these problems to naught. Moreover, a special tourist police was created. Now law enforcement officers and border guards almost do not interfere in the tourism sector, although they still have the right to stop you at any time and ask you to show your registration. Usually registration is checked on the spot, and you are released within a couple of minutes. If this does not happen, you should not pay a fine on the spot - it is better to ask to go to the department, and also to attract the attention of passers-by. It doesn't hurt to have tickets and hotel bills with you as proof of where you've stayed and where you've traveled from.
For many years, there was an unspoken ban on photographing government buildings, as well as stations of the Tashkent metro. According to the current legislation, you can take pictures of everything, except for objects marked with a special sign with a crossed-out image of a camera. As a rule, these are objects of the army and law enforcement agencies.
Taxi prices and bazaar prices are not fixed (although price tags may be posted) and you can bargain. You still won’t win against professional traders, but it’s realistic to get some kind of discount. It is very important to know how much the locals pay, otherwise you can lose a lot in price. Find out prices in advance - for example, in a hotel, by searching the Internet or from passers-by. Bargaining often begins by asking you to name your price. Quote a price lower than what the locals pay or what you see on the price tag. Here everyone - both buyers and sellers - bargain with special skill and pleasure. Some sellers are even offended if you took the goods without haggling.
Demonstration of non-traditional orientation in Uzbekistan is not welcomed (up to criminal prosecution), as well as in a number of other Islamic countries.
Greetings Assalomu alaikum! (Peace be upon you!) you need to answer
Waalaikum assalom! (And peace to you too!). It is considered a sign of
respect when greeting to put your right hand on your left chest, as many
locals do. Here hardly familiar people greet each other warmly,
sometimes even just passers-by, so don't be surprised by this. Locals
and especially children are very fond of welcoming tourists and offering
their help. If you do not need it, it is enough to thank them and
politely refuse by saying Yuk, rahmat. (No thanks). You can also impress
the locals with your knowledge of the language by looking into our Uzbek
In Uzbekistan, there is a real cult of honoring the elders, so you should also try to treat older men and women with respect. In public transport, in queues or simply on benches in parks, locals tend to give way to the elderly. It is not uncommon for a 16-, 25- or even 30-year-old guy to give way to a 45-50 year old man (not to mention women of any age) in a transport seat. Age is of great importance - this is almost the first thing that is asked here, and even if the interlocutor is only a year younger than you, he will consider you older, treating you accordingly. Children refer to "you" even to their parents and older brothers / sisters. In Uzbekistan, as in many Muslim countries, children are also revered and loved. For example, many residents of the Fergana Valley address their own and other people's children as "you".
The international dialing code of Uzbekistan is +998. Internet domain of the country .uz
The following mobile operators operate in the country: Ucell, UMS, Beeline, Perfectum Mobile and UzMobile.
For tourists, specially designed tariffs from UMS and Beeline have been launched, designed for 30 days of use. To connect a SIM card at this tariff, you only need a passport. You can buy such SIM-cards immediately upon arrival at the Tashkent airport, at the information desk. To purchase SIM-cards at other tariffs, you must have a passport with temporary registration.