Uzbekistan is at the very heart of the Silk Road. With its glittering mosques and madrasss, Bactrian camels and ruined caravanserais in the Karakum and Kyzylkum Deserts, it encapsulates every fairytale stereotype. After 20 years of relative isolation, Uzbekistan has finally embraced tourism and is opening up to the outside world. There’s a boom in new hotels and international flight connections, and the country has become visa free for most nationalities. It is therefore easier to visit than ever before.First time visitors to Uzbekistan must see at least one of the three great Silk Road cities, Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva. Each of these UNESCO World Heritage Sites is a remarkable complex of medieval architecture, including richly tiled, carved, and painted mosques, madrassas, mausoleums, and palaces. There are markets, artisans’ workshops, and plenty of chaikhanas (tea shops), too.
Uzbekistan’s history goes far further back in time, however, and the archaeological sites of Termez and Khorezm are extraordinary: Buddhist monasteries from the Graeco-Bactrian period, temples, and desert fortresses. These sites are little visited, and having them almost to yourself is part of the magic.
Last but not least amongst Uzbekistan’s highlights are aspects of its Soviet era heritage. Tashkent Metro is arguably the most ornate in the world, and every station is decorated in a different style. Nukus Museum houses the second largest and most important collection of Russian avant garde art after St Petersburg. You can also visit the ship’s graveyard to Moynaq, formerly a port on the shore of the now shrunken Aral Sea.
Uzbekistan borders all of the other Central Asian republics, and this central location makes it an obvious choice to include on any multi country tour in the region. At Paramount Journey, we typically recommend combining Uzbekistan with Tajikistan and/or Kyrgyzstan, as you can then experience both the high culture of the Silk Road cities and the wild, rugged beauty of the mountains....
Tashkent is the starting point of our Ancient Central Asia tour, which emphasises the cultural, political, and economic importance of this region prior to the arrival of Islam. You will learn how Buddhism and Zoroastrianism travelled along the Silk Road, and see the remarkable archeological remains of cities, monasteries, and fortresses, many of which are off the beaten track and little visited by tourists. Paramount Journey’s cultural guides in Uzbekistan are passionate historians, and they bring the past alive as they explain the significance of these sites.
The Central Asian Circuit is our “best of” Central Asia tour. In Uzbekistan you will visit both Tashkent and Samarkand, and thus be able to compare and contrast the modern country with its past. If your interest is primarily in Uzbekistan’s intangible cultural heritage rather than its buildings, we recommend Ferghana: A Central Asian Patchwork as it is on this tour you can learn most about the region’s arts and crafts. Artisans will welcome you into their homes and workshops to showcase their skills, you might try your hand at wood carving, silk weaving, or embroidery, and there will be plenty of opportunities for souvenir shopping, too!
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Things to know
Uzbekistan offers a range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hostels to mid-range hotels and luxurious stays. Dining is generally affordable, with local eateries offering economical meals, while upscale restaurants provide a more premium experience. Public transportation is cost-effective, and taxis are readily available. Guided tours and activities vary in price, from affordable excursions to more exclusive experiences. Entrance fees for attractions are typically reasonable. The official currency is the Uzbekistani Som (UZS), and credit cards are becoming more widely accepted, but carrying some local currency for smaller expenses is advisable.
Uzbekistan is considered a safe destination for tourists. Violent crimes against travelers are rare, but it’s important to exercise standard precautions, such as safeguarding your belongings and staying aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas.
To maintain good health during your travels, it’s essential to practice proper hygiene. Wash your hands regularly, drink bottled water, and consume well-cooked food. While medical facilities in major cities are modern, it’s prudent to carry a basic first-aid kit if you plan to explore remote areas. Comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical expenses is recommended for added peace of mind.
Uzbekistan has introduced eVisas, streamlining the visa application process for travelers from eligible countries. Ensure your passport remains valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date. When arriving in and departing from Uzbekistan, expect standard customs and immigration procedures. Keep your visa or eVisa approval handy, along with your completed customs declaration form.
Uzbek cuisine is a delightful blend of flavors and traditions. Traditional dishes like “Plov,” a hearty rice pilaf, and “Shashlik,” succulent grilled skewers, are must-tries. Street food offers a diverse array of options like “Laghman” and “Samsa.” Be sure to try local beverages such as “Chai” (tea) and “Ayran” (yogurt drink).
Uzbekistan, with its diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage, offers travelers a captivating experience year-round. Each season brings its unique charm, allowing you to tailor your journey to your preferences:
Spring (April to June): Springtime in Uzbekistan is a delightful period for exploration. The weather is mild and comfortable, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). The entire region bursts into life with wildflowers in full bloom and lush greenery adorning the landscapes. This season is perfect for outdoor adventures, whether you’re exploring historical cities like Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara or trekking through picturesque natural wonders.
Summer (July to August): Summers in Uzbekistan can be hot, with temperatures often exceeding 30°C (86°F) and occasionally soaring to 40°C (104°F). While the heat may make outdoor activities challenging, this season offers a unique cultural experience. Vibrant festivals and events take center stage, providing an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in local traditions and celebrations. It’s an ideal time to explore the Fergana Valley, known for its lush landscapes and handicrafts.
Autumn (September to October): As summer fades into autumn, Uzbekistan enjoys another enchanting season. Temperatures become more comfortable, ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F), creating an ideal climate for sightseeing and outdoor excursions. The fall foliage adds a touch of magic to the historical sites and natural landscapes, enhancing your travel experience. Autumn is the perfect time to engage in cultural activities and explore bustling bazaars, where you can find unique souvenirs and traditional crafts.
Winter (November to February): Winter in Uzbekistan offers a distinct and quieter travel experience. While temperatures can drop, ranging from 0°C to 10°C (32°F to 50°F), it’s an excellent season for those seeking solitude and a deeper connection with Uzbek culture. The reduced tourist numbers create a serene atmosphere, and you’ll have a chance to witness winter festivals like Navruz, which provide insights into local traditions. Cities like Samarkand and Bukhara take on a tranquil and enchanting ambiance during this season.
In Uzbekistan, the best time to visit depends on your personal preferences. Whether you yearn for the mild weather and blooming landscapes of spring, the vibrant festivals of summer, the colorful foliage of autumn, or the serene winter charm, Uzbekistan welcomes you with a variety of experiences throughout the year. At [Your Agency Name], we’re here to assist you in planning your Uzbekistan adventure during the season that resonates most with you.
Uzbek culture places a strong emphasis on respect and courtesy. When entering someone’s home, remove your shoes as a sign of respect. Address people using their titles and surnames, followed by “Mr.” or “Mrs.” Dress modestly, particularly when visiting religious sites, and follow local customs. Small gifts are appreciated when visiting homes, and learning a few basic Uzbek phrases can enhance your interactions with locals.
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Paramount Journeys has learned from leading international companies how to create and run extraordinary adventures reaching out into incredible locations that would otherwise be inaccessible and unexplored. If your aim is to get beyond the standard Tajikistan tourist trail and to discover for yourself the most remarkable aspects of our high-altude heaven, let Paramount Journey guide you on your way. We not only exhibit the pristine nature of Tajikistan in its numerous unique environments, but also introduce you to the culture and ways of life of the extraordinary and hospitable communities who have battled against, yet also worked in harmony with, that same nature to survive and thrive in Tajikistan for millennia. Every adventure we plan is pioneering and bold, accessible to those with determination and a passion for discovery.
I visited the Fann Mountains with Paramount Journey in early October for a four-day trek (starting and finishing in Dushanbe). It was my first visit to Tajikistan. Paramount Journey were... read more
Iskanderkul Weekend - My wife and I and two friends of ours enjoyed an excellent autumn weekend Iskanderkul, one of the top tourist spots in Tajikistan. It was a very smooth and... read more
Travel to Tajikistan - We took a 7 day tour to Tajikistan taking in Dushanbe and trekking in the Fann Mountains. The mountain scenery was breathtaking and the tour was very professionally arranged.... read more