Jewels of Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is perhaps the most evocative country in Central Asia, with its splendid old Silk Road cities that conjure up images of its glorious past. This short trip is designed to show the very best that the country has to offer within just a week.

We start in the capital Tashkent, seeing its historic quarter and bustling bazaar before driving to fabled Samarkand where we explore its magnificent Registan Square, the Bibi Khanum Mosque and the observatory of Ulug Beg among other spectacular sights. From here we continue to Bukhara, once a powerful khanate and with monuments dating back a thousand years, including the impressive Chor Minor mosque, the Ark, and the Lyabi Hauz.

Our journey then takes us through the Kyzyl Kum desert to explore the remains of ancient citadels, before ending up in the walled city of Khiva. Exploring this architectural gem is like entering another era, with imposing mosques, minarets and tombs around every corner, all superbly preserved. For those short on time but wanting an insight into this ever mysterious region, this tour offers a chance to understand the fascinating history of the Silk Road.

Jewels of Uzbekistan

Highlights

  • Explore the walled city of Khiva
  • The mosques and mausoleums of Bukhara
  • Samarkand’s incredible Registan Square
  • Drive through the Kyzyl Kum desert

Day 1 - Tashkent

Arrive in Tashkent. After some time to freshen up, begin exploring the historic sites of the city including the Kukeldash madrassah, Khast Imam square – the heart of old Tashkent – and the Chorsu Bazaar. Overnight Hotel Shodlik Palace or similar.

Tashkent

Tashkent is the largest city in Central Asia and was the fourth largest in the Soviet Union when it existed. The city has always been an important trading centre in the region, having established links with Russia centuries ago and being a key point on the Silk Road of old. It still retains its Silk Road Heritage in places, most noticeably in the old quarter, dominated by the striking Khast Imam complex, a collection of madrassahs, mosques and mausoleums, which date back to the fifteenth century.

Tashkent never quite attained the legendary status of other cities such as Khiva or Samarkand and was very much seen as a vassal of the Emirs of either Bukhara or Khokand, until it was seized by Russian forces in the 19th century and used as a springboard for their continuing conquest of the region.

Tashkent became the capital of Russian Turkestan and this legacy means that it is perhaps the most cosmopolitan city in the former Soviet Union, with large Russian and Korean communities there today. Tashkent changed forever in the 1960s when it was struck by an enormous earthquake which flattened most of the city and killed 300,000, and today it is a mixture of the ancient and modern, with civic monuments and large public squares jostling for space with winding streets and centuries old mosques.

Day 2 - Samarkand

Drive to the spectacular city of Samarkand, arriving in the afternoon. Upon arrival visit the museum to gain an understanding of the history of the region. Overnight Malika Hotel or similar. (B)


Day 3 - Samarkand

A full day exploring the marvellous sites of Samarkand, one of the most incredible Silk Road cities and with a wealth of monuments to explore. We visit the enormous Bibi Khanum Mosque, built by the wife of the Mongol ruler Timur, as well as the stunning Registan Square, one of Central Asia’s most iconic sites. We also visit the Shah-i Zinda complex of mausoleums, a stunning collection of buildings dating back to the 14thcentury that rivals the Registan for splendour, and also the observatory of Ulug Beg. Overnight Malika Hotel or similar. (B)

Samarkand

Immortalised in poetry, the city of Samarkand was founded in the 8th century BC by the Persians and stands with Khiva and Bukhara as one of the most glorious of all the Silk Road cities. Samarkand has had a turbulent history which has left its mark and has been controlled at various times by Arabs, Sogdians and the armies of Alexander the Great, but it was the notorious Mongol leader who left his greatest mark. Blessed with a wealth of ancient monuments, its most impressive is the collection of mosques and madrassahs around the Registan Square, surely the best example of Islamic architecture to be found anywhere. Elsewhere in the city the observatory of the astronomer and ruler Ulug Beg is well worth a visit, and the wealth of buildings offer superb opportunities to marvel at the intricacies of Islamic art. Samarkand leaves a lasting impression on all who visit.

Day 4-5 - Bukhara

Drive to Bukhara. Bukhara is awash with breathtaking monuments and its historic centre is exceptionally well preserved, making a visit here like stepping back in time to the days when the Silk Road trade was at its height. We spend our time exploring this enchanting city and visiting its most important sites, including the Kalon Minaret, the Lyabi Hauz ensemble, the bazaars, the Ismail Somoni Mausoleum and one of our personal favourites, the Chor Minor mosque with its four blue domed minarets. And of course no visit to Bukhara would be complete without visiting the Ark, the vast fortress that was home to the Emirs for over a millennium. Bukhara is a spectacular city and we have enough time to enjoy its many delights without feeling rushed. Overnight Caravan Hotel or similar. (B)

Bukhara

Bukhara is one of the true gems of Central Asia, with a superbly preserved old city that transports you back at least a couple of centuries. Bukhara was one of the most powerful of the Central Asian khanates and is considered to be the holiest city in Central Asia, with origins stretching back as far as the time when Alexander the Great and his armies passed through the region.

Bukhara’s sights are varied but one of the most interesting is the citadel known as the Ark – the residence of the emir. This sturdy construction towers high above the Registan Square below, the site of execution for criminals including two unfortunate British officers who were sent here in the 19th century in an effort to bring Bukhara under the British, rather than Russian, sphere of influence.

Wherever you walk through old Bukhara, you are continually confronted with grandiose mausoleums, towering minarets and charming old merchants’ houses – the city is a living museum and one cannot fail to fall in love with its charms.

Day 6 - Desert Castles – Desert camp

Visit Toprak Kala and Ayaz Kala, the remains of two desert citadels that date back more than two thousand years. We then head to our yurt camp in the desert, with the opportunity of riding camels. (B)


Day 7 - Khiva

Drive to Khiva. Enclosed by mud brick walls, the old part of Khiva, known as the Ichon Qala, has been virtually unchanged for centuries and is an open air museum packed full of intricately decorated minarets, mosques and madrassahs. We spend the day walking its narrow alleys and uncovering the best of its highlights including the Kalta Minor minaret, the Islam Khodja madrassah and the ark, where the khans of Khiva once lived. Overnight Malika Khiva or similar. (B)

Khiva

Khiva is a fairytale city springing out of the desert, with a multitude of well preserved monuments stretching back centuries that have you gasping in wonder at every turn. Once an independent khanate its power was built on the slave trade, and for centuries raiders would set out from here to capture the inhabitants of towns on the very edges of imperial Russia. Its historic centre, the Ichon Kala, is bounded by robust mud walls

giving it the effect of a fortress, while inside it contains some of the very best of Uzbekistan’s sights. Graceful minarets stretch into the sky while mosques and mausoleums capped with turquoise domes and intricate tilework give the visitor a sense of the past glories of a once great city. One of its most stunning monuments is the Kalta minaret, intended to be the highest in the Islamic world but left unfinished when its patron died. For a great view over the city, climb the winding staircase to the top of the Islam Khodja minaret to look down on a city that has changed little in centuries. It is hard to oversell the visual impact of Khiva, and no-one comes away disappointed.

Day 8 - Tashkent

Fly back to Tashkent for your final night in Uzbekistan. Overnight Shodlik Palace Hotel or similar. (B)


Day 9 - Tashkent

Transfer to the airport for departure. (B)


Mausoleum in Khiva - Uzbekistan holidays
Market in Dushanbe - Central Asia holidays
Decorated mosque interior - Central Asia holidays
Chor Minor mosque, Bukhara - Central Asia holidays
Ichon Kala minaret - Central Asia holidays
Bibi Khanum mosque, Samarkand - Uzbekistan holidays

What's included?

  • Airport transfers

    We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers. Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.

  • Guides

    You will be accompanied by an English speaking guide throughout the trip.

  • Meals

    As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner).

  • Entrance fees

    Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.

  • Domestic flight

    From Tashkent to Urgench.

What's not included?

  • Visas

    We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively a visa agency such as Travcour can assist.

  • International flights

    Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If however you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

  • Travel Insurance

    If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.

Visas

Almost everyone will require visas to enter some of the Central Asian ‘stans’. The requirements for these vary according to each different country, but many will require an invitation letter, which we can provide for you.

Kyrgyzstan takes the lead in becoming more tourist friendly, in that many nationalities, including UK citizens, do not need a visa for entry. Kazakhstan has also recently relaxed its rules, and UK and US travellers do not need a visa for stays of less than 15 days (although this is currently set to expire on 31 December 2017).

Turkmenistan allows most travellers to obtain visas upon arrival, but should you wish to do this it is essential that you notify us at least one month beforehand in order that the necessary preparations can be made.

In theory Tajikistan also grants visas upon arrival at Dushanbe airport, but in practice this depends on whether there is anyone at the airport to man the visa desk, so we recommend that you obtain this before travel. If you are travelling into the Pamir Mountains you will also require the GBAO permit, which you should also request when applying for your visa.

Uzbekistan has introduced visa free travel for stays of up to 30 days from 1 February 2019, for many nationalities including UK, Australian, New Zealand, Canada and many EU nationalities. US citizens will need to apply for an e-visa in advance, which can be done via the following website:

https://e-visa.gov.uz/main

Visa regulations in Central Asia are particularly fluid and so we recommend that you contact your nearest embassy, or us, for the most up to date information.

Health and vaccinations

We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. For more advice on vaccinations you can also visit www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk.

Insurance

It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum you need medical and health cover, which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.

Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company.

Money

The local currency in each country varies and is as follows:

Uzbekistan – som
Turkmenistan – manat
Tajikistan – somoni
Kyrgyzstan – som
Kazakhstan – tenge

It’s not difficult to change money in the region – usually the most convenient place will be a hotel but your guide will be able to point you in the right direction. There are also an increasing number of ATMs in larger towns. However these are not always reliable and so it is best to think of them as a back up rather than a main means of obtaining money. The best currency to bring for exchange purposes is US dollars, and these should have issue dates of 2006 or later, otherwise they can be difficult to exchange.

Credit cards are accepted in larger hotels and better restaurants (usually in major cities only) but are not commonly accepted elsewhere.

Uzbekistan requires that you fill in currency declaration forms when you enter, which you should keep – they will be checked again upon departure.

Local conditions

When travelling to some of the destinations we offer you need to bear in mind that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and thank you for your patience.

Please note that the Turkmen authorities have recently introduced a new regulation, banning smoking in all public places. It is also prohibited to bring more than 40 cigarettes into the country.

Travel advice

We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing the FCO does not advise against travel to any of the parts of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan that we visit on our tours.

This relates to advice from the British government – other nationalities need to check the stance of their own governments.

Please note that the information contained above is highly susceptible to change, and while we endeavour to keep up to date we recommend that you use this as a guide only. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Updated May 2019

Mausoleum in Khiva - Uzbekistan holidays
Market in Dushanbe - Central Asia holidays
Decorated mosque interior - Central Asia holidays
Chor Minor mosque, Bukhara - Central Asia holidays
Ichon Kala minaret - Central Asia holidays
Bibi Khanum mosque, Samarkand - Uzbekistan holidays
Date(s)
Price (PP) Exc. Flights
Single Supplement
Trip Status
Date -
28 April 2021
Price (PP) -
£1,249
Single Supplement -
£175
Trip Status -
Guaranteed
Date -
22 September 2021
Price (PP) -
£1,249
Single Supplement -
£175
Trip Status -
Available
Date -
27 April 2022
Price (PP) -
£1,275
Single Supplement -
£185
Trip Status -
Available
Date -
21 September 2022
Price (PP) -
£1,275
Single Supplement -
£185
Trip Status -
Available