Uzbekistan: detailed travel guide

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Uzbekistan: detailed travel guide

The legendary Silk Road once passed through the territory of modern Uzbekistan, so today it is a treasure trove of architectural monuments and the focus of many ancient cities. Khiva, Samarkand and Bukhara are the most favorite places for tourists, as in these cities the presence of the real Ancient East is felt most strongly.

Here you can enjoy the atmosphere of Asia and visit many sights, as well as taste real Uzbek pilaf, which is prepared according to ancient recipes of the X-XI century. Hotel accommodation here is quite inexpensive, but the service certainly pleases with its high level. Dinner at the hotel restaurant will be affordable for everyone, especially since the local dishes are a must-try! Getting to Uzbekistan will not be difficult: there are daily flights to local airports from many cities in Russia and other countries.

Mountains around Samarkand

Mountains around Samarkand

Geographically, Uzbekistan is located in the very center of Asia, in the vastness between the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya. The borders of this country are adjacent to Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. More than 60% of Uzbekistan is a continuous desert and steppe, and the rest is occupied by mountain ranges, valleys and oases.

According to the 2019 census, the country has 33,254,100 local residents, of which 63% are rural residents and only 37% are urban. According to the population, Uzbekistan consists of 83% Uzbeks, 2.3% Russians, 4.8% Tajiks and 2.5% Kazakhs, 2.2% Karakalpaks and 4.5% of other nationalities. The total population density is about 74 people / km2.

Since 1991, Uzbekistan has been a sovereign legal democratic republic that is part of the CIS. According to the administrative-territorial principle, it is divided into 12 separate regions, and also includes the sovereign republic of Karakalpakstan. Uzbek is the state language in the country, but about 80% of the total population speaks mainly Russian.

Over the long years of its existence, the Uzbek lands have seen a lot: countless caravans of the Silk Road passed here, new cities and civilizations arose, various empires flourished: Alexander the Great, Tamerlane and Genghis Khan. The Uzbek cuisine was constantly becoming richer, absorbing the best recipes from all over the world, which merchants and caravan drivers were happy to share.

Modern Uzbekistan is a well-developed republic and special attention is paid to the tourist infrastructure. Thanks to this, every tourist will have to afford such a vacation. In Uzbekistan, you can find both top-notch five-star hotels and modest living rooms. Here you can endlessly enjoy the monuments of ancient architecture and countless attractions, participate in numerous excursions and visit museums. Or you can spend your vacation actively and arrange a hike in the mountains, jeep trips or kayaking down the winding mountain rivers.

It is pleasant to travel around Uzbekistan at any time of the year, as the local climate is favorable for this. But the best time is considered to be the period from the beginning of March to the end of July, as well as from mid-September to the end of November.

Customs in Uzbekistan

Ichan-Kala (old town)

Ichan-Kala (old town)

Citizens who have reached the age of 16 are allowed duty-free import into the territory of Uzbekistan of one kilogram of tobacco products or one thousand cigarettes, 2 liters of any wine and 1.5 liters of other alcoholic beverages. It is strictly forbidden to import strong medicines or drugs without a proper prescription, any type of weapon and ammunition, various photos, videos and printed materials that are aimed against the Islamic faith or the government of Uzbekistan.

To carry out the export from the territory of Uzbekistan of all kinds of historical or artistic values, furs, stones and jewelry, weapons or various ammunition, an original special permit from the country’s Ministry of Culture will be required.

At the customs post, they will offer to fill out the declaration in duplicate. The first of them remains at the customs post, and the second must be kept intact until the very moment of departure from Uzbekistan. When leaving, the customs officer will definitely ask you to show a copy of the import of goods, and then offer to fill out a new customs declaration for export.

There are no restrictions for the import and export of monetary currency, but it is imperative to declare the amount available. In case of import into the country of an amount over 5 thousand US dollars, a special form TS-28 is issued, and in case of import of an amount over 10 thousand, a special tax is charged in accordance with the current legislation of Uzbekistan in the amount of 1%.

Climate and weather in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan has a predominantly sharply continental climate. In winter, the average temperature ranges from +10 to -8°C. The kingdom of spring comes here rather quickly and is celebrated in the form of the New Year, as is customary in the East. Already at the beginning of April, the average temperature reaches +25°C, so at this time you can safely wear light things.

In summer, the average temperature rises to 40–45°C, with the maximum temperature usually observed from late June to early August. This time of the year the local population calls “chilla”, which is characterized by hot and dry winds and a lack of precipitation.

After the hot season comes the period of grace, which pleases with a hot afternoon and a refreshing night coolness. Autumn time in Uzbekistan is warm and extremely generous: all markets are overflowing with all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Until December, the temperature does not fall below +10°C.

Cities and regions

The main cities of Uzbekistan, one way or another interesting to tourists, are presented in the list below. You can go to the page of each of the cities and read what is remarkable about it and why it is worth visiting.

  • Tashkent

    Poi Kalyan architectural ensemble

    Poi Kalyan architectural ensemble

  • Samarkand
  • Bukhara
  • Khiva
  • Termez
  • Shakhrisabz
  • Urgench
  • Fergana
  • Kokand
  • Namangan
  • Margilan
  • Katta Langar
  • Langar Ota
  • Shakhimardan
  • Yangiabad
  • Boysun
  • Nurata
  • Urgut
  • Gijduvan

Purchases

The national currency in Uzbekistan is the Uzbek sum (UZS). This money is presented in banknotes from 100 to 100,000 soums and in coins. All banknotes are made in the same size and the only difference is the color scale, and of course the numbers. By tradition, the banknotes contain images of religious monuments, art and culture buildings of Uzbekistan.

Samarkand bazaar

Samarkand bazaar

Foreign currency exchange can be made in specialized branches of the National Bank of Uzbekistan, ATMs, authorized exchange offices or some hotels. Changing currency with individuals is strictly prohibited and punishable under criminal law. Do not hope for a good exchange rate on the black market, since the consequences of this fraud can be very dire. At best, newcomers are immediately deported home without trial.

In addition to Uzbek sums, the US dollar is actively used in Uzbekistan. The only condition for use is the integrity of the bills without wrinkles and folds. Many hotels and transport companies can accept payment in Euros and US dollars.

Numerous banks are available to everyone on weekdays from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. But you shouldn’t hope for payment by credit card “Visa” or “Mastercard”, since you can use it only in Tashkent or in one of the major centers of travel agencies.

Most stores welcome their visitors from 09:00 am to 7:00 pm. But the markets start their work at 06:00 and it is better to get there from the very opening. Then you will be able to choose the necessary goods and products from the huge range of products presented, which are rapidly disappearing from the shelves right before our eyes. The ability to bargain will significantly reduce the price offered by traders. At the same time, the markets are a vivid example of the original life of the country. All the local flavor of merchants and local people is presented here, and the eyes run up from the abundance of bright carpets, silks, spices and fruits.

At individual markets and fairs, you can get acquainted in detail with the art of Uzbek masters. It offers a large selection of ceramics, woodwork with intricate carvings, plaster figures, various willow braids, as well as a huge variety of national clothes. You can choose a real skullcap, sharp-nosed slippers, a shepherd to your taste, and feel like a real sheikh.

There is a rich selection of souvenirs, but it should be remembered that Uzbekistan has a ban on the export of antiques and rare art objects.

Safety

Public order in Uzbekistan is observed very strictly. Police officers are extremely vigilant and do not discount tourists and travelers. Therefore, it is recommended to constantly carry a foreign passport, which will greatly help to clarify all relations with the law enforcement officers. Without a passport, newcomers have a good chance of spending precious vacation time at the police station while the law enforcement authorities carefully check their identity and purpose of arrival.

Ark Fortress Gate

Ark Fortress Gate

Tap water in the cities of Uzbekistan differs sharply from water in other CIS countries, although it is thoroughly chlorinated. Therefore, it is insistently not recommended to be eaten in any form, even to brush your teeth or prepare ice. Otherwise, you can spend your entire vacation in a hotel room or even a hospital room. It sometimes takes many months for the body to get used to this tap water.

Meat and fish products should be eaten only after thorough heat treatment. Fruit must be completely peeled, and vegetables must be treated with purified water, which can be purchased in many stores at a very reasonable price.

Clothes for traveling in Uzbekistan should be selected according to the season, given the current temperature regime. It is necessary to give preference to the familiar and comfortable wardrobe, and not be guided by the clothes of local residents. In hot weather, the best option would be shorts and a light T-shirt made from natural materials. Also in summer it is advisable to have a hat, sunglasses and a special sunblock with you.

Particular attention should be paid to shoes, which should be not only comfortable, but also durable. Many excursions involve long walks in the places of historical architectural monuments. The roads for these walks are usually rocky and difficult to pass. The best option would be to have a spare shoe with you.

In the spring and autumn, it is advisable to have a warm sweater, windbreaker or jacket with you. The deceptive heat of the day can turn abruptly in fairly cool and windy weather. In winter, it is better to travel around Uzbekistan in a warm jacket or raincoat, as the air temperature can drop sharply from -8 to -10 ° C. It’s also worth bringing a sturdy hat and scarf with you.

In mountainous terrain, temperature drops are even more significant, so you should take as many warm things as possible for mountain walks, although this will add significant weight to the hiking backpack.

We must not forget that Uzbekistan is mainly committed to the Islamic religion. They are very respectful of faith, culture and traditions. All tourists are strongly advised to bring shawls and scarves with them in order to be able to visit numerous religious monuments of architecture. Also, do not forget that in many houses of worship, it is necessary to take off your shoes before entering, which can not only stain the floors in the temple, but also express contempt for this religion.

Defiant outfits plunge the local population into a big shock and can provoke a conflict. The presence of large and bright gems is also discouraged.