Uzbekistan is a fascinating country in Central Asia, the important cultural and trade center on the Silk Road, once part of the former Soviet union. It is well-known for ancient cities and impressive architecture. You must visit the amazing cities Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. You will see hundreds of stunning mosques, mausoleums and madrasahs tiled by turquoise mosaics. There are almost no backpackers here and the most of the tourists book organized tours and trips, but if you know few words in Russian, there is no reason why not explore this beautiful country on your own. Uzbekistan is a police state, but you as a tourist won't be affected much except the passport controls everywhere.

Do you want to know the prices in Uzbekistan? Check out our Uzbekistan budget guide


Map Places from the photo journey on the map


Registan - Samarkand
Registan - Samarkand
Samarkand, the centre of the Silk Road, is one of the oldest inhabited cities in Central Asia with the Registan, the most famous attraction of the city. This is really a fascinating place and one of the nicest sights we have ever seen. It consists of three madrasahs (Islamic schools): the Ulugh Beg Madrasah, the Tilya-Kori Madrasah and the Sher-Dor Madrasah.
Registan
The Ulugh Beg Madrasah - Registan
The Ulugh Beg Madrasah on the left side was built by ruler Ulugh Beg, also a great astronomer and mathematician. It was one of the best Orient universities of 15th century..

Registan - Samarkand
Registan - Samarkand
Inside of each madrasah there is always a courtyard with small workshops and souvenir shops. They sell here beautiful pieces of uzbek handicrafts.
Registan - Samarkand
Registan mosaics - Samarkand
Each madrasah has its unique decorations. The mosaics are everywhere and it is just fascinating.
Registan - Samarkand
Registan by night - Samarkand
If you don't have enough of Registan for the whole day, we recommend to stay there after the sunset and watch it by night.
Uzbek food
Uzbek food
After the visit you can enjoy great uzbek food. There is a nice restaurant just across the street. They have delicious food in traditional settings. You can taste the national meals like plov, shashlyk, lagman, shurpa, samsa. Always with uzbek bread and black tea served in blue uzbek ceramics.
Uzbek som
Uzbek Som
Yep, money. This is quite an issue in Uzbekistan. The government don't want to admit the high inflation of the Uzbek som, so the prices are getting higher, but the notes stay the same. That means that wallet is useless because you can't even pay a bread by the money you stack inside. This picture shows $100 in Uzbek som.
There is a black market for western currencies, so make sure you exchange money for the black market rate as the official rate is almost half. The reality is that you exchange money on the street somehow secrectly, plus there is no time for counting that many notes on the street, so it is quite scary, but when you got twice as much money, everyone takes the risk.
Amir Timur mausoleum - Samarkand
The Amir Timur Mausoleum - Samarkand
Visit the Guri Amir or Amir Timur. It is a mausoleum of the conqueror and the most powerful ruler in the Muslim world, Tamerlane known as Timur. It is a short walk from Registan.
The Shah-i-Zinda mauseoleum - Samarkand
The Shah-i-Zinda Mauseoleum - Samarkand
Next day you can take a super cheap taxi and visit The Shah-i-Zinda. It is a complex of mausoleums built over many centuries.
The Shah-i-Zinda mauseoleum - Samarkand
The Shah-i-Zinda Mauseoleum - Samarkand
The name of the mauseoleum Shah-i-Zinda means "the living king" and it links to the cousin of the prophet Muhammad who was buried here.
The Bibi Khanum mosque - Samarkand
The Bibi Khanum Mosque - Samarkand
The same day you can see The Bibi Khanum mosque. It was one of the largest and most magnificent mosques in the Islamic world in the 15th century and it is still fascinating in our age.
The Siob Bazar - Samarkand
The Siob Bazar - Samarkand
On the way from Bibi Khanum mosque you can stop at nearby Siob bazar, the largest market in Samarkand where you can buy literally everything.
Uzbek bread
Uzbek bread
Uzbek bread called a non or lepeshka is sacred in Uzbekistan. They are different in each city. Cutting them by knife or placing them upside down can be disrespectful. They are sold everywhere on old baby strollers.
Bukhara
Bukhara
Bukhara, another city on the Silk Road has been a centre of trade and culture for centuries. The historic centre full of ancient mosques and madrasahs has been listed in UNESCO.
Bukhara
Bukhara handicrafts
Like in Samarkand you can purchase here all kinds of beautiful handicrafts. Ceramics, wood carving, carpets, jewellery, embroidery. No country has such an amazing collection of arts. Comparing to souvenir shops in Europe, usually full of cheap stuff from China, this is really remarkable.
Bukhara
Bukhara
This nice guy was posing for tourists, but we sometimes felt like an attraction ourselves as many locals liked to stare at us. It could be the "exotic" look or the southeast asian clothes. We are not sure :)
Bukhara
Bukhara
We recommend to walk also outside of the historic centre to see the daily life...
The Chor Minor - Bukhara
The Chor Minor - Bukhara
Take a short walk to see The Chor Minor, a tiny historic mosque.
Wine tasting - Bukhara
Wine tasting - Bukhara
When you are in Bukhara, visit one of the madrasahs courtyard where you can taste the uzbek wines.
Kyzylkum desert
Kyzylkum desert
Take a train or rent a driver to get to Khiva. We did both. If you take a driver, be careful. The drive is long, straight and boring. Our driver was very sleepy and my boyfriend had to hold the steering while couple of times. This trip means hours of this view of Kyzylkum desert. You will realize how huge and dry this country is.
Khiva
Khiva
Khiva or the historical name Chorezm is a city, about 1000km far from the capital Tashkent. Khiva is famous for walled historical inner town called Itchan Kala which is a part of the World Heritage List.
Khiva
Khiva
Itchan Kala is a living museum with more than 50 sights and 250 old houses. It is really worth to see!
The Kalta Minor Minaret - Khiva
The Kalta Minor Minaret - Khiva
The symbol of Khiva is The Minaret of Kalta-Minor ("short minaret") It is 29 m high, because the construction was stopped in the middle of 19th century, but it supposed to be higher than 100m. There are also other minarets where you can climb to the top. It is quite fun as you need to crawl in the dark.
Khiva
Khiva
Walking in the streets of Itchan Kala is like getting few centuries ago. We spent there four days and we walked every street three times, but it was still amazing.
Handmade socks - Khiva
Handmade socks - Khiva
When you are visiting the sights, you can notice the ladies who check you the ticket. They must sit there all day, so they knit. And they knit awesome and cheap socks! Every lady has her own design, so they are quite unique.
Handmade socks - Khiva
Handmade socks - Khiva
We just send the picture of the socks to our family and they wanted them too, so we bought there many souvenirs and the ladies were happy.
Museums in Khiva
Museums in Khiva
To get to a museum is sometimes tricky. We must say that the museums in Uzbekistan are quite boring (the Soviet style boring). It is a pity because the history of the Silk Road could be presented better way.
Yes, you can see there cotton, the white gold. Uzbekistan is one of the largest producers of cotton in the world. But it is also imporant to know the price for that. Cotton needs a lot of water and the country has a dry climate. That meant that the fourth largest inland sea, the Aral Sea has benn drying up and there is a huge soil pollution in the area. Many people and kids are also forced to labor in the cotton fields for free.
Khiva market
Khiva market
While the walled city is a living museum with few people actually living inside, it is quite busy outside. Walk there and enjoy the market.
The Kukeldash Madrasah - Tashkent
The Kukeldash Madrasah - Tashkent
When you are in Tashkent, visit the medieval Kukeldash Madrasah. It is near Chorsu Bazar.
The Chorsu Bazar - Tashkent
The Chorsu Bazar - Tashkent
The traditional market The Chorsu Bazar has been the busiest bazaar in Central Asia located on the Silk route for many centuries.
The Chorsu Bazar - Tashkent
The Chorsu Bazar - Tashkent
They sell everything from fruit, vegetable, spices, dried fruit to jewellery, carpets and ceramics. You can have a lunch there at one of the tea houses.

Map Places from the photo journey on the map


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