Best of Uzbekistan Tour

Highlights of Uzbekistan

Take a guided tour to explore Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, the gems of the ancient Silk Road.

Days

9

Price

€1840

Briefing

Comfort level:

Physical rating:

Group size: Max 12 persons

Countries: Uzbekistan

Route:

  • Tashkent
  • Khiva
  • Bukhara
  • Samarkand

Themes: Cultural Tours

Experience the best of the Silk Road cities during Kalpak Travel’s classic Uzbekistan tour. Now protected as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, these ancient settlements were formed by nomads and conquerors, and the flourishing of Islam and the great Timurid Empire left a permanent architectural legacy. Mosques, madrassas, fortresses, and unforgettable landscapes await, with views ranging from fertile valleys to open steppe and never-ending deserts…

highlights

  • Tour modern Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital and the largest city in Central Asia.
  • Explore the remarkably well-preserved city of Khiva, an open-air museum surrounded by mud brick walls.
  • Visit ancient Khorezm with the ruins Ayaz Kala and Toprak Kala.
  • Visit the charming Old City of Bukhara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Be wowed by the spectacular Registan and the other architectural wonders of Samarkand
  • Experience the hustle and bustle of Uzbekistan’s bazaars.
  • Learn about traditional crafts such as making paper from mulberry in Samarkand.

ITINERARY & MAP

Tashkent Amir Timur statue on the main square

Welcome to Uzbekistan! Transfer to the hotel and early check-in. You can have a rest after your long flight, take a shower, and have breakfast before meeting your group and guide in the late morning in the hotel lobby. Today, you will begin an authentic journey deep into the remarkable history of Uzbekistan.

Where better to start than a tour of Tashkent? The largest city in Central Asia is a curious blend of Islamic and Soviet influences. Visit the Old City area of Tashkent where you will find the Khast Imom Complex which contains the ancient holy Quran of Caliph Osman. Experience the bustling crowds of traders at Chor-Su Bazaar. Visit Amir Temur Square to view the statue of the great conqueror and next to it, the grand Independence Square. We complete the city tour of Tashkent with a visit to the Applied Arts Museum.

Please note: If you arrive a day early, we can book an extra night for you at the hotel.

Hotel Wyndham 4* or similar

Ayaz Kala Ruins in Uzbekistan

Early morning flight to Urgench. From the airport, we depart towards Toprak and Ayaz Kala, clay ruins of ancient Khorezm in the desert. First, we drive one hour to Toprak Kala, the ancient capital city of Khorezm around the 2nd century AD). From there it is another shaky one-hour drive to Ayaz Kala. According to archeological excavations, the Ayaz Kala fortress dates from the 2nd century BC. It was part of a system of border fortresses that stretched as a chain from east to west and which defended the Khiva oasis from the desert side. We will have a look at the ruins in the desert and then drive one and a half hours back to Urgench, where we will have lunch.

In the afternoon, transfer c. 30 minutes to Khiva. Check-in at the hotel. Before dinner, we will have an introduction walk in the old town. Dinner in a local restaurant inside the old town of Khiva.

Hotel Asia 3* or similar

Silk Road city Khiva in Uzbekistan

A jewel of desert architecture, Khiva is one of the most important centers of ancient Khorezm. Locals believe that Shem, son of Noah, founded the city when he discovered a freshwater spring in the middle of this vast desert. Archeologists believe the city was founded some 2,500 years ago. Today, Khiva is the most architecturally intact and tightly packed of Central Asia’s Silk Road cities. Its intense blue-and-green tile work ranks as some of the most ornate in Uzbekistan, and the entirety of the Ichan-Kala – the inner city – is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It also has the feel of a movie set or an open-air museum. Khiva is full of incredible architecture, and today we will get the chance to see it all. The focus of our tour is the walled Ichan-Kala, within which are preserved more than 60 historic monuments and hundreds of centuries-old houses. You will also have time on your own to wander around this fabled town. During dinner, we will have a folklore performance of traditional Khorezmian dances and songs on kush-nay, a musical instrument very specific to the Khorezm region.

Hotel Asia 3* or similar

Bukhara domes seen on Uzbekistan tour

We will check out from the hotel after breakfast and depart around 8:00 AM to Khiva. It is a long but scenic ride through the Kyzylkum Desert, but the roads are shaky in places. On the way, we will stop for lunch in a small restaurant, and also have time to stretch our legs. At the end of this arduous drive, we will be rewarded with the magnificence of Bukhara. We will arrive in the evening, just in time for dinner in the Old City, and check in at the hotel.

Please note: Flight and train schedule Khiva-Bukhara is available only on relatively short notice. If a flight or a train is available, we will use that instead of road transfer.

Hotel Paradise Plaza 4* or similar

Uzbekistan, Bukhara

Bukhara is the second of our UNESCO World Heritage Site stops. The city’s very name -Bukhara – conjures up images of the exotic Orient. For centuries, it was an important trading post and center of scholarship. The Old City has been well preserved and is crammed full of minarets, mosques, and madrassas. Its once notorious canals and pools, the source of many an epidemic, have now been drained, but the most famous, Lyabi-Hauz, is still there. Today it’s an oasis shaded by mulberry trees in the heart of the city. Your guide will show you Bukhara’s unmissable sights, and you can soak up the atmosphere wandering through the labyrinthine alleyways. Highlights of today’s walking tour in Bukhara include the Poi Kalon complex, the Ark Fortress, Bolo Hauz Mosque, the Ayub Mausoleum and spring, the bazaars inside Bukhara’s unique trading domes, and the Samanid Mausoleum. The guided tour will end in the early afternoon and you will have some free time. Later, we will visit a family house restaurant in the old town for a cooking master class on a traditional Uzbek dish called “plov”.

Hotel Paradise Plaza 4* or similar

Uzbekistan tour in Bukhara

Today morning you can choose to spend some free time in the city or to visit a couple more sights near Bukhara. First, you may visit the Mausoleum of Naqshbandi, 15 km outside the city center. There are many orders in Sufism, all of which have been represented at different times in what is now Uzbekistan. The Naqshbandiyya order has a great and long-lasting influence, and the memorial place is still a popular place of pilgrimage for Sufis. From here, we will visit the summer residence of the last Emir of Bukhara. In Persian it is called Sitorai Mokhi Hossa, “the place where the moon meets the stars”. Return to Bukhara for lunch.

Our high-speed train departs from Bukhara at 3:50 PM and we arrive in Samarkand at 5:20 PM. Transfer to the hotel for check-in and dinner. After dinner, on the way to the hotel, drive by Registan Square for an evening view of the magnificent madrasahs.

Hotel Rabat 3* or similar

Registan with three madrasahs and mosque, the central square in Samarkand

Sublime Samarkand evokes an almost mythical past full of romance and intrigue. This was the domain of Emperor Timur, one of history’s greatest (and most ruthless) conquerors. His vast empire rivaled any, stretching across the Eurasian steppe. He ruled his kingdom with an iron fist, whilst at the same time patronizing the arts and literature. Much of Samarkand’s Timurid-era architectural heritage has been preserved, allowing us to see how the city might have been at the peak of Timur’s power. We will start the day with a visit to the Gur-e-Amir, the mausoleum where Timur is buried. Our guide will tell stories from Timur’s life and how and why he began to build in Samarkand. We will then go to the Registan, Samarkand’s central square, which is undeniably Uzbekistan’s most famous landmark. This focal point of medieval Samarkand is framed by three beautiful madrassas (religious schools): Ulugbek, Sherdor, and Tillya Kori. Next, we will stroll through the spacious courtyard of the Bibi-Khanum Mosque, an impressively tiled structure that is said to have been gifted to Timur by one of his wives. After lunch, we will have time to explore Siyob Bazaar, where fruit and vegetables grown in the rich soils of the Zarafshan Valley are sold in a colorful market. You may explore the city on your own during your free time this evening.

Hotel Rabat 3* or similar

uzbekistan clothing

After breakfast, we will check out from the hotel and continue to explore the fairytale city of Samarkand. We go first to the Shah-i Zinda, a magnificent tiled necropolis; and then visit Ulgubek’s Observatory, which was once the biggest research center in Central Asia. Ulugbek was decades ahead of the West with his observations of the solar system and the Earth, and we will learn more about his story in this prestigious setting. Our next stop will be the Konigil Paper Mill. Here you will see the process of making paper from mulberry tree bark, just as it was done in 8th century Samarkand.  We will enjoy lunch together, after which those who wish to do so can visit Afrasiyab Museum to learn about the ancient city of Samarkand – then known as Afrasiyab – which was destroyed by the Mongols in the early 13th century. Farewell dinner.

Please note: If you prefer to fly out of Tashkent instead of Samarkand, we can arrange transport back to Tashkent in the evening (2h train ride) and transfer to the airport.

Hotel Rabat 3* or similar

departure passport with stamps

Check-out at the hotel is any time before noon. You will have free time until your transfer to Samarkand International Airport for your flight home.

Inclusions

Transport
Minibus, Train, Airplane
Meals
9 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 8 dinners
Accommodation
Hotel (8 nights)
Included Activities
  • Tashkent – city tour
  • Khiva – walking tour
  • Khiva folklore show
  • Bukhara – walking tour
  • Samarkand – city tour
Download PDF

dates & price

You can choose to join a small group on a guaranteed departure or book a private tour on the date of your choice
*
*
*
Total trip price

€1840

Euro

9

Days

Single supplement available for €400

Deposit: €500

Departing
Finishing
Status
Booking
31 Mar 2023
8 Apr 2023
+ Available
7 Apr 2023
15 Apr 2023
+ Available
19 May 2023
27 May 2023
+ Available
9 Jun 2023
17 Jun 2023
+ Available
28 Jul 2023
5 Aug 2023
+ Available
1 Sep 2023
9 Sep 2023
+ Available
22 Sep 2023
30 Sep 2023
+ Available
13 Oct 2023
21 Oct 2023
+ Available
3 Nov 2023
11 Nov 2023
+ Available
Price includes
  • All transfers by minibus according to the itinerary, as well as your airport transfers
  • Accommodation based on double room sharing, incl. early check-in on Day 1
  • English-speaking local tour guide accompanying the group
  • All entrance tickets as per the itinerary
  • Train tickets Bukhara-Samarkand
  • Economy class plane tickets for the flights from Tashkent to Urgench (Khiva)
  • Full board (breakfasts, lunches, dinners)
Price does not include
  • International airfares
  • Hotel charges for additional services
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses, e.g. souvenirs
  • Tips for guides and drivers

Important notes

  • Travel insurance is required for this tour. You are free to choose any insurance company.
  • All listed departures are guaranteed.
  • The maximum group size is 12 people.
  • A €500 per person deposit is required at the time of booking, and the balance is due 15 days prior to departure. Terms & Conditions: https://kalpak-travel.com/terms-and-conditions/
  • One local English-speaking tour leader will accompany the group for the whole trip
  • You can opt to book the whole itinerary as a private tour. We can also arrange extra nights before or after the trip, and suggest private tour extensions in Uzbekistan or neighboring countries.
  • Citizens of most countries do not need a visa to visit Uzbekistan (US citizens do need an electronic visa, though). If you do need an electronic visa, we will get it for you. The official fee is 20 USD: there is no extra charge from our side. We will send the visa to you as a PDF; you just need to print it out and take it with you.
  • We are happy to suggest flights to get to Tashkent and back home from Samarkand or Tashkent: please contact us.
  • Read more about food in Uzbekistan
  • Read more about the best time to travel to Uzbekistan

UZBEKISTAN TRAVEL INFORMATION

MONEY & COSTS:

The Uzbek currency is called the Som (UZS). There are few ATMs in Uzbekistan and even then, most do not accept any card other than Visa. Stores and restaurants typically do not accept credit cards. We recommend you bring all money in cash, preferably carrying new USD bank notes of different denominations. They will be easy to exchange – for the best rates ask your guide – and you will be able to pay directly with USD for some souvenirs. An emergency fund of around 500 USD in cash is always good to have during trips to Central Asia.

SAFETY:

Uzbekistan is a safe country and most trips are trouble-free. There is a visible police presence and most citizens are law-abiding. That said, you are advised to wear a money belt, watch your belongings, steer clear of dark streets at night and avoid taking rides in unofficial taxis alone. Your safety is our first priority at Kalpak Travel; we know and regularly assess all our Uzbek partners and we closely monitor political events.

ENTRY & EXIT:

Citizens of most countries do no longer need a visa to visit Uzbekistan for a period of up to 30 days. A notable exception is the United States - US citizens need to apply for an electronic visa to visit Uzbekistan. You can get the visa yourself through the official government website for 20 USD per person: https://e-visa.gov.uz/. If you book a trip to Uzbekistan with us we will get the visa for you.

BEST TIME TO GO:

The climate of Uzbekistan is continental and dry. The best season to visit is during spring and autumn, from mid-March until early June and then again from September until early November. Autumn is drier than spring, but even in spring chances are high you can enjoy the bluest sky you have ever seen. Autumn is also the time when the country goes to harvest, meaning markets are full of fresh fruit and vegetables. If you don’t mind the dry heat of 40°+ Celsius, summer is the best time to go. There are few tourists and the sky is blue every single day. If you consider visiting Uzbekistan in winter, having the country all to yourself, we recommend going in December, when day temperature is still around 10° Celsius and the chill wind that characterizes January & February has not yet reared its ugly head.

HEALTH:

Do not drink water, unless it is bottled, filtered or boiled. Do not use it for brushing teeth or making ice either. Do not eat ice cream. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled. If you follow these basic rules, you are likely to avoid any health issues like traveler’s diarrhea. Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Tetanus are recommended vaccinations for travelers to Uzbekistan. Ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. Medical services in Uzbekistan are basic at best.
As soon as we receive your deposit, we will confirm your booking and send you additional pre-departure information.

Related articles

Travelers' Impressions of Uzbekistan