Major Tourist Attractions: Registan, Gur-e Amir, Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Tashkent Tower, Samanid Mausoleum
Long a crossroads between eastern and western civilizations, Uzbekistan is a must for anyone with an interest in the Great Silk Road or ancient history in general. Highlighted by centuries-old madrassahs, mosques and mausoleums that have been brightly restored to their former glory, the country will surprise and intrigue you.
At various times conquered by the Greeks and the Arabs, and later part of Tamerlane’s empire, Uzbekistan has a rich history and culture. It also features some of the best examples of medieval Islamic architecture in the world. Uzbek cuisine is heavy on bread, noodles and rice, with plov being the most popular dish. It may also surprise you to learn that Uzbekistan has a burgeoning wine industry, with more than a dozen wineries.
Despite somewhat cumbersome visa and registration requirements, Uzbekistan is hot spot for tourism in Central Asia, with European tour groups descending upon Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva throughout the high season. The good news is that a decent tourist infrastructure is in place, with a variety of accommodation options and signage in English.
Lodging options in the largest cities include a range of hotels, plus small guesthouses, most of which include breakfast and free wi-fi. Hostels are not yet popular and homestays are rare due to registration rules. Many visitors bypass Tashkent and head straight for the Great Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, but a day or two in Tashkent is worthwhile. Trains offer a more efficient way of getting around than taxis or buses.
While visiting the Great Silk Road sights should be at the top of any visitor’s list, here are a few other top things to see and do:
- Eat plov at the Central Asian Plov Center.
- Hike in the Chatkal Mountains outside of Tashkent.
- Take a trip to Muynak to see what is left of the depleted Aral Sea.
- Ride a camel in the Kyzylkum Desert.
- Stay at a yurt camp at Lake Aidarkul.
- Go shopping in Tashkent’s Chorsu Bazaar.
- Examine ancient petroglyphs in Sarmishsay.
- Visit the Karakalpak Museum of Arts in Nukus.
- Climb the watch tower of the Ark in Khiva.
- Walk along the Avenue of Mausoleums in Samarkand.
- Take a step back in time in historic Bukhara.
- Appreciate ancient Islamic architecture at the Registan.
- Visit Tamerlane’s birthplace of Shahrisabz.
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Phone: (+99871) 120-5450