For travellers with a taste for the curious, holidays in Uzbekistan are full of eastern promise. Sandwiched between Kazakhstan on top and Turkmenistan below, this Central Asian country has long been a stopping off post on the fabled Silk Road. These days it’s the magnificent mosques and mausoleums of Samarkand and Bukhara that sate the appetite of cultural adventurers.
Explore elsewhere and it’s the oasis towns and foreboding fortresses of the Kyzylkum Desert that steal the show although the Soviet era architecture and Chorsu Bazaar of Tashkent, the capital, run a very close second. Uzbekistan holidays let you tip toe around turquoise treasures and experience intricate Islamic artwork all the while witnessing modern day life close to the edges of China and Tibet.
The Uzbekistan capital conjures up a mesmerising mix of museums, minarets and markets, including the characterful Chorsu Bazaar. The State Museum of History is certainly worth a visit – it’s absolutely huge – as is the country’s newly erected religious epicentre, the Hazrat Imam. The marble white Minor Mosque is also a ‘must see’ when travelling to the new part of Tashkent although the medieval architecture of the Old Town lays bare the traditional lifestyles of Central Asia, before the Soviet era.
This southeastern city is situated on the fabled Silk Road leading from China to Europe and is still connected to a cocktail of different cultures. Nowhere is this more in evidence than the Siab Bazaar that creates an authentic Uzbekistan experience without the tourist tat or inflated prices. Head to the centre of Samarkand and the Registan public square is the place to be for people watching while Guri Amir mausoleum, close to the Registan, is a treat for fans of mosaics and ornate artwork.
Travel to the southwest of Uzbekistan, close to the border with Turkmenistan, and the ancient city of Bukhara provides an ideal base from where to learn more about life in Central Asia. This is a far less grand city in comparison to Samarkand but none the less beguiling. Take off on a guided tour around the alleyways where stall holders sell ceramics and khalva sweets, before heading to the minarets of Chor Minor Madrassah to watch the sun set over the four shimmering turquoise domes.
The flight time from the UK to Uzbekistan is roughly 7 hours.
You will need an up-to-date passport and a completed visa when travelling to Uzbekistan from the UK. Please visit GOV.UK for entry requirements to Uzbekistan or, alternatively, visit CIBT visas for more information.
This is a semi-desert country and the climate centres around extremes, especially so in summer and winter. Spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit for more comfortable temperatures although, be warned, conditions can change in the twinkling of an eye so be ready with lots of layers.
Uzbekistan is five hours ahead of the UK.
Uzbek is the official language of Uzbekistan and is written using the Cyrillic alphabet. Don’t expect many local people to understand English, which is why travelling with a guide is recommended.
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