We love exploring non-touristy corners of the world and Uzbekistan is one of them. We clearly see this changing in the future as Central Asia is slowly but steadily clambering into every travelers checklist. When you choose an off beat location, safety is definitely a concern. After checking with a few solo female travelers and having spent some quality time here, rest assured, it is totally safe for tourists. Yes, there are a lot of strict regulations and you will find military officers stationed every where. But that is clearly a safety precaution and does not affect tourists in any way.
Did we mention we got a GRAND WELCOME at the Taskent Airport?
We happened to be in the same flight as the country’s boxing team, returning after winning a tournament. From dignitaries to military band performances, we witnessed it all as soon as we landed!
HOW TO GET AN UZBEKISTAN VISA
The country has currently relaxed its visa restrictions. Citizens of 108 countries can now get a single-entry e-visa, valid for 30 days. The processing time is 10-14 days. We applied through a travel agent in Dubai and got the visa in 3 days.
HOW TO GET TO UZBEKISTAN
Holidays by FlyDubai has some amazing packages year around which includes flights & hotel. They have direct flights from Dubai and is the first carrier to offer this service from the United Arab Emirates. Other direct flights include Emirates, Air Astana, Turkish Airlines, Aeroflot
Due to ongoing conflicts, crossing over by land is very unpredictable and a hassle. Though the process had sped up enormously since 2018, it is best to check here before crossing.
Below is a map on the current status of all border crossings on the Silk Road
Drones are officially banned in Uzbekistan. In case you are traveling with one, you can declare the same at the airport. In this case, the officials will take possession of the drone and return it to you on your way back. In case of border crossings via land, it is still unclear how drones are handled.
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL TO UZBEKISTAN
The best time to visit is either in Spring from April to May or Autumn from September to early November. The weather here is typically warm and dry but during these months it is bearable. Winter months from late November until March are very cold, but the skies remain clear and bright during this time, making it an excellent time to click photographs. Winter & peak Summer months are the quietest time of the year.
THE PEOPLE OF UZBEKISTAN
As a country that has recently opened up to foreigners, the people here are genuinely happy to see new faces. Russian & Uzbek are the commonly spoken languages. Though language barrier is definitely there, they will go out of their way to help you and make you feel at home.
Salam Alaikum (Greeting) & Rahmat (Thank You) are the two words that can get you around.
THE FOOD IN UZBEKISTAN
Meat lovers are in for a treat. Literally everything including salads have meat in it, the most succulent, juicy bits of meat you may have ever tasted. Try the Shurpa (clear soup with meat and veggies), Plov (rice dish also called pilaf), the meat skewers and lastly, gorge on melons. The melons here are reputedly the best in the world.
WHERE TO STAY IN TASHKENT
We stayed at the Radisson Blu Tashkent, a 20 minute drive from the airport. The hotel is located in a nice & quiet neighborhood. Tashkent also has hostel options for backpackers.Wherever you stay in Uzbekistan, you will need to collect a receipt confirming each days stay. This might be checked while leaving the country.
HOW TO GET AROUND TASHKENT
This is the fun bit. There are taxis in the capital but not as many as you see in other cities. If you stand by the road, some random car might stop and offer a ride and thats how we got around. As all our research prior to traveling showed that the country is extremely safe for tourists, we did not think twice before getting into these cars. These drivers do not speak english, so the best option is to show photos of the places you wish to go. A 20 minute ride to an attraction will cost you approx. $1.5. The capital is also connected by buses and metros.
OFF BEAT PLACES TO VISIT IN TASHKENT UZBEKISTAN
A reality check first!
All attractions in Uzbekistan are either mosques, minarets or mausoleums. The architecture, grandeur and stories behind it is what makes it unique.
HAZRETI IMAM COMPLEX- THE RELIGIOUS CENTRE OF TASHKENT
Flanked by 50m high minarets, this complex located in Old town has been the spiritual center of the country for centuries. As the story goes, the quran stored here at the Muyi Mubarak Library could be the Uthman Quran (oldest Quran in the world). The Quran on display here is stained with blood which is believed to be that of the third Caliph Uthman who was murdered while reading it in 656.
History apart, this complex offers some amazing photographic angles.
AMIR TEMUR SQUARE AND HOTEL UZBEKISTAN
Uzbekistan celebrates Amir Temur like no other and you will find many statues, streets and other monuments dedicated to this fearless leader who united & ruled 27 countries all the way from the Mediterranean sea to India. The most popular of these is the bronze statue of the ruler on a reared horse at the city centre, surrounded by a lovely park.
This popular statue is against the backdrop of the famous Hotel Uzbekistan, an epitome of soviet architecture. During the Soviet Era, this was the only hotel in which foreigners were allowed to stay. Not surprisingly, all the rooms were bugged. Time has definitely taken a toll on this property, but it still remains an integral part of Uzbekistan’s history.
Built in 2014, this mosque is a new entrant to the Tashkent skyline. Just like all the other mosques here, it has a lot of photography potential. This mosque remains open to public during the day.
THE METRO STATIONS- MUSTAKILIK LASIHER NAVOI & KOSMONAVTLAR
Yes, metro stations! The artistic architecture that you see in Tashkent is not limited to the historical monuments. Even the metro stations here are characterized by domes, pillars and the signature blue Persian tiles. Using the metro is quite straight forward here, so jump on a train and visit these lovely stations. Our absolute favorites are the Mustakilik Lashier Navoi and Kosmonavtlar station.
This bazaar has served as a trading hub along the Silk Route for centuries and continues to be a one stop shop for everything from souvenirs to food.
MUSEUM OF APPLIED ARTS
This museum showcases handmade embroidery, skull-caps (tyubeteyka), jewelry, carpets and other examples of craftsmanship from the beginning of the 19th century to present day. The architecture of the museum itself is worthy a visit.