Uzbekistan is the most populous country in Central Asia and is rich in history, culture, and diversity. It has been a part of numerous empires and was once a key part of the Silk Road, making it an excellent destination for the history buff. Although Uzbekistan is often overlooked as a tourist destination, there is plenty to see and do in this beautiful country. Moreover, Uzbeks are known for their hospitality, and you can expect to be treated with a lot of respect as a visitor.
|Ferghana Valley |
The most fertile and populous part of the country. Lots of Kyrgyz people live there.
|Northern Uzbekistan |
Home to Khiva, an ancient Silk Road city, and the rapidly shrinking Aral Sea. The area is dominated by endless deserts and the Karakalpaks make up the majority of the population there. The Karakalpaks have their own autonomous region (Republic of Karakalpakstan) in far north of the country.
|Samarkand through Bukhara |
The heart of the Silk Road and home to two of Central Asia's most important cities: Samarkand and Bukhara.
|Southern Uzbekistan |
The mountainous part of the country. One can see a small slice of the Pamir mountains there, and many of the country's Tajiks live there.
|Tashkent Region |
The political and economic center of the country, and the traveller's main entry point.
- 1 Tashkent — the modern capital and largest city.
- 2 Andijan — Uzbekistan's fourth largest city, right in the heart of the vibrant but combustible Ferghana Valley.
- 3 Bukhara — a legendary Silk Road capital, 2,500 years old, the historical center of which is a UNESCO World Heritage site filled with magnificent examples of monumental, medieval Islamic and Central Asian architecture.
- 4 Khiva — site of the Itchan Kala
- 5 Namangan — the third largest city, at the northern edge of the Ferghana Valley.
- 6 Nukus — the capital of Qaraqalpaqstan on the Amu Darya is the home of the avant-garde painting collection of the Savitsky Gallery, and is surrounded by a region devastated by the environmental degradation wrought by the drying of the Aral Sea.
- 7 Samarkand — the nation's second largest city, the whole of which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, home to the most famous Silk Road attraction of them all, the Registan.
- 8 Shakhrisabz — a small city, whose historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage site for its impressive monuments from the Timurid Dynasty.
- 9 Termez — the southernmost city near the border with Afghanistan, named by Alexander the Great's forces for the intense temperatures they found here (thermos = hot).
Several of these were once great trading cities on the Silk Road.
Other destinations edit
|Currency||Uzbekistani som (UZS)|
|Population||34.9 million (2021)|
|Electricity||220 volt / 50 hertz (Europlug, Schuko, AS/NZS 3112)|
|Time zone||UTC+05:00, Asia/Samarkand, Asia/Tashkent|
|edit on Wikidata|
The meaning of the name Uzbek is disputed. One version is that it is derived from Turkish 'uz/öz' ('good' or 'true') and 'bek' ('guardian'). Unlike the neighbouring Kazakhs and Kyrgyz, but like their close cousins the Uyghurs, the Uzbeks were mostly a sedentary people, building impressive cities along the old Silk Road.
There is a large population of people in Uzbekistan that speak Tajik (or other dialects of Persian), owing to historic communities in the region. Some of those people consider themselves Uzbek while others consider themselves as Tajik/Persian and living in Uzbekistan. There are also plenty of people who come from mixed Uzbek-Tajik families.
The earliest people in what is now Uzbekistan (that we have names for) are the Saka/Scythians, an Iranian-speaking nomadic peoples that controlled the western steppes from Dobruja to Tocharia from the 9th-3rd centuries BCE. Eventually, Iranian peoples settled down in the region, founding the great cities of Samarkand, Khiva, and Bukhara. These cities served as the northernmost border cities of the different Persian empires, although Irainian-speaking nomads still roamed the steppes to the north. Samarkand (then known as Maracanda) was conquered by Alexander the Great during his campaigns against the Achaemenids (Persia under Cyrus the Great), and the cities of Cyra and Khujand (now both in Tajikistan) were the furthest north Alexander ever got.
With the death of Alexander, his empire split as different satraps (regional warlords) fought for total control. Eventually, the Greco-Bactrian kingdom emerged in the region, so named because it was a fusion of Hellenic and Bactrian cultures. Buddhism was introduced to the region about the same time that Alexander's empire crumbled (around 125 BCE), and it was through Uzbekistan that Buddhism spread into China and further east. Many Sanskrit words and place names are still found in Uzbek (the city of Bukhara is Sanskrit for "abbey"), which is a testament to the influence Buddhism had in the region. It was also in the Greco-Bactrian kingdom that many artistic elements of modern Buddhism (such as the robed figure and the top-knot hairstyle) took hold.
The Greco-Bactrian kingdom eventually collapsed from nomadic invasions (the Hephthalites or White Huns) and its cities were (re)conquered by later Persian and Indo-European states, including the Samanids, the Kushans, and Sasanians. By this time Christianity and Judaism had spread to Central Asia, and Bukhara became famous for its sect of Judaism. Nestorianism, a sect of Christianity, was dominant here, and spread into China and Mongolia before dying out with the arrival of Islam.
Islam was introduced by Arabs in the 8th-9th century. For the Iranian peoples, Islam was introduced as Arab conquests conquered the Sasanian Empire. At the same time as the Persians were being introduced to Islam, nomadic Turkic peoples became dominant on the steppes. The Battle of Talas (751 CE) between the Arab Caliphate and Tang China in modern-day Kyrgyzstan introduced Islam as a religion of victory for the Turkic peoples and reinforced Islam as a dominant religion in Central Asia (the battle itself was a stalemate otherwise).
Eventually, Arab dominance over Central Asia fell to local rulers, the largest of which was the state of Khworezmia (modern-day Turkmenistan and SW Kazakhstan). Unfortunately for everyone in the region (especially the occupants of Merv), the leader of Khworezmia, Shah Mohammed II, deliberately went to war with the rising Chinggis Khan, and the Mongols invaded. With Mongol victory, Central Asia was forever changed. No longer were Persian peoples politically dominant in the cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva - they were still heavily Persian-populated, but they were now ruled by Mongolian or Turkic peoples. With the splitting of the Mongol Empire, the region became part of the Chagatai Khaganate, and Turkic peoples became more politically dominant. It was about the same time that the Uzbek people became more sedentary, and they mixed with local Persian peoples in most of the cities that are now in Uzbekistan.
The most famous leader to come from Uzbekistan is Timur (Tamerlane in the West) who was born in Shahrisabz south of Samarkand in 1336 CE. He quickly overthrew the Chagatais and went on to conquer most of Central Asia, Afghanistan, and parts of Iran and India. His descendants were unable to support his empire (except in India where Babur founded the Mughal dynasty), and by the rise of European colonialism what is now Uzbekistan was composed of three main khanates: Khiva, Bukhara, and Kokand. With the rise of eastward Russian expansion into Siberia, the Russians became more involved in Central Asia. There was a traditional slave trade in the region (especially in Khiva), and Russian desires to prevent their people from being carted off as slaves led to further and further Russian conquests. Eventually, Russia outright annexed Samarkand and the Khanate of Kokand, and turned Khiva and Bukhara into "protectorates".
With the October Revoution in 1917, the Soviet Union was born, bringing communism to Central Asia. The Basmachi Revolt (1916-1934) kept communism out of the region for a while, but was eventually harshly repressed by the victorious Bolsheviks. As punishment (or paranoia), the protectorates of Khiva and Bukhara were formally annexed and Stalin carved Central Asia into the borders we have today, to deliberately weaken the power of any one SSR. Ostensibly, these SSRs were drawn to reflect the ethnic populations inhabiting them, but in reality this meant carving the historically-Persian-dominated cities of Samarkand and Bukhara out of the Persian Tajik SSR and into the Uzbek SSR.
Soviet rule brought about both good and bad things to Uzbekistan. Poverty levels decreased while education levels increased rapidly, and women had more social and political freedom than before. But the anti-religious bent of the ruling Soviets kneecapped Central Asian Islam (Soviets would gather up imams and muftis and shoot them), and planned monoculture agribusiness destroyed the Uzbek environment. During the Soviet era, intensive production of "white gold" (cotton) and grain led to overuse of agrochemicals and the depletion of water supplies, which have left the land poisoned and the Aral Sea and certain rivers half dry. The redirection of the Amu Darya into the Turkmen Canal has been the main source of the Aral Sea's depletion.
Uzbekistan gained independence in 1991, following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Between 1991 and 2016, the country was ruled by Islam Karimov and his government was widely criticized for its poor human rights record. Corruption was rampant during the Karimov years, and Uzbekistan was practically isolated from the rest of the world.
After the death of Karimov, newcomer Shavkat Mirziyoyev was elected president. Under Mirziyoyev, Uzbekistan has started opening up to the world and it would appear that his government is actively trying to improve Uzbekistan's global image and reputation. Whether or not this is genuine is yet to be seen.
Uzbekistan is very hot and sunny most of the year. There is an inland temperate subtropical climate (but palm trees do not grow). the climate is similar to the climate of northern Greece, central Italy or northern Spain or southern France, central Turkey or the climate of Nevada, Colorado or northern California. The hottest months in this country are June, July and August. July is especially hot, and the temperature is considered normal from +45 to +55. Nevertheless, such temperatures are easier to tolerate here, since the air here is very dry, and not humid, as for example in India, Malaysia and similar countries. The most comfortable is to visit this country from mid-May to early June or from August to early September, when it is not cool as in winter, but also not very hot as in summer peak. But it is worth considering that in April and May, as well as in September and October, rainy, cloudy and windy days are not uncommon. There will definitely be no rains and cloudy days only in the summer months. It may snow in Uzbekistan in winter, but it usually melts in a few days, remaining only in mountainous areas.
The hottest regions are Surkhandarya, Kashkadarya, Navoi and Bukhara Vilayats, and the coldest (meaning in winter) are Khorezm Vilayat and the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan.
Uzbekistan measures 1450 km West to East and 930 km North to South.
Mostly flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat intensely irrigated river valleys along course of Amu Darya, Syr Darya (Sirdaryo) and Zarafshon; Ferghana Valley in east surrounded by mountainous Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan; shrinking Aral Sea in west.
- Syr Darya crosses the Ferghana Valley and runs on the North East edge of the Kizil Kum Desert. It is 2212 km long (3019 km including its source Naryn). In antiquity, it was called Jaxartes. Syr Darya flows into the (smaller) Northern part of the Aral Sea.
- Amu Darya rises in the Hindukush and has a length of 2540 km. It was called Oxus in antiquity. It can be a rapid river in spring and is called Dsaihun (suffering from rabies) in Arabic. The river has changed its course several times. Konye Urgench in Turkmenistan, the capital of the old empire of Chwarezm, was situated on the banks of the Amu Darya. Today the distance between the river and the old city is about 40 km. Amu Darya flows into the (bigger) Southern part of the Aral Sea.
Uzbekistan and Liechtenstein are the only two doubly landlocked countries in the world; all their neighbours are landlocked. However, Uzbekistan has the southern shoreline of the Aral Sea, and a couple of its neighbours border the Caspian Sea, but both "seas" are (or, were, in the case of the Aral) actually huge lakes and do not connect to the oceans.
Ramadan is the 9th and holiest month in the Islamic calendar and lasts 29–30 days. Muslims fast every day for its duration and most restaurants will be closed until the fast breaks at dusk. Nothing (including water and cigarettes) is supposed to pass through the lips from dawn to sunset. Non-Muslims are exempt from this, but should still refrain from eating or drinking in public as this is considered very impolite. Working hours are decreased as well in the corporate world. Exact dates of Ramadan depend on local astronomical observations and may vary somewhat from country to country. Ramadan concludes with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, which may last several days, usually three in most countries.
If you're planning to travel to Uzbekistan during Ramadan, consider reading Travelling during Ramadan.
- 1 Jan – New Year (Yangi Yi Bayrami)
- 8 Mar – International Women's Day (Xalqaro Xotin-Qizlar Kuni)
- 21 Mar – Navroz (Persian New Year) (Navro'z Bayrami)
- 9 May – Remembrance Day, Peace Day or Liberation Day (Xotira va Qadirlash Kuni), remembering that Uzbek troops participated in the Soviet army and that 500,000 Uzbek soldiers were killed in World War II.
- 1 Sep – Independence Day (Mustaqillik Kuni), remembering the proclamation of independence from the Soviet Union in 1991
- 1 Oct – Teachers' Day (O'qituvchi va Murabbiylar Kuni)
- 8 Dec – Constitution Day (Konstitutsiya Kuni), remembering the proclamation of the first constitution of independent Uzbekistan in 1992.
Holidays in accordance with the lunar year: the dates of these holidays vary according to the lunar calendar.
- Kurban Kait (Qurbaon Hayit)
- Ramadan (Ramazon Hayit)
Colin Thubron, The Lost Heart of Asia, 1994, Penguin
The official state language of Uzbekistan is Uzbek, a Turkic language. The majority of citizens (over 85%) are ethnic Uzbeks and speak it as their native language, although due to its history as part of the Soviet Union, many (especially in Tashkent) also speak Russian, which is still a mandatory second language in all schools, and is the de facto second official language and used for interethnic communication. Local Russian has been strongly influenced by Uzbek, and many Uzbek speakers often use Russian words and terms in their everyday conversations (especially in cities), although there are very few Russian words and terms in the official register (for example in television, mass media, books and newspapers). The official script of the Uzbek language has been the Uzbek Latin alphabet since 1993, but the Cyrillic alphabet, introduced during the Soviet period, is actively used de facto in parallel (simultaneously) with the Latin alphabet. Uzbek speakers will easily understand the Uyghur language, they generally understand Turkish and Azerbaijani, they have a little difficulty understanding Turkmen, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tatar, Crimean Tatar and Bashkir, as well as many other Turkic languages.
There are also significant numbers of ethnic Tajiks and Kazakhs in Uzbekistan, primarily speaking their native tongue as a first language. In Samarkand and Bukhara, for instance, one is just as likely to hear Tajik being spoken as Uzbek. Russian is widely spoken especially in the cities. In Tashkent the majority of the population speak Russian as a first language and one is just as likely to hear it being spoken as Uzbek. Identity may or may not be tied with language, depending on who you ask; it is equally as likely to find someone speaking Tajik who identifies as Tajik as it is to find someone speaking Tajik who identifies as Uzbek.
In the semi-autonomous region called the "Republic of Karakalpakstan" in western Uzbekistan, ethnic Karakalpaks (over 33% in Karakalpakstan) speak their native language, which is closely related to Kazakh and Kyrgyz. Karakalpak and Uzbek have equal rights as an official language here. Many Karakalpaks also speak Russian and Uzbek and understand Kazakh and Kyrgyz well, having three or even four or five languages.
In cities, more and more people speak English, especially in the field of hotel business and catering. In tourist cities (for example, in Tashkent, Bukhara, Samarkand or Khiva) and establishments you will not encounter problems with English. A few years ago, English became compulsory to study (along with Russian) in schools starting from the first grade (previously, English was studied only from the third grade and Russian from the first grade). There are especially many native English speakers naturally in large cities and tourist centers. However, remember that this does not mean that any passerby (even young age) will be able to speak English normally. The generation born after 1995 speaks English better than others, while the older generation, who studied in Soviet schools, learned German as a foreign language, and remember a few German words.
Get in edit
Entry requirements edit
Uzbekistan eased its visa requirements and as of March 2019 citizens of 65 countries can visit the country without having to get a visa. These include the CIS countries whose citizens generally can stay for 90 days, and nationals of most first world countries (notably U.S. citizens have to obtain a visa for anything other than transit) and some others that can stay for 30 days.
One note: Citizens of China (PRC) on tours, the U.S., and Vietnam who are 55 years or older are able to visit Uzbekistan visa-free for up to 30 days as a tourist. Anyone younger than 55 from one of those countries (or citizens of China who are not on a tour) are required to have a visa in advance.
To apply for a visa complete the application form from here[dead link], print out the resulting PDF and take to your printed form, together with some photos and a photocopy of your passport to your nearest Uzbek embassy. They will then ask the MFA in Tashkent for permission to issue a visa, which takes 7-14 days. Once this permission is granted you can pick up your visa. To avoid two trips to the embassy you can get a Letter of Invitation (LOI) in advance (by email) and once approval has been granted you can pick up your visa from your chosen embassy in only 1 visit - this is handy for people travelling who want to pick up a visa 'on the go'. An LOI can be obtained from travel companies when a hotel booking is made. Talk to your local travel agent in your own country. The LOI will typically cost US$30-40 for a short stay. For the latest information see the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Within 3 days of entrance to the country, you need to make a registration, an official statement indicating the address you are staying at. If you stay at reasonable hotels, they will do it by default. Make sure you ask your hotel to give you a copy of the registration slip - you could well have to show them to the border guards when you leave the country. If you stay at a house, you will face a lot of bureaucratic paperwork in order to register yourself. Make sure that it is done, else you risk a 100-dollar fee when you depart.
If you are from a country with waived visas, the rules are frustratingly vague. The minimum effort you can get away with will depend on the border crossing, how harmless you look, and the whimsy of any given customs officer. Still, they aren't so strict now on the whole "re-registration every three days" business. You can likely get away with registering a couple of times in a month (even not at all) and making a few excuses at your exit point. Sometimes they don't even ask. Keep overnight train tickets for this. Probably a good idea to register once or twice though just for the sake of a smooth crossing. Online registration is an expensive effort.
When you enter Uzbekistan you might find fairly lengthy immigration and passport procedures (or not), but these are fairly painless.
Update: Since July 2017, Uzbekistan offers a full online process for certain citizens that wish to apply for a visa. The eVisa can be applied for on the government's website.
By plane edit
The main airport of Uzbekistan is the 1 Tashkent International Airport "Yuzhniy" (TAS IATA). The airport itself is modern and has various international carriers operating as well as the national Uzbekistan Airways. Though the airport infrastructure is good, the staff are not always. You may find pointless bureaucracy and an unhelpful attitude from them, equally you may pass through efficiently. Baggage claim and customs procedures can sometimes be time-consuming: allow two hours. For more information see the Tashkent#By plane section.
By train edit
- Tashkent - Moscow (3 times weekly): Train 6 Uzbekistan leaves Moscow on M W and F at 23:15 and arrives in Tashkent at 22:35 on W F and Su. The distance from Moscow to Tashkent by rail is 3,369 km. Some Moscow-bound trains run to/from Andijan.
- Tashkent - Ufa (3 times weekly)
- Tashkent - Chelyabinsk (once weekly)
- Tashkent - Novosibirsk (every 4 days)
- Nukus - Tashkent - Almaty (once weekly)
There are also railway lines linking Uzbekistan to Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, but they are used only by transit trains, therefore inaccessible for people to/from Uzbekistan. See respective countries for details.
By car edit
Generally, Uzbek border posts are open during normal business hours (usually 9am - 6pm), although some busier ones can be open 24/7. It is relatively easy to take a (shared) taxi to the border, walk across, and find a (shared) taxi on the other side to take you to your final destination. Driving your own or rented car across a border necessitates more paperwork and includes some import costs.
From Afghanistan edit
From Kazakhstan edit
There are only two border crossings between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan:
- Gisht Kuprik (Chernyaevka) between Shymkent and Tashkent is the main road crossing between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan . A shared taxi or marschrutka from Kolos bus stop at Shymkent to the border costs about US$4. The trip takes about 1 hour. The border is open 07:00 to 21:00 (Tashkent time). You will have to walk over the border and to take a taxi from the border to Tashkent, which will cost about 6000 som. There are reports of waiting times up to 6 hours at the border.
- There is another crossing between Beyneu in Western Kazakhstan and Kungrad in Uzbekistan.
From Kyrgyzstan edit
- Buses from Bishkek to Uzbekistan stop at Gisht Kuprik (Chernyaevka) border. You will have to take a taxi from the border to Tashkent for 6000 som. A transit visa for Kazakhstan is required.
- You can take a taxi or minibus from Jalal Abad to Khanabad (20 som) and walk over the border.
- You can take a taxi (50 som) or minibus (5 som) from Osh to Dustlyk (Dostyk) and a shared taxi from there to Andijan in Uzbekistan
From Tajikistan edit
It is about 55 km from Dushanbe to the border at Denau. Taxis depart from Zarnisar Bazaar in Dushanbe. A seat in a taxi will cost about 8TJS and the trip will take about 90 minutes. There are minibuses from the border to the town of Denau. From there you will have to take a shared taxi to Samarkand.
If traveling west from the Tajik portion of the Ferghana Valley, the most commonly used (and most reliably open) border crossing is between Bekobod in Uzbekistan and Qushtegirmon in Tajikistan. Taxis and marshrutkas run from Khujand (TJ) to the border, and you can pick up taxis or minibuses from Bekobod to Tashkent.
Traveling north from Tajikistan, and the closest border point between Tashkent and Khujand (TJ), there is a border crossing at Oybek in Uzbekistan and Buston in Tajikistan. There are shared taxis on both sides of the border.
Traveling east from Tajikistan, there are two border crossings at Konibodom (TJ), and both go to Kokand. Both crossings can be used; they just circumvent a small mountain on the border.
From Turkmenistan edit
There are three main crossings from Uzbekistan to Turkmenistan that foreigners can use: Farap-Alat (connecting Bukhara and Türkmenabat), Shavat-Dashoguz (connecting Khiva/Urgench and Dashoguz), and Hojayli-Konye Urgench (connecting Nukus with Konye Urgench). If traveling from Uzbekistan into Turkmenistan, make sure all of your paperwork (especially your visa) is taken care of before you cross the border.
By bus edit
When land borders are open, buses run to all neighboring countries.
By boat edit
Apart from the southern section of the inland Aral sea, Uzbekistan is land-locked: it's one of only two doubly landlocked countries in the world, the other being Liechtenstein.
Get around edit
By train edit
The most comfortable way to travel between the major tourist cities in Uzbekistan is by train. The main line Tashkent - Samarkand - Bukhara is served once a day in each direction by two express trains named "Afrosiob" and "Sharq": The Afrosiob is a Talgo-250-type train that takes 2.5 hours for Tashkent to Samarkand and it even meets most definitions of high speed rail at 250 km/h (160 mph) top speed . The "Sharq" takes less than 7 hours for the 600-km-journey Tashkent - Bukhara (with intermediate stop in Samarkand). A daily overnight train to and from Tashkent to Kungrad offers the possibility to travel during the night and so a day is not lost travelling. Comfortable sleeping carriages allow a good sleep.
The timetable is available online. The server is often down, but you can use the Russian Railways website to see timetables.
Unlike to ordinary local trains the express trains have three classes: The economy class (2nd) with 36 persons per carriage and still plenty of space and comfort, the business class (1st) and the VIP class (expect some free drinks and snacks). The Afrosiob is the fastest and most expensive train which costs from Tashkent to Samarkand for 2nd/1st/VIP 51,000/68,000/98,000 soms. Doing the same trip with the Sharq will save you around 22,000 soms ($7) in each class, but increases the travel time for almost 1.30h.
Overnight trains also run from Tashkent via Samarkand to Kungrad (7 times weekly), so it's also possible to travel to Khiva (30 kilometres from Urgench, taxi/bus available) or to the Aral Sea (Moynaq, 70 km from Kungrad) by train. On Thursdays, there is an overnight train in Urgench that also stops in Bukhara.
There are four types of sleepers:
- miagki vagon (soft wagon) - 2 berth compartments
- kupeiny vagon - 4 berth compartments
- platskartny vagon - closely packed beds in a commonspace
- obshi vagon - as above but beds used in the seating configuration, therefore used for day trips
Book your ticket well in advance; booking on the day of departure is sometimes not possible as trains can get full or due to computer problems. If you buy the ticket in person, you'll have to show your passport. Some basic Russian can come in handy as well.
The second best option, and an experience. Don't be put off as these are pretty safe as far as the people go, although the roads may be a different story. But for getting between Nukus and Khiva, or Khiva to Urgench to Bukhara, this is the only realistic way to go.
The taxi driver will have a destination city: so at the ranks ask around for the city you're headed to. If you match, you then negotiate a rate. Ask around beforehand, you can quite easily get ripped off, because each passenger negotiates separately with the driver, so he can charge locals normal rates and take you for all you have.
Once you've done that, you wait. The car only leaves when full, or when the driver gets bored. If possible, get the front passenger seat. Don't be polite about this as you do not want the middle seat. When it's over 50°C in the middle of the desert, with no air conditioning (you pay extra for a car with that), you want to be as close to a window as possible, and with only one person sweating against you!
Also, some roads are slow and sometimes of very poor quality. It takes 6-8 hours from Urgench to Bukhara if you're lucky. When you do this section you'll understand why you don't want to risk the bus.
10,000 som per hour in a shared taxi between cities is a good rule of thumb, depending on your haggling skills.
By bus edit
If you travel any distance on a bus in Uzbekistan, take toilet paper with you and be careful what you eat at stops along the way.
Intercity buses are uncomfortable. No more uncomfortable than other intercity buses in this part of the world, but the constant hooting, bickering locals, tinny Russian music videos and ever-present smell of sausages can make for an irritating journey.
On the bright side, if you're lucky you might be offered some sausages.
By car edit
Drive on the right. International driving permit required. Minimum age: 17. Speed limit: 60 to 80 km/h in urban areas, 90 km/h on highways.
Traffic is dangerous for both drivers and pedestrians. Cars are often in poor condition and traffic rules are rarely followed. The country has a seat-belt law, but compliance is haphazard. The use of mobile phones while driving is prohibited.
In remote areas, roads are often poorly surfaced and poorly lit. Outside the metropolitan area, petrol stations are scarce and fuel quality can vary. Access to spare parts can be difficult.
There are several paved highways with two lanes in Uzbekistan:
- AH5 from Gishtkuprik/Chernyavka on the border to Kazakhstan via Tashkent, Syrdaria, Samarkand, Navoi and Bukhara to Alat on the border to Turkmenistan (680 km),
- AH7 from the border to Kyrgyzstan via Andijon, Tashkent and Syrdaria to Xovos/Khavast on the border to Tajikistan (530 km),
- AH62 from Gishtkuprik/Chernyavka on the border to Kazakhstan via Tashkent, Syrdaria, Samarkand and Guzar to Termez on the border to Afghanistan (380 km),
- AH63 from Oazis on the border to Kazakhstan in the North West of Uzbekistan via Nukus and Bukhara to Guzar (950 km paved road, 240 km unpaved)
- AH65 from Uzun on the border to Tajikistan to Termez on the border to Afghanistan (180 km)
You can travel by private taxi, minibus or normal bus. While there are official taxis, most cars will become taxis if you wave them down. Meters are rare, so agree the price beforehand.
Urban transport edit
During the day the metro (underground train) is the good option. After midnight you are recommended to use taxi services. It is better to call the taxi (car-service) to pick you up in advance. Some car-services can serve the foreign speaking tourists. You can get more information in the hotel.
Uzbekistan has preserved a rich architectural heritage. The construction of monumental buildings was seen as a matter of prestige, emphasizing the power of the ruling dynasty, leading families and higher clergy. The external appearance of towns was determined to a great extent by their fortifications. The walls were flanked at regular intervals by semicircular towers and the entrances to towns were marked by darwazas (gates). These gates usually had a high vault and a gallery for lookout and were flanked by two mighty towers. The doors were closed at night and in case of danger. Along the main streets were rows of shops, specialized in different goods, and many skilled craftsmen had their workshops in these stalls. The most important covered markets are called tag, tim or bazaars (shopping passages) and charsu (crossroads, literally "four directions"). In big cities the ark (fortress) was the administrative center. It contained the emir's palace, chancellery, treasury, arsenal and the jail for high-ranking prisoners. The towns also had large public centres, consisting of a maydan (open square) surrounded by large buildings for civil or religious purposes.
Religious buildings edit
- The Friday Mosque (Masjid Al Jumu'ah) is located in the town. It had a spacious courtyard with a surrounding gallery and a maqsura (screened-off enclosure) in the main axis. A typical example is the Kalan Mosque at Bukhara.
- The Oratory Mosque (Namazgah) is situated outside of the town. Prayers at two important Muslim festivals were conducted in public. The worshippers gathered in an open space in front of the building where the minbar (imam's pulpit) stood.
- The Neighbourhood Mosque was smaller in size and consisted of a covered hall with the mihrab and an exterior gallery with columns. They were built from donations of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood and are often richly decorated. An example of this type is the Baland (Boland) Mosque at Bukhara.
- The Madrasa is an institution for higher education of ulama (Islamic scholars). The madrasa has a courtyard with two or four aywand (arched portals) on the axes which were used as classrooms in the summer, a row of cells on one or two floors, darsakhanas (lecture rooms) in two or four corners and a mosque for daily prayer. The main facade has a high portal with two or four minaret-like towers at the corners of the building. Madrasas from the 16th and 17th centuries that have been preserved are Madar-Khan, Abdullah Khan, Kukeldash, Nadir Divan Begi and Abdul Aziz Khan at Bukhara, Shir-Dor and Tilla-Kari at Samarkand, Kukeldash and Baraq Khan in Tashkent, Said Ataliq at Denau and Mir Rajab Dotha at Kanibadam. Madrasas built in the 18th and 19th century include Narbuta Bi at Kokand, Qutlugh Murad Inaq, Khojamberdybii, Khoja Moharram, Musa Tura and Allah-Quili Khan in Khiva.
- The Khanaqah was originally a guest house for travelling Sufis near the residence of their pir (spiritual masters). Under the Timurids they became meeting places of the followers of a Sufi order, attended by representatives of the ruling elite and often a zikr-khana (room for exposition and Sufi rites) was added. Examples of khanaqas from the 16th and 17th century include Zaynuddin, Fayzabad, Bahaudin and Nadi Divan-Begi at Bukhara, Mulla Mir near Ramitan, Qasim Shaiykh at Karmana and Imam Bahra near Khatirchi.
- Memorial buildings were erected in the 14th and 15th centuries git Temur and his family, e.g. Gur-Emir and Shah-i Zinda at Samarkand and at Shakrizabs. In the 16th and 17th centuries fewer mausoleums were built. An example from this period is the Qafal Shashi Mausoleum in Tashkent. Monumental buildings were often erected near holy tombs. At Bukhara a monumental kanaqah was built near the founder of the Naqshbandi order, Bahauddein and at Char Bakr, the family necropolis of the powerful Juybari shaykhs. From the 16th century onwards, mausoleums for rulers were no longer built. The rulers were interred in madrasas, the Shaybanids of Samarkand in the Abu Said Mausoleum on the Registan, Ubaydullah Khan from Bukhara in the Mir-i Arab Madrasa and Abdul Aziz Khan in the Abdul Aziz Madrasa.
Civic architecture edit
- Market buildings (Charsu, Tim, Taq) form the very heart of an oriental town. The charsu is a building covered by a central dome, standing at the crossroads, surrounded by shops and workshops covered by small domes. The tim is a trading passage and the taq a domed building on a smaller scale built at the intersection of major streets. At Bukhara the Taq-i Zargaran (Goldsmiths' Dome) has an octagonal central space covered by a dome set on 32 intersecting arches. Shops and workshops around the central space are topped by small domes.
- Caravanserais played an important role along the trade routes. According to the traditional plan a caravanserai is a rectangular building with a large courtyard, galleries for animals and baggage, lodgings for the travellers and a mosque. The outer walls were high and thick, the entrance was well guarded and at the corners there were towers for defense. The best exampla is at Rabat al-Malik. A small number of caravanserais have survived, party in ruins, e.g. the caravanserai near the Qaraul Bazar on the road from Bukhara to Karshi, the Abdullah Khan caravanserai on the road from Karshi to Termez.
- Bathhouses from the 16th and 17th centuries have been preserved at Samarkand, Sahrh-i Sabz, Bukhara and Tashkent. They are heated by a system of channels under the floor, distributing the heat uniformly through the whole building. Some of them have rooms for disrobing, hot and cold rooms, a massage room or a water closet. Bathhouses are covered with domes which give them their characteristic external appearance.
Architectural Ensembles edit
- The Pay-i Kalan (Pedestal of the Great at Bukhara,
- The Kosh Madrasa at Bukhara,
- The Lab-i Hauz at Bukhara,
- The Registan at Samarkand
- The Char-Bakr Complex at Sumitan, outside of Bukhara
Nature Reserves edit
- Jeyran Ecological Centre (40 km from Bukhara). The jeyran (Central Asian gazelle) was hunted in the last century by men in jeeps and helicopters. Today, the Uzbekistan jeyran is included in the Red Book of Endangered Species). The Jeyran ecological centre was founded about 1985 and is the only one of its kind in Central Asia. At the beginning 42 jeyrans were brought here, but today 700 unique animals live here in a fenced area of 5000 hectares. Besides jeyrans, Prezhevalskiy horses and koulans are bred in the reserve.
- Kitab State Geological Reserve.
- Kyzylkum Tugai and Sand Reserve (in the north-west of Bukhara Province). The reserve was founded in 1971. It covers the flood-lands of the Amu Darya river and the sand-dune desert near-by. The riverside vegetation occupies an area of 3177 hectares and the sand area is 2544 hectares. The best time to visit the reserve is spring. According to ornithologists there are 190 species of birds in the reserve, including herons, river terns, wild ducks, sandpipers NS turtle-doves. The reserve has a lush flora of poplars, silver oleasters and riverside willows. Deer, wild boars, wolves, jackals, foxes, hares and reed cats live on the tugai woods and zhe population of jeyrans is being restored.
- Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biospheric Reserve. The Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biospheric Reserve is being implemented by the government of Uzbekistan, Global Ecology Fund and UN Development Program and co-financed by German Union of Nature Protection. The reserve lies between the desert and mountain systems of Central Asia. It consists of the southern part of the Kyzylkum Desert, lakes Aydarkul and Tuzgan and the mountain ridges of Nuratau and Koitash. The existing Nurata Reserve and Arnasay Ornithological Reserve on Lake Tuzgan will be integrated into the new Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biospheric Reserve. Among the animals integtrated in the Red Book of Endagered Species are the Severtsev ram or Kyzylkum ram, golden eagle, bearded and black griffon-vulture. In the reserve are rare sorts of walnut-trees, Central Asian juniper, Bukhara almond-trees, pistachio-trees, wild vines, apricot-trees, apple-trees and various sorts of dog-roses. Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biospheric Reserve will be included in the UNESCO global list of biosphere reserves. The experiences will be used in founding biosphere reserves in the Central Kyzylkum Desert, Southern Ustyurt Desert and the tugai woods of the river Amu Darya.
- Ugam-Chatkal National Park (in the spurs of the Western Tien Shan, about 80 km from Tashkent). Ugam-Chatkal National Park is one of the oldest nature reserves in Uzbekistan, founded in 1947. The Western Tien Shan is the natural habitat to 44 species of mammals, 230 species of birds and 1168 species of plants including several endemic plants. In the National Park live white-claw bears, wolves, Tien Shan foxes, red marmots, stone-martens, Turkestan lynx, snow leopards, wild boars, badgers, Siberian roes, mountain goast and Tien Shan wild rams as well as wild turkeys, mountain partridges, golden eagles, bearded and eagle vultures. The slopes of the Pskem ridge are covered with walnut-trees, wild fruit trees and wild bushes. The banks of the river are occupied by archa (Central Asian juniper). The Chimgan-Charvak-Beldersay Resort Zone, covering an area 100,000 hectares, has three health-recreation complexes: 'Charvak', 'Chimgan' and 'Beldersay'.
- Camel trekking (in the yurt camps at Lake Aidarkul or Ayaz-Quala).
- Bird watching.
- Trekking (in the Ugam Chatkal National Park).
- Rafting (in the Chatkal or Syr-Darya Rivers).
- Yillar. The socio-religious observance, where traditions carried out during Christmas abroad take place across Uzbekistan during the New Year, including the trimming of its decorations.
Exchange rates for Uzbekistani Som (or Sum)
As of December 2022:
Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE.com
The currency of the country is the Uzbekistani so‘m, denoted in Cyrillic as "сўм" (ISO code: UZS).
The currency does not float freely, so there is a black market.
Coins in Uzbekistan are issued in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 so‘m (silver ring with yellowish gold center). Banknotes in Uzbekistan are issued in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 and 200,000 so‘m.
10,000 and 50,000 so‘m notes were introduced in 2017 and are the usual notes which you will get at the exchange counter. Even a 100,000 so‘m note has been in circulation since 2019 but these are more common with black market money changers and rare to get from banks. The US dollar used to be the foreign currency of choice, but nowadays the euro is also accepted everywhere although at a worse rate.
It is illegal' to exchange money outside official currency exchange offices, which are found only in banks and some expensive international hotels. In particular, the money exchange at Chorsu Bazaar has stopped, although you might find yourself being asked by one or the other person on the market if you want to exchange currency with them. Their exchange rate can be much worse than the official one. In March 2018, it was possible to exchange all sorts of foreign currency at the official exchange offices, even very small bills. The exchange of US dollars and euros appeared to be done at almost the market rate, while Russian rubles were exchanged at 5-10% below the market rate.
ATMs (or Bankomats as they used to be known) can be found in larger cities (Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Termez and apparently there is one in Nukus). Most provide som and others USD at a rate of 0–1.5%. Sometimes black market money changers will give a better rate for exchange of dollars and rubles (look for a group of men hanging out by an "Aviakassa") but for euros the bank is almost certainly a better call. Visa and MasterCard are accepted at ATMs and often Union Pay too. ATMs can be found in many places in Tashkent. Some that are not part of a bank will charge a fee of 6,000-7,500 so‘m (which is very reasonable by international standards). Be careful of withdrawing a large number of dollars and then leaving Uzbekistan with more money than you declared when you entered. You have to declare foreign currency above US$1,000 at the airport upon arrival.
International credit cards (Visa and MasterCard) are increasingly accepted at restaurants, retail outlets including supermarkets and entertainment venues.
Uzbekistan is cheaper than neighbouring Kazakhstan, but probably a little more expensive than Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan. A street snack costs about US$0.80. A comfortable double room is US$40.
In Uzbekistan people traditionally buy goods at bazaars. Prices are fixed in department stores only. In bazaars, private shops and private souvenir stores haggling is part of the game. Bazaars are the best place to observe the daily life of the locals. The Alayski Bazaar is one of the oldest and most famous bazaars of Central Asia. You will find beautiful rugs, silk, spices, handicrafts and traditional clothes in the Eski Djouva and Chor Su bazaars in the Old City of Tashkent.
Typical souvenirs are:
- babaichik, figurines,
- tubeteika, traditional Uzbek caps and
- Shiljait, Shilajit means "Conqueror of mountains and destroyer of weakness". It is used in Ayurvedic medicine as an herbal rejuvinator, nerve tonic and natural stimulant.
When you go to restaurants, always ask for menu or price if they do not provide one. While some of the well-established restaurants provide surprisingly good value by European standards, some of the random or less popular restaurants try to take advantage of tourists by overcharging up to five times the normal price.
- Bread - Uzbeks eat lots of bread (non in Uzbek). Round bread is called lepioshka in Russian. You can buy it anywhere, in the bazaar it costs around 1,000-2,500 som. It is delicious when freshly baked and makes a good snack by itself. Samarkand is very famous for its bread. The characteristic Samarkand bread obi-non is traditionally baked in clay furnaces. Bread is served with every meal.
- Chocolate - Not something you associate with Uzbekistan, but the country produces some very good chocolate cake. A slice of rich moist cake can cost 10,000 to 25,000 som in a cafe or restaurant. However, if you purchase in a cake shop expect to pay 4,000 to 5,000 som per slice. A slice can cost even less if you are able to charm one from a seller in the wholesale section of the market. Individually wrapped chocolates are also available by the kilogram from mix and match bins in the markets and also in some convenience stores.
- Chuchvara - similar to ravioli and stuffed with mutton and onions (aka 'pelmeni' in Russian).
- Lagman - thick soup with meat, potatoes, spices, vegetables and pasta. By right, it should include 50 ingredients. Often carrot, red beet, cabbage, radish, garlic, tomatoes, peppers and onions are added. The noodles should be very thin.
- Manti - lamb and onion filled dumplings, often with onions, peppers and mutton fat.
- Osh (also known as plov, palov or pilaf) is the national dish. It's made of rice, carrots, onions, and mutton, and you will eat it if you go to Uzbekistan. Each region has its own way of cooking plov, so you should taste it in different places. According to legend plov was invented by the cooks of Alexander the Great. Plov can also be made with peas, carrots, raisins, dried apricots, pumpkins or quinces. Often spices such as peppers, crushed or dried tomatoes are added.
- Shashlik - grilled meat. Usually served only with raw onions. Veal or mutton is marinated in salt, peppers and vinegar and eight to ten pieces of meat are grilled on a spit over the open fire.
- Somsas, which are pastry pockets filled with beef, mutton, pumpkin or potatoes. In spring, "green somsas" are made from yalpiz, mint or pennyroyal growing wild in the mountains and rural areas. And the amazing thing is people just pick them up for free and make tasty somsas. You can find somsas being cooked and sold on the streets.
- Mastava. rice soup with pieces of onion, carrots, tomatoes, peas and occasionally wild plums.
- Shurpa. soup of mutton (sometimes beef) and vegetables.
- Bechbarmak. a speciality of the nomadic Kazakhs, boiled meat of sheep or ox and pieces of liver, served with onions, potatoes and noodles.
Being a historic crossroads and part of numerous empires, Uzbek food is very eclectic in its origins. Indian, Iranian, Arab, Russian, Chinese and even Korean influences all contribute to Uzbekistan's unique cuisine.
There are two national drinks of Uzbekistan: tea and vodka (result of more than a century of Russian domination of the land).
- Tea is served virtually everywhere: home, office, cafes, etc. Uzbek people drink black tea in winter and green tea in summer, instead of water. If tea is served in the traditional manner, the server will pour tea into a cup from the teapot and then pour the tea back into the teapot. This action is repeated three times. These repetitions symbolize loy (clay) which seals thirst, moy (grease) which isolates from the cold and the danger and tchai (tea or water) which extinguishes the fire. If you are being served tea in an Uzbek home, the host will attempt at all times to make sure your cup is never filled. If the host fills your cup, it probably means that it is time for you to leave, but this occurs really rarely, because Uzbeks are very hospitable. The left hand is considered impure. The tea and the cups are given and taken by the right hand.
A mind-numbing variety of brands of wine and vodka are available almost everywhere.
Since the Republic of Uzbekistan is a secular state, the sale/purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages are allowed and absolutely free, as for example in Turkey or Russia. Previously, alcohol was sold in any stores, but now the laws allow selling alcoholic beverages only to those stores that have a license and are several hundred meters away from schools/kindergartens and religious sites.
- Wine produced in Uzbekistan has won numerous international prestigious awards for a high quality. Although Uzbekistan is predominantly Muslim, for the most part the Islam practiced there tends to be more cultural than religious.
- Beer is available in every shop and is treated as soft drink and does not require any license to sell. There are special licensed shops selling Vodka, Wine and other Drinks. Russian made vodka is available in only few shops.
- Kumis is fermented mare's milk, which is alcoholic.
In Tashkent there are various night (dance) clubs and restaurants. They usually work till late night/early morning. Take enough cash because drinks and snacks are much more expensive than in daytime restaurants. Also you can find overnight Uzbek "chill-out" restaurants where you enjoy traditional food laying on large wooden sofas (tapchans/suri). It is not recommended to hang out on the street or parks after 11PM; even if you do not face problems with criminals, you will definitely attract unwanted interest from local police (militsiya) patrolling the area.
There are many hotels in the country. In Tashkent, accommodations can cost US$30 or more, depending on your preferred level of luxury.
Yurt stays edit
- Nurata Yurt Camp, about 500 km (7 hours drive) from Tashkent, 250 km /3 hours drive) from Samarkand and Bokhara, near Aydakul Lake, US$60 per person incl. full board and camel trip. The Yurts can accommodate 8 to 10 people.
- Ayaz Kala Yurt Camp, about 100 km from Khiva, 70 km from Urgench, 450 km from Bokhara and 150 km from Nukus. phone 2210770, 2210707, 3505909, fax 53243–61. Access from Khiva and Urgench is via a pontoon bridge over the Amu Darya River. The yurts are on a hill about 30 meters high, near the archaeological site of Ayaz Kala. The ancient fortresses of Ayaz Kala are nearby. US$ 60 per person incl. three meals. The yurts can accommodate 20 to 25 persons.
- Aydar Yurt Camp, in the Navoi region in the center of the Kyzyl Kum desert, 10 km from Lake Aydar Kul. The Aydar Yurt Camp is famous for camel safaris.
The economy of Uzbekistan is experiencing an acute shortage of highly qualified and simply qualified personnel after the country's opening to the outside world and the transition to a full-fledged market economy after the fall of Islam Karimov's dictatorship in 2016. If you are highly qualified or just a qualified specialist, then it is not difficult to get a work permit now. They are issued by your employer. For simple professions, it is more difficult to get a permit if you are not a citizen of one of the CIS member countries, since the state wants to provide simple professions primarily to its citizens. There is an IT visa for IT specialists.
In the early 2020s, many IT specialists from sanctioned Russia and Belarus, as well as from war-torn Ukraine, have begun to move to Uzbekistan to work because of the cheapness of the country and the similar mentality and lifestyle of the inhabitants of these countries. Uzbekistan also has a lot of qualified expats from the USA, European countries (mainly citizens of Germany, United Kingdom, Poland, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Latvia, Spain, Balkans), Turkey, Iran, India, China, South Korea, Japan, Pakistan and Malaysia. There are a lot of labor migrants and just immigrants from neighboring Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan. Mostly migrants from Afghanistan (a lot of them live and work in Termez) work in low-paid jobs.
Nevertheless, there is a lot of unemployment in simple professions in the country, as the market is oversaturated with cheap labor by the residents of Uzbekistan themselves. In addition, wages for ordinary occupations on average does not exceed $250 per regions and $350 in Tashkent, which the citizens of Uzbekistan's go to work (mostly just a profession) mainly in Russia (it employs no less than 4 million migrants from Uzbekistan) and Turkey (400-450 thousand), and in Kazakhstan, the USA, South Korea, to a lesser extent in European countries (mainly Germany, Sweden, Spain, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Portugal, Czech Republic and Poland), and in Israel, UAE, Japan, Malaysia, Canada, China.
The working week in Uzbekistan usually lasts 5 or 6 days (respectively, Sunday or Saturday/Sunday are days off), and usually starts at 8-9 in the morning and lasts until 5-7 in the evening. The culture of working relations is similar to Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union, with a pinch of Muslim culture and the culture of working relations in East Asia.
If you want to learn Persian or find yourself with native speakers, and you don't have the opportunity to get to Iran, Afghanistan or Tajikistan, then you need to go to Uzbekistan, to the cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, where there are many Persian speakers.
Stay safe edit
The areas of Uzbekistan bordering Afghanistan should be avoided for all but essential travel. Extreme caution should also be exercised in areas of the Ferghana Valley bordering Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. There have been a number of security incidents in this region, as well as several exchanges of gunfire across the Uzbek/Kyrgyz border. Some border areas are also mined. Travellers should therefore avoid these areas and cross only at authorized border crossing points.
For the most part, Uzbekistan is generally safe for visitors, perhaps the by-product of a police state. There are many anecdotal (and a significant number of documented) reports of an increase in street crime, especially in the larger towns, particularly Tashkent. This includes an increase in violent crime. Information on crime is largely available only through word of mouth - both among locals and through the expat community - as the state-controlled press rarely, if ever, reports street crime. As economic conditions in Uzbekistan continue to deteriorate, street crime is increasing.
Normal precautions should be taken, as one would in virtually any country. Especially in the cities (few travellers will spend much time overnight in the small villages), be careful after dark, avoid unlighted areas, and don't walk alone. Even during the day, refrain from openly showing significant amounts of cash. Men should keep wallets in a front pocket and women should keep purses in front of them with a strap around an arm. Avoid wearing flashy or valuable jewellery which can easily be snatched.
Scams are not unheard of. One of the most common (and one that is not limited to Uzbekistan) involves a stranger coming up to the victim and saying they have found cash lying on the street. They will then try to enlist you in a complicated scheme that will result in you "splitting" the cash - of course only after you have put up some of your own. The entire scenario is ludicrous, but apparently enough greedy foreigners fall for it that it continues. If someone comes up to you with the "found cash" routine, tell them straight away that you are not interested (in whatever language you choose) and walk away.
Also beware of locals you don't know who offer to show you the "night life." This should be completely avoided, though some visitors seem to leave their common sense at home.
While all of these precautions should be observed during travel virtually anywhere in the world, for some reason many tourists in Uzbekistan seem to lower their guard. They should not.
It is also possible that you will be asked by police (Militsiya) for documents. This doesn't happen often, but it can, and they have a legal right to do so. By law, you should carry your passport and visa with you in Uzbekistan, though in practice, it is better to make a color scan of the first two pages of your passport and your Uzbek visa before you arrive. Carry the colour copies with you when you're walking around, and keep the original documents in the hotel safe. The scanned documents will almost always suffice. If not, make it clear to the Militsiya officer that he will have to come to your hotel to see the originals. Unless they have something out of the norm in mind (such as a bribe) they will almost always give you a big smile and tell you to go along. Always be polite with the Militsiya, but also be firm. While almost all of them take bribes, they take them from locals. For the most part, they understand that going too far with a foreigner will only cause them problems, especially if the foreigner is neither being abusive nor quaking with fear.
One note about locals offering to show you around: It is common for younger Uzbeks (usually male) who speak English to try and "meet" foreigners at local hotels and offer to serve as interpreters and guides. This is done in daylight and in the open, often in or near some of the smaller but better hotels. This can be rewarding for both the local and the visitor. The local is usually trying to improve their English or French (occasionally other languages, but usually English) and to make a few dollars/euros. If you are approached by a clean-cut person offering such services, and you are interested, question them about their background, what they are proposing to do for you and how much they want to charge you (anywhere between $10 and $25 a day is realistic depending on their services and how long they spend with you). Most of the legitimate offers will be from young people who have studied in the West on exchange programs and/or studied at the University of World Diplomacy and/or Languages in Tashkent. If everything seems to fit, their language skills are good and they seem eager and polite, but not pushy, you may want to consider this. They should offer to show you museums, historical sites, cafés, bazaars, cultural advice, generally how to get around, etc. They should ask you what you want to see and/or do. Often this works out well. However, for your and their protection, do not attempt to engage in political discussions of any type.
Again, if they are proposing "night life" (or related) services, do NOT take up their offers.
Stay healthy edit
Uzbekistan's health care is not up to Western standards. There is often a shortage of medicines and medical supplies. Travellers should take the necessary medicines (including prescriptions, see section on laws and practices) and supplies with them. Local hospitals should be used with caution.
Drink only bottled water. Tap water should be boiled before drinking and ice cubes should be avoided. Hygiene should also be taken into account when preparing food and peel fruits and vegetables.
Air quality in the Karakalpakstan and Xorazmi regions is particularly poor due to salt, dust and toxins emitted from the Aral Sea.
Uzbekistan has not implemented a no-smoking policy in bars and restaurants, unlike many Western countries. Consequently, enclosed spaces can be very unpleasant for non-smokers, especially in the cold weather.
Fruits and vegetables should be peeled before consumption. Avoid drinking home-brewed vodka and brandy. These are highly likely to contain methanol, the risk of which should not be taken lightly. One moderately famous and high-quality vodka is Qarataw.
Visitors should consider tap water to be unsafe to drink in regions, while in capital of Uzbekistan the water is safe for drinking. In any case drinking bottled water is advised.
In Uzbekistan, and in Central Asia in general, elderly people are greatly respected. Always treat the elderly with great respect and be deferent to them in all situations.
Also be polite with females. Traditionally it is not welcomed to flirt openly with women. If you are a male and there is an option to address a male with the question instead of female, choose it. But likewise use caution if seeking out a same-sex conversation on a romantic level, as LGBT rights aren't a thing in Uzbekistan but rather still criminalized.
This might strike you as a quirk, but it really is not: bread is sacred in Uzbekistan. Do not waste it, and if you do: do not do so visibly. Don't worry, you are not obliged to eat all the bread you get served in the restaurant, but if you are carelessly throwing away a half a loaf in the street you will get some mean looks. Either way, Uzbek bread is among the best in the world, so you'll probably enjoy it until the last crumb.
Mobile connection works in most parts of Uzbekistan and the services are cheap. There are several popular mobile service providers in Uzbekistan - Ucell , Beeline, MTS (MTC in Cyrillic), Perfectum Mobile. A foreigner can get a SIM card after showing his passport. For activating the cell phone connection a person has to be registered. Generally some vendors are not aware of the law and refuse to sell to foreigners.
You can find Internet cafés in most of the cities. Speeds can sometimes be fast but generally speed is relatively slow.