Uzbekistan trip report
Replies: 3 - Last Post: Dec 20, 2012 3:13 AM Last Post By: gray01
Nov 21, 2012 4:35 PM
Uzbekistan trip reportHello everyone
Here is a brief but hopefully helpful trip report to Uzbekistan. I went from November 3rd to 10th.
Visa - got this in advance, did not see anyone else get one at the airport. Some countries do not need an LOL (for example UK like mself) but other countries will vary. Cheaper than Russia but more expensive than most. Service can be done by post (London) and was quick.
Money - a major hassle, the Uzbek banking system needs to be taken into the 21st century. Take in plenty i.e several hundred US dollars or Euros, other currencies are not really wanted. There are no ATMs and nowhere takes credit cards. I would certainly advise changing on the black market as the rate is 25 to 30% than the offical exchange rate. Easy enough to do via your hotel, no need to see some guy on the street.
Highest denomition note is 1000 sum/som, you need a bag to carry them around.
Security - no hassles from police or customs, even still carry a photocopy of the passport and do not even attempt to criticise the country, even as a joke.
Transport - fairly easy to buy train tickets to and from Tashkent to Samarkand and Bukhara, only a few trains a day, usually very early morning or very late afternoon, generally if you miss one train, you need to take wait along time for the next one. Trains are along way from the old cities so you need a taxi both ends. There is usually no food on board but sometimes basi hot drinks.
Shared taxis are good though you need to bargin hard, you will always pay more as a tourist but ask around to see what a reasonable tourist price is. Always agree a price before you enter the car. I was firm with all my taxi drivers and had no problem except one who thought I was an easy target and wanted more money even though I already paid twice the rate (for a local trip).
Only long trip was Bukhara to Urgench, the road is slow but passable in places and a new one is being built by German and Korea guys. A new road should definitely speed things up but will not be ready for sometime. Time was around 6 to 7 hours.
Planes are good, most places have an airport very close if not in the town, and planes flight are quite cheap.
Metro - again only Tashkent, you will need your passport and your bags will be checked, not worth taking pictures as security cameras will spot you and the metro in Moscow is better for photography.
Food - lots of fresh veg and fruit, best to buy from bazars, the Chosu bazar in Tashkent is amazing. Otherwise no MacDonalds or Starbucks, restuarants pretty poor and only have plov or shaslik, rarely any alcohol.
Souveniers - everywhere sells the same thing, pottery is colourful but very poor quality, not much in the way of metal or wood work, carpets are so-so, Turkmenistan is better. Suzanis which are embroided cloths are generally a good buy, the Unesco work shop is best in Khiva, more expensive but it is hand made, better quality and the money goes direct to the workers.
Where to stay - no hostels, plenty of 4 or 5 star hotels, you can stay in very reasonable and comfort boutique hotels for around 20 to 30 $ a night inc registration and breakfast. Best to keep all registration receipts and your custom declaration form before leaving the country. You can contact the hotels direct and are prompt in their reply.
What to see - Tashkent - Chosu bazar is great, museums were cheap but nothing special compared to what other cities can offer. Not the most beautiful city going.
Samarkand - you can see most things in a day or two, Registan and Astrolab (if you are fit you can walk to here from the town centre, around 3 kms one way) is worth seeing but most places have increasing admission charges for overseas people, usually four to five times as much. Generally the rates are still far cheap than you would pay in most other countries.
Bukhara - better than Samarkand as centre is more intact and is less traffic prone.Ark is currently closed for repairs, minaret open sometimes and Zukon (jail) is quite hard to find.
Khiva - small old city with nice walls, not sure if worth buying day ticket, valid for two days at 20,000 som, dont pay in dollars as alot of expensive as uses offical exchange rate. Town walls is short and missed opportunity, minaret is worth it. These are not included and each are 3000 som each. Other museums are very small and hold minor interest, could be seen in less than 30 mins each. Area is easy to walk around.
Nukus - worth seeing the museum, excellent tour and presentation, don't buy photography pass which is a complete rip-off. Nukus itself is a dump and only worth it for the museum.
People - generally very nice and friendly, always curious about foreigners and can ask alot of questions which can seem rude from a western point of view , eg how much money do you earn? there is no sinister motive and just answer with good humour. Except when asked in a taxi or shop, then play coy as they are trying to size you up.
Generally Uzbekistan is an interesting country to see, maybe not enough for a repeat visit but worth it.
Nov 24, 2012 2:26 PM
Nov 25, 2012 10:24 PM
Dec 20, 2012 3:13 AM
3Ahhh the money.....I changed US$200 with my taxi driver when I arrived (in Sep) and stared at the resulting pile of cash in shock when he handed it to me! To add to you your point about taking cash - Take fresh clean uncreased notes or you will have major hassles. People will either not accept them, or give a much worse rate for them.
(0 star Hotel)
From US$20.64 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$273.69 per night
(5 star Hotel)
From US$132.06 per night