Lonely Planet Writer

Why it will get easier for travellers to visit Uzbekistan

Travellers wishing to visit the ancient sights of the Silk Road will soon be able to do so with a bit less hassle, as Uzbekistan has announced the launch of its new e-visa scheme, along with a five-day visa-free transit scheme.

View from the arch with amazing decor to the Miri-Arab Madrassah in Bukhara. Image by cescassawin/Getty Images

Starting on 15 July 2018, travellers can apply for a single-entry, 30-day visa to Uzbekistan online through a new website. The price for the visa will reportedly be $20. This marks a significant easing of hassle for some travellers, who previously would’ve had to attend an appointment at an Uzbek embassy to be issued with a shorter-stay visa.

Additionally, Uzbekistan announced that a new transit visa scheme will come into effect on the same day for 101 nationalities. The scheme will allow transiting air travellers to stay in Uzbekistan for five days if they hold a ticket for a third country. Currently, only a handful of airlines offer transit routes through Uzbekistan, though there are hopes that the new scheme will incite the opening of new routes.

Samarkand Silk Road old historic Muslim architecture of mosques and madrassah. Image by Mariusz Kluzniak/Getty Images

The new visa schemes come at a time when Uzbekistan – formerly a tightly controlled regime – has appeared to be opening up more to foreign travellers and international investment. In December 2017, Uzbekistan initiated its visa reforms by extending visas from seven to 30 days, and in February 2018, opened a visa-free scheme for seven nationalities.

It’s the perfect time for travellers to begin planning a trip, as Uzbekistan has made it to second place on Lonely Planet’s 2018 Best in Asia list.