How to go to Uzbekistan on an independent trip

One of those countries where I want to definitely go in my life is Uzbekistan. But since I have never been there yet, I am happy to post a guest post on the topic of independent travel to this country, that is, about everything that you need to know before the trip: currency, customs, entry / exit, hotels, traffic police, transport , the attitude of local residents.

The content of the article




Uzbekistan is the heart of ancient Sogdiana, the headquarters of Timur and the last frontier of the empire of Alexander the Great. In ancient times, empires were born and died here, there was a brisk trade and ancient knowledge was transmitted; today Uzbekistan is the heart of Central Asia, which attracts tourists with its cuisine, historical monuments and, of course, people.

It is best to plan an independent trip to Uzbekistan in the spring, when it is not yet very hot, or in autumn, when the heat has already subsided, and a huge amount of local fruits and vegetables appear in the markets. We went on the May holidays - the peak of the tourist season. Which, however, did not stop us from quietly buying train tickets the day before departure., find hotels at reasonable prices and buy fresh tomatoes at bazaars =)

Our route was quite standard: Almaty-Turtgul-Urgench-Khiva-Fortresses of Khorezm-Bukhara-Samarkand-Tashkent-Chernyaevka-Almaty. The main «counter» given logistics, I would call long-distance delivery by train «Almaty-Nukus» directly to Khorezm (Turtgul station), from where to Khiva about 50 km. Usually travelers first of all go Tashkent-Samarkand, which is why for a limited period of time they do not have time to get to Khiva (and it is worth it).










Features of independent travel in Uzbekistan

Despite the openness and friendliness of the local population, a trip to Uzbekistan can be overshadowed by banal obstacles from the authorities. The law is the law, and it is very useful to know some of its Uzbek features:

1. Currency! They exchange currency at banks and on the black market. The dollar exchange rate in the bank is 2000 sums, on the market - 2700-2800. Hand exchanges are considered illegal, therefore, despite the abundance of money changers at any bazaar, they operate secretly. Yes, it is dangerous and there is a thick chance of being deceived. We were lucky - the amount was always correct to the penny. Having exchanged 100-200 dollars, be patient: it will not work out quickly to count such a bundle of papers, the largest banknote is 1000 sums. If you still plan to buy dollars in Uzbekistan, then the exchange must be done strictly in banks, with receipts and other paperwork. The amount of exchangeable amounts (here's a pun) for dollars should not exceed the amount of dollars exchanged for amounts. You cannot export currency from the country.

2. Customs! Perhaps the biggest hemorrhoid for a traveler. At airports, she
it is easier to pass, but ground crossings sometimes cause a lot of headaches. However, our experience turned out to be successful and, apart from empty chatter with customs officers, did not go anywhere further..

3. Entry and exit from the country! When you enter, you are given customs declarations, in which you must enter a list of all your valuables and the amount (up to a penny) of all currencies imported into the country. The completed declaration must be kept until leaving the country, when you fill out the same one, it indicates everything that is exported from the country (things, equipment, money to a penny. At the exit, your money can begin to count. I read about cases when not specified 10 tenge (2 rubles) turned into a bribe for a person and a 2-hour hassle.

4. Hotels and Accommodation! Logical continuation of item 3. Each hotel gives you a registration receipt, which must also be kept until departure - they are checked at customs. The period of residence in the country without registration in hotels is 3 days. There is a clever way to get around this rule: if you have relatives or friends in Uzbekistan, register with them. The price of such a procedure is 5 USD, the validity period is a month..

In more or less large cities, for example, in Tashkent, hotels can be looked at RoomGuru, it is a convenient service for finding profitable hotel deals in different booking systems.

5. GAI! Obstacle for travelers on their own vehicles.

If you are going to bring interesting and unique souvenirs from Uzbekistan, read the procedure for import and export (google for help).

Transport in Uzbekistan

There are almost no buses for long distances between cities. Instead of them, local taxis go - Daewoo Nexia, parking lots (popularly «pennies») which are located near bazaars or train stations. The landing procedure is as follows: negotiate a price (bargain!), Wait for a full cabin to fill up and set off. So, we flew 500 km from Urgench to Bukhara in 6 hours, paying 50,000 sums for each (about $ 20). Nobody wanted to go from Khiva (20 km from Urgench) for less than 70,000 rubles. Check the approximate prices with the local population, who will not only share all the necessary information with great pleasure, but will also invite you to a wedding with your brother, friend, uncle, etc. =)

It is also very convenient to travel by train between cities. Railway communication in Uzbekistan is very well developed. The Uzbeks are doing a lot to develop the tourist infrastructure: they are introducing new routes, improving the railway stations ... So, we traveled from Bukhara to Samarkand and from Samarkand to Tashkent by fast train «Sharq Express». The price for a ticket a day before departure is 26,000. It can also take you from Tashkent directly to Bukhara. The train is clean, the carriages are sitting.

Other features of Uzbekistan

The main attraction of the country is undoubtedly the people: open, kind, hospitable, hardworking and sympathetic. The biggest problem with them: to refuse their hospitality, because sometimes there is too much of it, especially when the brother has a wedding, where the guest is simply a must! In difficult situations, we looked for support from the locals, who always happily helped us: either they would conduct a free excursion, then they would help to fit in, or they would take us to the right place..

It's a paradise for vegetarians, especially in summer and autumn: fruits and vegetables are not only cheap, but also really tasty. However, the expression «without meat» They do not understand well: even Bukhara pilaf with dried apricots and raisins is brought decorated with a handful of meat on top. True, as the chefs assure, all the ingredients for it are cooked separately, so by separating the meat from other ingredients, you can get a purely vegetarian dish)

Uzbeks are not only a hardworking nation, but also a trading nation. Therefore, you can bargain everywhere: even at the entrance to museums. So, with an active discussion, prices can be brought down by 30 - 50%. It came to a case when our acquaintance named Timur went free to the tomb of Tamerlane, motivating his unwillingness to pay by deep blood relationship with the emir Timur. A similar «impudence» from our point of view, in Uzbekistan it is perceived as a game with its own unwritten rules. Immersion in it is tantamount to accepting the surrounding space without expectations or pretensions. Perhaps this is the true meaning of any journey - to dissolve in an endless kaleidoscope of changing pictures, stop expecting some kind of miracle and understand that this particular kaleidoscope is the main miracle and the highest reward of any trip..

Andriyanov Yaroslav and Muradova Maria, authors of the blog (about self-development and travel)