There are the famous cultural sites we’ve been told we have to visit (here’s looking at you Instagram) and then there are the iconic sites we never knew we had to see. Like the glittering turquoise domes of Registan Square in Samarkand, the breathtaking Kalon Mosque and Minaret in the ancient Silk Road city of Bukhara or the elaborately decorated metro stations of Tashkent. And outside of the cities, Uzbekistan is just as full of surprises – like the traditional villages of the Nuratau Mountains or a desert-bound yurt camp. This is Uzbekistan, in all its charming glory.
Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun. Here are some of the local transport options we use in Uzbekistan.
Take a comfortable high-speed bullet train, complete with power points to charge devices and plenty of onboard snacks and drinks.
Ride a camel across the dunes of the Kyzylkum Desert for a unique viewpoint of the scraggly landscape.
Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.
Here's where you might find yourself spending the night on a trip through Uzbekistan.
Spend a night in a yurt camp in the Kyzylkum Desert, with local food and music around a campfire.
Stay overnight in a traditional village homestay in the Nuratau Mountains and learn to make tandir bread.
When visiting the UNESCO-listed city of Bukhara, you’ll stay in a picturesque traditional courtyard hotel.
From 1st February 2019 many nationalities no longer require a visa for stays of up to 30 days, including most European countries, Great Britain, Australia & Canada. You can check if you are eligible here: https://e-visa.gov.uz/main
For nationalities not included in the visa exemption list an e-visa is available. The e-visa is issued for a period of stay in the territory of Uzbekistan up to 30 days with a single entry and is valid for 90 days from the date of issue. Travellers must submit an online application for a visa at least three working days before the planned date of travel to Uzbekistan. The consular fee for processing and issuing an e-visa is US$20 to be paid online. Please check if you are eligible for an e-visa and apply here: https://e-visa.gov.uz/main
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR E-VISA APPLICATION
- Address of your joining point hotel
- You will need to have a scanned PDF copy of your passport to upload for your application
- You will need to upload a passport photo that meet the standard of ICAO
- Your passport will need to be valid for at least three months after you’ve entered Uzbekistan to obtain a visa.
Autumn and spring are considered the best times to visit as the weather is mild and generally pleasant. The desert is in bloom briefly during spring (April) and markets are full of fresh produce in autumn because it's harvest time. Summer can get very hot everywhere other than in the mountains and winter can be bitterly cold and snowy.
Uzbekistan’s summer between June and August can get very hot, reaching high 40s Celsius in the cities. In the winter months between December and February it can drop a few degrees below freezing. Over spring and autumn, the weather is cool to mild, with temperatures ranging anywhere from about 8˚C high 20s in the cities.
While Uzbekistan is a conservative country, western clothing is worn by many people, particularly in the larger cities. Both men and women will need to cover their shoulders and knees at certain historic and religious sites, so it is a good idea to wear pants/ skirts that reach the knee and avoid singlets where possible. Carrying a scarf to wrap around your shoulders is also an option.
Tipping isn't generally expected in Uzbekistan but is considered polite, particularly when considering the low wages earned by service workers. Leaving 5% extra for guides, porters, restaurants workers and taxi drivers is a good idea, but not mandatory.
Travellers should be able to use the internet in the internet cafes and some hotels and restaurants of Uzbekistan's big cities. Rural areas will have little to no access so be prepared to disconnect from the net when travelling in remote areas.
Depending on where you are from and what handset you're using, your phone may or may not work while in Uzbekistan. Coverage is generally good in the cities but is not available in remote and mountainous areas. Ensure that global roaming is activated before leaving home but be aware that you may not be able to access texts and calls when in Uzbekistan. Buying a local SIM card from a general store to put in your phone is an easy way to ensure you will have more reliable access to texts and calls in cities. Some stores require you to show your passport to buy a SIM card.
Uzbekistan has a mix of Western and squat toilets, with Western-style toilets usually found in city hotels, cafes and tourists areas, and more basic toilets found in rural areas. Be prepared by carrying your own toilet paper, hand sanitizer and/or soap as these aren't always provided.
Bottle of beer = 1000 UZS
1 hour in an internet café = 1000 USZ
Lunch or market snack = 1000 USZ
Simple lunch at a cafe = 4000-5000 UZS
Dinner at a restaurant = 7000-10,000 UZS
Drinking water from the tap isn't recommended in Uzbekistan. Tea is served with most meals and we recommended you ask your leader were filtered water can be found instead of relying on bottled water.
Foreign credit cards aren't widely accepted so be sure to carry other modes of payment when travelling in Uzbekistan.
Relying on ATM access isn't wise when travelling in Uzbekistan. Be sure to arrive in Uzbekistan with enough USD for the trip to exchange at the airport or hotels for local currency. While you will encounter some ATMs, operational ATMs that accept foreign cards are hard to come by.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
For a current list of public holidays in Uzbekistan go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/uzbekistan/public-holidays
Everyone should feel comfortable when they travel with Intrepid and we know that many of our travellers are part of the LGBTQI community. It’s important for our travellers to be aware of the local laws and customs. Same-sex relationships between men are illegal under Uzbek law. The law does not specifically address same-sex sexual activity between women or the status of transgender people.
Regardless, if you are a man or woman in a same-sex relationship and are travelling with your partner, it is best to avoid any public displays of affection and discussing your relationship with locals openly. Double rooms have twin beds as a standard and our trips are twin share (unless you request a single supplement), so asking for one room is unlikely to raise any suspicions. Travellers will find little scrutiny compared to locals, but using discretion is advised in this tightly monitored country.
Intrepid are committed to making travel accessible for everyone, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
However, Uzbekistan can be a difficult destination for travellers with disabilities, with very little infrastructure at sights or hotels. Smaller hotels are unlikely to have lifts and even larger ones may have floors without lift access. Few locals will have experience in interacting with people with disabilities and assistance from staff isn’t guaranteed. The traditional architecture of old towns in places like Bukhara and Khiva can make getting around challenging with uneven ground, narrow doorways, steps and unrestored brickwork etc. Other hazards include broken paving, open drains, uncovered manholes and exposed utility pipes. Crossing the street in Tashkent often requires using underpasses rather than street level crossings. Metro entrances and underpasses may sometimes look to be equipped with wheelchair lifts but are unlikely to be operational.
For those with mobility restrictions or wheelchair users, getting around will take plenty of patience and determination. If you are travelling to Uzbekistan and have a disability your experience will be greatly enhanced if you can travel with a companion who can help when the infrastructure and customer service aren’t able to meet your needs.
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in Uzbekistan. Please keep this in mind while travelling here.
In Uzbekistan we stay in locally run accommodation including guesthouses, smaller-scale hotels and homestays in an effort to support the local economies. We also visit locally-run restaurants and markets where travellers will have opportunities to support local businesses and purchase handicrafts created by local artisans.