"Uzbekistan - the crossroads of time" Top 5 Page for this destination Uzbekistan by TheWanderingCamel

Uzbekistan Travel Guide: 1,836 reviews and 6,378 photos

The very heart of Central Asia

To be awed by the fabled architecture of Samarkand and Bukhara, the great cities of the ancient Silk Route, was expected.
To be fascinated by the colour and life of the bazaars was too.
Carpets of every kind, of course.
If the extent of the fertile areas was greater than anticipated, the sweep of the steppe and the harshness of the desert came as no real surprise.
That the sum of all these, combined with pleasant, tree-filled city streets and flower-adorned country roads,
good food,
stunningly beautiful traditional embroideries and silks,
unbelievably cheap opera tickets and
-above all -
the warmth and good humour of the people we met along the way,
would make every day a delight was everything we could have wished for, and more.

Truly a wondrous place.

The fabled road

The Silk Road, Samarkand and Bokhara,Tashkent and Khiva- names to conjure up visions of camel trains slowly moving away into the hazy distance, buzzing bazaars and cavernous caravanserais, soaring minarets and bulbous blue domes. All that is in the long-lost past but still the names cast a spell over those who hear them.

Samarkand and Bukhara are top of anyone's list as they plan a visit to Uzbekistan. Rightly so - they are wonderful , wonderful places. But there are other wonderful places too.

Tashkent is far more attractive than any guide book would lead you to believe, Khiva's erstwhile museum-like air is changing as more people return to live within the walls and the quiet laneways and the small town of Shakhrisabz, in the foothills of the Pamir, was lovely.

The Registan in Samarkand - three glorious medressas, gleaming gold in the light of the setting sun is an unforgettable sight. The enormous ribbed blue dome over Timur's mausoleum. The tranquil peace of the Great Mosque's courtyard. A 14th century observatory - there are enough marvels in Samarkand to make the long haul there worthwhile. Bukhara's trading domes and lovely central square with its pool and ancient mulberry trees are a delight .

But these are modern cities too -with high rise hotels and blocks of flats, commercial and government buildings, traffic and supermarkets.
Uzbekistan is not only about history, the country is a fascinating mix of the old and the new, the traditional and the modern.

Much more than just great monuments

Whilst Uzbekistan is no longer part of the Soviet Union, the legacy of those days is authoritarian rule, heavy-handed bureaucracy and appalling pollution and ecological problems, little of which really impacts on the visitor. Instead you are charmed by the warmth of the people you meet, their easy acceptance of you in their midst. Lots of chat and lots of laughs, sharing food and photos, smiles and stories (even if you don't share a word of a common language) more than make up for the occasional officious policeman.

There is a lovely serenity about so much of Uzbekistan that enchants the visitor . It was school holiday time whilst we were there and there were children and families out to enjoy themselves everywhere.
Hassle from hawkers and traders was minimal - and good-humoured, beggars were very few and far between, the beer was well-chilled and the salads fresh (just what we needed in the 38 degree heat), our guides were good company and well-informed, and Boris (our driver) was brilliant and the nicest man. Comfortable, clean hotels with cool verandahs, shady chaikanas (tea-houses) everywhere, delicious fruit (cherries and white apricots and wild strawberries growing along the pathways in Taskent), unbelievably cheap seats at the opera all came together in an unforgettable trip, one that I certainly intend to repeat.

October 2009 found me doing just that .... melons and changing leaves setting the scene for mellow days and cool evenings - perfect sightseeing weather. Three wonderful weeks, sharing the experience this time with a group of friends. Playing group leader, I had organised the trip to take in all the things I wanted to do and my friends were generous enough to come along with me as we wound our way around the country - starting in Tashkent and on to the Ferghana Valley, then Samarkand, Shahrisabz, Bukhara and Khiva, this route giving us a real sense of moving deeper and deeper into the heart of Central Asia.

  • Last visit to Uzbekistan: Oct 2009
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (73)

Comments (37)

  • elpariente's Profile Photo
    Jan 21, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Uzbekistan is in our with list and at tris time yogur tipos aré helping us to dream

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Oct 25, 2010 at 6:39 AM

    wonderful experience youve had here!! such a mammoth effort too putting the tips and page together so Khiva sounds so enticing!I will definitely have to go in Oct for the autum colours and melons!

    • angiebabe's Profile Photo
      Oct 24, 2013 at 3:05 AM

      back again! wonderful architecture and cultural feast for the eyes! drove some of the Silk road in Turkey and visited Sultanhani caravanserai which was excellent when there for 4 weeks June-July earlier this year...would love to do Xi'an to Kashgar when I am available at the end of my year here in Xi'an :)

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Aug 10, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    What a fascinating presentation of the culture aspects of these people. I have seen some on TV and read, and they are an interesting mix of peoples of the past.

  • thinking's Profile Photo
    Jun 25, 2010 at 8:03 AM

    Leyle, your pages are most interesting and informative. The world is changing so fast. I don't know what will happen next.

  • unravelau's Profile Photo
    Feb 7, 2010 at 10:34 PM

    A very beautiful and interesting place you have written about here. I can't get over the lovely blue of the domes and the glorious coloured materials that are used for clothing. Thank you for your information. Carole.

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Jan 23, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    Oh magic!! Wonderful as a whole and wonderful new and updated descriptions :-)) I miss the bread and yoghurt soo much! Your local customs are priceless and the idea of stamps as a gift as well!!

  • Kakapo2's Profile Photo
    Apr 16, 2009 at 5:04 PM

    Your beautiful page makes me want to travel there even more. The steppe would be my dream land. Good to know that I should bring an extra suitcase for the money - and not to look under the cradles ;-))) Sissi

  • sachara's Profile Photo
    Jun 23, 2008 at 12:17 PM

    Leyle, very informative to read your interesting tips ! It's 3 weeks now before we will enter Uzbekistan coming from Turkmenistan.

  • JohnniOmani's Profile Photo
    Oct 31, 2007 at 7:35 PM

    Leyle, Great page and it is high on my list ;) cheers jz

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Jul 1, 2007 at 7:31 AM

    We leave for Uzbekistan on Friday! I'm really looking forward to it, and your wonderful pages increase my sense of anticipation, especially your atmospheric descriptions of the small details of life here. Thank you for sharing your insights

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