"Splendour of the Silk Road" Top 5 Page for this destination Samarkand by toonsarah

Samarkand Travel Guide: 316 reviews and 930 photos

Shir Dor Madrassah, The Registan, Samarkand

“It’s too much for my eyes”
(Els, one of our travelling companions, at the Shah-i-Zinda)

After Khiva and Bukhara, Samarkand seems big and full of bustle, but unlike Tashkent it retains more of its central Asian character, even in the more modern areas of the city. As an overall destination it didn’t move me in the way that Bukhara had, but some of the individual sights are among the most striking I have seen anywhere.

In particular, the first impression of the Shah-i-Zinda will remain with me always, and naturally too the stunning Registan Square, though I was more prepared for that by images I’d seen before the trip.

Sights - and shopping!

Don’t miss either the huge Bibi Khanum Mosque, the rich colours of the Gur Emir, the fascinating Observatory of Ulug Beg and the wonderful smells and sights of the bazaar.

This is also a good place in which to do your souvenir shopping as the madrassahs of the Registan are crammed with small shops selling local crafts of varying qualities and to suit all pockets. And despite the faster pace and more modern appearance of this city, the people here are as warm and welcoming as everywhere else in this friendly country (well, apart from one waitress!)

Some of the sights here, notably the Registan and Shah-i-Zindah, are really a grouping of several buildings. In order to do them justice I’ve devoted several tips to each, but do feel free to skip some if you’re only looking for a quick overview.

A few words about my Uzbekistan pages

1. On the whole, I’ve written tips about the local customs and way of life on my Uzbekistan page. I’ve also included there some general information on things like packing, planning your visit etc. and some warnings. You may find some of this info duplicated here, but only where I feel it’s of particular relevance to do so.

2. Uzbek place names have several spellings. For instance, Samarkand may also be spelt as Samarqand. The same applies to people’s names, e.g. when applied to specific buildings, so the Afrosiab Hill is also sometimes called Afrosyab or I’ve also seen Afrosiyob. I’ve used the version taken from the excellent guidebook, “Uzbekistan: the Golden Road to Samarkand” (written by Calum MacLeod & Bradley Mayhew, published by Odyssey) which uses the most common form for well-known place-names (e.g. Tashkent rather than Toshkent) but adopts the newer Uzbek Latin spelling for street names, buildings etc.

3. Finally, as I've said elsewhere: in planning for and dreaming of my visit to Uzbekistan I owe so much to Ingrid (Trekki) who was always ready with advice and inspiration. Her Samarkand page inspired me and I'm sure it will do the same for you. Thank you so much, Ingrid :)

Pros and Cons
  • In a nutshell:Will take your breath away!!
  • Last visit to Samarkand: Jul 2007
  • Intro Updated Dec 24, 2011
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Reviews (26)

Comments (26)

  • starship's Profile Photo
    Sep 10, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    Your photos and excellent tips reveal such an interesting journey this was and how exquisite the sights were. Was wondering if this was a pre-arranged tour beginning in England or if arrangements were made while already in Samarkand. Undoubtedly a very memorable trip in every respect! Your choice of souvenirs certainly seemed like ones that I would also be attracted to!

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Sep 11, 2013 at 12:57 AM

      Thanks Sylvia. We did a small group tour through Explore so everything was arranged for us from England. It took in all the major cities along the Silk Road in Uzbekistan, plus a brief look at Tashkent. It was an excellent tour :-)

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Dec 31, 2010 at 10:36 AM

    Not that we will get to here, but I have studied the culture some, and the TVfeatures it often. YOu did a great job of describing the sites-Registan for sure-and the pictures are wonderful.

  • hopang's Profile Photo
    Jan 22, 2010 at 8:05 AM

    Great Samarkand travel page with interesting shopping and restaurants tips. The Registan and Shah-i-Zinda certainly sound wonderful to visit and explore especially those mausoleums, and so are the bazaar and the mosque. ~ho & pang

  • 850prc's Profile Photo
    Dec 23, 2009 at 12:20 PM

    Loved the Registan at night photo. Excellent B&B tip as well. As always, a stellar page, Toonsister.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Aug 2, 2009 at 7:00 AM

    Brilliant photos and descriptions! I've never been to the Silk Road, but there was a fine exhibition about it at one of the museums in Mannheim last year, which certainly aroused my curiosity.

  • nepalgoods's Profile Photo
    Jun 18, 2009 at 11:50 PM

    Lovely page! Brings back so many great memories! Thank you for sharing - Ulrike

  • Arkeolog's Profile Photo
    Apr 9, 2009 at 9:59 AM

    Sarah, Samarkand looks fantastic in your way. I decided to add this place into my wish list after your tips. Bora

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Apr 6, 2009 at 3:28 PM

    Excellent pages, you've set a high standard.

  • Pieter11's Profile Photo
    Mar 16, 2009 at 1:11 AM

    I had a better now, and I'm still impressed! I'll definitely check out how to do a trip like this backpacking-style. How is the level of English with the local people there? Or do you really need to speak Russian?

  • Jan 8, 2009 at 6:43 AM

    Great website, information and pictures are excellent!

toonsarah

“I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust”

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