"On the ancient Silk Road" Top 5 Page for this destination Uzbekistan by toonsarah

Uzbekistan Travel Guide: 1,698 reviews and 4,572 photos

Shah-i-Zinda, Samarkand

In the Silk Road cities of Uzbekistan, ancient and modern meet and intertwine. In the old trading domes of Bukhara, the sun-baked madrassahs of Khiva, the riot of colours that surround the wide expanse of the Registan Square in Samarkand you can step back into the past and feel the weight of history around you.

But (with the possible exception of Khiva’s old town) this isn’t simply a museum or movie set, with its splendours paraded before you behind a screen. Its people live and work among these riches, and those people too are one of the joys of travelling here – eager to welcome you and to share their country and its treasures.

Following the Silk Road

Our short tour took us to a number of places, each with its own character and attractions:
Tashkent, a largely modern city, thanks to the devastation caused by the impact of the 1966 earthquake, but with some hidden gems.

Khiva, the most compact and intact of the Silk Road cities., It can feel more like museum than living city, though people do live there. But this was the place where I found it most easy to imagine myself back in the days when the caravans of traders and camels would arrive after their long and weary journey through the desert, to revive themselves in some green oasis or welcoming caravanserai.

Bukhara, my favourite city, retaining a strong sense of the past but as a backdrop for daily life. It is a place where it is easy to realise that our yesterdays are part of today and will still be with us tomorrow

Samarkand, larger and less intimate, but home to the most impressive and dramatic of monuments at the Registan and the stunning Shah-i-Zinda.

Nurata, smaller and less visited than the other destinations we went to, but worth a stop for its hill-top fortress (said to date from the time of Alexander the Great), a couple of interesting mosques and the sacred pools of fish. We spent a night at a desert yurt camp near the village of Yangigazgan, which I’ve described on this page.

I've created separate pages about each of these cities, linked above, so do click on each of them if you’re interested in my complete Uzbek adventures!

About my Uzbekistan pages

1. This page is where you’ll find various things I wanted to say about the country, including tips about the local customs and way of life. I’ve also included some general information on things like packing, planning your visit etc. and some warnings. At times you may see some of this info duplicated on my pages about individual cities, but only where I feel it’s of particular relevance to that destination. I’ve added a single tip about each of the main Silk Road cities to give an overview of their different attractions.

2. Uzbek place names have several spellings. For instance, Khiva may also be spelt as Xiva or in the Cyrillic alphabet Õèâà. The same applies to the names of people and buildings, so the Kukhna Ark in Khiva is also called Ko’xna Ark or Kunya Ark. 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. We travelled with a great group of people on a tour organised by Explore. We don’t usually do the organised tour thing, but made an exception for this trip and had a very good experience. Our guide Marat was excellent and I’m indebted to him for much of the historical info on my pages (the rest comes from the guidebook mentioned above). If you’re considering a tour this is one I can recommend – see my general tip for more about it.

4. Finally, and very importantly: 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 Uzbekistan page inspired me and I'm sure it will do the same for you. Thank you so much, Ingrid :)

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Stunning architecture, a real sense of history and friendly people
  • Cons:Hot, hot, hot
  • Last visit to Uzbekistan: Jul 2007
  • Intro Updated Dec 24, 2011
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Reviews (24)

Comments (30)

  • magor65's Profile Photo
    Feb 20, 2011 at 4:26 AM

    I would love to follow the Silk Road one day and sleep in the yurt... Your page is full of interesting info and beautiful photos

  • nada1712's Profile Photo
    Oct 14, 2009 at 9:24 AM

    Have you read 'Ride to Khiva' I think you would enjoy it

  • Aug 17, 2009 at 3:45 AM

    A lot of monuments!

  • hopang's Profile Photo
    Jun 22, 2009 at 6:42 AM

    Excellent overview on Uzbekistan with your lovely photographs! Shah-i-Zinda in Samarkand certainly looks amazing. Staying in the yurt sounds interesting to us. Thanks for sharing. ~ho & pang

  • Pieter11's Profile Photo
    Mar 11, 2009 at 5:59 AM

    A very, very inspriring page on Uzbekistan. The country has been high on my list for a long time already, and it has risen even further now. I'll be back to read more! Back to work now... :S

  • kyoub's Profile Photo
    May 2, 2008 at 2:54 PM

    Thank you for the tour of Uzbekistan. Very interesting. I agree about the food. A night in the dessert? I like the looks of the accommodations.

  • JLBG's Profile Photo
    Apr 12, 2008 at 1:46 PM

    Stunning photos of Khiva, Bukhara, Samarkand and all this dream places! You did a wonderful travel! We are not group tour travelers neither but Uzbekistan seems one of these locations where it is the best choice nevertheless!

  • nepalgoods's Profile Photo
    Mar 9, 2008 at 12:03 AM

    Uzbekistan is so beautilf! I like the country. And I like your page! Wonderful! Thank you!

  • Sininen's Profile Photo
    Jan 25, 2008 at 10:01 PM

    World is full of amazing places and you managed to capture Uzbekistan's spirit here so well. One day I will experience it too!

  • sue_stone's Profile Photo
    Jan 4, 2008 at 10:21 AM

    Wow. So many things I want to mention about this page I don't know where to start! In summary, you gave me such a feel for this intriguing place, and I love the look of the non!

toonsarah

“I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust”

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