The history of Uzbekistan is inseparably linked with the ancient caravan route known worldwide as the Great Silk Road. Major cities of Uzbekistan are the pearls of the Great Silk Road. Located in Central Asia, Uzbekistan has been the destination of big adventurers like Alexander the Great, Chenghiz Khan and Marco Polo. Uzbekistan has more historical places than most other countries in the world, its numerous ancient monuments, rich nature and history attracts the whole world’s attention. Definitely, it is one of the most unique and unusual destinations that is worth traveling to.
HOW TO DRESS IN UZBEKISTAN
Although Islam is the main religion of the country, Uzbekistan is a secular state. Women don’t wear the veil, so you don’t have to cover your whole body as in other Muslim countries. I will recommend using knee-length skirts and t-shirts that cover your shoulders. Traditional clothes are beautiful and very colorful and you can buy them for a few dollars in any market. Hospitality and kindness are characteristic features of the Uzbek people. The coexistence of various ethnicities, cultures, and religions make Uzbekistan a perfect place for solo female travelers and unwanted attention is not a problem at all in Uzbekistan.
PLANNING A TRIP TO UZBEKISTAN
In Uzbekistan, there are two exchange rates: the official one and the street exchange. You can exchange your money officially at the bank but for better rates, you need to exchange at the black market. All prices, including food, drinks, accommodation, and souvenirs use the black market exchange rate. You can exchange money in any market or place you are staying. I suggest bringing all your money in US dollars because they are easy to exchange and because ATMs normally do not work. As well, when you enter Uzbekistan you have to declare the money you have with you and when you leave you can’t have more money than when you entered.
When traveling in Uzbekistan, you need to be registered by hotels or other licensed places to stay. Every day, your hostel/hotel will give you a registration paper saying you are staying there. Take care of those small pieces of paper because police officers will ask for them when you leave the country. Most of the hotels will refuse to register you when you don’t have previous registration papers.
Related: A Complete Guide to Uzbekistan
TRAVELING AROUND UZBEKISTAN
Traveling around Uzbekistan is easier than you think and very safe. The transport options have improved a lot and you will find shared taxis and bus services in all the cities. Trains connect the major cities and you can buy tickets at the station or online. Security is tight so arrive at the station in good time. As well, in the capital city of Tashkent you can move around using the metro.
PLACES TO VISIT IN UZBEKISTAN
“Samarkand, the most beautiful face the Earth has ever turned towards the sun.” ~ Amin Maalouf
As soon as I arrived to Tashkent I took a train to Samarkand. Samarkand is located at the heart of the Silk Road’s cultural crossroads. Alexander the Great visited in 329BC and declared: “Everything I have heard about Samarkand is true, except it is even more beautiful than I had imagined.” I stayed in Bahodir Hostel located 3 minutes walking from Registan Square. Registan was a public square where people gathered to hear royal proclamations and it was the heart of the Silk Road. Nearby this square you will find the Siyab bazaar, one of the oldest bazaars in Samarkand. Still today it is the center of the public life.
Around Registan you will find the Shah-i-Zinda ensemble which includes mausoleums and other ritual buildings of 9-14th and 19th centuries. A masterpiece of the oriental architecture that you can’t miss is the Gur-i-amir mausoleum of the asian conqueror Amir Temur who is officially recognized as a national hero in Uzbekistan.
The blessed city Bukhara is one of the oldest cities in the world. Uzbeks believe that upon all Muslim cities, the blessed light descended from heaven and only over Bukhara it rises to the sky.
I recommend you to stay in a hostel near the Historic Centre of Bukhara which is classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Bukhara is well known because of its mosques and madrassas. The most important ones are Char Minar, Kalon Mosque, Abdul Aziz Khan Medressa, Mir-i-Arab Medressa. As well, the city is famous because of its Ark Fortress which had always been the protection and support for the rulers in Bukhara. Inside you can see a very interesting art and history museum. The city is home to the most skilled artisans and it is the best place to buy some souvenirs. Ceramic art is very popular in Uzbekistan and jewelry art has a long tradition.
Khiva is known as an open air museum. Poets and philosophers who lived or visited Khiva once called it the Pearl of the World. Hostel Laliopa is a good option to stay because it is right in front of the main gate to see the unique town in the middle of the desert that has completely preserved the cultural style of the region. There are so many mosques, mausoleums, minarets and madrassas crammed in the historic town of Khiva that you will need more than a whole day to see everything.
I finished my trip in Tashkent. It is a big city that combines modernity and antiquity. I stayed in Sunrise Caravan Stay and move around using the metro. You can visit Kukeldash Madrassah, the most well known historical monument in Tashkent and the Hazrati-Imam Square located in the historical part of the city.
Before leaving Uzbekistan don’t forget to try the main dishes. Uzbek cuisine is considered the richest cuisine of Central Asia. Food is simply delicious. The main dish is called plov, typically made with rice, pieces of meat, grated carrots and onions. Other notable national dishes include shurpa, a soup made of large pieces of meat and fresh vegetables.
We hope that this article has inspired you to visit Uzbekistan. If you have any questions about the destination or have your own travel tips to share please leave these in the comments below.
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Our Top Places To Stay In Samarkand, Uzbekistan:
- Platan Hotel
- L’Argamak Hotel
- DiliMah Hotel
- Hotel GalaOsiyo
- Find the best price on hotels in Samarkand
- Sign up to AirBnB with this link and receive a US $35 off your first booking
Read More About Central Asia
- A Complete Guide To Uzbekistan
- A Girl’s Guide To Solo Travel In Tajikistan
- Solo Travel In Pakistan
- Conquering Stigmas: Travelling Solo Through The Silk Road
By We Are Travel Girls Contributor Alessia Ramponi
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