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Following Uzbekistan's Ancient Silk Road

Lying at the heart of the ancient silk trading route, and bordering no less than five other countries, Uzbekistan was, and still is, a cultural and ethnic melting pot. This fascinating and inspiring country offers a vast array of attractions that can captivate even the most seasoned of travelers. Along the way through the classic cities of Khiva, Bukhara, Nurata, Aydarkul, Samarkand, and Shakhrisabz, you’ll find archeological ruins stemming back to nomadic tribes, alongside huge Persian Palaces, next to Soviet-era monuments. There really is something quite unique about this country which cannot be adequately expressed in a travel book. This 11-day tour will show you exactly why.

Highlights   Pricing
  • Explore the 212 carved wooden columns of Djumba in Khiva
  • Visit the stunning, religiously significant Bahauddin Nakchbandi ensemble in Bukhara
  • Take a camel ride around Aydarkul before sleeping beneath the stars in your very own Yurt Spend two days inspecting the breathtaking monuments found in the ancient crossroads city of Samarkand
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Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

On your first day, you have the capital of Tashkent all to yourself. Although not world famous when it comes to its collection of tourist attractions (unlike the rest of your stops on this trip), the city does offer a certain charm. Take a stroll around the old town and get lost in the ancient mud-walled maze of houses, or head out after dark to experience some of the pulsating live shows lining the city streets.

Day 2

Enjoy a fine buffet breakfast at your luxury hotel before heading out for a more structured day of sightseeing in Tashkent. It’s off to the Museum of Applied Art and around the oldest Orthodox Church in Tashkent; both ports of call offer an excellent introduction into Uzbek culture. An evening flight takes you to Urgench, where you’ll transfer to Khiva - your next stop.

Day 3

The first thing on most travelers’ to-do list in Khiva is to explore the Djuma mosque, the spiritual center of this ancient city with 212 carved wooden columns. Afterwards, your private tour will head on to several of the city’s mausoleums that all follow a stunning blue theme throughout. In the evening, it’s back to Urgench for an evening flight to Bukhara.

Day 4

The beautiful city of Bukhara has long been a place of worship, pilgrimage and Islamic education, drawing in visitors from far and wide. Today, it still attracts these visitors who come in their thousands to experience the city’s rich beauty and history. On your guided tour, visit the magnificent Poi-Kalyan Square and Abdul-Azizkhan, a stunning royal mosque.

Day 5

Today marks a continuation of your in-depth Bukhara exploration. You’ll really sink your teeth into ancient Islamic history, visiting a good range of monuments and museums around the city. Look out for the impressive Bolo Khauz Mosque and the huge Bahauddin Nakchbandi ensemble, situated 7.5 miles outside the city and a popular place of pilgrimage.

Day 6

A morning 2.5-hour trip takes you to Nurata, a town chiefly populated by Kazaks who have preserved their traditional, simple nomadic lifestyle throughout the centuries. Visit the mosque with a pool of sacred fish, which local people believe are the spirit of their ancestors. After lunch you’ll head to Aydarkul, where you’ll enjoy a camel ride through the rustic surroundings. There aren’t any five-star hotels here in the middle of nature - instead, you’ll bed down in a traditional yurt tonight.

Day 7

Rise early to watch the stunning sun rise across the majestic Aydarkul landscape. Once fortified with a good breakfast, depart to Samarkand (143 miles/3 hours), a world-famous city which used to lie at the crossroads of the silk trading route through Europe and Asia. Take a good look round the Royal Square of Registan, which consists of three elaborately decorated madrassas (Islamic schools)

Day 8

You’ll be treated to a full day sightseeing on this eighth day. Bibi-Khanym Mosque is one of many highlights, with its ocean-blue domes and painstakingly detailed carvings. Zinda necropolis is also on the agenda; a great collection of monuments between 500 and 1000 years old, each with its own beauty and historic significance. Come evening, it’s back to the hotel for dinner and to prepare for the following day’s travels.

Day 9

A morning drive will take you from Samarkand to Shakhrisabz, a city famous for being built and ruled by the ancient Timur leader in the 14th century. Everything in the city seems to be connected with the great leader in one way or another, including the pristine ‘White Palace’ that you’ll get to explore. After lunch, it’s back to explore Samarkand some more.

Day 10

It’s your final full day and your last chance to see the remaining attractions of Samarkand. You’ll see Ulugbek observatory, the first and biggest observatory in the Central Asia. You can explore both above or below land as the site features some interesting underground passageways. There’s also time for the local paper factory - offering a fantastic insight into the traditional paper production techniques of Uzbekistan. Catch the ‘rapid train’ to make it back to Tashkent for your overnight accommodation.

Day 11

Wake up in this unique, diverse and fascinating land for one last time on this trip. Today you’ll have the chance to prepare for your flight home or grab some last minute souvenirs in the capital of Tashkent. After checking out of your hotel, private transportation will take you to the airport where you’ll catch a flight onto your next destination.


Suggested Accommodations

Lotte City Hotel Tashkent Palace , International Hotel Tashkent, Miran International Hotel

Lotte City Hotel Tashkent Palace

Perfectly located for business, vacation and travel, the Tashkent palace is situated in the center of the Uzbek capital, just a ten minute drive from the international airport and within easy strolling distance of the fountains of the city park, the international ceramics garden, Amir Temur Square and the Alisher Navoi Opera. Built in traditional Uzbek style, the hotel features all the modern conveniences required by international travelers. All 232 rooms feature en-suite bathrooms, satellite television, mini bar and air conditioning as well as views of beautiful Tashkent. After a hard day’s sightseeing, enjoy Uzbek and international cuisine in the hotel restaurants, one of which is open air and offers views of the city and a fountain show. The hotel also has spa and fitness amenities including an outdoor pool, a gym and sauna and massage facilities to ensure guests are fully relaxed during their stay.


International Hotel Tashkent

This property lies in the heart of Tashkent with all the marvellous sights and sounds, museums, mosques and bazaars just minutes away. The International Hotel Tashkent is just 20 minutes’ drive from the airport and within walking distance of the beautiful and peaceful Japanese Garden. The elegantly appointed rooms range from standard to presidential and all are equipped with mini-bar, air conditioning, satellite television and WiFi. Enjoy fine dining and international cuisine in the Allegro Restaurant; relax with beautiful lake views and a barbecue at bright and fresh Brasserie on the Park or sip cocktails in one of the hotel bars. Aquarius Spa is fully-equipped to provide full relaxation and regain harmony of body and soul with massage, gym and sauna facilities, a gorgeous pool and even yoga classes are available. Whilst it wouldn't rank as an international 5-star standard hotel, it's the best hotel in the city. 


Miran International Hotel

The Miran International Hotel offers comfort and convenience for business and leisure travelers in the heart of Tashkent. Its 140 spacious rooms feature all mod cons including 42-inch flat-screen televisions and high-speed WiFi, while the en-suite bathrooms are equipped with toiletries and bathrobes. The hotel offers a range of cuisines in its restaurant as well as banqueting and conference facilities. What’s more, guests can spend their leisure time relaxing with a game of billiards or in the health club with its year-round indoor pool, sauna, jacuzzi and gym. Within walking distance to Amir Timur Square and its museum and just a short drive to the treasures of Chorsu Bazaar and the beautiful Khast Imam Mosque, this hotel surely offers something for all visitors to Tashkent.

Asia Khiva, Malika Kheyvak Hotel, Malika Khiva Hotel

Asia Khiva

This comfortable is perfectly situated in the city center, next to the southern entrance to Itchan Kala - the old town. Within walking distance are some of ancient Khiva’s  most famous sites, including the Stone Palace, Citadel Kunya-Ark and the Djuma mosque with its carved wooden columns. The hotel has 132 rooms, all of which feature air conditioning, refrigerators, wireless internet and satellite television as standard and though not necessarily modern and luxurious, the authentic charm of the decor is in keeping with the city surroundings. The hotel restaurant serves international cuisine and guests can dine inside or out on the terrace. After a hot and tiring day discovering Khiva’s historic sites, unwind by the outdoor pool or take advantage of the sauna facilities. 


Malika Kheyvak Hotel

This comfortable hotel, although relatively modern, is built and decorated tastefully in the authentic Uzbek style so that guests enjoy all the conveniences in an environment of intricate wood carvings, elaborate Khiva carpets and traditional design. Located within the crenellated walls of the Itchan Kala fortress, it sports stunning views of the skyscraping Islam Khoja Minaret and is a short walk from the mausoleum of Pahlavan Mahmud. The hotel restaurant serves delicious Uzbek cuisine and there are acclaimed local wine varieties, as well as international brands of spirits, available at the hotel bar, while the summer terrace offers wonderful views of the old city so that guests can relax and unwind, fully immersed in the marvellous culture of the city. All single and double rooms have en-suite bathrooms, satellite television and a mini bar. 


Malika Khiva Hotel

Since 2004, the Malika Khiva hotel has been charming and enchanting its guests with its blend of old world authenticity, modern convenience and colorful, quirky decor. Situated at the very entrance of Itchan Kala at Ata Darvaza and built to look like a madrasah, it serves as a perfect doorway into the old town of ancient Khiva and boasts the very best views in the city. The gorgeous main hall and reception area is decked out with colorful hanging Uzbek carpets, traditionally dressed dolls and even features a giant novelty chess set and classic Silk Road bullock cart for guests to enjoy upon check-in. The bright and cozy single and double rooms each have their own en-suite bathroom, air conditioning and satellite television; the hotel restaurant serves up tasty Uzbek dishes and room service is available 24 hours a day.

Asia Bukhara, Lyabi Khauz Hotel

Asia Bukhara

Built in 2006, this 96-room hotel in central Bukhara allows guests easy access to the city’s main historic attractions. Part of a respected hotel chain within Uzbekistan, the Asia Bukhara Hotel is built in the style of a traditional madrasa and offers travelers welcoming three-star service, with facilities that include an outdoor swimming pool, business center with conference rooms and fitness center. The hotel also offers massage services to help travelers recuperate after a day exploring Bukhara’s ancient sites. Guest rooms include a modern bathroom with tub and shower, a minibar, air conditioning, satellite TV, and in the deluxe rooms, a safe. The on-site restaurant serves up national and international dishes and a bar and nightclub gives visitors the chance to socialize with fellow travelers and locals after hours. The Asia Bukhara Hotel is located in the heart of the ancient city, and guests will find many historic sites of note within walking distance.


Lyabi Khauz Hotel

Positioned in the heart of the Old City, Lyabi Khauz Hotel provides warm Uzbek hospitality in a beautifully restored 19th-century house. All 40 rooms have been refurbished in a comfortable, modern manner with traditional Uzbek accents and mod-cons such as satellite TV, air conditioning, fridge, work desk and full bathroom. Accommodation is available as single, twin or triple rooms with the option of a Junior Suite for travelers who require more space. Among the highlights of this beautiful hotel are its original facade and a central dining room and hall with ornate tiles and antique decorations. The place was designed and built by architect Usta Shirin Murad, whose other works include the Summer Palace of the Emir of Bukhara and the Ballet Theatre. Not only is the hotel a valuable part of Bukhara heritage itself, it’s located in the historic center of town, within steps of the 16th-century Silk Road marketplace where travelers can pick up souvenirs and handicrafts. The Lyabi Khauz Hotel is also equipped with a business center, bar, 24-hour room service and laundry service. The restaurant serves up more than 100 local Uzbek dishes, plus international favorites and vegetarian fare. 

Stay in a Traditional Yurt Camp

Stay in a Traditional Yurt Camp

For the one true way to get back to nature and genuinely immerse yourself in Uzbek culture, why not stay in a traditional yurt camp? With Kizilkum Safari, it’s possible to experience a slice of nomadic life featuring everything from the camels to the communal cooking. Set in the stunning scenery of Nurata with the gorgeous turquoise waters of Lake Aydarkul and its snowy peaked mountains nearby, guests can enjoy staying in a real Kazakh yurt without giving up their creature comforts. While this isn’t a luxury hotel,  the beds are comfortable, the water is clean and the quiet of the countryside is peaceful and calming. The folks at Kizilkum Safari are friendly and accommodating and guests can arrange to stay in their own individual yurt or in groups of up to six people. What better way to properly experience a totally different way of life, experiencing Uzbekistan’s great outdoors?

Grand Samarkand Hotel, Grand Samarkand Superior Hotel, Samarkand Plaza

Grand Samarkand Hotel

This four-star hotel is located within a mile of the Old Town and Registan Square. It offers spacious, traditional-style rooms with free WiFi, TVs with international satellite channels, and ambient sitting area with open fireplace. The on-site restaurant offers local and international meals, with an emphasis on warm Uzbek hospitality and traditional breakfast served each morning. The streets surrounding the hotel also offer a range of restaurants for guests wanting to explore their surrounds. The centerpiece of the hotel is a picturesque garden courtyard with seating where travelers can enjoy breakfast or relax with a drink after a day of sightseeing. The Grand Samarkand Hotel is a favorite in the area for its quaintly decorated rooms and boutique feel. The architecture of the building and the detail in its stained glass and ironwork reflect the craftsmanship still evident in Samarkand’s old quarter. The hotel is located opposite its sister property - the Grand Samarkand Superior - which has a business center, fitness center and rooftop swimming pool.


Grand Samarkand Superior Hotel

This elegant hotel is located close to the heart of historic Samarkand, convenient for shopping and within a mile of the famous Registan Square and Old Town. Rooms at the Grand Samarkand Superior Hotel are decorated in a traditional manner, with Uzbek carpets and Silk Road textiles creating a cozy, comfortable ambience. Modern in-room technology includes a flat-screen TV with satellite and USB connectivity, air conditioning and free WiFi. Bathrooms amenities include robes, slippers and hairdryer. Aside from single and twin/double rooms, larger apartment-style rooms are also available for guests who require more living space. The hotel has a wide array of facilities, including a Finnish sauna, a rooftop pool with sun loungers, a fitness center with cardio machines and free weights, and a well-equipped business center offering a range of executive services. The onsite restaurant serves up Western and traditional Uzbek cuisine, with a fine collection of wines to match and a pianist providing live music every night. Just across the road is the hotel’s sister property, the Grand Samarkand Hotel. 


Samarkand Plaza

Undoubtedly the best hotel in the city, the Plaza offers international standard service and convenience. Rooms from twins to suites are all comfortably appointed and come well equipped with air conditioning, satellite television, high-speed internet and well stocked mini-bar. Thanks to its location right in the heart of ancient Samarkand, it is the ideal base from which to explore the treasures of the city. After a long day of sightseeing, relax in one of two hotel restaurants for a range of Uzbek and international dishes, lounge with a drink in the bar or take advantage of the pool with its sauna and fitness facilities. 

Meet An Asia Expert
From Travelogues
Jay Tindall was amazed by Uzbekistan's cultural diversity, its 2700-year old history and its mosques, markets and friendly people.
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