Our guide in Uzbekistan seemed to know everyone wherever we went which made us feel like locals.
A Couple from California

Tashkent to Samarkand via Fergana Valley: Mountains & Historic Cities of Uzbekistan

This fascinating journey through Uzbekistan's Fergana Valley takes you along snaking mountain roads, across desolate deserts and into ancient cities that boast unrivalled beauty on quite an epic scale. The Fergana Valley, famous for its historic trade settlements and stunning natural beauty, is spread across a large part of eastern Uzbekistan, as well as neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The region's administrative center and largest city is Fergana City, which lies 260 miles from Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. Although this itinerary does include both of these relatively modern cities, most of your exploration time is dedicated to the older, more popular, and simply breathtaking cities of Khiva, Bukhara, and Samarkand. There are also trips to the smaller, yet equally as fascinating towns of Kokand, Margilan and Rishtan.

Highlights   Pricing
  • Find your adventurous spirit as you pass mountains, negotiate gorges and cross rivers on the historic route from Tashkent to Fergana
  • Experience the untouched way of life in the classic pottery town of Rishtan
  • Take in the stunning surroundings as you enjoy dinner in the luxurious summer palace of Khiva
  • Explore the array of fascinating monuments in the ancient, spiritual, and monastery-like city of Bukhara
  • Delve deep into past conqueror Timur's 'crossroad' city of Samarkand, and discover why this is one of the country's most adored spots
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Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

After checking-in to your hotel you'll have the rest of the day to explore this ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse capital city. Just to get an idea, take walk through centuries old wall-mudded houses in the old town, which are over-shadowed by Soviet-era housing blocks towering above. Or step out into the city center at night to witness the vibrant dance, music and culture scenes, reflecting both Islamic and Russian tastes.

Day 2

Leave in the morning by car for a long (4.5 hour), but spectacular drive to Kokand and then Fergana. The majestic mountain road is decorated with snow-capped peaks and green slopes. You'll cross the huge Kamchick Gorge, which played an important role in development of Kokand through the silk trade. There'll be time to explore Kokand itself before getting back on the road to Fergana, where you'll be spending the night.

Day 3
Margilan - Rishtan

Both the picturesque market town of Margilan and the classic pottery town of Rishtan are close to Fergana, and today you'll be visiting them both. Margilan boasts a cute little town center which you'll be able to peruse at your own leisure - perhaps snapping up a bargain along the way in the busy local market. On to Rishtan, where you'll get to see a live demonstration of traditional pottery spinning. In the evening, it’s back to your hotel in Fergana for a second night.

Day 4

This morning is a chance to do a quick sightseeing trip of Fergana City, the regional capital and administrative centre of this region. The quaint city center has some exquisite restaurants and a good selection of shops. After lunch, depart to Tashkent (217 miles). On the way there's a stop-off to learn more about one of Uzbekistan's most popular exports - cotton. Take a break from the road and meet cotton growers, seeing how it's made. Check in to your hotel upon arrival back in Tashkent.

Day 5

At this halfway point of your trip, you may be wondering why you're back in the capital. You're here not for a second visit, but to use its airport. In the morning, you'll fly to Urgench and then drive on to Khiva. The long trip is well worth it, and you'll have the afternoon to see why. Khiva, awash with blue-tiled mosques and monuments, is simply stunning. After a tour of the old town, enjoy dinner at the luxurious summer palace of Khiva.

Day 6

Close to Khiva is another 'pearl' city of Uzbekistan - Bukhara. A 7-hour morning ride through the countryside (stopping off for a picnic lunch) will take you to Bukhara from Khiva. Upon arrival, you'll be blown away by yet more spectacular Persian architecture and giant mausoleums in this monastery-like city. Check in to your hotel and enjoy dinner as you watch the sun set over this incredible, spiritual place.

Day 7

Bukhara's beauty really deserves a full day of your time, and that's exactly what today is for. You'll have a private city tour visiting all the best sites, including the tranquil Lyabi Khauz Plaza, Ismail Samani mausoleum – the oldest building in Central Asia, and many other ancient monuments all keeping the secrets of the past.

Day 8

If you're up and about early enough you'll be able to squeeze in some last visits around Bukhara and take it all in for one last time. After you've checked out of your hotel in Bukhara and had lunch, it's back on the road to Samarkand (3.5 hours) - possibly the most popular city in the whole country for both tourists and pilgrims. The city has long profited from its position at the crossroads of the ancient silk trading route from Asia to Europe. Have a look round in the evening and prepare for tomorrow's full day of touring.

Day 9

The first stop of most sightseeing tours in Samarkand usually involves the majestic Registan Square at the heart of the city. Marvel in the gorgeous architecture and intricate tiled walls throughout. It's then on to the equally spectacular Gur-Emir Mausoleum – the burial place of the Tamerlane (Timur) leader who once ruled much of Asia 500 years ago. There's also time to squeeze in trips to Shakhi-Zinda (a mini-necropolis of mausoleums), and to the former leader Uluabek's observatory on a hill.

Day 10

The morning will be a continuation of the visits around the attractions of Samarkand, after all, there are so many of them that you'll need all the time you can get! See the blue domed Bibi-Khanym Mosque and visit the silk fashion studio of the famous designer Valentina Romanenko. There's also time to hit the buzzing Siyab Bazaar – a great opportunity to sample some local bread and fruit. In the evening, it's back to Tashkent by rapid train.

Day 11

Enjoy a final goodbye buffet breakfast at your hotel and check out. You'll head by private transportation to the international airport of Tashkent for your onward flight, marking the end of your incredible journey through the stunning Fergana Valley.


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 Fergana Hotel, Hotel Club 777

Asia Fergana Hotel

This comfortable hotel is perfectly situated in the center of Fergana - next to the city mayor's office and within a five minute walk of the city park, it’s ideally placed as a base for guests who want to explore the area and the beautiful scenic region beyond. Decorated in colonial style, the Asia Fergana, while not luxury accommodation, offers old-world charm and all the conveniences you could ask for. With a full range of sleeping arrangements from single and double rooms to superior and suite options, it’s perfect for solo travelers, couples and families; all rooms boast air conditioning, telephone and minibar and all bathrooms are en suite with toiletries. Explore Fergana with a city-tour or, if you’re heading further afield, look forward to returning to the hotel after a long day’s hike in the valley for dinner in the international restaurant and take advantage of the hotel’s massage and sauna facilities. Alternatively, simply enjoy relaxing by the pool on a hot sunny day. 


Hotel Club 777

This simple in Fergana city is well-placed for international travelers, located less than two miles from Fergana International Airport. What’s more, it’s just a short walk to the city park and the Alisher Navoi monument with its beautiful turquoise dome and the shrine of Sergius of Radonezh. While this is not a deluxe hotel, the single, double and superior rooms are spacious and comfortable, set in pleasant surroundings with green lawns and with a peaceful, shady inner courtyard. After a day of sightseeing or exploring in the Fergana Valley, relax with dinner in the hotel restaurant or unwind with a game of billiards. Visitors looking to really kick back can enjoy the open air swimming pool, sipping ice cold drinks from the poolside bar or snacking in the outdoor summer restaurant; if the weather is less than perfect, there’s an indoor pool and sauna facilities too.

Asia Khiva, Hotel Orient Star, 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. 


Hotel Orient Star

This beautiful hotel located right in the heart of the architectural-urban museum reserve of Khiva’s old town, Itchan Kala, offers a unique accommodation experience. The Muhammad Amin Khan madrasah, built in 1855, was originally, like all Uzbek madrasahs, a school for students of Islam. Today these students’ cells have been renovated into beautiful hotel rooms which, although small, retain the charm and intricate detail of their previous purpose and feature all the mod-cons including mini bar, telephone and en-suite bathroom. Thanks to its unique and original architecture,  the hotel remains pleasantly cool with no need of air conditioning, and guests will be delighted by the beauty of the highly decorative arches and carved wooden doors throughout the reception and in the spacious restaurant. The hotel also features a souvenir shop, an outdoor cafe and a lounge bar and with its ideal location,  the wonders of ancient Khiva, including the towering Kuk Minor minaret, lie right on its doorstep.                                          


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, Omar Khayyam 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. 


Omar Khayyam Hotel

Named after the legendary philosopher, astronomer, mathematician and poet, the Omar Khayyam Hotel offers guests an authentic experience in the heart of ancient Bukhara. With 22 rooms, including one apartment-style studio and several deluxe suites, this property features ornate stucco arches and balconies that overlook a central courtyard. In-room amenities include satellite TV, air-conditioning, fridge, work desk and modern bathroom with hairdryer. The restaurant serves up traditional Uzbek meals as well as European dishes, vegetarian fare and Korean cuisine. In the summertime, the courtyard sets the scene for an open-air bar and cafe, providing a wide range of drinks and a taste of local sweets. For the executive traveler, there’s a business center with internet access and safety boxes. The hotel also provides laundry services and access to medical care, if required. Many of this UNESCO city’s major historic attractions - the Po-i-Kalyan complex and the 5th-century Ark-Citadel, for instance - are within walking distance of the hotel. 

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. 

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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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