There’s a world of culture, history and nature waiting to be uncovered by those daring enough to be different. This two-week itinerary through Uzbekistan and Tajikistan offers exactly that. Something a little different. Take, for example, the blue-washed city of Khiva in which you will spend the day exploring and the night sleeping, or the maze of mausoleums that the monastery-like city of Bukhara so proudly boasts. After soaking up the spiritual atmosphere in the ancient Samarkand city, the final stop in Uzbekistan, the emphasis switches to the stunning natural beauty of the neighboring Tajikistan. Become blown away as you journey across this picturesque, untouched country, staying in the mountain towns of Istaravshan and Saritag, whilst visiting the famous Karakul River and Iskanderkul Lake along the way. A truly memorable 14-day trip through this fascinating yet often overlooked part of the world.
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The first stop on this two-week journey through Uzbekistan and Tajikistan is Tashkent, the Uzbek capital. After checking in to the hotel, take a leisurely stroll around the ancient part of the city, visiting the stunning Khast Imam square, home to a library holding the oldest Koran of the Islamic world. Another top-tip is to drop by Chorsu, the largest market in the city, for a taste of traditional Uzbek lifestyle.
A morning flight to Urgench is followed by a short onward journey to the historic city of Khiva. Famous for its classic Persian architecture and mud-walled maze of streets, this city lies hidden in the Kizilkum (red sands) desert, and is set on the banks of the Amu Darya River. With no less than 52 elegant monuments, you’ll need the rest of the day to sightsee with your own private guide. End the day with dinner in the picturesque surroundings of Khiva’s summer palace.
A 7-hour morning journey from Khiva to the equally breathtaking city of Bukhara crosses over the Kyzyl-Kum desert and Amu Darya River. Enjoy a picnic stop for lunch with picturesque views and fresh air. There’s also a chance on the way to meet some local Karakul sheep (native to Central Asia) experts. After arrival in Bukhara, check in to the hotel, have dinner and get a good night’s rest in preparation for tomorrow’s full schedule of sightseeing.
A full day of sightseeing in Bukhara takes you to Lyabi Hauz – a lovely square of water with surrounding monuments; the beautiful Poi-Kalyan, one of the main symbols of Bukhara, serving in former times as a lighthouse for travelers; and the not-to-be-missed Ismail Samani mausoleum – the oldest building in the Central Asia and one of the true pearls of the Islamic architectural world. Enjoy an evening dinner at the Nodir Divan Begui madrasah with a folk show.
Make a three-hour drive to Samarkand, the famous crossroads city situated at the heart of Uzbekistan’s ancient Silk Road. After a quick check-in to your hotel, head out to the Royal Palace on Registan Square - consisting of three madrassas, Ulugbek, Sher Dor and Tillya-Kari - this really is one of the architectural highlights of the city. Next up is the fascinating Gur-Emir mausoleum, the burial place of the Great Tamerlane and his dynasty.
Another full day of sightseeing in Samarkand takes you to the blue-domed mosque of Bibi-Khanym and then to Shakhi-Zinda, a winding necropolis of mud-walled homes, ancient tombs and elegant mausoleums. Afrosiab museum offers a change of pace to the day, as well as an interesting insight into the complex and often baffling history of this region.
Halfway through this two-week adventure and it’s back to the capital Tashkent. The 4.5-hour overland journey goes through Bakhmal village, and it’s here where you’ll be able to discover the Uzbek tradition of cotton honey making. Arrive in Tashkent in the afternoon for lunch and some last visits around the city. Spend the night in the capital in preparation for tomorrow’s border crossing into Tajikistan.
Time to depart Uzbekistan, swapping your Uzbekistani Som for the Tajikistan Somoni. After passing through Oybek, a small border town, it’s on to Khudjand, the second-largest city in Tajikistan - a journey of around 2.5 hours. A half-day sightseeing trip follows a lunchtime check-in, in which you’ll visit Temur Malik fortress, Sheikh Musliddin madrassah and the city’s central mosque.
Istaravshan in the northern foothills of Tajikistan is your next destination. Get there by making a morning drive from Khudjand, passing some delightful mountain scenery on the way. You’ll arrive in good time for a tour of Muktepa (the old part of the city) taking in historic sites such as the Bobotago and Khudoyor mausoleums, Khazrati Shokh madrassah and the Chor-Gumbaz ensemble.
Today you’ll drive to Pendjikent, the ancient settlement once home to the Sogdians of pre-Islamic Tajikistan. Accommodation here is at a small guesthouse and after checking in, you’ll have the rest of the day to explore the area with your own private guide. Highlights include an excavations site of ancient Sogd, Rudaki museum, Olim Dotkho Mosque and the town’s bustling market.
Depart for Iskanderkul Lake in the morning. This stunning spot, situated at 7,000 feet, is surrounded by towering mountains enclosing a wonderful turquoise body of water. Walk along the lakeshore and visit the waterfall – with lunch along the way. After getting your fill of fresh air and stunning views, drive to the mountain village Saritag where you will enjoy dinner and overnight in the national house.
From your accommodation in Saritag, the Karakul River is easily reached on foot. Once you arrive you’ll be greeted by some jaw-dropping views across a vast, pristine expanse of water. The views stretch right over to the stunning snowcapped mountains on the other side. After this memorable trip, lunch is served back at the national house in Saritag. In the afternoon, make your way to Dushanbe, the final city of the trip.
On this penultimate day, there’s a packed schedule of sightseeing and activities. Kick off the morning with two museum trips, followed by an exploration of the central Somoni Square and the impressive Gissar. There’s also some excellent botanical gardens and markets to be squeezed in before dinner with a traditional Tajik folk show.
Your two weeks of culture, history and adventure have come to an end, and it’s time to depart this fascinating, beautiful part of the world. Enjoy the hotel’s buffet breakfast before being whisked off in private transportation to the international airport, and on to your next flight.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The newly-built Hotel Sugd in Khujand, Tajikistan offers 24 rooms and great access to the city's attractions. The comfortable European-Asian style rooms have a warm wooden theme throughout, and all have their own private bathroom, large TV, stereo system and fully-stocked mini-bar, all as standard. Some rooms also have their own balconies for relaxing and soaking up the sun in the summer months. Hotel Sugd provides food throughout the day, and an excellent buffet breakfast is served in the morning. There's also a small lobby bar open until the late evening. One of the real selling points of this hotel is its location, situated in a convenient spot in the city of Khujand, close to shops, bar, restaurants and a short distance from most of the attractions about town. It's easy to explore this fascinating city, which is one of the oldest in the whole of Central Asia.
The Khudjand Grand in northern Tajikistan accommodates up to 50 people in its modern and tasteful range of single and double rooms. The location is convenient, with easy access to all the attractions such as the Opera House (which is located just a few steps away on the opposite side of the street) and the History Museum. Both the airport and train station are about 40 minutes’ drive away too. Downstairs is a fine dining restaurant, although for those reluctant to leave their rooms, guests are welcome to order food to their rooms. Elsewhere on site at the Khudjand Grand Hotel is a billiards table, sauna and bar, so guests won't be short of things to do when just staying for a few days.
This luxury hotel in the center of Dushanbe really is head and shoulders above most of the city's other accommodation options. As soon as you step inside the grand lobby with its traditional Tajik features, it's clear that plenty of time and effort have gone into the hotel's design. There's a choice of serviced apartments or deluxe double rooms, all with 24-hour room service, large comfortable beds, TV and internet. The great location of the Serena, situated on the main boulevard at the center of Dushanbe, offers a stunning backdrop, surrounded by a lush garden and mountains in the distance. It also provides ease of access to the city's attractions, such as the National Art Museum, cinemas and the opera theater, and is just a 10-minute drive from the international airport.