Similar to the now popular Uzbek tourist hot-spots of Samarkand and Bukhara, Khiva was once an important trade hub, situated along the ancient Great Silk Road that used to stretch from Asia to Europe.
Nowadays, the 2,500-year-old settlement is a sleepy little tourist town, yet it does boast its fair share of interesting attractions and sites - all providing reference to its long and fascinating history. Like many other ancient settlements in Central Asia, the 1.8-mile area of Khiva is split into two different parts; an old town, which features a host of original Islamic buildings, mosques, and narrows streets; and a new town, where the majority of the town's 40,000 people live.
The travel routes in and out of Khiva are good, catering for the recent influx of tourists. Many get in on private buses, with the more adventurous rolling in by train. The town is located on a central eastern border, just a short drive from Turkmenistan and 22 miles to Urgench, the regional capital.