Example Itinerary

A Culinary Journey Across Uzbekistan

Duration
11 days / 10 nights
Price Per Person
Interests
Cuisine, Heritage
Destinations
Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan has long drawn visitors with its awe-inspiring Islamic architecture, ancient walled cities, and brilliant history. For those in-the-know, Uzbek cuisine is a delicious mix of East and West, offering spit-roasted meats and tandoor-baked breads from Central and Eastern European countries like Turkey, Iran, and Morocco as well as steamed dumplings and hand-pulled noodles from China. The confluence of cultures throughout Uzbekistan’s history can be traced and savored in its dishes. Taste your way through Uzbekistan on this 11-day journey that takes you to its most storied cities. In the capital city of Tashkent, taste the beloved national dish plov at the Plov Center, where gigantic iron cauldrons cook up over 1,500 kilos of this rice dish a day. In the small ancient city of Khiva, learn how to make its local specialties of egg dumplings and green pasta as well as try its version of raw beef tartare. Pair Bukhara’s enchanting mosques and madrassas with bread making, local tea culture, kosher cuisine from one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world, and a trip to the hammam. Then in Samarkand, watch an exciting buzkashi match, imbibe on local wines in the cellar of the oldest winery in town, see how national sweets are made, and cook meat pies and festive quail plov with local families. By the time you’ve returned to Tashkent, you’ll be more than satiated by the best of Uzbekistan’s culture, history, architecture, and of course, cuisine. 

This itinerary is an example. It’s designed to inspire you and provide you with thoughtfully curated ideas. You can choose to do this exact itinerary or completely personalize it. All trips are 100% bespoke.

Highlights

  • Cooking Lessons: Expect to get into the kitchen and get hands-on throughout this journey. You will not only be tasting and learning about food, but also doing lots of cooking under the direction of experts and locals. 
  • Regional Specialties: Not only will you taste all of Uzbekistan’s signature dishes, but also regional favorites and variations such as Samarkand and Tashkent’s plov, Khiva’s exclusive green noodles and egg dumplings, kosher cuisine from one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world in Bukhara, Guijduvan’s famed fish fry, and more. 
  • Local Hosts: Learn about Uzbekistan’s food from its people, and learn about its people through the food. You will meet many locals in different cities who will take you into their homes and teach you techniques and recipes passed down through generations. Cooking and eating together is a joyous way to bond and learn about new cultures and people. 

Day-by-Day

Day 1

Map

Tashkent »

Touchdown in the ancient Uzbek capital of Tashkent. You will be whisked through the airport then privately transferred to your hotel where you can rest and freshen up. For lunch, get ready to dive straight into a cooking class. The star of the menu is Uzbekistan’s national dish and obsession, plov. This hearty dish of rice, meat, onion, carrots and cumin seeds is socially and traditionally integral to the country’s culture, originating back as far as the 10th century. Unlike in Persian-influenced cultures, where pilafs are made from fluffy long-grain rice, the signature pilafs in Uzbekistan feature short- or medium-grain rice. At the Plov Center, you will learn about this celebratory dish, taste the signature Tashkent variation, then create your own and cook it in a kazan. The adventurous may want to add local favorite kazy, horse sausage. Spend the rest of the day sightseeing around the capital. Stroll through the ancient part of the city, visiting Khas Imam square and Independence Square. In the Barak-Khan madrassah, meet various artisans and see their craft in action: miniaturists, sculptors, and painters. Round out the day at the capital’s best-known market, Chorsu Bazaar. Both a place where locals do daily shopping and a huge attraction, Chorsu Bazaar sees thousands of shoppers looking for the freshest ingredients. Bread, rice, seasonal fruits - pomegranates, persimmons, apricots, grapes, and melons - and meats, overwhelm the market while the selection of vegetables remains limited in range, reflecting Uzbek nomadic heritage.

Hotel Options

Day 2

Map

Khiva »

This morning, take off on a morning flight west to Urgench and drive to Khiva, akin to a living museum with its delightful labyrinth of narrow mud-walled alleyways and spectacular blue mosaics. After checking in at your hotel, learn how to cook the Khorezm region’s two exclusive dishes, takhum barak and shivit oshi. In this sandy and hot arid region, locals favored foods that were cooler that could also quench thirst. The takhum barak, egg dumplings, are cooled in cold water and served with kefir or sour cream. The influence of Chinese culture by way of the Silk Road is evident in these dumplings.   Shivit oshi is a specialty of Khiva, a dish of bright green noodles colored with dill and topped with a savory stew of beef, potatoes, and carrots, and served with yogurt on the side. Then, explore the small walled inner part of Khiva which is dotted with 52 historical monuments. Explore madrassas and mausoleums, stroll around idyllic courtyards, and meander the alleyways. In the evening for dinner, have a lesson on how to cook another Khiva delicacy, Ijan. Similar to beef tartare, this unique raw beef dish is finely chopped and mixed with spices and a splash of vodka from the autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan.

Hotel Options
Khiva

Day 3

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Bukhara »

Today you traverse across the Kyzyl-kum desert and cross the Amu Darya river, finally arriving at Bukhara in the late afternoon. Freshen up at your hotel, then stretch your legs as you take a stroll along Lyabi Khauz Place, an ensemble of Kukeldash Madrasah situated in northern part of city, Khanaka in the western region, and Nadir Divan-begi in eastern part. Square’s southern side is framed by Trade Street area. In the center is a huge reservoir of water where locals congregate to sip tea or play backgammon by the water. For dinner, you will try your hand at cooking Bukharan plov which is sparsely seasoned with few spices so the flavors of the main ingredients are stronger. As home to one of the largest and oldest Jewish communities, it is common to see chicken and quail used instead of lamb, plus the addition of chickpeas and dried fruits such as raisins, apricots, quince and apple. 

Hotel Options

Day 4

Map

Bukhara »

Explore Bukhara, the country’s holiest city. Larger than Khiva, Bukhara has around 140 historical monuments which are peppered amongst the modern sprawl of the city. Wander around the delicate archways and soaring minaret of the Poi Kalyan Complex. The 12th-century minaret is embellished with intricate brick patterns and served as a lighthouse for caravanneers in former times. Marvel at Abdul-Azizkhan and Ulugbek madrassahs, before taking to the trading domes, huge dome-shaped covered markets where lively commercial life intersects with busy streets. At lunch time, you will be invited into the home of a local family to learn how to make traditional samsa. Also known as samosas, these savory triangular pastries are typically stuffed with finely minced lamb or beef mixed with spices and baked in a tandoor oven. After, head just outside of Bukhara to visit Chor-Bakr Necropolis, a burial site for one of the four descendants of Muhammad. Take a late afternoon break at the Silk Road tea house for a cup of local tea flavored with cardamom, cinnamon, and saffron, followed by a visit to the hammam, a bathhouse, for a relaxing spa treatment with sesame and almond oil. Enjoy the region’s specialties, such as lamb kebabs and chickpea salad, at a local restaurant for dinner before an exciting folk show at Nodir Devon Begui Madrassah to cap the day. 

Bukhara

Day 5

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Bukhara »

A third day in the intriguing city of Bukhara allows you time for a tour of the Royal Mosque Bolo Khauz, once the residence of Emir of Bukhara. The mosque features impossibly carved stalactites and elaborately decorated pillars through its large complex. You won’t want to miss the Ismail Samani Mausoleum either – this is one of the oldest buildings in the Central Asia, and perhaps the most elegant too. Today’s lunch is the perfect time to learn how to make traditional Uzbek bread with another local host family. A staple part of the Uzbek diet, the ubiquitous non is a round flatbread with a decorative stamped pattern on its shiny egg-washed surface. A chekich, a wooden handle with a pattern of metal spikes on one end, is used to stamp the dough to keep it from rising in the hot tandoor. The finished read sports thick, round edges that are softly chewy with a crunchy thin midsection. Do as the locals do and break your bread into pieces by hand and enjoy it with your meal. In the afternoon, return to one of the trading domes to meet an Uzbek healer who will show you how to create a natural medical remedy made from medicinal herbs and spices such as mint, cinnamon, cardamom, and saffron. Then, learn more about the Jewish community of Bukhara by visiting the synagogue and trying the local kosher cuisine for dinner. 

Day 6

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Samarkand »

Leave Bukhara behind as you drive to Samarkand. Your journey takes you through the city of Guijduvan, known for its ceramics. Stop here to meet a local artisan at his studio where you can make your own ceramic creation. Then, follow the artisan to his home and meet his family. Together you will cook a lunch of fish, prepared the Guijduvan way, de-boned before frying. This method of cooking fish is exclusive to the city and is considered the best in the country. Continue on to Samarkand and check into your hotel to relax. Tonight’s dinner is at the national house where you will get to cook chalop, an Uzbek cold yogurt soup of sour milk and greens such as cilantro, dill, parsley and cucumbers, that is eaten as an appetizer. 

Hotel Options
Samarkand

Day 7

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Samarkand »

Perhaps the most famous city in Uzbekistan, and one of the oldest in Central Asia, Samarkand has long prospered due to its close proximity to the ancient silk trade route from Asia to Europe. You’ll see the enormous Registan Square and the luxurious Bibi-Khanym Mosque, both of which offer testimony to city’s past riches.  For lunch, head to Samarkand’s Plov Center to make and taste the Samarkand version of this favorite dish. The Samarkand variant is a little lighter than most traditional plovs which is mainly dominated by pools of lamb tail fat that provides the dominant flavor. Today, you’ll try a festive plov made with quails. Afterwards, at Siyab local bazaar, taste the best traditional bread and fruits of Samarkand. Return to the national house to watch national sweets being made, such as halva (nuts and seeds combined with sugar), navat (crystalized sugar), and parvarda (caramel made from only sugar, flour and lemon juice). Enjoy another dinner at the national house with a lesson on how to cook kazan-kabob, a classic dish of meat and potatoes cooked in a cauldron. Deceivingly simple, the taste and aroma acquired depends on the cook’s competency at controlling the fire under the cauldron. 

Day 8

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Samarkand »

Spend this morning in the town of Urgut, in the mountains just outside of Samarkand. The big draw of the town is the main market with varied and relatively inexpensive merchandise which attracts visitors from Samarkand. After visiting the market, meet a local family who will take you on a short walk in the mountains before returning to their home to make bugirsoks, local donuts, and beyashes, round fried meat pies to enjoy with some tea. Visit the Chor-Chinor complex before driving back to Samarkand. Enroute through the mountain pass, stop at a local restaurant for lunch and try the locally-famous tandoor dish of lamb cooked with spruce branches, as well as jiz-biz, an incredibly tender meat dish that originated from Jizzak city. Spend the rest of the day at leisure and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant of your choice.

Samarkand

Day 9

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Samarkand »

Get ready for a special experience today: a private viewing of a traditional Buzkashi match. Buzkashi is a popular equestrian sport which translates literally to “goat pulling” in Persian. The sport involves horse-mounted players attempting to place a goat carcass across a goal line. Though rugged and  dangerous, Buzkashi is very popular across Central Asia from Afghanistan to China’s western region of Xinjiang. Legend has it that the game was first invented centuries ago when Afghan tribes would gallop on horseback to steal a rival tribe’s goats. Often these games are associated with a wedding, and the father of the bride is often the sponsor of the game. After watching this morning’s game, enjoy an outdoor lunch with everyone. The signature dish will be a festive dish that is usually cooked for weddings called tuy-kabob. This lamb stew is made by rubbing lamb meat with cumin and simmering the meat until tender in an onion and tomato broth. Return to Samarkand and spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure. You may want to explore more of the city on your own and enjoy the attractions or  people-watch with a cup of tea at a simple cafe like a local. 

Day 10

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Tashkent »

Another day’s sightseeing in Samarkand starts at a paper factory which still produces paper according to ancient methods brought from China in the 7th century. It’s then on to Ulugbek observatory, an ancient Islamic star-gazing site, before visiting the mausoleum of the prophet Daniel which houses a 59-feet long sarcophagus. Local lore says that the body of Daniel continually grows at a rate of 5cm a year. Pilgrims of three faiths - Christianity, Judaism, and Islam - come to visit the mausoleum and the nearby spring which reportedly has healing powers. Enjoy lunch with a local host family and try fish cooked in foil. Afterwards, head to the oldest winery in the city and sample local wines in the cellar. Samarkand's grapes are famous for a high content of sugar which Russian entrepreneurs took advantage of and introduced a wine-making industry in the country. Bid farewell to Samarkand as you take the rapid train back to Tashkent this evening. Upon arrival, have one final dinner at a local restaurant. 

Hotel Options
Tashkent

Day 11

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Departure

Your 11-day culinary journey through Uzbekistan comes to an end today. Savor one last taste of Uzbekistan at breakfast before checking out of your hotel. Private transport will take you to the international airport for your flight home or to your next exciting destination. 

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With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.

With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.

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