From TV shows and travel articles, I always been fascinated by the Silk Road. My first trip to Uzbekistan was in October 2016. Then, I visited Tashkent, Bukhara and Samarkand. It wasn’t enough. This time I wanted to see Khiva and Shakhrisabz as well. So I arranged a tour for my parents and I with seven nights in Uzbekistan.
I reached out to Dolores Travel in Tashkent who organised a tour for the three of us. We were flying in from Kuala Lumpur. Our seven nights in Uzbekistan included domestic flight tickets, accommodation, transportation, train tickets Samarkand-Tashkent, tour guide, entrance fee and half-board meals. Transport was a minivan with a driver. And our tour guide stayed with us for the whole trip. It was effortless, well run, and well priced.
Day 1: Tashkent – Urgench – Khiva
We arrived very early in the morning into Tashkent International Airport. Someone from Dolores Travel was there to meet us. We took a short domestic flight from Tashkent to Urgench. Then we were helped into our comfortable minivan and we headed for the ancient walled city of Khiva.
Khiva used to be a major centre along the Great Silk Road and was once called the Pearl of the World. The old inner city of Khiva, called Itchan Kala, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Just the first of many on our trip!
We had a delicious meal at Cafe Zarafshon and a tour of Khiva city. With narrow streets, carved verandahs and doors as well as majestic minarets, there is a lot to see and enjoy.
Dinner that night included a folk show. If you get the chance, go up to one of the rooftops at sunset for magnificent views. We stayed at Asia Khiva, which is very close to the old city.
Day 2: Khiva – Bukhara
In ancient times the route from Khiva to Bukhara (about 440 km) used to take more than a month. We left at 10am and had lunch and plenty of rest stops along the way. It is a long drive through the desert but we enjoyed it and arrived in Bukhara about 5pm. We checked in to our hotel Omar Khayam and had some time to ourselves to explore the World Heritage site of Bukhara.
Day 3: Bukhara
After breakfast we had a city tour of Bukhara. It was wonderful to have the whole day here. Bukhara is one of the oldest cities in the world with a huge number of mosques. It is a beautiful city. There is so much to see!
Day 4: Bukhara – Shakhrisabz – Samarkand
After breakfast we drove 275 km to Samarkand, stopping at Shakhrisabz on the way. Shakhrisabz is a World Heritage site about 80km from Samarkand and is the homeland of Amir Timur, the founder of the Timurid Empire.
It is a stunning garden city with towering palaces and mosques.
Shakhrisabz is home to beautiful handmade embroidery and it was fun to shop for colorful cushion covers and a purse as souvenirs.
We checked into Asia Samarkand for the next two nights.
Day 5: Samarkand
At 9am, after breakfast, we started our city tour. Needless to say, this is yet another World Heritage Site full of amazing places. Amongst other stunning sites, is Registan Square which is one of the most beautiful city squares in the world. I recommend you go back and catch this at night when it is lit up too.
Before lunch we also visited Shakhi Zinda, an architectural complex filled with monuments adorned with beautiful tiles and decorations. For lunch we had borscht (a Russian beetroot soup) and grilled chicken at the Istiklol Restaurant.
Dinner was at Restaurant Samarkand where I highly recommend you try the snickers cake there…it’s delicious!
These cities are full of history and untold stories. For example, there is a medieval observatory called the Ulugh Beg Observatory. Ulugh Beg was the grandson of Amir Timur and a famous astronomer.
Day 6: Samarkand – Tashkent
After breakfast and check out, we drove to the Imam Al-Bukhari mausoleum. It is modern architecture based on traditional oriental style. Like most of the sites we visited there was a small shop selling local crafts and souvenirs.
In the afternoon we went to the Mausoleum of the Prophet Daniel. He was revered by three world religions. We also visited the settlement of Afrasiyab where the Museum of History is located.
From Afrosiyab we took a high-speed train at 5pm to Tashkent, arriving at 7.10pm. We were picked up and taken to our hotel, the Wyndham Tashkent where we stayed for two nights.
Day 7: Tashkent
Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan. Though its history goes back 2200 years it is a modern city and is the biggest business and cultural center in the region.
After breakfast our city tour included lots of modern sights like Independence Square, Alisher Navoi Theatre Square and the Museum of Applied Arts.
We also visited older sights such as the Khazrati Imam Complex, Barak-Khan Madrasah and Mui-Mubarak Mosque.
In the afternoon we shopped at the Chorsu bazaar which has been there since the Great Silk Road passed through Tashkent.
While you’re in Tashkent you have to try plov. It’s a national dish, and we loved our plov at the Central Asian Plov Centre.
Day 8: Tashkent-KL
Our seven nights in Uzbekistan was technically finished but we still had time before our evening departure flight.
After a relaxed morning we visited the stunning metro stations of Tashkent. The metro stations are some of the most ornate in the world and are like art galleries. They were built in 1977 but photography was forbidden. The ban on photography was lifted in June 2018. These are definitely worth the visit and the metro is easy to use if you’re travelling by yourself.
Another alternative offered by Dolores Travel is to spend this day in the Chimgan Mountains (northeast of Tashkent). The nature there is breathtakingly beautiful, but we had visited this area on a previous visit.
Seven nights in Uzbekistan was amazing – it feels like you are transported back in time. The people there are so friendly and helpful. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Trip taken November 2018.