Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Termez, Shahrisabz, Nukus, Ferghana Valley, Chorvak/Chimgan
In brief: This itinerary covers the most popular places in Uzbekistan. There are four must-see cities in Uzbekistan (Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva) that have proven to be the most popular with our travelers. Five other cities (Termez, Shahrisabz, Nukus, Muynak, and Chorvak) have a high level of interest and are included in this classical itinerary. Termez which is the most interesting place to visit for those who want to know about the mysteries of ancient Buddhist culture. On the way there you will have a chance to visit the birthplace of Tamerlane in Shahrisabz. A visit to Nukus would be incomplete without a visit to the I. Savitsky Art Museum. A short drive to the north will take you to Muynak to witness the desolation of the Aral Sea. Ferghana, which is a pearl of Uzbekistan, is blessed with breathtaking natural scenery, and is home to the world-renowned silk-making tradition. For those who appreciate nature will definitely like Chorvak Lake and the nearby Chimgan Mountain resorts. Despite the relative closeness of these cities, all of them are different from each other. Khiva’s charm is that it is one of the few open-air museums in the world; Bukhara is rich in history and dramatic architecture; in Samarkand you will feel yourself as playing a part in one of the fairy tales from “One Thousand and One Nights”; and Tashkent surprises everybody with wide boulevards, green parks and lively night life.
As soon as you arrive at the Tashkent International Airport, our outstanding support staff will meet you and whose duty is to help you with all border formalities, assistance in collecting your baggage, and filling out the proper declaration forms. They are very helpful, especially if you are traveling with your family or with a big group since airports and formalities can be a challenge.
Once you have cleared customs, you will be met by a representative of our company who will welcome you to Uzbekistan and escort you to your hotel. Of course, they are there to assist you with your hotel accommodations and answer any questions you have.
After you have rested from your long journey, we will start your tour in the capital of Uzbekistan – the biggest city in Central Asia. While many parts of the old city were destroyed by a terrible earthquake in 1966, it was rebuilt in a very short period through the help of people throughout the.
However, some parts of the old city survived the earthquake and were able to flourish as before. This part of the city is called Chorsu (i.e. Old City) and will include visiting such sites of historic importance as the Barak Khan Madrasa with its gorgeous turquoise domes and intricate tile work; Jami Mosque (Friday Mosque); the Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum ― the poet and scholar; the library of the Institute Al Bukhari, which houses a sacred Koran dating from the seventh century, the only 4th preserved Koran of Osman.
Afterwards, you will enjoy your time in the newer part of the city with its wide boulevards, green, spacious parks, Independence Square, Alisher Navoi Theater, Amir Temur Square, and the Monument of Courage, which is dedicated to the victims of the earthquake in 1966.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your 1 hour 45 minute flight to Nukus.
When you arrive in Nukus, our driver or guide will meet you at the airport and you will start your first day in the Karakalpakistan Republic (Autonomous Republic of Uzbekistan) by taking a tour to a small city called Muynak which once located on the coast of the Aral Sea. It is here you can witness and learn about the actions that led to the receding level of the Aral Sea. While you’re there be sure to see the Cemetery of Dead Ships and the monument to those who sacrificed their lives during World War II.
As you are driving back to Nukus, be sure to see the remains of ancient fortresses (kala). Once in Nukus, you will be returned to your hotel for rest and relaxation.
In the morning you will visit the world-famous Igor Savitskiy Museum to see the fascinating art collection that he gathered during the oppressive communist era. While Nukus was restructured during the Soviet era, there are some interesting sites to visit that have historical significance, such as the Mausoleum of Mazlumkhan Sulgu. According to historical records, the construction of the mausoleum dates to the early 14th century. Other points of interest are the Mausoleum of Shamun Nabig (12-13th cc.), Madrassah of Halika Erjep (9-13th cc.), and the Old Town Ali Belgisiz (16-17th cc.). Once you have finished your tour in Nukus, you will start your drive to Khiva. During your trip, you will have the opportunity to stop by a few kalas (fortress) such as Ayas - Kala, Tuprak – Kala, and Kirk Kiz Kala which all belong to antiquity. Upon your arrival in Khiva, you will be taken to your hotel in the old town for rest and relaxation.
You will start your Icahn Kala (internal city wall) tour with a local guide. Visit to the oldest part of the city – Kunya-Ark Fortress, including Kurinish Khana (17c); Mohammed-Amin-Khan(19c) Madrassah, Islam Khodja Minaret; Palvan-Kari complex, Abd Al Bobo complex(18c), Rafanek Madrassah, Mohammed Rakim Khan (19 c), Amir-Tur Madrassah, and Sho-I-Kalandar Bobo Mausoleum
Lunch time - we recommend having your lunch at the national house. Get acquainted with uzbek family and tasting Uzbek dishes.
Continuing city tour:
Mazary Sharif Madrassah, Kheivak Well (10c), Uch Avlioli («Three Saints») Mausoleum, Jami Mosque (18c), Kutluq – Murad Inaq (19c) Madrassah, and Pakhlavan Mahmoud Mausoleum.
Free time at leisure
Today, we’ll drive from Khiva across the Kyzyl Kum (Red Sand) desert to the great city of Bukhara. The Kyzyl Kum is the eleventh largest desert in the world. Our drive will follow along the banks of the historic Amu Darya (Oxus) River. There will be an opportunities to take photos of this river, the largest one in Central Asia, as well as the roving camels along the road. Your picnic will be at an oasis in the middle of the Kara Kum (Black Sand) desert. (If you prefer, lunch boxes will be prepared and paid by our company). Once you arrive in Bukhara, we will take you to your hotel and you will be free to relax.
Recommended place for dinner: Lyabi Hauz is a cozy restaurant located along a pond in the center of the ancient part of the city where people come together to have a drink and dinner. Relax as you watch people go about their business.
A big day awaits you to explore the fabulous caravan city of Bukhara! UNESCO, in naming Bukhara a World Heritage site, states: “It is the most complete example of a medieval city in Central Asia, with an urban fabric that has remained largely intact.”
You will have an active day by visiting:
Lyab – I – Hauz: a cozy pound where all local people get together for a cup of tea.
Madrassahs to learn about ancient Islamic schools: Nadir Divanbegi – Madrassah of 17c, Magoki Attari (16c), Ulug Beg (15c), Abdul Aziz (17c).
Registan Ensemble, Ark Fortress (16c) and Bolo-Hauz complex (18 c).
There is plenty to see after lunch: Visit to Ismael Samani mausoleum (9-10c) – vault of Bukhara rulers' dynasty, Chor-Minor, Chashma-Ayub Mausoleums (14 c), Bukhara local bazaar.
Visit to Old Bukhara: Poli – Kalon ensemble including Minaret (12c) , Mosque (15c), functioning Madrassah Miri – Arab (16 c), Amir – Alim Khan Madrassah (14c), Taqi (trading domes), Kukeldash Madrassah (16c).
A short drive outside of the city to visit the Sitorai Makhi Khosa, popularly known as the last Emir’s Summer Palace.
In the evening, you can enjoy a national concert of Central Asian music, dancing, and a show of traditional Uzbek clothing.
After the concert, you will visit a local family to get a chance to learn the Uzbek lifestyle and participate in a master class to make plov – the national rice and meat dish. (Please re-confirm this with your local guide).
Enjoy your morning at leisure in Bukhara, it will be a good time for shopping or just to relax among the ancient monuments or by walking through old narrow streets.
After lunch we will drive to another beautiful city along the Great Silk Road – Samarkand! On the road we will have several stops: The village of Gijduvan, famous for traditional pottery. We will see a demonstration of the making of traditional bowls, dishes, handicrafts, handmade textile-suzanes. It is also the perfect place to find souvenirs. Rabat Mallik Caravan Sarai, a rest stop for traders along the Silk Road since the 10th century.
Once you arrive in Samarkand, we will take you to your hotel and you will be free to relax and unwind from your road trip.
We head out to explore this remarkable city, one of the most romantic in the world. This was the center of Tamerlane’s empire, immortalized in the words of Edgar Allen Poe: “Look ‘round thee now on Samarkand! Is not she queen of Earth?” Tamerlane (Timur, 1336-1405) was a descendent of Genghis Khan, but Turkic-speaking and steeped in Persian and Islamic culture. He is credited with dismantling the Mongolian Empire and establishing the great Mughal Empire that stretched all the way to India, where it would last for centuries.
Visiting: Guri Emir – Legendary mausoleum where Amir Temur and his are family buried.
Registan Square – World famous complex of 3 madrasas and the golden dome mosque.
Bibi Khanum Mosque – The biggest Mosque ever built in Central Asia as gift to Tamerlame from his wife.
Siyab Bazaar – unique place where you can get acquainted with the life of Samarkand’s people. Shahi - Zinda necropolises, a holy place and cemetery with graves of the Timured Dynasty and the grave the Prophet Mohammed’s cousin.
Observatory of Ulugbek – Built in the 15th century, this observatory was used to study the stars.
If you are interested in visiting a local winery and carpet factory, please do not hesitate to ask your guide/driver and they will take you there.
Your dinner can be arranged at the UNESCO-recognized Nigina’s family house. (Please re-confirm with your guide or driver)
Today we will have a long day. We start our day by winding our way through a beautiful mountain pass (impassable by bus) that will take us to birth town of Tamerlane.
Some main attractions to visit: Ak Palace the ruins of Temur’s palace and his empty mausoleum, Friday Mosque, and Kuk Gumbaz Mosque. Then we continue our way to Termez, we will arrive late and go straight to the hotel.
Our tour today is divided into three historically important periods:
Modern Termez: Murch Bobo mosque, Termez archeological museum
Buddhist Termez: Monastery complex Kara Tepe. Fayz Tepe Buddhist Temple and monastery, Zurmala Tower (stupa)
Medieval Termez: Al Khakim at Termeziy complex, Paygambar island-Zul Kifla mousaleum, Kirk Kiz fortress, Sultan Saodat ensemble, Koki Dara, Khanagha.
Once your tour for the day has been completed you will be free to relax.
Today, we will return to Samarkand. While on the road, we will stop at the mountain pass to photograph the majestic scenery. Also, you will visit some fruit bazaars along the way. Upon your arrival in Samarkand, you will be free to relax and unwind.
In the morning, you are free to casually explore Samarkand. However, your driver is always at your disposal and can take you anywhere you wish during this time. We recommend going to Registan Square or a local bazaar (ask your guide or driver for recommendations.
Transfer to Tashkent
On the road we will stop to enjoy a small picnic/lunch and view the mountain pass near the gate of Tamerlane’s legendary state. Photo stops near the second largest river of Central Asia, the Sir Darya, a local fish market and a market where the best melons are sold in the whole region. Photo stop at a cotton field (dependent upon the season)
Arrival in Tashkent
Accommodation at hotel
About an hour drive from Tashkent you will find yourself in a place that often is compared to the natural beauty of mountainous Switzerland, the Ugham-Chatkal State National Park. It is the perfect place to relax after your long drives through between the historical cities of Uzbekistan. If the weather is right you can even rest on the beach of Lake Chorvak, which is like a blue gem that is framed by a chain of mountain ridges. Later, we will drive to the Chimgan Mountains (1600 m above sea level) which are the part of Chatkal Range of the western Tian-Shan. Several activities are offered in here such as short hikes, horseback riding, and a cable ride to the top of Chimgan Mountains. We will spend the night in one of the comfortable resorts with a great view.
We will start our journey to the Ferghana Valley in the morning; the driving time is around 4-5 hours which will cut through a beautiful mountain pass. We will drive directly to Ferghana City via short-cut, which will leave the main attractions for our return drive. Arriving in Ferghana City you will be accommodated at the hotel located in the center of town. After a short rest you can take a walking tour to the main park, bazaar and some other shopping centers. Your dinner can be arranged at the “Tantana” restaurant, which includes a show featuring traditional Uzbek dancers.
Today, your guide in Ferghana will travel with you to Margilan, Rishtan, and Kokand. After visiting the Ferghana Theater and the historical museum, we will continue to Margilan, which is known for its silk-weaving factories. You can see the entire silk production processes that have been in place for centuries. This town can be a great shopping opportunity for textile and other handicraft souvenirs. This is especially true when we visit the local markets. This is where you will have the opportunity to meet friendly people who are well-known for their hospitality. Once you have made friends with someone, they always enjoy having their picture taken with you – now you have a friend for life! Our next stop will be in Rishtan at the house of the famous ceramic craftsman Mr. Rustam. He always has the time to show guests how he makes the best ceramic products. Next is Kokand, which was the biggest Khanate of Central Asia. While there we will visit the ancient Palace of Hudoyor Khan. Later in the day we will arrive in Tashkent.
After a good night’s rest and breakfast, we will take you to the airport to start your return flight home. (If you choose, we can also arrange any extensions or customize this itinerary in any way you would like.)
Services included in main tour price:
- Double / Single accommodation with breakfast
- English speaking guide in each city
- Transport service all over tour by luxury air conditioned car
- Portages charge at airports and hotels Tips at the airports and hotels
- Picnic and coffee stops
- Unlimited supply of mineral water
- Unlimited entrance fees to all sightseeing
- Folklore shows in Bukhara city
- Visa support documents
- Farewell dinner with all beverages (Only for groups starting from 6 people)
Services excluded in main tour price:
- Airfare due to the program (international and local)
- All optional deviations from the main itinerary
- Photo-and video charges
- All personal expenses (extra luggage fee, room service, Medical expenses/insurance, etc.)
Moreover, you can also choose one of our free-of-charge activities:
1) Tashkent: Tickets to see performances at the Alisher Navoi Theatre,
Visiting Christian churches,
Cup of tea at Tashkent TV tower restaurant
Subway – you will be amazed by the architecture and artwork in the stations
Tashkent zoo and botanical garden.
Any of the numerous museums in Tashkent
2) Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva and Ferghana: Decussating of local wines of local factories, all museums, and theatres. Taking part in national holidays, parties, customs, and traditions. Visiting Uzbek families, schools, medical institutions, bazaars, archives of ancient books, and libraries.We work hard to prepare an itinerary that highlights the most interesting and fascinating sites in Uzbekistan. However, if you are interested to visit a certain place or places which you find on any of our other tours, let us know and we will make sure you visit it at no extra charge.
3) Lunches/Dinners. We usually do not include meals on our tours as you might want to have flexibility on your evenings. Just tell your driver the time and your preferences and he will find you a great place. You can have a really good meal between $5 - $10 (USD).