Travel information of Uzbekistan

Get in

Visas are required for everyone apart from CIS countries. A 'Letter of Invitation' (LOI) is no longer required by citizens of some western countries (but not Dutch citizens). The Uzbek government is making the visa process more difficult and do not seem to be welcoming people from non CIS countries. A LOI can be obtained from travel companies when a hotel booking is made. Talk to your local travel agent in your own country. The LOI will typically cost 30-40 USD for a short stay. For the latest information see the webiste of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

By plane

Tashkent airport itself is reasonably modern and has various international carriers operating as well as the national Uzbekistan Airways. Though the airport infrastructure is good, the staff is not. Expect pointless bureaucracy and an unhelpful attitude from most of them. Baggage claim and customs procedures can be time-consuming - allow two hours.

By train

Usable passenger services only exist to Kazakhstan and via Kazakhstan to Russia and Ukraine. This include the following trains:
Tashkent - Moscow (3 times weekly)
Tashkent - Ufa (3 times weekly)
Tashkent - Celjabinsk (once weekly)
Tashkent - Kharkov (once weekly)
Tashkent - Saratov (every 4 days)
Nukus - Tashkent - Almaty (once weekly)
There are also railway lines linking Uzbekistan to Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.

Domestic services:

The main line Tashkent - Samarkand - Bukhara is served by two express trains named "Registon" and "Sharq": The "Registon" brings you from Tashkent in less than 4 hours to Samarkand and the "Sharq" makes the 600-km-journey Tashkent - Bukhara (with intermediate stop in Samarkand) in about 7,5 hours. A daily overnight train from Tashkent to Bukhara offers the possibility to travel during the night and win one day. Comfortable sleeping cars allow a good sleep. Overnight trains also run from Tashkent and Samarkand to Urgench (3 times weekly) and to Nukus - Kungrad (2 times weekly), so it's also possible to travel to Khiva (30 kilometers from Urgench, taxi/bus available) or to the Aral lake (Moynaq, 70 km from Kungrad) by train.

By car

There are road routes from surrounding countries but the borders may not be open and there have been security problems. There is a risk from land mines in some border areas.

By bus

When land borders are open, buses run to all neigbouring countries. It should be noted, however, that in Uzbekistan bus travel is only for the truly adventurous and not for anyone in a hurry. Except for special tours, buses are old, decrepit, crowded, painfully slow and prone to frequent breakdowns. If you do travel any distance on a bus in Uzbekistan, take toilet paper with you and be careful what you eat at stops along the way.

By boat

Apart from the southern section of the inland Aral sea, Uzbekistan is land-locked. In fact, it's one of only two doubly landlocked countries in the world.


You can travel by private taxi, minibus, or normal bus. While there are official taxis, most cars will become taxis if you wave them down. Meters are rare, so negotiate the price beforehand.


The majority of citizens are ethnic Uzbeks and most speak Uzbek as their first language, although many also speak Russian. There are also significant numbers of ethnic Tajiks and Kazakhs in Uzbekistan, primarily speaking their native tongue as a first language. In Samarkand and Bukhara, for instance, one is just as likely to hear Tajik being spoken as Uzbek. Russian is widely spoken especially in the cities. In Tashkent the majority of the population speak Russian and one is just as likely to hear it being spoken on the street as Uzbek.


In the semi-autonomous region of Karalkalpakstan in western Uzbekistan, the ethnic Karalkalpaks speak their own language, which is related to Kazakh. Many Karalkalpaks also speak Russian.


Osh (Plov) is the national dish. It's made of rice, carrots, onions, and mutton, and yes, you will eat it if you go to Uzbekistan. Each region has its own way of cooking plov, so you should taste it in few places.

Chuchvara - similar to ravioli and stuffed with mutton and onions.

Manti - lamb and onion filled dumpling-like food.

Somsas, which are pastry pockets filled with beef, mutton, pumpkin or potatoes. In spring time "green somsa"s are made from so-called "yalpiz" a kind of grass which grows in the mountains and in rural parts of regions. And the amazing thing is people just pick them up for free and make tasty somsas. You can find somsas being cooked and sold on the streets.

Lagman - soup with meat, spices, vegetables and pasta. According to all the rules it should include 50 ingredients.

Shashlik - grilled meat. Usually served only with onions.

Bread - uzbeks eat lots of bread (in uzbek its called "non"). Round bread is called lepioshka. You can buy it anywhere. In bazzar it costs around 400 sum. Samarkand very famous for the bread.


There are two national drinks of Uzbekistan: tea and vodka (learned from more than a century of Russian domination of the land). Tea is served virtually everywhere: home, office, cafes, etc. If tea is served in the traditional manner, the server will pour tea into a cup from the teapot and then pour the tea back into the teapot. This action is repeated three times. Especially if you are being served tea in an Uzbek home, the host will attempt at all times to make sure your cup is never empty. If the host fails to refill your cup, it probably means it is time for you to leave. A mind-numbing variety of brands of vodka are available almost everywhere. Although Uzbekistan is predominately Muslim, for the most part the Islam practiced there tends to be more cultural than religious. Vodka ranges from cheap to very cheap, although the quality is questionable. Russian vodka is available in a few shops.

Visitors should consider tap water to be unsafe to drink, with bottled water advisable.


In Uzbekistan, and in Central Asia in general, elderly people are greatly respected. They are known by the name aksakal, which means 'white beard'. Always treat the elderly with great respect and defer to them in all situations.


There are several popular mobile service providers in Uzbekistan - Beeline, MTC, Costcom, PerfectumMobile. However, you can get a sim card only if you have an Uzbek friend who is registered in the region you are buying the card. They need to register the cards to their passports.

Mobile connection works in most parts of Uzbekistan. The services are cheap - call is around 2 dollar cent a minute.

You can find Internet cafes in most of cities.