Uzbekistan is slightly off the beaten track on the tourism circuit.  When I tell people I visited Uzbekistan, their first question is, “why would you go there?”  To the unsuspecting layman, Uzbekistan is just a country in that part of the world, but there is so much more depth to it.  I vaguely knew about the amazing culture, food, and history before my visit, but I had no concrete examples.  I wanted to travel there because I was interested in visiting the stops on the Silk Road and that was my answer when people enquired as to why I was going.  So you want to visit Uzbekistan?  Or maybe you don’t and I can change your mind.  Here are a few things to know:

  1. Food

    The food is badass.  I mean look at this feast.  And that slop!  Full disclosure: I didn’t try the contents of that vat, but we had portions from other vats.  Including horse, which was my favorite on that table (bottom right).

    Lunch in Uzbekistan
    We probably only needed to order half of that!

     

    Vat of slop
    I promise all other food looked more appetizing and less like it had already been ingested.
  2. Taxis

    To hail a taxi you just put your arm up like a regular New Yorker; however, literally any car that feels like driving will pull over.  You will fit comfortably…if you are by yourself.

    5 people in a tini taxi in uzbekistan
    How many clowns can you fit in an Uzbek car?
  3. Money

    You will be a millionaire!  Yay! Finally! Uzbekistan is known for their black market currency rates which is typically worth at least twice the bank rate.  And while it isn’t technically advised to buy money on the black market due to it technically being illegal, I recommend it to people who like free money.  I also recommend a wheel barrow or a duffel bag to carry your cash.  The 5000 som bill is the largest denomination found in Uzbekistan, which is worth less than 1 USD as of September 2016.

    money money uzbekistan
    Living the high life. I mean seriously, the hotel had bathrobes!
  4. Markets

    The bazaars are bizarre, but cool and extremely organized.  All of the fresh produce and meats you could ever dream of.

    bazaar in uzbekistan
    If only Stop and Shop were this aesthetically pleasing

     

  5. Beer

    The beer is served with a straw.  We will allow this to remain one of life’s little mysteries.  Let’s also not jump to conclusions and say all beers in Uzbekistan come with straws (however, if you are at the Marilyn Monroe Karaoke bar….)

    Beer with straws in uzbekistan
    Whyyyyyy?

     

  6. Beauty

    The culture, buildings, landscape, people, everything.  The country is beautiful.

    colorful samarkand uzbekistan
    Displaying colored lights as I am sure the original architects intended ;)

     

    Dusk at samarkand, uzbekistan
    I missed the sunset while touring this amazing complex, but it looks pretty beautiful after sunset as well

     

  7. Architecture

    On a scale from 1 to obvious, it is pretty damn obvious that Uzbekistan was previously part of the Soviet Union based solely on looking at the more modern buildings.

    hotel uzbekistan
    Soviet architecture

     

  8. Fashion

    Uzbekistan is hot.  It is also fairly conservative meaning ladies should show respect by covering their shoulders and legs.  I decided to throw my sense of style to the wind and buy a big, cheap potato sack of a dress to stay cool.

    me wearing the same dress as an uzbek woman
    Clearly I knew what was going on in the Uzbek world of fashion without even trying! Who wore it best-Uzbek edition

     

  9. People

    I have never experienced such warm, friendly, and generous people.  I was approached by children who wanted conversation and photos, I was invited to afternoon tea at the home of a local family, and I attended a local wedding.

    children of uzbekistan
    The most interaction I’ve had with children all year

     

    snacks with a family in uzbekistan
    The sweet table the local family set for us in their home

     

There is a lot to love about this country. So you want to visit Uzbekistan now? My advice to you? GO!

Uzbekistan is a bit off the typical tourist circuit. Learn about the incredible reasons to visit and why it became one of my favorite countries in the world

20 thoughts on “So You Want to Visit Uzbekistan”

  1. One thing that bothers me is when you come back from a great adventure and the first question you get asked is “why did you go there?” There aren’t enough people out there that are willing to travel to the less touristy countries! Broadening your horizons is good for your soul. I for one would love to visit Uzbekistan, I maybe wouldn’t take a taxi…but I do love going to countries with currency exchanges that make me feel rich! haha.

    1. Exactly! Sometimes it would be easier if people were a little more open! But, Uzbekistan is incredible. I hope you get to visit!

  2. What a great post!! Its seems you had an awesome time there!! i love the photo with the food :-) and this architecture, omg amazing!! Thanks for this useful guide :-)

  3. Central Asia has been on my list for years! Did you encounter any language barrier when you were there? I’m mostly concerned about this as I’ll be likely to travel solo there.

    1. Yes, there was definitely a language barrier! But the people are so friendly and really want to speak to you despite not speaking the same language! I definitely recommend google translate and a bit of charades ;)

  4. It’s impressive to me how much of the Uzbek culture survived the Soviet years. The architecture alone is something that would keep me occupied for weeks. I’ve traveled in other countries that were part of the Soviet Union, but never into Uzbekistan, and now I really want to go!

  5. The mosque reminds me of the Grand Mosque in Dubai. Did they ask you to wear robes too and remove shoes before entering?

    Also, your photo on how many can fit inside the cab is funny! :D

    1. I love the Grand Mosque in Dubai! Since the Registan is a Madrasa, we didn’t have to remove our shoes, but still needed to dress respectfully. There were a couple mosques inside that were blocked off on that day, so we would have had to remove our shoes!

  6. Looks like a cool place! That meal looks amazing! I also like how you low key recommended that budget travelers get money from the black market lol Lovely photos, too

  7. The mosque looks incredibly beautiful! Uzbekistan is not a place I had ever given too much thought to visiting, but I am so glad to have read your post and learned a little something about their culture and people. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Loved the black market fact, super interesting!
    And you’re so lucky to have been able to attend a local wedding – that’s my goal in countries I’m visiting (haven’t been super successful but I hope I will be in the future haha).

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