Uzbekistan Travel Notes
By Tulay YUCEL (Visited in October 2016)
If one wishes to visit a country in Central Asia the priority should be given to Uzbekistan. It is a modern country with rich historical and cultural background as well as friendly people. It is possible to come across people who can also speak Turkish along with their native language. Tourism is recently highly supported as a state policy. You can make a time journey through the centuries in this naturally rich and unspoiled country.
How to Get to Uzbekistan?
There is a limitation on the airlines to fly to Uzbekistan. Turkish Airlines flies from Istanbul to Taskent on daily basis. The duration of the flight is 4.5 hours. Uzbekistan Airlines is also one of the other options.
When one gets through the passport control at the airport on arrival an entrance form is requested to fill. One of the copies is kept by the immigration police while the other one handed to the passanger is supposed to be returned when getting out of the country. The amount of the money you carry with you should also be written down on to this form. One crucial point is that the amount you have with you on leaving the country should never be more than the originally declared amount on arrival.
When to Get?
The hottest and coldest months in Uzbekistan are, respectively, June-July and January-February. The best time to travel is spring and fall months.
One needs an invitation letter from a person or a company who are permanently or temporarily residing in Uzbekistan to obtain visa from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Single entry visa fee starts at $40 for 7 days. Detailed visa information can be found at Uzbekistan Visa Information
The monetary unit is Uzbek Som. Uzbekistan has two exchange rates as official and street (black market) ones, and street rates are much better, even as better as 30%.
The number of ATMs are very limited in Tashkent while there is almost none in the other parts of the country.
In addition to the western style hotels it is also possible to stay at the historical 300-400 year old madrasas in Khiva and Bukhara. 3-star Orient Star in Khiva, one of the most outstanding madrasas of the old city, is such a venue at which we enjoyed staying.
The Cities to See:
Tashkent, Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand
Tashkent is the modern capital city of Uzbekistan. It is possible to see the city easily with hop-on-hop buses departing from the Amir Temur Square. When arrived early morning one can spend the full day in the city to explore. One night would be enough to see the main attractions though one can enjoy the city by staying two nights as well
Metro, the oldest one of the Central Asia, has a very important place on the public transportation. It serves not only for transportaion services, but also does like an art gallery. Taking photographs are not allowed though many that were taken by the professinal photographers for some special projects are shared on internet.
The roads in Uzbekistan are wide enough and taxis are affordable. Private vehicles are also like taxis and you can bargain and hire one to get through the city.
Main Places to See in Tashkent:
Amir Temur Square and Statue
Amir Temur Museum
Tashkent Metro - A Voyage through the Art Gallery
By Tulay YUCEL
The construction of the Tashkent Metro began in 1968 and the first line with the length of 12 km, Chilanzar, was launched with 9 stations in 1977. On the basis of the painful experience of the 1966 earthquake the construction is calculated to counter an earthquake up to the magnitude of 9 on the Richter scale.
While you are strolling through the metro stations in Tashkent you feel as if you are in an art gallery. Each station's architecture and decorations are unique, each showing a particular theme that reflects some proud aspects of Uzbekistan's history and culture.
|Mustaqilliq Station||Pakhtakor Station||Alisher Navoi Station||Kosmonavtlar Station|
The first station to be built was Mustaqilliq Maydoni (Independence Square). The marble used in its construction was brought from the Kizil Kum desert in western Uzbekistan. Numerous chandeliers illuminate the platform. The star patterns on the marble floor represent the contribution to the Uzbek culture made by Ulug Bek, a world-wide known scientist, astronomer, ruler of Samarkand and the grandson of Amir Timur.
Pakhtakor (Cotton Worker), the second to be completed in 1977, displays beautiful mosaics of cotton, the most important crop of Uzbekistan.
The next station, Alisher Navoi Station derives its name from the father of Uzbek literature. The walls of the station are decorated with scenes from the famous literally works like "Farhad and Shirin" and "Layla and Majnun". Every dome of the station has different petal ornaments peculiar to Uzbekistan culture.
Kosmonavtlar (Cosmonauts) Station is dedicated to space travel. Images of floating cosmonauts in open space line the walls, including the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin, and the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova. The station's large grey pillars lead up to its dark ceiling so that both dim and bright lighting give it a celestial feeling.
Bodomzor Station displays ceramic images of chilies and bread, two important staples of Uzbek daily life.
Khiva, one of the "must-see" towns in Uzbekistan, can be reached from Urgench airport, which is 30 kms away. There are well-protected madrasas, palaces, mosques and tombs, some of which are under UNESCO's World Heritage list, within the old city surrounded by the walls
We stayed in Orient Star Hotel, in fact an old madrasa, in the old city. We slept in the chambers of the madrasa and had breakfast in the classrooms. We ate lunches and dinners in the old historical buildings. We felt as if we went through the time machine and traveled back to the 17th century during the two days we stayed in Khiva.
The historical center of Kiva is Ichan Kala (Inner Castle), surrounded by 10-m high walls. It is an open air museum which was turned out to be the National Archaeology Museum.
We went Bukhara from Khiva on the bus through the Red Sand Desert for 450 kms, which took some 6.5 hours. It was fairly tiring, but we quickly forgot this once we arrived in Bukhara.
There are not many gas stations and appropriate restaurants as well as restrooms. Thefore your bus should be equipped with WC facilities and have your own food with you. I kept smiling when I remembered to have seen on a travel blog that women were using the left side of the bus while men were doing the right one during a sanitary stop in the desert in Uzbekistan. Then I found that if your bus is good enough and you have your food there would be no problem in this regard.
Bukhara is one of the oldest inhabitation places on earth. It is well preserved, located on the ancient Silk Road, and extremely rich in history, education and religious culture. After we arrived into the city at twilight time we wandered through the illuminated city. On the following morning, we continued to stroll through in the streets and bazaars dating from the 16th-17th centuries
Main Places to See in Bukhara:
National Architectural Art Museum located in Citadel Ark
Bolo Hauz Mosque
Miri Arab Madrasa
Abdul Aziz Khan Madrasa
Chor-Mınor (Four Minarets) Madrasa
Ismael Samani Mausoleum
Chasma Ayub Mausoleum
Though Samarkand is one of the oldest civilization centers like Bukhara it looks like a more metropolitan city when compared to Bukhara. One of the must-see places in Central Asia with its well-preserved historical venues that are the part of World Herigate List.
Registan Square is one of the most colorful spots with the lights at night.
Main Places to See in Samarkand:
Registan Square with Ulug Beg Madrasa, Shir-Dor Madrasa and Tillya-Kori Madrasa
Mausoleum of Guri-Emir with Tamerlane's Tomb
Cathedral Mosque of Bibi-Khanym
Arhitectural Complex of Shahi-Zinda
Ulug Beg Observatory
Museum of the ancient city of Afrosiab