Best of Uzbekistan
While it doesn’t get a lot of attention, Uzbekistan is a life-changing destination for all who are smart enough to visit. These ten days will take you through some of the greatest cultural highlights the country has to offer. Marvel at the gorgeous mosques in Samarkand, experience a one-night stay in a traditional desert yurt, and immerse yourself in the diverse culture of ancient Bukhara. Uzbekistan is a must-see for any seasoned (or first-time) traveller.
Orientation walk (Samarkand). City tour including a Registan visit. Plov-making demonstration and dinner with a local family. Nurata Shrine visit. Alexander the Great fortress visit. Desert yurt stay (Aydar Kŭl). Guided walking tour (half-day, Bukhara). Walking tours (Khiva). City tour (Tashkent). Transport between destinations and to/from included activities.
Learn ancient cooking techniques in Samarkand, connect with the locals in a desert yurt community, marvel at colourful mosaic buildings, gain understanding of the cultures of Central Asia.
Central Asia is a region which may be very different to anything you have experienced before. Mixture of Soviet heritage and Islam, summer heat and winter cold, religious conservatism, traffic and crowds can result in initial culture shock but should be seen as an exciting new challenge.
2. DRESS CODE
Though you can see lots of people in traditional clothes, Central Asia has adopted western style clothing as well. Don’t hesitate to pack your usual travel clothes: in summer it can be shorts and t-shirts, sandals etc. We recommend not to bring tank tops/singlets and any types of clothes with bare shoulders and backs – it is unacceptable in most areas, even in bigger cities. Our tour takes us to many religious sights, where dress code is very strict. We recommend women to have a headscarf in their day bags to cover up when going inside mosques (it’s also a great help in the heat in summer). Best things to pack for the hot Central Asian climate is loose, long clothing – long trousers and sarongs or long skirts for women. In colder months (from the end of October through the end of April) it can rain and snow – bring warm clothes, jackets and comfortable warm shoes for walking.
Due to the restrictions on changing money in Central Asia region, only notes/bills printed after 1996 and in good condition will be accepted for exchange. Usually 50 and 100 USD/EUR notes get better exchange rate. We recommend to bring smaller denominations as well – many vendors accept them if you don’t have local currency.
Depending on the lunar cycle, Ramadan will fall between June 7th and July 7th, 2016. Please note that Ramadan is a month of fasting observed by Muslims throughout the world, during which time the followers of Islam should not eat or drink between sunrise and sunset. There may be some limitations to services and disruptions to schedules during Ramadan in Muslim areas, but generally our tours still operate effectively during this period and food is available to non-muslims throughout the day. It is very important to display increased cultural sensitivity during Ramadan. Please wear loose fitting clothes, that cover knees and shoulders, and try to avoid eating, drinking or smoking in public out of respect for those who can’t at that time.
Group Leader Description
All G Adventures group trips are accompanied by one of our Chief Experience Officers (CEO). The aim of the CEO is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. They will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting- we think it’s the best of both worlds.
Group Size Notes
Max 16, avg 12
While traveling with us you will experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Generally, to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other’s company. There is no obligation to do this though. Your CEO will be able to suggest favorite restaurants during your trip. Please check the ‘meal inclusions’ section below for details of meals included.
Private vehicle, train, walking.
We believe single travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and single travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.
Hotels (7 nts), yurt (1 nt), sleeper train (1 nt).
My Own Room Exceptions
Nights 4, 8
Please note that day 1 is an arrival day and no activities have been planned on this day. Upon arrival to the city on day 1 (or earlier if you have booked pre-accommodation with us), please make your way to the joining hotel (note that check-in time will be in the afternoon). Once you arrive at the hotel, look for a note or bulletin board in the reception with a note from your CEO. This note will give the details of your Welcome Meeting on day 1 (usually between 5pm and 7pm), where you will get a chance to meet your CEO and other travellers, as well as learn more about how the tour will run. If you don’t see a note, please ask reception for details!
If you are arriving later and will miss the Welcome Meeting, your CEO will leave a note at reception for you with any information you may need, and with morning instructions for the next day.
When you arrive to Tashkent International Airport, you will have several options to get to Hotel Uzbekistan:
If you have pre-arranged an arrival transfer, look for the driver holding a G Adventures sign outside the luggage hall. Please approach them, and ask them who they are supposed to be picking up (do not tell them your name, they should have this information already). Once they give you the correct name, have your passport ready to show them and you will be on your way!
By taxi: Exit the Airport and there will be many taxis. The hotel is situated about a 10-15 minute drive from the airport. Many drivers will approach you – all of them know where the hotel is, but you should bargain before you get in the taxi. Depending on time of the day and your bargaining skills, a ride to the hotel will cost approximately 10-20USD.
We don’t expect any problems, and nor should you, but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, as soon as possible please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your CEO (if you are not on a group tour please refer to the emergency contact details provided in this dossier). If you are unable to get in touch with your leader, please refer to our emergency contact details. If you have pre-booked an airport transfer and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the Starting Point hotel, following the Joining Instructions. Please apply to your travel agent on your return for a refund of the transfer cost if this occurs.
Should you need to contact us during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call either the G Adventures Local Representative (if one is listed below) or our G Adventures Local Office. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.
If you have purchased an arrival through G Adventures or if an arrival transfer is included in the cost of your tour, please note that:
Your arrival transfer has been arranged based on flight information provided to us. If you are advised of a flight schedule change within 48 hours of your scheduled arrival time, we will do our best to rearrange your arrival transfer however we cannot guarantee this. If your arrival transfer does not arrive within 30 minutes after you have exited the arrivals area please take a taxi to your start point hotel.
If your call is specifically concerning Airport Transfer complications please call our local G Adventures Transfer provider directly at:
Gulnoza: +998 97 332 73 04
EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS
G Adventures Office Bangkok, Thailand:
Mr Laziz Otayarov (Operations Manager – Central Asia)
Mobile 1: +998 90 134 7888 (24h)
Mobile 2: +998 93 528 7678 (24h)
If you are unable for any reason to contact our local office, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with our 24 hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.
Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from UK: 0344 272 0000
Calls from Germany: 0800 365 1000
Calls from Australia: 1 300 796 618
Calls from New Zealand: 0800 333 307
Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK: +1 416 260 0999
What to Take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking though, you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage (please see below for exceptions), and though you will not be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes) we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg/22lb.
Suitcases are not recommended for G Adventures travellers! Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags with wheels are acceptable, although we recommend your bag has carry straps as well, as you may be required to negotiate bus and railway station steps. You will also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day walks and day trips.
Travel documents: passport, visa, travel insurance, air tickets, voucher
At least 1 photocopy of above documents
Required visas or vaccination certificates
Cash, credit and debit cards
First aid kit
Day pack to carry your personal needs during the day
Warm clothes for the cooler nights
Ear plugs and eye mask can be useful for bus trips and noisy hotels
Feminine hygiene products
Comfortable walking shoes
Appropriate clothes (see Important Notes section of this Notes)
Lock for your bag
Small travel towel
Travel pillow (inflatable type) for long bus rides
Laundry facilities are offered by some of our hotels for a charge. There will be times when you may want to or have to do your own laundry so we suggest you bring non-polluting/biodegradable soap.
PLEASE READ THE ENTIRETY OF THE TEXT BELOW AS THIS IS IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR YOUR ENTRY INTO UZBEKISTAN***
Please note that visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change. It is important that you check for yourself with the Embassy of Uzbekistan. Please, keep in mind that all countries require passports valid for at least 6 months from the moment of departure from the country.
To apply for an Uzbekistan visa, most nationalities must present an official Uzbekistan Letter of Invitation (LOI).
It is the responsibility of the traveller to check with their nearest Embassy and confirm the requirements for entry into Uzbekistan***
Noted Exemptions: Citizens of the following countries do not require an LOI to apply for a tourist visa valid up to 30 days: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Those who don’t need an LOI can leave the “Invite Party” on their visa application form blank.
Please note: There have been reports of some US citizens obtaining the visa without an LOI. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently advising this is still a requirement. Please contact the Embassy directly for their specific requirements as there is conflicting information at this time.
IMPORTANT: Once your trip is confirmed, at 90 days prior to your entry into Uzbekistan, you must submit an application for your Letter of Invitation. A link will be emailed to you in your confirmation email. The details will be forwarded to our local agent in Uzbekistan and you will be emailed your Uzbekistan Invitation Letter about 60 days before the trip start date. Uzbekistan LOI’s cannot be rushed.
As Uzbekistan visas are dated specifically for entry and exit, you will need to enter the correct dates. Please also remember to put exactly the same dates when you fill out the visa application at the Uzbekistan Embassy.
Input your name the same way it is in your passport. The information on the application form must match your passport (if you have 2 or more names – all of them have to be listed under “first name”).
If you have an umlaut or other character not recognized in the english alphabet in your name (ie. ü), please enter it in the longer form (ie. ue).
The Uzbekistan Government has implemented a new requirement asking passengers to provide a Letter of Employment (LOE) in order to issue the LOI. Please make sure to attach this LOE to your LOI application as both are required to begin this process. This should be a letter from your employer, dated and on company letterhead, that states where you work, your role and how long you have worked there. It should also have the issuer’s name, signature, as well as their role and the company address and phone number. If you are retired, a LOE is not necessary.
If your country has an official Uzbekistan Consulate/Embassy, you must choose this as as your ’Visa pickup Embassy’. If you do not see a local Consulate/Embassy on this list or you are unable to go there due to prior travel arrangements, please contact your Travel Agent or G Adventures for further assistance. Certain nationalities may be able to obtain a visa upon arrival at the Tashkent Airport, but this is for special circumstances only and you must make sure to check with your Embassy if this applies for your nationality before choosing this option. This may be available to you if your country does not have an Uzbekistan Embassy, but please check with the nearest Embassy first to confirm. Also note that if you are picking up your visa on arrival, your LOI may not come until closer to departure (within 10 days). Once received, you will need to print out the LOI and take it to the counter at the airport to pick up and pay for your visa.
At time of writing, the below documents will be needed to obtain your visa (however, we do advise you confirm this with your nearest Embassy):
1. A standard visa application form from the Embassy or Consulate where you will collect your visa
2. 2 colour, passport sized photos (taken within 14 days)
3. Payment for the visa (this will be dependent on nationality and will sometimes need to be made at a local nearby bank – check with your Embassy to confirm details)
4. Passport with empty pages and at least 6 months validity
5. Uzbekistan Letter of Invitation
6. Letter of Employment
7. We also recommend bringing your vouchers as well as proof of onward travel (flight tickets entering and leaving the country) and a copy of the itinerary, printable from our website. While this may not be needed, we recommend having a copy on hand if needed.
Please carefully check all the information below prior to submitting***
Once you have received your LOI you can apply for your visa by going to the Uzbekistan Embassy you listed in the online application. Please remember that it is your responsibility to check whether passport details, name spelling and dates on the LOI are correct.
As the LOI is issued by the Uzbekistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs – unexpected delays can occur.
Information accurate as of December 8th, 2015
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
In general Central Asia is a cash operating region, travellers cheques are not recommended, credit cards can be used in Uzbekistan. Due to bank restrictions, only banknotes printed after 1996 can be exchanged. Better to bring notes without marks or stamps on them. We recommend to bring about 70 USD in small denominations: 1, 5 and 10 USD notes. If you are not able to get local currency it’s always possible to pay in USD or EUR
There are lots of ATM’s to withdraw local currency (UZS), and banks around to exchange USD or EUR. Travellers cheques are not recommended, as only limited amount of banks work with them. Please, note that you can withdraw only local currency (Uzbek Sums) from ATM’s. Some banks in Tashkent allow USD cash advance, but this option depends on the amount of USD cash in the bank.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements vary a lot. As a guideline, we recommend to bring about $230 – 290 USD for Uzbekistan (it will cover meals and souvenirs and occasional optional activity). In the countries that operate cash only it’s always better to have extra cash than end up in the situation when you can not withdraw any money from ATM because there are no working ATM’s.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
In Uzbekistan It is not customary to tip service providers such as waiters, but it is very appreciated, depending on the service we recommend 3-5%. Tipping shows an expression of satisfaction with the people who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. There are several times during the trip where there is opportunity to tip the local guides or drivers we use. You may do this individually, or your CEO will offer to collect the money and tip as a group. Recommendations for tipping drivers and local guides would range from $2-$3 USD per person per day depending on the quality and length of the service; ask your CEO for specific recommendations based on the circumstances and culture. Also at the end of each trip if you felt your G Adventures CEO did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline $20-25 USD per person, per week can be used.
Ulugbek Observatory (Samarkand) – 3 USD
Tomb of Daniel (Samarkand) – 2 USD
Davlat Museum (Samarkand) – 3 USD
Minaret (Samarkand) – 6 USD
Meal in Local house (Samarkand) – 15 USD
Hamom – traditional bath house (Bukhara) – 25-30 USD
Puppet show (Bukhara) – 25 USD
Meal in Local House (Bukhara) – 9-15 USD
Minaret (Khiva) – 5 USD
All prices are per person (unless stated otherwise), and are subject to change as services are provided by third party operators.
Please note inoculations may be required for the country visited. It is your responsibility to consult with your travel doctor for up to date medical travel information well before departure.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information well before departure. We recommend that you carry a First Aid kit and hand sanitizers / antibacterial wipes as well as any personal medical requirements. Please be aware that sometimes we are in remote areas and away from medical facilities, and for legal reasons our leaders are prohibited from administering any type of drug including headache tablets, antibiotics, etc. In Asia pharmacies tend to stock the same western drugs as you get at home but they are usually produced locally so please bring the full drug name with you when trying to purchase a prescription drug. When selecting your trip please carefully read the brochure and itinerary and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please refer to the Physical and Culture Shock ratings for trip specific information. G Adventures reserves the right to exclude any traveller from all or part of a trip without refund if in the reasonable opinion of our CEO they are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group.
Safety and Security
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government’s advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers’ cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home – you won’t need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your CEO has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Your CEO will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your CEO will assist you with options available in a given location please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgment when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.
Protests and Demonstrations- Protests and demonstrations, even those that are well intended, have the potential to turn violent with no warning. Counter protests can also turn violent. Action by security forces to disperse demonstrators and protesters may occur at any time. If you are in an area where demonstrators or protesters are gathering, avoid the temptation of staying for a good photo opportunity and leave the area immediately.
Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards) have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our CEOs to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).
Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk.
We take all prudent measures in relation to your safety. For ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling, please visit:
Trip Specific Safety
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers’ cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home – you won’t need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Our small group adventures bring together people of all ages. It is very important you are aware that, as a minimum, an average level of fitness and mobility’ is required to undertake our easiest programs. Travellers must be able to walk without the aid of another person, climb 3-4 flights of stairs, step on and off small boats, and carry their own luggage at a minimum. Travellers with a pre-existing medical condition are required to complete a short medical questionnaire, which must be signed by their physician. This is to ensure that travellers have the necessary fitness and mobility to comfortably complete their chosen trip. While our CEOs work hard to ensure that all our travellers are catered for equally, it is not their responsibility to help individuals who cannot complete the day’s activities unaided. Please refer to the physical ratings in this Trip Details document for more information.
The medical questionnaire can be found online at:
A Couple of Rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter, and in particular the local people who make the world the special place it is. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our CEOs have the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your CEO, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy please bear in mind that all clients must have medical coverage and that we require a minimum coverage of USD 200,000 for repatriation and emergency rescue. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.
Planeterra-The G Adventures Foundation
Through our commitment to responsible tourism we have developed the Planeterra Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of people and communities around the world through support of international charities, local organizations and community projects in the places that we visit on our tours. G Adventures matches all individual donations and pays all administration costs, which means that 100% of each donation is doubled and goes directly to support our projects. For more information about Planeterra and the projects we support, or to make a donation, please visit www.planeterra.org
Planeterra Dollar-A-Day Program
Our Dollar-A-Day Program provides travellers with the opportunity to help us give back to the people and places visited on our tours by donating one dollar per day for the duration of their tour. 100% of these proceeds will go directly to support our G Adventures for Good projects.
To participate in this program please indicate at the time of booking that you would like to participate in G Adventures’ Dollar-A-Day program, either by clicking the check box online, or by advising your G Adventures specialist or travel agent. (Note: Donation will be charged in the currency of your booking)
Central Asian dress is quite conservative. Plan to pack loose-fitting light clothing appropriate for hot weather and plan to cover knees, shoulders and chest. For women, a hair scarf is recommended, though they are easy to buy in country.
Travel Forum - The Watering Hole
Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout.
Allow USD235-305 for meals not included.
8 breakfasts, 2 dinners
PRODUCT_LINE: AUBU, ID: 23602
Terms, conditions and restrictions apply; pricing, availability, and other details subject to change and/ or apply to US or Canadian residents. Please confirm details and booking information with your travel advisor.
Day 1 Tashkent
There are no activities planned until an evening welcome meeting followed by an optional dinner.
Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting
Day 2 Tashkent/Samarkand (1B)
Travel on to Samarkand. Take an orientation walk and opt to visit the Amir Timur Mausoleum.
Private Vehicle (4.50 hour(s), 310km)
Day 3 Samarkand (1B, 1D)
With free time, enjoy the Samarkand sights, have a cup of tea in a local tea house, or wander around the bazaar.
Plov Cooking Demonstration and Dinner
Samarkand City Tour
Day 4 Samarkand/Aydar Kŭl Camp (1B, 1D)
Travel out into the desert to visit the Nurata Shrine and remains of the Alexander the Great fortress. Continue on for an evening in a local yurt camp. Opt to ride a camel or enjoy an evening Kazakh singing show.
Chashma Complex and Holy Spring Visit
Fortress of Alexander the Great Visit
Overnight in a Yurt
Private Vehicle (4.50 hour(s), 280km)
Day 5 Aydar Kŭl Camp/Bukhara (1B)
Travel to Bukhara, one of the most charming cities in the country. Opt to visit the old city bazaars, have dinner with a local family, or visit a traditional hammam (bathhouse).
Private Vehicle (4.00 hour(s))
Day 6 Bukhara (1B)
There is plenty of time to explore the artisan shops and wander the narrow twisting streets and alleyways. A centre for pottery, cloth, and Turkmen carpets, the Old City is centered around Lyabi-Hauz, a delightful pool of water surrounded by ancient mulberry trees, where you can sit at café tables and let the evening drift by. There is also the option to take in a local puppet show held in an old caravanserai or indulge in a Turkish bath.
Bukhara City Tour
Day 7 Bukhara/Khiva (1B)
Enjoy a full day’s travel through the desert to reach UNESCO-listed Khiva. Get to know the place on a late afternoon walking tour.
Private Vehicle (6.00-7.00 hours, 450km)
Day 8 Khiva/Tashkent (1B)
Explore the old town surrounded by city walls, bargain with locals on the market, and wander through the madrassas, climb up minarets, and explore the dark dungeons Khiva was infamous for back in the 10th century. Wander through the inner walls of the Ichon-Qala and enjoy spectacular sunset views of the sand-coloured mosques and madrassas.
Khiva Ancient City Tour
Overnight train (beds) (19.00 hour(s))
Day 9 Tashkent
Arrive back in Tashkent and enjoy a city tour or explore on your own with some free time.
Tashkent Guided City Tour
Day 10 Tashkent (1B)
Depart at any time.