Uzbekistan has always drawn people from far and wide. For anyone who knows about the country, this is easy to understand – bright colours, intricate patterns, rich flavours, and friendly people await every visitor. Traces remain of great empires that have long since been blown away by the sands of time, while modern life evolves in new directions.
Uzbekistan offers more than a single person can explore in a lifetime. Whether you crave a night in the vast serenity of a desert plateau or a walk through the streets of history, there’s sure to be something that takes your fancy. Tourism in Uzbekistan is all about exploring what you’re interested in – you’ll be sure to find it here.
Naturally, a strong focus of Uzbekistan tourism and tour packages is visiting the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva. And while the best Uzbekistan tours give those places plenty of attention, there’s so much more to this country. Try a new dish, like the exotic green noodles of Khiva (called shivit oshi), or learn how the masters of Margilan make the intricate silk patterns for ikat textiles. Maybe you want to go completely off the grid with a night in a traditional yurt in the desert, to experience how nomads have lived for centuries, or into the oasis cities that fed the caravans of the Silk Road as they crossed the continent.
There’s no substitute for experiencing Uzbekistan for yourself. No photo can capture the scale of the vast Kyzylkum Desert or the warmth of a traditional meal cooked by a local family, tasting of spices and the comfort of home. Uzbekistan is so unlike anywhere else, that a trip through this country is guaranteed to make a strong impression and leave you with amazing lifetime memories.
Uzbekistan Tourism Packages
Uzbekistan tourism packages are a selection of suggested tour itineraries that we’ve put together to help you to plan your trip. Uzbekistan is a tourist-friendly and safe country. You can travel independently by doing your homework using travel books, information on the internet, and the suggested tour programmes on our website. To save time, you can also ask Advantour to put together an Uzbekistan tourism package especially for you. We’ll use our local knowledge and longstanding experience to prepare a tailor-made private tour itinerary that fits your schedule and interests. Our Uzbekistan tour itineraries reflect feedback from our previous customers and the latest developments in Uzbekistan tourism. Alternatively, you can join one of our escorted small group tours that have guaranteed departure dates throughout the year. These tours are very popular, allowing you to save money by sharing costs with your fellow travellers.
Historical Tourism in Uzbekistan
If you don’t know where to start, you can’t go wrong with a tour of Uzbekistan’s major historical sights. Khiva, Bukhara, and Samarkand are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites – for good reason. Start with Samarkand, which used to be home to some of the finest architects and artisans that created the masterpieces of Registan Square and Gur-Emir. Bukhara is more intimate, with holy sites and historical landmarks around every corner. Khiva is an open-air museum that captures the exotic atmosphere of the Silk Road with its winding alleys and bustling bazaars. But don’t miss out on less-famous – but still impressive – destinations like Termez, a Buddhist centre on the border with Afghanistan, or Shahrisabz, the birthplace of the great warrior, Timur.
Cultural Heritage Tourism
For those who love textiles, ceramics, patterns and colours, Uzbekistan is as good as it gets. The Fergana Valley is famous for its artisans, with the Rishtan ceramics school and the silk weavers in Margilan. Samarkand has its own ceramics school and the famous Meros Paper Mill, which makes paper from mulberry bark using the same techniques as centuries ago. Bukhara is probably the best place to buy souvenirs, with a wide variety of high-quality crafts and gifts. Tours of these places are a great way to meet the artisans themselves and learn about how they make their famous products using techniques and technologies passed down through the generations. In addition to arts and crafts, Uzbekistan preserves strong cultural traditions that visitors can see in regular festivals and sporting events, as well as everyday life. Tourism in Uzbekistan offers an opportunity to see distinctive Central Asian cultural traditions that have been preserved over centuries.
Words can’t do justice to the rich simplicity of Uzbekistan’s most famous dish, pilaf (or plov), which is rice fried with lamb, or to the first juicy bites of shashlik (kebab) roasted over smoky coals. And it’s not enough just to try the local foods in one part of the country – each region has its own signature dishes. Shivit oshi (noodles infused with dill and served with vegetables) and tuhum barak (boiled square dumplings filled with egg) are found only in Khiva, while Bukhara is home to a particular type of pilaf that’s cooked in layers, with meat, carrots, raisins, and rice all simmered together. Make sure to try the bread in Samarkand, where large, shiny, round loaves are sold on the streets, and the norin (finely-sliced meat and dough, freshly chopped in cafés and bazaars) in Tashkent. If you love food (or fall in love with Uzbekistan’s cuisine), don’t miss the chance to take a cooking class to learn how to make the most famous dishes for yourself.
Adventure and Nature Tourism
Uzbekistan isn’t all cities and historical sights. In fact, much of the country is taken up by mountains and the vast Kyzylkum Desert. While these areas have fewer people, leaving them relatively untouched, they have been inhabited for centuries. Heading out into nature will give you a completely different perspective on Uzbekistan. Options for adventure and nature tourism in Uzbekistan abound: for example, you can spend the night in a yurt, experiencing how nomads have lived for centuries, or hike through the narrow canyons of the Chimgan Mountains, not far from Tashkent. Some of Uzbekistan’s geographical features are man-made, such as the otherworldly plains revealed by the receding Aral Sea, or Aydarkul Lake, formed by a dam in 1969. Any of these places makes for an excellent change of pace from busy city life, or even a destination in its own right.
Sustainable Tourism in Uzbekistan
It’s important to make smart decisions while travelling, including choices that support local communities and protect the environment. You may have a hard time finding group tours that focus on sustainable tourism in Uzbekistan; fortunately, there are plenty of options in the form of private tourist packages or independent travel. There are many guesthouses and homestays, especially in smaller villages, where the cost of the stay largely goes towards supporting local families. Check out our tours to Aydarkul Lake (which involves a visits to a remote desert village), the Jeyran Ecocenter (home to threatened and endangered species), and sustainable tours to the Aral Sea (where tourism has grown to support former fishing villages that lost their livelihoods as the water receded). Sustainable tourism in Uzbekistan not only supports local communities and protects the environment, but also gives visitors a unique opportunity to experience local life and explore less-visited destinations.
Health and Spa Tourism
Sanatoria are a great way to have a relaxing vacation. Many sanatoria in Uzbekistan are built on sources of spring water, offering services to help ease the symptoms of certain medical conditions, as well as other spa services (including various mineral baths and spa treatments). Some of the most popular sanatoria and health resorts are near Tashkent and in the mountains, where there are mineral springs and clean air. There are numerous claims about how different types of water in Uzbekistan have helped with respiratory, renal, and circulatory and other health conditions.
Religious and Pilgrimage Tourism
Located at the crossroads of several religions, Uzbekistan is rich in religious sights and monuments. The more ancient destinations were created when Zoroastrianism and Buddhism were the dominant religions of the area. Termez was a Buddhist centre, though many of the stupas and monasteries are now in ruins. The Zoroastrian monuments of ancient Khorezm have lost little of their power and presence despite centuries of disuse. But ever since the arrival of Islam in Central Asia, the region has been home to leading scholars and religious thinkers. Several of our tours visit the mausoleums of these great figures, including Bahauddin Naqshbandi, founder of a famous Sufi order, and Imam al-Bukhari, who collected numerous hadith. No less notable are the many mosques and madrassahs that supported spiritual life in Uzbekistan, which can be easily found in any city. Make sure to visit Tashkent’s Khast-Imam Complex to see one of the oldest Qurans in the world (which, according to legend, was the Quran that the Caliph Othman was reading when he was killed).
Family Tourism in Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan is a family-friendly place to travel, with a local population that loves children, and options to keep everyone entertained. Start with the many parks of Tashkent, including Eco Park, with its many fairground attractions; Ashgabat Park, which was built to celebrate the friendship between the people of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan; and, in summer, several water parks. The Polytechnical Museum is Uzbekistan’s best museum for children, with a whole floor of automobiles and a whole floor of interactive exhibits that make science accessible and fun. Also in Tashkent, Next Mall and Samarkand Darvoza offer plenty of things for children to do, with Samarkand Darvoza being home to a wonderful marionette theatre. Bukhara and Khiva also have puppet theatres, and although most performances are in Uzbek, the simple fairy tales can be understood by just about anyone.