Why You Need to Go to Uzbekistan ASAP


Central Asia & Uzbekistan has always held a mystique for me—maybe it’s the legends I was told as a child about Genghis Khan, or the images I imagined of merchants and traders on the silk road, or just how vast and unexplored the region still is.

Needless to say, when I had the chance to explore Uzbekistan with Kalpak Travel, I jumped at the chance.

Here are some things I loved about the experience, and why you need to visit as soon as possible, too.

A woman shops in Uzbekistan

It’s Still Kind of a Secret

Remember when I visited Georgia last year and I came home saying what a hidden gem it was and how it felt like a secret? I feel the same way about Uzbekistan.

Most foreigners need visa to visit Uzbekistan, which can take some time be approved, and also isn’t cheap (for Americans, $160, for the British, $60). Because of this and its remote location, it’s not the kind of place many travelers visit unless they really make the effort.

What this means for you, intrepid travelers, is smaller crowds at tourist attractions and a more local feel to your everyday movements.

It’s an awesome country to explore, and it’s FULL of incredible sites.

The Ancient Cities are Awesome

Uzbekistan has several ancient cities: Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva being the most famous of the three. We didn’t get the chance to make it to Khiva (which I hear is incredible!) but Bukhara and Samarkand were incredible. I particularly loved the old city of Bukhara, where the small dirt and cobblestone roads lead to trading centers from centuries past.

The Shopping is Epic

As a buyer for Roamery and a small-kine shopaholic myself, I love places where I can shop to my heart’s content without breaking the bank. In Uzbekistan you’ll find a variety of shops selling things from the region, but two things that are very Uzbeki are Suzanni (embroidered tapestries) and Ikat (hand-woven out of cotton or silk).

You’ll also find an interesting assortment of ceramic gnomes (don’t ask me why) as well as incredibly gorgeous ceramic plates, tea cups and tea sets.

If you’re hoping to shop for these items, Bukhara or Samarkand are great places to visit. I came home with two large ceramic plates, four small ceramic plates (all of which are now displayed on the walls of my NYC apartment) as well as several yards of Ikat fabric.

textiles in Uzbekistan

It’s More Persian than Soviet

Uzbekistan was part of the USSR until the 1991, so I mistakenly thought that the architecture and terrain of the country would represent the flat, concrete buildings I’ve seen in Russia. I was so wrong.

While the people still speak Russian as a primary language, architecturally, I found Persian-inspired buildings made of turquoise and precious gems that were stunning, as well as ornate tombs that look like sandcastles. There was very little obvious Russian architecture, aside from in the capital city of Tashkent, which was also very different from the rest of the country (green and leafy).


There’s So Much Fun to Be Had in the Desert

Our group spent one night in the desert in a yurt camp, which was a great experience. This is often included in Uzbekistan itineraries—you’ll go out to the desert, have dinner, sleep in a yurt (or under the stars) and maybe ride camels. Over the fire pit, you’ll sing songs or listen to traditional Uzbeki music. It’s a really unique experience that I highly recommend including—we had a blast!

If I still haven’t convinced you….

You Should Go to Uzbekistan If:

  • You are looking for adventure
  • You love to explore the unexplored
  • You don’t need fancy 5-star hotel stays and modern amenities (the country is still catching up in that regard, though the newly-opened Hyatt Tashkent is one of my favorite properties of all time).
  • You’re interested in Central Asia + the history of this region

If this sounds great to you—GO! And hurry, before the rest of the world figures it out.

Kalpak Travel are the leading experts on planning incredible Uzbekistan and Central Asia tours. Check out their site for more info on tours and traveling Central Asia with them.



About Author

Kelly Lewis is the founder of Go! Girl Guides, the Women's Travel Fest and Damesly. She's an optimist, an adventurer, an author and works to help women travel the world.

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