11 things I wish I knew before going to Uzbekistan
They say that travelling broadens the way people view this world; it makes them realize how utterly vast, diverse, and beautiful this world is. It brings peace and tranquillity to the fast pace of life that the 21st century has brought with it. Every year I choose to travel to a new travel destination to gather unique experiences, and this year, I chose Uzbekistan. When I decided to travel to Uzbekistan, I didn't do much research or know where is Uzbekistan or Uzbekistan E-visa, so my experience there was an opening one.
It will turn out to be an amazing experience full of new, wonderful experiences that will have a lifelong impact on you. The article penned below will hopefully be beneficial for anyone hoping to travel to this majestic country.
So, the first piece of information is to clarify where is Uzbekistan? The Republic of Uzbekistan is a small Central Asian country with a population of almost 34 million people. It is a secular nation and is famous for its architectural style, wood carving, fabrics, and many other things. Its capital city is Tashkent, which is renowned for its fountains and mosques. The population of the country is predominantly Muslim, but residents belong to other religions as well.
Best places to visit in Uzbekistan
• Samarkand, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
• Bukhara City has played a significant part in the history
• Tashkent: the capital city of Uzbekistan is a fascinating mixture of ancient and modern architecture with many opportunities for shopping and leisure activities
• Gur-e Amir Complex
There are many other places in the country one can explore if they have enough time.
2. Travel to Uzbekistan
So, the first question is how to travel to Uzbekistan? Uzbekistan is reachable from almost all major airports in the world, like Beijing, London, New York, Delhi, Dubai, and many others. It is possible to travel to the country via road, rail, and air travel throughout the year. There are numerous companies that have regular flight schedules to the country like Turkish Airlines, Korean Airlines, Uzbekistan Airways, and many others. There are a total of eleven airports all over the country, and you can count on Uzbekistan Airways to travel to any of them. The country has one of the best transport systems in Central Asia, which includes a subway system. The rail system is also advanced and trustable.
Uzbekistan Airways travels to over 39 countries with affordable airfare and good quality services, which makes travel to Uzbekistan relatively easy and fun.
So, is it safe to travel to Uzbekistan? Well, absolutely and completely. The country is, without question, a secure place for international travellers. The tourists are free to move around in urban and rural areas, provided they have valid travel documentation with them. Of course, there is the usual risk of pickpockets, and let's be frank; this type of crime is common all over the world. So, travellers just have to be vigilant about their belongings.
While travelling abroad, any untoward incident can arise, which can hamper easy travel. If you decide to travel to Uzbekistan, you should know there is an official helpline for tourists: (71) 200-00-88. Furthermore, the tourist police are always present for help.
4. The best time to travel to Uzbekistan
With a continental climate, the country is scorching in summers, with temperatures as high as +40C in summer and as low as -8C in winters. So, the best time to travel to Uzbekistan is in spring or autumn, when the temperature is mild and pleasant. For example, in October, there is less rainfall, and the harvest time leads to markets being full of local farm produce. Between the months of March to May, the country is full of flowers such as tulips and poppies, which make the scenery a visual treat worth travelling for.
All central Asian countries have more or less the same kind of Turkic cuisine with some changes across different countries. Uzbekistan people are fond of eating bread, noodles, and rice, or in other words, they use a lot of grains in their meals. The national food of the country is Plov (Pilaf), which is a rice dish. When it comes to meat, people prefer to eat mutton, horse meat, and beef. Items like pastry and sour milk are also used in a lot of dishes.
While looking into how to travel to Uzbekistan, know that there is not much variety when it comes to traditional desserts. Uzbekistan people prefer to take nuts, fruits, halva (made with egg whites and sugar syrup), and melons.
6. Customs at the airport
As opposed to the common misconception, it is relatively easy to get through the customs at the country's airports for travellers who don't know where is Uzbekistan. The authorities introduced the red and green line system in their airports, which means that if the traveller has to declare anything, they should walk along the green zone; otherwise, the green zone should lead the way out. There are 63 countries in the world that have been granted visa-free access to the country. For other travellers, is it safe to travel to Uzbekistan? Definitely! But, a visa is essential to have a trouble-free trip. If you wonder how to travel to Uzbekistan, consider that they also released the E-visa system, which is smooth and easy for travellers.
The official currency of the country is Uzbekistani som which is currently equal to USD 0.000098. The American dollar is the easiest to exchange for the local currency, and there are numerous money changing facilities available all over the cities and airports. It is always recommended to have some cash in hand when travelling to Uzbekistan. However, the ATMs positioned all over the country make it possible to withdraw money with an international banking card. The country has 50,000 and 100,000 denomination notes, which means that travellers do not have to carry vast amounts of Uzbekistani som in their wallets (keeping in mind the exchange rates).
Since the exchange rates are so low, the stay in the country is cheap and easily manageable.
8. People of Uzbekistan
The majority of the people of Uzbekistan follow Islam (88%). However, there are Jewish, Christians, Zoroastrians, and other religious groups as well. The Uzbeks basically belong to the Turkic ethnic group, which is native to Central Asian states. The people are generally warm and welcoming to foreigners. The people of the country prefer modest clothing due to being predominantly Muslim. To mix in amongst them, it is recommended to wear modest clothing covering the legs and arms.
It is fairly easy to get accommodation in the country. The hotels range from luxury accommodation to cheap/inexpensive ones, so tourists don't worry about funds. However, to get a room at a hotel, a traveller has to provide a passport and a visa, after which hotel slips are given. These slips should be kept safe in case the authorities demand to have a look at them while leaving the country.
It may be hard to book hotels during the peak seasons, so it is advised to book hotels online in advance to avoid any inconvenience at the time of travel.
Moreover, travellers have the option of selecting homestays or guesthouses for their stay. As the people of Uzbekistan are very friendly, this can be a chance to get a closer look at the locals' lifestyle.
Although the country was a part of the USSR until 1991, Russian is not a commonly spoken language. Neither is English as expected, so you might have difficulty communicating with the locals. Uzbek is the generally spoken language in the country, which means you might need a translator in the markets. The language is a bit of an issue, but there are various translators available, and also you can translate it on Google.
Uzbekistani culture is steeped in old and new customs that are evident in the lifestyle of the locals. From their traditional pottery/ ceramics, wood carving, and metal works (jewellery and engravings) to the Ikat Fabrics, everything is worth looking into. There are numerous festivals that are celebrated all over the country with full zeal and zest and are a treat to behold for tourists. The vibrant colouring of the national dresses of Uzbekistan are beautiful and a must buy.
Uzbekistan is a beautiful country with a rich cultural heritage. The cities are a beautiful mixture of modern and old-style architecture, which gives the tourists a chance to experience the country's history. If you ask me, is it safe to travel to Uzbekistan? I would say yes, it absolutely is! So, travel to Uzbekistan if you want a lifetime experience and mingle with Uzbekistan people without any apprehension. The names of some of these festivals are Navruz, Boysun Bahori, and the international music festival Sharq Taronalari (being held since 1997).
Mahnoor is a freelance writer, foodie, engineer and travel freak. These words describe her the best! Her time gets split pretty evenly between dreaming about travelling and travelling itself. Being a freelance writer has allowed her to write on a vast array of subjects and other disciplines (such as food, technical writing and many more). With each blog piece, she aims to bring well-balanced stories from around the world to entertain and inspire.