Sharq Train to Samarkand
We took the Sharq train from Tashkent to Samarkand. The price was 21000 Som per person(about $8), and The trip took 3.5 hours.
The seats were almost comfortable, but the whole train looked rather old and the air conditioners were not working. There was no breakfast or anything, though you could order tea or coffee.
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The Registan train from Tashkent to Samarkand took a bit under four hours. The seat was very comfortable and you get a drink(tea or coffee) together with some snacks. There're 6 seats in one cabin.
The second class ticket costed 13,542 Som as of July 2008.
Bus from Tashkent
The main road from Tashkent to Samarkand goes a bit through Kazakh territory. I did it twice (2000 and 2002) and did not need a Kazakh visa for this passage. Most of the road is rather dull but a few km not far from Samarkand are a little more picturesque.
Highway to Tashkent
There is a modern highway from Samarkand to Tashkent. The drive takes about 4-5 hours. The landscape is very interesting. And here you find the storks, which have completely vanished from Bukhara. Near the rivers they find enough food and the old high-voltage-pylons offer the basis for their nests.
- Road Trip
Catching a taxi
To get to the Karimbek Restaurant one evening we took a taxi, and as Samarkand is more spread out than the other Silk Road cities you may find that you have to do the same. You can hail a taxi on the street – we walked to Registan St from our hotel and got one almost immediately. If there’s a taxi sign on the roof you know it’s “for hire” – once we got in the driver simply reached up to the roof, removed the sign and stowed it on the front seat until it would be needed again.
Our ride to the restaurant cost 2,000 som, a price we agreed with the driver before setting off. On our return we chose a taxi from several parked outside the restaurant and were told the price to the Registan would be 2,500 som. Both times we in fact gave the driver 3,000 som, so the slightly greedier one got no more than his colleague! We were advised that no taxi journey within the city should cost more than this amount so it may be that we paid slightly over the going rate, but at those low prices we weren’t going to complain, and it is after all the drivers’ livelihood.
Samarqand-Tashkent by train
To go to Tashkent there is a local train that leaves early in the morning (by 7,00-7,30) and do all the stops and then you have two trains more comfortable: Shark in the morning (by 11,00) and Registan in the afternoon. They are less crowded and they only do the main stops, arriving to Tashkent in 4 hours.
I payed about 8.300 sums, first class. They give you lunch (without drink). Book in advance, they're very used by tourists. They don't speak english so it's a good idea to write on a piece of paper what you want to buy (date, name of the train, time and class)
It's more or less the same for Samarqand-Bukhara but i don't know the timetables.
ps. If you take first class be prepared to watch all the music videos of the year in Uzbekistan ;-)
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Transport to/from and wintin Samarkand
Samarkand has an airport close by, which serves Tashkent daily. Transport to the airport from Hotel Samarkand in marshrutnoes (collective taxi).
See here for the timetable Uzbekistan Airways .
Bukhara can be reached by shared taxi (around 20 USD p/ seat), bus or train. See here for the timetable Uzbekistan Railways (for Bukhara look for the trains from Tashkent to Bukhara, which stop in Samarkand).
Tajikistan (Penjikent, the closest city to the border) can be reached by shared taxi, however only until the border (Uzbek resp. Tajik cars are not allowed to cross into the other country). Bus stop is at the crossing of Registan and Penjikent street, east of Registan. However, it is better if you ask your hotel/B&B for assistance. Praise also here for Bahodir and family – his son went to grab a taxi, which picked us up from the hostal entrance. Price for a Daewoo Damas (these rectangular cars) was 6000 som for 4 persons.
Transport within Samarkand is best done by taxi, just raise your hand at any road. Taxis are seldom marked as such, as a lot of private drivers take you anywhere for a small amount.
But – discuss your price first ! As a base, calculate with 1000 som per car per km (as of mid 2006). And be firm if the drivers want to cheat you.
And – very important – note down the name of your destiantion on a piece of paper, in Uzbek or in Russian, mainly if you want to visit lesser known places. Or even known places, as in my case, Ulug’bek Observatory. I didn’t note down the name and the taxi driver didn’t even know of the existence of Ulug’bek’s observatory, so all my efforts to pronounce it in Russian didn’t help. However, our odysse lead us to the target, with the help of the friendly employees of the sanatory (!!!…!!!), where the driver took me first. But well, so life is a learning curve, even for Samarkand taxi drivers, who transports stubborn Germans.
- Budget Travel
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Taxi is cheap
Taxi is a cheap way to get around. Agree about the price before you get in. They usually try to overcharge you but if you persist the price drops or another taxi stop behind yours and you can go to the next.
There are also little transporters a kind of shared cabs. These aren't that comfortable because you have to share with seven others and they don't bring you to the exact location.
We always payed max 800 sum for a taxi (not per person!). This could have changed because 1st of august petrol Price's raised sharp. from 500 sum per 10 liters to 750 sum.
Find a driver to take you anywhere
The system of public transport seems to be still under construction and it's virtually impossible to find information about the train/bus schedules, so the best thing to do is to come to a central spot like a market, and find a driver, who can take you to other towns (100-350 km away) for about 35 dollars US. They will ask for more, but you can always try to lower the price, as they are ready to bargain.
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The shared taxi stand in Samarqand (for leaving) is not at the bus station, unlike in most other cities I've visited. Four of us went to Bukahra for 30,000 sum - not exactly the product of hard bargaining. Actually, the reason for the high price was because I insisted on a safe vehicle. The other drivers get a little choked up, but I need good brakes, good tires and a seatbelt. Check your car and driver thoroughly if safety is a concern because many of them don't seem to care. The drivers with the best cars also seem to be the safest drivers, too.
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