Samarkand Travel Guide

  • The Registan
    The Registan
    by SallyM
  • Samarkand
    by filip007
  • Samarkand
    by nepalgoods

Samarkand Highlights

  • Pro
    Trekki profile photo

    Trekki says…

     Marvellous architecture - lovely people - busy lively town 

  • Con
    Backpackin_Mac profile photo

    Backpackin_Mac says…

     High prices, touts, bad food at restaurants in the centre 

  • In a nutshell
    lotharlerch profile photo

    lotharlerch says…

     One of two Musts in Uzbekistan 

Samarkand Things to Do

  • Registan

    Like the much larger Sher Dor medressa at the Registan, and built at the same time, the portal of the Khodja Akrar ensemble features the most-unIslamic lion/tigers (maned and striped - you choose) and deer, but without the smiling sun-heads this time. Here a 17th century medressa has been built around the shrine of an earlier holy figure -the...

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  • Bibi-Khanym Mosque

    Lady Bibi was the beloved wife of Timur.Bibi Hatun Mosque (15th century)was the largest structure of its time in the world.Tamerlane's idea was to to build the most beautiful mosque of the world and he did it . It was built between 1399 and 1404 by 600 slaves and 100 elephants brought from India, with 200 architects, artists, master craftsmen and...

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  • Ulugh Beg Observatory

    This is one of the most important buildings of the world history. Ulug bey decide to build this observatory in 1428-1429 on one of the hills . In the main hall huge instrument was placed for observations of Moon, Sun, and other stars of the vault of heaven. Observatory was unique construction for its time. The basis of observatory was giant...

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  • Ulugh Beg Madrasa

    As I told you apart from the classical subjects in this Madrasah you could learn about Astrology and Astronomy and it became an important center for this subjects. You can see from right to left two teachers of Ulugbek, Ulugbek himself in the middle (he is situated behind them to show respect) and two international teachers (to show the...

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  • Shah-i-Zinda

    The entrance stairway at the Shah-i-Zinda leads the visitor up to a narrow street lined on both sides with mausolea. They are in varying states of repair and restoration and by the time you have visited all of them your eyes are quite dazzled and confused by the colour and decoration so that it is hard to remember which tomb is which and what you...

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  • Gur Emir Mausoleum

    Timur means “clever, talented”.Tamerlane, two sons and two grandsons, including Ulug bey, lie beneath the modest Gur Emir Mausoleum. As with other muslim mausoleums, the stones are just markers; the actual crypts are in a chamber in the basement. In the center is Timur's stone, once a single block of dark-green jade.The plain marble marker to the...

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Samarkand Hotels

See all 30 Hotels in Samarkand

Samarkand Restaurants

  • Picturesque eating place near the bazaar

    The food is typical Central Asian, consisting of dishes like Shashlyk, Plov, Manty and Laghman soup. I have the feeling that tourists pay much more than the locals... I liked their Shashlyks and the Laghman soup, and, of course, the bread. The bread in Samarkand has the fame of being the best in Uzbekistan. When Tamerlan was away from Samarkand he...

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  • Lunch and dinner

    I'm not sure quite what the inspiration for the decor is at Platan, bamboo-hut-meets-Uzbek-yard probably describes it best, but it's pleasant enough, cool on a hot day and cosy on a cool evening. A roofed outdoor setting with pine bench seating around tables big enough to hold the multitude of small dishes that seem to make up the beginning of...

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  • Big and busy

    Lots of choices of where to sit at the Karambek - outside at al fresco tables, inside upstairs in a large dining room, or in one of the small private rooms off the balconies shown here. Wherever you are seated, you'll enjoy this restaurant. It's very popular with locals and tourists alike, deservedly so. The food -local and Russian dishes on the...

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Samarkand Nightlife

  • Folklore evenings at Registan – and more

    The best place to enjoy Uzbek folklore dances and performances in the evening is Registan’s Sher Dor Medressa. I didn’t watch, but had a peek inside when they were preparing the show (another reason to come back :-)Spontaneous “nightlife” however, is much more fun, but very much unpredictable. I had a fantastic and fun evening in restaurant Marco...

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  • Sound and light in Registan

    There is not really much nightlife in Samarkand, at least if you expect bars and discos.But there is a nice "sound and light" show at the Registan Square. They light the mosques and madrassas and a recorded voice tells you about the story of the place back when it was a stop in the Silk Road.

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  • Registan...after dark

    I decided to disobey my LP and venture out into the Central Asian night. I did leave my wife behind at the B&B though. Samarkand looked busier at night than during the day and obviously not a tourist in sight. When I approached the Registan there were maybe 20 children playing soccer (many of whom came to chat when they saw my camera), women...

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Samarkand Transportation

  • 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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  • Train

    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.

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  • 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.

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Samarkand Shopping

  • For basic supplies

    In the side street that leads to the Zarina B & B where we stayed are a couple of small local shops, which we found very useful for basic supplies. Here we could buy bottled water at a lower price than that sold in the hotel (about 200 som for a small bottle). I also came here to buy sweets to take home for work colleagues. This involved a fair...

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  • Watercolours of the tilework

    While visiting the Bibi Khanum Mosque our attention was caught by this artist painting quietly in the centre of the courtyard, and by the paintings he had arranged around the great marble Koran stand there. These were mostly very detailed watercolours of some of the exquisite tile-work on Samarkand’s mosques and other monuments. We watched him at...

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  • Best spot for crafts & souvenirs

    The Registan is the prime spot for souvenir shopping in Samarkand, with many of the former hajira (cells) in the madrassahs turned over to local stall-holders. This can detract (and distract) considerably from the impact of the madrassahs, but is convenient if you want to browse several places before making your selection. You quickly find however...

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Samarkand Local Customs

  • Musical instruments at the Registan

    In one of the hujira in the Shir Dor Madrassah at the Registan is a shop selling musical instruments. The owner has arranged a few rows of chairs in the small space and when enough visitors are gathered there he will give a demonstration of the various traditional instruments in his collection. These range from some simple two stringed ones (which...

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  • The staff of life

    Bread really is regarded in a special way in Uzbekistan, and the bread from Samarkand is held to be the best of all. It is recorded that Temur took not only bakers but also flour from Samarkand with him when he went on campaign, so highly did he regard the bread from the city. Nowadays, when young men leave home to travel away, their mothers break...

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  • To wish for a child

    Standing in the middle of the courtyard of the Bibi Khanum mosque in Samarkand, this massive marble Koran stand was once used to hold a 7th century copy of the holy text (claimed to be the oldest in existence) that Temur brought back to Samarkand as loot from Damascus. That Koran still exists - these days it is kept in the Tellya Sheikh religious...

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Samarkand Warnings and Dangers

  • Changing Money

    You should get a receipt when changing money. There's a slight chance you might need it when leaving the country. We didn't, traveling overland into Kazakhstan, but they are good to have.When you change money, be careful where you do it. Even one of the bigger, better hotels tried to cheat us. At first, they didn't give us all the money. We counted...

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  • Aeroflot, russian air company

    40% of travellers that fly with aeroflot from Moscow to Central Asia loose their luggage. So bring a complete cabin luggage with you, do all the necessary reclaims before leaving the airport (and keep all the receipts of your reclaims) and take it easy. We were without luggage for 4days

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  • Lonely Planet guidebook

    When i do long trips I use to buy Lonely Planet guidebook. There is no guidebook about Uzbekistan so I bought "Central Asia" guidebook where, apart from Uzbekistan, you can find some information about Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan. I have nothing to say about history and general information about the most important cities of...

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Samarkand Tourist Traps

  • Uzbekistan

    Samarkand and through it and the other major Silk Road cities, Bukhara and Khiva, make Uzbekistan a place for tour groups and armchair travelers. No longer is it hard to get to, and every major Silk Road city in it is a tourist trap.

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  • Entrance fee

    Almost all places you go, you will be asked to pay an entrance fee. Really no big money, few bucks. However, the clerk will ask you if yo gonna shoot a video or snap. If you say yes, you will pay an extra without a receipt. Normally, all places are free to take a snap/video but you dont know it. Don't pay an extra for shooting as it is free of...

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  • Kid beggars

    There are kid beggars around historical places. Mostly girls, notices you are a foreigner and sticks to you. Moves whereever you go and starts to sing a local prayer until you pay her. Better to pretend they don't existand walk away.

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Samarkand What to Pack

  • Trekki's Profile Photo

    by Trekki Written Jan 24, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Miscellaneous: All what I added to the packing list on my Uzbekistan writings applies for Samarkand as well:
    travel light, bring a daypack, something to cover your arms when visiting holy Uzbek places, sunscreen, solid shoes, Russian phrasebook and calculator. Maybe toilet paper from home :-)

    Related to:
    • Backpacking
    • Road Trip
    • Budget Travel

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Samarkand Off The Beaten Path

  • Country market

    Lying in the foothills of the Zarafshan Mountains. just 40km from Samarkand, the small town of Urgut is where you'll find the region's biggest - and some say oldest - market. Wednesday and Sunday are the main market days but it's busy, busy, busy here every day of the week. People come from everywhere, by bus, by car, by donkey cart, by shanks'...

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  • Revival of an ancient craft

    How many times have I typed this as I've written about the craft traditions of Uzbekistan? "Soviet rule saw the demise of the ancient art of ....... With the help of UNESCO it is slowly being revived" . Now it's the turn of paper-making. Uzbek poet, Alisher Navoi called paper "wings that spread around the thoughts of wise men". Long the secret of...

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  • Before there was Samarkand....

    ....there was Afrosiab, and, compared to Afrosiab, Samarkand, a mere 800 years old, is definitely the new kid on the block. Despite a presence in Central Asia that lasted 1800 years, all physical evidence of the Sogdians, the founders of Afrosiab (and a chain of city-states that dominated the region), lay buried beneath the mysterious grassy mounds...

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Samarkand Favorites

  • How long did we stay?

    Photo: Domes of the Tilya-Kori MadrasahI've been asked this question a lot. On our first visit we stayed for 3 nights, arriving from Bukhara at about 4 in the afternoon. That gave us about an hour to take a first look at the Registan. We returned next day with our guide for a longer visit and also visited the Ulugh Bek observatory, the bazaar, Bibi...

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  • A tussle

    Step inside the carpet workshop in the Shir Dor medressah at the Registan and, once you've admired the skilled workers at their looms (photo 4), look around you at the walls and ceiling of what was once one of the medressahs lecture rooms. Patched cracks, faded and age-grimed paintwork, broken and missing tiles all around - you could be mistaken...

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  • An invitation to lunch

    We didn't have time to visit the State Museum of Cultural History of Uzbekistan (to give it its full title) the first time we visited the city so, before we left for Shahrisabz and leaving the others to do some last minute sightseeing (aka shopping) at the Registan, two of us set off across the road to take a look. Workmen everywhere, doing what...

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Explore Deeper into Samarkand
Afrosiab
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Bazaar
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Sher-Dor Madrasah
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Ulug Bey observatory
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Guri Emir
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Bibi Hatun
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Hazreti Hizir Mosque
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Temur's tomb
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Magnificent mausoleum
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The new bazaar
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A little black tassle
Favorites
More tigers
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The Dwelling Place of the Spirit
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Kharzret Khyzr Mosque
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Exquisite beauty
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The oldest medressa
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Bibi Khanum Mausoleum
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The price of a kiss
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Mapping the stars
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The Capmakers' bazaar
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Samarkand's glory
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A gilded mosque
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The strangest creatures
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Inside the medressas
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Shir Dor Medressa
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Gold, gold and more gold
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No lions here ...
Off The Beaten Path
Day trip to Tajikistan
Off The Beaten Path
Good local cooking
Restaurants
Fell In Love With the Magic of Samarkand!
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Shahr-i-Zindah
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Upscale
Restaurants
Afrosiab
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Jewish Cemetary
Off The Beaten Path
Tamerlane
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Samarkand Internet Cafes
Favorites
The Registan
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The Registan
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Bibi Khanym Mosque
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Ulug Beg's Observatory
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Map of Samarkand

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