Real or Fake?
Fake police cars are parked along Uzbek highways at intervals. They are realistic-looking painted cutouts that are only an inch thick. People do slow down for them, because now and then it is a real one. You can’t tell the difference until you pass it.Related to:
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Crossing the Uzbek border—in either direction—requires a form stating how much money you have with you. When you leave, the amount needs to be less, (or the same) than when you came.
Border crossings for groups in any of the 5 "stans" is an adventure. Your bus or van and its driver can't cross, so you get out at the border control station for one country, do the paperwork, and then drag all your luggage across a "no man's land" area until you reach the station on the other side. It may be yards, or over a mile. Repeat paperwork at the new border station, and find your new van and driver.
Use Frankfurt as your airport hub to UZ !!
Travelling to Uzbekistan is not that difficult, long or expensive !
On my trip, I have met several travellers which went from all parts of Europe to Uzbekistan with Aeroflot, transfer flights in Moscow. They had to sit for hours and hours at Moscow airport, without visa for Russia, quite a boring thing to do. And paid more than 800 – 900 Euro.
Uzbekistan Airways has very reasonable prices from Frankfurt International Airport to Tashkent, around 500 Euro, depending on the time of travel. The flights are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, leaving FFM at 11:40 a.m., arriving in Tashkent at 20.00. Tuedays’ flight leaves at 20:15 in the evening and arrives at 5:15 a.m. next morning.
Frankfurt Hahn Airport, the one for cheap flights, has an excellent bus connection to Frankfurt International Airport (1 hr, 30 min).
And, Frankfurt International Airport has an IC(E) train stop just in front of Terminal 1, with a lot of trains stopping here from Netherlands, Belgium, northern Germany, Italy, Austria, etc.
All in all, if you live somewhere in Europe with a good connection to Frankfurt International, why not consider this. Maybe even an option for non-Europeans ?
Hanka Impex can organize the tickets from Frankfurt. Their website is in German, but the son of the owner, Boris Raimicher, speaks English as well. e-Mail is given on their website.
Website of Uzbekistan Airways, for prior flight availability check:
Uzbekistan AirwaysRelated to:
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How to get TO and AROUND Uzbekistan
There are two train tickets I bought:
- From Moscow to Tashkent (I definetely wanted to use the train for this way and not to fly)
- From Samarkand to Tashkent.
I bought both at their countries: First in Russia and the second in UZ (Samarkand), just few hours before the train left. Except for the fact of the time I had to wait queueing (about 1 hour in Moscow and about 30 minutes in Samarkand), everything was OK. No problem at all. And I have not been cheated or whatsoever.
NOW ONLY ABOUT UZ:
However, within UZ I would suggest you to travel by taxi. The trains are very clean, punctual and fine. I was told at the ticket booth, that the only difference between 1st. and 2nd. class is that on 1st there is a TV running all the time. And as I suppose you are not keen of watching "Uzbekistan got talent", ;o)) so you better book 2nd class... Which is, obviously, cheaper than the 1st.
The taxis in UZ works in a very special way: There is ONE place in town, where you can find all taxis that connect different cities in the country. They are not the same, as those serving the city (These can be particulars (that's not mandatory: There are also official, regular taxis as well!) on their way home who take you to your destination for a price you have handled before you get into their cars). Once you get there, you will be asked where do you want to go to: "Kudá?". Then you will be shown the taxi that first leaves the place to your destination. Once there, you MUST handle the price with the driver (Hint: Before geting to the taxis, ask someone i.e. at the hotel you are in, what's the price to pay. By handling add some 10-20% and stay hard at this price). Now you leave your luggage in the car. And you will have to wait. What for? For other people willing to go to your destination too. But don't worry: For such cities as Buxara, Samarkand, Khiva or Tashkent, it does not take more than 10 minutes, even off the peak season. You definetely WILL NOT leave the place until your taxi is full. And then the driver use to run as he was at the World Motoracing!! ;o))): Michael Schuhmacher's greeting you! ;o)))
For me the way from Tashkent to Khiva was too long by train, as I just had spent 3 days on my way from Moscow. I didn't want to stay again so long in the train. So I bought (however in Moscow, at Domodedovo Airport) a plane ticket for this route. BUT: Be careful! I don't remeber well anymore, but I was told, within UZ it is not easy for foreigners to buy such a ticket!!!
OK It has been a very long answer: I think the way from Tashkent to Khiwa (or Khiwa to Tashkent) would be better to fly and the rest I would travel by taxi.
Enjoy a great country! Have fun,
Train is cool
If you are budget, please consider trains - they are cheap and fast! For instance, Samarkand - Tashkent train costed in October 2008 7500S (approx. 6$) per person.
The only problem is that you may need to book a train a few days earlier.
Should you need transportation in Uzbekistan and you do not have enough time to wait, bus is not a good (fast) mean of transportation. Approx. 300km distance between Bukhara and Samarkand may need even 9 hours by bus... the main problem is that there is no schedules - bus is waiting for passengers... and it happens that once they finally start, they often break down
Travelling by bus
If you go on a group tour as we did you’ll almost certainly find yourself travelling by bus. Distances can be long (Khiva to Bukhara for instance is an eight hour drive) so we were pleased to find our bus pretty modern and comfortable. It was made in France and was pretty much to European standards – this was fine except in the desert where the air conditioning struggled to cope in the 50 degree heat.
It was also not suitable for the rough track that led to our desert camp so was left in the small village of Yangigazgan while we transferred to this old Soviet bus (see photo 2) for the last few kilometres. I wouldn’t have wanted to go any distance in this but it was just what was needed to get us to the camp.Related to:
- Road Trip
Flying to Uzbekistan
We flew to Tashkent from London’s Heathrow Airport with Aeroflot, via Moscow. This hadn’t been our original plan, but a few weeks before our trip our flights with Uzbekistan Airways were cancelled. We haven’t managed to find out the definitive reason for this – one version was that they’d simply changed their schedules and no longer flew on a Friday; another was that their licence to fly in the European Union had been revoked for safety reasons. The latter seemed plausible to me, especially after our flight to Khiva with them.
In any case, the Aeroflot flight was OK: good new planes for both legs, punctual (on the outward journey – the return was another matter), but with unappetising catering and a too-long wait at Moscow Airport. The biggest downside though was that the last minute change in timings meant that we arrived at our hotel in Tashkent at 5.30 in the morning, and although we went to bed for a few hours we’d more or less lost that night’s sleep to travelling and airport formalities (see my general tip on these). And on our return journey we had to leave Samarkand straight after dinner for an overnight drive to Tashkent and a 2.00 AM check-in. So with more time to plan than we had you might like to look for an alternative airline or flight timings and, even if travelling with Explore, book your flights yourself.
We took a couple of internal flights with Uzbekistan Airways (well, one was technically an international one from Bishkek), and were surprised to note that the planes had a parcel shelf rather than an enclosed overhead locker.
On the internal flight someone was sitting in my seat, and the flight crew didn't seem too bothered about getting him to move.
However, both flights were on time, and got us to our destination.Related to:
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Usbekistan by train
Inside Usbekistan there are not frequent trains.
Busses might be much better.
There are no trains to Turkmenistan and Kirgistan.
There are a few trains to Kazachstan and to Duschanbe in Tajikistan.
There is one train in the week to Moscow.
The flight might be cheaper. So it is only advisable if you want adventure
The trains all have russian standard with three classes.Related to:
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To UZ. OK, within UZ: adventurous
Flight to Tashkent, mostly via Istanbul or Moscow. International flights tend to arrive/depart around midnight or later. From neighbouring countries also bus or train.
The internal traffic system is deteriorating. If you have limited time you can go by plane but all connections go via Tashkent. Tickets are not expensive, often rather good Western planes, the flying staff was trained by Lufthansa.
Surface travel offers lots of fascinating surprises. You need an adventurous spirit, good humour plenty of time and some knowledge of Russian or Uzbek/Turkish. Schedules are not worth the paper on which they are printed, if they are. But many locals can give you useful hints how to find your means of transport. For long distances you will be directed to some sorts of 'travel bazaars' in or near most of the towns where different sorts of transport are offered. With some good humour and patience you will find almost every thinkable ride. If you do not find transport to your desired destination try to get something to an other place on the way, the driver will be happy to organize there for you the connecting ride - they all seem to know each other and after some discussions you will get your ride for really cheap rates. But it is a good idea to get some information on reasonable rates beforehand from other locals. The travel is safe - apart from the sometimes hair rising Central Asian driving style. Expect some breakdowns on the way. But it is a nice experience at the end.
For shorter distances (up to about 50 - 100 km) virtually every car is a 'free lance taxi' and most drivers are happy to make some additional money that way. The rates: see above.
Within the bigger towns: if you are able to decipher the local system you can ride on buses for almost nothing, very cheap are also the 'marchrutkas', taxis on fixed routes, starting as soon as they are 'dolmus' (full). ('dolmus' is Turkish). In Tashkent there is an excellent fast and clean Metro with stations with fantastic decorations.
Express trains between Tashkent and Samarkand
There are two express trains between two cities:
One leaves Tashkent at 7pm, arrives Samarkand at midnight. Going back from Samarkand at 7am, arriving Tashkent at noon. This one is daily.
Another one is even faster, it leaves Tashkent at 7am, arr. Samarkand at 10.50 am. Leaves Samarkand at 5pm, arr. Tashkent at 8.50 pm. This one only runs on Fri, Sat, Sun.
These trains are safe and cheap, around $3 one way.Related to:
- Budget Travel
This is a map of UzbekistanI took from lonely Planet website.
You should alway carry a map of the countries you travel to understand better where you caould go and how you caould reach certain places.
Mini Bus Samarkand->Tashkent
This is a cheap and fast way of getting yourself around the country. From Samarkand,s Nortwest way out you can easily get a small van to Tashkent. The price will depend of the quality of the van. This one, an old Ford Transit costed me 5000SUM for a 6 hours journey. There were other kind of vand, cheaper, and other more expensive with AC .
This train takes 12 hours and connects the Capital Tashkent to Islam Holy City of Bukhara. The cost of the ticket is 6500SUM for a coach seat and bed. The system of this palce is like this: you have compartiments which sits transform into beds. 6 beds per compartiment. Watch out for your bags. The price includes the ***s, pillow and some breakfast. People on the train pass selling water, juice, bread, ice creams, etc...
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