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changed their schedules and no longer flew on a Friday; another was that their licence to fly in the European Union had been revoked for safety reasons.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.
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.
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:
Trains in Uzbekistan run slowly but safe I think. Although trains are a bit old, they seem to be in pretty good shape to me. You have international train lines going from Almaty to Tashkent ($40us), From Tashkent to Moscow (55 to 65 hours, 2 days a week, $89us+Russian visa), Tashkent to Turkmenabat->Ashgatat.
Inland train lines are like this:
From Navoi is also possible to get a train to the new built north line going inside Karakalpakstan to Nukus and Qongirat.
There are 2 train stations in Tashkent, one mainly for northern lines: Fergana Valley, Moscow, Almaty and Bishkek, and another station for southern lines going to Dushambe, Samarkand, Bukhara, Urgench and Ashgabat.
Its the arrival of the night train Tashkent to Bukhara. 12 hours on the train.
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...
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.
I got a one way ticket from Iran Airline for 266800SUM about $260us. Contact Abda Travel Company for nice deals. They know the man in Iran Air office so maybe you can get a nice deal. 132-22-56 ask for Sanjar, manager of inbound. fax 132-22-56
For my Page on Iran please click on the folowing link:
My Iranian VT Page
The picture shows a street in Tehran, Iran
This is a very easy way to get around the city. You'll problably never wait more than 5 minutes for a train and the stations are quite clean and quite safe. To go in you have to pass a metal detector. For backpackers like me, a huge backpack will be very confusion. They need to check your bag to see if you have some bomb. The Subway in Tashkent was design to be a bomb shelter and nuclear shelter so no pictures are alowed inside. There are 3 main lines for subway in the city: red line, blue line and green line. The Uzbekistan and the Chilanzar, and the third under construction (the green one).
The cost of a ticket is 15SUM and system runs until 5am to 12pm.
Tashkent's subway is the one and only in Central Asia so people seem quite proud of it. Actually Its quite nice and fast. I've never took such a fast metro before, nor NYC, Berlin, Paris, Lisbon, Madrid, no, the fastest so far was in Central Asia?!
For a map on Tashkent subway map please click on the following link:
Tashkent Metro/Subway Map
In Tashkent there is a very fast way of getting to different places. This little mini vans can get everywhere just in a matter of seconds. There are several main points or squares where you can get them and leave to other destinations. If you're coming from the border with Kazakhstan for instance you’ll get a taxi or mini van or normal bus to the Chorsu Bazaar. From here you can get transportation to all the main places in the city. 3 major streets head into Chorsu bazaar; they are Forob, Sagban and Zarqaynar Street. Near Chorsu you also have the Metro station which is also a good alternative to rush hours and heavy traffic.
Mini bus costs 500SUM
Shared taxis are a easy, fast and cheap way of gettnig around cities in Uzbekistan. ALso its a good opportunity to cut in half, hours buses need to make some journeys. This for long journeys can be dangerous if you decide to pay yourself a only person taxi, please, be smart and go with people, better not to go alone or with just 1 or 2 men. I knew some people rober my driver and another man.
In Tashkent you can get a shared taxi to Fergana Valley for about $6us, also to Samarkand.
In Uzbekistan people dont need taxis drivers license to bring people with them. So basicaly everyone that as a car will ry to make some extra money and take you any where. You just need to negociate the price. A normal trip inside a city shouldnt cost more then 2000SUM maybe a bit less if you can make a good deal.
There are several historical buildings and sites in Samarkand which are quite far way from everything. For instance, if you need to go from the Registan square to Central Gorky Park you can get a mini bus on the Registan Avenue also named Registanskaya. From the Main Bazaar, you can get a mini bus to Samarkand War Memorial.
Taxis are also a good choice for moving in the city. If you are coming from Bukhara on a Mini Bus, 5000UM, 6hours, you'll get off near the Long distance Bus-Station. You'll have to get a taxi to the city. Deal the price for going there and don't pay more than 2000SUM or 1000SUm. If they complain about the price of oil etc, its not your problem, maybe they have to change job?
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 .
Contrary to the information i received from travellers taking this route some years earlier there is a border guard between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan on this way.
We dealt with the Kazakhstan police and customs in Beyneu (roughly 80km northwest of the border) while Uzbekistan has a boarder guard directly at the boarder on the 56th (a container with a single customer officer, a bed, a chair, a table, and an AK-74, but no arrival stamp).
Nevertheless, both posts were friendly and we did the formalities in less than an hour on both sides of the border.
There are few possibilities to cross the Amu Darja, this is probably the most important "bridge", leading from Buruni to Urgentch/Khiva. Although some maps give you the impression that you can drive from Khiva to the east on the southern side of the Amu Darja, this is not possible as you end up at the border of Turkmenistan without any chance to cross the Amu Darja to the north again. No problem for locals as there's a bridge some 10kms in Turkmenistan, but without valid multiple entry visas you have to turn around.
Marginal note: they were welding the bridge while we crossed it...
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.
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