Khiva Travel Guide

  • Khiva
    by toonsarah
  • Entrance gate of the old city
    Entrance gate of the old city
    by sachara
  • Lots of drinks to beat the heat
    Lots of drinks to beat the heat
    by sachara

Khiva Highlights

  • Pro
    Trekki profile photo

    Trekki says…

     Quiet - beautiful - excellent conserved buildings - lot to see and learn about architecture 

  • Con
    Trekki profile photo

    Trekki says…

     a bit of an open air museum - lacks the real daily life 

  • In a nutshell
    lotharlerch profile photo

    lotharlerch says…

     preference should be given to Samarkand and Bukhara 

Khiva Things to Do

  • Everywhere you turn in Khiva....

    ....main streets, back streets, you'll find something interesting to catch your eye.Your guide will probably trot you past some of these places without a word, others may be identified in passing - some you'll remember, some you'll forget, there are so many of them - Khiva is crammed with historic buildings, you'd need days rather than the few...

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  • The Stone Palace 1

    The lavishly decorated courts and iwans of the Tash Hauli (the Stone Palace) are connected by and to a maze of over 160 rooms -all built in a mere 8 years -although Allah Kuli Khan, the khan who commissioned it, wanted the job done in 2 and promptly impaled the original architect who had the temerity to suggest that the time-frame was too short....

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  • The Stone Palace 2

    Getting his priorities right, the Khan saw to it that the Harem was the first part of the Tash Hauli to be completed. Here a row of 5 stunningly beautiful iwans (one for the Khan and one for each of his wives) faces a somewhat more spartan complex of rooms (for the concubines and serving women) across the courtyard . The closed world of Harem is...

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  • With a little help from our friends

    The will to help Uzbekistan regain its lost heritage of wonderful ctafts is as strong in Khiva as it is throughtout the country but years of Sovie domination has taken a heavy toll both intellectually and financially. Sponsorship from abroad has played an inportant part in helping to revive both the lost craft skills and the business know-how to...

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  • Fair pay for their work

    A visit to Khiva's Unesco-sponsored silk workshop in the Kazi Kalyan medressa is both fascinating and inspiring. Here young women (not children) are taught the old skills of carpet making by hand. Using natural dyes and unique patterns derived from the motifs found in the tiles and decoration of the Khivan palaces, these carpets are unique works of...

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  • A memorial for a mathematician

    New heroes are needed for a newly independent nation, and elsewhere in Uzbekistan the conqueror, Temur, and his scholarly grandson , Ulugh Beg, are much lauded. Here in Khiva though, the local boy made good is al-Khorezmi - the 9th century mathematician whose Latinized name became "algorithm" and whose work "Al-Jebr" has caused young scholars hours...

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Khiva Hotels

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Khiva Restaurants

  • Nightime nosh

    Churches converted into restaurants, whilst not exactly common, are not unknown in the west. I'd never seen a mosque converted in this way however until I ate in the Bir Gumtaz in Khiva's Ichin Kala. Our first visit was in 2005, when the cool interior was just what we were looking for on a blisteringly hot day. Needless to say, it was a long...

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  • The lightest touch

    Begun in a project sponsored by the German Embassy in Tashkent, the Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association (DVV), the German Development Service (DED) and the Centre for Business and Tourism Development Khiva, the Khorezm Art Restaurant was set up in 2008 to provide vocational training in the food and...

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  • Chaikhana Zarafshon – the best of all

    (please be patient, description will follow soon :-) (please be patient, description will follow soon :-)

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Khiva Nightlife

See all 3 Nightlife in Khiva
  • Khivan nights

    If you’d ask me, the best nightlife activities in Khiva are incomparable with what one can normally do:(1) - wandering around the empty streets to soak up its mysterious atmosphere and shades(2) - find a high spot to marvel at the stars on a clear desert night

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  • Khiva at night

    It may seem strange to include a “nightlife” tip here, as you certainly won’t find in Khiva anything usually described by that term – no discos or night-clubs, no lively bars, cinemas or theatres. But strolling the streets after dark in an atmosphere so redolent of past wonders is a special pleasure, and one that means that an overnight stay here...

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  • Well, nightlife the Khiva way

    Don't expect any discos or bars in Khiva's old city. But if you stay for a night, it is nice to sit outside and watch the night world going by.I can only judge for the plaza around Kalta Minor (in the western part), where I was having dinner in Milliy Taomlar .Kalta Minor is illuminated in the evening, which gives it even a more mystic touch. When...

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Khiva Transportation

  • A long way west

    Khiva is some 1200 km north-west of Tashkent, and if your time in Uzbekistan is limited, flying there is an option you should consider. Most tours that take in Khiva make the flight one way, and then travel by road between Khiva, Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent. Flights are operated by Uzbekistan Airways, flying a variety of Russian-built aircraft....

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  • Bukhara - Khiva - Tashkent

    Historic Khiva is located in the middle of the dessert, near the Uzbek town of Urgench, reasonably far from the main populated areas of Uzbekistan. Khiva – Urgench means 20 minutes ride by taxi, for about 5 euros, or 40 minutes by public bus. From Bukhara, there were no organised buses to Urgench when we wanted to reach it, i.e. November 2007....

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  • Take the plane – Urgench is near

    Khiva is located far off the other Silk Road cities, so you might like to fly out there. Uzbekistan Airways has 2 daily flights to Urgench, which has the closest airport to Khiva.I took a one-way flight and paid 64.000 sum. As soon as you get off the plane in Urgench, you will be brought "outside" of the terminal to wait for your luggage. Be aware...

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Khiva Shopping

See all 4 Shopping in Khiva
  • To buy or not to buy ...

    I was all shopped out by the time I got to Khiva, my bags were full and I had firmly resolved not to be tempted - at all! by anything!! And then I saw the suzani in the photo here - it was so, so beautiful, quite THE most stunning piece I had seen outside a museum in the whole trip. No - I didn't buy it - my bags really were full to bursting and it...

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  • What to buy in Khiva

    We didn’t actually buy a lot in Khiva as it was the first stop on our tour and we weren’t sure what else we find in the cities still to come, nor indeed exactly what we wanted to buy among all the wonderful handicrafts (and it has to be said, not so wonderful touristy trash). Most of the things we saw here were in fact available (or very similar)...

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  • If you think you need to shop in Khiva..

    Well, if I would be sarcastic, I would say that Khiva has more shopping possibilities than buildings and sights to visit. You will find small shops, street vendors and markets on each and every corner. Unless you want to buy something specifically from Khiva (such as a miniature of the minarets), I strongly suggest that you do your souvenir...

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Khiva Local Customs

  • The old religion

    Long before the arrival of Islam, Central Asia was a world where Zoroastrianism held sway. Centuries later, there are still vestiges of this, the world's first monotheistic belief, to be found throughout the region. Noruz, the celebration of the New Year according to the Zoroastrian calendar, is the most important and beloved celebration of the...

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  • Weddings.....

    Outside pressure turned Khiva more or less faithless during the last century, so despite dozens of large madrassahs, mosques and palaces, you won’t hear muezzins shouting their call for prayer from the magnificent minarets, nor will you hear bustling bazaars and traders in the market place. For Khiva became what I call a “septic history”, real life...

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  • Long suffering tourist camel Misha

    It is difficult to qualify Misha as a local custom….but I thought he does not deserve being forgotten. Well, Misha is the Russian name (sic!) of a camel…and he’s been tortured during the last 5 years or so as a “tourist” attraction of the artificial Khiva. What can be more exotic than a one dollar photo with a fat OGM ass on the back an old sick...

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Khiva Warnings and Dangers

  • Desert city: desert heat

    I prefer most of the time not to repeat tips that I’ve included on other pages, but not everyone will want to read my Uzbekistan page as well as this one and the heat in Khiva in July is so exceptional that I make no apologies for repeating my advice about coping with the extreme temperatures here.There are a number of things you can and should do...

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  • No warnings or dangers in Khiva !

    I cannot think of a real warning or danger in Khiva. Maybe I should mention that any building or minaret, you will visit, does not have any sign to warn you climbing up or entering (I come from a country where people use their common sense to know that they might fall off from towers when leaning over too far, so I am not used to look for warning...

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  • Khiva Hotels

    2 Hotels in Khiva

    48 Reviews and Opinions

Khiva Tourist Traps

  • Photo opportunities

    In several spots in the old town we saw these “photo opportunities”, where tourists could dress up in traditional costume and pose in elaborate settings. It was far too hot though for us to want to put on layers of heavy clothing or thick furry hats, even if we’d wanted to pay for the privilege of looking a bit silly! There’s also a place where you...

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  • Simply be prepared (not a real trap)

    Well, by now I don't see this as tourist trap anymore, but want to place it here for all who might read my writings.Be prepared that, as a foreign tourist, you have to pay more than Uzbek tourists. I cannot judge about prices in restaurants or hotels, but it is due for all entrance fees.Simply accept this, don't complain (as I did in between, but...

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Khiva What to Pack

  • Trekki's Profile Photo

    by Trekki Written Oct 10, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: As Khiva will be part of a tour within Central Asia, all what I suggested on my Uzbek packing list applies the same for here.
    In addition, you definitely need a daypack, just to carry your water bottles around.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: In addition for your Uzbek packing list, you need GOOD shoes, as you will be walking and climbing up and down all the time. Maybe it would be even wise to wear socks, even if it is hot. I walked around in my Tevas (outdoor sandals) and had blisters in the evening from sweating too much...
    Maybe a hat would be a good idea as well.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Nothing special needed here.

    Photo Equipment: With all this heat, the sun might make it difficult to get good pictures. Bring filters and a polarizing one as well. On some of my pictures, mainly the one I took from the ark's viewpoint, you might see that I was reducing the exposure quite much.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Does not apply here.

    Miscellaneous: Nothing additional I can think of.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Road Trip
    • Architecture

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Khiva Off The Beaten Path

  • Watch out for all the smaller minaretts

    What I found most fascinating in Khiva's old city were the smaller minarets, which have not been mentioned in the city guidebooks. But you find them only when walking off the main streets and the crowd.My most favourite was Tura-Murad Tura minaret, which is in the street parallel to the east-west main street; more or less north of Rahim Khan...

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  • Crossing the Oxus

    This river flows to the north and east of Khiva, and cuts off this corner of Khorezm province from the rest of Uzbekistan. It is properly known by the name of Amu Darya, but in ancient times it was the Oxus, one of those places you’ve heard of in old history lessons but never dreamed you would see (another was the Euphrates which we saw some years...

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  • Statue of Al-Khorezmi

    If you’ve always hated algebra, here’s the man to blame! Mukhammad ibn Musa Al-Khorezmi lived about 780-850 and was the chief mathematician in an academy of sciences in Baghdad, though he came originally from Khorezm province. He is credited with introducing a decimal-based numbering system in the Arab world, and his name, corrupted by western...

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Khiva Favorites

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  • Photographing Khiva

    As you wander through the sun-baked streets and lanes of Khiva do take time to notice not just the architecture but also the details which will provide variety and add atmosphere to your photos. A carved door, an especially beautiful piece of tile work, a small window letting in a shaft of light – all these will contribute to the overall picture...

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  • Misha has retired

    Guidebooks and tour companies all mention Misha (photo 4) - Khiva's lone camel - who spent years standing in the city's main square and who probably ended up featuring in every tourist's photo album. He was there on our first visit in 2005, looking as bored and as grumpy as only a camel can. Well, after 20 years of that, he's been retired and a...

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  • Look up

    There were so many 'favourite things" about Khiva, I could write a list, but high on that would be the little turrets and towers at the corners of so many buildings, gates and iwans. You'll need to look up as you walk down the streets - or across if you're up in the Ark's watch tower (photo 1). Most of them wear a tiled blue hat of some sort - more...

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Explore Deeper into Khiva
The best woodcarving
Favorites
The unfinished minaret
Things to Do
A mausoleum for a muscular saint
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Beautiful ceramics
Favorites
Medressa 3: A plethora of medressahs
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Medressa 4: Look through the layers
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Medressa 2: Artifacts and aerialists
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Unforgettable
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An excellent website
Favorites
Seat of all power
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Medressa 1: Where scholars once studied
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In and out of the walls
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Newest and tallest
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As old as it gets
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The Old Fortress
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Within these walls
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Stone Palace (Tash Hauli) - Court of Law
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Stone Palace (Tash Hauli) - reception courtyard
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Stone Palace (Tash Hauli) - the Harem
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Allah Kuli Kahn Madrassah (1834)
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Kutluq Murad Inaq Madrassah
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Juma (Friday) Mosque (1788)
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Shir Gazi Khan Madrassah
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Islam Khodja Madrassah & Minaret
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Pakhlavan Mahmoud mausoleum
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Sayid Allauddin
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Mohammed Rakhim Khan (aka Feruz) Madrassah
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Ak Sheikh Bobo Bastion
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The Kukhna Ark (aka the Old Fortress)
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Kalta Minor (aka Short Minaret)
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Mohammed Amin Khan madrassah
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Gates to Khiva's Ichan kala
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Ichan kala
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City Walls
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Islom Huja Minaret
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Russian School
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Kukhna Ark
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Kalta Minor Minaret
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Visit a carpet making school
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Just a small but excellent little restaurant
Restaurants
Map of Khiva

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