Do I need a visa for Uzbekistan?
Other than Turkmenistan which still has a rigorous visa program , Uzbekistan is the last of the Central Asian Stans to join in with having a relatively simple visa process for most countries.
Now most western countries are visa free, whether arriving by land or air, for 30 days. USA passport holders, along with several others, do still require an evisa, which is very simple and can be found here .
For more information on Uzbekistan's visa policy, visit our Visa page .
When is the best time to go?
The best time of year to go in Spring and Autumn. Summer can be really hot in Uzbekistan, getting into the 40s (Deg. Celsius) and can go for weeks without even a single cloud in the sky. Winter can also get quite cold especially in the dessert with snow falling and temperatures dropping well below 0.
What should I see?
It all depends on how long you’ve got of course. There are a few must-sees, such as Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara, but here are a few of our favourite spots that are a bit more off the beaten path:
Parkent Solar Furnace
Do you know what a solar furnace is? Well after our exclusive tour to a Soviet built solar furnace in Uzbekistan you will. After realising that that they couldn't figure out how to use it to produce solar power, its main use was in research for aerospace engineering. Now though they also just use the extreme heat to melt metals for any company who will pay them.
The Aral Sea
One of the world's most notorious man-made natural disasters, it won't be long until there's nothing left here to see. Finding shells on the desert floor and exploring abandoned, rusty ships, it's a very surreal place to be. If you'd like to learn more about the Aral Sea, have a read of our blog: What is the Aral Sea?
Not many tourists get the opportunity to visit one of the Soviet Union's infamous closed towns, but we think it’s a something not to be missed. When there, you'll have the opportunity to explore abandoned buildings, chat to locals and see first hand a town that didn't appear on maps until 20 years ago. If you'd like to read more about this fascinating little town, check out Yangiabad - a very different side to Uzbekistan .
Is it safe to travel to Uzbekistan?
The short answer is definitely yes. Of course petty theft exists so you should be careful, but way less than in most European countries, and like all the neighbouring Central Asian countries, it’s highly unlikely that anything would happen to you.
Do I need to take cash?
Definitely. This is a part of the world where cash is still king. While they are quickly becoming a lot more economically developed and it is now possible to use ATMs or even pay on card in some places, it definitely should not be relied on. Outside of Tashkent, even in the other cities, you will be hard-pressed to find an ATM or credit card machine, especially one that accepts foreign cards. So it’s always best just to bring all your spending money in cash to be exchanged.
Are they Muslims?
The short answer is yes, most people in Central Asia are Muslims. But in saying that, more often than not, it is in the same sense that most people in Australia, Britain or France are Christians. It’s more of a cultural identification than a religious one. One thing the Soviet Union did and did well was to beat religion out of people. At one point in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan for example, there was only one mosque in each country. Even before the Soviets came, Islam’s influence in the region was minimal. A famous quote is that the people of Central Asia “took as much Islam with them as they could fit in their saddlebags”. Another question of this mould is “Do women need to cover up?” to which anyone who has ever been to a beach in a former Soviet Union will respond, “the only thing you might need to cover is your eyes”.
Is Uzbekistan ‘dry’?
This question almost always follows on from the last question. The answer is the most resounding “no” that is possible. Central Asians drink like fish. Fish with drinking problems. They love their vodka and cognac, just to name a couple of favourites, and they are mostly drunk straight. Beer is at best a refreshing beverage to enjoy as one might have a juice and is reserved mostly for women and children. In this way they have taken after their former Russian overlords.
What’s the food like?
Occasionally you can come across some of the most delicious and succulent marinated meat you may ever have eaten, but at other times you will feel like you’re eating leather. One thing is for sure, the variety is usually minimal and it's not a great place for vegetarians. Though this is changing drastically and quickly, and especially in Tashkent there are quite a lot of international and more "trendy" options now. To find out more about what you can expect to eat whilst in Uzbekistan, check out our Food and Drink page .
Is it really backward?
So many of the questions we get are along the lines of “Do they have internet?” “Do they have television?” “Do they live in houses?”. Being part of what was the second world meant that the basic infrastructure and social safety net was developed to a reasonable standard. Today you will find all your world wide sport live on satellite TV. You’ll be able to read your emails and watch Netflix and while some small communities, not unlike the indigenous people you might find in North America or Australia, live more traditional lifestyles, most people live in anything from brand new modern condos and skyscrapers, lovely quarter acre blocks with large houses to brutalist Stalinist reinforced concrete Soviet style apartment blocks.