Uzbekistan cultural tour – 11 days

Explore the ancient Silk Road cities Samarkand, Bukhara and Kiva with this eleven days cultural tour to Uzbekistan. These legendary cities located on the heart of the Silk Road were once caravanserais for ancient caravans on their long and dangerous Silk Road journeys. The region was home to great emperors, renowned medieval scientists, masters and artisans who impressed the world with the masterpieces of architecture. On this eleven days cultural tour, we explore the UNESCO World Heritage site Ichon-Qala, the holiest city Bukhara and the legendary Samarkand.

Places visited: Tashkent, Khiva and nearby desert fortresses, Bukhara, Samarkand

Trip Highlights

  • Sightseeing tour in the pearls of the Silk Road – Khiva, Bukhara, Samarkand
  • Viewing the oldest known copy of the Koran in Tashkent
  • Visiting the ruins of ancient fortresses located around Khiva
  • Wandering through oriental Bazaars
  • Visits to Ichon-Qala, Buhara’s Ark, and Registan

Quick Itinerary

Day 1 Tashkent
Arrive in Tashkent in the afternoon and meet by our driver who transfers you to the hotel.

Day 2 –Tashkent
Start a sightseeing tour in Tashkent. Visit Independence Square, Amir Timur Square, History Museum, Khast Imam Complex, Chorsu Bazaar, Kukaldosh Medressa, etc.

Day 3 – Tashkent – Khiva
Fly to Urgench; transfer to the ancient city of Khiva; full day sightseeing tour in Ichon Qala including Kuhna-Ark citadel, Mohammed Aminkhan Medressa, Kalta Minor minaret, and other monuments.

Day 4 – Around Khiva
Visit the desert fortresses of Toprak Qala, Qizil Qala, Ayaz Qala and Guldursun Qala; return to Khiva late afternoon.

Day 5 – Khiva – Bukhara
Drive through the Kyzyl-Kum desert to Bukhara.

Day 6 – Bukhara
City tour in Bukhara including the 12th century Kalon Minaret, Bolo Khauz Mosque, Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Ark citadel, and other monuments.

Day 7 – Bukhara
Visit sights around Bukhara; summer palace -Sitorai Mohi Hosa, Chor-Bakr necropolis, Bakhautdin Naqshband complex.

Day 8 – Bukhara –Samarkand
Drive to Samarkand. In the afternoon, half-day city tour including Registan Square and Gur Emir Mausoleum.

Day 9 – Samarkand
City tour in Samarkand. Visit Bibi-Khanum Mosque, Siob Bazaar, Sha-i-Zinda necropolis, Afrosiab Museum, and Ulugbek’s Observatory.

Day 10 – Samarkand – Tashkent
Transfer to Tashkent, enjoy a free afternoon exploring Tashkent on your own.

Day 11 – Tashkent
After breakfast transfer to Tashkent International Airport.


Price & Service

Number of People 2-3 4-7 8-14
Price per person upon request

Single supplement – 165 USD

What is Included

  • 10 nights in the hotels based double/twin room sharing
  • 10 Breakfasts
  • Transport throughout the tour, incl. airport pickups, transfers
  • Entrance tickets as per itinerary
  • Economy class flight ticket: Tashkent-Urgench
  • Local guide service in each city
  • Letter of Invitation for a tourist visa (if necessary)

What’s not Included

  • International flights
  • Camera fees charged separately by museums and attractions
  • Lunches and dinners
  • Charges in the hotels for additional services
  • Personal Travel Insurance

Day 1 – Tashkent

Arrive in Tashkent airport in the afternoon and be transferred by our driver to the hotel. Depending on the time of your arrival you may go out for a dinner or relax in the hotel.

Day 2 - Tashkent

The tour starts in the morning in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, which has been on this site for more than 2000 years. The city was completely rebuilt by Soviet government with spacious avenues, large parks and ever-present fountains after being flattened by the devastating earthquake of 1966.

Today we spend whole day exploring the sights of charming Tashkent on a city tour. Start the tour by visiting Independence Square, Amir Timur Square and History Museum of the People of Uzbekistan. Continue sightseeing program and visit Khast Imam Complex, which contains the oldest known copy of the Koran dating from 655. From Khast Imam visit the nearby Chorsu Bazaar – the largest and oldest markets in Central Asia. Wandering through this huge bustling market is a great way to see local people going about their daily lives; you will also meet many friendly local vendors willing to talk to you. The 16th century Kukaldosh Medressa – Tashkent’s most renowned Islamic learning centre and 15th century Juma Mosque are also both located at a short walk away from Chorzu Bazaar.
If the time permits, we can still visit the Fine Arts Museum of Uzbekistan and the Museum of Applied Arts.


Day 3- Tashkent - Khiva

An early flight takes us from Tashkent to Urgench (1:40 min) from where you will be driven to fabled city of Khiva (30 min). Arrive in Khiva and check in at your hotel.

Archaeological findings testify that in the territory of present Khiva people have been living for two millennia. According to legend, the city of Khiva came into being after people discovered Kheivak well in the area of present Ichon-Qala (inner city) fortress. The name of Khiva is believed to be derived from the name of this ancient well. Being strategically located on the Volga branch of the Silk Road, Khiva was one of the three important trading centres of the area. In the 19th century, Khiva was a capital of Khiva Khanate, which hosted the most famous slave market on the Silk Road. At the present Khiva is one of the best preserved ancient cities in the region.
Start exploring UNESCO World Heritage site Ichon-Qala. Entering though the gates of walled Ichon-Qala fortress you will find yourself surrounded by beautiful medieval blue-tiled mosques, minarets and medressas that is like stepping back in time to a scene from the Arabian nights. Wander through maze of twisted alleyways, bargain with locals on the market and view the town from the top of Kuhna-Ark citadel. Our today’s sightseeing tour includes visits to Mohammed Aminkhan Medressa, Kalta Minor minaret, Kuhna-Ark citadel, Juma Mosque, Tosh-Hovli palace, Pahlavon Makhmud Mausoleum (Khiva’s patron saint), Mohammed Rakhimkhon Medressa and minaret of Islom-Hoja
After extensive sightseeing, enjoy a free afternoon roaming around and make your own discoveries in this magic town.


Day 4 - Aroud Khiva

After breakfast, full day excursion to the ancient fortresses in neighbouring Karakalpakstan.
Already 2000 years ago, people who lived in the fertile Amu-Darya delta built many fortresses to defend themselves against the invasions of nomadic tribes, who lived with their herds in the Kyzylkum desert. Most of the fortresses are located at the edge of the Sultan Uiz Dag mountain range. From Khiva you will travel 100km passing the towns of Urgench, Beruni and Boston to reach Toprak-Qal’a. The rectangular fortress dates back to the 2nd and 3rd century AD and was built on a 9m high platform. The city included a temple , a residential area and gardens.
You will pass the nearby Kizil Qal’a, a small but well preserved fortresses that might have been an army base.
Ayaz Qal’a is one of the most spectacular fortresses of the region. It consists of three fortress complexes. The view from Ayaz Qal’a to the Kyzylkum desert, the small lake Ayaz, the Sultan-Uiz range and the oasis is stunning.

Lunch at Ayaz Qal’a yurt camp, famous for its traditional dishes.

On the way back, we will pass the huge city walls of Guldursun Qal’a (12th century) and learn about the fascinating legend of this fortress.


Day 5 - Khiva-Bukhara

Following in the traces of ancient caravans, today we have a long drive to fabulous city of Bukhara (6 hours /480 km) though the Kyzyl-Kum, the largest desert in Central Asia. The Kyzyl-Kum desert is populated by nomadic people and driving through this lifeless desert you will see odd shepherd’s huts and a heard of camels. The road to Bukhara runs alongside the Amu Darya River (Oxus River) which starts far from snow-capped Pamir Mountains. We will try to break up this long journey as much as possible with stops along the way. Arrive in Bukhara and enjoy free afternoon wandering through busy trading domes full of embroideries, handicrafts, jewelleries and various spices. You may also have a tea relaxing on the tapchans (tea beds) under centuries old mulberry trees in the local chaikhana at the delightful Lyabi-Hauz pool.

Day 6 - Bukhara

With more than one hundred unique monuments, Bukhara is regarded as ‘Bastion of Islam’ and the holiest city in Central Asia. We spread our sightseeing program in Bukhara over two days as the city and the surrounding area offer a lot to see. On the first day, we enjoy full day sightseeing tour in the city and on the second day, a half-day sightseeing around the city and free afternoon for own exploration.

Start your tour by visiting Laybi Hauz, 9th century mosque Maghoki-Attar, and Nadir Divanbegi Medressa. Passing medieval trading domes visit Abdul Aziz Khan and Ulugbek Medressas, continue to Kalon Ensemble consisting of Kalon Minaret and Kalon Mosque. 47 meters tall Kalon minaret was built by Bukhara’s ruler Arslan Khan in 1127. The minaret is also called “Tower of Death”, because from the top of it prisoners were once flung to their death on market-days. Opposite the Kalon Mosque, there is 16th century Mir-i-Arab Medressa, which is still in operation.
Proceed further west from Kalon Ensemble and visit royal Ark fortress dating back to 5th century AD; this fortress was ancient centre of Bukhara and the scene of many gruesome events. Inside the Ark, view Juma Mosque, Reception & Coronation Court, Zindon (‘Bug Pit’ prison) and emir’s official place of worship-Bolo-Hauz Mosque. Leave Ark fortress and continue through Registan Square towards Samani Park to visit 10th century Ismail Samani and Chashma Ayub mausoleums.
This evening is free to explore nightlife in Bukhara.


Day 7 - Bukhara

Start second day of your tour with the visit to Sitorai Mohi Hosa – the summer palace of the last emir. Emir Alim Khan involved both Russian and local masters to build this summer residence so you will see the unique combination of Russian and local design. The halls of the palace opulently decorated with paintings and carpets.

Leave Sitorai Mohi Hosa and continue to the village of Kasri Orifon. Stop en route at Chor-Bakr necropolis. Arrive in Qasri Orifon village and visit Bakhautdin Naqshband complex. Bakhautdin Naqshband (1318–89) is the founder of one of the most influential Sufi orders in Central Asia. The complex containing couple of mosques, minaret and the mausoleum of Bakhautdin Naqshband is among the countries famous places of pilgrimage.
Return to Bukhara. Today’s afternoon has been left completely free for you to spend more time exploring the city at your leisure. There is plenty of time to explore the artisan shops and wander the narrow twisting streets and alleyways. There is also an option to take in a local puppet show held in an old caravanserai or indulge in a medieval Hammam (steam bath).


Day 8 - Samarkand - Bukhara

This mooning we leave Bukhara and drive to ancient city of Samarkand. One of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, Samarkand is truly a jewel of the ancient and modern Silk Road. From its foundation in 5th century BC, Samarkand was the centre of artisans and traders playing an important role on the trade crossroads between China, Persia and India. The city was taken by Alexander the Great (in 329 BC) and ruined by Genghis Khan before it started to blossom as the capital of Amir Timur’s (Tamerlane) empire in 14th century.

In the afternoon, we start our sightseeing tour from Registan Ensemble containing Ulugbek, Sher Dor ,Tilla-Kari Medressas and the Registan Square. Being among the world’s oldest surviving medressas, these three edifices were medieval academies from where regions renowned scientists graduated. Wander through blue tiled and majolica decorated madrassas of mighty Registan, probably Central Asia’s most captivating monument. Leave the Registan to pay a visit to Gur Amir Mausoleum, originally built by Timur for his grandson and later became the resting place for himself, his sons and grandsons. Besides Timur and his sons, the place is final resting place for Timur’s teachers as well.
The evening is free for you to roam around and explore the nightlife of this majestic city, you may also sample a traditional meal in the local chaikhana.


Day 9 - Samarkand

Today we continue our city tour in legendary Samarkand visiting Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Siob Bazaar, Sha-i-Zinda necropolis, Afrosiab Museum and Ulugbek’s Observatory.

Start the sightseeing from Bibi-Khanym Mosque. The legend says that it was Bibi-Kahanym, Timur’s beloved wife who ordered to build this grand mosque with its huge cupola to surprise Timur, who was at that time away in war fields. The mosques was biggest in the empire and originally aimed to accommodate over 10 000 people but as result of earthquakes it partly collapsed and later was reconstructed. Bibi-Kahanym mosque overlooks the busy Siob Bazaar, where you can test your bargaining skills with the friendly local merchants and sample some fresh produce on offer. The place is also great for taking the photos of the many bustling stalls and meeting hospitable local people.

On the opposite site of Siyob Bazar you will see Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, row of beautiful mausoleums lavishly decorated with blue tiles and majolica, The area is also known as ‘Town of the Dead’. The most important site in Sah-i-Zinda is the shrine of Qusam ibn-Abbas, the cousin of Prophet Mohammed who was first to preach Islam in this area. Leave Shah-i-Zinda and continue to Ulugbek’s observatory with en route stop in Afrosiab Museum. Timur’s grandson Ulugbek was more famous as astronomer than as a ruler. This great medieval astronomer built an extraordinary observatory that enabled him to calculate the length of a year to within 1 minute of what we now know it to be. Complete the city tour with the visit to Ulugbek’s observatory.
There will be still time in the afternoon to enjoy just a little more time in Samarkand. You may visit souvenir and handicraft stalls located in Registan or walk on your own to enjoy your last day in the city.


Day 10 - Samarkand-Tashkent

Your Uzbekistan trip is almost over, after breakfast, we leave Samarkand and our five hours drive takes us to Tashkent. Enjoy free afternoon in Tashkent.

Day 11 - Tashkent

After breakfast, transfer to Tashkent International Airport.


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