We got lost and ended up in slow moving traffic by the Pearl roundabout. Lots of people, tents and parked cars everywhere but was very subdued. Best to avoid area though cos it can be frustrating trying to negotiate the car round there. The rest of Bahrain was fine. Yes the Pearl Round about is quite jammed. Try to avoid the round about, unless you go there you wont have a clue of the protest. Nobody seriously cares about it anymore, we have gone back to our daily life, so dont worry, feel safe to come down. I have a hotel pickup at AM and a return at PM, 2nd week of April, especially worrying whether a curfew if still there would block my return to airport and make me miss the Gulf Air flight I have also planned going there.
Which was confirmed by my agent.
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Even with the old curfew, and the now relaxed version starts at 8 PM instead of 4 PM , he sees no problem doing airport-hotel transfers at any time. According to him the city is also back to normal during the day, so maybe good enough for other visits too? Will pass by the airport in transit this Wednesday. And will have an hour transit, with hotel in town, 3 weeks later due to Gulf Air cancelling a flight, but also my own interest - Arabia generally IS beautiful. So maybe not the most useful source of info for you though the in-town agent promised me to e-mail if things would detoriate Tip: All of your saved places can be found here in My Trips.
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Log in Join. Bahrain: current situation. Watch this Topic. Browse forums All Browse by destination. Bahrain forums. All forums. Roberto F. Level Contributor. Report inappropriate content. Related: What are the most popular tours in Bahrain? See all. Half-Day Desert Tour incl. The most well-connected International flights operate in and out of the capital city of Tashkent and Samarkand and Urgench. Start either in Tashkent or Urgench as either of these cities are the easiest to start or finish your trip in.
These domestic flights can be easily booked directly on the Uzbekistan Airways website , but only with a Visa card. They charge a hefty commission fee and mislead you into thinking direct flight bookings are difficult. Ah, how I love Overland road trips! This is how I both entered from Kazakhstan and exited to Kyrgyzstan the country.
But owing to conflicts and natural disasters, some border crossings can be closed off suddenly. Do check online and on Facebook groups before you plan your trip. The easiest border crossing and the rail link between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is the one between Shymkent in south KZ and Tashkent, the capital city to the North of UZ.
At the border, exchange all your leftover Kazakh currency for Uzbek Som at any of the small stalls before you enter the immigration office. Another border with public transport connectivity is the Tejen border on the Beyneu — Kungrad road. Updates on this here. This is the main border crossing between both countries.
Money can be exchanged in the Kyrgyz side at an exchange shop clearly visible as soon as you exit. A note about all border crossings in general: Check Caravanistan forums for updates on the status of the border as some are shut down at random for any length of time. Also, it is best to cross these borders between 9 am-1pm or 2 pm — 5 pm. Avoid lunch time and late evening. Timings vary on a whim. The currency in Uzbekistan is the Uzbek Som.
It is weak and is currently at 8, Until earlier this year, cash rules were strictly monitored and immigration officials would check how much cash you had on you when you entered, and not allow you to exit if you had more than you came in with. I faced no such checks on my trip, and more reports from fellow travellers confirm that this has been canned, but you never know which moody official might scan your wallet.
So try and come in with cash in USD before you enter. There are no stand alone ATMs anywhere, even in the capital of Tashkent. Visa machines are more common than MasterCard, although I managed fine with the latter. To avoid all of the above logistics, I reiterate, just carry USD bills to exchange as and when you need local currency.
All hostels I stayed at accepted cash in USD, so that was a relief. Most of the historic parts of the city perished and the revamp was modelled on Soviet architectural styles. Previously captured by both Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan, this erstwhile capital of the Timurid Empire is considered to be the jewel Silk Road city of Uzbekistan. The UNESCO World Heritage site has an impossibly stunning list of well-preserved and restored sites with an abundance of history radiating from every tomb and mausoleum. The resplendent Registan at night, Samarkand, Uzbekistan pardon the shit night photography.
Still mad about this tbh! Bukhara is a poetic and wistful old Silk Road city with all the ancient architecture and vibe contained within a compact walkable area. Multiple unnamed alleyways run around like little veins, with Chai Khanas tea houses and local rooftop restaurants by the dozen. Outside of this section of the Old City though, Bukhara is pretty modern and underwhelming. Spend a couple of days strolling these alleyways, catch local life in action, old men playing a game of Dominoes, musicians walking down producing melodious music, colourful bazaars and minarets towering over it all.
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I had some of my most memorable days in this city, and still feel all gooey when I think of walking down its streets. So forget the name, but go up there for a purple sunset overlooking the Square. All of the above are within walking distance of each other not more than 15 minutes. While Samarkand and Bukhara stole my breath, it is little Khiva that stole my heart.
Strolling around the random labyrinth of mud-walled alleys in Itchan Kala was my favourite past-time and the whole atmosphere resembled a bustling movie set with local music, wedding dances, epic sunsets, colourful shops and spectacular architecture. I spent 3 days in the Fergana Valley before crossing overland into Kyrgyzstan. I made the city of Kokand my base and explored some of the neighbouring cities like Fergana City, Margilan for its amazing silk factories and workshops and Andijan for some insight into the infamous riots between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in Come here without much of an agenda.
Fergana Valley is the most fertile land in the country and hence the most populated. Nevertheless, I was cajoled into accepting multiple free cab rides, chai and food during my time there. One evening, I bought 2 bars of Snickers and the man at the Supermarket refused to accept any money!
Think rusty, morose old ships rotting away on land that once used to be the Aral Sea- now one of the worst man-made natural disasters. I wrote about this briefly earlier in the Guide- It is really a breeze to make your own internal bookings and travel around Uzbekistan by yourself. DO NOT buy the bullshit tour agencies and big Central Asian blogs sell online to pocket a hefty commission by fooling you about the ground reality.
I did all of my internal bookings days in advance at the most, sometimes even on the morning of. This is the most popular choice of transport in Uzbekistan. I was stunned by the fast speed inter-city trains which were ridiculously cheap, timely, impressively well maintained and Air conditioned screw you, Uzbek summer! The fast trains are called Afrosiyobs and connect Tashkent with the major cities of Samarkand and Bukhara.
There is ample, organised luggage space and comfortable chair-car seating way better leg-room than economy class on any aircraft! These run only in the day, starting from early in the morning. For Tashkent-Samarkand and Samarkand-Bukhara, a train is the quickest and cheapest mode of commute.
Make sure you have a Visa card while booking. Any car could be a cab, really. Pay as much as you deem fit and negotiate hard. Important note before I begin listing out great accommodation options for you:. To avoid this, the Government came up with a process wherein every place you stay at hands you a registration slip for every night that you stay with them. If you took an overnight train, then the train ticket would serve as your registration slip for the night.
I looked up Couchsurfing listings and found a sparse few reviews as recent as 2 weeks old. So for all practical purposes, it does seem that you can test the waters and Couchsurf in Uzbekistan after all. Yay to the new Government! I usually read through atleast 3 pages of reviews on booking. They also have private rooms, a kitchen and some epic free breakfast. Other reccos- Komil Boutique Hotel is a popular and super-stylish hotel with traditional art and crafts blended into every room and the courtyard. Just browse through Booking.
An Exhaustive Travel Guide to Uzbekistan, the Pearl of the Ancient Silk Road
I spent one night at Hostel Laliopa which checked all my boxes but was a good 20 minute walk from Itchan Kala bad idea. Not bad at all for that kind of luxury! I had no trouble as a vegetarian in any of the local restaurants although the options were limited and the food was always served with so much love and warmth. My favourites were Lagman a noodle dish , pumpkin manty stuffed dumplings usually with meat and their salads and breads. I could dedicated a whole blog post to the melons there.
Pretty sure no other melons will ever match that standard. The best ones I had were in the Fergana Valley and in Khiva. Pretty much all hostels and guesthouses serve them for breakfast along with watermelons, which were also divine! Bibikhanum Tea House think super-colourful tapestries, bed tables, happy open-air vibes and the best staff! There are plenty of restaurants in Bukhara most with a rooftop section , especially around the Lyab-i-Hauz Square.
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Think cozy courtyards, melodious local music, candlelight and heaps of old world charm. As for Cafes, do not miss the rooftop cafe opposite Kalyan Square for sunset and Silk Road Teahouse for some delicious herb teas. I went to Terrassa Cafe twice, once for sunset from the epic rooftop and once to the inner section in the afternoon for some heady wine over hours of catching up with new friends.
When to visit- Spring or Autumn bring the best weather and will give you long days to explore. Language- Uzbek is the local language and thanks to the Soviet rule, Russian is also spoken all-around. What to wear- Though largely Islamic, Uzbekistan is a secular country where the current gen locals dress freely in skirts and dresses even inside mosques and holy places.
PS: My dress is from Samarkand, check out that epic traditional Uzbek embroidery! I find that my imagination gets to run very wild without people in the frame. I swear I saw caravans tinkling down dusty roads and also heard a merchant or two call out to me on their way to China. You get my drift? In Bukhara, while shopping for souvenirs, a man invited my hostel mates and me to his home for an elaborate 4 course meal.
Not sure if I cried in relief or out of pure amazement at the sincerity and goodness of the staff. In Khiva, I decided against the 20 minute night walk to my hostel from Itchan Kala and hailed a passing car with a man who agreed to drop me. I quoted a price and he nodded. At no cost. The locals of Uzbekistan have unbelievably pure hearts. Yes, there could be exceptions, but the widespread norm is that of sincere, non-schemy, genuine people who will go out of their way to help you.
It stems from curiosity, good-natured spirit, the need to practice English and to simply make sure that anyone who visits their country goes back with good memories. I miss that kind of celebrity-dom. I kid! Hit me up if you have more questions. Love those gorgeous pottery! Some of the photos here are just too stunning!
Such a straight from the heart detailed post! I already feel so connected to you, reading this blog makes me see you as a fearless, happy person who should achieve all that you dream of. Good luck sharanya, hoping to meet you real soon! Thanks for this. I loved every bit of it and I appreciate you taking the time to write this out. Again thank you so much for the write up! I think I have fallen in love with Uzbekistan. Your guide captures it so well and I am entranced.
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I love independent travel and your article has given me the courage to look again at some of the more obscure places to visit. Thank you so much for candour and tips. I knew almost nothing about Uzbekistan until I read your guide. I can see myself planning a trip here sometime in The e-visa info.