UZBEKISTAN TRAVEL TIPS & USEFUL INFO

Female traveller in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

If you’re planning to explore Tashkent and Uzbekistan’s Silk Road cities, there’s a few things you’ll need to know before you go. Here you’ll find the answers to all your travel questions on currency, cuisine and much more, to help you feel prepared for your trip.

What vaccinations do I need for Uzbekistan?

It’s best to seek medical advice about six to eight weeks before travelling to Uzbekistan from your local health practitioner. Ensure you’re up to date with routine vaccinations such as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), Diphtheria, Polio and Tetanus. Other recommended vaccines include Hepatitis A and Typhoid, while some travellers also choose to be vaccinated against Hepatitis B and Rabies. Visit the NHS Fit for Travel page or the CDC Traveler’s Health page for more information.

Can I take medication into Uzbekistan?

As of 2014, all medications containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine, opiates or any containing similar constituent components are illegal in Uzbekistan. This includes many over-the-counter medications such as Nurofen that are commonly available elsewhere.

Do not bring any medications containing these components into Uzbekistan, even if you are just in transit. Customs agents will treat this as though you are bringing illegal narcotics into the country and it makes no difference if you have a prescription or doctors note. Do not bring these medications into Uzbekistan under any circumstance. It can have huge consequences not only for yourself but, if travelling on an Overland Adventure, for your tour leaders and local guides as well.

If you have any prescription medications that don’t come under the list above, bring the prescription along and declare these on any customs declaration forms.

Is it safe to drink tap water in Uzbekistan?

It’s not recommended to drink the tap water in Uzbekistan and you’ll be able to buy bottled water throughout the country. However, we’d recommend taking a reusable bottle with a built-in filter to reduce your use of single-use plastics and save yourself money too.

Uzbek dumplings known as Manti on a colourful plate

What's the food like in Uzbekistan?

Although Uzbek cuisine varies from region to region, it shares similarities with much of the rest of Central Asia. There's a wide use of meats such as mutton and beef, with a variety of fruit available in summer and autumn. Expect to see grapes, pomegranates and apricots, as well as mountains of honeydew and watermelons sold at markets and by the roadside.

Uzbeks tend to sit at the floor or at a low table known as a dastarkhan and eat by hand. At the start of the meal the table is served with sweets and fruits, which are followed by salads and vegetables. Next is the soup course, where you might enjoy bowls of a noodle soup known as lagman or a soup called shurpa, which consists of large chunks of lamb or beef with vegetables.

This is finally followed by main dishes such as plov - a mixture of rice, meat, grated carrot, onions and raisins. Other typical examples include meat-stuffed dumplings known as manti and shashlik, the Uzbek version of the kebab. With such a heavy focus on meat in traditional Uzbek cuisine, vegetarians and vegans will struggle to find suitable dishes. It’s best to order specially prepared food if you have any dietary requirements and bring additional snacks from your home country.

Green tea is the staple drink in Uzbekistan, with tea houses known as chai-khanas found across the country. Coffee isn't popular and can be difficult to find in some areas.

Safe eating while travelling in Uzbekistan

As Uzbek cuisine features plenty of meat, it’s important to ensure that food is cooked thoroughly and served hot. Avoid anything that looks unclean or under cooked and ensure fruit and vegetables are washed with treated water.

Is it standard to tip in Uzbekistan?

Tipping is generally not expected in Uzbekistan, although it is appreciated by guides or drivers as a way of showing appreciation for their services. In larger hotels in cities such as Samarkand and Tashkent, western-style tipping is expected. Most restaurants and cafes will also automatically add a 10-15% service charge to your bill.

Rows of ceramics for sale in Bukhara, Uzbekistan

What souvenirs are good to shop for in Uzbekistan?

You’ll find a variety of souvenirs for sale in Uzbekistan’s shops and bazaars. Ceramics are particularly popular, with each region offering its own colours, shapes and designs. Artisans in Rishton, in the Fergana Valley, are famed for using a blue glaze called ishkor. Made from plants and natural minerals, ishkor gives ceramics a special blue tint that’s not found anywhere else in Uzbekistan.

Carpets are another great souvenir and these also vary by region. Carpets in Bukhara, Khiva, Samarkand and Kokand differ in terms of colour, pattern and technique. Although silk carpets from Samarkand are particularly famous for their lavish colours and naturally soft pile.

Uzbek embroidery is also noted for its uniqueness and the city of Bukhara is famous for its gold embroidery. Perhaps browse for traditional clothing, handbags or other decorative fabrics embroidered with this fine gold thread.

What is the duty free allowance for Uzbekistan?

The following goods may be imported into Uzbekistan by visitors over 16 years without incurring customs duty:

  • 200 cigarettes
  • 2L of beer or other alcoholic drinks
  • 2 bottles of perfume or eau de toilette
  • Other goods up to the value of US$1,000 (reduced to US$10 if arriving from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan or Turkmenistan)

What is the currency in Uzbekistan?

The currency of Uzbekistan is the Som. The best way to change your money it to take cash US dollars to be exchanged. You’ll find official exchange booths at airports, hotels and the National Bank of Uzbekistan, as well as some private banks. Thanks to the 2017 currency reforms in Uzbekistan, the government exchange rate now reflects the market rate.

What do things cost in Uzbekistan?

If you’re travelling Uzbekistan on a budget, you can expect to spend less than $40 per day. A double room in a basic hotel costs between $20-$30, with a good restaurant meal costing just $4. Transport is also very reasonable, with the fast train between Tashkent and Samarkand priced at $8 for economy class. Those looking to travel in a little more luxury can look at spending between $140-$200 for an international hotel in Tashkent.

What sort of plugs do I need for Uzbekistan and what is the voltage?

The voltage in Uzbekistan is 220 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. The country uses European-style two pin plugs and sockets are type C and type F.

Is WiFi widely available in Uzbekistan?

WiFi is available in many tourist hotels, cafes and restaurants, although the speed may vary considerably. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are fine to use, however you may find that apps such as WhatsApp and Skype often don’t work properly.

What time zone is Uzbekistan on?

Uzbekistan is 5 hours ahead of Greenwich Meantime (GMT) and does not observe Daylight Savings changes.

See Also

Check out these travel guide resources for more information about visiting Uzbekistan.

Best Places to Visit – our pick of Uzbekistan’s top destinations
Best Time to Visit – climate and festivals in Uzbekistan
Tourist visas - what you need to know to enter Uzbekistan