The Ultimate Silk Road Experience

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is the heart and soul of the Silk Road. The Old Towns of its four UNESCO-listed oasis cities – Khiva, Bukhara, Samarkand and Shakhrisabze – are incredible mazes of exotic architecture and gorgeous decorative art. Beyond these lie the rural Fergana Valley and the remote towns of Karakalpakstan. We would love to show you around this timeless, welcoming wellspring of Silk Road culture.

Why Travel with MIR to Uzbekistan
  • 30 years of Central Asia travel experience
  • Travel programs such as Vassar, Dartmouth, Yale Alumni Association and the Harvard Museum of Natural History have chosen MIR to guide them to Central Asia
  • Twice named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”
  • MIR affiliate office in Uzbekistan
  • On-the-ground support and quality you can trust
  • Personalized travel planning from start to finish
  • Guides and tour managers that clients rave about
Signature Experiences

We regularly garner raves from our travelers for the inspired opportunities we provide to help them get to know the local people, distinctive art, architecture and accomplishments of Uzbekistan. Below is just a sampling of the Uzbekistan experiences MIR has designed to take our clients far from the familiar.

Ways to Travel to Uzbekistan with MIR

Uzbekistan is one of our favorite places on earth. We’ve been leading tours in Uzbekistan for over 25 years, and are in close communication with our MIR office in Tashkent, the capital. No other American travel company has this level of expertise.

Take a look at your options, from small group escorted tours to independent trips, from luxury rail journeys to custom and private travel:

Small Group Tours
Central Asian Epic Overland Adventure

Central Asian Epic Overland Adventure

An Expedition from Bishkek to Bukhara

Travels to: Central Asia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan

18 Days / Departures in August 2017

Small Group land tour from $6,095, plus $100 internal air

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Chinese Turkestan & Central Asia

Chinese Turkestan & Central Asia

The Silk Road Through Western China and the Five ‘Stans

Travels to: Central Asia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

24 Days / Departures in August 2017

Small Group land tour from $7,995, plus $800 internal air

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Chinese Turkestan & Central Asia

Chinese Turkestan & Central Asia

The Silk Road Through Western China and the Five ‘Stans

Travels to: Central Asia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

24 Days / Departures in May, August 2018

Small Group land tour - call for pricing

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Journey Through Central Asia: The Five ‘Stans

Journey Through Central Asia: The Five ‘Stans

A Classic Silk Road Survey

Travels to: Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

21 Days / Departures in August, September, October 2017

Small Group land tour from $7,895, plus $330 internal air

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Journey Through Central Asia: The Five ‘Stans

Journey Through Central Asia: The Five ‘Stans

A Classic Silk Road Survey

Travels to: Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

21 Days / Departures in April, May, August, September, October 2018

Small Group land tour - call for pricing

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Silk Route Odyssey: Caravan Across Uzbekistan

Silk Route Odyssey: Caravan Across Uzbekistan

Valleys, Deserts, Bazaars, and Oases

Travels to: Central Asia, Uzbekistan

15 Days / Departures in September 2017

Small Group land tour from $4,495, plus $150 internal air

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Silk Route Odyssey: Caravan Across Uzbekistan

Silk Route Odyssey: Caravan Across Uzbekistan

Valleys, Deserts, Bazaars, and Oases

Travels to: Central Asia, Uzbekistan

15 Days / Departures in May, September 2018

Small Group land tour - call for pricing

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Once Forbidden Lands of Central Asia & Iran

Once Forbidden Lands of Central Asia & Iran

From Tashkent To Tehran via Turkmenistan

Travels to: Central Asia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

20 Days / Departures in October 2017

Small Group land tour from $7,895, plus $300 internal air

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Once Forbidden Lands of Central Asia & Iran

Once Forbidden Lands of Central Asia & Iran

From Tashkent To Tehran via Turkmenistan

Travels to: Central Asia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

20 Days / Departures in April, October 2018

Small Group land tour - call for pricing

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Backstreets & Bazaars of Uzbekistan

Backstreets & Bazaars of Uzbekistan

A Cultural & Culinary Navruz Adventure

Travels to: Central Asia, Uzbekistan

10 Days / Departures in March 2018

Small Group land tour - call for pricing

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Rail Journeys by Private Train
The Silk Route by Private Train: Eastbound

The Silk Route by Private Train: Eastbound

Moscow to Beijing via Central Asia Aboard the Golden Eagle

Travels to: Central Asia, China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Western Russia

21 Days / Departures in September 2017

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $24,595

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The Silk Route ‘Stans by Private Train: Eastbound

The Silk Route ‘Stans by Private Train: Eastbound

Moscow to Almaty Across Central Asia Aboard the Golden Eagle

Travels to: Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Western Russia

13 Days / Departures in September 2017

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $16,995

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The Silk Route by Private Train: Westbound

The Silk Route by Private Train: Westbound

Beijing to Moscow via Central Asia Aboard the Golden Eagle

Travels to: Central Asia, China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Western Russia

21 Days / Departures in September 2017

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $24,595

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The Silk Route ‘Stans by Private Train: Westbound

The Silk Route ‘Stans by Private Train: Westbound

Almaty to Moscow Across Central Asia Aboard the Golden Eagle

Travels to: Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Western Russia

13 Days / Departures in October 2017

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $16,995

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Essence of the Silk Road by Private Train: Eastbound

Essence of the Silk Road by Private Train: Eastbound

From Ashgabat to Almaty Aboard the Orient Silk Road Express

Travels to: Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

14 Days / Departures in October 2018

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $5,895

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Essence of the Silk Road by Private Train: Eastbound

Essence of the Silk Road by Private Train: Eastbound

From Ashgabat to Almaty Aboard the Orient Silk Road Express

Travels to: Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

14 Days / Departures in April 2018

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $5,645

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Caspian Odyssey by Private Train: Eastbound

Caspian Odyssey by Private Train: Eastbound

South Caucasus to Central Asia Aboard the Golden Eagle

Travels to: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Central Asia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, South Caucasus, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

16 Days / Departures in October, September 2017

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $21,495

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Jewels of Persia & The Silk Route by Private Train: Westbound

Jewels of Persia & The Silk Route by Private Train: Westbound

From Tehran to Moscow via Central Asia Aboard the Golden Eagle

Travels to: Central Asia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Western Russia

18 Days / Departures in November, October 2017

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $20,995

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Iran & The ‘Stans by Private Train: Eastbound

Iran & The ‘Stans by Private Train: Eastbound

From Tehran to Tashkent Aboard the Golden Eagle

Travels to: Central Asia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

15 Days / Departures in November, October 2017

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $17,495

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Jewels of Persia & The Silk Route by Private Train: Eastbound

Jewels of Persia & The Silk Route by Private Train: Eastbound

From Moscow to Tehran via Central Asia Aboard the Golden Eagle

Travels to: Central Asia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Western Russia

18 Days / Departures in March 2018

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $20,995

See Trip

Iran & The ‘Stans by Private Train: Westbound

Iran & The ‘Stans by Private Train: Westbound

From Tashkent to Tehran Aboard the Golden Eagle

Travels to: Central Asia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

15 Days / Departures in March 2018

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $17,495

See Trip

Essence of the Silk Road by Private Train: Westbound

Essence of the Silk Road by Private Train: Westbound

From Almaty to Ashgabat Aboard the Orient Silk Road Express

Travels to: Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

14 Days / Departures in March 2018

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $5,645

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Custom and private travel is our specialty. We’ve been designing unforgettable custom itineraries through the fabled Silk Road oases of Uzbekistan for 30 years; a majority of our guests travel on custom itineraries.

For ideas, peruse one of our Regional Travel Planners, a roundup of the must-sees from our savvy staff.

Take a look at our suggested Private Journeys, Essential Uzbekistan and Essential Central Asia, or read more about how to design your own trip.  Also, consider this: You can customize our Silk Route Odyssey: Caravan Across Uzbekistan small group tour or other MIR small group Central Asia tour to match your preferred dates of travel.

Design Your Own Custom Trip

Traveling privately on a custom program means flexibility:

  • You set the dates, the focus and the level of accommodations.
  • You are met on arrival and seen off at the end of your trip.
  • Your in-country transportation is pre-arranged hassle-free.
  • Your own expert local guides ensure that you get the most out of your visit.
  • And the best part? You travel at your own pace on an itinerary exclusive to you.

Check out just a handful of our Uzbekistan signature experiences below and then get in touch with a MIR Private Journey Specialist to craft an itinerary that suits your travel goals, budget and style.  Or get started planning now.

Suggested Itineraries for Private Travel

Whether you’re looking for a compact trip with all the highlights or something a little roomier with some of the extras, MIR offers itineraries that are available on a private departure basis with your choice of dates. They can also serve as inspiration for your own custom itinerary.

Our itinerary, your dates – great for solo travelers, couples or small groups.

Essential Central Asia

Essential Central Asia

Markets and Minarets of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan

Travels to: Central Asia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

Departures in July, August, September, October, November 2017

This itinerary available as a private journey

See Trip
Essential Uzbekistan

Essential Uzbekistan

Uzbek Oases of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva

Travels to: Central Asia, Uzbekistan

Departures in July, August, September, October, November 2017

This itinerary available as a private journey

See Trip

Weather
Our Favorite Places in Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan

Bukhara

An oasis in the desert, the UNESCO-listed Old Town in Bukhara has a unified feel, drawn together by a central reflecting pool and plaza, by commonality in the structure of the domed bazaars and by its major monuments: the Kalon Assembly, the Zindan Prison, and the Ark Citadel. Visit Lyab-i-Hauz Plaza, the heart of the Old Town, surrounded by centuries-old madrassahs (Islamic religious schools) and the wonderful bazaar under the ancient city walls. Pay your respects at the infamous “Bug Pit” by the Zindan Prison, where two of Britain’s “Great Game” players were held captive by the Emir of Bukhara before their execution in 1842.

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Uzbekistan

Fergana Valley

The lush Fergana Valley, where Central Asia’s silk production began with two cocoons hidden in the headdress of a royal Chinese bride, is divided among three of the five ‘Stans. In the Uzbek portion of the valley, visit Rishtan and Margilan. The village of Rishtan is famous for its ceramics. Pottery became prominent in this region due to the unusual amount and excellent quality of locally accessible raw materials – red clay and pigments made of minerals and mountain grasses. Modern Rishtan ceramics are characterized by elaborate floral and geometric designs in bright blue and green hues painted on a creamy white back­ground. The skills used to produce Uzbek ceramics have been passed down father-to-son for countless generations. In Margilan, shop at the colorful local bazaar and tour the workshop of a silk master, where silk is prepared from silkworm cocoons in the ancient way, and woven in the tradi­tional patterns of the Fergana Valley.

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Uzbekistan

Khiva

Legend says that the ancient Silk Road oasis of Khiva was founded at the place where Shem, son of Noah, discovered water in the desert, and that the city got its name from Shem’s joyful shout, “Hey va!” at the discovery. Today the living city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, part museum town, part re-creation of life hundreds of years ago. Wander its Old Town, admiring the Tash-Hauli Palace, built in the 19th century for the reigning khan and his four wives; the Dzhuma Mosque with its interior forest of carved wooden pil­lars; and the Kunya Ark, the original residence of the khans, partially destroyed in the Persian invasion of the 18th century.

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Uzbekistan

Kokand

Kokand was first mentioned by Arab travelers in the 10th century as an oasis town on the trade route between India and China. Kokand was known throughout history as a prosperous trading and religious center and during the 19th century, it was the centerpiece of a powerful khanate stretching from the Fergana Valley to the southern Kazakh steppes. Tour the ruins of the Khudayar Khan’s Palace, built in 1873. Restoration efforts continue today as Muslim artisans work to return the 113-room palace to its former beauty. Visit the imposing Jummi Mosque, a remnant from the time when Kokand was filled with 600 mosques and 15 madrassahs. Then explore the Amin Beg Madrassah and Dakhma-i-Shohon tombs, or Grave of Kings, where the khan and his family are buried.

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Uzbekistan

Kyzyl Kum Desert

The Kyzyl Kum, or Red Sand, Desert covers about 115,000 square miles between Central Asia’s Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers. Much of Uzbekistan and parts of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are carpeted by the dunes and sparse shrubbery of this desert. Both the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya flowed into the Aral Sea, and their diversion for cotton irrigation contributed to the sea’s disappearance.

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Uzbekistan

Nukus

Out in the desert in the vicinity of Uzbekistan’s shrinking Aral Sea, is the incredible Savitsky Art Museum, whose founder was able to amass a wonderful collection of thousands of banned avant-garde Russian art pieces; the second-largest gathering of Russian avant-garde art after the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.

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Uzbekistan

Samarkand

Perhaps the most well known of Silk Road towns, Samarkand, fabled oasis on the fringes of the Kyzyl Kum Desert, has been settled since the 6th century BC. It has been visited through time by many of the world’s conquerors – Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, who made it his capital city and gathered the finest architects, builders and artisans of the time to enhance its beauty. Visit majestic Registan Square, the centerpiece of Samarkand and the most recognizable landmark for visitors. Survey the Bibi-Khanum Mosque, named after Tamerlane’s legendary wife; visit the Chorsu Bazaar nearby; and admire the avenue of 15th century mausoleums called Shah-i-Zinde. A World Heritage Site, Samarkand is called "Crossroads of Cultures" by UNESCO.

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Uzbekistan

Tashkent

Uzbekistan’s capital, Tashkent, lost much of its architectural history in a huge earthquake in 1966, and although it is an old city, most of it has been built since then. Today, the city is a jumble of tree-lined boulevards, oversized 20th century Soviet buildings and reconstructed traces of the old city with mud-walled houses, winding lanes and mosques. Of note are the Shahid Memorial Complex, dedicated to those killed during Stalin’s purges; the Courage Monument, honoring the Soviet people who helped rebuild the city after the 1966 quake; and Independence Square. A fascinating side-trip is a stop to admire the oldest Koran in the world, written on deerskin 19 years after the death of Mohammed.

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Uzbekistan

Shakhrisabze

UNESCO-listed Shakhrisabze, the birthplace of Tamerlane, was originally founded under the name of Kesh, and was renamed Shakhrisabze (Green City) by Tamerlane himself. Here one can see the ruins of Ak Saray (White Palace), built in the 14th century and one of Tamerlane’s most ambitious projects. The palace complex included a massive portal covered with incredible blue, white and gold ceramic tile mosaics and standing over 131 feet high. A large statue of Tamerlane (or Amir Timur, as he is known here) greets visitors to the palace. While much of the city is in ruins (with restoration work in progress), you can get a taste of the local flavor of this village by visiting its traditional bazaar and taking in the swirls of color made by women in traditional Uzbek clothing.

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Uzbekistan

Termez

The city of Termez, near the Uzbek-Afghan border, celebrated its 2,500th anniversary in 2001. Founded on a hill over the Amu Darya River, then known as the Oxus, the city’s name means “hot place” in Greek. From the 1st to the 7th century AD, Termez was a stronghold of Buddhism, with many temples and stupas to accommodate practitioners. During the 8th century, the new faith of Islam came to the area, and the Buddhist sites were gradually abandoned or used for other purposes. Genghis Khan razed the old city in 1220 when it refused to yield to his armies, and a new city was established to the northeast. This location flourished until the early 19th century, when the Russian Empire fortified a new site along the river, making it the official border. It is this city which survives today as a strategic outpost on the Afghan frontier.

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Journeys that travel to Termez

Contact a MIR Private Journeys Specialist at privatejourneys@mircorp.com or 800-424-7289 to plan a custom & private trip to Termez.

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When to Travel to Uzbekistan

Local Festivals

Uzbekistan Photo credit: Michel BeharFestivals are held throughout Uzbekistan to celebrate both ancient customs and contemporary culture. These celebrations are often planned at the last minute, so encountering a festival while on tour can come as a wonderful surprise. Popular fairs include the Boysun Bahori Folk Festival, which offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of Uzbekistan’s pre-Muslim past, and the Sharq Taronalari music fair, which draws the world’s best musicians. Festivals are often accompanied by exhibitions of traditional costume, instruments, handicrafts, and cuisine. As the festival calendar is unpredictable, it is not possible to plan tours around attending a specific event. It follows that the chance discovery of such an event is that much sweeter.

Navruz (dates vary by year)

The tradition of Navruz started as a Zoroastrian festival to celebrate the spring equinox. The ancient people closely followed the celestial cycle and noticed that when the hours of daylight started to equal the hours of darkness, the seasons changed and new life was born.

The Persians celebrated the start of the new year at this time, and spent the thirteen days following Navruz settling debts and mending relationships in order to set a positive tone for the upcoming year. In Uzbekistan, the observance starts a few days early, with a khashar or community service project. People come together to clean and decorate their towns in preparation for the holiday. The day of Navruz, Uzbeks eat sumalyak, a dish made of wheat grain sprouts, which symbolizes eternal life, and wheat grain. Traditionally, sumalyak is prepared only once a year and by women. As the dish cooks, women stay up late in the night, stirring the pot of grains, while talking, singing and dancing.

Ramadan (dates vary by year)

The Islamic holiday, Ramadan, is a time when Muslims focus on self-reformation, spiritual cleansing and strengthening their relationship to God. The holiday lasts a month, and during this period, Muslims fast during daylight hours, eating only before sunrise and after sunset. Islamic teachings explain that without the distraction of attending to physical needs and worldly distractions, one is better able to focus on reforming one’s spiritual self. The religious pray more often than the rest of the year, and dedicate themselves to acts of charity. Some scholars believe the name is derived from the Arabic word for “scorching,” referring to the holiday’s power to “scorch” away past sins.