Shopping for Souvenirs on the Silk Road

Shopping for Souvenirs on the Silk Road

Tour Manager Michel Behar has traveled the world for MIR since 1998, and especially loves Central Asia.

Here are my insider tips and shopping recommendations for some of the best shopping anywhere while traveling through some of MIR’s favorite destinations along the Silk Road:

 

UZBEKISTAN

Handcrafted dolls in Bukhara, Uzbekistan<br>Photo credit: Michel Behar

Handcrafted dolls in Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Photo credit: Michel Behar

BukharaBukhara is an energetic urban dynamo studded with galleries, craft centers, and the best places for Central Asian shopping – including Uzbek, Turkmen, and Kyrgyz souvenirs. It’s often a favorite stop on a Central Asia tour itinerary, so if you see something you like in Bukhara, buy it!

  • Buy: Silver jewelry, headbands, rings, necklaces, and more. Many are embedded with semi-precious stones.
Bukharan Jewelry, Uzbekistan<br>Photo credit: Michel Behar

Bukharan Jewelry, Uzbekistan
Photo credit: Michel Behar

  • Buy Woven ikat fabrics, brightly colored clothing like the locals wear, flowers, and household items. Dresses made of traditional Uzbek fabrics are also popular including Bukharan silk/velvet, silk/cotton, and silk/satin combinations.
<i>Ikat</i> fabrics, Uzbekistan<br>Photo credit: Michel Behar

Ikat fabrics, Uzbekistan
Photo credit: Michel Behar

  • Buy: Tubeteika caps with square peaks that can be folded, the patterns varying region to region.
<i>Tubeteika</i> caps, Uzbekistan<br>Photo credit: Michel Behar

Tubeteika caps, Uzbekistan
Photo credit: Michel Behar

  • Buy: Antique and new suzanis, which are embroidered hangings and wall covers. Some patterns and motifs are thousands of years old, from moon and stars to coffeepots and roosters.
<i>Suzanis</i>, Uzbekistan<br>Photo credit: Michel Behar

Suzanis, Uzbekistan
Photo credit: Michel Behar

  • Buy: Illustrated manuscripts called “miniatures”, lacquer boxes, gourds.
Painted lacquer boxes, UzbekistanPhoto credit: Michel Behar

Painted lacquer boxes, Uzbekistan
Photo credit: Michel Behar

  • Buy: Pichok, knives with slightly curved handles made of bone with blades forged and then hammered with Bukharan skylines, birds, or stars.
  • Buy: Karakol, newborn or fetal wool from the Karakol lamb, used in scarves, vests, coats and hats.
  • Buy: Last but not least: spices! Cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, saffron, and cloves are favorites.

 

Fergana Valley
  • Buy: Ceramics and silk scarves.
Uzbek Silk Scarves, Uzbekistan<br>Photo credit: Michel Behar

Uzbek Silk Scarves, Uzbekistan
Photo credit: Michel Behar

Samarkand
  • Buy: High-quality musical instruments and CDs at Babur’s Workshop. Babur is a craftsman and well-known musician who plays 15 instruments, give or take a few.
Musical Instruments at Babur's Workshop, Samarkand<br>Photo credit: Michel Behar

Musical Instruments at Babur’s Workshop, Samarkand
Photo credit: Michel Behar

  • Buy: Hand-crocheted camel and angora wool shawls in the markets; white, gray, pink, and orchid are favorite colors.
  • Buy:  Naturally-dyed rugs at the rug factory in Samarkand.

 

Khiva
  • Buy: Ceramics, puppets, rugs, miniatures, and especially woodcarvings. A very popular souvenir is a Koran holder with up to six positions, made from a single block of wood like elmwood, apricot, and walnut.
Hand-stitched pillow covers, Uzbekistan<br>Photo credit: Michel Behar

Hand-stitched pillow covers, Uzbekistan
Photo credit: Michel Behar

KYRGYZSTAN

Bishkek
  • Buy: Shyrdak felt pillow covers and Kyrgyz talpak (pointed white hats).
Talpak, KyrgyzstanPhoto credit: Michel Behar

Talpak, Kyrgyzstan
Photo credit: Michel Behar

Felt houses, KyrgyzstanPhoto credit: Michel Behar

Felt houses, Kyrgyzstan
Photo credit: Michel Behar

Felt shoes, KyrgyzstanPhoto credit: Michel Behar

Felt shoes, Kyrgyzstan
Photo credit: Michel Behar

Insider Tip: Almost anything from Turkmenistan is for sale in Bukhara since it’s so close to the Turkmen border and has always been a major Silk Road trade center. Save your receipt!! If you buy Turkmen goods in Uzbekistan, you can bring them into Turkmenistan as long as you have your Uzbek receipt.

 

Hand-stitched goods in Shahrisabz, Uzbekistan<br>Photo credit: Michel Behar

Hand-stitched goods in Shahrisabz, Uzbekistan
Photo credit: Michel Behar

Travel the Silk Road with MIR

MIR has more than 30 years of travel experience in Central Asiawith an affiliate office in Uzbekistan and a roster of contacts that can take you to places that you’ve only dreamed about, or never even imagined. Our full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”

Travel to Central Asia, where you can buy top quality handmade goods at flourishing bazaars on these MIR small group tours:

Or, you can create your own Silk Road journey through Central Asia with the help of MIR’s custom and private journey specialists. We specialize in personalized, handcrafted itineraries, taking  your ideas and desires and and weaving them into a trip tailored especially for you. Travel wherever, however, and with whomever you like, relying on our expert assistance. Contact us to find out more about our custom and private travel expertisewith each journey unique to your interests, dates and pace.

Chat with a MIR destination specialist about travel to Central Asia by phone (1-800-424-7289) or email today. We would love to help you plan your 2018 travels now.

 

(Top photo credit: Michel Behar)

PUBLISHED: November 20, 2014

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