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:
- Buy: Silver jewelry, headbands, rings, necklaces, and more. Many are embedded with semi-precious stones.
- 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.
- Buy: Tubeteika caps with square peaks that can be folded, the patterns varying region to region.
- Buy: Antique and new suzanis (Persian for needle), which are embroidered hangings and wall covers. Some patterns and motifs are thousands of years old, from moon and stars to coffeepots and roosters.
- Buy: Illustrated manuscripts called “miniatures”, lacquer boxes, gourds.
- 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.
- Buy: Ceramics and silk scarves.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Buy: Shyrdak felt pillow covers and Kyrgyz talpak (pointed white hats).
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.
Travel the Silk Road with MIR
MIR has more than 30 years of travel experience in Central Asia, with 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:
Backstreets & Bazaars of Uzbekistan
Celebrate Navruz with the locals as they welcome you into their homes, and discover the enduring traditions and abundant hospitality essential to everyday Uzbek culture.
Silk Route Odyssey: Caravan Across Uzbekistan
Journey through the valleys, deserts, bazaars, and oases of Uzbekistan.
New for 2019! Silk Road Backroads & Byways
Dive deep into the distinct deserts & diversions in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan
New for 2019! From the Heavenly Tien Shan to the High Pamirs
Join a fascinating and adventurous journey through two of the most remote and rarely explored countries in Central Asia – Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
The Pamir Highway & Across Fabled Frontiers
This adventurous journey over the Pamir Highway is a breathtaking route through Kyrgyzstan, Western China and Tajikistan, in use since the time of the Silk Road.
- Journey Through Central Asia: The Five ‘Stans
A modern-day caravan on an epic journey to five exotic Silk Road countries – Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
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 expertise, with each journey unique to your interests, dates and pace.
(Top photo credit: Michel Behar)
PUBLISHED: November 20, 2014