Central Asia

Backstreets & Bazaars of Uzbekistan

Photo credit: Michel Behar

10 Days
From $4,395
Trip Type
Small Group
Group Size
Max 16
Activity Level
Festival tour - join us for Navruz in Uzbekistan!

A Cultural & Culinary Navruz Adventure


This is a trip with one foot in the past and one firmly in the present. On it you’ll tour Uzbekistan’s three brilliant Silk Road oases: Khiva, Bukhara, and Samarkand – each a living city, but also a time capsule filled with world-renowned, one-of-a-kind art and architecture. You’ll also be immersed in contemporary Uzbek culture and cuisine, visiting bustling markets and shops, sitting down to meals in local homes, and getting cooking demonstrations from esteemed chefs. Finally, you’ll take part in Navruz, a 2,000-year-old celebration of spring that’s the biggest event on the Uzbek calendar. It’s an exuberant burst of hospitality, and with MIR you’ll attend private celebrations that most travelers don’t have access to.

Travels to: Uzbekistan



  • Days 1-2: Tashkent (Uzbekistan)

    The trip begins in Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital and largest city. Wander through its main market, Chorsu Bazaar, a kaleidoscope of produce, spices, textiles, and a multitude of other goods. Tour the city’s most noteworthy sights including Independence Square, Kukeldash Madrassah, and the Museum of Applied Arts. Culinary highlights are lunches at two of Tashkent’s most renowned restaurants and an introduction to Uzbek cuisine, complete with cooking demonstrations, from one of the city’s top chefs.


    • Non, the fluffy bread that’s a staple of Uzbek cuisine, sold in abundance at Chorsu Bazaar
    • Park-like Independence Square, formerly Lenin Square, rechristened and adorned with a new monument following Uzbekistan’s 1991 proclamation of independence
    • Tashkent’s monumental 16th century Islamic architecture, including Kukeldash Madrassah, Kaffal-Shashi Mausoleum, and Barak-Khan Madrassah
    • The Museum of Applied Arts, housed in a gorgeous 19th century mansion
    • An introduction to Uzbek cuisine from a renowned Tashkent chef
  • Days 3-4: Khiva, Kyzyl Kum Desert

    Fly to Urgench and continue overland to nearby Khiva, an ancient city imbued with the spirit and energy of the Silk Road. Wander through the winding alleys of the UNESCO-listed Old Town, filled with minarets, cobbled alleys, mosques, and the beautifully preserved Kunya Ark, the original residence of the ruling khans. Upon leaving town, trace the path of Silk Road camel caravans through the red sands of the Kyzyl Kum Desert en route to Bukhara.


    • Khiva’s Old Town (Ichon-Qala in Uzbek), a UNESCO World Heritage Site
    • Tash-Hauli Palace, built in the 19th century for the khan and his four wives
    • Dzhuma Mosque, famous for its carved wooden pillars
    • Kunya Ark, the original residence of the khans
    • The Silk Road’s path across the Kyzyl Kum Desert
  • Days 5-6: Bukhara

    Arrive in Bukhara, Central Asia’s most ancient living city. Its UNESCO-listed Old Town encompasses more than 140 protected monuments, including the Lyabi-Hauz Plaza at the heart of the city and the Ark Citadel, the original fortress of Bukhara. Spend a full day celebrating Navruz, an ancient festival with Zoroastrian roots that welcomes the arrival of spring. Witness firsthand the holiday’s convivial festivities, including traditional ceremonies not commonly accessible to travelers. The abundant Navruz dinner is capped off with sumalak, a favorite holiday sweet.


    • Old Bukhara’s ageless domed bazaars and its central Lyab-i-Hauz Plaza, adorned with a reflecting pool
    • Ark Citadel, Bukhara’s giant ancient fortress
    • Taking part in Navruz celebrations and dinner
    • A visit to a master marionette-maker’s studio
    • A performance of traditional song and dance at a madrassah
  • Days 7-8: Samarkand

    Experience the glory of fabled Samarkand – the conqueror Tamerlane’s ancient capital – with visits to the massive Bibi Khanum Mosque, Ulug Bek’s incredible observatory, and majestic Registan Square. Learn how to make traditional bread at a local family bakery, stroll through the colorful stands brimming with fresh produce and spices at the Siab Bazaar, and take a master class in the art of making plov, Uzbekistan’s national dish.


    • UNESCO-listed Samarkand’s Registan Square, bordered by three beautiful madrassahs
    • The 14th century conqueror Tamerlane’s architectural legacy in Samarkand, including Bibi Khanum Mosque, the largest of its day, and Ulug Bek Observatory
    • Lively Siab Bazaar, lined with the brilliant produce and spices that once tempted Silk Route traders
    • A demonstration of traditional non bread-baking and lunch at a family bakery
    • A master class in making plov – a fragrant mix of rice, meat, vegetables, and seasonings that’s Uzbekistan’s favorite meal
  • Days 9-10: Urgut, Tashkent

    On your final full day, travel outside Samarkand to the colorful, labyrinthine Urgut Market, where stalls brim with brilliantly embroidered hats, robes, and other textiles. Attend a match of buzkashi, an ancient Central Asian equestrian game demanding strength and daring. Then celebrate your journey with a festive farewell lunch before hopping the high-speed train back to Tashkent.


    • The brilliant crafts at Urgut Market
    • The raw intensity of a buzkashi match
    • One last Uzbek feast

Dates & Prices

Small group tour – max 16 travelers

Land tour price, per person. Based on double occupancy and minimum group size of 4 travelers.

  • 2024 Dates
    Mar 16 - 25
    Tour, double occupancy
    Plus internal airfare
    Single supplement
  • 2025 Dates
    Mar 16 - 25
    Tour, double occupancy
    Plus internal airfare
    Single supplement

What's Included

  • Tour Includes
    • Accommodations, as noted in the itinerary.
    • Most meals, as noted in the itinerary: 10 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 8 dinners.
    • Arrival/departure airport transfers. MIR will arrange for all travelers to be met on arrival and seen off on departure whether we make your airfare arrangements or not, provided you arrive and depart on the tour start/end dates in the tour start/end city.
    • Ground transportation throughout itinerary by private vehicle.
    • Train tickets, Samarkand to Tashkent, seated class.
    • Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees as outlined in the itinerary.
    • Special events, excursions and cultural performances per the itinerary.
    • Services of experienced, English-speaking local guides, drivers and other staff, including a MIR Tour Manager.
    • Gratuities to local guides, drivers, porters and other service personnel.
    • Bottled water at group meals.
    • Baggage handling where available.
    • Complete pre-departure electronic document that includes detailed packing suggestions, reading list links, country-specific information, maps, travel tips and more.
    • Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements (on request; please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost).
    • Customized visa application and instruction kit (please note, visa fees are not included in the tour price).
    • Electronic final update bulletin, with any late news, updates and important information.
  • Not Included
    • Internal airfare (internal airfare is quoted separately and is subject to change by airlines).
    • International airfare or taxes/fuel surcharges.
    • Meals not specified as included in the itinerary.
    • Single supplement charge, if requested or required.
    • Items of a personal nature (phone calls, email, laundry, alcohol, excess baggage, etc).
    • Gratuities to Tour Manager.
    • Visa/passport fees, airport departure fees.
    • Expenses incurred as a result of delay, modification or extension of a tour due to causes beyond MIR’s control.
    • Travel and trip cancellation insurance.

Activity Level

Level 3: Medium

This small group tour features long days walking and standing while touring, some long segments of overland travel, uneven surfaces and steps, absent handrails, some stair-climbing, and absence of elevators. Only those fit to travel, who are willing to accept local standards of amenities and services, and physical challenges of the program, should consider joining.

Travelers must be able to walk at least two miles a day, keeping up with fellow travelers. There are overall shortcomings in the tourism infrastructure, including some that can cause walking challenges such as unpaved sidewalks, uneven surfaces and steps, packed-dirt streets, broken pavement (streets or sidewalks), and a general absence of handrails or ramps. Some attractions are only accessible via steep staircases with tall uneven steps – additionally, these may be spiral staircases or in narrow passages with limited light. Elevators are not available at touring sites, nor at a few of the hotels. 

Past travelers have also encountered challenges with plumbing, bureaucratic service, variety of locally available foods, and availability and quality of public restrooms.

Accommodations vary from superior tourist class hotels to small, intimate properties.



Traveler Reviews

  • "Excellent tour itinerary and tour manager.… Uzbekistan was outstanding and I am glad we spent a considerable amount of time there."

    E. Cohen

    Hillsborough, CA

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