Why 2019 is the Best Time to Travel to Uzbekistan
Travelers have plenty to do simply taking in the atmosphere of a place, chatting with ordinary citizens, and admiring the architecture. But when they are directly impacted by developments in a country, travelers may want to sit up and take notice.
Take Uzbekistan, for example. After the death in 2016 of its isolationist long-term president, the new president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has indicated that making travelers feel welcome is one of his priorities.
Uzbekistan is already extremely appealing, with its domed mosques and madrassahs clad in vivid ceramic tiles, and with the endemic hospitality of its culture. But now, after a first-ever International Tourism Forum, Uzbekistan is gearing up to raise the level of comfort, accessibility, and amenities for the more than 5 million travelers expected in 2019.
Read more about why NOW is the best time to travel to Uzbekistan:
To give you more perspective on this dynamic destination, we’ve published a series of blog posts about what it’s like to travel to Uzbekistan now, and why it’s never been a better time to do so:
What Has Happened to Uzbekistan?Fred Lundahl spent 30 years serving in U.S. embassies abroad with the Foreign Service. He fell in love with Central Asia, and still travels there every couple of years. Fred and his wife Sharon just recently returned from a trip to Uzbekistan and returned with a fascinating look at how much it has recently changed (read more).
by Fred and Sharon Lundahl
8 Take-Aways on Uzbekistan from a First-Time VisitorMarisa Dodd, Assistant Tour Specialist at MIR, recently returned from her first visit to the heart of the Silk Road, Uzbekistan; she found it to be surprisingly modern, incredibly beautiful, and unexpectedly open-minded. You’ll enjoy reading some of her first-timer impressions and observations of traveling around Uzbekistan (read more).
by Marisa Dodd
Up-and-Coming Uzbekistan: 7 Reasons Why a Local Recommends You Visit NowBorn and raised in Samarkand, Abdu Samadov is full of inside information about Uzbekistan. Abdu guides MIR travelers throughout Central Asia, and enjoys sharing his knowledge with other travelers. In this article, Abdu offers five reasons why Uzbekistan should be at the top of your 2019 travel bucket list (read more).
by Abdu Samadov
2018 was a year of firsts for Uzbekistan:
- E-visas were introduced for foreign travelers. U.S. and Canadian travelers can now apply, pay for, and receive Uzbek visas online, within three business days of their application.
- Visa-free travel was initiated for citizens of 17 countries, including France and Germany, as well as Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, resulting in freer travel across borders and better relations with its neighbors. Since it is the only Central Asian country that borders all the others, Uzbekistan can be either a regional trade and transportation hub, or a formidable impediment.
- The border between Samarkand, Uzbekistan and Penjikent, Tajikistan is open once again, after a five year closure, making travel to and from Tajikistan easier and more efficient.
- The 2018 five-day Maqom festival, celebrating traditional Uzbek culture with music, dancing, and stage productions will perhaps become annual or biennial.
- President Mirziyoyev visited the U.S. for the first time, meeting the U.S. president and forging new business relationships here.
- Uzbekistan has been taken off the U.S. list of “Countries of Particular Concern,” recognizing its advances in religious freedom.
- Mirziyoyev’s government has dropped opposition to Tajikistan’s stalled Rogun Dam, which will be the tallest dam in the world when completed. This is a significant departure from the policies of former president Islam Karimov. The Rogun Dam, begun all the way back in 1976, opened its first unit in November of 2018.
- A foreign educational NGO has been allowed to reopen; it’s been closed for 12 years, along with many other NGOs. There is hope that this is only the first to be allowed back into the country.
All these improvements are added to the ones already put in place, such as high-speed rail between Tashkent and Samarkand, a new train route between Tashkent and Almaty, Kazakhstan; currency reform that wiped out black-market currency exchanges; resumption of flights from Tashkent to Dushanbe, Tajikistan after a 25-year break; and the opening of more regional border crossings.
And the changes keep coming…
Planned changes for 2019:
- The government has announced that citizens of 22 more countries will be allowed to travel visa-free to Uzbekistan. At the time of this writing, it’s not known whether U.S. citizens will be on the list, but there is optimism.
- An “Asian Schengen” zone may be launched in February, allowing most Silk Road countries free access to each other for travel and trade.
- The country is scheduled to lift “exit visa” requirements for its citizens, a restrictive holdover from communist times.
- Direct regular train service between Bukhara and Khiva officially opened in January 2019, offering travelers a more convenient and faster alternative to driving. The route is not yet served by the country’s high-speed rail service, but there are plans to connect it to the network soon.
It’s a great time to travel to Uzbekistan, to see these changes unfolding in real time, and to reap the benefits of a nationwide blossoming of hospitality. Want to find out more?
- Secrets of Samarkand: How to Explore Uzbekistan’s “Crossroad of Culture” Like a Local
- Breathtaking Bukhara: Your Guide to Uzbekistan’s UNESCO-listed Oasis
- Favorites from the Fergana Valley: Uzbekistan’s Hub of Crafts & Culture
- Enthralling Uzbekistan: Our Favorite Things to See & Do
- Celebrating Navruz in Uzbekistan: My Favorite Moments on a Festive Journey
- Trains, Textiles and Travel on the Silk Road
- MIR Uzbekistan Tour Lauded in National Geographic Traveler
- A Walk Through Old Town Khiva, Uzbekistan
- Silk Road Tour Spotlight: Journey Through Central Asia
- Dancing in Khiva, Uzbekistan: The Khalfi Family
- Making Ikats: Colors of the Silk Road
- Watch a Fashion Show of Swirling Silk in Samarkand, Uzbekistan
- A Traveler’s Tale: The Art of Home-Made Plov in Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Travel to Uzbekistan with MIR
MIR has more than 30 years of travel experience in Central Asia and has an affiliate office in Uzbekistan, with a roster of contacts that can take you to places that you didn’t even know you wanted to go. 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.”
Experience the brilliant country of Uzbekistan for yourself on one of these MIR itineraries that travel to Central Asia:
SMALL GROUP TOURS
- NEW! Silk Road Backroads & Byways
- Journey Through Central Asia: The Five ‘Stans
- Silk Route Odyssey: Caravan Across Uzbekistan
- Backstreets & Bazaars of Uzbekistan
RAIL JOURNEYS BY PRIVATE TRAIN
- Essence of the Silk Road by Private Train (Eastbound / Westbound)
- Essence of the Silk Road & Beyond by Private Train
- Caspian Odyssey by Private Train
A PERSONALIZED PRIVATE TRIP
MIR specializes in personalized, private journeys, and we’d love to take your ideas and weave 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 – each trip handcrafted to your interests, dates and pace.
Chat with a MIR destination specialist about travel to Uzbekistan by phone (1-800-424-7289) or email today. We’d love to take your ideas and weave them into a trip tailored especially for you.
Top photo: Khiva, Uzbekistan. Photo: Ana Filonov
PUBLISHED: January 17, 2019