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Home » Destinations » Middle East » Uzbekistan » Riviera Travel The Silk Road
Explore the legendary Silk Road’s heart in Uzbekistan, home to the pivotal cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva. This region, once known as the land of the Scythians, witnessed conquerors like Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and Tamerlane, who left behind awe-inspiring monuments. In the 19th century, the ‘Great Game’ saw British and Russian rivalry, ultimately won by the Russians. Uzbekistan, formerly part of the Soviet Union, now celebrates Timur as a national hero. Discover its rich history, art, and architecture, from striking ceramic tiles to intricate woodcarvings. Explore bustling bazaars, savor authentic cuisine with mutton dishes and plov (pilaf), and immerse yourself in the Silk Road’s cultural tapestry. As interest in this historical and modern trade route grows, seize the opportunity to uncover Uzbekistan, a captivating destination with no visa requirements and easy access.
Day 1 – Departure
Arrive at the airport for your overnight direct flight to Uzbekistan
Day 2 – Arrival in Tashkent
After your morning arrival in Tashkent, check into the excellent four-star superior Lotte City Palace Hotel and enjoy breakfast. Next, explore Uzbekistan with a visit to Amir Temur Square, home to the iconic Soviet-era Uzbekistan Hotel. Tashkent underwent post-earthquake reconstruction in the 1960s, resulting in modern apartment blocks and wide avenues, with only a small part of the old city remaining, which we’ll explore.
In the afternoon, embark on a guided tour of the vast Chorsu bazaar, the country’s largest, offering a delightful introduction to Uzbekistan’s culinary delights and exotic goods. Beneath the surface, uncover Tashkent’s hidden treasures, exploring Central Asia’s oldest underground system with a local expert. The underground stations captivate with a blend of 1960s architecture, stunning mosaics, vaulted mosque-like ceilings, and shimmering panels, making for an exceptional journey.
Day 3 – Fly to Urgench & Ayaz Qala Desert Fortress
After breakfast, take a short flight to Urgench in the far west. From there, drive to the vast Khorezm desert, offering a glimpse of the challenging terrain Silk Road caravans navigated. Ayaz Qala is one of the castles built to protect these routes until the 12th-century Mongol invasions. Explore Khiva’s ancient walled town, Itchan Kala, with its atmospheric ruins, palaces, mausoleums, and madrasas, steeped in two millennia of history. Imagine the vibrant past of this oasis on the desert trail to Iran, marveling at Djuma Mosque and towering walls, some reaching ten meters high.
Day 4 – Khiva & free afternoon
This morning, explore Khiva, a UNESCO World Heritage city enclosed by well-preserved mud-brick walls. This living museum provides insight into its Silk Road history. Highlights include the Khan’s palace, Tosh-Hovli Palace, the Kalta minaret, and the towering Islam Hodja minaret, standing at 56m tall. Khiva was known for its slave market, officially abolished after the Russian Revolution of 1917.
In the afternoon, enjoy free time for leisurely exploration. You can walk along the historic 18th-century city walls of Ichon Qala, offering impressive views from the North Gate’s preserved mile-long section. Access the viewing platform for unforgettable evening sunsets, with a small entry fee.
Day 5 – Drive to Bukhara
Today, embark on a long drive to Bukhara, a city steeped in spirituality and adorned with ancient architecture, including a magnificent royal fortress. En route, you’ll cross the legendary River Oxus, famously traversed by Alexander the Great and his army more than 2,000 years ago. Upon reaching Bukhara, you’ll check into our three-night hotel stay at the three-star superior Shakristan or Omar Khayam in the historic city. Your first stop will be the Lyab-i Khauz complex, boasting some of the city’s finest 16th-century buildings encircling a water reservoir, now surrounded by popular open-air tea houses.
Day 6 – Bukhara
Bukhara, richer and larger than Khiva, boasts numerous captivating monuments. Over two full days, explore its wealth of history with ample free time. Bukhara played a role in the ‘Great Game,’ where British officers Stoddart and Connelly met a tragic end. Visit 1308the Arc fortress, the Emir’s palace atop city walls, and the officers’ prison. The city’s most prominent landmark is the 12th-century Kalyan minaret, standing at 47 meters.
Before tonight’s dinner, enjoy a vibrant performance celebrating Uzbek tradition, featuring traditional songs, dances, and colourful costumes showcasing Uzbekistan’s cultural heritage.
Day 7 – Bukhara
Today, visit the early 20th-century old summer palace of the last Emir, located just outside the city. This palace combines Russian imperial design with local craftsmanship and houses intriguing artifacts from that era. The Emir’s harem, reportedly with 400 wives and concubines, even had its own personal zoo with a pet elephant! In the afternoon, explore local dome-roofed bazaars, where you can watch market bakers craft traditional bread to be enjoyed warm and fresh with kaymak (clotted cream).
Day 8 – Drive to Samarkand
Say farewell to Bukhara as you head to Samarkand, one of the grandest of Central Asian cities. En route, visit Gijduvan, renowned for its master potters. Here, a family has honed their craft over seven generations, creating exquisite pieces using traditional foot-powered potters’ wheels and mud-brick kilns.
Day 9 – Tashkent
Today, visit Koni Ghil to witness the revival of paper production from mulberry tree bark. You’ll also explore the Afrosiyob museum, housing remarkable ancient frescoes discovered in the vicinity. In the afternoon, transfer to the railway station to board a fast train back to Tashkent.
Day 10 – Return Home
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home
Lotte City Palace, Tashkent
The Lotte City Palace hotel, a superior four-star heritage building, provides a central city stay with essential amenities. Guests can enjoy a swimming pool, fitness center, sauna, and spa. The air-conditioned guest rooms feature spacious bathrooms with robes and complimentary toiletries, along with amenities like bottled water, a safe, a private balcony, and a minibar (local charges apply). Additional services include a lounge and bar, restaurant, 24-hour front desk, lift, complimentary Wi-Fi, and laundry service for a comfortable stay.
Hotel Shahriston, Bukhara
Hotel Shahriston in Bukhara offers modern amenities, including a 24-hour front desk, an on-site restaurant, a bar, and air conditioning. The newly built hotel pays homage to traditional Uzbek architecture and style while providing complimentary Wi-Fi for guests’ convenience.
Omar Khayam, Bukhara
The hotel offers a restaurant, fitness center, swimming pool, air conditioning, laundry service, and complimentary Wi-Fi. Rooms are well-appointed with a minibar, mini refrigerator, and free toiletries, and the hotel also provides exceptional concierge service and a safe.
*All transfer times are approximate and dependent on traffic
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