Travel Essentials

Here’s the ultimate travel essentials list for Uzbekistan; everything from currency, tipping and clothing dress codes can be found below.

Currency

The local currency is called the Sum (UZS) and can only be exchanged in Uzbekistan.  For the latest exchange rates you can review this website www.xe.com

We recommend you take spending money in US dollars or Euros in cash, as many restaurants, shops and bars only accept hard currency. Trying to change traveller’s cheque or British Pounds into local currency is difficult and is not a convenient option. Please ensure bank notes are in good condition. We recommend you take new (post 1998), good dollar bills in small denominations.

You can exchange money in most towns and your local guide can assist you with this. There are some ATM machines and credit cards can be used to for high value goods, such as carpets or expensive souvenirs.

It is extremely difficult to change Sums back into dollars at reasonable exchange rates, so it is advised that you spend what Sums you have before leaving the country and only change the money as you need it.

Food and Drink

As in any country the prices of meals can very considerably depending on the location, type,  style of restaurant and the number or courses eaten. Local cafés and restaurants in small towns are generally less expensive than similar restaurants in major cities. Tashkent has a wide range of restaurants to suit all budgets. We have therefore provided an average price guide for restaurant meals.

  • Lunch price: £8.00 – £10.00
  • Dinner price: £10.00 – £15.00
  • Beer price: £1.50
  • Water price: £0.80

Vaccinations

Ensure you visit your travel clinic before travel for general advice on travel risks, vaccinations and malaria. There are no compulsory vaccinations for Uzbekistan, but your travel clinic will probably recommend protection against typhoid, tetanus, polio and hepatitis A. For more information regarding vaccinations and travel health visit www.fitfortravel.nhs and www.masta-travel-health.com. Vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.

Language

Uzbek, Russian, Tajik

Time Difference

Uzbekistan is 5 hours ahead of GMT.

Insurance

A valid travel insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical issues is a must. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities.

It is a good idea to photocopy all relevant documents – passport, travel, insurance policy etc., and leave one copy at home. Carry another copy with you separate from the originals.

Wi-Fi and Mobile Phone Coverage

Internet access is widely available in Uzbekistan. The easiest internet access is by logging on to Wi-Fi hotspots available at hotels, cafes, restaurants, or shopping centres. The quality of Wi-Fi varies greatly depending on your location and often does not reach all of the hotel bedrooms. In the more remote locations such as the Nurata Mountains, the internet will not be available.

Uzbekistan’s mobile phone network has thorough coverage, at least in the Urban areas.

Electricity

A round two-pin plug is required to charge your phone, camera, video camera or electronic devices. The voltage in Uzbekistan run at 220 volts. In some of the remote area of Uzbekistan, electricity may not be available 24 hours a day.

Clothing

The Central Asia region is largely Muslim and therefore a conservative dressed code is advised at all times. Avoid any clothing that is too tight or revealing as well any tops and bottoms that reveal too much skin / flesh such as as short – skirts and shorts, spaghetti strap tops and blouses with no sleeves. When entering mosques and places of religious significance women will usually be asked to cover their hair with a headscarf.  It is therefore advisable to include one in your packing, as is a swimming costume for hotel pools and any swimming opportunities.

Central Asia can get very hot in the summer so light-weight natural fabrics are most suitable. In the spring and autumn when temperatures are cooler we recommend layering. In the winter hotel heating can be inconsistent and therefore consider bringing jumpers for the evening and warm sleep wear.

Footwear

Good quality, comfortable walking shoes/trainers and sandals.

Equipment

Day sack, water bottle, sunhat, sunglasses, high factor sunscreen, head scarf, torch, ear plugs and travel first aid kit.

Customs and Culture

Uzbek’s centuries old custom and traditions are distinct and can be identified by their various religious or historical connections. Between the 6th and 7th centuries BC to the expansion and adoption of Islam around the 8th century AD it was the nomadic tribes who founded the first towns and states and developed the Uzbek culture. What we now experience is a mix of Islamic traditions and culture intertwined with pre-islamic traditions and culture of the original settled nomads. This makes Uzbekistan a fascinating country to visit.

Tipping

Tipping is the norm in Uzbekistan so we advise you keep small notes handy for regular tipping. For guides, drivers, hotel and restaurant staff we recommend the following daily amounts, which are subject to you receiving excellent service you feel worthy of a tip.

  • Local full day city guide: 10 – 15 USD per day, from your group
  • Half day city guide: 5 – 10 USD per day, from your group
  • Local Driver: 5 – 8 USD per day, from your group
  • Restaurants, cafes and bars automatically apply 10% service charge

Safety

Uzbekistan is safe and very traveller friendly. Foreign tourists are welcomed by locals who will often go out of their way to answer travellers questions and provide help if needed.  Crime rates are low and police/tourist police can be seen regularly patrolling the streets and tourist areas throughout the day.

Travel Safety Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government’s travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Festivals and Holidays

Visiting  a  local festival is one of the best ways to experience a destination and understand its cultural heritage and local traditions. Local holidays and festivals in Uzbekistan are rooted in centuries old traditions, many of which pre- date the conversation to Islam 1200 years ago and are bound in the generous and good-hearted nature of its people.

Navruz (21st March)

The long- awaited arrival of spring, coinciding with the Persian New Year (21 March), is a vibrant celebration of song, dance and tables full to bursting with home-cooked delicacies and Sumalak, the main dish of the celebration. Navruz is the celebration of not only the New Year but new life, which brings with it happiness, joy and luck. It’s a great time to visit the country so ask us for advice on the best place to be on this date.

Silk and Spices Festival (late May-early June)

This is one of Uzbekistan’s oldest and best loved festivals and takes place in Bukhara. Hundreds of people dressed in traditional costumes parade through Bukhara’s historical centre performing dance, acrobatics, wrestling and music as they head to the bazar, which is full of traditional Uzbekistan crafts, food, fashion. It’s a festival like no other and certainly shouldn’t be missed.

Sharq Taronalari (August)

Sharq Taronalari (Melodies of the Orient) is one of Central Asia’s largest and most significant cultural / music events  and is held every two years in Registan Square, Samarkand. It is one of the few music festivals recognised by UNESCO as it promotes the exchange of cultures with music preformed by local and international artists.

Independence Day (1st September)

Or party time in Tashkent! This is the full bells and whistles, with shows, events, concerts and the obligatory firework displays. All celebrating the end of the Soviet Union. It is celebrated throughout Uzbekistan by Tashkent is the best place to experience it.