New Highlights in Uzbekistan – 3rd edition

reisehandbuch-usbekistan

The 3rd edition of our Uzbekistan guidebook Usbekistan DuMont Reise-Handbuch has been out in the book stores for a few months now. Time to share some of our newly researched highlights in Uzbekistan on our travel blog. For the 3rd edition we travelled restlessly up and down the country for one month. 

Uzbekistan became a booming travel destination in Central Asia over the last year, last but not least because of the recently eased visa policies of the Uzbek government. Uzbek people are keen to accommodate tourists and travellers. Therefore new guest houses and restaurants are opening all over the country. If you are planning a trip to Uzbekistan read also our tips for highlights in Buchara.

Hotel recommendations

We included a lot of new hotels in the guidebook – many of them are nice, but somewhat generic. We do have some new Uzbekistan highlights, though. The Sakura Inn Guest House in Fergana (in the Fergana Valley) and the Hotel Old Bukhara (in Bukhara) we found really outstanding.

Sakura Guesthouse in Fergana

Breakfast room at the Sakura House

Elsevar, the owner of the Sakura Inn, spent a few years in Japan. And brought back a lot of ideas and insights on using minimal space to the maximum.

His seven rooms are located in a normal apartment block and all of them are spick and span. There is a communal kitchen and a washing machine for the use of the guests. And a big cat lounging around! Elsevar has a lot of tips for travelling in the region. He will also help in organising your onward travel in Uzbekistan.

Old Bukhara Hotel in Buchara

The Old Bukhara Hotel is located near the Kalon minaret in a quiet neighbourhood of Bukhara. The Tadjik family who runs it topped their own courtyard house with a second floor and now rents out some lovely traditionally decorated rooms. Breakfast is also divine!

20180715 Buchara Old Buchara breakfast P1550486

Restaurant recommendations

Dilkor Laghman Center in Buchara

The restaurant scene develops slower than the accommodation options, but we also found some really tasty new places, like the Dilkor Laghman Center in Bukhara. You will have to take a taxi to get to this different world in the fifth micro-rayon, as the Dilkor Laghman Center is situated 3 km away from the old town. It is essentially a big canteen-style dining hall serving  freshly pulled Uighur-style noodles in broth. They also have a very good selection of salads and fresh breads, but not much else (Corner of Pindastgir Street/ Alisher Navoi Street in the fifth Microrayon, Bukhara).

noodles are among the highlights in Uzbekistan

Gosht Burger in Tashkent

The capital city of Tashkent is becoming posher and posher every time we visit. A burger chef in Samarkand recommended Gosht Burger in the capital of Tashkent to us. At Gosht Burger they use a Josper Grill, a specialised covered charcoal-heated oven, where the grilled meat turns out especially aromatic and juicy. The interior of Gosht burger is very stylish and they have wonderful outdoor seating. And they also do quite good vegetarian burgers! Really a surprise in meat-loving Uzbekistan.

20180801 Tashkent Gosht Burger P1560923
Josper grill at Gosht Burger, Tashkent

More highlights in Uzbekistan we enjoyed so much that they made it into our top list

Holy Cave of Davud near Samarkand

About 40 km southwest of Samarkand, we visited a local pilgrimage site. The place doubles as a pleasant nature excursion. The cave where the biblical David (= Davud) is said to have left his fingerprints is located near the top of a small mountain. 1334 concrete steps (no, we did not count them, this is just the “official” number of steps) lead up to the mountain top. There you will find a small prayer room (and lots of souvenir stalls). Then, a bit further on, there is the actual cave.

To get into the holy cave you have to squeeze through a narrow crevice. Not many foreign tourists come to Hazrat Davud and the Uzbeks are mostly pilgrims. Visitors to the cave should give a small donation and listen to a prayer by the mullah.

20180723 Hodscha Davut Hoehle P1560147
 
Holy cave of Davud near Samarkand, Uzbekistan

After the strenuous climb, the Uzbek pilgrims party in lush gardens in the valley at the bottom of the hill.

Kazakh Village near Nurata

From Nurata we did an excursion to Lake Aydarkul, a large artificial lake in the desert. Not far beyond the lake shore, the road through the desert towards Kazakhstan passes a few lonely villages.

village of Eski Dungalah, one of the hidden Highlights in Uzbekistan
In the Kazakh village of Eski Dungalah near Lake Aydarkul, Uzbekistan

Ruslan, who runs a guest house in Nurata, drove us to the lake and suggested a detour to Eski Dungalah, a village that was created during the Soviet period to settle previously nomadic Kazakhs. Even today it retains its nomadic atmosphere in spite of the white-washed stone houses. There is nothing but desert around them, cows and camels sit in the shade around the buildings, and even the water has to be brought in in huge tanks. One of the most memorable places we have visited in Uzbekistan and an underrated highlight!

Are you interested in off-the-beaten path destinations in Uzbekistan? Then check out our post about Paikent and Varkhsha, two little visited old silk road towns near Buchara. Or have you ever heard about the solar furnace near the capital Tashkent? It was a scientific experiment, built during the 1980s.

20180801 Tashkent Metro Alisher Navoi P1560868

These are just a few highlights in Uzbekistan we discovered during our last research tour through the country. Are you planning to visit Uzbekistan in the near future?

NB: Our visit to Uzbekistan was a research trip for our guidebook. Except for a few complimentary or discounted nights in guest houses, the whole trip was paid for, and organised, by ourselves. Ruslan did not charge us for the visit to Eski Dungalah (we paid for the room, though).

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18 Comments

  1. Your travels are definitely unique and always make for an interesting to read. Hmm I’m not so sure I’d/can squeeze thru a narrow crevice in a cave without freaking out but the history alone might convince me to do it. The food looks simple but delicious. Wow,now that’s an impressive metro stop and a very perfect shot.

  2. I didn’t realise you were an author – how wonderful. The silk road is somewhere I would love to visit one day, Uzbekistan is high on my list and to see the architecture would be a dream.

  3. This is the first I have heard of Uzbekistan. The Holy Cave of Davud sounds like a unique experience. That is a lot of steps though. Wondering how long it take to make it to the top and thinking about the people working the souvenirs stalls having to carry their goods up those steps, yikes!

    1. Dear Sherianne, people in Uzbekistan are used to walking. The steps are not that high and for carrying the goods up they use donkeys. It is also possible to ride up by donkey. But as it is a pilgrimage, people embrace the hike.

      1. Natasha, Congratulations on your Uzbekistan travel guide!The traditional Uzbek hospitality and the grandeur of it’s hotels speaks volumes about their culture. And of course, Uzbekistan has so tourist attractions to explore.The Gosht burger looks great!

  4. I think that Old Bukhara Hotel in Buchara is a great option. It’s nice to know they serve great breakfast. Thank you for sharing your experience. We hope to get a chance to visit in the future.

  5. Congratulations on your guide books! That takes a lot of thorough research to produce one, so your highlights you’ve shared in your blog would be the best of.

  6. Your journeys are exciting, off the beaten track. You show less popular destinations with a vibrant history and culture. Congratulations on your Uzbekistan travel guide. Apart from your blog, it isn’t easy to find valuable information on the internet about travel planning in this country. Your book seems extremely interesting! If I plan a trip to Uzbekistan, I will buy it as a great source of tips!

  7. Congratulations on your new edition of the Uzbekistan travel guide. It’s so useful that you are updating it each time you visit the country, so the readers can be sure to have the most up to date information to plan their trip to the country. I would love to visit Uzbekistan one day, I have heard so many great things about the country.

  8. When I think of Uzbekistan, what conjures in my mind is really an off-the-beaten path and I like off-the-beaten ones. Based on your shots, the Eski Dungalah does give a nomadic vibe. This blog post made me curious about Uzbekistan’s cuisine. It seems like there’s a lot more to discover and learn in this country! Congrats on your 3rd edition!

    1. Dear Maria, Uzbekistan gained popularity among individual travellers and tour groups in recent years (before covid). The cities like Buchara, Samarkand and Chiwa offer a good touristic infrastructure. This post highlight some off-the-beaten path destinations.

  9. Had never thought of visiting Uzbekistan earlier but getting to learn quite a bit here about the place makes me want to visit. The culture there would be nice to experience. The hotel Old Bukhara looks nice and the food options around sound exciting. Especially Gosht Burger which we would love to try out. Kazakh village would be a nice destination to visit and go around.

    1. Dear Subhashish Roy, if you go to Uzbekistan for the first time, you should definitely visit places like Buchara, Samarkand and Chiwa. The Kazakh villages in the north are super-interesting to visit, but if you have only limited time, I would advise using the time in the old Silk Road cities! Gosht Burger is a great addition to the restaurant scene in Uzbkekistan!

  10. Uzbekistan has been high on my list. I am so glad that you have covered it well. I am going to buy the guidebooks for sure. And, this blog post is quite handy for those who are planning to visit. It’s a good read.

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