Episode 14: Tashkent – Khiva

Uzbekistan: trendy Tashkent and historical Khiva.

Our arrival in Tashkent was a little bit tense. Daniel did read on the Internet plenty of awful stories about the passport and the custom controls. Fortunately, Magali was here to keep him calm. The result was the most quick and hassle free border crossing we had so far. No one asked us about the pictures and videos we were having in our phones and laptops and about all the medicines we were carrying. If you feel stressed up ike Daniel about these controls, we strongly advise you to take a flight from Almaty (or any airport with a connecting flight). The airport border is way easier to cross than the land border.

Tashkent is a big modern and extremely clean city. There are a few sights to see. Among them, the Chorsu bazar is worth the detour. From mutton kidney to wedding dresses, you can find whatever you need there. And most importantly you will find plenty of Uzbek currency. The government is artificially maintaining an exchange rate of 1$ for 3’000 soms (the local currency). This artificial rate led to a huge black market. The black market rate is 1$ for 6’150 soms. Suddenly your travel will cost you half less. And everybody is using the black market. The money changers do not hide from you. When we asked around, every body told us it is safe.

After two nights in Tashkent, we flew to the other side (West) of the country, namely the city of Khiva. This is where the historical adventure begins. The citadel is composed of a dozen of madrasas, a few minarets, a few mosques all connected with pedestrian paved streets. You really feel either like 200 years ago or on the set of a Sharazad themed movie. Khiva was also the place were the heat hit us the most (with a maximum between 45 and 50 degrees). Only travel warriors (a category we don’t belong to) can visit sights all day long. We chose instead the visit / nap with air conditionning / visit routine.

Khiva with Eji, our new travelling mate

Khiva with Eji, our new travelling mate

we did specifically enjoy

  • The desert castles near Khiva (in the sovereign republic of Karakalpakstan). These ruins are more than 2000 years old and are in the middle of nowhere. A must see in the region.
  • The old city of Tashkent where you feel being like in a village. Children are playing football in the streets, older people are sitting on chairs watching them. You can also smell food that people are preparing for dinner and believe us, it smells really good.
  • The drink Kompot everyone is having in this part of Central Asia, which is basically made of boiled fruits in water and sugar, the fruits are then left apart and we only drink the filtered juice. We mainly had cherry and peach flavors, very refreshing!
Near one of the citadels in the desert

Near one of the citadels in the desert

accommodations

  • Tashkent: Jahongir BB Tashkent: A very nice Bed and Breakfast located in the old city.
  • Khiva: Qosha Darvoza: A nice traditional hotel and among the most friendly staff we met so far. They installed a beamer in their courtyard at midnight so that Magali and a few other Italian tourists could watch the football game.
Ayaz Kala citadel

Ayaz Kala citadel

restaurants

  • Tashkent: the shashliks restaurants along the Ourafjon street near the Tinshlik metro stop for a good and inexpensive meal, also the best plov we had so far (mainly at lunch).
  • Tashkent: the bread bazar in the old city located in the corner of Ourafjon and Farobi streets.
  • Khiva: the Mirza Boshi and its views of the green dome’s madrassa nearby. We recommend trying the green dill noodles.

Best Kept Secret Tip

Riding rented bicycles in the citadel of Khiva. It was a long time since we enjoyed a place where cars are prohibited.

19 thoughts on “Episode 14: Tashkent – Khiva

  1. Magnifique ! J’adore vos petits films, ils sont très pros et pleins d’humour.

    Nous aussi, on commence à sentir l’été dans l’air, 28 dégrées.. loin de vos 40 dégrées mais on apprécie.

    Bises,
    Danielle

    1. It is indeed ! We are now in Samarkand (and before in Bukhara) and we will leave for the nuratau park in a few days. We loved the two cities as much as khiva and are really looking forward for the park! Our next video should be published in a few days !

  2. I study in Lucerne, Switzerland and come from Uzbekistan. I am really happy that you really liked my country and enjoying from what you are doing in Uzbekistan. Im reading your story, it is just amazing. I can definetly say the exactly good things about Swiss people and country as well. I hope you will continue enjoying your adventure.
    Best wishes!

    1. Thanks Ali,
      I’m glad you enjoy Switzerland as much as we enjoy Uzbekistan! All the best for your studies, and if next year (when we will come back from our 1 year travel) you are around Lausanne, send us an email! We could talk about Uzbekistan and Switzerland around a beer or two !

  3. Hi, I am really happy that you visited my country but l am going to suggest to visit you “Baysun” you will see genuine nature of our country and fall “Sangardak” they are located in Surkhandarya region.You can see there tramendous hills like Grand Canyon and lake in the mountain, yeah lake in the mountain.Write me if you want to go there l will help with advices.

    1. Hi Jasur,
      Thanks for your warm comment! The incredible Uzbek hospitality also extend to the Internet 🙂 Unfortunately, our visa is running out very soon. But we will definitely consider it for our next travel here!

    1. All of the Mosque, madrasas and Kalon we saw 🙂 And we enjoyed also a lot walking in old neighbourhoods at sunset when kids are playing football in the streets and old people are meeting on benches.

  4. First of all welcome to Uzbekistan, did you like the natianal dishes?
    I suggest you to taste all of them, very strong dishes. I hope you enjoyed during your trip.

    1. Hi Bobur, thanks for the comment. So far, we enjoy Plov (all of them, Bukhara, Khiva Samarkand and Tashkent) as well as Shashlik. We also tried many other dishes I do not remember the name. A good one was cooked for us in a small village in the Nuratau area (Sentyab). It was made of stuffed peppers.

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