The most ancient cities of Central Asia
Description of itinerary:
Duration: 6 days/ 5 nights
day 1| bukhara
Meeting in Bukhara ( or Tashkent depending on your trip issues ) and our trip will start right that time.
Bukhara: in the days of yore, bukhara was the gathering place for artists, scientists, merchants, and everyone in between. ethnically more tajik than uzbek, this city was one of the major centers of islamic theology more than 1,000 years ago
Minarets, mosques, and madrassas, oh my! today is all about bukhara’s historic highlights.
Places to visit in bukhara:
Po-i-kalyan: bukhara’s most famous square contains multiple sights. most obvious: kalyan minaret, visible throughout bukhara. this cleverly built 12th century minaret was the first place uzbekistan’s quintessential blue tiles were used. You can’t enter, but it’s at the entrance to the more recent kalyan mosque, whose sprawling courtyard and cavernous interior are open to visitors. Mir-i-arab madrassa sits opposite the mosque, but it’s still active and not open to tourists.
Chasmai mirob: an overpriced restaurant with slow serice… but wait! the views from this restaurant over po-i-kalyan are worth an expensive tea (or beer if you’re cheeky and want to drink while admiring islamic monuments).
Bolo hauz mosque: opposite the fortress, solid wooden columns so high your neck will ache combined with hand painted details on faraway ceilings make this mosque unique. You can enter if it isn’t prayer time.
chor minor: a cute little gatehouse with four minarets—hence the name chor minor—it’s removed from the old city center, and thus quieter. Rach minaret is decorated in a different style; appreciate them from the roof after paying a fee at the souvenir shop inside.
Labi hauz: hauz means pond in persian, and that’s exactly what this place is: a collection of madrassas around a central pond. though it’s consumed by tourism, it’s a stunning place to sit and enjoy a cup of tea or a meal by the glittering pool.
time to venture beyond old bukhara’s center
chor bakr necropolis: 6 kilometers outside the city lies a 16th century necropolis. banned as a religious site in the soviet era, it’s since returned to its original significance. it’s a peaceful place away from the touristic bits of bukhara. a taxi (4,000 som) or local bus is necessary to reach the necropolis.
Ismail somoni (samanid) mausoleum: the oldest surviving islamic monument in central asia is also one of bukhara’s oldest monuments. completed in 905 ad, it’s said it escaped genghis khan’s razing because it was buried in mud before his arrival. the mausoleum is surrounded by a quiet park.
Chashma ayub mausoleum: translated as “job’s spring”, legend has it the prophet job (ayub in the quran) struck his staff upon the ground and created a spring at this spot. located near the samanid mausoleum, a timurid mausoleum now stands over the well. Visitors can drink the well water, claimed to have healing properties
day 2 | samarkand
After breakfast driving to Samarkand .
Samarkand: uzbekistan’s crown jewel
bukhara was the gathering place of minds, but samarkand is where the action happened: it was the capital of timur’s empire. home to uzbekistan’s most iconic sights, you’re guaranteed to be oohing and ahhing all day. get ready to peel your jaw off the floor
It’s timurid time! you can easily walk to all of samarkand’s major sites in a day; make sure your camera is charged and ready
Places to visit in samarkand
gur-e-amir: timur’s mausoleum is a gilded sight to behold. blue mosaics paint the outside, while gold leaf and calligraphic script glow inside. all of the graves are actually in a closed vault beneath the mausoleum; the tombs inside are place markers for graves below.
Registan: meaning “desert” in persian, uzbekistan’s most famous complex is home to three no longer functional madrassas: ulugbek, shirdor and tilla kari, constructed between the 15th and 17th tilla kari’s mosque has the most opulent ceiling in all of uzbekistan, so don’t miss it!
Bibi khanum mosque: once the largest mosque of its time, this massive building honoring timur’s wife is crumbling—its construction was too rushed! gradually it’s being restored, but for now you can enter the mosque through a massive crack in its walls.
Siyob bazaar: next to the bibi khanum mosque, this busy bazaar offers everything from produce to sweets to hot tea ‘round back. try the varieties of sweet samarkand halwa sold near the entrance.
Shah-i-zinda: this narrow necropolis is a fast favorite of many. turquoise tiles line its singular alley, home to dozens of tombs including that of kusum ibn abbas, the prophet ’s cousin. some tombs date all the way back to the 11th century! it’s best visited around sunset or sunrise when the tour groups are gone. enter from the surrounding cemetery, open 24/7.
Local beer at labi g’or: treat yourself after a long day to a local brew at this upper level restaurant near the registan. the food is overpriced, but this is one of the most central places to get fresh samarkand beer.
extra things to do in samarkand
Khazret khyzyr mosque: this mosque near shah-i-zinda was first built in the 7th century (then razed by genghis and restored in the 19th century). it sits on a pretty hilltop overlooking the city.
Ulugh beg’s observatory: ulugh beg, one of the most prominent astronomers/scientists/architects/minds from uzbekistan’s history, used to conduct astronomical research here in the 15th it was one of the most impressive observatories in the islamic world.
Imam al-bukhari mausoleum: an islamic scholar’s mausoleum in a complex filled with leafy trees and intricate woodwork. you’ll need a taxi to reach the mausoleum, but it’s worth it to escape crowds
border crossing: uzbekistan to tajikistan
It was previously closed to foreigners, this overland border crossing between samarkand and panjakent is now incredibly easy to cross. the entire process took less than one hour! the ‘stans are making an effort to ease overland travel, and it shows .
day 3 | panjakent
After crossing the border going to the hotel for accommodation . Overnight in the hotel. Morning going to sightseeing of the city .
Panjakent: an ancient welcome to tajikistan
Panjakent was once the capital of the sogdian empire, a zoroastrian civilization well predating islam in the region. though most people travel to tajikistan for trekking, there are several ancient sites in the area worth visiting on your way to the mountains.
Part of your day is for crossing from uzbekistan to tajikistan, but it’s so easy you should still have time for checking out some ruins and relics.
places to visit around panjakent:
sarazm: a stone’s throw away from the border crossing are the unesco-listed ruins of sarazm. more than 5,000 years old, they’re remains of the first agricultural society in central asia. a remarkably tall human skeleton, dubbed the “princess of sarazm”, was found here with some of her ornaments. archaeologists also found artifacts indicating ancient trading routes stretching as far as modern day iran and pakistan.
panjakent bazaar: this bazaar has a beautiful central building ringed by brick archways. it’s a good place to stock up on trekking snacks like nuts and dried fruits, or get your first taste of tajik hospitality.
old panjakent: the 1,500+ year old ruins of ancient panjakent are outside the city, accessible by taxi or hitchhiking. the hilltop site spans several kilometers; roam through it at your leisure. here archaeologists found remarkably well-preserved frescoes. they’ve since been relocated to the rudaki museum in panjakent, the national museum in dushanbe, and the hermitage in st. petersburg, russia. you can see copies in the small museum at the old panjakent entrance.
day 4 Panjakent - Ruknobod - Istaravshan
After sightseeing Panjakent city driving to Ruknobod village and I will offer you stay in my home for night , i want to show Tajik hospitality and feasting with you in my home . Overnight in Ruknobod . Morning driving to the mausoleum of The Founder of Tajik and Persian Literature A Rudaki . After in the morning drive to istaravshan through shakhristan tunnel. Visit a local bazaar, hazrat shah architectural complex, which consists of hazrat shah mausoleum, the grave of brother of kusam ibn abbas, khudayar valami mausoleum, and namazgah mosque dating back to 19th century. Continue to mug teppe, one of the ancient settlements in istaravshan. the city is believed to be founded by king cyrus in the north-east boundary of his empire. Overnight in the homestay .
day 5 ISTARVSHAN- Khujand
breakfast. at 10:00 sightseeing in khujand: republican historical-ethnographic museum, timur-malik fortress, archaeological museum, mosque and madrasah of shaikh muslihiddin, payshanba bazaar and a lot of significant sights . Overnight in the hotel.
Day 6 Khujand - Tashkent . Breakfast and after driving to the Oybek border ( crossing the border). Till lunch you have enough time to visit significant sights of Tashkent . At lunch transferring to the airport for departure. The end of the tour.
Price per person :1180$
THE PRICE INCLUDES:
-All transfers and transport; All accommodation. Hotel, Guest houses and Homestays.
-All meals (B.L.D.)
-1L bottled water per day for each
- interpreter services
-VAT Tax and Profit of organization;
THE PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:
-Visa, international flight;
-Photo and video charges;
-All personal expenses (extra luggage fee, room service, medical expenses/insurance, etc.)
-Fees for extra service (folklore performance, meetings);
-Tips to the guides, drivers and donkey men;
For a confirmed booking, a deposit of (10%) is required. Deposit is paid by credit card (secure payment via Stripe, no credit card fees). The remaining balance can be paid in cash upon start of the trip - unless Host & Traveler agree on different payment methods.
Cancellations can be made free of charge up to 30 days prior to the beginning of the booked service. The deposit (10%) is only refundable if the booking is canceled at least 30 days in advance.