The currency of Uzbekistan is the sum (UZS). Uzbekistan is considered a very accessible country. There are some functional ATMs in Tashkent. At the time of this text, the most that could be achieved in other banks - NBU - were cash advances very disadvantageous against presenting credit cards, or discounting traveler checks.
There are enough hotels in the country to meet current tourist demand. In historic cities such as Bukhara and Khiva, the most appealing are secular buildings adapted from old madrassas. Without the sophistication or comfort of the best hotels in other parts of the world, they provide stays that are truly historic experiences. Bear in mind, however, that the most reputable hotels of this type charge the highest rates for stays in the country, €100 to €150 in high season, per double room, per night.
Alternatively, there are hotels and small inns of a more urban nature with affordable accommodation prices. Another popular form of accommodation all over the country is campsites. yurts, large typical tents lined up with smaller ones which, in total, can accommodate dozens of people. Expect to pay around €45 to €60 per person per night with meals and camel rides included
The most famous are:
Nurata Yurt Camp, about 500 km, 7 hours drive from Tashkent
Ayaz Kala Yurt Camp, about 100 km from Khiva, 70 km from Urgench
Aydar Yurt Camp, in the Navoi region, in the heart of the Kyzyl Kum Desert
The Uzbeks pride themselves on their cuisine and each restaurant makes a point of serving national dishes and delicacies – osh (plov), chushvara, manti, sumsa e lagman, among many others, with a particular touch. Always ask for the letter – if available with translation and English – in order to know what you are going to order and to be able to control how much you will pay. Besides, you don't need to look for the most renowned restaurants in the country to have a optimum experience. If you have the weather for that, sit on a terrace restaurant and enjoy one of the best cuisines in Central Asia, at very affordable prices. In a popular restaurant, expect to pay €4 on average per person for a simple meal, €12 cap for a multi-course meal and everything else included.
There are Internet cafes in most cities. Alternatively, if you have an unlocked smartphone, or laptop and a pen (USB stick compatible), you can buy a SIM card from the Ucell, Beeline or Perfectum Mobile brands. For this, you have to present your passport.
VISA AND OTHER PROCEDURES
A visa is required to enter Uzbekistan and cannot be obtained upon arrival. In good ex-Soviet fashion, the application process must be done at the nearest consular section and is demanding and bureaucratic. You can always simplify it if you choose to travel with the support of a Portuguese travel agency/operator. In this case, you only have to send the valid passport well in advance and the Uzbek receptionist will arrange to obtain the visas and return the passports in due time.
Usually from June to October there are some cases of malaria but only in the south and east of the country, along the borders with Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan.
For more information on traveling health, see the Health Portal of the Ministry of Health and Tropical and Traveler Medicine Clinic. In FitForTravel find country-specific health and disease prevention advice (in English).
JOURNEY TO USBKISTAN
The fastest, cheapest and most practical way to get from Lisbon to Uzbekistan is to fly with the Turkish Airlines, via Istanbul. The flight must have a minimum duration of 15 hours (including stopover) and a price of around €850.
Most tourist routes are well served by flights operated by the national airline, the Uzbekistan Airways. Book more than three days in advance to avoid problems with Overbooking at airports. Even so, it's not 100% guaranteed that it won't happen.
The country's main line is Tashkent – Samarkand – Bukhara is regularly covered by trains of considerable size. One of them, the “Registon” takes 4 hours to travel from the capital Tashkent to Samarkand. A more recent one, the “Afrosiob” connects Tashkent to Samarkand in just 2,5 hours. THE “Sharq” travels the 600km that separate Tashkent from Bukhara in 7,5 hours.
One of these trains runs the entire route at night with sleeping carriages, which allows you to save a night's stay and rest on this route. Other very useful overnight itineraries link Tashkent with Samarkand and Urgench; even to Nukus-Kungrad. These connections are advantageous and quiet approximations to Khiva and to the Aral Sea, two of the most emblematic places in Uzbekistan.
There are several types of trains:
Fast (weave poyezd) or expressed; high speed (yuqori tezlikdagi poyezd); of Passengers (yo'lovchi tashuvchi poyezd)
There are also four types of wagons and sleeping compartments:
Soft (alohida xonali wagon) – 2 bunk compartments; Kupeli – 4 bunk compartments; platskart – bunk beds occupying an entire carriage.
Choose the bus for long journeys if you are on a hyper-tight budget and have plenty of time for the slow journey and patience for all the unforeseen events that may happen. The rest stops themselves can turn out to be an adventure, made in roadside restaurants with few or no conditions, including worse-than-basic bathrooms.
City buses, on the other hand, operate with relative stability and speed. Again, only if you are on a tight budget, they are a great alternative to inexpensive taxis. In Tashkent there is a subway. If the metro passes where you want to go, prefer the metro.
At the time of creation of this text, there were no rent-a-cars in Uzbekistan. It is possible to drive your own car but you will have to buy it or bring it from another country. Uzbekistan continues to follow the Soviet tradition. If you dare to drive your own car, be prepared for frequent stop operations with little consistency where officials are likely to suggest certain offers to save you from higher expenses with fines and other liabilities.
As an alternative to buying a car, you can hire a driver with your own car. It is not easy to estimate a price for this type of service. Above all, bargain with patience and courtesy and agree on a value that feels fair to both parties. If you want a reference, in Uzbekistan, fuel and other expenses apart from €60 to €150 per day will probably be seen as excellent payouts.
Uzbekistan, like many of Central Asia's neighbors, is a country of great climatic contrasts. Winter invariably brings freezing temperatures with little precipitation that when it occurs is snow. During the long summer, dry but very intense heat is usual, easily 40ºC or 45ºC very real in Tashkent and other lowlands.
Taking into account these extremes and that most of the scarce rain (the country is semi-desert) falls in March and April, unless you are an inveterate fan of cold, ice and snow or suffocating heat, the ideal is to plan your trip to late spring – mid March to late May – or autumn – mid September to late October.