Frequently asked questions
Do I need a visa?
From 01 February 2019, Uzbekistan is visa free for British passport holders for 30 days travel.
How long is the flight?
If you fly direct with Uzbekistan Airways, you’ll reach Tashkent in a little under 7hrs. Flying in-direct on Turkish Airlines typically takes two to three hours longer.
How will I travel around the country on a TransIndus tour?
Tailor-made travellers will have a dedicated luxury vehicle at their disposal. We only use new, or nearly new saloon cars or comfortable mini-vans, all fully air-conditioned and expertly driven by experienced chauffeurs.
In some instances we may recommend you take a short domestic flight as distances from Tashkent to the far west of the country (Urgench and Khiva, for example) are considerable and much more conveniently covered by air.
What are the roads like?
Road conditions vary greatly in Uzbekistan. In rural and desert areas, bumpy, pot-holed tarmac is the norm, but most of the major trunk routes have been re-constructed by South Korean and German companies in recent years and are of international standard. Outside the capital, traffic is light.
What about guides?
A guide will accompany you for the duration of your trip, helping you to interpret what you experience, translate for you, decipher menus and fill in the historical context. Tourist guides in Uzbekistan have to go through exhaustive training to qualify, and the job is one of a much higher status than it tends to be in Europe and the US. We only use the most experienced, English-speaking guides.
Will I need to tip?
Tipping isn’t the norm in hotels, cafés or restaurants, but if you have appreciated the services of your guide and driver, a tip is the best way to express your appreciation.
Is there internet access?
In major towns and cities you’ll be able to get online via your hotel’s WiFi. Elsewhere, coverage is poor and speeds slow.
Will I be able to use my mobile while I’m there?
Mobile phone coverage in Uzbekistan is patchy, but sufficient in the main towns and cities to receive and make calls. Consult your service provider for details of cost.
What are the toilets like?
Expect a mix of Western loos in your hotels and squat toilets when you’re out and about. Generally, standards of hygiene are good, though you may wish to bring along a packet of wipes and hand-sanitizer.
Can you drink the water?
As a rule of thumb, we recommend clients avoid drinking local tap water and stick to bottled water, which is available everywhere.
Is Uzbekistan Airways safe?
Yes. The state flag-carrier has an excellent safety record, both for its international and domestic routes, although internal flights are frequently delayed.
What kind of hotels can I expect to stay in?
We surveyed scores of hotels during our research trips to Uzbekistan and choose only the best in each category for our clients, ensuring a comfortable stay wherever you are travelling. That said, standards of service and maintenance are not always as high elsewhere in Asia, and you should expect the odd rough edge. On those rare occasions when problems do arise, however, they are resolved promptly and cordially in our experience.
What is the food like?
Uzbek cuisine is simple, but tasty. Flavours depend on freshness and everything is prepared to order. Sashlik kebabs (chicken, mutton, beef or lamb), prepared on a smokey, open grill and served with salad and oven-baked flatbreads are the staple, and they’re always succulent and delicious, with a subtle mix of spices, herbs, lemon juice and tahini adding interest. You’ll also be served variations of the national dish, ‘plov’, a steaming pilaf cooked in layers of rice, onions, carrots with lamb or beef, and little hard-boiled quails eggs and quinces as accompaniment.
I’m a vegetarian. Will I find anything to eat on restaurant menus?
Yes. Everywhere offers a generous selection of salads, often served with pine nuts and poppy. Aubergine dishes are much loved in Uzbekistan. One of most popular is grilled aubergine stuffed with walnuts and pomegrates, with green chillis, coriander leaves and lemon juice. You’ll also be offered suzma – tangy yoghurt cheese which can be green (with dill and parsley), white (garlic) or pink (with pulverized beetroot). And of course, you’ll never be far from a plate of freshly baked Uzbek bread.
Are Uzbek people happy to be photographed?
Like anywhere else, you should always ask permission before photographing people, and as a rule, it will be granted with a smile and regarded as a compliment. Younger people react very positively and may well approach you requesting selfies for their Instagram page. More senior locals, however, sometimes feel self-conscious and may refuse.
What is the currency and how do you change money?
The Uzbek s’om. Due to rampant inflation over the past decade, you should expect to carry large amounts of cash just to pay a restaurant bill or make a souvenir purchase. The largest denomination, the 50,000 s’om note, is around £5.50 at current rates of exchange, and smallest denominations worthless. Your guide will be able to advise on the best ways to change money during your trip.
Will I be able to use my debit or credit card?
No. You’ll need to take along sufficient cash to see you through. Your TransIndus consultant will be able to suggest how much spending money may be required.
Is Uzbekistan a safe country to travel in?
Yes, extremely safe. It is rare for any foreigners to be the victim of crime. We have not experienced a single instance during our years operating in the country.