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Get around in Uzbekistan

Posted by in on 5-20-13

By train

The main line Tashkent – Samarkand – Bukhara is served by two express trains named “Registon” and “Sharq”: The “Registon” brings you from Tashkent in less than 4 hours to Samarkand and the “Sharq” makes the 600-km-journey Tashkent – Bukhara (with intermediate stop in Samarkand) in about 7,5 hours. A daily overnight train from Tashkent to Bukhara offers the possibility to travel during the night and win one day. Comfortable sleeping cars allow a good sleep.

Recently a new train “Afrosiob” started operating on Tashkent – Samarkand line. This Talgo-250-type train makes a respective distance in 2.5 hours time. Unlike to ordinary local trains, there are 3 classes in “Afrosiob”: economy class – 36 persons per carriage room, in business and VIP. Economy class costs 46 thousand soums (roughtly $25 at official rate), business class – 65 thousand soums and VIP – 80 thousand soums. You may also expect some free drinks and snacks. It is planned to extend the “Afrosiob” line to Bukhara and, subsequently, to Khiva by 2014-2015.

Overnight trains also run from Tashkent and Samarkand to Urgench (3 times weekly) and to Nukus – Kungrad (2 times weekly), so it’s also possible to travel to Khiva (30 kilometers from Urgench, taxi/bus available) or to the Aral lake (Moynaq, 70 km from Kungrad) by train.

There are three types of trains:

* fast trains (skory poyezd) or express trains (train nos 1 to 149)
* slower trains (skorostnoi poyezd) (train nos 151 to 169), and
* passenger trains (passazhirski poyezd) (train nos 171 to 699).

There are four types of sleepers:

* soft wagon (miagki vagon) – 2 berth compartments
* kupeiny vagon – 4 berth compartments
* platskartny vagon – benches in a large car
* obshi vagon – don’t take that one

 By shared taxi

The second best option, and an experience. Don’t be put off – these are pretty safe as far as the people go, the roads are a different story – when they exist! But for getting between Nukus and Khiva, or Khiva to Urgench to Bukhara, this is the only realistic way to go.

The taxi driver will have a destination city – so at the ranks ask around for the city you’re headed to. If you match, you then negotiate a rate. Ask around beforehand, you can quite easily get ripped off, because each passenger negotiates separately with the driver, so he can charge locals normal rates and take you for all you have.

Once you’ve done that, you wait. The car only leaves when full, or when the driver gets bored enough. If possible, get thr front passenger seat – ‘only a lemon takes the middle seat’. Don’t be polite about this – you do NOT want that middle seat. When it’s 50C+ in the middle of the desert, with no airconditioning (you pay extra for a car with that), you want to be as close to a window as possible, and with only one person sweating against you!

Also, the roads are slow and sometimes barely existent – dirt tracks with potholes. It takes 6-8 hours from Urgench to Bukhara if you’re lucky. Still, the car will probably make it – when you do this section you’ll understand why you don’t want to risk the bus.

 By bus

Bus travel is only for the truly adventurous and not for anyone in a hurry in Uzbekistan. Except for special tours, buses are old, decrepit, crowded, painfully slow and prone to frequent breakdowns. If you do travel any distance on a bus in Uzbekistan, take toilet paper with you and be careful what you eat at stops along the way.

 Others

You can travel by private taxi, minibus, or normal bus. While there are official taxis, most cars will become taxis if you wave them down. Meters are rare, so negotiate the price beforehand.

 By car

Drive on the right. International driving permit required. Minimum age: 17. Speed limit: 60 to 80 km/h in urban areas, 90 km/h on highways.

There are several paved highways with two lanes in Uzbekistan:

* AH5 from Gishtkuprik/Chernyavka on the border to Kazakhstan via Tashkent, Syrdaria, Samarkand, Navoi and Bukhara to Alat on the border to Turkmenistan (680 km),
* AH7 from the border to Kyrgysztan via Andijon, Tashkent and Syrdaria to Xovos/Khavast on the border to Tajikistan (530 km),
* AH62 from Gishtkuprik/Chernyavka on the border to Kazakhstan via Tashkent, Syrdaria, Samarkand and Guzar to Termez on the border to Afghanistan (380 km),
* AH63 from Oazis on the border to Kazakhstan in the North West of Uzbekistan via Nukus and Bukhara to Guzar (950 km paved road, 240 km unpaved)
* AH65 from Uzun on the border to Tajikistan to Termez on the border to Afghanistan (180 km)

 Urban transport

During the day the metro (underground train) is the good option. After 12 midnight you are recommended to use taxi services. It is better to call the taxi (car-service) to pick you up in advance. Some car-services can serve the foreign speaking tourists. You can get more information in the hotel.

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