How to Get to Uzbekistan
Islam Karimov Airport operates flights to and from major destinations in Europe and Asia. I don’t need to tell you how to book a flight, but you can check Trip.com as they usually have some great deals.
Uzbekistan shares land borders with Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. It’s possible to cross all of these borders with varying levels of ease.
I have personally crossed to and from Kazakhstan on many occasions and once from Turkmenistan.
Be aware that some medications that are legal elsewhere in the world are highly illegal in Uzbekistan and the border guards are likely to search your medical kit for contraband. When I crossed from Turkmenistan in 2017 they rigorously checked everything, but when I crossed from Kazakhstan in 2019 they didn’t search me at all.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth office advises checking this list from the official website of the State Customs Committee of Uzbekistan prior to departure.
Afghanistan: Uzbekistan shares a small border with Afghanistan in the far south of the country. There is a road that leads from Mazar e Sharif in Afghanistan to the border with Uzbekistan. Once crossed, you will arrive in the Uzbek town of Termiz, which has a daily overnight train to Tashkent (via Samarkand).
Kazakhstan: From Almaty take the overnight train to Shymkent. From there take a taxi to the border (2 hours / 5,000 Tenge). Cross the border on foot (avoid early mornings where you can queue for three hours or more, and cross instead during the middle of the day).
Once you have crossed the border you can take a taxi for the short ride into Tashkent (30 minutes / 1,00,000 Som). Read my full report; How to get from Almaty to Tashkent.
Kyrgystan: There is a bus that connects Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan with Tashkent. The overnight journey takes around 14 hours.
Tajikistan: There are multiple land borders between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. See Caravanistan for information on each of these.
Turkmenistan: There is a road that goes all the way from Ashgabat in Turkmenistan to the Uzbek border near Nukus and Urgench. The road is rough and it can be slow going. The border is in the middle of nowhere and you have to cross the no-mans-land of 1km either by foot or by minibus ($1).
Do not exchange money with anyone at the border, especially the soldiers, as you will get ripped off (or so I heard…)!
There is no public transport from the border to Urgench so you will need to take a taxi (there should be some waiting). In 2017 it cost my friend and me $50, which was a rip-off, but we didn’t really have any choice.
Getting Around Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan has a decent railway network that links all the major cities. The trains can be old and without air conditioning so try and avoid journeys in the height of summer as it can be unbearable (I’m speaking from experience). Visit the Uzbek Railways website for prices and timetables.
Taxis in Uzbekistan
Taking a taxi in Uzbekistan can be something of an adventure, but unfortunately, the chances of being ripped off are high. Out of maybe 10 taxi journeys I took in 2019, only one driver didn’t increase the agreed cost on a variety of pretexts (need to charge for my bag, the cost was for 1 passenger, but you need to pay the same for the empty seats etc). Proceed with caution.