Khiva, Uzbekistan Khiva City Walls, Uzbekistan

Exeter’s Perfect Week in Uzbekistan

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

Masterfully designed by one of Exeter's Uzbekistan experts, Stella Bayley, this is her perfect week in Uzbekistan.  Please contact Exeter International to customize and tailor your perfect week in Uzbekistan.


Day 1
Arrival | Tashkent - Khiva Khiva, Uzbekistan

Arrival into Tashkent where you will be met by your guide and driver for a transfer to your hotel. Early check- in is included as most hotels arrive in the middle of the night. After checking-in at your hotel, take some time at leisure to relax and settle-in.

Today, around noon, you will meet your guide in the hotel lobby for a visit to some of the main sites of Tashkent before you depart. Begin in Tashkent’s Old City, where you will visit the Barak Khan Madrasah from the 16th century, and the Tillya Sheikh Mosque. The mosque houses a rich Islamic library with ancient manuscripts, including the famous Uthman Koran, considered to be the oldest copy of the Koran in the world. Later, you will see the 16th-century Kukaldosh Madrassah, which is one of the few remaining authentic historic monuments in the Old Town (the massive earthquake of 1968 destroyed most of central Tashkent), which is one of the largest Islamic schools in Central Asia.

If you are interested, your guide will also take you to the Applied Arts Museum. This building was constructed at the end of the 19th century in the elaborate style of the period as a private residence of a wealthy merchant. It now displays various types of national handicrafts, including carpets, jewelry, woodcarving and gold embroidery from the 19th and 20th centuries.

If you enjoy ceramics, you will be astounded by the gorgeous ceramic tiles you will see all over Uzbekistan. We recommend visiting the workshop of a famed Uzbek ceramist who comes from a dynasty of ceramic artists. His workshop and peaceful gardens give an insight into the ceramic arts in Uzbekistan.

In the early evening you will transfer to the airport for your onward flight to Khiva (note: cost of flight is included in program). Upon arrival in Khiva this evening, check into your hotel and enjoy an evening at leisure.

Exeter Services: Airport Transfers; Vehicle, Driver & Guide (afternoon tour)

Hotel:  Tashkent – Hyatt Regency Tashkent and Khiva – Malika Kheivak / Orient Star / Erkin Palace / Bek or similar

Day 2
Khiva - Bukhara | Khiva - Bukhara Silk Carpet Workshop - Khiva, Uzbekistan

Begin today with an exploration of Khiva, with an origin dating to the 6th century. It has a long history of barbaric rulers and your guide will give you a glimpse into their colorful stories. Today, approximately 40,000 people live and work inside the ancient city walls (called Ichan Kala). Within these walls, the old town of Khiva is an official “city museum,” where you will find several interesting sites.

One of the most notable sites within the walls of Khiva is the Kunya Ark. This was the former fortress and residence of the Khiva rulers since the 12th century. Step inside to the courtyards of this partially restored fortress to see the former harem, mint, stables and more.

You will also visit the Djuma Mosque, which was built in the 10th century and rebuilt in the 18th century. Its unique design features a roof supported by 218 wooden columns, possibly an early Arabic influence. The two openings in the roof provide light for only the inner courts, while the opposite walls lie hidden from sight by the colonnade. The mausoleum of Pakhlavan Makhmud with its full turquoise dome has become a symbol of Khiva, along with the nearby Islam Khodja Minaret, banded in dark and light blue.

In the afternoon, if you are interested, a visit to a silk carpet workshop sponsored by UNESCO could be arranged.

Afterwards, and if you are interested, you can attend a traditional folk show at one of the Hareems in Khiva.

Transfer to airport & take evening flight at 9PM on Tuesdays and Sundays to Bukhara (note: cost of flight is included in program). Upon arrival, transfer to hotel.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide; Airport Transfers

Hotel: Minorai Kalon/ Omar Hayyam / Minzifa / Basilic / Zargaron Plaza or similar

Day 3
Bukhara | Bukhara Ark - Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Today you will explore one of the main centers of Persian civilization. Bukhara is actually an oasis in the Kyzyl Kum desert and is located on the banks of the Zeravshan River. It has been inhabited since approximately 3,000 BC. Located on the historic Silk Road, the city has long been a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. The old city part of the town has a small and friendly feel and much of today’s sights are accessible on foot. There are over a hundred buildings in the UNESCO city center and you will have a very full day of exploration ahead.

Your logical first step will be the massive Ark Fortress – the very core of the ancient city and the oldest building in Bukhara. Initially built in the 5th century, it was used as a royal residence and a fortress until the early 20th century when it fell in the hands of the Russians.

Just opposite the Ark, you will see the Bolo-Khauz Mosque. The earliest part of this religious complex is the pond called Bolo-khauz (The Children’s pond) – one of the few remaining ponds the city of Bukhara. Until the Soviet period there were many such ponds, which were the city’s principal source of water, but they were notorious for spreading diseases and were gradually filled-in in the 1920s.

Don’t miss the Old Town and the impressive Poi Kalyan architectural complex. Its most impressive feature and a popular landmark is the Kalyan Minaret, which was built in the form of a circular 150-foot-high brick tower. A spiral staircase twists up inside the tower leading to a rotunda with 16 arched windows, from which the Muslims in the city were called to prayer. It is said that the tower so impressed Genghis Khan that he ordered it to be spared while his invading army was destroying the rest of the city.

Continue on to the Ulugbeg and Abdulazizkhan madrasahs, which stand facing each other in representation of the two dynasties that once ruled Bukhara – the Ashtarkhanids and Timurids. The Ulugbeg madrasah now houses the Bukhara Restoration History Museum and the Abdulazizkhan madrasah contains the Museum of Wood Carving Art. Next, enjoy the Trading Domes of Bukhara. Since it was located on the Silk Road, Bukhara contained many markets and trading stores. Only four trading domes remain to this day. You will also be able to see an ancient silk market.

At the end of the day you will enjoy a tasting of herbal teas in a local tea house.

Please note that much of today’s touring is on foot and includes walking on cobblestone and stairs. Please wear dress for comfort.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Hotel: Minorai Kalon/ Omar Hayyam / Minzifa / Basilic / Zargaron Plaza or similar

Day 4
Bukhara - Samarkand | Bukhara - Samarkand

Your guide will meet you this morning for a few last visits in Bukhara before you depart. Start with a visit to the Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace. This was the summer residence of the Emir of Bukhara.

Continue on to the Kagan Palace – White Palace built for Tsar Nicholas I. After touring the palace, your driver will meet you for transfer to the train station, where you will board the train to Samarkand (train times may vary). The cost of the train in VIP class is included in your program cost but is subject to availability. Duration of the train is just about 1.5 hours.

Upon arrival in Samarkand, you will transfer to your hotel, where the rest of your evening is at leisure or, you may wish to have a brief evening tour of Samarkand.

Exeter Services: Half-Day Vehicle, Driver & Guide (Bukhara); Station Transfers

Hotel: Dilimah Luxury Premium / Grand Samarkand Superior / Platan or similar

Day 5
Samarkand | Samarkand Shawl Ladies, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Today you can explore one of the most famous towns along the Silk Road and one of the oldest cities in Central Asia – Samarkand. It was sacked by the Mongols under Genghis Khan in 1220s and remained under Mongol domination until the late 14th century, when Timur (Tamerlane) decided to make Samarkand the capital of his empire which extended from India to Turkey.

One of the highlights of today’s tour will certainly be the Registan Square, the most famous landmark and the heart of the ancient city. Registan (Sandy Place) probably got its name from the sand, which was strewn on the ground to soak up the blood from the public executions, which were held there until the early 20th century. Today the Registan complex consists of three main buildings – the 15th-century Ulugbek Madrasah, Tilya-Kori Madrasah and the 17th-century Sher-Dor Madrasah, where, if you are interested, you can get acquainted with the history of Uzbek musical instruments.

You will also visit the Gur Emir (Tomb of the King) Mausoleum – the actual place where Timur was buried. This architectural complex with its bright blue dome contains not only the tomb of Tamerlane, but also the ones of his sons, grandson, and other notable political and religious figures.

One of the highlights of Samarkand is a visit to the Observatory of Ulugbek, located on a hill in the outskirts of the city. Ulugbek turned Samarkand into the intellectual and scientific center of the empire. He built the madrasah on Registan Square and invited Islamic mathematicians and astronomers to study there. His observatory was a remarkable scientific discovery in its time (the early 15th century). As Ulugbek did not have a telescope to work with, he improved the accuracy of his observations by increasing the length of his sextant, which helped him compile one of the best-known star catalogues of that time.

This afternoon, you may also see the Shakhi Zinda Necropolis. This cluster of 11 mausoleums was built during the 14th through the 15th centuries and will allow you to see several types and periods of architecture and design of the region. This religious center is still very much in use today.

Your guide will show you the Bibi Khanym Mosque, which was constructed in the 14th century after Timur’s conquest of India. It is said that some 90 elephants were used to carry from India the precious stones and metals to be used for the decoration of this temple. There is a large marble Koran standing in the center of the mosque’s courtyard and the bazaar next to it has changed little since the time of Tamerlane.

Just before returning to your hotel, be sure to make a stop and visit the Happy Bird handicrafts Center and meet with the famous artist Mr Toir Sharipov.

If time allows, and you are interested, you may wish to visit the Hudjum Silk Carpet Factory.

Return to your hotel, where the rest of your evening is at leisure.

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Before dinner, visit the Khovrenko Wine Factory and caves and enjoy a wine tasting with mini lecture.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Hotel: Dilimah Luxury Premium / Grand Samarkand Superior / Platan or similar

Day 6
Samarkand - Tashkent | Samarkand - Tashkent Registan Square, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

This morning you may choose to walk around Samarkand’s former Jewish quarter and visit the synagogue. You will also walk through the Siyab Bazaar and the Hodja Doniyor Mausoleum.

You will stop by the museum of Local Lore of Samarkand, in the home of Mr. Kalandarov, a famous Jewish merchant.

Afterwards your guide will take you to the small village of Konigil, a few miles from the center of Samarkand. With the help of UNESCO funding, the ancient art of silk papermaking has been revived. You will have the opportunity to learn about this ancient process, brought to Samarkand from China in the 7th century, and have a go at making your own silk paper to take home.

Next, you will meet your driver for the transfer to the train station for the train to Tashkent (train times may vary). The cost of the train in VIP class is included in your program but is subject to availability.

Upon arrival, you will transfer to your hotel where the rest of the evening will be at your leisure.

Exeter Services: Full-Day Vehicle, Driver & Guide (Samarkand); Station Transfers (Samarkand & Tashkent)

Hotel: Hyatt Regency Tashkent

Day 7
Departure | Tashkent Puppets, Market, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Early morning check-out of the hotel and meet your driver for the transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

The cost of the flight is not included.

Exeter Services: Airport Transfer

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