Uzbekistan is a landlocked country in central Asia. In ancient times, Uzbekistan was part of the Iranian-speaking region of Transoxiana and Turan. Eastern Iranian nomads, known as Scythians were the first recorded settlers. In the 7th century, the Muslim conquest converted the majority of the population, including the local ruling classes, into adherents of Islam. Cities such as Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara, during this period, saw wealth grow from the Silk Road. Central Asia as a whole and the local Khwarezmian dynasty, were destroyed by the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. Following the Mongol Conquests, the area was dominated by Turkic peoples. In the 16th century, the area was conquered by Uzbek Shaybanids, moving the center of power from Samarkand to the city of Bukhara. This was perhaps Central Asia’s most complete example of a medieval city, long a center for Islamic theology and scholarship. In modern times, it heralds a plethora of striking mosques, mausoleums, and madrasahs – the most magnificent at the Registan – a landmark of Islamic architecture in historic Samarkand.
A visa is not required to enter Uzbekistan and you are able to visit for up to 30 days if you carry a UK passport. For USA passport holders, a visa is required but can be applied for online.
Uzbek women dress conservatively, wearing traditional clothing that covers ankles and wrists. Tourists can wear everyday clothing that is comfortable.
Formed over thousands of years, the culture of Uzbekistan is vibrant and unique – blending the traditions and customs of the peoples, who throughout history have inhabited the territory of modern Uzbekistan. The ancient Persians, Greeks, Arabs, Chinese, Russians, and nomadic Turkic tribes have all contributed to Uzbek culture, which is considered the epitome of Central Asian cultural crossroads. The traditions reflecting the multinational nature of Uzbekistan are omnipresent in its music, dance, painting, applied arts, language, cuisine, and clothing. Each region of Uzbekistan has its own unique shades as well, which are most clearly manifested in national dress and local dialects. The music of Uzbekistan, with its close ties to folklore and Uzbek poetry, is a unique manifestation of the ancient culture of the Uzbek people. Shashmak, a special genre of music included by UNESCO in the list of masterpieces of oral and intangible cultural heritage of mankind, is especially noteworthy. Classical and modern popular music have some similarities with generally accepted world music but maintain their own unique flavour due to the special sound of Uzbek musical instruments.
Though tipping is not expected, do tip for services. Normal tipping is 3 to 5% of the value. For guides, tipping varies depending on the group size. For small groups of less than 10 tourists, 5 to 10 dollars per day is expected and appropriate. Andante Travels will take care of gratuities to restaurant staff, local guides and drivers.