To get us from Tashkent to Osh we hired a car from Osh Guesthouse to take us from Tashkent through Fergana valley. Despite this not being a total budget option, we took it as we still had it in our head that we were pushed for time in Kyrgyzstan as we were aiming for an early June flight from Almaty, Kazakhstan to Olgii, Mongolia. We also wanted to stop off at Margilan overnight so we could see the silk factory in the morning before heading for the border.
In hindsight, this isn’t the best option if you are tight for cash and have the time available, but it is a lot less hassle. Normally this route would probably involve :
Tashkent metro to shared taxi point for Fergana, shared taxi to Fergana, shared taxi to Margilan, shared taxi to border (which may mean going back to Fergana which isn’t far). If you avoided the Margilan bit I think this should cost around $30 each in total if you get lucky with the prices. Our taxi for 2 cost $130, but it was faster and had less sitting around time – it would probably have been the same cost for 4 people though.
The major downside about this trip for us though is that we expected to get some help getting accommodation and it didn’t quite materialise. We spent about an hour circling Margilan trying to find the silk factory and unfortunately the silk factory owners weren’t letting us stay in their homestay that night due to some issues with the toilet or something. The driver got some information about another hostel from a very helpful guide at the factory and he told us it was about $25 a room and central so we could walk to the bazaar and get some food. After asking directions several times, the driver ended up taking us to some hotel in a housing scheme on the outskirts of Margilan where we couldn’t eat, and were too far out to walk to any other places, even thought we think the hotel should only have been minutes away. After some confusion we said we wanted to be closer to the centre, spoke to some owner on the phone, the price was misunderstood, and we got dropped in the fairly central ‘Hotel Aslan’ which ended up costing us a whopping $50 per night! By this point we had been circling Margilan for around 3 hours and we hadn’t done anything so we weren’t really in the mood to try and discuss any alternatives as the driver spoke no English, and us no Russian. We don’t know where the driver stayed that night but we’re convinced his car never moved, and convinced he never paid $50 a night…..but maybe we’re just being paranoid.
In the hotel we were told there was a restaurant, but it ended up only being used for breakfast, and we were walked 50 yards along the road to the manager’s restaurant and ate there. He has said a meal was 8000 each, yet the menu price which we paid directly was about half of that. When we checked out and tried to pay in dollars (as the room rate was displayed in dollars) he tried to use an inflated exchange rate (it was even inflated at black market rates!) so we had to punch another exchange rate into his calculator and offered that instead. On the plus side, the room was massive, but the TV never offered any foreign channels so it really wasn’t worth it for us – a $6 a night room would have been fine.
We visited the silk factory (see other post) in the morning and crossed the border into Kyrgyzstan soon after.
All in all, it was a very easy taxi ride for us between Tashkent and Osh, and it got us our night in Margilan and to see the silk factory. The major downside for us is the way the accommodation worked out which is partially due to us not just booking somewhere ourselves, and because the homestay wasn’t available which Osh Guesthouse did try to give the driver details of. In hindsight it would have been better just to stay in Fergana for the night (despite it pretty much being the anniversary of the Andijon massacre, which is when there can be occasional incidents).