Tashkent, Uzbekistan Travel Tips

by budgettravelnotes on May 23, 2010

 Whilst spending 4 nights around Tashkent and having the benefit from a local’s introduction, here’s some tips on travel in Tashkent and the rest of Uzbekistan.  There’s also some information on changing money.

Every Car’s a Taxi

The majority of cars act as taxi’s in Tashkent. There are some official taxi’s but I never ended up using them.  The unofficial ones could teach efficiency to taxi companies around the world as they see to read your mind and always pull up the minute you think of getting one.   Of course you have to remember these are unlicensed but going by the friendliness of most people we met I would imagine the problems encountered are few and far between.

When you walk along the street next to the road and hear on horn honking or see flashing lights there’s a good chance the driver’s asking if you want a lift.  Then the negotiations begin…..to be honest they’re pretty easy – usually they’ll ask for about 5000 Sum but most lifts around town could be haggled down to 3-4000 Sum – and that would be for going from the centre out to Chorsu Bazaar.  Maybe this is more than it should be but it’s $2-3 depending on the exchange rate you got.

Tashkent Metro

The Uzbek’s are rightly proud of their Metro system – it was Central Asia’s first and started running in 1977.  The stations are all different and quite ‘Soviet’ in style.  It’s worth taking a trip around a few of the stations, even if you just pop your head out of the doors to catch a glimpse.  As an example Kosmonavtlar has big ceramic discs with Cosmonauts on them.

The fare is a flat 500 Sum regardless of journey and it’s very easy.  There’s no machines like London or Tokyo and it’s not very busy.  Head into a station (denoted by a small M or newer red Metro signs) and hand money to the desk and you’ll get a blue plastic disc to pop into the machines are you pass – don’t look for a ticket as you won’t get anything back and you just walk out the other side (don’t pass through the turnstiles again when exiting – just head out).

Some guidebooks may say you could get hassle from the police but I think this is outdated now – but don’t take photos in the stations.

If you arrive in Tashkent by train you can enter the metro from directly outside the station and move around the city.

Tram, Bus and Shared Taxi

As well as the Metro, Tashkent also has trams (although some I saw looked like you’d be quicker jogging ;-> ), buses and minibuses (referred to as “marshrutka”).  Marshrutka’s and shared taxi’s operate further afield as well.  Marshrutka’s are like Ford Transit sized minibuses and operate for a fixed fare e.g. 1200 Sum (around 80 cents officially) for a 40 minute trip to Chirchik whereas shared taxi’s may be more negotiable.  Both tend to leave when full or you pay the price for remaining seats.  I never used the buses or trams so can’t comment but some of the buses are very modern.

Marshrutka’s heading towards Chimgan in the mountains leave from outside the Maxim Gorky metro station at the end of the blue line.

Trains

Trains are a comfy way of visiting Sarmarkand and Bukhara taking 3-7 hours.  A normal 7 hours train to Bukhara is around $40 return.  It’s easy to buy a ticket and easy to find your train – there’s probably only going to be one in or your departure time.  Look for the coach corresponding to the ‘Vagon’ number on your ticket – it’ll be displayed in the windows of each car by the door.  The inspectors will check as you board your coach anyway.

If you get trains to other countries ensure you have the relevant transit visas – e.g. Bukhara to Fergana Valley will cross through Tajikistan.

Internal Flights

Bukhara could be done in a day if you were flash with cash and short of time.  It’s about $50 each way I think.  You could fly in one direction and take the train back via Samarkand.

Changing Money / ATM’s


Whatever you change you’re going to get a lot of money to carry around and if you’ve seen the China Lonely Planet, everyone thinks it’s big.  This is $45 USD worth of Uzbek Sum.  I can’t remember seeing any ATMs in Tashkent.  For this reason I never entered any banks as I took all the expected cash in dollars.  I’ve heard reports of there being some in upmarket hotels such as Hotel Uzbekistan but I’m not sure.

When I was there in May 2010 there was a very active black market where you could get 30-40% more.  This varies a great deal and you’re obviously taking some risks as there’s a heavy police presence around the city.  Ask other travellers, your guesthouse or listen closely as you walk around bazaars etc, but of course I wouldn’t condone this behaviour…..(!)

Expect to get a lot of cash to walk around with so don’t change too much at once.  For $50 allegedly I’d get over 100,000 Sum on the black market.  The largest note is 1000 sum (around 50 cents US) so it’s a big pile!

I hope that helps a bit.  If there’s anything else you want to know, drop me a note and I’ll see if I can answer.

I’ll be putting a summary page for Uzbekistan in the Country Guides section when I can which will have better indication about how to read your train ticket, some sample prices for shared taxis etc.

Have you recently visited Tashkent?  Do you have experiences of the buses, or did you exchange money, or use ATM’s there?  If so, please leave a comment so the notes above can be more accurate.

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