A Two Week Tajikistan & Uzbekistan Itinerary
A Two Week Tajikistan & Uzbekistan Itinerary was originally published in November 2020.
With only a couple of weeks to spare, it’s entirely possible to visit Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in two weeks, taking in some of the highlights each country has to offer.
This is a fairly fast-paced itinerary, including a very active agenda on the Tajikistan side. Not to worry if you’re not up for the hike that I’ve included in Tajikistan, I’ve also included an alternative that is a bit more slow-going.
Two Week Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan Itinerary Table of Contents
A Two Week Uzbekistan & Tajikistan Itinerary
Tashkent – 2 Days
Begin your 2 week Tajikistan and Uzbekistan journey from none other than the fabulous Uzbek capital city of Tashkent. Tashkent doesn’t get a lot of love from many travelers that visit the city as part of their larger Central Asia itinerary, but truth be told, I’ve been back to Tashkent a few times and I really love the city (and I’m not even a city person, per se).
A few things not to miss in Tashkent include the ornate and beautiful Tashkent Metro stations, shopping at the Chorsu Bazaar, paying a visit to the Khast Imam Complex and the nearby stunning white marble Minor Mosque, grabbing a bowl of plov at the Central Asia Plov Center, and visiting Tashkent’s impressive array of museums.
For more information on Tashkent to help you plan an amazing visit, check out my Tashkent Travel Guide, including 15 things to do in Tashkent. Tashkent also has an array of great restaurants, so be sure to read me Best Restaurants in Tashkent Guide.
Where To Stay In Tashkent
- Top Hostel: Top Hostel comes highly rated among the backpacker crowd. Located a short walk from the Tashkent Metro, so getting around the city is relatively easy. Check availability on booking.com and agoda.com.
- The Rooms Stay Boutique: a My go-to choice when in Tashkent. The Rooms Stay Boutique is located tucked into a neighborhood just off of Shota Rustaveli with an array of bars, coffee shops, and restaurants within walking distance as well as Oybek metro station. Shop for rooms on booking.com and agoda.com.
- Ichan Qala Hotel: Ichan Qala Hotel is a good higher-end choice. Shop rates on booking.com and hotels.com.
Getting From Tashkent to Khiva
Getting from Tashkent to Khiva you have two options. The quickest would be by flight. There are several flights per day between Tashkent and nearby Urgench.
The Tashkent-Urgench flights are roughly 1 hour 30 minutes in duration. Once to Urgench, you can grab a shared taxi from Urgench to Khiva, about 35 minutes’ drive time.
Your other option is to go by train as there is a newly (as of 2018) built station in Khiva. The Tashkent to Khiva train will take roughly 14 hours and leaves every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday evening. The train departs at 9 pm and arrives at 10:55 am the following day, though 1-2 hour delays are not uncommon.
There is also a daily direct service from Tashkent to Urgench that departs at 9 pm and arrives in Urgench at 10:10 am the following day.
Khiva – 2 Days
Khiva is actually my favorite city in all of Uzbekistan with its blue tile dazzled attractions and labyrinth-like Ichan Qala. The ancient capital of Khorezm is steeped in history, and despite its small size has plenty to offer visitors.
Some of my favorite things to do in Khiva include climbing the Islam Khoja Minaret to catch the sunset from the top over the city, photographing the beautiful blue Kalta Minor Minaret, and exploring the countless madrasas and mosques inside the ancient walled city. For more on the sites Khiva has to offer to help you plan a perfect Khiva trip, check out my Khiva Travel Guide.
Where To Stay In Khiva
- Islam Khoja Hostel: The perfect budget backpacker option in Khiva. Islam Khoja Hostel comes highly rated. Shop beds at booking.com and agoda.com.
- Arkanchi: A great mid-range option for those visiting Khiva. Check rates on booking.com and hotels.com.
- Hotel Khiva Palace: Go all out on your stay in Khiva. The Hotel Khiva Palace is highly recommended. Shop rooms on booking.com and hotels.com.
Have a month to travel Central Asia? Why not visit Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan too! Start planning with my two week Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan itinerary
Getting From Khiva To Bukhara
Getting from Khiva to Bukhara is simple, with the option of a train or shared taxi.
If wanting to go by train there are fast (afrosiyob) and slow (sharq) trains. The fast train departs Khiva Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday mornings at 8:23 am, arriving in Bukhara at 1:35 pm. The slow train departs Khiva every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday afternoon at 4 pm, arriving at Bukhara at 12:15 am.
A taxi between Khiva and Bukhara will take about 6-8 hours, and give you a bit more flexibility on departure timing. From Khiva, you’ll want to grab a shared taxi to Urgench, which takes about 35 minutes. Once to Urgench, you can easily get in a shared taxi (or pay for the remaining seats in the car for a private trip) to Bukhara, shared taxis will depart when full.
For a thorough rundown of the journey between Khiva and Bukhara, check out Ellis from Backpack Adventure’s ‘how to get from Khiva to Bukhara guide‘.
Bukhara – 2 Days
With over 140 historic buildings, Bukhara packs in over 2,000 years of history. A few not-to-miss sites include the Po i Kalon Complex & Minaret (nicknamed the ‘death tower’), Labi Hauz, Chor Minor, the covered bazaars, the Ark, and countless mosques, madrasas, and mausoleums. If you’re feeling a bit tense, make sure and visit one of the cities hammams.
Plan your perfect stay in Bukhara with my Bukhara Travel Guide, including 19 things to do there.
Where To Stay In Bukhara
- Rushana: Rushana is a pretty good bargain. Shop rooms on booking.com and agoda.com.
- Usman Heritage Hotel: A nice mid-range option in Bukhara that comes highly rated. Check out nightly rates on booking.com and hotels.com.
- Lyabi House Hotel: Lyabi House Hotel is a great option if you’re looking to splurge on your nights in beautiful Bukhara. Check availability on booking.com and agoda.com.
Getting From Bukhara To Samarkand
A fast train connects Bukhara to Samarkand daily in 1 hour 30 minutes, departing Bukhara at 3:50 pm, arriving in Samarkand at 5:20 pm.
To grab a shared taxi to Samarkand from Bukhara, head to the northern, central bus station. A shared taxi ride should take about 4 hours, 30 minutes to Samarkand.
Samarkand – 2 Days
The most well-known of Uzbekistan’s Silk Road cities, Samarkand boasts countless historical sites and stunning Timirid-era architecture. Centered around the gorgeous buildings that comprise the famous Registan, just a few Samarkand highlights include the Gur e Amir Complex, Shah i Zinda Ensemble, Ulugbek Observatory, the Siob, Bazaar, and the Hujum Carpet Factory.
To get the most out of your visit to Samarkand, check out my Samarkand Travel Guide for a full list of everything to do and see in the city. I’d recommend either crossing the border in the late afternoon on your second day in Samarkand or the following morning.
Where To Stay In Samarkand
- Amir Hostel: Amir Hostel comes highly rated, with great room rates and helpful staff. Check for availability on booking.com and agoda.com.
- Samarkand Center Hotel: Conveniently located s short walk from the Registan, Samarkand Center Hotel is my top choice. The family who runs the small hotel is incredibly welcoming and can help you plan your time in Samarkand and arrange onwards transit. Check what rooms are available on booking.com.
- Konstantin Hotel: Konstantin Hotel is an upper-scale option in Samarkand with spacious rooms, a great breakfast spread, and a pool. Check rates on booking.com and agoda.com.
Getting From Samarkand Across The Border To Panjakent, Tajikistan
Getting from Samarkand to Panjakent, your jumping-off point to Tajikistan’s Haft Kul is a simple and easy process thanks to the re-opening of the Panjakent-Samarkand Border in 2018.
From Samarkand, go to the Kaftarkhona Bus Station on the eastern outskirts of the city, you can take marshrutka #41 for 1,300 UZS from the Registan, or call a taxi. From Kaftarkhona Bus Station you’ll grab a shared taxi to the Tajik border for 7,000 UZS per seat.
After you exit Uzbekistan and enter Tajikistan there will be cars waiting on the Tajik side to take you to Panjakent Bazaar for 10 TJS per seat. Panjakent is pretty small, so your accommodation will likely not be too far away. For ideas on what to do in Panjakent, read my quick Panjakent Travel Guide, and for more info on the border crossing itself, check out my Panjakent-Samarkand Border Crossing Report.
Looking to connect Tajikistan with other destinations in Central Asia? Check out my guide to all of Tajikistan’s border crossings.
Start planning out your time in Tajikistan: The Tajikistan Travel Guide
Where To Stay In Panjakent
- Salom Hostel: With a leafy and shaded courtyard and two dorms, Salom Hostel is a perfect budget option in Panjakent. Owner Safar and his wife are extremely welcoming and helpful. Check availability on booking.com and agoda.com.
- Gostinitsa Umariyon: Located smack in the middle of Panjakent along Rudaki Avenue, upstairs from a western-style supermarket. The staff is inviting and helpful but only speak Tajik and Russian. Book a room on booking.com.
Haft Kul – 1 Day
Welcome to Tajikistan! This is where your 2 week Tajikistan and Uzbekistan itinerary gets a bit more adventurous.
From Panjakent reaching the Haft Kul is a breeze. I recommend you arrange a 4×4 to take you to visit the Haft Kul as a day trip, though if you have some spare days, you can spend the night in the Haft Kul, getting from and back to Panjakent using public transport.
The Haft Kul, which translates out to Seven Lakes, is a string of seven lakes, each a different hue of blue set in a narrow and craggy valley located about 90 minutes’ drive time from Panjakent. Six of the lakes are reachable by a dirt road, the seventh you’ll have to continue about 30 minutes on foot to reach.
In the late afternoon, make your way back to Panjakent for the evening. For those with a bit of extra time, I recommend spending a night in the Haft Kul. A lovely man by the name of Jumaboy runs a homestay near Nofin Lake.
Getting To & From The Haft Kul
A 4×4 and driver for the day will cost $80 for the return trip. Enquire with your accommodation in Panjakent, as they typically can help you arrange a driver.
Shared taxis depart in the morning near the Panjakent Bazaar to the Haft Kul area. Plan to pay about 50 TJS for a seat. Shared taxis will depart when full.
Getting To Artuch (Lakes Loop Hike)
To get to Artuch, where you’ll begin your next venture, to the Fann Mountains Lakes Loop, you can grab a shared taxi in the morning near the Panjakent Bazaar. A seat in the shared taxi will cost about 70 TJS, and it will depart when full.
Alternatively, you can pay for the remaining seats in the shared taxi or ask your homestay/guesthouse in Panjakent to arrange a driver to drop you off.
Lakes Loop – 3 Days
Day 1: Artuch To Kulikalon
After you arrive in Artuch in the morning from Panjakent it’s time to start the prepossessing Lakes Loop, a popular route in the Fann Mountains. From the Artuch Alplager, you’ll continue along the dirt track in which you arrived on. About 2 km beyond the Alplager, the road ends.
You’ll continue following fairly clear cut shepherd trails up in the Kulikalon Bowl where you can take your pick at which lake to sleep by. The distance you’ll cover today is about 11 kilometers in length with an elevation gain of just over 1,000 meters.
In the summers (since 2019), a friendly family runs a small chaikhana (teahouse) between Kuliseyakh and Bibijonat Lakes. They also rent out tents that they’ve already set up near the chaikhana.
Plan to spend the remainder of today exploring around the Kulikalon Bowl area- it’s absolutely stunning. Stargazing in the Kulikalon Bowl is usually always epic, so make sure to look up tonight.
On a side note, I recommend you pick up a copy of Trekking in Tajikistan to help you plan your trek in the Lakes Loop (and beyond if you have more time). Get a full packing list for the Fann Mountains here.
Day 2: Kulikalon To Alovaddin
Get an early rise on day 2. Shoot for just before sunrise, trust me you won’t be disappointed. Sunrise, especially around Kuliseyakh and Bibijonat is something that you have to witness while camping in the Kulikalon Bowl.
After you’ve watched the sunrise, head back to camp, and have a big breakfast before you pack up and set out for the day. The trek to Alovaddin Lake today will take all day. There are two routes to choose from to reach Alovaddin, a shorter but stepper jaunt over Alovaddin Pass and a longer and lower elevation gain over Lauden Pass. The Alovaddin Pass route is roughly 14 km in distance with 1,310 meters of elevation gain, and the Lauden Pass route is 18 km in distance with 1,060 meters of elevation gain.
While Lauden Pass is beautiful, Alovaddin Pass offers lovely views of both the Kulikalon Bowl and of Alovaddin Lakes from the top of the pass. Route finding over both passes is a cinch as shepherds use these trails daily, spring through fall.
Once to Alovaddin, you can either rent an already set up tent from the family that runs the chaikhana on the north shore of Lake Alovaddin, or set up your tent on one of the sites they have provided there, or you can head for the south shore of Lake Alovaddin to set up camp. Personally, I usually opt for the south side as the sunrise views from that side are a sight to behold. About 1.5 kilometers downhill and north of Lake Alovaddin you can rent a room at Vertical Alovaddin, an old Russian mountaineering base camp.
Day 3: Alovaddin To Vertical Alovaddin
Just like day two on your Lakes Loop itinerary, I recommend rising just before the sun to watch sunrise unfold here at Alovaddin. Take a walk around the lake to view the color changes from every angle.
After the sunrise show, grab breakfast and spend the day exploring around Lake Alovaddin. If you’re up for another day of trekking, make the journey up to Mutnyi Lake and back, just below Chimtarga Pass.
In the afternoon, plan to get picked up at Vertical Alovaddin Base camp to start your trip down to Dushanbe. Alternatively, you can spend a second night here at Alovaddin and make the journey to the capital in the morning.
For those of you that have more time to add to your Tajikistan and Uzbekistan itinerary, you can easily spend this exploring the Fanns, as there are countless more routes in the range. Check out my Fann Mountains Trekking Guide for more info on various hikes in the area.
Getting From Lake Alovaddin To Dushanbe
In order to do this, you’ll want to arrange a pick up ahead of time to take you from Vertical Alovaddin Base Camp to Sarvoda or Dushanbe.
If you’re trying to cut costs, you can arrange a 4×4 in advance of your Lakes Loop hike to take you from Vertical Alovaddin to Sarvoda. If you have sharp bargaining skills, you can get this cost down to about 200 TJS. From Sarvoda, shared taxis depart the bazaar along the main M34 Highway when full for about 70 TJS.
Hiring a 4×4 driver for the entire drive from Vertical Alovaddin to Dushanbe will likely cost you about 1,700 TJS.
Dushanbe – 2 Days
You’ve reached the end of your 2 weeks in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Welcome to Dushanbe, the eccentric Tajik capital. Dushanbe doesn’t boast very many things to do, but surely you’ll want a slow-paced first day after your adventuring in the Fann Mountains.
I’ve spent quite a lot of time in Dushanbe over the years and am quite fond of the city. Some of my favorite things to do include hanging out in Rudaki Park, visiting Mevlana Yakub Charki Mosque, lazing at the beach at the artificial Komsomol Lake right in front of the Kokhi Navruz that boasts gorgeous ceilings, doing some shopping at the new Mehrong Bazaar, and catching the sunset from Victory Park.
If you’re looking to try a quintessentially Tajik lunch, head to Kurutob Olim (you can hop in any taxi and they’ll know where to go) to try a bowl of delicious Kurutob, Tajikistan’s national dish. If you’re looking for other restaurants to try, foreign and Tajik, check out my Dushanbe Restaurants post.
Enjoy visiting fortresses? Don’t miss nearby Hisor Fort, which makes a nice little half-day trip from Dushanbe. Read more about it in my post How to get to Hisor Fort.
Where To Stay In Dushanbe
- Hello Hostel Dushanbe: Hello Hostel is always my go-to accommodation in Dushanbe, located in a quiet neighborhood. The staff is incredibly helpful. Search different rooms and dorms on booking.com and agoda.com.
- Atlas B&B Hotel: Atlas B&B is a good mid-range option in Dushanbe and centrally located. Check availability on booking.com and agoda.com.
- Hyatt Regency Dushanbe: If you’re looking for something plush and upscale after a few days trekking in the mountains, the Hyatt Regency is your answer. Check rates on booking.com and hotels.com.
Now that your trip has come to a close you have a couple of options for departing. Dushanbe’s small international airport has flights that connect to Moscow and Dubai, as well as other cities in the region such as Tashkent, Bishkek, and Almaty. Alternatively, if you plan to book a roundtrip ticket to Tashkent, you can grab a shared taxi from Dushanbe to Tashkent (you’ll change cars at the border). The journey is long and I would recommend spending the night in Khujand to break it up.
The Not So Intense Tajikistan Itinerary
I know that the Tajikistan side of the itinerary I created above may be a little bit too intense for some of you, and that’s okay. If you’re looking for a less intense, easy-going version I recommend taking the time to explore the Tajik and Uzbek Fergana Valley before returning to Tashkent to depart back home. Note that on this itinerary, I still recommend you visit the Haft Kul so that you can get a taste of the beautiful mountain nature since you can drive to 6 of the 7 lakes.
Istaravshan – 1 Day
The day after you visit the Haft Kul, I recommend getting up early and making the jaunt to Istaravshan. A day will give you plenty of time to check out everything there is to see in Istaravshan. While not as impressive as other Silk Road cities you have visited already in Uzbekistan, there’s still something special about little Istaravshan.
Before you leave make sure to visit the blue-domed Kok Gumbez, the rebuilt Mug Teppe, Huz i Shangin, and Hazrat i Shoh Mosque. Don’t forget to visit the bazaar and wader around the Shahr e Kuhna too (the old city). For more information to help you plan your stay in Istaravshan, check out my Istaravshan Travel Guide.
Where To Stay In Istaravshan
- Gostinitsa Sadbarg: Gostinitsa is the best option in town. Typically you can just stop by and get a room without a problem.
Getting To Istaravshan From Panjakent
You can find shared taxis leaving fairly frequently in the earlier part of the day from a lot opposite Rudaki Avenue from the clothing bazaar. A seat will set you back about 100 TJS to Istaravshan.
Getting To Khujand From Istaravshan
Head to the north side of the bazaar for Khujand bound shared taxis. It’s a quick journey between the two cities and a set will cost you about 20 TJS.
Khujand – 1 Day
Sat on the banks of the Syr Darya River, Khujand is Tajikistan’s second-largest city. With a long history along the Silk Road, Khujand boasts a number of historic sites. Don’t miss the Panjshanbe (Thursday) Bazaar, the Sheikh Musil ad Din Complex, the Lenin statue, the Citadel, and Kamoli Khujandi Park. Plan your perfect itinerary with my Khujand travel guide.
Where To Stay In Khujand
- Sharq 21 Hostel: A simple hostel located a quick walk down the road from Panjshanbe Bazaar. Check availability on booking.com and agoda.com.
- Golden Apartments: A decent and private mid-range option. Check rates on booking.com.
- Khujand Grand Hotel: If you’re looking to splurge a little head to Kujand Grand. You can search for deals on booking.com and hotels.com.
How To Get To Kokand From Khujand
To get to Kokand, you’ll first need to grab a marshrutka (minibus) from Khujand to Konibodom, a town on the Tajik side of the border. Once in Konibodom, you’ll need to take another marshrutka to the border from the same bus station that you have just arrived at. The marshrutka will drop you about 100 meters from the border.
After crossing the border you’ll get another marshrutka, this one to the town of Besharyk that is very close to the border on the Uzbek side. Once to Besharyk, you can either get on a fourth marshrutka that goes to Kokand, or you can hire a taxi to take you the remainder of the way. If you want to read more details check out Joan Torres’ post about the Konibodom-Besharyk Border Crossing.
Kokand – 1 Day
Take the remainder of today to explore Kokand’s sites now that you’re back in Uzbekistan. Don’t miss Khudayar Khan’s Palace and Juma Mosque.
Where To Stay In Kokand
- Asmald Palace Hotel: A decently priced hotel in the cheaper mid-range selection, located right in the middle of Margilan. Check rates on booking.com and hotels.com.
Getting From Kokand To Margilan
Shared taxis to Margilan and other destinations in the Uzbek Fergana Valley depart at a taxi stand near the Dekon Bazaar.
Margilan – 1 Day
Margilan is the Silk capital of Uzbekistan and no visit would be complete without a stop into the Yodgorlik Silk Factory, where you can watch women make silk right before your eyes. Yodgorlik also has a large showroom where you can purchase all sorts of silk pieces.
Other spots in Margilan not to miss include Chakar & Toron Bazar Mosques, Khodja Maggiz Mausoleum, Said Ahmed Khodja Madrasa, and Pir Siddiq Complex.
Where To Stay In Margilan
- Adras House Hotel: A good backpacker option with budget-priced rooms. Check rates on booking.com and over on hotels.com
- Diyor Hotel: A decent mid-range option in Margilan. Check availability on booking.com.
Getting Back To Tashkent From Margilan
You can either take a shared taxi or a train to reach Tashkent, they both take roughly 5 hours. It may be easier to hop over to nearby Fergana City to grab a shared taxi to Tashkent.
Tashkent – 1 Day
Use this final day of your 2 week Tajikistan and Uzbekistan itinerary in Tashkent to do any final souvenir shopping or visiting any sites you missed when you arrived.
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