Shah-i-Zinda

It is always hard to choose a single favourite place when travelling through a country, but when it comes to Uzbekistan, Samarkand is one of the candidates. Stunning architecture, ancient history, what’s not to love about the most famous Silk Road city?

To give you a taste of what to expect, let me show you some of the city’s highlights:

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Samarkand Registan by night

“Samarkand is my favourite city in the world,” the man told me as he passed me a bowl of dried cheese balls. We were sitting next to the hotel pool where he had come to celebrate his friend’s birthday. “It is a very beautiful city and we have good weather for most of the year.”

I nodded in agreement. Samarkand is indeed a stunning city. No other Silk Road city evokes as many images and legends as Samarkand, none has been written about as much.

But Uzbekistan is not only about Samarkand. Dive deeper and you will find out that there are many more things to discover in this country.

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Ashgabat fountain

You have made it into Turkmenistan. Congratulations! But what now?

Your first stop in this Silk Road country is most likely Ashgabat. While exploring this city, make sure not to miss the following things:

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View of Ashgabat

Turkmenistan is one of the least visited countries in the world. It only receives a couple thousands of tourists each year, mostly due to the fact that you are not allowed to visit the country without a guide. While Turkmenistan pretends to be open to tourism, showing you tourist brochures in their hotels and pretending to be an easy-to-travel-to country, the government does not really want for tourists to come.

“Dictators do not want tourists,” our guide said. Turkmenistan ranks third last in Reporters Without Borders ‘World Press Freedom index’, being just a bit better than Eritrea and North Korea. Yet, that does not mean that you should not visit. Turkmenistan has more to offer than you might think (and getting into the country is not that hard at all). For me, Turkmenistan was my first stop on the Silk Road and I am glad I got to see what has to be the weirdest country I have ever travelled to.

But see the highlights for yourself:

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