“So what is there to do in Tashkent?” my friend asked. I looked up from my guidebook and shrugged. “Not much at first glance. But enough to keep us occupied for a day.”

Sooner or later, every traveller along the Uzbek Silk Road will end up in Tashkent. It is a necessary stop on the way to Kazakhstan, it has a major airport and it is unavoidable if you want to see the Fergana Valley. And while it is true that there isn’t much to do in Tashkent, we quickly found out that there is enough to keep you occupied for a day or two. Read More

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 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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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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Out of all the countries I have been to, Turkmenistan is the weirdest one.

It is one of the least visited countries in the world and only receives a couple thousands of tourists each year. If you are going here, it means that you have managed to get one of the few tourist visas that the government gives out. Either that, or you are an expat who has come to work in Ashgabat. But either way, you now have the chance to explore one of the least visited countries in the world, one that pretends to be open to tourism but shuts itself off from the rest of the world as much as possible.

“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. Since little is known about this country, I was curious to explore it. For me, this was the start of a thirteen-month trip around the world and I couldn’t have chosen a more interesting first stop.

But see the highlights for yourself:

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