- Tour duration: 10 days / 9 nights.
There is no doubt that Uzbekistan’s status as popular touring destination has much to do with its fascinating architecture from various periods, and its rich cultural heritage going back thousands of years. But visiting Uzbekistan during cultural celebrations and festivals can enhance your vacation and add even more unforgettable experiences.
The most cherished and gracious of all Uzbekistan’s national holidays is the spring festival of Novruz which falls on March 21. The holiday coincides with the day of vernal equinox - the start of spring, and traditionally honours the rebirth of nature, hence the name (Novruz means “New Day”).
From the times this spring holiday originated in 3,000 BCE, Novruz has been observed annually, in one form or another, on a wide territory in the East as a festival symbolizing re-awakening of nature, hope for bumper harvest in the fields and gardens, for love and consent in family. Traditionally the festival of masses, Novruz continues to be unimposed, non-political event to the present day.
While initially a religious festival, Novruz is now mostly secular, though it is steeped in symbolism and rich traditions. Several days before the festival, spring cleaning begins when houses are scrupulously cleaned, whereas cities and villages are tidied up and colourfully decorated enriching the atmosphere of upcoming festivities.
On March 21 the festival celebrations start with traditional games, music and drama performances, street art and colourful fairs, joyful traditional dances, various activities for children and adults, lavishly set tables with the most savory festive dishes, including a ritual meal sumalak (a wheat bran pudding) cooked exclusively for Novruz celebrations and thus available for tasting only once a year. The celebrations are also marked with lots of merry partying and social visiting, allowing music, songs, and laughter to be heard late into the night.
The popular belief says, “He who celebrates and has fun on the day of Novruz will spend his life cheerfully until the next Novruz celebration”. So why not to join in the celebrations of the Spring Festival of Novruz, the nation's signature event? Make it a spring to remember!
Day 1 Arrival in Ashgabat. Arrival early in the morning. Transfer to the hotel and accommodation. After breakfast start of the city tour with visits of Sunday bazaar, Ertogrul Gazy Mosque, Independence Park, Neutrality Arch, National Museum, Nissa (UNESCO site) and Turkmenbashi Mosque-Mausoleum. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 2: Ashgabat. Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to foothill terrain near Ashgabat to observe colorful Navruz celebrations and traditions. Afternoon transfer back to Ashgabat. Visit to Anau Mosque ruins and private Akhalteke horse stables. Overnight at hotel.
Day 3: Ashgabat - Dashoguz - “Shavat” border point - Khiva. Breakfast at the hotel. Morning transfer to the airport and domestic flight to Dashoguz (06:20-07:10). Excursion to Kunya-Urgench ancient settlement (UNESCO site), the ancient capital of Khorezm Empire. Afternoon transfer to border post Shavat. Arrival after lunch break at the post. Border formalities. Meet Uzbek driver and guide on Uzbek side. Transfer to Khiva. Rest on arrival. Overnight at the hotel in Khiva.
Day 4: Khiva. Breakfast in hotel. Sightseeing program in Khiva: Ichan-Kala (historical inner city), Pakhlavan Mahmoud Complex, Kunya-Ark Fortress, Islam Hajji Madrasah & Minaret, Tash Khauli Alakuli Khan Palace, Juma Mosque, Muhammadaminkhan Minaret & Madrasah, and Avesta Museum. Overnight rest in hotel.
Day 5: Khiva - Bukhara (road transfer). Breakfast in hotel. Transfer across the Kyzyl-Kum Desert and along the Amudarya River to Bukhara. Lunch en route. Arrival in Bukhara. Leisure time. Souvenir shops / workshops. Overnight rest in hotel.
Day 6: Bukhara. Breakfast in hotel. Guided sightseeing tour around Bukhara: Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Chashma Ayub Mausoleum, Bolo Khauz Mosque, Ark Citadel, Po-i-Kalyan Complex (Kalyan Minaret and others), Ulugbek Madrasah; after lunch: Lyab-i Hauz Architectural Ensemble, Kukeldash Madrasah, Nadir Divan-Begi Madrasah, domed shopping arcade. Overnight rest in hotel.
Day 7: Bukhara - out-of-town guided sightseeing tour - Samarkand (road transfer). Breakfast in hotel. Before transfer to Samarkand visit out-of-town sites, located in 4 km from Bukhara: Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, memorial complex of the Islamic saint Baha-ud-Din Naqshband, Chor-Bakr Memorial Complex. Further transfer to Samarkand. Check-in at the hotel in Samarkand. Master class in cooking manty at traditional House ‘U Zarify’ and dinner there (recommended dishes are manty, shourpa). Overnight at the hotel.
Day 8: Samarkand - Tashkent (evening railway transfer). Breakfast in hotel. Guided sightseeing tour around Samarkand: Registan Square (Ulugbek Madrasah, Sher-Dor Madrasah, Tilla-Qori Madrasah), Gur-e Amir Mausoleum (Tamerlane’s sepulcher); after lunch: Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Shah-i-Zinda Necropolis, Ulugbek Observatory. Further transfer to the railway station and railway transfer to Tashkent by evening train. Arrival to Tashkent. Overnight rest in hotel.
Day 9: Tashkent. Breakfast in hotel. Guided sightseeing tour around Tashkent: Khast-Imam Square, Barak-Khan Madrasah, Kafal-al-Shashi Mausoleum, Kukeldash Madrasah; after lunch: Museum of Applied Arts, Independence Square, Amir Timur Square. Farewell dinner in Tashkent national restaurant. Overnight rest in hotel.
Day 10: Tashkent. Departure. Breakfast at the hotel (or lunch-box). Early morning transfer to the airport. Departure.
The cost of the tour in USD for 1 person:
- Group: 2 - 1480; 3-4 - 1280; 5-6 - 1165; 7-9 - 1105; 10-12 - 1085; Hotels of 3*
- Hotel accommodation in twin / double rooms, with breakfasts including early check-in at the hotel of Ashgabat on arrival; check-in/out of other hotels is at 12:00;
- Sightseeing tour in each city according to the tour program;
- Entrance fees to the monuments and museums, listed in the tour program;
- English-speaking escort guide in Turkmenistan;
- English-speaking local guides during excursions time for a group in 1-4 persons in Uzbekistan and escort guide for the whole tour for a group, starting from 5+ persons;
- Master-class of preparation of a national dish and dinner in Samarkand on March 26;
- Farewell dinner in Tashkent restaurant on March 28;
- Comfortable air-conditioned means of transportation throughout the tour, including airport - hotel - airport transfers;
- Local flight from Ashgabat to Dashoguz (economy class ticket);
- Railway transfer from Samarkand to Tashkent on a high-speed train (economy class ticket);
- A bottle of mineral water on each day of the tour;
- Visa invitation to Turkmenistan.
- International air flights;
- Visa invitation to Uzbekistan - 45 USD/per person;
- Visa fees to Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan;
- Medical insurance.
Note: If this itinerary does not completely suit you, we can modify it for your convenience, changing days, cities, tourist attractions, hotels, services, etc.
The cost of the tour depends on the number of people in a group.
Also see tour packages in:
Asia Turkmenistan Uzbekistan Local Culture Festival Tours Cultural Journey