Through the lens of the historic silk road, this journey captivates the rich cultural heritage of the textiles, ceramics & pottery of Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan became a hub for silk production. Its silk was well known for its quality and intricate designs. We learn about the art of silk production, from cultivating silkworms to the intricate process of hand-weaving and dyeing. Uzbek textiles are famous for their vibrant colors, unique patterns and fine craftsmanship. It is here that the rich tradition in pottery and ceramics of Central Asia is deeply rooted. Hands on and try your hand at shaping and decorating pottery under the guidance of skilled artisans. We will see why glazed earthenware, with its intricate designs and vibrant colors, became a hallmark of Uzbekistan's embroidery and weaving traditions. Crafts and architecture experienced a significant resurgence during Tamerlane (Amir Timur), a 14th Century conqueror and a devoted patron of the arts. The descendants of Timur, were the Great Mughals who introduced these arts and crafts in Moghul India. The patterns and motifs used in Uzbek embroidery and weaving are often symbolic and carry deep cultural significance. Learn the art of creating colorful, finely detailed textiles, discover the stories behind the patterns, and try our hands at embroidery and weaving.
This curated journey offers an immersive experience going beyond the crafts themselves. We have the opportunity to connect with local artisans and masters who have preserved the traditions over centuries. As we travel through Uzbekistan, we will explore the country's architectural treasures and delve into its fascinating history. Places like Bukhara, Samarkand, Khiva, Ferghana played a pivotal role in shaping the crafts and traditions. This then is a unique window into the rich heritage.
|UNESCO World Heritage Sites covered in this tour
|Historic Centre of Bukhara
|Samarkand – Crossroad of Cultures
|Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz
|International air not included
Day 01: Arrive Tashkent
Welcome to Uzbekistan! Flights generally arrive Tashkent very early morning. So, we have arranged an early/immediate check-in at our hotel. We are warmly received at Tashkent Airport and transferred to our Hotel. Balance of the time is free to rest and get ready for our exciting journey ahead. No meal has been included in this day.
Overnight: Hotel Lotte City Palace, Tashkent (3 nights)
Day 02: Tashkent
We will start first with discovering the metropolis of Tashkent, starting first with its Old City. We visit the beautiful Khast Imam square, offering one of the best examples of traditional architecture in Tashkent, and the Barak Khana seminary. Inside the archives of Tilla Shaikh mosque, we will see the nearly 1400 years old copy of the Quran used by the 3rd Caliph (from 644 to 656AD). Next, discover a slice of city life at Tashkent’s most famous market, Chorsu Bazaar, and experience the 16th century Kukeldash, a medieval madrassah. Later, we visit the popular Museum of Applied Arts. Balance of the day is free.
Early evening, we take the Tashkent metro to go around the city. Visiting various stations on the metro lines is in itself a wonderful experience. Following very much the Moscow Underground, every subway station here in Tashkent, is a piece of fascinating and unique architectural features and artistic elements.
Some look like ballrooms with huge chandeliers hanging from the ceiling while others look like a film set from a science fiction movie. After a good orientation we will have a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. There are probably more restaurants in Tashkent serving Turkish cuisine than Uzbek. (B, D)
Day 03: Tashkent
Afterwards, we have the unique opportunity to visit the Ceramic Centre of Akbar Rakhimov. Akbar and Alisher are a father and son team producing a unique concept of pottery and ceramics embracing traditional pottery styles, including those of the Kushan era (2nd to 5th century AD) and Timurid era (14th to 16th century AD). The centre showcases some of the finest local pottery in Tashkent and is a common stop for foreign dignitaries.
Later, we visit the Museum of Applied Arts followed by an exploration of Abukassim Madrassah, where we will see various craftsmen at work. We will also visit the highly acclaimed textile shop of Madina Kasimbaeva, known for hand-embroidered suzani silk. Dinner is enjoyed at the Jumanji Restaurant. Before retiring for the day, you may want to prepare an overnight bag for the next 2-days in Margilan as we return to the same hotel in Tashkent. (B, D)
Day 04: Tashkent/Ferghana (Flight: 09:35-10:35 hrs)/Margilan (Drive)
A short flight brings us to Ferghana, the Silk Road centre of Central Asia, China etc. Schedule of flights within Uzbekistan can often change. As such an alternate road/train transfer will be provided and the cost of same will be recouped from the airfare. Ferghana valley is famous for its tradition of ikat, a dyeing technique used to create textile patterns, which spans back hundreds of years. We have the opportunity to visit the hub of the valley’s textile activities, Margilan. Upon arrival in Ferghana, we are transferred to the Hoja Ihsan Madrassah, where we will meet some of the masters in silk weaving, carpet making and cloth stamping. At this unique workshop, we learn about, and even take part in cloth stamping, weaving using a sitting or standing loom, embossing wooden patterns on silk shawls, all with the help of local artisans.
After lunch at the madrassah workshop, we visit the home workshop of Master Fazlettin. Here we get a close-up experience of the production of Bakhmal silk, ikats and other materials. Ikat is a dyeing technique originated from Indonesia used to pattern textiles that employs resist dyeing on the yarns prior to dyeing and weaving the fabric. At this town, probably one of the most important on the Silk Road, we will enjoy a 2-nights stay.
Overnight: Hotel Ikkat, Margilan (2 nights) (B, L, D)
Day 05: Margilan
Margilan is where trade caravans from China traveled westwards and vice versa during the days of the Silk Road. The town has been renowned for its silk goods as far back as the 10th century. It has the lightest weight, great for lining on garments, and in Nuno felt surface design.
Spend our morning hours exploring the traditional Kum Bazaar, perhaps one of the most fascinating bazaars in Uzbekistan. This would be the place to hunt for rare silks and other selections of stunning material. Soak in the traditional atmosphere and the incredible selection of beautiful and bold Uzbek fabrics, boasting everything from natural dyes to weaving to embroidery.
Afternoon, we make our way to Rishton, known for its pottery tradition dating back more than 800 years. Here, we see the incredible ceramics work of master Rustam Usmanov, known for his style in tiles, at his Ceramics Museum. In the pottery workshop, we have the unique opportunity to have our own working session on the potter’s wheel as we design a plate or cup with the assistance of the local experts. Lunch is also enjoyed here.
Later, we are transferred to Margilan and in time for a lovely home cooked dinner with an Ikat family. (B, L, D)
Day 06: Margilan/Tashkent (Train: 07:05-12:20 hrs)
An interesting train ride will get us to Tashkent. Our lovely and high-gradient train journey involves stunning mountain views as we make our way through Kamchik Pass. Arrive Tashkent, all relaxed and ready for the next activities of the day.
In the afternoon, we visit Bibi Hanim, the showroom and workshop of textile designer, Muhayo Aliyeva. Muhayo’s designs use handmade traditional silk and cotton ikat, a traditional tie-dye loom method going back many centuries, from the Eastern region of Uzbekistan. Muhayo’s work has been featured at exhibitions and events around the world. Both lunch and dinner today are savored at local restaurants.
Overnight: Hotel Lotte City Palace, Tashkent (1 night) (B, L D)
Day 07: Tashkent/Urgench (Flight: 07:25-08:55 hrs) /Khiva (Drive)
After breakfast, we fly to Urgench and connect by road to Khiva, an impeccably preserved city that hails back to the splendors of the ancient Silk Road trading times. A Silk Road hamlet, we will do a walking exploration of the fabled walled city, (Ichan Kala*), the heart of Khiva. As we explore the highlights, we fwill eel as if we have stepped back several centuries. See the Kalta Minor minaret, Kunya Arg citadel and Rakhimkhon madrassah, each an epic monument in their own right.
Later, we visit the Hunarmand workshops to get an insider look at the production of local handicrafts. Here we see firsthand the art of carpet weaving, suzani embroidery and wood carving. Though wood is scarce in the region, Khivans made use of the local tree ‘karagach’ to construct huge doors and pillars gracefully carved by local craftsmen. We also visit a woodcraft workshop where we interact with the master craftsmen at work. We will also see house museum of carpet collector, Kamil Jan, taking in his wide-ranging collection of Turkmen, Bukharan and Khivan carpets. Afterwards, explore the mausoleum of Pakhlavan Makhmud, with its fine tile work, the Islam Khodja minaret and museum, the Friday mosque and the Tashauli harem quarters of the last Khan of Khiva.
After lunch at Yassaulbashi Madrassah Restaurant, we have the afternoon free to wander this beautiful walled city. Dinner is enjoyed at Zainab’s House, providing an authentic taste of local cuisine.
Overnight: Hotel Zarafshan Boutique, Khiva (1 night) (B, L, D)
Day 08: Khiva/Bukhara
Our morning road journey will take us through the Kizilkum Desert with lovely views of the countryside and the Amudarya river with local shepherd hamlets dotting the deep desert. Our destination today is none other than the fabled Silk Route city of Bukhara. En route, enjoy a packed lunch with the famous Uzbekistan bread. Besides its taste, Uzbekistan bread is connected to certain rituals signifying life's major events such as weddings, childbirth and the departure of a son for military service.
Midafternoon, we arrive at Bukhara* and have some rest time at our centrally located hotel. We take a short-guided walking tour of this historical city. A quintessential Silk Road city, beautiful Bukhara’s history and architecture spans thousands of years. The town centre is full to the brim with stunning minarets, well-preserved madrassahs and other lovely monuments. On today’s walk, we will explore the madrassahs of Aziz Khan and Ulubek, as well as the covered markets. Continue to Mohgaki Attari mosque, the peaceful pool and plaza of Lyabikhauz, and the madrassah of Nadirkhon Devanbegi. Dinner is enjoyed at the Old Bukhara Restaurant. To enjoy Bukhara properly we will have a 3-nights stay.
Overnight: Hotel Latifa, Bukhara (3 nights) (B, L, D)
Day 09: Bukhara
The Historic Centre of Bukhara, situated on the various caravan routes of the Silk Roads, is more than two thousand years old. It is one of the best examples of well-preserved Islamic cities of Central Asia of the 10th to the 17th centuries, with an urban fabric that has remained largely intact.
Today, we embark on a full-day exploring Bukhara. From Lyabikhauz and madrassah Narikohn Devanbegi, we make our way to the Tipak Frushan covered bazaar. We have the chance to see a metal chaser’s shop, where craftsmen decorate metal items in relief, and the trader’s dome of Tim Abdullah, where large quantities of carpet sellers gather. Afterwards, we visit the workshop of Sovga Gold embroidery and see the lovely production of silk coats and jackets.
Following free time for lunch (not included) we start off to Arg Fortress, Bukhara’s oldest structure. This town-within-a-town was occupied from the 5th Century AD all the way to the 1920s! Explore Balokhauz mosque, Chasma Ayub and Ismail Samanid mausoleums, the town’s oldest Muslim monument completed in 905 AD. Next, stroll down the oldest part of the Jewish quarters to visit the local synagogue. Highlight of the day is a visit to Usto Shagird Gallery. This gallery, whose name means “Master and Student” is home to the works of miniaturist Davlat Toshev. Here we can see his home workshop decorated with his own collection of miniature paintings. These paintings were introduced from Persia around 15th century AD, and by the early 1700s, Bukhara was seen as the epicenter of the art. Take time to marvel over these intricate artistic creations before enjoying dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)
Day 10: Bukhara
Today, we will learn more about the local embroidery practiced at Raxkhmon’s Suzzana House and also have the opportunity to take part in the traditional art of Suzani embroidery. Admire the delicate embroidery work of floral patterns, fruits and symbols of the region, then try your own hand at it! Suzanis were traditionally made by Central Asian brides as part of their dowry. Often, the designs were embroidered on bed sheets, pillow covers, handbags, table cloths and wall hangings. Each piece has character, creativity and originality.
After our embroidery experience, we take a short walk to a local Synagogue of the Bukharan Jews. Jews are considered to be one of the oldest ethno-religious groups of Central Asia and over the years they developed their own distinct culture. Throughout the years, Jews from other Middle Eastern countries such as Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Syria, and Morocco migrated to Central Asia (by way of the Silk Road). Walking the narrow lanes of Bukhara through the old Jewish quarters, we visit the house of miniature master Davlat Toshev, a Sufi painter known for his excellent miniatures who has many a times exhibited his works in European galleries and museums. Dinner is enjoyed at a local restaurant. (B, D)
Day 11: Bhukara/Samarkand (Train: 15:48-17:20 hrs)
Our morning is at leisure to explore independently the local covered bazaars of Bukhara, well known for the variety of their wares and their unique traditional feel. Nothing like having a relaxing modern train ride on the ancient Silk Road. We will be on the deluxe Afrosiyob - a Spanish-designed 250km/h Talgo 250 which now links Tashkent with Samarkand in just 2½ hours. Subject of famed poets and writers for centuries, Samarkand offers a tantalizing combination of elaborate monuments that will make our jaws drop, panoramas that have seemingly dropped right out of Arabian Nights, and a long rich history ripe to be discovered. We are transferred to Hotel Grand Samarkand and start our tastes of Samarkand with dinner at a local restaurant. To get the most of Samarkand, its art, architecture, people, history here too, we will have a 3-night stay.
Overnight: Hotel Grand Samarkand, Samarkand (3 nights) (B, D)
Day 12: Samarkand
A full day is set aside to discover the wonders of this Silk Road city. Tamerlane, the famous conqueror who founded Central Asia’s Timurid Empire, named the city “Capital of the World”, and its monuments still reflect this. Our explorations start at the legendary Registan Square, the epic square framed by three towering and intricate madrassahs – a majestic eensemble boasting stunning azure mosaics in an expansive plaza setting making it one of the most dazzling Silk Road sites.
While visiting the madrassahs we will have the opportunity to see local tile makers, calligraphers and metal chasers at work. In Ulugbek’s madrassah, we take in a collection of local fabrics and handicrafts. We then proceed to Bibi Khanum mosque, Siyob bazaar and Shahi Zinda necropolis, one of the oldest and longest-running examples of a continually constructed historic site in the world.
Our afternoon tour starts with a visit to Alfiya’s gallery. Alfiya is a designer whose name is well known in many countries. Alfiya specialises in adapting traditional designs to modern trends. exports her costumes to many parts of the world. Here we will see her exhibits including a large collection of her modern designed costumes in silk and cotton. We end our study of Samarkand with a visit to the Afrosiab Museum and also visit Ulugbek’s Observatory. It was built by Tamerlane’s grandson astronomer king – who is revered as amongst the renowned astronomers of the world. Built in 1400s, it survives with its huge collection of instruments for determining the angle between the horizon and a celestial body such as the Sun, the Moon, or a star, mainly used in celestial navigation to determine latitude and longitude. At the Kunhil traditional paper mill, we see the art of making paper from mulberry barks. At Gur Emir we visit the glorious mausoleum of Tamerlane and his grandson, Ulugbek and some of his courtiers. Home to one of the largest archaeological sites in the world, and Ulugbek’s observatory before enjoying dinner at a local restaurant. Evening, an optional visit to enjoy the night time illumination of Registan Square! A majestic site not to miss, however, it is subject to operations. (B, D)
Day 13: Samarkand/Urgut/Shakhrisyabz/Samarkand (Drive)
Start the morning with something very different as we are mesmerized at the popular Urgut Sunday market located some 40Kms south of Samarkand. This is one of the best places in the country to buy jewellery, suzani and antique clothings. As a bazaar which is traditional and is very popular with the locals, Urgut becomes a colourful experience. Later we visit the exhibits of Suzani and the old textile collector’s museum at Gulom in the village.
Taking the scenic mountain road, we arrive at Shakhrisyabz*, the birthplace of Tamerlane. Timur, as his real name, is one of history’s greatest military conquerors and strategists who founded the Timurid Empire in the 14th Century. Following its fall in the early 16th century, Timur's descendant grandson, Babur, established the Mughal Empire in South Asia, becoming the first Mughal emperor. His descendants eventually came to rule most of the Indian subcontinent and were responsible of the beautiful architecture (Taj Mahal), Gardens and made much developments in the field of arts and crafts in India.
Here, we visit the workshop of Gulnara Odilova, a master bead worker, weaver and embroiderer. Odilova’s mission is to preserve and revive the traditional embroidery of the region, with origins tracing back to the 17th Century. She has represented Uzbekistan at exhibitions around the world and was recognized as the best handicraft artisan in Uzbekistan in 2006. We will have the opportunity to see her works on crafted coats, handbags and wall hangings.
After this unique excursion we return to Samarkand with dinner at a local restaurant. (B, L, D)
Day 14: Samarkand/Tashkent (Train: 18:00-20:10 hrs)
Our morning is free to further browse the winding streets, see the incredible monuments and feel the vibrant history of Samarkand. Later, we are transferred to the railway station for our deluxe train journey back to Tashkent. Upon arrival, we are transferred to our hotel followed by a lovely farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight: Hotel Lotte City Palace, Tashkent (1 night) (B, D)
Day 15: Depart Tashkent
After an incredible journey discovering the textiles, crafts and pottery along with experiencing the culture of Uzbekistan, we are transferred to the airport for our return flight. Optional extension for a customised excursion to see the nomadic crafts of Kyrgyzstan! Please contact Bestway Tours & Safaris for more information. (B)
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
Departure Dates & Prices
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|Per Person on
|Estimated Airfare (FROM)+
|Mar 27; Jun 26; Oct 16
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This tour operates on a minimum of 04 and a maximum of 16 participants
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