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An update from Evaneos

Samarkand (Uzbekistan)

Practical information on Samarkand

  • Family
  • Relaxation
  • Encounters with locals
  • Viewpoint
  • Desert
  • Place or Religious Monument
  • Festivals
  • Archaeological Site
  • Music
  • Museums
  • Handicraft
  • Place or Historical Monument
  • Unesco World Heritage
4 / 5 - 3 reviews
How to get there
A 3 1/2 hour drive from Tashkent
When to go
From April through the end of October
Minimum stay
2 to 3 days

Reviews of Samarkand

Seasoned Traveller
13 written opinions

Samarkand is unbelievable with the beauty of its mausoleums, madrassas, and mosques. By contrast, if you're looking to discover the country's traditions on your trip to Uzbekistan, don't stay here too long.

My suggestion:
Talk with the guards of the Gur-e Amir mausoleum or the Registan to enter before or after official hours.
My review

It's difficult to give a clear cut opinion on this city. On the one hand, I discovered a restored historic center, quite touristy, where the monuments are beautiful, but the general atmosphere is increasingly "mass tourism."

But on the other hand, I enjoyed the nice old town with little side streets and small shops selling all the basic necessities. However, it's cut off and hidden from the rest of the city by a giant wall, where finding the entrance turned out be a complicated exercise.

The fact remains that the Registan is impressive, just like the Gur-e Amir or the Bibi-Khanym mosque. Walking in the Afrasiyab cemetery at dusk while passing through the unguarded entrance to Shah-i-Zinda (to the right of the main entrance) remains an unforgettable memory of the city for me.

Be open to what the locals can offer you. While walking, I met a young Uzbek who wanted to improve his French, and he offered me a guided tour of all of Samarkand! Excellent!

Gur-e Amir
Seasoned Traveller
25 written opinions

Uzbekistan is Central Asia's most visited country, and Samarkand was a key staging post on the Silk Road with its celebrated Islamic monuments.

My suggestion:
Don't miss the chance to taste Uzbekistan's most famous dish, known as "plov" - a kind of eastern Pilau rice, which is a real treat! Enjoy it for lunch, as the portions can be quite filling.
My review

I spent several days in Samarkand during my "journey to Uzbekistan" and I was quite taken aback by the city. The famous Registan Ensemble, a cluster of madrassas (Koranic schools) is extremely pretty, but I quickly noticed the walls that surround the historic district.

Effectively, there was an active decision to hide some of the older neighborhoods (which represent the authentic, everyday life of the Uzbek people) from the tourists' view. I had the impression of wandering around a museum that was covering up the truth.

Despite a repressive government and significant amounts of organized group tourism, it is nonetheless possible to explore the everyday lives of the Uzbek people in Samarkand. 

At first glance, I found the city superficial and almost charmless, despite its grandiose religious monuments. However, meeting the Uzbek people helped me to understand the history and culture of this mysterious city. Don't hesitate therefore to hire a local guide to embed yourself in the authentic city.

Timothée D. Seasoned Traveller
285 written opinions

The country's most dazzling city, Samarkand, is still the enchanted oasis along the Silk Road that it once was.

My suggestion:
Literature is full of references to Uzbekistan's most celebrated city. "Samarkand" by Amin Maalouf is a great introduction to the city.
My review

Few cities resonate as much in the mind of the traveler as "Samarkand, the most dazzling and celebrated of the cities along the Silk Road. " Immortalized in poetry, romance, and myth, the city of Samarkand has a lot to live up to, and might be a disappointment for travelers. This is particularly due to the fact that the present-day city is the second largest in Uzbekistan by population, and thus consists of more than just the magical oasis along the Silk Road. However, it is difficult to be disappointed here, with the perfectly preserved, incredible historic sites: the Registan, the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, or the Shah-i-ZInda Mausoleum that each display incredible colors, gilding, and architecture, embodying the wealth of this thousand-year-old city.

Modern Samarkand itself is a little less interesting, even though its relatively large size means that this Uzbek city is still an active, lively destination. Regardless, it is an unmissable Uzbek destination.