If you are looking for an off beaten road experience, Uzbekistan is a perfect destination. The cultural heritage is priceless, the food is amazing if you appreciate spices and you can buy some beautiful pieces of handicraft silk scarves, rugs and whatnot. Another perk is that you can make it as low budget as you need.
Even though it may sound weird, but a traditional drink even in 40C degrees is a hot tea with sweets like raisins and nougats.
Our trip took us to Tashkent, a pretty modern city with some sights, although we found it better to head to Samarkanda directly. You can get there by fast train, that covers around 600km in about 2,5 hours. The trains are very modern and comfortable, and also quite cheap.
Samarkanda is a beautiful city with old Persian Mosques that have been restored really well and you can enjoy the turquoise tiles all around the town. We stayed in a place that overlooked the main Mosque, Bibi Khanum.
Amazing! You also can’t miss the enigmatic Registan square.
Gastronomy is varied and they also have some nice wines and liqours. Try various “shashliks”, barbequed meat and veggies. And don’t miss out the Plov, the traditional Uzbeki rice dish with beef, carrots and raisin.
You can visit a winery just next to Samarkand restaurant (highly recommended, live music) and do a degustations. Another must-visit spot is the market with its spices, sweets and on the other hand, rugs, scarves beautiful ceramic pieces. You can take a beautiful traditional ceramic teacups or other as a souvenir.
Another town you cannot miss is Bukhara, it’s smaller than Samarkanda but definitely not less worthwhile. Although much hotter, so be careful (we stayed too much in the sun without realsing and got sick). You get there by the same fast train. You can find stunning mosques, rich colours, and if you are lucky, a fashion show of traditional clothes with a modern hint.
We didn’t go to Khiva, another old town, the smallest of the three, because the fast train doesn’t get there and it is an 8 hours drive, but if you have time, it’s really worth it. Another interesting place is the Green City, Shakhrisabz.
Where to find more information
If you need more info, go to Lonely planet or this blog.