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Uzbekistan

At the Crossroads of Central Asia - The historic region of Central Asia known as Transoxiana

Several cities in Uzbekistan lie along the Great Silk Road, an ancient trade route linking China with Europe. When Marco Polo travelled its course during the 13th century, these cities were teeming oasis settlements experiencing an architectural explosion, albeit one in its early stages. Polo might have seen the Shah I Zinda in Samarkand, though not the Registan, the Mosque Bibi Khanum, or the Gur E Mir, (all built over the next two centuries); the Minaret Kalyan, but not the Medrese Mir I Arab or the three Trading Domes in Bukhara; and he would not have seen either the Minaret Kalta-Minar or the Pakhlavon Mausoleum in Khiva, for though both appear ancient (and awesome), they are proto-medieval monuments constructed during the nineteenth century. Thanks to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, these world-famous marvels have become accessible to twenty-first century adventurers, as have numerous other Uzbek splendors: the Chatkal nature reserve, resorts such as Chimgan and Beldersoy in the Tian Shan mountains, Lake Ayderkul, the Amu Darya river, the Kyzylkum Desert, and Buddhist and Persian archaeological sites around Termez. In this fresh and free post-Soviet era, folk festivals such as Boysun in the Gissar Mountains, Shark in Samarkand, and Mustakillik in Tashkent are flourishing, and bazaars and shops abound with goods from handwoven silk from Margilan in the Ferghana Valley, to ceramics from Rishtan and Gijduvan, to contemporary fashion and antique Suzani hand embroidered wall hangings from Bukhara and Samarkand.

Western tourists are also blessed by the newfound accessibility of the Uzbeks themselves: renowned for their generous hospitality, they are some of the friendliest people you are likely to meet. If you are lucky, perhaps a native will serve you either Plov or Shashlik, two of Uzbekistan's must-taste national dishes. Uzbek restaurant fare often features a range of Russian, Tartar, and Korean culinary delights in addition to local specialties. Let it be known that ravioli, tortellini, and tagliatelle all originated in Central Asia, then were imported to Italy; visitors are advised to seek out the Uzbek variants of these classic dishes.

Uzbekistan is no longer considered a very safe destination for US travelers (November 2005). You may want to consider worldwide one trip travel insurance. Please contact the US State Department for more details. With a wide selection of private bed & breakfasts, state hotels, and chai khanas (ubiquitous small tea houses and restaurants). Professional guides are available take you nearly everywhere, narrating a wealth of historical facts and legends all the while. The most common language is Uzbek, but Russian is the language of business and government. The only printed magazine covering tourism in Uzbekistan is Discovery Central Asia, a publication devoted to travel in Uzbekistan and its neighbors.With a continental climate which heats up to 40-50 degrees Celsius in the summer and drops below zero in the winter, the ideal times to visit are spring, early summer and autumn.

Planning is important in order to acquire Uzbekistan travel insurance from InsureandGo.

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