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Set foot in Samarkand and you’ll be instantly transported through its stunning architecture back to 7th Century BC. A Unesco World Heritage Site, Samarkand is one of the first centres of human civilisation alongside Alexandria and Babylon, prospering from its location on the trade route between China and the Mediterranean (also knows as the Silk Road). Uzbekistan as a whole has only recently been exposed to tourism, so you can enjoy being one of the only travellers (or even sometimes alone) while you explore some of the world’s most famous monuments – get lost between soaring minarets and intricately tiled mosaics. It is generally safe for women to travel alone here, although naturally you have to be respectful of dress codes.
When to go
Spring (April-May) when temperatures range between 20-30 degrees.
Who to take with you
Someone who isn’t afraid to try new things and is interested in ancient cultures.
Most likely to bump into
Locals – less than two million tourists visit the whole of Uzbekistan every year.
The incredible architecture of the ancient sites, which are some of the most important in the East. Start at the Bibi-Khanum Mosque and continue to the Siab Bazaar, Shakhi-Kinda Necropolis and Gur Emir. After sightseeing spend your afternoon in one of the many teahouses or banyas (spas) which specialise deep tissue massages. Finally, you musn’t leave without trying the bread – every region has its own speciality – as well as the Uzbeki national dish of lamb, rice and apricots.
An essential you need to bring with you
A torch – the streets can get quite dark once you are away from the main areas.
How to get there
You can fly there with BA from £335. If you want to explore other cities in Uzbekistan such as Takshent and Bukhara, the new ‘Afrosoiyob’ bullet train is pretty efficient and inexpensive.
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