Tashkent

Tashkent (Uzbek: Toshkent, Тошкент; Russian: Ташкент) is the capital city of Uzbekistan.

Understand

It is an ancient city on the Great Silk Road from China to Europe. Little remains of the ancient city after the 1966 earthquake and earlier modernisation work following the 1917 revolution. Tashkent remains a Soviet-era city that has little remaining from its ancient Central Asian past. The city has a mixture of modern new office buildings, hotels, parks, and crumbling Soviet-style apartment blocks. The streets are generally clean and there are not too many potholes in the city centre. Further out, the infrastructure is not so good.

Over the last few years the Uzbek government has embarked on a major reconstruction program in the centre of the city. Roads, government buildings and parks are all being reconstructed (many historical buildings and sites are bulldozed in process). To the visitor, the new city looks very impressive, although many of the local residents have yet to see any improvement in their residential areas.

Tashkent is waiting for a boom. The infrastructure, hotels, and shops are there but the influx of people and business has failed to materialise. This is caused in part by a combination of government policy and bad publicity.

Tashkent has a population of 2.3 million people (2012).

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 6 8 14 22 27 33 36 34 29 21 14 9
Nightly lows (°C) -3 -2 4 10 14 18 19 17 12 7 3 -1
Precipitation (mm) 55 47 72 64 32 7 4 2 5 34 45 53
Sunshine (hrs/day) 9 10 11 13 14 15 15 14 13 11 10 9

Tashkent has a typical continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. The best seasons for travel to Tashkent are Apr-May and Sep-Oct.

Talk

Although Uzbek is now the official language, Russian is the native language for most Tashkent dwellers, although most also speak Uzbek. Most businesses use Russian in their signs, menus, and other printed material. Only government institutions use Uzbek as the first language, and even then, many government forms and reports are in Russian, rather than Uzbek. Currently, Uzbek uses the Latin alphabet rather than the Cyrillic that was used during the Soviet Union. This is a source of some confusion for many Uzbeks, especially those of the older generation. Shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union and Uzbekistan declared independence in 1991, the written Uzbek language was converted back into Latin characters. Many older Uzbeks have difficulty reading the Latin characters. Uzbek is a Turkic-based language, and while Uzbeks and Turks cannot completely communicate directly, the better educated on both sides can usually find some common understanding.

Many of the signs in Tashkent are in Cyrillic. A significant number of Russian words are similar to their English counterparts. Learning the Cyrillic alphabet, not as difficult as one might think, will help a traveller to read signs and in restaurants. It is very useful for the casual visitor to Tashkent to learn a few basic Russian or Uzbek words and phrases. If you need to speak English, young people are your best bet, and even then there is no guarantee that they will speak more than basic English.

The name Tashkent is usually attributed to the Turkish words "tash" ("stone") and the Persian word "kent" ("city"), meaning "city of stones". Another opinion refers to the Sogdian word "tschatsch", meaning "place on a hill".

Get in

By plane

The   Tashkent International Airport (Yuzhniy (IATA: TAS), Uzbek: Toshkent Xalqaro Aeroporti), Sergeli District (Located: just a few kilometres south from the city centre.),  +998 71 1402801, +998 71 1402802, +998 71 1402803, +998 71 1402804, e-mail: . - The airport has two terminals, domestic (Terminal 3) and international (Terminal 2) on opposite sides of the airfield. The only way to get from one to the other is by road, a 10-minute taxi ride. Flights: Aeroflot Moscow, Rostov-on-Don, Saint Petersburg, Turkish Airlines Daily flights to Istanbul, Air Baltic, Czech Airlines, Iran Air, Korean Air Seoul, Uzbekistan Airways

Airport formalities

You pass though passport control and pick up your luggage before going through Customs. The queues for Customs are extremely long and people frequently try to push in. Before passing through customs, you will need to fill out 2 copies of the customs declaration. These forms are often handed out on the flight or can be found on the stands in the baggage claim area. The customs officers will keep one copy and stamp the other. You will need this form when you leave the country and may have problem in taking out money without it. Make sure to declare all money and valuables (cameras, PCs etc.). You may not be able to leave with more money or valuable items than you arrive with. The Uzbek government have strict rules on entering or leaving with money. Don't be intimidated when you see a crowd running to a passport control officer. They are just trying to get a better spot in a huge waiting line.

The departure area is on the upper floor. The access road has been closed, so you have to walk around the left side of the arrivals level and up some stairs or up the road. Allow plenty of time when leaving the country via Tashkent airport. Check-in, customs, and passport control can be very time consuming, especially if there are large numbers of passengers. Make sure and have the customs form you were given when you entered the country.

To/from Airport

A short and inexpensive (USD2–3) taxi journey is the easiest way to get to the centre. One should bear in mind, however, that upon exiting the international terminal, a large number of men will be crowded at the (sole) exit door offering "taxi" services. For the most part, these are not "official" taxis. "Taxi" drivers will attempt to charge whatever they believe the market will bear. For those without Russian or Uzbek language skills it is best to arrange to have someone meet you at the airport. Fair fares are usually only obtainable by those who understand the system and speak at least some Russian or Uzbek. It is better to walk 50m from the exit towards the taxi stand where many taxis are waiting on the road and negotiate. Generally prevailing fare is minimum USD2-3 for 5km (20 cents per each additional km). Always negotiate. Taxi drivers will rarely accept small bills (dollars, euros, or pounds), and cannot be counted upon to give change (in any currency).

By train

The   Tashkent Railway Station (Severny Vokzal), Kichik Xalqa Yo'li (Metro station "Toshkent"). is the central hub for trains in Uzbekistan with most domestic trains ending or starting here. The most attractive connections are to Samarkand with the super fast Afrosiob train and the Sharq which continues to Bukhara. For Khiva and Termez there are night trains with comfortable sleeping berths. Make sure that you buy ticket a few days in advance or arrive at least 1 hour before train departure, as the queue for ticket office is often long and chaotic with people jumping the queue. For domestic departure times see the Uzbekistan#Get around section.

Tashkent is a key stopping point for rail services from Central Asia. It is possible to travel from or to Dushanbe in Tajikistan, Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, Almaty in Kazakhstan, and Moscow. It is possible to travel to China through Almaty and to Iran. Ticket prices are cheap by Western standards, but will need to be paid for in cash, preferably in USD. There are many warnings about thefts of personal belongings on the trains.

By bus

To travel by bus to Uzbekistan a traveller has to take a bus to the border post, then cross the border on foot, and then take another bus to the final destination. Buses do not regularly operate internationally. But some private operators run bus services to many CIS cities on announced dates. It is difficult to get information and sometimes dates can change without warning.

A marshrutka is a small bus or van which follows a fixed route and stops on demand to take on or drop off passengers. As of 2009, marshrutkas to: Andijan (6 hr, USD5), Bokhara (8 hr, USD6), to Ferghana (6 hr USD4), to Kokand (3 hr, USD3), Samarkand (4 hr, USD4), and Termez (10 hr USD8). Timetable

By taxi

By car

There are road routes from surrounding countries but the borders may not be open and there have been security problems. The border from Afghanistan is sometimes closed or not open to Uzbek nationals. You have to walk at least 4km to cross the border on foot from the Uzbek checkpoint to the Afghan checkpoint.

The Cherniaevka crossing from Kazakhstan near Saryagash. Allow 1-2 hours to get through, especially from the Uzbek side. OK, but long, long lines. Take the left line at Uzbek customs. They want you to declare any cellphones as communications devices.

From Kyrgyzstan, the Dostlik post 30km from Andijan is open from 09:00-18:00. From Tajikistan Oiybek Post, 80km from Tashkent, is open for foreigners from 09:00-18:00. Tursanzade Post, 60km from Dushanbe Tajikistan, is open for foreigners and locals 180km from Termez. Chorzhu Post on the border of Turkmenistan, 30km from Bukhara, is also open to foreigners and locals.

Distances from Tashkent by road: Almaty in Kazakhstan 810km, Ashgabat in Turkmenistan 1,290km, Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan 570km, Kashgar in China 880km, Andijan 392km, Bokhara 600km, Ferghana 325km, Karshi 430km, Khiva 1,045km, Kokand 236km, Nukus 1,115km, Samarkand 295km, Termez 705km, Urgench 1,020km

Get around

By metro

Tashkent metro 2014

The city has a good public transport system which is cheap. The metro/underground system is typical of the old Soviet-style with large and impressive stations and is quite modern. Stations are richly themed. For example, Kosmonavtlar is a lavish monument to Uzbekistan's contribution to the Soviet space programme.

There are also modern buses and trams, many of which were renovated in 2008. Tickets (which on the metro are small blue coin size tokens) cost UZS1000 for any single journey. It is not permitted to take photographs in the metro stations. Police will usually be present on all platforms. Do not risk taking photos while the policeman is not watching because they have security cameras everywhere and policeman will approach you instantly and check your documents. In all cases do have documents while you are taking the metro (or anywhere in the city), for you can be checked any time.

Tashkent Metro has three lines:

By car

Taxis

Taxis can be cheap after some negotiation; however some of the vehicles are very old. While there are official, authorized taxis (with the appropriate sign on the roof of the car), in reality almost any driver in Tashkent can double as a taxi driver. The local custom is to simply stand by the side of the road with your arm extended downward and slightly away from the body. A driver will pull over and then you will state your destination and negotiate the fare in advance. At least some Russian or Uzbek language skills are needed to accomplish this without difficulty. It is usually safe to use this procedure, although virtually every foreign embassy recommends against it. Directions are rarely given here using an address. Most often, a landmark is used, such as "near Hotel Russia". Moreover, many streets and hotels have been renamed in the past few years and often drivers will not recognize the current name of the street or hotel, still knowing them by their old names. Asking to be taken to the Grand Mir Hotel, for instance, will often result in a blank look. Tell the driver you want to go to the Gastinitsa Rossiya (Hotel Russia), however, and they will know exactly where you want to go. For those who speak neither Russian nor Uzbek, it is helpful to have someone draw a rudimentary map or write out directions in Russian. Few drivers will know English.

Do not expect Western-style taxi services. Taxi drivers will often smoke while you are in the car and asking them not to will most often result in nothing more than a look of disapproval. You may be paying, but you are in their car. There are many taxi services operating in the city with fixed rates and a person can order the taxi from their hotel room. There are some web sites offering complete lists of taxi services and taxi charges

Taxis within the city can be reserved by calling Taxi Express, Tel 1399999 or 16360272.

Car rental

Only one of the major international car hire companies operates in Tashkent. It is Naniko (local website here).

See

Old Town

The "Old Town" has retained much of its charm. Here you will find low adobe houses with shady courtyards, narrow winding streets and many ancient mosques and madrassas.

Churches

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in wintertime

Mosques

Dzhuma ( Friday) Mosque

Museums

Fine Arts Museum of Usbekistan
Railway Museum

Others

Prince Romanov Palace

Further afield

Maidanak Observatory

Do

Parks

Alisher Navoiy Park

Cemeteries

Stadiums

Bunyodkor Stadium

Theaters

Buy

Art galleries

Banks

Bank building in Tashkent
Market

Most tourists change money at the black markets. For more information see the the Uzbekistan#Buy section. Best place to do so in Tashkent is around Chorsu Bazaar.

Bazaars

Most local residents do their primary shopping in bazaars. Local produce, such as fruit, nuts, vegetables can be very good, especially when they are in season. In the late summer, local melons appear on the streets and in the bazaars and are tasty and very cheap.

Broadway

Saligokh St, known locally as "Broadway", has some street artists, etc. The street is easy to find from the Amir Temur Monument, just head away from the Uzbekistan Hotel. The 'mirstore' just off of Saligokh St has a modern supermarket, coffee bar and hugely overpriced fashion stores. This area, known locally as "Demir," also has Mir Burger, which has burgers, pizza and local dishes at reasonable prices. There is also a Georgian restaurant ("Tblisi") and a Chinese restaurant. There is a heavy police (militsiya) presence here and foreigners are not often, but occasionally asked for their documents. It is advisable to keep a photocopy of your passport and visa with you, but leave the originals in the hotel safe.

Recently, modern designer fashion and shops selling luxury goods from famous international brands have started to appear in Tashkent. Catering for the wealthy, these can be found in the Broadway area, on Amir Temur Street and Pushkin Street.

Department Stores, Malls

Handicrafts

Supermarkets

Eat

There are hundreds of small cafes in Tashkent (and other Uzbek cities and villages) offering these and other local dishes at inexpensive prices. A meal of salad, bread, tea, soup, and shashlik at around USD2-3 isn't difficult to find. Sanitation standards can leave a lot to be desired in many of these cafes. Especially on warm days, look to see if the meat is kept refrigerated before it is cooked. Before meals you will always be offered warm water poured over your hands from a jug. Before drinking tea, it is traditional to bless the cup with the first splash of tea from the pot. This serves ritual and hygienic purposes. Locals also believe in the sterilising properties of vodka.

Budget

There are many small restaurants serving simple meals at good prices. Burgers and kebabs are common. Borsch (soup) is tasty and perfect on a cold day.

Salvador Dalí restaurant

Mid-range

Drink

As is common in other Central Asian countries, tea is drunk by most people, but without milk. Black coffee is also available everywhere. Some coffee shops and cafes offer good coffee, but the best of them is probably Amore Coffee at the MIR store just off of Broadway.

Alcoholic drinks are readily available. Outdoor bars are popular in good weather. Uzbek wine, vodka, and many different beers are available. The Russian beer "Baltika" is popular. Baltika 3 is good and similar to other international beers. Baltika 0 has no alcohol, Baltika 5 and 7 are also good, and Baltika 9 is very strong. A new local beer, Sarbast, has been launched and should be about half the price of imported beers. It is quite good and at 4.2% (red label), not too strong. Sarbast is also available with a blue label at 5.6%.

Nightclubs, as everywhere, offer expensive drinks and typically play a mix of Russian and Western music. Strip shows are common.

Sleep

Tashkent's hotel scene for budget and mid-range accommodation is not very welcoming, but improving slowly.

Budget

Darhan quarter near to Inconel Business Centre

Mid-range

Amir Timur street

Splurge

Chorsu Bazar

Phones, Post Offices

Tashkent Central Post Office

Stay safe

Tashkent is generally a very safe place to visit. However, visitors should refrain from political activities or doing anything that could be regarded as undermining the state. As anywhere, remember to watch your personal belongings. There have been incidents of robbery, including some violent assaults but they are very rare. Travellers should use the same caution they would use in any large city, especially at night. It is not advisable for foreigners to walk around alone at night, especially in areas where few people are about and/or lighting is poor. Police sometimes levy small on-the-spot fines for minor offences such as appearing to be slightly intoxicated.

The emergency number is ☎ 103 for medical emergencies and ☎ 101 for fires, while the police emergency number is ☎ 102. Major clinics are listed below:

Cope

Embassies and Consulates

Monumental Building of the French Embassy

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, March 06, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.