- Route plan

   This travel comes from different sources. At one hand we had that, when Azerbaijan hosted Eurovision contest in 2012, they made a good marketing plan by showing places of their capital city, Baku, before every song. We promised ourselves to go there after that.

   On another hand, we had that Uzbekistan have jewels from the ancient Silk Road. Some are quite popular, as Samarkand, and we found out about the others when investigating about this country, as Bukhara or Khiva. The first time I was curious about this country was after my surprise when reading how Marco Polo explained in his book his visit to the tombs of the Three Kings who visited Jesus Christ when he was born. These tombs are no longer there, but my investigation took me to pictures of Uzbekistan and were pictures of Registan in Samarkand what made me wish to go there.

   With this, the trigger to make this travel now came from an email from Turkish Airways saying the most of our points were going to expire on December 31st of 2016. Those points were enough for a return flight to Baku but, having Uzbekistan at hand, we looked for the way to go there too, which generated the first route plan.

   We’re finally doing the classic tour through Uzbekistan, visiting the three ancient Silk Road cities: Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva; and stopping necessarily in the capital city Tashkent as the place for entrance and leaving the country. Our flight from Baku to Tashkent allows us to do a stop in one of the most iconic cities in Kazakhstan: Almaty.

   Once in Uzbekistan, how we visit the three mentioned cities comes from the train lines. Due to the night train to Khiva pass through Samarkand, but it is not by Bukhara, we’ll go first to Bukhara to make a quick train trip to Samarkand and having that night train from there to Khiva. With this, it looked more comfortable for us to flight to Bukhara from Tashkent instead of taking the night train so we’ll be able to rest from the previous night flights.

Our itinerary in Uzbekistan

   At above map, train routes appear in green and flights in red. Khiva train station and airport are both in Urgench.

   The last modifications to this plan comes from adding one more day to Baku from the initial two as there are a lot to see and and we’ll probably need to rest the first day.

   So, finally, the definitive route plan (number of day and where we sleep) is the following, starting by September 23th of 2017:

1: Flight
2 y 3: Baku
4: Flight
5: Tashkent
6 y 7: Bukhara

8 y 9: Samarkand
10: Train
11 y 12: Khiva
13: Tashkent

   Total budget for this travel is around 2700€ for the two of us, which are mostly spent in flights. You need to know that, for the ones that want to make just the route in Uzbekistan, this budget can be reduced until less than 1100€ per person, with same hotels and airline.

- Flights

   This entire travel comes from the needing of using the Turkish Airlines points that were going to expire at the end of 2016, so we spent 10000 points per person for a one-way flight to Baku and pay 129€ for taxes. We thought about taking return flights but thinking about flying back home directly from Tashkent makes us go for that, although the points needed for a one-way flight from Tashkent were long more as per no having enough for it. Besides, it was a strange behavior in Turkish Airlines’ website regarding the rates for flights to Tashkent making that we should take two one-way flights anyway as the return ones were as high as 3000€ per person, when the two flights were not reaching even the third part of it when purchased separately.

   Later, once in 2017, we got the rest of the flights. First were the flights back home from Tashkent, which we could buy for a bit less than 500€ per person.

   Finally, this time we needed to fly from Dublin so, the return flights with Turkish Airlines are like this, by 1200€:

 23/09/2017   DUB 16:30     IST  22:55
 09/09/2017   IST  01:35     GYD   5:20 +1
 06/10/2017   TAS 08:15     IST   11:35
 06/10/2017   IST  13:05     DUB  15:35

   When we look for the available options to fly between Baku and Tashkent there is not a clear option as there are only two direct flights per week between these two cities and we would need to spend two more days in Baku to take it and we have not enough holidays for that. So we even check the option of taking the ferry through Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan, but the days we would need for that and the difficult it seems to be getting a visa for Turkmenistan makes us reject that idea.

   We end by taking the option that is mostly suggested by the search engines, although it makes us get three flights with two different companies and during the same night: one flight from Baku to Aktau with Azerbaijan Airlines and one flight Aktau – Tashkent with link in Almaty with Air Astana. We purchase these flights with one of these engines because it was a better rate then with the airlines and to be covered in case of having problems with one of the links. We’ve never had a link that needed to make the immigration procedures, taking our baggage and checking in to another airline, so it’s difficult to be sure those three hours we have for it are enough. We’ve got with this a 7 hours stopover in Almaty too, Kazakhstan's former capital city.

   These flights are the following and we pay 485€ in total for them for the two of us:

 26/09/2017   GYD  20:00      SCO  22:05
 27/09/2017   SCO  01:15      ALA   05:10 
 27/09/2017   ALA  12:15       TAS  12:50


   The map above shows Turkish Airlines flights in red and magenta for the ones between Baku and Tashkent.

   With this, we only need the domestic flights in Uzbekistan: leaving and coming back to the capital city, Tashkent, to Bukhara and from Urgench. We pay 54€ per person for the first one and 101€ for the second.

 28/09/2017   TAS   12:20      BHK  14:00
 05/10/2017   UGC  09:20      TAS   10:50

The total price for the flights is 2045 € per person, which doesn't look like having any save by using the points.

- Hotels

   As hotels are cheap in the destinations of this travel we could look for the best value for money in the desired location for every city.

   With this, we made our searches in Booking.com and chose Seven Rooms Boutique Hotel, within Baku’s Old City, by 93€ for the two nights we’re going to be there; Hotel Khurjin in Bukhara’s city center, by 50€ per two nights; Bibikhanum Hotel, touching Bibikhanum Mosque, by 108€ per two nights; and Hotel Kala, within Khiva’s walled city, by 53€ per two nights.

   After this we only needed to choose our option for Tashkent, where we’re going to spend two nights too, but separated, as they’re going to be the first and last nights in the country. We’ve finally chosen City Line Boutique Hotel for the first day because is close to the airport and, as the main goal for that day is resting between arrival flight and the one taking us to Bukhara next morning, it seems the best option to be as near as possible from the airport. Besides, train station to purchase our tickets is close to the airport and, therefore, to this hotel too. It’s 63€ per night there.

   For our last day we end by choosing the same hotel. We’re, again, arriving and leaving by plane the following day, so it’s still convenient. Same rate for this day.

   So, finally, the expense in hotels for this travel is a total 430€, which makes an unbelievable average of 43€ per day.


   We don’t need visa for Kazakhstan but we need it for Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.

   We can get the visa for Azerbaijan online from this website: https://evisa.gov.az/en/ by filling the form and paying 23 USD (20 for visa and 3 for service’s fees). After one or two days, they send an email with the e-Visa in a PDF file which you’ll need to print and bring with you.

   The visa for Uzbekistan is quite more laborious to request: we needed to send all the documentation along with the passports to the Uzbekistan embassy in Madrid. Spain is in the list of countries which have a simplified procedure for this visa. So what we did is going to a Post office and send the following:

 - The two passports
 - The forms from this website filled and printed
 - One photo of each of us
 - The receipt from the payment of 140€ (70€ per visa) made directly in the desk of a Banco Popular’s office in Barcelona.
 - A Post shipping envelop filled for the return sent and paid.

   In the Spanish Uzbekistan embassy’s webpage, within “Consular issues” section, you can find the details of what you need to send, the address, the bank account for the payment, etc…

-Other expenses

   Apart from all the flights, we still need two train journeys. As we’ll purchase the tickets once there, we’ll explain about it in our daily chronicles.

   So we only need to add here our half day private tour to Gobustan and Mud Volcanoes we’ve booked with Azerbaijan Traveller. It’s 80 AZN per person, so 80€ in total for the two of us.

   Detailed plan, then, is like this:

Day Night Morning Afternoon
23 Flight Home Flight
24 Bakú Baku Baku
25 Bakú Gobustan Baku
26 Flight Baku Flight
27 Tashkent Almaty Tashkent
28 Bukhara Flight Bukhara
29 Bukhara Bukhara Bukhara
30 Samarcanda Bukhara Train
1 Samarcanda Samarkand Samarkand
2 Tren Samarkand Samarkand
3 Khiva Train Khiva
4 Khiva Khiva Khiva
5 Tashkent Flight Tashkent
6 Home Flight Flight