Getting Around Uzbekistan: Transport and Border Safety

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Traveling around the landlocked country of Uzbekistan isn't easy. Find out how to navigate borders and local transport with these safety tips.

Photo © Getty Images/uwee

Uzbekistan has always been part of the ancient trading route from Asia through to Europe, and is now becoming a popular destination along the incredible Silk Road. Traveling this route is no longer as wild and adventurous as it was back in ancient times, but there are still a few handy things to know before you go.

Border issues

Uzbekistan is a landlocked country, and shares its borders with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, TajikistanTurkmenistan and Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, many of these border areas are unsafe. This is no surprise for the region bordering Afghanistan, but you should also exercise caution in areas bordering Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. These areas have experienced cross-border gunfire, and some sections may be riddled with landmines. Before trying to cross any borders, check online for up-to-date information, as these borders can close without notice.

Many border areas are also not well marked, so you should only cross at authorized border crossing points.

There have also been incidents of inter-ethnic violence in the provinces of Osh and Jalal-Abad in Kyrgyzstan and also the Fergana Valley, so do your research to find out which areas have been marked as unsafe to visit.

Make sure your required visas and travel permits are ready to go, as you will have to cross borders out of Uzbekistan to get to other parts of the country. If you are trying to get to Termez and other areas of the Surkhandarya region you will need a permit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tashkent, which takes about five days to process.

In 2018 Uzbekistan adopted the electronic visa system, and now citizens of approximately 60 countries are eligible for an electronic visa. Check if you're eligible at

A travelers' tips on safety in Uzbekistan

We asked Jo from to share her advice for travelers to Uzbekistan after her visit in July 2019.

"My partner and I drove through through Uzbekistan on a motorcycle. We arrived from Turkmenistan in the southwest and left Tajikistan in the east.

I found Uzbekistan to be extremely safe and felt at ease even walking through unlit roads to get back to our guesthouse at night. As a woman, I did have a few incidences of men saying inappropriate things when my partner turned away, but mainly, as a woman I was ignored. But I never felt unsafe.

We went in the summertime and it was extremely hot, but I still made an effort to cover up. I packed scarves to wear to religious sites, and only wore my long skirts and pants.

The only aspect that was really challenging for us was the quality of the roads. For any overlander driving through the country, it can take half the day to go even just a few hundred kilometers. Roads are often filled with potholes, sand and at times even seem to disappear."

Getting around Uzbekistan safely

"The Silk Road" sounds like it would be smooth and easy to travel, however transport in Uzbekistan can be a little challenging to navigate. Be wary of buses and taxis that run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), in May 2010 a bus exploded causing six fatalities. The accident was reportedly due to a fault with its CNG fuel tank. Unfortunately many buses and taxis in Uzbekistan run on CNG, and safety regulations are often not followed. Where possible you should opt for modern vehicles when traveling by bus or taxi.

Traveling by train through Uzbekistan is the safest and most comfortable mode of transport. There are high-speed trains operating between the cities of Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. Try to avoid the prigorodny trains, as they are slower than hopping in a shared taxi. Book in advance online to avoid missing out on a seat, as tickets sell out fast.

Although main roads in central Tashkent are relatively well maintained, many secondary roads inside and outside Tashkent, and particularly those in the Tien Shan and Fan Mountains, are in poor condition and may be passable only by four-wheel-drive vehicles. Driving at night is dangerous as roads are not well lit, and vehicles share the roads with livestock and animal drawn carts – which are hard to see in the dark. The gasoline supply can be sporadic, particularly outside Tashkent, so keep this in mind if you are driving far.

Uzbekistan has a large road police force, which frequently stops drivers for minor infractions or simple document checks. There have been reports of harassment of foreign drivers by the road police, with reported minor police corruption in the form of solicitation of bribes. 

Uzbekistan has a zero tolerance policy for drivers who are under the influence of alcohol.

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  • Frank said

    Never use your credit card in Uzbekistan. And be ready to give money to police whenever they ask. They might just come to you and say something like "you violated the traffic - give me 500 sum or I will take you to prison". They don't care that you don't have a car - they need the money. In general - stay away

  • Fred said

    Frank, I am a local living here for 21 years and have never experienced such a terrible relationship from the police. I presume you gave your advice about police because you faced this kind of situation; and I think it was because you don't know your rights or indeed broke the law.
    However, I agree your words abt credit cards. Even debit cards with dollars in them seem to be problematic. And article provides wrong info abt black market. If you are travelling to Uzbekistan try to bring all of the money you want to use in cash and exchange it ONLY in BLACK MARKET, because their rates are higher!

  • Jerssey girl said

    Agree with Fred above, black market statement is wrong. Black market gives you a lot more for your dollar than the bank would! But be careful doing it as a foreigner, of course they always try to rip people off. I'm from Uzbekistan, But live in the US now. I would also add, photography in our beautiful subway stations in Tashkent is not allowed, unless you could sneak it by militsiya. Also, your advice from Vietnam about carrying toilet paper with you applies here. Also, Uzbekistan is very strict about carrying cash out, you are only allowed to carry out 2,000 USD without any documents. If you brought more, declare it and keep a copy of your declaration until you leave - escpeically if you might take back more than 2k back with you. Make sure to check Chimgan mountains, and Charvak reservoir!

  • Justme said

    Went there many times as job required. Stay away. Article does not say that police is the main gang there. It is common for them to stop you and demand cash if you "violate" something. And if they learn you are from US then price is multiplied by 10

  • Nedgo said

    So I have been invited to come to Uzbekistan to present some information on improving their Hospitals. Being a US citizen I am a little weary of traveling to this region. We will be presenting in Tashkent but will probably spend a day in Bukhara. Are there very many European or US tourists in Uzbekistan? Is there any reason to be worried?

  • Husan said

    Hi there;

    I read comments and even the post above and decided leave my thoughts about Uzbekistan.

    I'm citizen of Uzbekistan, Tashkent and have been living now in Las Vegas, NV, USA for 4 years. I love my motherland for it's people, nature and safety.

    All of us check the location of country on the map of that country that we are planning to visit and boom we see that Uzbekistan borders with Afghanistan and first thing that comes to our mind is talibans, women been oppressed and beheaded people that we used to see in our daily news or movies. However, believe or not Uzbekistan is safer than Vegas where I live now. Carrying and even having gun at home is illegal and it is strictly controlled by local police. Local police number is 102 and you will meet them everywhere. Do not be worried if police stops you for documents verification thats normal there for safety of nation.

    Uzbekistan is very rich with it's history, culture, tradition and food. Most of people speak at least 2 languages local and russian laguages and most of youth can speak english.

    Yes there are tourist visiting Uzbekistan and commonly from France, Spain, Sweden and Russia but never met from US which is weird even though there is US embassy in Tashkent that is safest and most famous comparing other embassies.

    There is bullet train that even US does not have (excluding HyperLoop) and that can quickly take you from Tashkent to other many historical cities.

    Uzbeks are very hospital so don't be worried if they invite you to their house for dinner or to their weddings, you better except you will like it there. All in all, you can trust to people. One proof for that is trust between taxi drivers and riders because in Uzbekistan any driver may give ride to people on the road just to earn extra money besides their primary job so if riders do not afraid accepting ride offer from any drivers that means safety and trust is high so dont be surprised if you take ride on non taxi logo cars and be ready to share your ride with others that driver may randomly pick up on the road).

    When you go to open air bazaars (markets) try always to negotiate the price they will give you at lower price.
    There is internet but expect lower speed and I dont think you will succeed finding wifi without passwords.
    Also "justme" mentioned in his comments that police asks you for money and 10 of them will come to you. Well it is true but you can refuse to give money to them and take the higher cost ticket for breaking the law (usually traffic law). As far as 10 police I would say the more police the better for you because they are there not to robe you but for your and nation safety and just keep in your mind that you literally have more rights than local people because you are foreigner just keep with you your passport and bording pass.

    As far as money black market you may not worry about it anymore because on September 2017 government took control over it so you will exchange your money at banks only.

    Some of places except international Visa carda but I highly recommend to carry real cash with you where you can withdraw from banks or bank ATM commonly Asaka Bank or just bring with you. You can pay with dollars for large purchase but not in food markets.

    Now after reading my comments I encourage you to leave your honest opinions and experiences after visiting Uzbekistan and if you have negative experiences try to include your solutions as well so that others could benefit from it and get ready to and conditions.

    Finally, there is no reason to be worried.

    Enjoy videos about Bukhara city:

    Tashkent city:


  • Nikolay said

    Welcome to Uzbekistan

  • Johnny said

    All these bad comments are not true. Uzbekistan is police state that’s why it is safe. I never heard anything happened past 2 years while entire world is getting crazy moth bomb blasts, shooting massacres and terror acts. Uzbekistan is one of the safest country in the world. And especially Tashkent is well secured and safest cities to visit.
    Now, you can use your credit card or debit cards in the capital and major places you might visit. USD is converted and there is no black market anymore.
    And people you can approach police anytime for support and advices if you get lost or need any assistance they are very friend especially if you are foreigner will double care about your safety.

  • Wow said

    This article is wayyyy over exaggerated!

  • J said

    Police states are bad. Pass.

  • Connie said

    Husan, Nikolay, Wow and J

    I have been offered a job to teach English to Young Learners in Tashkent.

    Im a mature, white, blonde female from South Africa.

    Please give honest advise, 2 of you say good place and other 2 say NO NO. Am I safe?? will I be looked after as a English teacher??

    The NO NO people - please offer your reason and experience.

    Kind regards

  • Akbar said

    CONNIE you are not only who comes from different coutnries to teach, there are many like from UK, Malasia, Singapore, China, Korea and even USA. You will be safe but be ready if somebody says niger in front of you because for us word niger means just black and it does not represent same bad meaning as in USA or Europe. So dont feel insulted because we dont have race problems thats why that word is just word. I know that word means bad because I traveled USA and I know it means bad

  • Boris said

    So I think I need to start from the state..... I am Russian.... and I spend all my life in Uzbekistan. I am Uzbek citizen! Please don't follow this state on way!!! Uzbekistan is very kind country!!! With VERY HOSPITAL people!!!! It is not police country!!! If u know your rights!!!!!

  • Tim said

    Dear visitors, I can say freely Uzbekistan is the safest country you ever visited and you never experience any discrimination which is pretty rare. and nobody cares where you are from as long you act normally. Police is everywhere cuz of your safety cuz of its neighboring countries. You better come and see yourself.

  • Husan said

    Check this out:

  • Tursunboyev Qudratilla said

    I am Uzbek, have lived here all my life. Uzbekistan is one of the safest countries in the world, as safe as Singapoure or Iceland or Norway. People are the most hospitable here. There are many tourists and I have rarely heard any problems with tourists here. Now 2018. Many foreigners are living In Tashkent. They come from African nations, from U.S, from Asian countries, I know many foreigners who teach English here. They are highky respected and regarded as professionals because of their high level of English. Walk normally and nobody will touch without any reason. No guns, no armed people here, if something bad happens, the police are always here ready. The security procedures are very strict,but foreigners walk easily and there are best regards and a high respect for tourists, who always find help in the face of youth, most of whom know English and eager to help. Come to Uzbekistan, the people are open to foreigners from any part of the world!

  • Max said

    How could this country be safe when most of the commentators agree that it’s dangerous? That policemen will demand bribe and that anybody can get arrested for a small mistake such as undeclared aspirin tablet in his pocket

  • Jon said

    I lived there for 8 years and I think Uzbekistan to be the most comfortable and the safest country in the world. I wondered when uzbeks told me they had never seen gun or any type of weapons in their entire life. LOL. Hospitablity is in a different level. I promise you won't regret!!!

  • Buchi said

    Hi, can anyone advice how it is now with changing USD to local currency? What is the best way?

    Thanks a lot!

  • Michael said

    Author, please update the part about blackmarket and police part. Now there is no blackmarket and gang police. They even have tourist police service, you can get any kind of support from them. I read there was blackmarket and prepared for that, but the reality turned out to be completely opposite. You can get any amount of money exchanged in banks as long as you have your passport with you. Public transportation is little problematic, if you don't speak russian or uzbek. But, because its cheap you can use taxi services. I also was able to take couple of photos in subway, apparently now they let do to so.

  • Doniyor said

    Uzbekistan is safe country to visit, even safer than many developed countries, people are living their peaceful lives


    I nned to visit Republic of Uzbekistan

  • Bill said

    Visited Tashkent, Bukhara, Samarqand, Khiva, and Shahrisabz in 2012 with my 22 year old son. Fantastic trip! Extremely affordable for foreign tourists. 3G wireless data everywhere and most "budget" hotels have Wi-Fi. Amazing open-air markets (Khiva) and big architecture (Registan in Samarqand). Occasional police checkpoints at metro entrances asking to see passports, but no harassment at all...they were mostly curious about where we were from (me from US and son from Canada). Invited to dinner with a local family, amazing immersion experience.

    Very very friendly locals, loved interacting with them. Me: "Assalomu Alaykum!". Them: "Oh, where u from? Oh, Amerikaaa, it is my DREAM!" Me: "Well we have a lot of problems in our country too."

    Flew Uzbekistan Airways to and from Heathrow, modern 757, only about 2/3 full.

    Just follow the rules around currency and keeping receipts for all your hotel stays and you won't have any issues. It's true that the roads aren't in great shape, but train between Tashkent and Samarqand is great, and domestic travel on Uzbekistan Airways is relatively cheap.

  • Elyor said

    Im a 12 year old living in the uk and i am from uzbekistan and i go there every year with my family.
    I can assure you all the uzbekistan is safe and the locals are very nice.
    the police thing is very very rare but does still happen sometimes. i went this summer and it was fun. Everything seemed to be. A quarter of the price of what it was in the uk.

  • PT said

    Elyor, prices are 1/4 of the UK, because people earn 1/4 of what they make in the UK.

  • Thenabster said

    They lifted the Tashkent Metro photography ban in 2018.

  • Robert said

    I would say that it is not safe for foreigners. It is definitely a police state. Some of the previous commenters, who grew up in Uzbekistan, think that everything is normal there because they don't know anything different. As was previously stated, crimes do occur but they are not reported in the government controlled newspapers, radio or on TV. They think that because they have not heard or read about it, then it never happens. The locals have been brainwashed into thinking that all of the police are there to make sure that everyone is "safe". If there is practically no crime and it is so safe there, why do you need so many police there and police checkpoints everywhere to "check documents" (very similar to the Gestapo saying "your papers"!). Also, even if you are a U.S. citizen, if you or your parents were born there and you look like an ethnic Uzbek, you will blend in with the local population. We foreigners stick out immediately. The police are not looking to extort bribes from you as much as a "rich" foreigner.
    For single men, such as myself, there is another danger if you do something as simple as talking with a female or meeting or spending time with a female there. It is illegal for foreigners to associate with prostitutes. The problem is that a man has no way of knowing a woman is a prostitute in the first place. If you are in a store, a restaurant or anywhere and see an attractive woman and approach her, you might get arrested because unknown to you, she is a prostitute. Even worse, a female may encourage you to spend time with her and when you meet her she calls her family on her cell phone for some reason. Right after that the police show up and accuse you of being with a prostitute and demand a large, a very large bribe. Of course the girl was part of this scam. She did not call her family, she called the police that she was working with and gets a percentage of the bribe.

  • 发龙(Fa Long) said

    Hello everyone i am from China i can say Uzbekistan is beautiful and save country in the world because i have been from 2year,Uzbekistan becomed now Uzbekistan opened for world
    Uzbekistan is peacefull country thank

  • Shehroz said

    Hello fellow readers, I am from Uzbekistan, specifically city of Samarkand. I have lived in United States for almost 10 years now. All of those people who are saying it is unsafe and Uzbekistan is dangerous because of it’s police state are delusional or have never visited Uzbekistan. It is one of the safest and peaceful countries in the world, especially in Central Asia. It is a common tradition for Uzbeks to be generous, polite and respectful towards each other. Uzbeks will even treat foreigners or strangers with generosity to try to become friends with them. Horrible crimes such homicide are almost non existent in cities like Samarkand, which is highly visited by tourist. Robert, we know crime does not occur in our country because it does not! In Samarkand for example, if any criminal activity or even if some car accidents occur, almost the whole city knows about not because of the news but because a lot of people know each other and that is how they spread the news. And again if something bad as even kidnapping happens in my city, the whole city is shocked as to what happened, let a lone the murder. Basically, that is how unsual these crimes are in Uzbekistan. Talking about police, they are much respectful towards foreigners or tourist then they are to locals, which also isn’t bad at all. In order to avoid any problems with police when a local is stopped by them, a local tries to treat them as if they are friends or relatives to avoid problems. Eventually, they will give bribe them and avoid being ticketed highly. Obviously its corrupt but nowadays it has gotten better. Police are stricter in terms of accepting bribes. But it is definitely not as bad as some of these people have stated! I am not trying to biased here but just giving sn honest comment. There is a reason as to why I visit my country almost every summer when I get a chance and why I will eventually go back to live there. I love my mother land!

  • ? said

    would going to uzbekistan be a safe choice for a family? pros and cons? thank you and get back to me soon. also, please make it clearer about the police issues.

  • Gene said

    Many Jews from Russia were relocated to Uzbekhistan during WW2. Are there places in Uzbekhistan that have records of these people? Thank you

  • ? said

    Tho' British, having lived somewhat like a local in Samarkand for a month earlier in 2019 I go along with Shehroz' comment that Samarkand, at least, is very safe. I met a German lady tourist in her 60's who tho' alone was (rightly) very relaxed about the place. Of course you can be unlucky so, just as anywhere else in the world, I would avoid dark places on my own. But beware the pavements! Treat them as one big trip hazard. In regular cafes, not fancy restaurants, I've been eating salads and drinking (I assume diluted with water) cordials and report NO digestion issues: so certainly in a city like Samarkand such warnings I think belong to a bygone age.

  • Yulduz said

    Hi. I am also from Uzbekistan and moved to UK and live here for the past 10 years. Obviously I, as the rest of my patriotic friends here may talk a lot of great things about my country, and once again who wouldn't?
    But I will try to be as constructive as it's possible.
    It is true, there are police everywhere, I never heard or saw the 'common policemen' asking for bribe, however the ones that catch the drivers were, 2 years ago, not sure if that has changed. To be honest I hate the drivers and taxis in my country as they speed, they beep and it is a bit hard to get through the pedestrians. Unless they put cameras on police and the roads, I guess that bribery will continue.
    Now another thing about feeling safe. Working at a hotel I always come across to loads of different people and recently antisocial teen kids, and police, well they do nothing about them here in UK. When in Uzbekistan we have the culture that is similar to Japanese, all about respecting elderly people. People always give their sits to elderly or pregnant women or help them to cross the road and etc. You will certainly won't see any gangs using guns/knives or drugs. But there is a problem with alcoholics and gypsies. Well thats one of the reasons we have the police there. All in all being in numerous countries both in Europe and Asia, I can say that you will never feel safe anywhere as a tourist or as local! And especially if you think you will get away with bending the rules and the law as a tourist, I have bad news for you! Police will STOP you and make sure you are punished one way or another, so just don't be stupid and do respect other cultures. You know exactly what I mean. It is all the same everywhere.
    To the ladies, you can travel to Uzbekistan, it is not as bad as it is pictured.
    And Max, I feel sorry for you, but I don't really think you had an aspirin there in your pocket, did you?
    Also do not forget people meant to leave bad comments more than happy ones!

  • Mikie said

    Hi everyone, I would like to share a piece of information which would be, I guess, interesting and beneficial for travellers wishing and planning to visit Uzbekistan. The issue I want to bring up is the problem with buying train tickets online. Because when foreigners want to buy tickets at a place they, more often than not, are sold out. Foreigners usually have trouble buying tickets online if they attempt to do this with their Visa cards due to some technical imperfections on the website . Therefore, I want to give a solution by offering the assistance of local people who will make a purchase instead of travellers. Unlike travel agencies, they do not charge much. The fee varies from 5 to 10 dollars per person, no matter how many tickets the one is going to buy. Isn't it a solution? The only thing needed is a copy of the passport. The same can be done with airplane tickets. There is no place for hesitation about their reliability as such kind of services can be found on respectable travelling and guiding platforms. I dont know whether I can refer to any of them here. But if you need I can write more.. Any questions are welcome.

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