Shopping is an authentic travel experience in Uzbekistan, historically and traditionally situated along the crossroads of trade and commerce of Asia and Europe. Shopping here can be an overwhelming experience as you immerse yourself in the local markets, which are called bazaars. There are modern shops and department stores, but bazaars are preferable for seeking out a good souvenir item and a real Uzbek shopping experience to go with it. Bargaining is, of course, how things are done here.
One good souvenir item that is wearable is the tubeteika in all its designs and colors. Also called duppi or kalpoq in Uzbekistan, it is a traditional cap worn by local men, women, and children throughout the region. Silk products are also produced in this country and are well worth hunting for. One real gem of an item is the Uzbek knife, or the pichok, which forms part of an Uzbek man’s national costume and is a cultural legacy from the people of the Ferghana Valley. A real pichok needs to have a light gray color, a handle that is just right in size, and a knife edge so sharp it can cut hair in mid air.
The bazaars worth checking out are naturally those found in Uzbekistan’s major cultural centers. In Tashkent, Chorsu (Eski Juva) Bazaar is located right within the old town. It is one of the liveliest, loudest markets in the country and arguably in Central Asia. Everything is sold here, from herbs and spices, to pistachios and walnuts, to fresh fruits (especially in the warm months), and naturally souvenir items.
Those visiting Bukhara can hunt for gold embroidery, the city’s specialty, in Taqi-Zargaron Market, which literally means ‘Dome of the Jewelers’. Samarkand also has a big and bustling bazaar whichis simply called the Central Bazaar. In this mostly outdoor flea market, visitors can buy local food items, such as nuts, dry fruits, and spices.