Uzbekistan — Transportation
Uzbekistan Taxis and Car Rental
Taxis and cars for rent are available in all the major towns and cities of Uzbekistan. They are a good option for getting around and the only option when traveling at night. Official cabs are recommended, but visitors will most often find unlicensed cabs. At any rate, you should always agree on a price before getting in. There are a number of cab companies whose vehicles can be rented by phone. Two are Aist Taxi (+998-71-244-5646) and Taxi Imperia (+998-71-232-1166).
Shared taxis are also available. While not the most comfortable or the most reliable form of transportation, they offer a local experience for travelers. On some routes, such as Khiva to Urgench or Bukhara, Nukus or Khiva, shared taxis may be the only local transport available. Travelers need to ask around the taxi ranks to find a taxi which is heading to their destination. Schedules are not fixed and fares aren’t set in stone, so travelers need to be patient and negotiate with the driver.
There are no car rental agencies in the country. You can rent a car, but it will essentially be a cab with a driver. Bringing your own car is possible but travelers are advised to check travel restrictions with regard to driving as some areas, such as Termez and the Surkhandarya region, require a special permit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tashkent. While Uzbekistan is connected by road to its neighbors, not all borders are safe to cross and some are indeed closed. It is always best to check beforehand. Generally, an International Driving Permit is required for driving in Uzbekistan along with valid insurance from your home country. Driving is on the right. Seatbelts are not required.
Uzbekistan Trains and Buses
Trains are perhaps the safest and most comfortable form of local overland transport in Uzbekistan. Entering the country via rail is possible as the nodal point for railway lines in Central Asia is Tashkent. There are trains from neighboring Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and China. Hard cash in US dollars is generally the main form of payment when buying tickets.
Domestic train routes are popular in Uzbekistan due to the speed and comfort they offer. The main line runs from Tashkent to Samarkand and Bukhara. Two express trains serve this route. The Registon runs from Tashkent to Samarkand, taking 4 hours, and the Sharq runs from Tashkent to Bukhara, taking 7 hours, 30 minutes via Samarkand. There is also a night train from Tashkent to Bukhara that departs daily, a thrice a week train to Urgench, and a twice a week train to Nukus-Kungrad. There are hard sleepers called platskartny, soft sleepers called kupeyny, and general compartments called obshy. Travelers are advised to book at least two days in advance of travel as trains fill up.
Buses are only recommended for the most adventurous of foreign travelers. Many local buses are old and rickety, and keep unreliable schedules, running very slowly and breaking down often. Newer, more comfortable private buses are slowly emerging. However, schedules are still unreliable as most operators readily throw away the timetable to wait for more passengers. Personal provisions such as toilet paper and reliable, clean food must be taken with you when traveling by bus as journey can be long.