1-Day Samarkand Itinerary And Travel Guide With Budget All-In

1-Day Samarkand Itinerary And Travel Guide With Budget All-In

By DAN FORTEZA

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Samarkand is a real gem along the ancient Great Silk Road. This iconic crossroads between east and west was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. No wonder why it’s a favorite destination for many travelers to Uzbekistan. For history buffs and architecture enthusiasts, Samarkand is a true paradise.

There are many wonderful places to see in Samarkand. But—if you only have one day to spare (like myself,) this is the perfect travel guide and itinerary for you. Here, I’ve compiled the superb 1-day Samarkand itinerary specifically for budget travelers, with my expenses included.

Hi there! First of all, I am Daniel – a solo backpacker from the Philippines. If you don’t know my story yet, feel free to read this article where I talked about how I quit my job in order to travel. This article was also featured on TripZilla Philippines.

Ulugh Beg Madrasah
Me with Ulugh Beg Madrasah | Dantravels.org

After spending a day in Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan, I immediately headed to Samarkand the next morning to see the ancient city of Samarkand myself. I couldn’t wait to explore this southern city which is known for its ancient mosques and mausoleums!

Read also my Tashkent travel guide blog with budget itinerary.

DO YOU NEED A VISA FOR UZBEKISTAN?

But first–do you need a visa to enter Uzbekistan? Well, depending on your nationality, you may or may not need a visa. See the information below which category you fall in. Other countries not listed below require an Uzbek visa in advance.

Citizens of the following 65 countries can visit Uzbekistan without a visa:

I. 90 days

Armenia
Azerbaijan
Belarus
Georgia
Kazakhstan
Moldova
Russia
Ukraine

II. 60 days

Kyrgyzstan

III. 30 days

All European Union citizens
Andorra
Argentina
Australia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Brazil
Brunei
Canada
Chile
Iceland
Indonesia
Israel
Japan
Liechtenstein
Malaysia
Monaco
Mongolia
Montenegro
New Zealand
Norway
San Marino
Serbia
Singapore
South Korea
Switzerland
Tajikistan
Turkey
United Arab Emirates
Vatican

Uzbekistan introduced the system of electronic visas for a period of up to 30 days from 15 July 2018. A single or multiple entry visa is valid for 30 days. The cost of obtaining an electronic visa for 20 USD. Travelers have to apply for the e-Visa for Uzbekistan at least three days in advance before their trip.

As of 21 March 2019 eVisa is available to the citizens of the following 77 jurisdictions:

Albania
Algeria
Angola
Antigua and Barbuda
Bahamas
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Barbados
Belize
Bhutan
Bolivia
Cabo Verde
Cambodia
Cameroon
China
Colombia
Costa Rica
Côte d’Ivoire
Cuba
Dominica
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Fiji
Gabon
Ghana
Grenada
Guatemala
Guyana
Honduras
Hong Kong
India
Iran
Jamaica
Jordan
Kiribati
Kuwait
Laos
Lebanon
Maldives
Marshall Islands
Mauritius
Mexico
Micronesia
Morocco
Nauru
Nepal
Nicaragua
North Korea
North Macedonia
Oman
Palau
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Qatar
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Samoa
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Seychelles
Solomon Islands
South Africa
Sri Lanka
Suriname
Thailand
Tonga
Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia
United States
Uruguay
Vanuatu
Venezuela
Vietnam

IMPORTANT NOTE: Citizens of the following countries and territories do not require a visa for a 5-day stay if they are transiting through the international airports of Uzbekistan. According to the IATA Timatic, the outbound flight from Uzbekistan must be on Uzbekistan Airways.

Albania
Algeria
Antigua and Barbuda
Bahamas
Bahrain
Barbados
Belize
Bhutan
China
Colombia
Costa Rica
Dominica
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Equatorial Guinea
Fiji
Gabon
Grenada
Guatemala
Guyana
Honduras
India
Jamaica
Kuwait
Lebanon
Maldives
Mauritius
Mexico
Morocco
Nauru
North Macedonia
Oman
Palau
Panama
Peru
Philippines
Qatar
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saudi Arabia
Seychelles
South Africa
Sri Lanka
Suriname
Thailand
Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia
Turkmenistan
United States
Uruguay
Vietnam
Venezuela

As a Philippine passport holder, I am both eligible of eVisa and Transit visa. And you might wonder why I chose to go with the 5-day visa-free transit instead. To be honest, I was actually fed up of processing too much visa lately. You see I’ve been traveling into different Asian countries in the past 3 months with my 3rd-world-country passport (and it sucks to have one!) Besides, I actually don’t mind staying for a short period of time. The important thing is–I got my Uzbekistan passport stamp!

WHERE IS SAMARKAND?

Samarkand, alternatively spelled as Samarqand, is a city in south-eastern Uzbekistan and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Central Asia. Prospering from its location on the Silk Road between China and Europe, at times Samarkand was one of the greatest cities of Central Asia.

Language: Uzbek (and some Russian)
Currency: Uzbekistani Soʻm (UZS)
Preferred mode of transportation: Taxi / Minibus
Time Zone: GMT +5

FLIGHTS TO SAMARKAND

Finding a cheap flight ticket to Samarkand from Europe and Central Asia is relatively easy. If you intend to book a flight ticket to Samarkand, I suggest you check Kayak (click HERE) as they usually offer cheap fare rates compared to other booking sites.

HOW I GOT TO SAMARKAND:

I made it through Samarkand from a 5-hour commute by bus from Tashkent.

Tashkent to Samarkand bus at Tashkent Avtovokzal
Tashkent to Samarkand bus at Tashkent Avtovokzal | Dantravels.org

From Tashkent as my starting point, I utilized Tashkent’s metro and headed to the Olmazor metro station. I walked some 200 meters to find the Tashkent Avtovokzal building—the main terminal where intercity buses operate.

I got myself a bus ticket from the counter worth 35,000 UZS (3.69 USD). The bus left Tashkent at around 12:00 NN. Buses going to Samarkand leave every 2 hours and start to operate between 7:00 AM and 8:00 AM.

I arrived in Samarkand at around 5:00 PM.

WHERE DID I STAY?

  • Lion B&B (click here to book)
    • Hostel room type: Bunk Bed in Mixed Dormitory Room
    • Hostel rate: 6 USD per night (see note below)
    • Is breakfast included: Yes

NOTE: It was supposed to be 10 USD per night but I had a good deal (a discount!) with the owner of this hostel. I only paid 6 USD per night in exchange for a good rating and review on the booking site.

You can book a room at any hotel through Agoda or Booking.com. I usually book my room accommodations through booking.com. Room accommodation ranges from cheap hostels to luxury hotels. Book hostels through booking.com as they have free cancellation or pay-at-the-hotel option.

Use my link to book your hostel and you’ll get 10% of your booking back after your stay. Click this link to get that discount.

If Samarkand hotel isn’t to your liking, try AirBnb. Airbnbs are immersed in neighborhoods, condos, and townhomes. There is a feeling you get when you stay in an Airbnb that makes you feel like you belong in that city or town. Since it is someone’s home, there is a certain amount of pride you feel while staying there. I have used Airbnb on some of my other trips and I loved it!

If you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get up to 42 USD free travel credit by signing up via this link.

HOW TO GET AROUND SAMARKAND?

    • By Minibus. Numbered minibuses run a fair network of routes in Samarkand between 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM. The fare costs 1,200 UZS KGS (0.13 USD). However, I don’t really recommended it for short term travelers. It would be better going around by taxi or even by foot!
    • By Taxi. I am not a fan of taking taxis but when in Samarkand, it’s actually the most convenient way to travel from one point to another within the city. But if you think you can get to your destination on foot, then go walk!
    • By Foot. Get your feet ready as you will walk to many places in Samarkand. Yes, I walk a lot while moving from point to point in my Samarkand itinerary . And as I mentioned in my budget travel tips blog – “walk as much as you can!

MY 1-DAY SAMARKAND ITINERARY

Before I begin my Samarkand itinerary list, let me just acknowledge this good friend of mine—Maksim. I met this fellow traveler in my hostel in Samarkand because we shared the same room. He was with me the whole day of my do-it-yourself trip in Samarkand. Don’t be fooled by his Korean looks though, he speaks Russian really well and thus he gets along just fine with locals.

Lunch at Siyob Bazaar with my friend
Lunch at Siyob Bazaar with my friend, Maksim | Dantravels.org

1st Stop: Amir Timur Statue

Amir Timur is deeply entrenched in the history of Samarkand. Thus when visiting Samarkand, the Timur statue is a must-photo-op. We started off this Samarkand itinerary with a 10-minute walk to this monument from the hostel. It is located at a roundabout in a busy section of town. It shows him wearing a crown and appropriately sitting on a throne leaning on his sword.

Amir Timur Statue (Samarkand)
Amir Timur Statue | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour
    • How I got here: By foot from hostel

2nd Stop: Gur Emir Mausoleum

Gur-e Amir Complex is the mausoleum of the Asian conqueror Timur (who is also known as Tamerlane) in Samarkand. There is a 15,000 UZS (1.58 USD) entrance fee if you intend to see what’s inside. Though I didn’t enter the gate, I urge you to see what’s inside. There you’ll see the central burial chamber glitters with gold and is exquisitely decorated with calligraphy across the walls, making a fitting burial space for Timur himself.

It’s a humbling experience and one that you must do if in Samarkand. You can book your ticket here in advance.

Gur Emir Mausoleum
Gur Emir Mausoleum | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got here: By foot from Amir Timur statue

3rd Stop: Registan Complex

Known as the centerpiece of the city and one of the most important monuments of Islamic arts—this is the famous Registan Complex and its three madrasahs. From left to right: Ulugh Beg Madrasah (left), Tilya-Kori Madrasah (middle), and Sher-Dor Madrasah (right).

The Registan was the heart of the ancient city of Samarkand of the Timurid dynasty. You can book your ticket here in advance.

The beautiful Registan Complex
The beautiful Registan Complex | Dantravels.org
Ulugh Beg Madrasah
Me with Ulugh Beg Madrasah | Dantravels.org
Sher-Dor Madrasah
Me standing my back on the Sher-Dor Madrasah | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 2-4 hours
    • How I got here: By foot from the Gur-e Amir Complex

4th Stop: Bibi Khanym Mosque

Compared to Registan and Gur e Amir Mausoleum, the Bibi Khanym Mosque isn’t as impressive. The entrance here is 25,000 UZS per person. But the good thing is that it wasn’t too crowded or touristy and you can enjoy a bit of solitude here.

Bibi Khanym Mosque
Bibi Khanym Mosque | Dantravels,org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got here: By foot from Registan Complex

5th Stop: Siyob Bazaar (Siab Bazaar)

This bazaar isn’t as impressive as the Chorsu Bazaar in Tashkent . And probably benefits from the fact that a lot of tourists just go to Samarkand and this is the only bazaar they see. But it’s a cool site to see nonetheless. Perched next to the Bibi Khanym mosque, with good views of that building, it’s right in the center of Samarkand and gives you a real feel for Uzbekistan just wandering around.

Siyob Bazaar on my Samarkand itinerary
Siyob Bazaar | Dantravels.org

NOTE: This is also where Maksim and I stopped over for lunch!

    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour
    • How I got here: By foot from Bibi Khanym Mosque

6th Stop: President’s Tomb  / Hazrat Khizr Mosque

If you walk past the Siab Bazaar on a footbridge, you will find Hazrat Khizr Mosque where the tomb of Uzbekistan’s first President Islam Karimov rests. It is another mausoleum that is a must-visit in Samarkand. When you’re here, make sure to check out the viewpoint terrace which offers a good view of the city of Samarkand. There would be an entrance fee to some parts of the mosque but Maksim and I went only to the free ones. 

    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour
    • How I got here: By foot from Siab Bazaar

7th Stop: Shah-i Zinda

Shah-i Zinda—Samarkand’s most moving and beloved site is this stunning avenue of mausoleums. It contains some of the richest tilework in the Muslim world. Entrance fee is 15,000 UZS with additional 6,000 UZS if you are bringing a digital camera with you. This place is definitely worth a visit if you’re in Samarkand!

    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got here: By foot from the President’s Tomb

8th Stop: Afrisiyob Museum

Though Maksim and I didn’t go inside this museum because we felt like it’s a bit pricey with an entrance fee to 25,000 UZS (because I guess we both don’t fancy museums), still go check this out if you’re traveling in Samarkand.

Afrisiyob Museum
Afrisiyob Museum | Dantravels.org

Afrosiyob Museum is located at a place which is believed to be where Afrosiyob, the legendary king of Turan in the book of kings, was from. The museum offers a glimpse at the history of the region, particularly Samarkand. There are many remnants of wall paintings and stone carvings with enough explanation on the objects itself.

    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got here: By foot from Shah-i Zinda

9th Stop: Afrisiyob Archeological Site

Adjacent to Afrisiyob Museum is where this archeological site is situated. Maksim and I met a young Japanese traveler named Niko wandering alone in this site. So we chatted a little bit before we head to our last stop.

walking around Afrisiyob site | Dantravels.org
Maksim and Niko walking around Afrisiyob site | Dantravels.org

Archaeological excavations at this site revealed that as far back as before the Common Era Afrasiab was a major Central Asian cultural and trade center. The artifacts excavated on the site include terracotta statuettes, beautifully ornamented earthenware, fragments of ossuaries and tools, various glass and metal items, adornments and coins. Among the most remarkable finds are fragments of a mural currently displayed in the Afrasiyob Museum.

    • Duration (getting there + visiting):  1 hour
    • How I got here: By foot from Afrisiyob Museum

10th Stop: Observatory of Ulugbek

We’ve reached this site after 20-30 minutes of walking from Afrisiyab Archeological Site. And yes, we’ve been walking all day starting from our hostel until here to our last stop. But then again, with its 25,000 UZS entrance fee, we felt like it’s a bit pricey and thus we instead found ourselves taking advantage of the free pictures we can get without going inside the observatory.

Mirzo Ulughbek was the one who built the great Ulugh Beg Observatory between 1424 and 1429. It was considered by scholars to have been one of the finest observatories in the Islamic world at the time and the largest in Central Asia. Below is his statue located at the entrance of the observatory.

    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour
    • How I got here: By foot from Afrisiyob Archeological Site

And there you have it. Let’s call it a day! And no, I didn’t go on foot going back to my hostel. I’m dead tired! I went by a shared taxi with the help of Maksim’s bargaining prowess.

MY 1-DAY EXPENSES IN SAMARKAND

  • Day 0 (Arrival)
    • 1,400 UZS – Fare, metro to Olmazor metro station
    • 35, 000 UZS – Intercity bus from Tashkent bus terminal (near Olmazor) to Samarkand
    • 1,200 UZS – Bus #52 from Samarkand bus terminal to somewhere inner of the city
    • 113,000 UZS- 2 Nights at Lion B&B hostel
    • NOTE: It was far from my hostel where I get off from that Bus #52. I remember I walked about 2 km to reach my hostel. I find it confusing how to ride public buses in Samarkand!
    • Subtotal: 150,600 UZS (15.83 USD)
  • Day 1
    • 21,000 UZS – Entrance fee at Shah-i Zinda Mausoleums (it includes a 6,000-som fee for a digital camera.)
    • 25,000 UZS  – Food (Plov meal) with tea
    • 1,000 UZS – Toilet fee
    • 5,000 UZS – Shared taxi with Maksim
    • 4,000 UZS – Bread and Tea at Lucky Cafe
    • NOTE: Breakfast is included at Lion B&B hostel
    • Subtotal: 56,000 UZS (5.89 USD)
  • Day 2 (Departure)
    • 10,000 UZS – Fare, taxi from Siyob Bazaar to Bus Terminal to Tashkent
    • 1,000 UZS – Toilet fee
    • 5,000 UZS – Food (Samsa)
    • 35,000 UZS- Fare, Bus from Samarkand to Tashkent
    • 6,000 UZS – Fare, Taxi to Tashkent airport
    • 81.6 USD (776,143 UZS) – Flight from Tashkent, Uzbekistan to Dushanbe, Tajikistan. I pre-booked it online at Kayak.
    • Subtotal:  833,143 UZS (87.59 USD)

Read also my Dushanbe budget itinerary with travel guide blog.

Total Expenses:  109.3 USD (5,551.35 PHP)

What do you think of this 1-day SAMARKAND itinerary?

I hope that you find this 1-DAY TOUR SAMARKAND BUDGET ITINERARY and TRAVEL GUIDE blog useful!

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section below.

RECOMMENDED PACKAGE TOURS

In case you’re also looking for package tours to simply jumpstart your actual itinerary, I highly recommend booking tours through Viator which is perfect for your Samarkand itinerary. See tours and packages I personally handpicked for you:

BOOKING ESSENTIALS

  • Hotel / Hostel
    • Booking.com. I usually book my hostel accommodation at booking.com. Thus, I recommend you guys trying it for your Samarkand itinerary.  Room accommodation ranges from cheap hostels to luxury hotels. Book hostels through booking.com as they have free cancellation or pay-at-the-hotel option.

Use my link to book your hostel and you’ll get 10% of your booking back after your stay. Click this link to get that discount.

    • Airbnb. Try Airbnb in finding comfy and cozy rooms for your Samarkand itinerary! I have used Airbnb on some of my other trips and I loved it!

Have you tried Airbnb? Sign up with my link and you will get up to 42 USD (2,200 Php) off your first stay. Click this link to get that discount.

  • Flights
    • KAYAK. All of my flight bookings are all from KAYAK. Kayak is one of the world’s leading travel search engines and searches hundreds of travel sites.

I suggest you check Kayak (click HERE) as they usually offer cheap fare rates compared to other booking sites.

  • Samarkand Package tours
    • Viator. Viator is the world’s leading resource for researching, finding and booking the best travel experiences worldwide.

Click here to find the best Viator deals in Samarkand!

  • Travel Insurance
    • World Nomads. If you don’t have travel insurance when times get tough, basically you are screwed. Traveling always comes with inherent risks attached. Whether you are trekking in the Uzbek mountains or wandering the streets of Samarkand, unforeseen events can suddenly upend your world. Generally speaking, travel insurance covers you for the following: Medical Costs – hospital visits, emergencies, evacuations; Property Loss – luggage and their contents; Travel Issues – accommodation and transportation expenses. Thus, I highly recommend you guys getting a travel insurance for your Samarkand itinerary. I bought one from the World Nomads (available in 130+ countries) where most travelers get their travel insurances.

Go to this link to get to your World Nomads travel insurance.

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