Compared to its neighbours, Uzbekistan has a somewhat better developed transport system. Trains are the best mode of transportation between the cities.
Fast and very convenient Afrosyiab trains run from Tashkent to Samarkand and Bukhara, trains to Khiva are still the slow ones, however, they plan to introduce fast trains soon. The slow train tickets will be available mostly even on the day of travel, but I highly recommend to buy the fast train tickets in advance, as they sell out, particularly the trains for the weekend and during the holiday season. We bought the tickets over a month in advance to be on the safe side, as we had limited time and specific itinerary.
How to get train tickets
The train tickets can be bought on official website of the Uzbek railways – https://e-ticket.railway.uz/ . if you get tickets from tourist companies, they are far more expensive. I was amazed, when I saw the exorbitant prices they charge. It was double or more for the same tickets. So it is worth to try several times on a slow and a bit frustrating official website 😊
The 762Ф and 766Ф, (761 and 765 on the way back) are the Afrosyab trains. One very strange note – when I give search for Tashkent to Samarkand, it never shows the fast trains (there definitely are though), while when I give Tashkent to Bukhara it does. And the train definitely stops in Samarkand, as we know from experience.
You cannot do any purchases with a MasterCard on the official railway website, you definitely need a Visa card. This is very strange and I found out about it after trying my MasterCard several times. The website is slow and can be a bit frustrating. It also keeps switching to Russian, particularly to Russian alphabet. But after a couple of tries, it will work.
After buying the online tickets, you will get a confirmation, which you should print out. When you get to the station, you need to go to the ticket office to exchange the online tickets for the actual ones, but this is a quick procedure. We got the hard copies of all our train tickets altogether at Tashkent station. At this station, the ticket office is located on the left side, when you are facing the building.
The train stations have the luggage storage units, which were very handy for us. At the Tashkent station the luggage storage is located in the same part, as the ticket office. You will have to go downstairs. It was safe to store our luggage there. There was a person standing there, he checked our passports and we got a number.
Other than trains, the only public transport between the cities includes mini-buses and shared taxis. Unless you hire a driver and pay a fortune, your best bet are these shared taxis. You can find them at the major “bus stations”.
Sometimes, you can ask your hotel to order you a taxi and negotiate good price for you. We found that some hotels were very helpful with this, others tried to rip us off. So definitely know approximate prices. The hotels in Samarkand and Bukhara we stayed in were very helpful, when we were going on short distances out of the city and didn’t want the hassle of going to the shared taxi stations and negotiating with them. But we did this only in a couple of cases, as the shared taxis end up far cheaper.
How to take shared taxis
I don’t suggest to go for shared taxis, if your destination is served by trains. If not, you don’t have another viable option than this.
The shared taxis normally wait for passengers at certain locations, mostly called bus stations. In these stations, you will normally find mini buses and shared taxis waiting for customers. To get to these, you can either take shared city taxes or buses, depending which city you are in. Below is the list of such stations, where shared taxis go from. It is quite difficult to find information about these online. If you need to, ask the hotel staff or the city taxi drivers.
Talking to the drivers of shared taxis can also be a bit of a hassle, particularly, when you don’t speak Russian. Never go with the first person, who approaches you. Keep in mind, that the prices are more or less fixed. For instance, the price for Samarkand to the Tajik border is “fixed” at 20,000 soms per person. Check the prices in advance, approximately how much a seat in a shared taxi should be, in order not to be ripped off. Also ask the prices with several drivers, before you find the one, who will tell you the usual price.
Shared taxi stations by city
Bukhara – shared taxis leave for Tashkent or Samarkand from Northern Bus Station. To go to Urgench and Khiva (About 70,000 soms per seat) from Bukhara by shared taxi, you should go to Karvon Bazaar. The Sharq stand is for Shahrisabz and Qarshi.
Samarkand – Ulugbek stop for taxis to Tashkent is located nearby the observatory. From here, you can also get shared taxis to Bukhara, but the main station for this would be Navoi, which is out of the city. Kaftarxona bus station is used for shared taxis to Tajik border for Panjakent.
Tashkent – Kuyluk bazaar for shared taxis to the Tajik border at Oybek. There is a direct bus to Khujand though, which takes 5 hours. You buy ticket for it at the Tashkent bus station (I have read that the ticket booths don’t work on weekends and in the late evenings strangely), and starts at the stop nearby, next to the Olmazar metro stop.
Transport inside the cities
Tashkent has a developed transport network, with metro and bus system. You won’t have problems getting to all spots by one of those. Do take metro at least once, as some of the stations are really beautiful. But if you will plan to take a taxi, Yandex app works in this city. This way, you won’t have to haggle with the driver.
Samarkand doesn’t have good or almost any public transport system. The main mode of transportation inside the city are the yellow taxis. These taxis are mostly used as shared taxis. I suggest to stop the taxis, which already have passengers to avoid any confusion that you want a shared option and not the full taxi. Don’t forget that you should definitely negotiate the price in advance. For instance, in Samarkand, we stopped yellow taxis and paid about 10000 sum for the two of us from one end of the center to another. There are also mini-buses, but taking them is complicated, unless you find out their exact routes in advance, which could be a pain and not worth for just two days.
Bukhara also has the shared taxis and mini buses. However, we only needed to take transport from the train station and when we went outside the city to Chor Bakr, etc. The main sites inside the old city are really close to each other and you can simply walk among them.
How to get from the Tashkent airport to the train station and city center – bus #40 and 67 goes directly from the airport to the station and is quite . Bus station is located on the road past the car park. If you get a taxi, you should pay 30,000 soms. Taxi drivers can be a headache in Uzbekistan. They will insist on far higher price than usual, as you are a foreigner. Don’t get the taxis that will rush to you. If you can, go on the road just in front of the station and find a taxi there.
From Samarkand railway station to the city center – buses 3 and 73 run to Registan. However, if you are arriving late at night, this may not be an option. Taxis should cost 10-15,000 sums.
From Bukhara railway station to the city center – the train station Bukhara 1 you will be arriving at and leaving from is outside the city in Kagan. The other train station you will see on maps is an old one and most trains don’t get there nowadays. Mini-bus 268 and bus 378 go to the city center. Late in the evening or early morning you won’t have this option and will need to get a taxi, which shouldn’t cost more than 20,000 soms. 30,000 if it’s through a hotel and at a terrible hour.