The traditional Nowruz celebrations in Uzbekistan

12 days / 11 nights

Navruz in Uzbekistan

Nowruz is the Oriental New Year and is celebrated in spring in many Central Asian countries. This holiday is widely celebrated throughout cities and villages in Uzbekistan. The most important day is the spring equinox on March 21, the beginning of the New Year. This festival is listed as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.

On this occasion, different activities are organized such as the game of bouzkachi with riders fighting to catch a goat. The neighbors prepare a traditional dish, soumalak, a delicacy made of sprouted wheat and flour. The many activities organized around this traditional festival will allow you to share an unforgettable moment with the Uzbeks. Your stay with a family will give you the opportunity to participate in the preparation of the traditional dish with the villagers.

The highlights of this trip:

Take part in Nowruz festivities with Uzbeks

History of the Silk Road, Samarkand the thousand-year-old city, Bukhara the noble, Khiva the mysterious

Watch a game of Buzkachi, a Central Asian horse-riding game with brave horsemen

Prepare soumalak, a traditional dish, with an Uzbek family


Flight to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, on a scheduled Turkish Airlines flight. Dinner and overnight on board.

Welcome by our team on arrival and check-in at your hotel. A short rest to recover from the fatigue of the trip.

The first day of your trip will be devoted to the discovery of the modern city of over 3 million inhabitants. The city of Tashkent does not have a lot of historical monuments, but it does have other more modern sights. Its metro, built during the Soviet period, has remained for a long time the only one in Central Asia. After a stroll to the Chorsu market (founded in the 11th century), you will go to the modern city to visit the Independence Square and the memorial of the victims of the Second World War. You will finish the day by exploring the Theatre Square where the great theater of the Tashkent Opera stands.

Dinner in the city and overnight at the hotel.

In the morning you will travel to Samarkand by high-speed train (train time: 08:00 – 10:15). On arrival, you will start your journey in this mythical city. Located at the crossroads of the Silk Road, Samarkand has a history that goes back 2,750 years. To better understand the different historical periods of the city, head to the Afrosiyob museum. It will explain you the importance of Samarkand’s role in commercial and political exchanges over the centuries. Then you will explore the necropolis of Shakhi Zinda whose construction is tied to the introduction of Islam in Central Asia. You will finish the day with a visit to the Gur-Emir Mausoleum (Tamerlane’s mausoleum), which also houses his descendants. This masterpiece is the pride of Samarkand with its turquoise dome.

Dinner in town and overnight at the hotel.

In the morning you will go to a village near Samarkand to play the traditional game of bouzkachi, whose name is derived from the Persian words boz (goat) and kachi (to pull). This horse game is a very old tradition and is always played in winter time. Lunch at the site. After these joyful moments, return to Samarkand.

Dinner in the city and overnight at the hotel.

March 21st is the day of the spring equinox, when Nowruz, the Oriental New Year, is celebrated. In the morning, you will go for a walk in the park of Samarkand where the traditional festivities take place. Together with the locals, you will discover the customs, folk dances, songs and national dishes prepared for the occasion. You will also be able to admire the colorful outfits worn by the Uzbeks on this day. In the afternoon you will visit the great mosque of Bibi Khanum built by Amir Timur (Tamerlane) in honor of his favorite wife. At the end of the day, we will go to Siyob market.

Dinner with English speaking students and overnight at the hotel.

Nowruz festivities are not only held in Samarkand. In the morning you will leave for the village of Vobkent located in the plains. You will arrive for lunch and settle in a common room (3-4 people per room, basic comfort). You will have lunch with the host family and get to know them. In the afternoon, the neighbors will start to arrive and prepare the traditional dish, soumalak. This dish is prepared with sprouted wheat, flour and butter. You will help prepare it with the neighbors during the afternoon. You will share a unique moment with the villagers and will spend the night at the host’s house.

After breakfast, you will enjoy sharing the soumalak prepared the day before. Then you will go for a walk through the village in order to know the local life. You will visit the dispensary, the kindergarten and the village center where you will meet the inhabitants. Back to the host house and lunch with your hosts before going to the medieval city of Bukhara. On the way, you will stop to visit the ceramic workshop which is very famous in the country. Late arrival in Bukhara and check-in at the hotel.

Dinner in the city and overnight at the hotel.

This day will be devoted to the exploration of the old city of Bukhara. Some monuments are a must see such as the old mausoleum of Ismail Sâmâni (907) built by the founder of the first Persian Muslim dynasty in Central Asia, the Samanids. You will also visit other wonders of this caravan city such as the Ark, a fortified citadel, the Poi Kalyan complex and other interesting places in central Bukhara. You will have a moment to rest before going to the house of a local craftsman.

Dinner at the craftsman’s house and overnight at the hotel.

Today we will explore the surroundings of Bukhara to discover the great necropolis and the summer palace located not far from the ancient city, only 5 km (3 miles) away. This palace was built in 1917 and has beautiful interior decorations made of plaster and stucco. It was the residence of the last emir of Bukhara. Stop in front of the Persian miniature painting stall. Visit the courtyard, the reception rooms, the rose gardens, the pool and the harem which is now the museum of traditional embroidery. Return to the old city and lunch in a local restaurant. Afternoon at leisure.

Dinner in town and overnight at the hotel.

After breakfast you will leave for Khiva, located 450 km (280 miles) west of Bukhara, in the Kharezm region, in the middle of the dunes. A large part of your journey will be through the Kyzylkoum desert (red sand desert), the place where brave caravaneers used to cross in several days with their camels. There will be some stops for lunch and for taking pictures. Upon arrival in Khiva, you will stay in a charming hotel located in the old walled city.

Dinner in the city and overnight at the hotel.

This day will be devoted to the discovery of Ichan Kala, the inner fortress, composed of more than 50 historical monuments and 250 old houses. These houses date mainly from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and were built behind brick walls about 10 meters high. The old city, which was the last stop of the caravaneers before crossing the desert in the direction of present-day Iran, has been listed as a Unesco heritage site since 1990. You will visit the main monuments and learn about the different historical events. You can also climb the walls to take pictures at sunset. At the end of the day transfer to Urgench to take the flight to Tashkent. Dinner in the city.

Transfer to Tashkent international airport according to your flight schedule. We wish you an excellent trip back home!

NB: This tailor-made tour is given as an example and can be modified or customized to your wishes. For more details and information, please contact our agency.


Explore the treasures of Uzbekistan

10 days / 9 nights

Samarkand Explore is a tailor-made travel agency based in the mythical city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan. It organizes private trips with authentic circuits in several regions of Central Asia. Whether you are a couple, a family or a small group, our team will take care of making this trip YOUR trip.

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The images allow us to remember all the joyful moments of a unique trip

All these photos you see were taken by us or by our travelers who travelled with us on Silk Road