Is Uzbekistan safe? 14 Useful Things To Know Before You Go (2022 safety guide)
Is Uzbekistan safe and should you travel there? This article contains all the safety information you need to know about Uzbekistan to enjoy your trip there in 2022.
2022 Update: Uzbekistan is open for travel. You need to show a negative PCR test on arrival, even if you’re fully vaccinated.
For many years traveling in Uzbekistan wasn’t really easy. A long and complicated process was needed to get the entry visa. On top of that, travelers had to register every night in a hotel.
This deterred plenty of travelers who wanted to explore the country. It’s not the case anymore and the visa process is now a lot easier but because of this, Uzbekistan still has an aura of mystery.
People don’t know if Uzbekistan is a safe country to visit or if it should be avoided.
Because of its suffix -stan, the country is often associated with other less popular and dangerous destinations like Afghanistan.
Uzbekistan is a country unlike any other. It’s a country that has super ancient cities with stunning architecture like Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva as well as some of the world’s most gorgeous metro stations.
Read: What are the best places to visit in Uzbekistan, including 3 itineraries
People in Uzbekistan are super hospitable and love to receive foreigners in their culture.
People in Uzbekistan are super friendly…
Uzbekistan really has a lot of amazing things to offer but is it a safe country? Well, we both traveled around this Central Asian country and in this article, we’ll tell you what we think about the safety there.
If you are wondering about visiting Uzbekistan as a solo (female) traveler, backpacking around independently with your friends or family or if it is safe for students and expats to live in its capital city Tashkent, you’re in the right place.
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1. Is Uzbekistan safe for tourists?
After traveling around Uzbekistan and hearing the reports of expats who live there on a permanent basis, I would say that Uzbekistan is totally safe for tourists.
Uzbeks are very warm and welcoming people
It wasn’t always this way in the past though. Uzbek cops had the reputation of being extremely corrupt.
There was a time when walking around Uzbekistan without a copy of your passport wasn’t safe. Cops would ask foreigners for their passports but would only return them for a bribe.
For many years the main source of economic growth for Uzbekistan was the country’s export of cotton. The Uzbek economy was really bad and cops saw foreigners as easy prey to make a quick buck.
Since the arrival of a new president in 2016, the country changed its economical focus and decided to develop the tourism industry instead.
Consequently, tons of measures were put in place to ensure the safety of tourists in Uzbekistan. The Uzbek president announced 78 new laws meant to improve the public perception of law enforcement in Uzbekistan and to encourage foreigners to visit the country.
Many cities in Uzbekistan like Samarkand and Bukhara have touristic police dedicated to the safety of foreigners visiting the country.
The Uzbek government is putting out initiatives every year to attract tourism and the country overall is very safe. I can easily say that I felt safer there than in some parts of Europe.
Actually, all five countries in Central Asia – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan – were placed in Level 1 countries by the US Department of State, meaning they are among the safest countries in the world to travel to!
Now, this doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen in Uzbekistan. Petty crimes such as pickpocketing can happen anywhere and especially in crowded areas. The metros of Tashkent, for example, is a place where you should be cautious.
The stunning metro stations of Tashkent
The best way to avoid being pick-pocketed is to be always very alert and aware of your belongings. You should walk around only with what is absolutely necessary.
We always recommend that you keep your wallet in your front pocket or carry a money belt. It’s also good to travel with a slash-resistant and lockable anti-theft bag. I would also recommend getting good travel insurance that covers theft.
Read: What is the best and most budget-friendly travel insurance for backpackers? Here are the 3 best insurance companies compared!
2. Is Uzbekistan safe for solo female travelers?
A lot of solo female travelers visiting Uzbekistan ask themselves if Uzbekistan is safe for women. Here is our take on it.
In Uzbek culture, men don’t tend to approach foreign women very often. While traveling around the country by herself, Cynthia never experienced cat-calling or has been bothered by guys.
Cynthia traveled alone in Uzbekistan and never felt unsafe…
She would say that Uzbekistan is very safe for solo female travelers and despite the annoying taxi drivers (whom you actually find all over the world), Uzbekistan is a very nice and safe country to travel in.
The people are genuinely friendly and helpful. They are very curious about you and if you visit the towns or villages, you can certainly expect to get invited for a tea or a meal!
Read: How is it to travel as a woman alone in Uzbekistan?
3. Is Uzbekistan safe for students and expats?
When I walked in the streets of Tashkent, I was impressed by how modern and clean the city was. Everywhere I looked there were beautiful parks where families came to relax and sit in the shade of trees.
Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, is a city that attracts a lot of students and expats and I can understand why. The level of safety there is extremely high.
Uzbek cities are very calm and quiet…
Many expats and foreign students are impressed by Tashkent’s extremely low crime rates. This is in part due to the presence of touristic police in the center of the city.
I would say that Uzbekistan is generally very safe for students and expats.
In the parks or the streets of Tashkent, Cynthia and I were very often approached by young Uzbek students wanting to practice their English. People in Tashkent are extremely welcoming and will definitely make expats and students feel at home.
If you’re planning to move to Uzbekistan, a great Facebook group to join is Expats in Uzbekistan. There are now many foreigners living and working in Uzbekistan. They connect through this Facebook group and share, tips, advice, and plan activities together.
Read: Top Things to do in Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s Capital City
4. Is Uzbekistan safe to travel for families?
In Uzbek culture, children are very important and are treated with the utmost respect and love.
Although Uzbekistan may lack activities for young children, the country is very safe for families.
Because children are such an important part of the Uzbek culture, it might be easier for a family to travel around Kyrgyzstan than for a solo traveler.
Visiting the old cities of Samarkand, Bukhara or Khiva could be a great activity to do with kids.
Here are a few recommendations I would have for families traveling to Uzbekistan:
1. Avoid tap water in Uzbekistan
While tap water in Tashkent is generally considered safe I wouldn’t advise it for young kids. It takes a while for the body to adapt to the tap water of a new location.
Tap water in Khiva and Bukhara should be totally avoided and is generally considered unsafe even for adult tourists.
To avoid buying plastic water bottles, I would recommend bringing a LifeStraw Water Filter Bottle.
This is a bottle that filters water using a filtration device. If you drink water using this bottle, any dirt, bacteria or parasites gets trapped in the filter, while the clean water passes through.
Although Bukhara has some gorgeous pools you should avoid tap water there…
There are a lot of stray cats and dogs in Uzbekistan. They may look cute and inoffensive but they could have rabies. Even a small scratch or bite from such an animal could have dire consequences for your child.
Your children should be up to date with their basic vaccination before traveling to Uzbekistan. You don’t need any compulsory vaccinations to travel to Uzbekistan.
However, vaccinations for Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended, especially if you are visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.
4. Travel with a first-aid kit to Uzbekistan
Scratches, cuts and small bruises can happen quickly and unexpectedly. I would suggest bringing a first-aid kit that contains antiseptic wipes, compresses, and band-aids, as well as painkillers and anti-diarrhea medicine. This is the first-aid kit I recommend.
Read: Everything you need to know about traveling in Uzbekistan
5. Is it safe to drive in Uzbekistan?
In general driving in Uzbekistan is considered to be relatively safe.
The major highways connecting the country are in a reasonable state and they will keep being better as Uzbekistan’s economy is improving and the country is modernizing itself.
Roads in the Tien Shan and Fan Mountains, are generally in poorer condition than in other parts of the country and may only be passable by four-wheel-drive vehicles.
Driving at night in Uzbekistan can be dangerous as roads are not well lit, and vehicles share the roads with livestock and carts pulled by horses and donkeys.
The speed limit in Uzbekistan is 50km/h inside towns and cities and 100km/h on highways.
Police corruption is less and less frequent in Uzbekistan. There are police checkpoints, but as long as you didn’t do anything wrong, you won’t have to pay bribes.
For a complete list of rules and practical information on the state of roads in Uzbekistan, read this article.
6. Is public transportation safe in Uzbekistan?
Buses and trains in Uzbekistan are considered very safe and a great way to travel around the country. Trains in Uzbekistan are considered the safest and most comfortable mode of transport.
Read: Travel around Uzbekistan by train – Guide to Uzbekistan’s Railways
Shared taxis in Uzbekistan, however, are not very safe.
They usually are old Mercedez, not safely maintained and commonly lack the rear seat belts. On top of that, drivers of shared taxis drive insanely fast.
To find out how to take buses and shared taxis in Uzbekistan, read The best ways to get around Uzbekistan.
7. Is the food in Uzbekistan safe?
Food in Uzbekistan is very safe and very delicious. The Uzbek cuisine is characterized by dishes that consist mainly of rice, noodles, vegetables and lots of mutton.
As a vegetarian, it can be challenging – but not impossible – to find meat-free meals, but if you’re a vegan, it’ll be very hard to eat a typical Uzbek meal.
Uzbekistan has some awesome restaurants…
Plov is the most popular dish in Uzbekistan. It has rice, mutton, onions, carrots and raisins baked in sheep fat.
Uzbekistan has some fantastic plov…
In the summer you’ll also find lots of fruit, especially melons. Now it can be normal to have a hard time properly digesting food in Uzbekistan if it’s your first time there. vegetables that are washed in different water can sometimes cause digestive issues.
Bring some anti-diarrhea tablets with you to Uzbekistan if you want to be totally safe with the food.
8. Can you drink the water in Uzbekistan?
While tap water is generally considered safe in Tashkent, I would recommend avoiding it everywhere else in the country especially in Bukhara and Khiva.
The older parts of these two cities have a tap water system that hasn’t been quite modernized. While drinking this tap water is perfectly fine for locals it could be problematic for foreigners who are not used to the bacteria present in the water.
To avoid buying too many bottles of water, bring a Lifestraw Water Filter Bottle and you’ll be able to filter tap water anywhere in Uzbekistan.
9. How is healthcare in Uzbekistan?
Modern health care is not available everywhere in Uzbekistan. The health care system is based on the Soviet-style of health care which can seem very different in comparison to Western countries.
Generally, the medical personnel is knowledgeable but the system lacks the modern health care technology available in the rest of the world. There are very limited numbers of medical staff that speak English.
If you need medical attention at any point during your time in Tashkent, we highly recommend Tashkent International Clinic.
This clinic is located in the city center of Tashkent and staffed with a few English speaking doctors. Their address is:
38 Sarikul street, Tashkent
Tel: (+998) 71-291-0142
This is where the clinic is located:
If you need specialized healthcare while you are in Tashkent, we also recommend having a look at this list of all the clinics and hospitals in Tashkent.
In all cities of Uzbekistan except the capital, Tashkent, regular ambulance service can be reached by dialing 03. When dialing from mobile phones, please dial #03 or 103. In Tashkent city, the number for regular ambulance service is 103.
10. Travel Insurance for Uzbekistan
It’s important to have good travel insurance before traveling to Uzbekistan. The one we recommend is IATI Travel Insurance. This insurance covers medical assistance and unforeseen things that can happen while traveling.
IATI is one of the few policies that won’t require you to be in your home country to purchase, renew or extend your insurance. If your trip happens to go on a little longer than planned, you can easily extend your plan online.
Read: How to find the best, cheap and most suitable travel insurance?
11. Are there areas of Uzbekistan you should avoid?
While most cities in Uzbekistan are considered extremely safe for tourists, the border areas of the country are not always safe and should be avoided by tourists unless it’s for a border crossing.
This is not surprising for the region bordering Afghanistan, but you should also exercise caution in areas bordering Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
While there haven’t been widespread violent disputes since 2010, tensions still continue to exist over the recognition of the Kyrgyz/Uzbek borders. Travelers should be careful while visiting the area surrounding the border area in the Fergana Valley near Osh.
There have been a few violent incidents in this region and several gunfire exchanges. You should only use officially recognized border crossings in this area if you plan to travel to Kyrgyzstan.
Read: Top Things to do in Khiva – A Complete City Guide
12. Is there terrorism in Uzbekistan?
There have been terror attacks in Uzbekistan in the past. On July 30, 2004, suicide bombers struck the entrances of the US and Israeli embassies in Tashkent.
Two Uzbek security guards were killed in both bombings and this was reportedly carried out by the Islamic Jihad Union.
While these were frightening events, Uzbekistan is, in general, a very peaceful country.
There hasn’t been any terrorist or active terrorist groups in Uzbekistan for the last 15 years. However, the Government of Uzbekistan still remains concerned about the potential spillover of terrorism from Afghanistan.
Uzbeks are some of the friendliest people in central Asia…
13. Is Tashkent a safe city?
Tashkent is a very safe city for tourists. It’s a very modern city that travelers from different nationalities come to visit.
I was baffled to see how modern, clean, and peaceful Tashkent is. Before going to Uzbekistan, I was expecting Tashkent to be a chaotic and unsafe city but that was far from the case.
From peaceful little parks, brilliantly designed urban planning, police officers smiling and greeting us every morning, the whole city has an aura of safety.
Walking around Tashkent, you’ll be seeing and meeting people from all over the world.
Violent crime is almost unheard of in Tashkent but you should still be careful and wary of pickpockets if you walk around big markets or bazaar. Also, be careful not to be scammed if you exchange your money on the black market.
14. Helpful Russian phrases for Uzbekistan
Traveling in Uzbekistan is becoming easier and easier since more guides now speak English. Remember though that a big part of the population still speaks only Uzbek and Russian.
Learning a few words or expressions in those languages before visiting the country will definitely be handy. With the Russian Pimsleur Method, you’ll learn the basics of Russian in 30 days!
If learning languages is not your thing, I would recommend getting your hands on the Lonely Planet Russian phrasebook and dictionary. It’s packed with thousands of sentences that will help you in different situations and scenarios such as ordering food or finding a place to stay.
Learning a bit of Russian will help you communicate with locals…
Here are a few Russian sentences that will help you get by all over Uzbekistan:
Hi: Привет -This is pronounced as Priviyett
How are you?: Как дела? – This is pronounced as Kak dee la
I’m fine and you?: Нормально. А вы? – This is pronounced normalna, a voo-ee
Thank-you: Спасибо – Spasseebaa
Yes: Да – Da
No: Нет – Niet
How much is this?: Сколько это стоит? – Skolka eta sto-ayt?
Where is the bus station?: Где автобусная остановка? – Geedee-yay avtobusnaya astanovka?
Do you speak English?: Вы говорите по-английски? – Voo-ee gavareet -ay panngleskee?
Read: 11 Tips to learn Russian Quickly and Efficiently
Communicating with locals will help you understand the culture…
Uzbekistan is a country that we both love so much. While it can sometimes be hard to communicate with people there and get the comfort that you are used to back home, it is a great destination for adventurous travelers.
Whether you are a family traveling to Uzbekistan, a solo female traveler or a young backpacker, we’re sure you’ll have a safe and unforgettable experience there!
Have you been to Uzbekistan before? Do you plan on going there soon? Let us know in the comments below!