After visiting Kyrgyzstan, as my first country in Central Asia, I never expected that its neighbour – Uzbekistan – would be that easy to travel to. The rail network of Uzbekistan is one of the best I’ve seen thus far. However, before travelling to Uzbekistan, we had quite some questions about the different trains and did a lot of research on where to book, which train to take and what luggage would be allowed. Therefore, with this travel blog, I want to share everything I would have liked to know about travelling by train in Uzbekistan. Also, do you want to learn more about our Uzbekistan Itinerary, where we took a train 4 times? Click here.
First of all, it is good to understand there are three different types of trains to be found when travelling by train in Uzbekistan: Sharq, Afrosiyob and Sleeper trains. During our trip, we only used of the sleeper train (Tashkent-Khiva and Khiva-Bukhara) and the Afrosiyob (Bukhara-Samarkand and Samarkand-Tashkent.
The sleeper train is mainly used to travel long distances, such as the routes and distances we covered. When boarding overnight, you can travel in 14 hours from Tashkent to Khiva, or the other way around. Another track the sleeper train covers is the way from Khiva to Bukhara, however, for this train you will leave around 8 and you’ll arrive at 4. Within the Uzbekistan sleeper trains, there are multiple class options. During our night trip, we decided to book first class, which meant we had a 2-person sleeper cabin. During the day trip, we booked a 4-person cabin. The final option is the shared sleeper wagon, where the entire cabin is full of beds.
When travelling on a sleeper train, you will receive a pillow, sheet and blanket to make your bed. Before your arrival, they will pass by to collect your bedding. In the 2-person cabins, we were able to charge our phones with a USB plug, however, that is not the case in all classes. Also, hot water was served and cups were ready for us to fill with a kettle in the hallway.
Overall, the Uzbekistan sleeper train still had quite a Sovjet vibe to it, and the trains are old and can’t be compared to the modern Afrosiyob. Nevertheless, I would highly advise you to take a sleeper train once, as it is a pretty cool experience!
Next to travelling on the sleeper train, taking the Afrosiyob is also an experience in itself. However, for. a whole different reason. When thinking about Uzbekistan, you might not expect one of the most modern trains in the world. However, the Afrosiyob is exactly that. With speeds reaching 300 km an hour, a complimentary snack and stewards and stewardesses in every wagon to serve you on the train, the experience feels like a flight.
When boarding the train, you need to look for your wagon first. Once you find the wagon, you can show your ticket to the train personnel, who let you on the train. Upon booking your ticket, you can already choose your seat. Also, there are power outlets available on the train. Lastly, there is a space to put your luggage and in general, there is plenty of legroom on all seats. All in all, it is a unique and modern experience that takes you to your destination quickly.
The 3rd train option in Uzbekistan is the Sharq. The Sharq train covers larger distances, and has some sleeping compartments, but is generally focused on day travel. Also, the train is slower – and therefore cheaper – than the Afrosiyob. Nevertheless, it is a very decent travel option. Generally, all 3 train types and train travel in Uzbekistan are fairly comfortable.
You can book your tickets directly with Uzbekistan Railways. During our research, we read about some intermediary parties, however, we found that booking through the official Uzbekistan channel is a piece of cake! You might have to switch back to English sometimes. Overall, the booking experience is very modern and you can pay with a credit card and even Apple Pay. The website remembers your details (in Russian) for your next booking. Moreover, you can see where on the train you will be located and choose your seat, even taking the driving direction into account. After booking, you’ll receive an e-ticket you can show when boarding the train at the station and when entering the station.
Additionally, buy your tickets well in advance! Generally, tickets become available between 45 and 30 days before the departure date. Trains and tickets might quickly sell out, so it is good to start checking availability early on.
Before my trip to Uzbekistan, I was on a business trip to Tokyo. Therefore, I was travelling with a larger suitcase over a backpack. As I was a bit hesitant if I could easily bring a larger suitcase on the train, I did quite some research but wasn’t able to find the answer. Well, I’m here to tell you that taking your luggage on the train was perfectly possible. However, on night trains, you have to fit your luggage in your sleeping compartment. Especially, when you share the room with others and all have a larger suitcase, it might become challenging. However, overall, you should be fine.
When arriving at the station in Uzbekistan, you first have to pass security. At security, they scan your e-ticket, check your passport and your bags (including large luggage) are scanned. Due to this security check, it is advised to arrive at the station 30 minutes before your departure. Also, in the station, you can most often see from what platform your train will depart. However, on some occasions, it is better to ask, as the information is insufficient at times.
Do you have any other questions regarding travelling by train in Uzbekistan? Feel free to get in touch (email@example.com). Happy to answer your questions and update this article with all relevant information.