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Is it safe to travel to Uzbekistan?
5 min read
Updated on Dec 26, 2023

In a world where travel aspirations often collide with safety considerations, the question of whether it is safe to explore a destination becomes paramount. Uzbekistan isn’t an exception to this rule, especially with its location.

Uncertainty about safety while in Uzbekistan is a concern for many travelers, leading to questions about whether it's a place to explore or to steer clear of.

The "-stan" suffix, shared with other regions like Afghanistan, contributes to misconceptions about the country, unfairly linking it with less favorable and potentially risky destinations. In this context, determining the safety status of Uzbekistan becomes crucial for those eager to discover what this unique country has to offer.

This blog post will delve into the various aspects contributing to Uzbekistan's reputation as a safe travel destination. From the meticulously preserved Silk Road cities to the vibrant bazaars teeming with life, Uzbekistan invites explorers to embrace its treasures without compromising their peace.

architecture culture view

Is Uzbekistan safe for tourists?

Uzbekistan has made significant strides in ensuring tourist safety. The government has implemented measures to enhance security in key tourist areas, contributing to a visible and reassuring presence of the law. Moreover, crime rates have declined, fostering an environment where travelers can explore without fear.

Uzbekistan actively promotes cultural understanding and positive interactions between locals and visitors. Government initiatives aim to enrich the travel experience by fostering connections with the vibrant local culture. Travelers often find the historical treasures of Silk Road cities and the bustling markets to be captivating, with a sense of security prevailing throughout their exploration.

While you need to exercise general precautions as you would in any destination, Uzbekistan's commitment to tourism safety and the welcoming nature of its people contribute to making it a relatively safe and enriching destination compared to other nations nearby.

Is Uzbekistan safe for solo female travelers and LGBTQ+ people?

Uzbekistan generally is a welcoming environment for solo female travelers. The country has seen improvements in safety measures, and while it's advisable for all travelers to exercise standard precautions, solo female travelers often find Uzbekistan to be a safe destination.

Additionally, local communities are known for their hospitality and respect towards visitors. While it’s true that it’s mostly a Muslim country, people are very relaxed, so women tourists are technically free to dress as they please.

However, female travelers should still be modest in their dressing, especially when visiting religious sites. Avoid wearing tank tops, and short skirts, and remember to cover your arms and legs when visiting the Fergana Valley. You should also cover your hair when entering mosques.

Concerning LGBTQ+ travelers, it's advisable to approach travel to Uzbekistan with discretion. The country's cultural and societal norms may not be as openly accepting of diverse gender identities and expressions.

Please be aware that consensual same-sex relationships between men are illegal in Uzbekistan.

How safe is Uzbekistan?

Despite its proximity to Afghanistan, religious extremism is minimal, and crimes against foreigners are rare. Like in major cities worldwide, you should stay aware of your surroundings due to pickpockets in bustling areas like city buses and markets, especially in hubs like Tashkent.

Tourist police are commonly present at popular attractions, contributing to the overall safety of the nation. This is a huge advance for this country as the police weren’t always like that.

In the past, it was unsafe to wander in Uzbekistan without carrying a copy of your passport. Law enforcement would often request passports from foreigners and return them only upon receiving a bribe.

Historically, Uzbekistan heavily relied on the export of cotton for its economic growth. During this period, the country's economic conditions were challenging, leading law enforcement to view foreigners as vulnerable targets for quick financial gains.

Fortunately, since the arrival of a new president in 2016, the country changed its laws and focused on developing the tourism industry. Since then, 78 new laws have been created to improve the public perception of the police in the country and to encourage foreign tourism.

Crime rates might be low compared to other nations, but Uzbekistan still has serious issues with its borders. It’s practically prohibited to avoid exploring the border areas unless strictly necessary.

Is public transportation safe in Uzbekistan?

Buses and trains are usually safe. They’re also a convenient way to travel around Uzbekistan. Trains, in particular, stand out for being the safest and most comfortable mode of transportation in the country.

However, shared taxis in Uzbekistan come with safety issues. These taxis, often old Mercedes cars, are not well-maintained and frequently lack rear seat belts. Additionally, taxi drivers tend to drive at high speeds, which can be unsettling for many people.

What areas should be avoided in Uzbekistan?

While most of the country is welcoming and safe, travelers should avoid border regions, particularly those close to Afghanistan, due to potential security concerns.

This country shares its borders with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, many of these border regions are considered unsafe.

While heightened concerns are expected near the Afghanistan border, it's crucial to exercise caution in areas near Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan as well. There’s been cross-border gunfire and landmines in these regions, which is why extreme vigilance is advised.

Travelers should only use marked border crossings when necessary, and even so, it’s still advised to check online for the latest information, as border closures can happen without advance notice.

Additionally, due to inadequate markings in many border areas, it’s essential to limit crossings to authorized border points to ensure safety and compliance with regulations.

Here’s a map with areas you should avoid:

We also recommend staying informed about travel advisories and checking with local authorities or embassies for the latest information.

uzbekistan plates tradition

Is there terrorism in Uzbekistan?

Uzbekistan has faced security challenges, including sporadic incidents related to extremism. Historically, the country dealt with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a group with links to militant activities.

There have been a few terrorist attacks in the past. One of them was the suicide bombers who struck the entrances of the US and Israeli embassies in Tashkent. This attack happened in 2004, but it was one of the most frightening to date. It was also the last attack inside the country.

On 6 November 2018, there was another armed attack, but it happened at a Tajik security checkpoint on the Uzbekistan-Tajikistan border. That’s why authorities always emphasize avoiding border points at all times unless extremely necessary.

Aside from that, there haven’t been more terrorist attacks in Uzbekistan since its government continually adapts policies to address emerging threats.

It's still important to stay updated on official travel advisories and reports from official sources when considering the current state of affairs in Uzbekistan.

Where can I find more information?

If you still want to learn more about how to travel to Uzbekistan, feel free to chat with us or send us an email at [email protected]. We’re always happy to help!

  • iVisa is NOT affiliated with any government agency. This site does not provide legal advice and we are not a law firm. None of our customer service representatives are lawyers and they also do not provide legal advice. We are a private, internet-based travel and immigration consultancy provider dedicated to helping individuals travel around the world. You may apply by yourself directly on the various government websites. The source of information: https://e-visa.gov.uz/
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