What you need to know
Tashkent is the capital city of Uzbekistan. It is an ancient city on the Great Silk Road from China to Europe. Little remains of the ancient city after the 1966 earthquake and earlier modernisation work following the 1917 revolution. Tashkent is a very Soviet city that has little remaining from its ancient Central Asian past. The city has a mixture of modern new office buildings, hotels, parks and crumbling Soviet style apartment blocks. The streets are generally clean and there are not too many potholes in the city center. Further out, the infrastructure is not so good.
Over the last few years the Uzbek government has embarked on a major reconstruction program in the centre of the city. Roads, government buildings and parks are all being reconstructed (many historical buildings and sites are bulldozed in process). To the visitor, the new city looks very impressive, although many of the local residents have yet to see any improvement in their residential areas. Tashkent is waiting for a boom. The infrastructure, hotels and shops are there but the influx of people and business has failed to materialise. This is caused in part by a combination of government policy and bad publicity.
Population: 2,309 million(2012 )
Area: 129.3 mi²
The Uzbekistani Som is the currency in Uzbekistan (UZ, UZB). The Uzbekistani Som is also known as the Sum, the Soum, and the Soom. The symbol for INR can be written Rs, IRs, and ₨. The Indian Rupee is divided into 100 paise. The Uzbekistani Som is divided into 100 tiyin (tien or tyn).
Tashkent features a Mediterranean climate with strong continental climate influences. As a result, Tashkent experiences cold and often snowy winters not typically associated with most Mediterranean climates and long, hot and dry summers. Winters are cold and often snowy, covering the months of December, January and February. Most precipitation occurs during these months which frequently falls as snow. The city experiences two peaks of precipitation in the early winter and spring. The slightly unusual precipitation pattern is partially due to its 500 m (roughly 1600 feet) altitude. Summers are long in Tashkent, usually lasting from May to September. Tashkent can be extremely hot during the months of July and August. The city also sees very little precipitation during the summer, particularly from June through September.
Although Uzbek is now the official language, Russian is the native language for most Tashkent dwellers, although most also speak Uzbek. Most businesses use Russian in their signs, menus and other printed material. Only government institutions use Uzbek as the first language, and even then, many government forms and reports are in Russian, rather than Uzbek. Currently, Uzbek uses the Latin alphabet rather than the Cyrillic that was used during the Soviet Union.
Tashkent is generally a very safe place to visit. However, visitors should refrain from political activities or doing anything that could be regarded as undermining the state. As anywhere, remember to watch your personal belongings. There have been incidents of robbery, including some violent assaults but they are very rare. Travellers should use the same caution they would use in any large city, especially at night. It is not advisable for foreigners to walk around alone at night, especially in areas where few people are about and/or lighting is poor. Avoid confrontations of any kind. If you witness a confrontation, especially in a crowded area such as a bazaar, move away. Concerning food: in hot summer days try to avoid dairy products, mushrooms or any products that might be damaged by heat. You might want to avoid fish unless you are sure it has been well stored.
The city has a good public transport system which is cheap. The metro/underground system is typical of the old Soviet style – with large and impressive stations – and is actually quite modern. There are also modern buses and trams many of which were renewed in 2008. It is not permitted to take photographs in the metro stations. Police will usually be present on all platforms. Do not risk taking photos “while the policeman is not watching” because they have security cameras everywhere and policeman will approach you instantly and check your documents. In all cases do have documents while you are taking the metro (or anywhere in the city), for you can be checked any time. Bags and passports will be checked upon entering the stations.
Taxis can be cheap after some negotiation, however some of the vehicles are very old. While there are official, authorized taxis (with the appropriate sign on the roof of the car), in reality almost any driver in Tashkent can double as a taxi driver. The local custom is to simply stand by the side of the road with your arm extended downward and slightly away from the body. A driver will pull over and then you will state your destination and negotiate the fare in advance.
Do not expect western-style taxi services. Taxi drivers will often smoke while you are in the car and asking them not to will most often result in nothing more than a look of disapproval. You may be paying, but you are in their car. There are many taxi services operating in the city with fixed rates and a person can order the taxi from their hotel room. There are some web sites offering complete lists of taxi services and taxi charges. Taxis within the city can by reserved by calling Taxi Express, tel 1399999 or 16360272.