14 Things to Do in Khiva Uzbekistan: The Complete Khiva Guide

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Author:  Caroline

From sleepy town on the outskirts of the Silk Road to the largest slave market in Central Asia, from imperial Khanate to Communist Republic: It’s safe to say that this little-known city has reinvented itself more than a couple of times. A wealth of history translates into plenty of things to do in Khiva Uzbekistan. Read on to learn everything you need to know for your visit in this complete Khiva guide.

In the west of Uzbekistan – 970 kilometers (603 miles) from the capital Tashkent – in the Khorzem region lies the little city of Khiva. Home to some 90.000 inhabitants, most of which have decided to settle in the modern part of town.  

This guide takes us to a different part of Khiva, we leave modern-day Khiva behind and instead focus on Old Town, known as Itchan Kala. This little patch of terracotta-colored houses, dotted with bright blue tiles is one of the country’s most important UNESCO World Heritage Sites!

Do not let the size fool you, despite its small surface, there is a treasure trove of things to do in Khiva. Languorous strolls through the narrow streets, filled with vendors selling artisanal handicrafts and gaggles of tourists – trying on local costumes and fluffy hats that are seemingly ubiquitous.

This comprehensive guide to Khiva takes you on a journey to the ancient capital of Khiva, everything you need to know for your visit, and more!

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you). Learn more.

Visiting Khiva Travel Essentials

Khiva is a small city, easily traversed on foot. With a bit of careful planning you can see all the major highlights in one to two days. Everything you need to know to start your adventure right here.


Uzbekistan tours including Khiva

Uzbekistan is relatively easy to navigate on your own, thanks in part to the ultra-modern train system connecting Tashkent to Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva. If, however, you like the peace of mind, and want to travel to Uzbekistan without the hassle of organizing the activities yourself have a look at the below options

8 Days Uzbekistan Tour: Includes a visit to Tashkent, Khiva, Bukhara, and Samarkand with a guide. Also has the option of canceling free of charge 7 days prior to departure

7 days Golden Ring Uzbekistan Tour: Includes visits to Tashkent, Khiva, Bukhara
and Samarkand with a guide as well as the train tickets and flights between Tashkent and Khiva.

Not interested in taking a tour? Scroll further down to find out exactly how to get to Khiva on your own with public transport.

Itchan Kala Khiva Uzbekistan

Practical details for visiting Khiva

To navigate around Samarkand download the maps.me which is more reliable than Google Maps in Uzbekistan and works perfectly offline too.

You might also like: On a longer journey in Uzbekistan? You might also be interested in reading my guides to Bukhara and Samarkand.

Best time to visit Khiva

Officially Khiva has a desert climate, meaning it is dry for most of the year. It is continental, meaning the summer can get very hot (upwards of 40°C or 104°F) while the winter is known for its arctic winds coming down from Siberia and freezing temperatures of -7°C / 19°F.

Our trip was at the very end of October, the advantage of going at the end of the high season was that we had Khiva virtually to ourselves. The disadvantage was the bitter cold (bring thermals and warm socks & gloves) and the fact many vendors inside Itchan Kala had already closed up shop for winter making the lively streets ever so slightly empty. Personally, I would aim to visit a bit earlier in the season.

The best months to plan a visit are March, April, the beginning of June, and September to halfway through October.

Temperatures start rising in March (13°C/ 55°F) and are pleasant until the beginning of June (34°C/ 59°F). By September the blistering sun is less warm (28°C/ 82°F) and continues to be pleasant until the middle of October.

Tiles in Uzbekistan

The history of the Khanate of Khiva

The minute you step foot in Itchan Kala,  you will be transported back to the 16th century when the Khanate of Khiva started to flourish as an important trading post along the Silk Route Spices, camels and the occasional flying carpet exchanged hands within the very walls of Itchan Kala. Sounds like a cool place to be right? Not entirely…

The history of Khiva has a slightly darker side to it. One of the main attractions of 16th-century Khiva was its large slave market – reportedly the largest in all of Central Asia. The business of slaves was a lucrative one and one that was actively pushed by the ruling class.

For a 20% cut of each slave transaction, The Khan – as the then ruler of Khiva was called – turned a blind eye. The tutelage of the Khan ensured the slave trade prospered and continued to grow for over three centuries.

The slave trade would shape the political future of the country and is one of the reasons why Uzbekistan ended up establishing the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic in 1924. History buffs can read all about it online.

The influx of traders along the Silk Road made Khiva a multicultural hub, influences of which can still be seen today in local customs, architecture, traditional foods, and even the appearance of locals. Personally, I felt there were a lot of references to ancient Persia (architecture and language), Mongolia (cuisine, traditional clothing, and even the facial structure of locals), and Russia (mannerisms).

things to do in Khiva
Western gate (Ata Darvoza) to ancient town of Itchan Kala. Khiva, Uzbekistan

Getting around Old Town Khiva: Itchan Kala

Itchan Kala houses all the main historical monuments of Khiva. It is easily recognizable as it is completely surrounded by thick sand-colored walls, the foundations of which date back to the 10th century. As with many medieval cities, the city walls protected the inner city which housed the Khan, clergy and of course the all-important slave market.

The walls served as protection against marauding tribes and have withstood the hands of time remarkably well, to this day it is possible to climb up on the walls and walk around them (one of my absolute favorite things to do in Khiva). But more on that in the next section!

Entrance Ticket for Itchan Kala

Entering Itchan Kala requires you to purchase a ticket, which is valid for 48 hours after purchase. This can be done at the West Gate, in a little wooden ticket booth snuggled underneath the thick city wall. There are a variety of different tickets to choose from.

  • Economy Ticket: 50,000 UZS ($5) – Entrance to Itchan Kala (excludes entrance to any of the main sites)
  • Standard Ticket: 100,000 UZS ($10) – Includes entrance to all the main sites (excludes the watchtower, minaret, and city walls
  • VIP Ticket: 150,000 UZS ($15), includes everything that is in the standard tickets plus a few of the watchtowers, the minaret, and the city walls.

UPDATE | Since 2023 there is only one ticket to visit Itchan Kala. This ticket costs 150,000 UZS ($15) and no longer includes the minaret (more on that below).

Opening Hours for Itchan Kala

Despite the presence of a gate and city walls, Itchan Kala actually never closes. You can roam around the streets 24h a day. Street vendors start setting up their shops as early as 6 AM (earlier in summer), and close when the last flock of tourists leaves (usually around dusk).

The best time for photography is in the early hours before the tourists arrive (aim to be done at around 08:00 AM as this is also the time when most monuments inside the city center start to open). The monuments inside Itchan Kala all close around 06:00 PM.

Getting around Itchan Kala

Getting lost in the narrow little terracotta streets is one of the best things to do in Khiva. The streets are clean and well-maintained, adding to the overall impression of walking in an open-air museum. The inner city is densely packed with over 50 monuments, so why not try and spot them while sauntering around.

If you are looking for a more strategic approach to your wandering there are a few options to get your hands on a map of Khiva.

PAPER MAP: Head to the visitors center: You will find plenty of information about Khiva as well as a stack of paper maps available to take with you.

ON THE WALL AT THE WEST GATE: 100 meters (109 yards) from the West Gate you will find a map of Itchan Kala on one of the city walls. Snap a picture and use it for reference.

Local Tip: Why not invest in a day-tour tour of Itchan Kala with a local. Learn the history of this old town, find a few true hidden gems, and indulge in the best local food.

in Khiva

Khiva Itinerary Overview

This sample itinerary for Khiva will allow you to spend a leisurely two days in Khiva. It is very feasible to visit Khiva in one day, although that would entail a lot of rushing around to squeeze everything in. We opted to take it slow and ensure there was plenty of time for people watching and stargazing.

Day One: Itchan Kala, visit the Kalta Minor Minaret, Khiva Juma Mosque, Isfandiyar Palace, Kuhna Ark Fortress, stay for sunset

Day Two:
Khodja Madrasah and Minaret, walk the Itchan Kala city walls, Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum, Tach Khaouli, souvenir shopping, sunset at Terrassa cafe

10 Things to see in Khiva: How to fill two days in Khiva

things to do in Khiva Uzbekistan
Western gate (Ata Darvoza) to the ancient town of Itchan Kala. Khiva, Uzbekistan

1. Wander the streets of Itchan Kala before the tourists get there

Old Khiva or Itchan Kala is one of the best-preserved villages along the Silk Route. The architecture is still very much the same as it was when Khiva was ruled by a Khan over 500 years ago. It is not hard to imagine the guards walking on the 10-meter-high (33 feet) mudbrick walls, keeping an eye out for trouble, the Khan visiting one of his concubines in the stone palace, or vendors selling their goods on the main market square.

The only downside is that it is a little “too” perfect and filled with hordes of tourists in high season, taking away that authentic feeling and replacing it with Disneyland vibes. The solution to that is pretty simple, visit when there is nobody around (yet).

We set off in the early morning, around 07:00 AM to start exploring. The streets were deserted, aside from a few adventurous souls on the hunt for the perfect photo. Once the clock struck 09.00, like magic, busloads of tourists filled the streets and we made a beeline for breakfast.

Entrance fee: Purchase your ticket at the West Gate of Itchan Kala
Good to know: The thee vendors set up shop around 06:30 AM and start serving little biscuits to the locals

2. Visit the Kalta Minor Minaret

One of the most known architectural feats in all of Uzbekistan, if not Central Asia. This turquoise-tiled minaret is a key attraction of the city and absolutely ranked number one of the things to see in Khiva. It is located right off the main square and visible anywhere within Itchan Kala. For me personally, I used it as a reference point because I kept getting lost in those small little streets.

The minaret was built with the intention to overshadow the rival city of Bukhara. Construction commenced in the 19th century but came to a grinding halt 4 years in. The Khan on whose orders the minaret was being built suddenly passed away.

The builder in charge of the project promised the rival city of Bukhara a bigger minaret. Legend goes he met his faith by means of a push from the top of the Kalta Minor minaret. That was the end of the Kalta Minor building project. So it stands today, presiding over the square in all its half-finished glory.

Side note: It is not possible to visit the inside of the Kalta Minor Minaret, unfortunately.
When to visit: Sunset offers the best light as it engulfs the surrounding buildings in a soft orange tone and the motifs in the tiles almost feel like they are dancing as the sun ricochets off them.

Good to know: The Orient Star Khiva Hotel is located right next to the Kalta Minor Minaret in the Madrassa of Moukhammed Admin Khan. It is the best hotel in Old Khiva to stay if you are looking for an authentic experience, next to one of the main historical monuments of Khiva

3. Take in the columns at the Khiva Juma Mosque, my favorite thing to do in Khiva!

As an architectural fiend, this was one of the historical monuments in Khiva I was most excited to see. The unassuming building is easy to walk right past, it is hard to imagine the beauty it contains. Originally built in the 10th century, the current mosque seen today is mostly the 18th-century renovation. 

Upon entering, as your eyes adjust to the dim light, notice 218 columns of time-worn wood holding up the main hall’s low ceiling. Light filters in through a skylight in the center of the mosque, spreading out towards the four corners to illuminate the intricately carved details on the columns – each one different from the next – some of them dating back to the original 10th century of the building

The columns are a true testament to the long history of the city, and the carvings are like the pages in a history book – with calligraphy and traditional Khivan floral patterns depicting the many tales of this city.

Entrance Fee: Included in the Itchan Kala Standard Ticket
Opening Hours: Every day 09.00 AM – 06.00 PM
Dress code: Dress modestly – For women this means covering both knees and elbows and no cleavage.

Note: You used to be able to climb the minaret to catch a view over the city. This however was no longer the case when we visited in November 2019.

4. Walk up the Khodja Madrasah and Minaret

Aside from the eye-catching Kalta Minor Minaret, there is the one other building that dominates the skyline of old town Khiva: The Kodja Madrasah and its minaret.

This minaret is the highest building in Itchan Kala, standing 56 meters (184 feet) tall – by modern-day standards not very high at all. However, considering the average mudbrick building in the town is about two stories, the minaret towers over the town like an ancient skyscraper.

Surprisingly the building is a recent addition to 1500-year-old Itchan Kala, dating back a mere 110 years. You can crawl up the stairs inside the minaret to the little observation deck at 44m (144ft) high to catch a view of the city. I use the word crawl very deliberately as the stairs are tiny and spiraling steadily upwards. Not suitable for those suffering from vertigo or claustrophobia.

To the right of the Minaret, you will find the Khodja Madrasah, which houses a museum about the history of Khiva. The entrance fee to the Madrasah is included in the standard ticket. Add it to your list of things to do in Khiva, if you have extra time.

Entrance Fee: Climbing the Minaret is not included in the Itchan Khala ticket. Pay 100.000 UZS ($15) at the entrance to go up.
Opening Hours: Every day 09:00 AM to 6:00 PM

5. Get lost in the blue-tiled heaven of the Kuhna Ark Fortress

Time to visit the home of the Khan, his close and extended family, and of course his harem. This fortress is the largest building in Itchan Kala, measuring a whopping 1,2 hectares. It is a labyrinth of courtyards, little corridors, and interesting rooms all built to provide the utmost privacy for its inhabitants.

The fortress is located by the west gate of the city, right on the main square in the heart of Itchan Kala. The original structure was erected in the 12 century, however like most of Itchan Kala it too underwent many reconstructions most notably the facelift it received in the 17th century.

Entrance Fee: Kuhna Ark Fortress included in the standard ticket, $2 to climb the watchtower
Opening Hours: 09:00 AM to 6.00 PM

6. Catch the sunset over the watchtower of the Kuhna Ark Fortress

For the romantics, stick around after closing time at the Kuhna Ark Fortress and watch the sunset from the watchtowers of the fortress. In a funny turn of events, the watchtowers, once used to protect the fortress and the city against potential foreign invaders, are now opening their doors to the descendants of those foreigners coming to witness the beauty of the city.

The guards inside the fortress are used to bringing foreigners up to watch the sunset. Simply stick around after closing (6:00 PM) and pay a small fee of $2 to the guards. This will ensure you are allowed to climb up the stairs of the watchtower and sit there until the sun has set. After which you will be shooed down and out of the premises.

7. Get the best (free) views over the city from the Itchan Kala City Walls

The imposing 10-meter (33 feet) brick walls protecting Itchan Kala were once crawling with guards on the lookout for anyone who dared to jeopardize the life of their Khan or the livelihood of any of the traders passing by on their way to/from Iran.

The guards have long since gone and walking along the walls is one of the great free things to do in Khiva. Keep in mind the walk is not a loop (sadly!) you will need to retrace your steps and hop on/off at the same spot. The stairs leading up to the Itchan Kala City walls are near the North Gate of Itchan Kala close to the Kuhna Ark Fortress.

8. Marvel at the Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum

This mausoleum is dedicated to the patron saint of Khiva: Pahlavon Mahmud. Pahlavon was a revered 14th-century Iranian poet and writer. The tomb dates back to the 14th century but was rebuilt into a mausoleum in the 19th century.

The mausoleum is tiled from floor to ceiling in deep blue tiles. The architecture is very similar to that found in Iran. The grand chandelier in the main hall illuminates the intricate decorations that snake up towards the ceiling. Keep your voice down and your clothing modest, aside from an architectural gem, this is still a mausoleum.

Show your ticket at the entrance and head straight for the building opposite the entrance. Right in front of the doorway, remove your shoes and step into the mausoleum barefoot. Do not worry about the safety of your shoes, nobody will run off with them!

Entrance Fee: Included in the standard ticket
Opening Hours: 09:00 AM to 6.00 PM
Dress code: For women, you will need to cover your elbows and knees.

9. Visit Tach Khaouli (Stone Palace)

Welcome to the summer palace of the Khan, located in the eastern part of Itchan Kala. This palace was built in the 19th century and contains more than 160 rooms and no less than 9 large courtyards. It is neatly divided into three parts: The Harem, The Entertainment Halls, and The Court of Justice.

My absolute favorite part was the harem, which incidentally is the large courtyard you see when entering through the northern entrance. The Khan housed both his 5 official wives and his – reportedly – 41 Concubines. The wives lived in the intricately decorated rooms on the left-hand side of the courtyard, while the concubines shared the less opulent rooms on the right-hand side of the courtyard.

Tip: The palace is a bit of a maze so I would recommend getting a guide to explain about the little corridors and to get you to the best courtyards. When we were there, sadly most of the place was closed for the upcoming winter.

Entrance Fee: Included in the standard ticket
Opening Hours:
09:00 AM – 6:00 PM

10. Visit a Silk Carpet Weaving Shop

Khiva is known for its artisanal hand-weaving of silk carpets. You can find a number of ateliers dotted around Itchan Kala. The dies used are natural and the patterns are inspired by colors and designs found around Itchan Kala- think of the floral tiles on the mosques or the carvings on doors.

The long production process of the carpets (roughly 4 to 5 months) explains the pricey nature of the carpets (anywhere between $1500 and $2500).

If you are looking for a souvenir that is a little less expensive or easier to fit into your suitcase, you might consider looking into a piece of traditional embroidery (suzani). Readily available around Ichan Kala, sold by leathery-faced street vendors with big smiles.

Support a good cause: A project was set up by UNESCO and Operation Mercy to train the poorer locals and provide them with skills to generate income for their families through the weaving of silk carpets. You can check out the project here.

the view of famous bazaar street in Khiva

4 additional things to do in Khiva for the slow traveler

Find yourself with a bit of extra time while visiting Khiva, or simply want to enjoy the city at a slower speed? I added 5 additional activities to this Khiva travel guide to ensure not a moment is wasted enjoying everything Khiva has to offer.

1. Forget all about coffee and delve into Uzbek Tea

As is the case for many countries in Central Asia, Uzbekistan has a big tea-drinking culture. In fact, Uzbekistan has the highest consumption of tea per capita, more than double that of Japan! Therefore no Khiva guide is complete without a brief overview of the various teas.

The most popular teas are black (kora-choy) and green (kuk-choy), it is served without sugar in small cups (piala). A traditional Uzbek meal will always start and end with a cup of hot tea (choy).

Tea is ubiquitous in Khiva, but to get the best experience why not try grabbing UZSe tea at a tea house (chaikhana). Enjoy your cup of steaming hot tea with a delicious traditional Uzbek sweet.

2. Go “window” shopping at the Bazaar

Dotted all around Khiva are plenty of street vendors selling a wide variety of items from traditional clothing, handpainted plates, trinkets, carpets, and even furry hats (great for the winter!). Haggling is part of a purchase, but remember to always remain respectful of the vendors. Ask for a discount and aim to end up paying 75% of the initial asking price.

3. Watch the sunset from Terrassa Café

Weather permitting, head over to the Terrassa Café and snag a seat on their patio overlooking the Kuhna Ark. The café has a great selection of different Uzbek Teas on their menu to choose from. We enjoyed a great sunset here together, watching the sun dip behind the Kuhna Ark. In fact it was probably one of my favorite things to do in Khiva

Sadly it was too cold for us to stay very long, but I could easily imagine spending a warm summer evening reading a book and nursing a delicious cup of tea with UZSe traditional Uzbek sweets to nibble on.

Address: Terrassa Cafe Khiva, Chiva 220900, Uzbekistan
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 10.30 AM to 11.00 PM

4. Visit the Isfandiyar Palace

The Isfandiyar Palace is located just outside of Old Town Khiva (a 15-minute walk will get you there). I read many great things about this opulent palace known for its ceramic chimneys, brilliant chandeliers and sumptuous gold leaf ceilings. Sadly it was closed when we visited at the end of October.

Entrance Fee: A visit to the Isfandiyar Palace is included in the Itchan Kala 2-day ticket (VIP).
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 09.00 AM to 6.00 PM

Where to stay in Khiva

Looking for hotels in Khiva can be a bit overwhelming. For such a small city there are a surprising amount of little boutique-style guesthouses and hotels dotted around old-town or right outside the city walls.

My recommendation is to stay within the walls of Itchan Kala (Old Town Khiva). Hotels are locally run, traditionally decorated and within walking distance from all the main Khiva attractions.

BUDGET: Locally run guesthouses start at $27 while boutique hotels range between $38-$65.

14 Things to Do in Khiva Uzbekistan: The Complete Khiva Guide
Photo Meros B&B via booking.com

LOCALLY RUN B&B: ($) Meros B&B

This cozy B&B is located in the center of old town. Aside from beautifully decorated rooms and free WIFI, there is a shared lounge and bar with a beautiful view over old town. They cater to vegetarians and have on-site bicycles that can be rented.

14 Things to Do in Khiva Uzbekistan: The Complete Khiva Guide
Photo Polvon Qori Boutique Hotel
via booking.com

TRADITIONAL BOUTIQUE HOTEL: ($$) Madrasah Polvon-Qori Boutique Hotel

A beautiful traditional boutique hotel built like a Caravan Sarai. This format of hotel dates back to the height of the Silk Route and continues to offer a comfortable place for travelers to sleep. Located in the heart of Itchan Kala a stone’s throw from the Juma Mosque!

14 Things to Do in Khiva Uzbekistan: The Complete Khiva Guide
Photo Orient Star Hotel Khiva
via booking.com

STAY IN AN OLD MADRASSA: ($$$) Orient Star Khiva Hotel

Located right next to the Kalta Minor Minaret in the Madrassa of Moukhammed Admin Khan. It is the best hotel in Old Khiva to stay in if you are looking for an authentic experience, next to one of the main historical monuments of Khiva.

Khiva Attractions: Map

This interactive Google Map shows you exactly where all the main things to do in Khiva are (red pins), the Khiva station is indicated with a yellow pin. The recommended hotels in Khiva from this guide are the purple pins.

14 Things to Do in Khiva Uzbekistan: The Complete Khiva Guide

What to eat in Khiva

Vegetarian food in Khiva

Traditional Uzbekistan cuisine is influenced by two main factors: The various traders that passed through over the centuries (think Turik, Mongolian, Indian) and the large planes of wheat and grain found across the country. This translates into a flavorsome – yet heavily meat-based – cuisine that favors rice, noodles, and bread as key staples.

A traditional main course in Uzbekistan consists of Shashlik (meat skewers) made from chicken, lamb, or beef with a side of vegetables and rice or bread. As a vegetarian traveling in Uzbekistan there were always a couple of options on the menu I could choose from:

  • MANTI: Dumplings stuffed with pumpkin (be sure to double-check there is no meat)
  • NON: Traditional Uzbek bread
  • LENTIL SOUP: Not always available in the summer months
  • SALADS: Found as side dishes, usually smaller in size so order two or three dishes
food in Uzbekistan Non

Where to eat in Khiva

The below restaurants offered the best views and vegetarian options we could find in Khiva.

1. Terrace Café Khiva

Located on the main square, overlooking the Kuhna Ark. This restaurant has multiple vegetarian options, and also has a very tasty selection of cakes. One of the things to do in Khiva: have a slice of cake and watch the sunset from the balcony of the terrace restaurant.

2. Malika Kheivak

Located off main street, this place is actually a beautiful hotel. It offers a tasty breakfast selection filled with local delicacies. It is one of the few places with a decent selection of vegetarian food in Khiva. I tried the pumpkin-stuffed dumplings which were very tasty. Portions are small, so think about ordering two dishes if you are hungry.

Train Uzbekistan

How to get to Khiva Uzbekistan

Tashkent to Khiva

  • Direct Flight: Flight time 1.5 hours from Tashkent Airport to Urgench International Airport. The Urgench Airport is located 30 minutes from Itchan Kala. Price of a direct flight is around $45. Search flights for Uzbekistan Airways.

  • Night Train: Direct (night) train between Tashkent and Khiva. The duration of the trip is roughly 13 hours (departure time 9:00 PM and arrival 11:00 AM the next day). Prices range from $14 to $37 depending on the type of ticket (see below). Purchase your ticket online or directly at the Tashkent train station.

Bukhara to Khiva

  • Train: Direct train from Bukhara to Khiva. Journey time depends if you take the high-speed train (4 hours) or the slow train (7 hours). Prices range from $7 (slow train, 4th class) to $25 (first class fast train). Purchase your ticket online or directly at the Bukhara train station.

Samarkand to Khiva

  • Night Train: Direct train from Samarkand to Khiva. The only option here is a night train which takes around 10 hours to arrive in Khiva. Prices range from $11 (3e class sleeper) to $28 (first class sleeper). Purchase your ticket online or directly at the Samarkand train station.

Practical information for taking the train to Khiva

Where to purchase tickets when visiting Khiva

Train tickets in Uzbekistan are significantly cheaper when bought at the train station vs. online. The ticket office in Uzbek train stations is usually a separate building right off the main train station. When in doubt, ask one of the local guards in the train station who will happily point you in the right direction.

Types of train tickets in Uzbekistan

There are three types of tickets (3e class, 2e class, and first class). In sleeper trains, this translates into shared sleeper (3e class), 4-person private sleeper (2e class), and 2-person private sleeper (first class).

We chose to travel in the shared sleeper (3e class) between Tashkent and Khiva. Beds are hung from separator walls, there are 2 beds above each other (sort of like bed bunks). We opted to choose for the lower bunks as this meant we could safely store our backpacks underneath the (closed) storage space of the bed. It meant peace of mind while sleeping through the night.

Tip: 3e class sleeper trains are great if you are looking for true cultural immersion. While locals may not speak a lot of English, they will certainly try. We were offered cigarettes (non-smokers here), alcohol, and even – randomly – a piece of roast chicken.

Do the attendants at the station speak English?

Yes, or rather enough to help you purchase your ticket. What I found helped was to check the timetable for trains in advance online and to write down the time and date I wanted to go to my specific location.

What to bring for purchasing your ticket to get to Khiva?

Passport and cash to pay for your ticket.

Is there food and drink on the trains in Uzbekistan?

On the train itself, you can purchase food and drink through local vendors coming by ever so often. We opted to have our own food and drink with us as there were no vegetarian options available on the train.

Budget for 2-day holidays in Khiva

Traveling in Uzbekistan is very budget-friendly. The cost breakdown for visiting Khiva will look a little like this:

HOTELS: Guesthouses start at $28/night while a more upscale hotel can go up to $60/night

RESTAURANTS: We paid between $6-$10 for a meal



Uzbekistan Itinerary

Travel Tips Khiva Uzbekistan

How many days to spend in Khiva? One to two days

What to wear? As a general rule of thumb aim to wear modest clothing. When entering religious buildings (mosques, shrines) women will be required to cover their shoulders and knees.

Is Uzbekistan Safe? Traveling with 2 other female companions was very easy in Uzbekistan. We never felt unsafe, aside from when we were haggling for prices with taxi drivers outside of the stations. Although that was more uncomfortable than unsafe in all honesty. Just be careful of your belongings, as you would anywhere else.

Things to do in Khiva conclusion

Khiva is ever so slightly out of the way for travelers visiting Uzbekistan, requiring either a flight or night train from/to Tashkent. That being said I hope this Khiva guide has proven the wealth of things to see in Khiva, making it a must-see on any Uzbekistan Itinerary. Aim to spend at least one night in the desert oasis of Khiva, drink all the tea and munch down on delicious mantis.


UZBEKISTAN: A 2-day guide to visiting Bukhara
UZBEKISTAN: Everything you need to know to explore Samarkand
UZBEKISTAN: A comprehensive 2-week Iran itinerary
IRAN: Things to do in Shiraz, Iran
IRAN: A local guide to traveling in Isfahan, Iran
IRAN: Things to see in Kashan, Iran
IRAN: Things to do in Yazd, Iran

14 Things to Do in Khiva Uzbekistan: The Complete Khiva Guide
Things to do in Khiva: Pin it
14 Things to Do in Khiva Uzbekistan: The Complete Khiva Guide
14 Things to Do in Khiva Uzbekistan: The Complete Khiva Guide

  1. Martin

    Hi Caroline, Incredible blog!! I read that you visited Khiva/Uzbekistan in November. Is this a time you would recommend? You wrote that some sights were closing up for winter. Did you feel like you were missing out on anything? Thx! Martin

    • hello@veggiewayfarer.com

      Hey Martin, thanks for your kind word. I would go in May or September to be honest as it gets very, very cold and the street vendors close shop beginning of November making the little city a lot less lively. Hope that helps.

  2. S

    In Khiva currently. Bought the VIP ticket for 150,000 sum as this and other blogs advised it included being able to climb the Minaret. This isn’t the case anymore, each minaret now wants 100,000 each at the entrance even with VIP ticket. Not sure why it’s called VIP if this is the case!

    • hello@veggiewayfarer.com

      Hey Sam, thanks a lot for the feedback! Good to know that this has been changed. I guess it was only a matter of time.


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Caroline Muller

Thanks for dropping in! My name is Caroline, and I am a full-time writer & photographer. With this blog, I hope to harness the power of travel to do good in the world. Think connecting with local cultures, sustainable tourism, and in-depth guides to known and lesser-known adventures. Adventure awaits!

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