Silk Road Journey Through Uzbekistan

Prices from £3,295


22 May 2020 - 18 Oct 2020
Duration: 14 nights departing 22nd May or 4th October 2020
Ref: 20034
With: Karin Hellaby


Prices from £3,295
Single Supplement: £495
Deposit: £400

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Uzbekistan is on many a textile lover’s bucket list. Situated in the centre of Asia and on the Silk Road, one of the world’s most important historical trading routes linking China to the Mediterranean, Uzbekistan offers a collection of culture and colour and a fascinating textile history. On this tour we’ll visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Khiva, Bhukara and Samarkand as we pass along the route of the Silk Road. We’ll see examples of local craftsmanship in embroidery, ikat fabrics, carpets and silks and enjoy an embroidery workshop with a local expert as well as two hand-stitching workshops with Karin Hellaby. There’ll be plenty of opportunity for some retail therapy too, as we enjoy the sights, sounds and aromas of the markets and bazaars throughout our journey.


The Silk Road was an ancient trading network connecting China to Europe and on this tour we’ll be exploring the crafts and legendary desert cities, as we travel through Uzbekistan. You’ll see the most beautiful tiles which adorn the ancient buildings. These geometric designs are the inspiration for the project I will be teaching. A kit of paper pieces will be provided for you to work with in silk (or cotton) to create a star design. Stars played their part in guiding the ancient travellers and silk was one of the most valuable commodities traded along this route. Join me as we travel to places steeped in history and with breathtaking views looking at a variety of arts and crafts which occupy a prominent place in the cultural history of Uzbekistan.


Meet Karin Hellaby at London Heathrow airport for your overnight flight to Tashkent. Tashkent is the capital and largest city in Uzbekistan.


We will be met by our local guide and transfer to our hotel. After some time to freshen up, we’ll enjoy a tour of Tashkent. Highlights will include:

  • Applied Art Museum; home to over 7,000 examples of embroidery, skull caps, jewellery and other examples of craftsmanship from the beginning of the 19th century to the present day
  • Khazrati Imam Architectural Complex; over 20 craftsmen sell their handmade products here, where we’ll find everything from ikat fabrics to jewellery, woodcarving to pottery
  • Chorsu Bazaar; for many centuries Chorsu Bazaar was one of the busiest bazaars in central Asia. The location hasn’t changed, but the old buildings have been replaced by new ones where locals shop for spices, vegetables, dried fruit, traditional and modern fashions and carpets. In the clothing section we’ll see Kurpacha, a traditional central Asian thick cotton wool blanket or mattress, Chapan robes, Khan-atlas, a silk fabric with a bright colour palette, and Tubeteika skull caps.

Dinner and overnight in Tashkent.


This morning we’ll travel to Kokand, one of the ancient cities of Uzbekistan, and crossroads of two of the main ancient trade routes into the Fergana Valley.

On arrival we’ll enjoy a city tour. Highlights will include:

  • Khudayar Khan Palace; built in 1871, is staggeringly grand. Originally consisting of seven courtyards and 119 rooms, sadly only 2 of the courtyards and 19 rooms have survived.
  • Juma Mosque
  • Dahmai Shahon Mausoleum


We start the day with an excursion to Margilan, which, by the end of the 9th Century was already an important stop on the Silk Road. We’ll enjoy a tour of the city including:

  • Said Ahmad Khoja Madrassah, which is now home to a number of craftsmen producing handmade carpets and silk
  • Yodgorlik Silk Factory; where we’ll see the production process of silk with traditional Ikat patterns. The factory was established in 1972 and today the staff number around 450 people, most of them women. Every month the factory produces up to 6000 metres of fabric, including pure silk and half-silk fabric.

This afternoon we’ll enjoy a hand-sewing workshop with Karin.

Return to Kokand for dinner and overnight.


This morning we return to Tashkent, where we’ll continue our city tour, including:

  • Amir Temur Square; the true heart of the city
  • Independence Square; the largest square in Tashkent, more like a park than a square, with several monuments and fountains and filled with trees and flowerbeds
  • Alisher Navoi Theatre; one of the leading centres of performing arts in Central Asia
  • Akbar Rahimov’s Pottery School, where we’ll see how the products are made and enjoy tea and oriental sweets. The school began in the mid 20th Century and is now run by the founder’s son and grandson

Dinner and overnight in Tashkent


We fly to Urgench this morning and continue by road to Khiva. Khiva was the first site in Uzbekistan to be inscribed in the World Heritage List. Our city tour today will include:

  • Kalta Minor; a large blue tower in the central city square
  • Madrassah of Amin Khan; now a hotel
  • Madrasah of Muhammad Rahim-khan; now a museum of literature and history
  • Kunya Ark (old fortress)
  • Juma Mosque
  • Pakhlavan Mahmud Mausoleum; shrine of Khiva’s patron saint and the holiest site in Khiva. The interior displays an array of Khiva’s famed woodcarving, ceramic painted decoration, metalwork and inlay craft traditions.
  • Islam Khoja Minaret and Madrassah; the smallest madrassah in Khiva but the highest minaret at 57 metres.
  • Tash Hauli Palace
  • Madrassah of Allakuli Khan; now a restaurant

We'll also visit the USDP (United National Development Programme) workshops for the development of local handicrafts. Here we’ll see tie-dyeing, carpet making, and wood carving. We’ll also visit a silk carpet workshop which is under UNESCO sponsorship. The workshop produces high-quality silk carpets and embroidered textiles using ancient designed from the Timurid dynasty taken from floor tiles and doors in the city.

Dinner and overnight in Khiva


Today we drive to Bukhara, through the Kyzylkum desert, the fifteenth largest desert in the world. The journey will take 7-8 hours in total, but we’ll stop on route for comfort stops, photo opportunities etc. A picnic lunch is included today.

Located on the Silk Road, Bukhara is rich in historical sites and is Uzbekistan’s fifth largest city. The historic centre is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Dinner and overnight in Bukhara

Please Note: We will be staying at two different hotels during our time in Bukhara depending on the departure date chosen. For full details, please see the 'accommodation' tab.


Our tour of Bukhara will include:

  • Bukhara Artisan Development Centre
  • Colourful local markets where the caravanserai (trade domes) and former madrassahs offer splendid embroidery work, textiles, clothing, jewellery, carpets, costumes, spices and other Silk Road treasures
  • Chor Minor; an historic gatehouse for a now destroyed madrassah
  • Poi Kalyan complex; an Islamic religious complex centred around the Kalan minaret, which dominates the historic centre of the city
  • Ulugbek Madrasah; today the museum of history of the restoration of the architectural monuments in Bukhara
  • Abdulaziz Khan Madrassah; now the museum of woodcarving
  • Silk Market
  • Lyabi-Hauz complex; the area surrounding one of the few remaining hauz (pond) in the city, which served as a source of water. The ponds were notorious for spreading disease and were mostly filled in during the 1920s and 1930s. The Lyabi-Hauz complex survived because it is the centre piece of a magnificent architectural ensemble
  • Bobokul’s workshop; where we’ll see the traditional way of producing and colouring silk

This evening we’ll dine at Akbar House, located in the historical Jewish quarter, where we’ll see a demonstration of cooking plov, a rice pilaf with meat, carrots, onions and spices.

Overnight in Bukhara.


This morning we’ll take an excursion to Gijduvan. From ancient times Gijduvan was known as a centre for handicrafts due to its proximity to the Silk Road. Caravans on the Silk Road stayed here overnight before continuing to India and China. Here we’ll take part in an embroidery workshop at Alisher Nazrullayev’s house.

We’ll return to Bukhara this afternoon, for an afternoon at leisure.

This evening we’ll enjoy a Folk Show at Madrassah Nadir Divan-Begi. During the show we’ll see the dances of various regions of Uzbekistan. Between the dances, beautiful girls give a fashion show of exquisite collections that combine modern fashion and national traditions. During the performance we’ll be offered the national Uzbek cuisine; pilaf, manti (dumplings), damlama (casserole), kavurma-lagman (hand-rolled noodles) and oriental sweets.

Overnight in Bukhara


Today is dedicated to learning about local suzani embroidery. The name is taken from the Persian word suzan, meaning needle. We’ll visit the house of Toshev Rakhmon Buranovich, a local master in this style of embroidery. We’ll also visit the gold embroidery factory in Bukhara; whose products include carpets, curtains, chapans (quilted dressing gowns), head dresses, caskets, handbags, purses and shoes.

In the afternoon we’ll take an excursion to Sitori-I-Mokhi Khosa, the summer residence of the last emir of Bukhara. We’ll see the last emir’s collection of gifts, Chinese porcelain, Russian cut glass and crystal vases, as well as his rich collection of local suzani embroidery.

Dinner and overnight in Bukhara


Today we travel to Samarkand via Shakhrisabz, Tamerlane’s home town. Tamerlane was the ferocious and terrifying founder of the Timurid empire of central Asia, eventually ruling much of Europe and Asia. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll see the ruins of Timur’s summer palace Ak Saray (White Palace). Probably Tamerlane’s most ambitious project; all that is now left are parts of the gigantic, 40 metres high, entrance covered with gorgeous blue, white and gold mosaics. We’ll have the chance to learn about the famous Shakhrisabz suzani, which is very famous throughout Uzbekistan for its special design and colour. We’ll also visit Yulduz Opa’s textile cf and market with a local expert.

Samarkand is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Central Asia. The city prospered from its location on the Silk Road between China and the Mediterranean and in the 14th century became the capital of the empire of Tamerlane.

Dinner and overnight in Samarkand.


This morning we’ll take an excursion to Konigil, home to the Meros paper mill, restored by well-known masters the Mukhtarov brothers. Thanks to their efforts an ancient tradition based on old Samarkand technologies has been revived. The production process is manual, and we’ll be able to observe this during our visit. The area surrounding the mill is very picturesque, with shady trees, the Siab river and a small tea house serving delicious pilaf and fruits.

We’ll continue to the Hudzhum silk carpet factory. We’ll observe the process of carpet manufacturing. Mostly young girls are employed in the factory, creating amazing carpets of the most vivid and varied colours. The factory uses organic dyes including walnut, pomegranate, indigo and madder.

Back in Samarkand we’ll visit Ragistan Square; the centrepiece of the city. There are three madrassahs framing the square; Madrassah Ulugbek, Madrassah Sher-Dor and Madrassah Tillya-Kori.

Dinner and overnight in Samarkand.


During our second day in Samarkand we’ll visit:

  • Gur Emir Mausoleum; tomb of Tamerlane, his sons and grandsons
  • Bibi Khanym mosque
  • Siyab bazaar
  • Happy Bird Handicraft Centre; where we can meet with local artists and shop for souvenirs
  • El Merosi theatre of historical costumes; where we’ll see costumes from different historical periods
  • Aisha textile workshop; famous for the manufacture of natural silk fabrics under the leadership of Valentina Romanenko. A large variety of products are presented here including contemporary works decorated with hand-embroidery, ancient costumes, traditional Uzbek suzani, suits made of silk for evening dress and business meetings.

Dinner and overnight in Samarkand.


During our final morning in Samarkand we’ll visit:

  • Fine Art Museum of Samarkand; housing a fine collection of textiles
  • Ulugbek Observatory
  • Afrasiab Museum; dedicated to the history of the city
  • Shakhi Zinda necropolis; the burial place of royal persons and nobles

In the afternoon we’ll return to Tashkent for dinner and overnight.


This morning we’ll return to Chorsu bazaar for some last-minute shopping before travelling to the airport for our return flight to London.

Important Note: This tour involves some long coach journeys of up to 8 hours. A good degree of mobility is required due to the amount of walking involved on some of the visits.


Twin/double share: £3295 per person
Single supplement: £495

Deposit: £400 per person


  • Return flights from London Heathrow
  • Local travel by air and train, as per the itinerary
  • 13 nights half-board accommodation, breakfast and dinner included
  • 1 lunch
  • Travel by air-conditioned coach as described
  • Sightseeing, entrance fees and workshops as described
  • Complementary bottled water during long transfers
  • The company and expertise of Karin Hellaby
  • 1 half-day hand sewing workshop with Karin, kit included
  • English speaking guide to accompany the tour throughout
  • Map of Uzbekistan
  • Tourist tax
  • Tips for drivers and local guides
  • Porterage at hotels


Meals, drinks and activities not stated above, travel insurance


From 1 February 2019, if you have a British citizen passport you can enter Uzbekistan as a visitor for stays of up to 30 days without a visa. Your passport should be valid for at least three months after you’ve entered Uzbekistan.

Visit your health professional at least 8 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures.


Why not bring a non-crafting partner with you?
If a non-crafting family member or friend wishes to accompany you on any of our holidays, and is sharing a room with you, then the following reductions will apply to the price the non-crafter pays:
Worldwide - £75


Stitchtopia Holidays are designed with all crafters in mind, wherever you live in the world! If you would like to make your own flight arrangements and meet us at our first hotel, please let us know - we would love to tell you more about our “meet us there” holiday discounts.


For single travellers who are interested in our trips, but don’t have a friend able to come with them why not join our "Stitch Together" programme to help with the costs of a single occupancy room? We have designed a way for you to find someone to share a room with on any of our Stitchtopia Holidays.

Find out more about our "Stitch Together" programme >>

Miran International, Tashkent ★★★★★

Enjoy a relaxing and enjoyable stay at this new 5-star hotel. Rooms come equipped with flat-screen TV, air conditioning, minibar and free wifi. The hotel also has a swimming pool.

Asmald Palace, Kokand ★★★★

This 4-star hotel is ideally located just a few minutes' walk from the main sights of the city. The décor of rich colours create a mood of warmth and comfort in the bedrooms, which come with free wifi. The hotel also has a swimming pool.

Erkin Palace, Khiva

This new hotel is centrally located just 3 minutes' walk from the city’s main gate. Facilities include wireless internet.

Sasha & Son, Bukhara ★★★

For 22nd May Departure only

Ideally located in the heart of Bukhara, the 3-star boutique hotel was once a Jewish Merchant’s house dating back to the 16th Century. Each room is individually decorated in traditional Bukharan style.

Komil Boutique Hotel, Bukhara ★★★

For 4th October Departure only

Ideally located in the heart of the old city, this 3-star hotel was originally the house of one of the wealthiest men in the city. Nowadays, this family run boutique hotel offers a combination of traditional Bukharan style and atmosphere with modern conveniences. Hotel facilities include a courtyard café, safety deposit box and free wifi whilst the rooms come equipped with air conditioning, TV, mini bar and hair dryer.

Emirhan, Samarkand ★★★★

Bedrooms in this 4-star hotel come equipped with telephone, television with international channels, safety deposit box, air conditioning, refrigerator and free wifi. The hotel also has a swimming pool.