For general tips on driving the Silk Road, see the driving overview page. Here we discuss the state of the roads in Uzbekistan, speed limits, fuel issues, repair shops, and how to deal with transporting, customs and selling a car.
Note: right-hand drive cars are officially not allowed to drive in Uzbekistan. However, people seem to manage to get in after some discussion.
In general, the big roads connecting the country are in a reasonable state, with some bumpy exceptions. Google Maps shows the Samarkand – Jizzakh – Tashkent road as going through Kazakhstan. This is not true, don’t worry. The main roads that you are most likely to be driving on are in the following state:
- Bukhara – Samarkand – Tashkent- Fergana: mostly good. 80 km/h average.
- Bukhara to the Turkmen border: good. 100 km/h.
- Bukhara – Khiva: first 70km or so is potholed misery, then new good road all the way to Turtkul followed by more potholes to Urgench. After that it’s smooth sailing to Khiva (2017). No petrol between Gazli and Miskin.
- Khiva – Nukus – Moynak: Bumpy, but not too bad. Could do 80km/h.
- Kungrad – Kazakh border: See traveling the Ustyurt Plateau for updates.
- Yamala – Samarkand: Tarmac in pretty good condition. Two lane highway all the way.
- Samarkand – Denau: Most of the road in good condition. Be aware; sometimes tarmac suddenly stops and some deep gravel appears, which is scary when you drive 110 km/h.
The interesting desert detour from Navoi to Nukus via Uchquduq is open again to unescorted self-drive tourists. Police is still suspicious, though. Updates welcome here.
A toll road is being built parallel to the current Tashkent-Samarkand-Bukhara road. The advantage of the new road, in addition to the quality of the road surface, will be the ability to move at a higher speed than the usual route.
Most people do not have to pay anything to enter Uzbekistan with a car or motorcycle. A report from April 2017 says it cost 45$ to import a car. We do not know what the 45$ was for.
A 3rd party insurance is not obligated, but some people do get asked for it when exiting, which can lead to delays etc. Most people these days exit without getting asked for it, however.
It is not always clear yet where you can get it. You need to find an insurance company office yourself in a town if there isn’t one close to the border. There is definitely one on the Dostyk border between Osh and Andijan, as well as on the Dashoguz border.
One person paid 27 000 sum in 2019, while another used O’zbekinvest, which charged 48 000 sum for a year. Someone else paid 80 000 sum for 2 months.
More reports welcome in the Uzbek vehicle insurance forum thread.
Police checkpoints are frequent, but provided you are not doing anything wrong, you will not have to pay bribes. Just stay cool, and drive slow when approaching. Entering or leaving the Fergana Valley on its western edge, you will get stopped to check your registration. Nothing serious. Police is universally friendly at each stop.
You are allowed to drive 50km/h inside towns and cities, 100km/h on intercity roads. Speed checks are frequent, road signs are not. Speed traps exist, especially in Fergana Valley. City limits are marked by a white sign with the place name on it, and a similar white sign with a red diagonal line when exiting. Make sure you are already going 50km/h when passing the sign, even if there is no sign of habitation around.
Car parts and repair
Sanar Motor is a BMW dealer in Tashkent (e-mail: [email protected], tel. Calling from Tashkent 1320353, fax 1322795). More tips on reliable mechanics in Uzbekistan more than welcome.
Fuel price and availability
Fuel is a big issue for foreign drivers in Uzbekistan. Propane is the main fuel in Uzbekistan, petrol comes in second. Diesel is very difficult to find.
In Tashkent there are generally no fuel issues. However, the further you are removed from the capital, the scarcer the petrol becomes. Huge lines form in front of petrol stations, sometimes days in advance, waiting for a new shipment in cities further off. Karakalpakstan has no petrol stations at all.
This means that you need to find your fix on the black market. You might see people sitting by the side of the street with bottles like pictured above. Sometimes you need to ask around (Say benzin for petrol, diztoplivo or solyarka for diesel). Prices for petrol increase as the distance to Tashkent becomes greater. Cotton harvest season (September-October) creates even more of a deficit.
Bring a fuel filter if you want your vehicle to survive. The black market fuel tends to be crap. It definitely needs a filter, as there is sand in the bottles and the fuel is mixed with something else, next to the fact it already has a low octane level to begin with. A bit like Viagra for cars, an octane booster is another aid for a struggling vehicle.
We are not sure if there is a maximum limit to the amount of fuel you can bring in. We do not think so. Anecdotal evidence points to at least 100 liters brought in without issue.
This is an even bigger issue than petrol. Most travelers find it very difficult to fuel up with diesel in Uzbekistan. The main issue is during cotton harvest season (September) when all diesel goes to agrarian machines.
Main conclusion: bring your own. You can bring as much diesel as you like into Uzbekistan (Iran has the best deal, and the Turkmens don’t mind). Or don’t drive diesel in the first place. If you get stuck, apparently some taxi drivers and hotels may be able to find someone selling diesel, e.g. some diesel trucks may be willing to sell some from their tank.
Found diesel? Location reports welcomed here.
- N42.458534° E59.581351°
- N41.976698° E60.636089°
- N40.061383° E64.128218
- N42°25’51.9″ E059°36’59.0″
- 40°55′45.55″N 69°52′06.79″E
- 41.37925, 60.35681 (Hotel Alibek, Diesel black market)
- N39°49’13.3″ E064°25’58.7″
- N39°43’25.3″ E067°08’07.4″
- 41.33383, 69.21539 (UzGazOil, should have Diesel)
- 39°48′22.02″N 64°25′14.23″E (Tir parking black market)
- 41°55′42.04″N 60°48′09.99″E
- 40.329484, 71.316021 (Katput, Ferghana valley)
- Direction of Tezykovka Bazaar (Parkent street), follow this street straight, after 1km on the right side a small street heads for a petrol station.
- Direction of Shayhontohur street, should be a main road with a lot of petrol stations.
- Eventually got some at 41.348030, 69.238343. Can also try finding some help at 41.333848, 69.215373.
- Nukus: there are about 3 places near the airport which sell black market fuel. i only got the price down to 4500 som/litre. the benzin seems to be octane 80, but was clean.
the direct road from nukus to khiva is bad. lots of roadworks, potholes, missing parts, gravel. maybe the A380 via urgench would be a better choice.
- Khiva: there are about 3 places near the roundabout before taking the road to Urgench. Black market 80 octane fuel. 3600-3800 som/litre.
- Bukhara: 5km before the city i got benzine
During cotton harvest season, there will probably be no fuel west of Nukus until the border.
Selling, buying, shipping, parking, leaving a vehicle in Uzbekistan
Selling your car or motorcycle in Uzbekistan is difficult, as the person who wants to buy your vehicle will need to pay a heavy import duty. Also, you cannot sell a car more than 20 years old, or a car with the steering wheel on the right-hand side.