Accessible Travel in Uzbekistan

Travellers with disabilities will experience some difficulties travelling in Uzbekistan. Local municipalities and tourism businesses, including hotels, are becoming more aware of the importance of accessible travel — for citizens as well as tourists — but in the immediate term you will have to plan carefully to ensure your needs can be met. Tour operators in Uzbekistan can help you make sure that your trip to Uzbekistan is safe, comfortable, and stress-free.

 If you are visiting Uzbekistan on an organised tour with a tour operator, make sure you tell them when you book about your accessible travel needs. This will help your tour operator select accessible accommodation for you, and make sure that there is suitable transport.

 

ACCESSIBLE HOTELS IN UZBEKISTAN Independent travellers with disabilities should ask hotels if they have step free access and ground floor rooms, or elevators to higher floors. These are quite common in newer hotels, but it is always worth checking. If you will need a bathroom with space to manoeuvre a wheelchair, ask for that in advance, too. Hotel Amelia in Bukhara and B&B Timur the Great in Samarkand have been well reviewed by wheelchair users, as has Hotel Grand Orzu in Tashkent. The international brand hotels in Tashkent, in particular Hyatt Regency Tashkent and Hilton Tashkent City, both have excellent facilities for guests with disabilities if you have a higher budget.

 

ACCESSIBLE SITES & ACTIVITIES IN UZBEKISTAN Access to Uzbekistan’s tourist sites is varied, though every year more improvements are being made. Most of the  Registan in Samarkand is wheelchair accessible, as is the Bibi Khanum Mosque and the Gur-i Amir; and you will be able to explore most of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bukhara, Khiva, and Shakhrisabz, too. Where there are single steps, there is usually a ramp available, though you might have to ask for it. The major attraction which is sadly not yet accessible to wheelchair users is the Shah-i Zinda in Samarkand, as there is a flight of 40 steps between the road and the main entrance to the necropolis.

 

One exciting thing which might surprise you about Uzbekistan is that it is a great place to try adaptive skiing. The brand new Amirsoy Mountain Resort in Tashkent Region has been built to the highest international standards. Not only is the resort wheelchair accessible, but they also have instructors and equipment for various forms of adaptive skiing, enabling people will many kinds of disabilities to take to the slopes and ski for the very first time.

 

The Samarkand Half Marathon is also designed as an inclusive event. In recent years a number of participants have competed in wheelchairs, and there have also been blind and partially sighted runners with guides.

 

ACCESSIBLE TRANSPORT IN UZBEKISTAN In Uzbekistan’s cities, pavement is usually well maintained, though there is not always a dropped curb when you need one. If you are visiting with a local guide, ask them to plan an accessible route to your destination.

 

The biggest problem for visitors with disabilities in Uzbekistan is likely to be public transport. Railway stations and trains are not designed for wheelchairs, and neither are buses and trams. The new metro stations are supposed to be disability friendly, but the older stations are not. If you use a wheelchair or otherwise have limited mobility, it is therefore best to get around Uzbekistan with a combination of domestic flights and a car and driver.

 

GENERAL ASSISTANCE You will find that the people of Uzbekistan are very hospitable and will do whatever they can to help you during your trip. They will be very apologetic when infrastructure doesn’t meet your needs, and will try to compensate for it as far as possible with genuine offers of assistance. Do not be afraid to ask for help: members of the public as well as hotel and restaurant staff will do their best for you.