The Fergana valley in Uzbekistan still receives few tourists. It is one of those off the beaten path places to visit in Uzbekistan where you still feel like an explorer. A place where you stumble upon ancient mosques and madrassahs and you are the only tourist in sight. A welcome change from other cities in Uzbekistan where tourism is now well established.
The Fergana valley in Uzbekistan might lack the Islamic masterpieces from Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand, but it has the friendliest people and the most colourful bazaars. As the center of traditional handicrafts, like pottery and silk, it has a lot of potential too. For many Uzbeks, this part of the country is the authentic Uzbekistan, whatever that might mean.
After my visit to the Fergana valley, I can imagine it means a kind of nostalgy of what the rest of Uzbekistan was like. How it was before souvenir shops took over or modernization destroyed the old neighbourhoods. These congregations were called mahallah’s, but many forcefully dissapeared in the name of development.
In the Fergana valley, the towns still have a network of traditional mahallah’s with tight knit communities. When walking through the mahallah’s, I also felt that the Fergana Valley has its own unique culture that is quite different from the rest of Uzbekistan. More conservative, more religious, but also more curious and more welcoming.
There are no big tourist attractions in the Fergana valley in Uzbekistan. But, if you truly want to understand Uzbekistan and its relationships with its neighbours, a visit to this region is a must.
A short history of the Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan
If the Fergana valley rings a bell, it is probably because it was in the news. Either for ethnic conflicts, the presence of radical Islam or the Andijon massacre. Everyone in Uzbekistan remembers Andijon for the protests in 2005 and the military crackdown that killed 700 people.
This shows the complex relationship of the Fergana vallley with Uzbekistan. Despite it’s problems, it is also an extremely important part of the country. It’s the agricultural heartland and the most industrious province. A lot of things come from the Fergana valley. The white Chevrolets in Tashkent, the melons in the bazaar, the Ikat silks in the fashion stores and the colourful ceramics in the souvenir shops
The Fergana Valley has always been an important region, because of its pleasant climate and fertile soil. For centuries the valley attracted people that wanted to escape the harsh climate from the mountains. The result was a multicultural landscape with mixed Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Tajik communities.
People often blame Stalin for the problems in the Fergana valley. It was Stalin who drew the borders and gave a large part to the Soviet republic of Uzbekistan. The question remains whether this was a conscious divide and rule policy or mere ignorance. Either way, it was so complex, that no matter how Stalin drew the lines, there were bound to be people who found themselves on the ‘wrong’ side.
It was only when the Soviet Union fell apart that ethnic unrest surfaced. The latest issues were the ethnic clashes in Kyrgyzstan in 2010. After that a certain stability arose. Tensions are still there, but nobody wants to break the peaceful status quo. Uzbekistan still has the largest piece of the pie, but Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan also own a small part.
Is the Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan safe?
With such a history you might wonder whether it is safe to travel to the Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan.
My short answer is yes. Despite its problems, The Fergana valley also has a long history of peaceful co-existence, tolerance and hospitality. I travelled for a week in the Fergana valley in Uzbekistan as well as parts in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Everywhere I used public transport and stayed in small scale guesthouses. Overall I had a very positive experience. There were no problems and people were very friendly and helpful.
Solo female travel in the Fergana valley
For solo female travellers it is good to keep in mind the more conservative nature of the Fergana Valley. It is perfectly safe to travel as a woman in this region, but dress modestly.
People are not used to see women traveling alone and you might get some questions what you are doing in the Fergana valley and why you are traveling without your family. These questions are nothing to worry about and people are generally just curious.
Places to visit in the Fergana Valley Uzbekistan
The Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan is not that big and it is easy to base yourself in one city and make day trips from there. Many choose Fargona, because it has a central location. Personally I prefered the more scenic Margilon that is only 20 minutes away from Fargona
Fergana City (Fargona)
Fergana city is the capital of the Fergana valley and has all the facilities a traveller needs. There are excellent restaurants, several good hotels and it’s also a transport hub with frequent connections to Margilon, Rishton, Andijon and Kokand.
However, Fergana city is a relatively new town and besides the central park there is not that much to see. It is also not as scenic as the other towns in the Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan.
Where to eat in Fergana: Traktir Ostrov, Palma cafe
Things to do in Fergana city: Central park, bazaar
To explore the Fergana valley I choose to base myself in Margilan rather than Fergana city. While Fargona felt new and shiny, Margilan had character. The traditional town with its small back alleys gave me a good insight in the traditional mahallah culture in the Fergana Valley.
Most people come here to see the Yodgorlik silk factory. The free tour shows the whole process of how the silk is made and how the ikat patterns are designed. This alone makes Margilon worth a visit, but there is more to Margilon. The colourful Kumtepa bazaar was one of the most vibrant markets I visited in Uzbekistan and there are some interesting madrassah’s and mosques.
Things to do in Margilon: Kumtepa bazaar, Yodgorlik Silk factory, Said Ahmad Haji madrassi, Hudoyoron Hoji mosque, Central park
How to get there: Margilon is 20 – 30 minutes by shared taxi from Fargona
Rishton is the center of pottery in Uzbekistan for more than 800 years. The local red clay is so pure that it needs no further additives. The ceramics are decorated with deep blue colours that are produced from other local natural products. You will see the end results everywhere in Rishton.
Riston remains the center of pottery production, but there are only a few true masters left that still use traditional techniques. Usmanov is one of them and he gives free tours in his workshop.
Things to do in Rishton: Usmanov Ceramic workshop
How to get there: Rishton is midway between Fargona and Kokand. By shared taxi it is one hour from either city.
Kokand was my favourite city in the Fergana Valley. A traditional town with some Islamic architecture, friendly people and great food. What else do you need?
It was the capital of the Kokand khanate in the 18th and 19th centuries and was almost as important as Bukhara in that time untill it became a Russian vassal state in 1868. The main attraction is the beautiful Kudayar Khan palace. Other things worth visiting are the Modari khan mausoleum, the juma mosque and the Norbutabiy mosque
Where to eat in Kokand: cafe Kapriz
Things to do in Kokand: Palace of Kudayar Khan, Norbutabiy mosque, Modari Khan mausoleum, Juma mosque
How to get there: Kokand is two hours by shared taxi from Fargona or one hour from Rishton.
It was a though choice whether to visit Namangan or Andijon. Both are more famous for political reasons than for its tourist attractions. I already explained about Andijon, but Namangan made it in the news for its radical islamic groups.
It was the heartland of the Wahabi Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. This extreme sect from Saudi Arabia started in the local Ota Valikhon Tur mosque from where it spread its ideas in the Fergana Valley. Later Karimov banned any of these religious fundamentalist groups believing they were a threat to his regime.
Repression never really erases the root of the problem. The Ota Valikhon Tur mosque is now an art gallery, but Namangan remains one of the most conservative cities in Uzbekistan.
Namangan is an eclectic town. Along the main street there were shiny new appartments that still stand empty. It reminded me of Nukus in Karakalpakstan. But then there is also the vibrant bazaar and the small alleys of the traditional mahallah’s with old mosques and shrines.
Apparently there used to be over 600 mosques. Such glory days are clearly over, but some interesting buildings still stand strong. Don’t miss the Khoja Amin mausoleum and the Mullah Kyrgyz madrassa near the bazaar.
Things to do in Namangan: Namangan bazaar, Otavalikhon Tur mosque (now has an art gallery), Khoja Amin mausoleum, Mullah Kyrgyz madrassah, Babur park
How to get there: Namangan is one hour by shared taxi from Msargilan or 1,5 hour from Fargona.
I must be honest that I personally did not visit Andijon. Mostly, it is famous for the 2005 Andijon massacre when the government cracked down on anti government protests and killed 700 people.
If you travel from Osh in Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan, Andijon is the first town in the Fergana valley. It is worth a quick stop to see the Juma mosque, the Babur museum and the Jahon bazaar (Sundays and Thursdays)
Things to do in Andijon: Jahon bazaar, Juma mosque, Babur literary museum, Navoi park
How to get there: Andijon is 1.5 hours from Fargona by shared taxi.
Where to sleep in the Fergana Valley
If you want to base yourself in Fargona you can choose between several options. Sakura Inn and Valentina’s guest house are good budget options for the independent traveller.
If you prefer to stay in Margilan I can personallly recommend the scenic and professionally run Ikat house. The rooms are beautiful and they have an excellent breakfast that is included in the price. This guesthouse alone makes it worth to stay in Margilon rather than Fargona.
The Ahmadkhon hotel is probably among the strangest hotels where I have stayed. Even the taxi driver was worried he brought me to the wrong place when the address turned out to be a football field from the Ahmadkhon sports complex.
I thought there must have been a misstake, but when I called, someone already came running outside to greet me. The Ahmadkhon sports complex was also running a brand new guesthouse and I must say I was positively surprised. My room was huge and clean. The breakfast was excellent and I almost felt like a queen in the large dinner hall.
Fergana Valley Uzbekistan Travel tips
How to get to the Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan
The train is the best way to travel to the Fergana Valley. The daily Ozbekistan leaves from Tashkent at 08:07 AM. It follows the route to Kokand, Margilon and Andijon (4-5 hours). From Andijon it returns to Tashkent at 16:00 PM. Read more about train travel in Uzbekistan.
There are also shared taxi’s from Tashkent’s Severnij Vokzal or Qoylok bazaar to destinations in the Fergana Valley (5-6 hours)
From Tajikistan it is easy to travel between Khujand and Kokand and from Kyrgyzstan it is easy to travel between Osh and Andijon.
How to travel around in the Fergana Valley
The best way to travel around in the Fergana Valley is by shared taxi’s. They are a cheap way to get around and leave once full.
Fargona has a central location and is therefore a transport hub in the Fergana Valley. From Fargona you can find regular shared taxi’s to Margilan (30 minutes), Rishton (1 hour), Kokand (2 hours), Namangan (1,5 hours) and Andijon (1.5 hours).
Is it worth it to visit the Fergana Valley
Let me be honest that the Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan is not the most beautiful part of the country and the tourist attractions are rather low key, especially compared to places like Samarkand, Bukhara or Khiva.
Considering it’s importance for the region though, it makes for a fascinating visit. As an anthropologist with an interest in post Soviet countries, the Fergana Valley was a must in my Uzbekistan itinerary.
But besides my academic interest, I really enjoyed the Fergana Valley too. The highlights were the free tours I had at the Yodgorlik silk factory in Margilon and the Usmanov pottery workshops in Rishton. They definetly offer outstanding quality compared to the mass produced souvenirs you find elsewhere.
If you like off the beaten path places with rich cultural traditions and meeting friendly locals you will definetly appreciate the Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan.
When to visit the Fergana Valley
Like the rest of Uzbekistan, the Fergana valley has an extreme climate. Winters are cold and summers unbearably hot. The best time to go backpacking Uzbekistan is spring and autumn.
I visited Uzbekistan in spring and it really was a wonderful time with the trees blossoming and the festivities of Nowruz going on. This spring festival runs from the 21st of March till the 23rd of March and is celebrated all over Iran and Central Asia.
September and early October is another great time to visit the Fergana valley. This is also the harvest season and the bazaars are full with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Disclaimer: This post about the Fergana Valley Uzbekistan contains affiliate links. If you buy any service through any of my links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. These earnings help me to keep Backpack Adventures alive! Thanks for your support!
What are some fun facts about Fergana Valley? ›
The Fergana Valley is the most densely populated part of Uzbekistan. The territory of Fergana Valley occupies only 4% of the territory of Uzbekistan, which is home to 27% of the total population of Uzbekistan (as of 2022). In 1939, the Grand Fergana Canal was built in the Fergana Valley with Stalin's permission.How to get from Tashkent to Fergana Valley? ›
The best way to get from Tashkent to Fergana Valley is to train which takes 5h 12m and costs $6 - $16. Alternatively, you can fly, which costs $40 - $750 and takes 3h 2m.How long is the Fergana Valley? ›
The valley is approximately 300 kilometres (190 mi) long and up to 70 kilometres (43 mi) wide, forming an area covering 22,000 square kilometres (8,500 sq mi).Where is the Fergana Valley located? ›
The Fergana Valley is located in Central Asia's southeast corner and is enclosed by the Tian Shan Mountains to the north and the Gissar-Alai range to the south.What is Fergana Valley famous for? ›
The Fergana Valley is one of the most densely populated areas of Central Asia and is a major producer of cotton, fruit, and raw silk. Among the mineral deposits that are exploited are coal, oil, mercury, antimony, and ozocerite.What are important facts about valley? ›
- The faster the water runs, the steeper the mountain. The deeper the valley formed by the water, the faster it runs. ...
- Glaciers, which are massive ice sheets, create even bigger valleys. ...
- A river or a glacier doesn't always form a valley. ...
- Winds and storms are frequently kept at bay in valleys.
3-4 days are enough for Bukhara to fully explore all the sights and historical pilgrimage sites. In Bukhara, most of the attractions are concentrated in the historical part of the city. And in Samarkand attractions are located at a close distance from each other. Taking your time in Samarkand, you can spend 2-3 days.How many hours from moscow to Tashkent? ›
The travel duration between these cities in a non-stop flight is usually around 03h 55m.Is Uber in Tashkent? ›
Uber itself does not operate in Tashkent. Taxis within the city can be reserved by calling Taxi Express, Tel 1399999 or 16360272.What is the climate in the Fergana Valley? ›
According to Köppen and Geiger, this climate is classified as BSk. The average annual temperature in Fergana is 15.3 °C | 59.5 °F. About 308 mm | 12.1 inch of precipitation falls annually. The given location is in the northern hemisphere.
What is the history of Fergana? ›
It was founded by the Russians in 1877 as the military and administrative centre of the province of Fergana, formed from the newly conquered khanate of Kokand (Quqŏn). It became part of the Turkestan A.S.S.R. in 1918, part of the Uzbek S.S.R. in 1924, and part of independent Uzbekistan in 1991.What main rivers run through the Fergana Valley? ›
Naryn River, Uzbek Norin, river in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan that is fed by the glaciers and snows of the central Tien Shan (mountains). It becomes the Syr Darya (river) after merging with the Karadarya in the Fergana Valley.Which three countries divide the Fergana Valley? ›
The Fergana Valley marks a crossroads between Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.How many Uzbeks are there in the world? ›
Uzbek is the official language in Uzbekistan and is spoken in 5 other countries as monther tongue by a part of the population. As a percentage of the total population, the largest share of around 74 percent is in Uzbekistan. A total of about 33.7 million people worldwide speak Uzbek as their mother tongue.What mountains are in Fergana? ›
The Fergana Valley is enclosed by three mountain ranges: the western Tien Shan Mountains in the north, the Fergana Range in the east, and the Alai Mountains in the south.What crops are grown in Fergana Valley? ›
Traditional farming population of the Ferghana Valley is a great variety of crops. In particular, the main type of crops were wheat. Along with her grown barley, maize, sorghum, millet, rice, mung beans, sesame, kenaf, cotton, clover; melons, watermelons, carrots, onions, beets, cucumbers, pumpkins.Who was the king of Fergana? ›
Babur became the king of Fergana at the early age of 12 . His father Umar Sheikh Mirza died in a accident in 1494. Babur , just 12 years old at that time , succeeded his father as the ruler of Fergana.What are 3 facts about the Valley region? ›
-6.5 million people live in the Central Valley. -There are trees that are 160 million years old in the valley region. -90% of the world's almonds are grown in California's valley region. It's great if you are using these blogs to help with your research.
A valley is a long depression, or ditch, in Earth's surface. It usually lies between ranges of hills or mountains. Most valleys are formed by rivers that erode, or wear down, soil and rocks.What is the biggest valley in the world? ›
The longest rift on Earth's surface, the Great Rift Valley is a long, deep depression with steep, wall-like cliffs, extending from Jordan in southwestern Asia southward through Africa to Mozambique.
What is the best time of year to visit Uzbekistan? ›
The best time to visit Uzbekistan is during spring (April to May) and autumn (September to early November). It's typically warm and dry during these periods, with temperatures sitting around 70°F to 86°F during spring and 57°F to 86°F during autumn.How much money is required to visit Uzbekistan? ›
|Uzbekistan Tour Packages||Duration||Price|
|Uzbekistan Tour Package from Delhi||7 Days / 6 Nights||₹ 26999.0|
|Uzbekistan Package from Bangalore||7 Days / 6 Nights||₹ 27599.0|
|Uzbekistan Tour Package from Mumbai||7 Days / 6 Nights||₹ 28999.0|
|Kazakhstan Uzbekistan Tour Package||14 Days / 13 Nights||₹ 120000.0|
While Uzbekistan is one of Central Asia's most expensive countries, it's still a very affordable destination. What is this? Food in local markets doesn't cost much, and since the recent increase in tourism, inexpensive hostels can be found in almost every major Uzbekistan city such as Tashkent, Bukhara or even Khiva.Can you speak Russian in Uzbekistan? ›
Thus, the Russian language is the de facto second official language in Uzbekistan. Russian is an important language for interethnic communication, especially in the cities, including much day-to-day technical, scientific, governmental and business use.
Cheap Flights from New York to Tashkent from $590 | (NYC - TAS) - KAYAK.How many in Uzbekistan speak Russian? ›
|Russia||Eastern Europe||82.0 %|
|Ukraine||Eastern Europe||32.9 %|
|Belarus||Eastern Europe||70.2 %|
|Uzbekistan||Central Asia||14.2 %|
Is it safe to drink tap water in Uzbekistan? No, drinking tap water isn't considered safe in Uzbekistan. We highly recommend using bottled water while you are in Uzbekistan. Also, make sure to eat clean and well-cooked food.Can you drink alcohol in Uzbekistan? ›
Alcohol is part of daily life for many people in Uzbekistan — particularly Russians. The Soviets introduced vodka and other alcoholic drinks and today it forms a part of the culture; only the strictest Muslims refrain from drinking alcohol. The Uzbeks have a long tradition of drinking.Is it safe to travel to Uzbekistan right now? ›
We advise: Exercise a high degree of caution in Uzbekistan overall due to the threat of terrorist attacks, violent demonstrations and crime. Higher levels apply in some areas.Is the Fergana Valley a major farming area? ›
The Fergana Valley is a major source of food for Central Asia. Its principal crops include wheat, cotton, rice, vegetables and fruit.
What is the lowest elevation in the Fergana Valley? ›
This long valley, which lies between two mountain ranges — the Kuramin Range in the north and the Turkestan Range in the south, reaches its lowest elevation of 320 metres (1,050 ft) at Khujand on the Syr Darya.
Low-lying inland valleys, especially the Central Valley, have a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa), with subtropical temperatures but a well-defined summer dry season and a foggy, rainy season in winter.What language do they speak in Fergana? ›
In Ferghana most people speak Uzbek, but Russian and other languages of the region such as Tajik are also heard.Who was born in Fergana? ›
Zahīr ud-Dīn Muhammad, commonly known as Babur, was born in 1483 CE in Ferghana, Uzbekistan.What makes Ferghana Valley special in the regional context of Central Asia? ›
The highly developed canal system makes Fergana Valley the agricultural heartland of Central Asia. In fact, because of irrigation, this naturally dry zone supports heavy agricultural activity. The region is well-known for its cotton cultivation since the Tsarist period.What contains the densely populated Fergana Valley? ›
It is one of the most densely populated regions of Central Asia, including the cities of Khujand, Kokand, Ferghana, Margilan, Namangan, Andijan, Osh, and Jalalabad.
While most cities in Uzbekistan are considered extremely safe for tourists, the border areas of the country are not always safe and should be avoided by tourists unless it's for a border crossing.How many Uzbeks live in USA? ›
There are approximately 67,000 Uzbeks in North America. Over half of the population lives in Metro New York with smaller populations living in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago and Washington, DC. Men were the first to come to America with their families joining them later.Is Uzbekistan rich or poor? ›
In Uzbekistan, 11.5% of the population lives below the national poverty line in 2020. In Uzbekistan, the proportion of employed population below $1.90 purchasing power parity a day in 2021 is 6.5%.What was Fergana old name of? ›
Fergana, also spelled Ferghana, Uzbek Farghona, formerly (until 1910) Novy Margelan, or (1910–24) Skobelev, city, eastern Uzbekistan. It lies at the foot of the Alay Mountains in the southern part of the Fergana Valley.
What three countries share the Fergana Valley? ›
The Fergana valley consists of three countries, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, which are divided based on ethnicity.Who was the ruler of Fergana? ›
Babur ascended the throne of Fergana in its capital Akhsikent in 1494 at the age of twelve and faced rebellion.