Uzbekistan Driving Advice and Car Hire Info
Driving in Uzbekistan
You need an International Driving permit to drive in Uzbekistan. Main roads in Tashkent are generally in good condition, but many secondary roads inside and outside the city are in poor condition. Roads in the mountains, particularly those in the Tien Shan and Fan Mountains, are in poor condition and will be passable only by four-wheel-drive vehicles in winter. Only main roads in Cities have lights so driving at night is to be avoided. The quality and supply of fuel is sporadic outside Tashkent. Often primitive gas stations will fill cars from buckets or bottles and the fuel will be of dubious quality. If you manage to rent a car you should ask the rental company to write down the type of fuel the car will take in terms a rural gas station owner will understand. Local driving standards are generally poor and pedestrians also seem unaware of basic road sense. You should expect the unexpected and drive cautiously at all times . Uzbekistan has a zero tolerance approach to drink driving and a large road traffic police force. If stopped, you may have to pay a bribe to continue on your journey, and the police are unlikely to speak any English, therefore an International Driving Permit is advisable.
One of the worlds classic roads runs partly through Uzbekistan. Running through the Pamir Mountains, the M41, more commonly known as the Pamir Highway runs through Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan . The road was part of ancient Silk Route and the section which passes through the 4,655-meter high Ak-Baital pass in Tajikistan is the second highest main road in the world . There is some disagreement on where the road begins with varies sources stating Mazari Sharif, Afghanistan; Termiz, Uzbekistan; Dushanbe, Tajikistan; and Khorog, Tajikistan .The highway ends in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Assuming the road begins in Afghanistan,it passes northward through Termiz in Uzbekistan, then turns east and crossing into Tajikistan. It then continues east through Dushanbe, to Khorog.From there, it continues to Murghab, where it crosses the Murghab River and begins to heard North. The highway then passes through the Ak-Baital pass and past Lake Qaraqul at 3900 metres before crossing into Kyrgyzstan and on to Osh – around 420 Km from Mughab. Most travellers miss the Uzbek sections head to the 700 Km stretch of road between Khorog and Osh which is widely acclaimed as having some of the most stunning mountain scenery in Asia if not the World. The road is unpaved for long stretches and is also probe to lengthy periods of construction to repair landslides and weather damage. I have heard of travellers covering this stretch in a day but have also seen accounts of 60 hour journeys in bad weather.
For more information on Driving the Silk Road through Uzbekistan, see my Classic Road Trips page.
Uzbekistan Car Rental
For a long time I was unable to locate a company who could arrange self drive car rental in Uzbekistan, to the point that I actually thought it wasn’t possible. However this company have an English language website and can arrange cars in Tashkent, Samarkand and other regions.