The Uzbekistan Visa Hassles
After my quick 4 day adventure in Kyrgyzstan (100+ Photos), it was time to venture into another Ex-communist state of Uzbekistan.
Unfortunately, I made a miscalculation on my requirements for entering Uzbekistan.
Previously, there was an article stating that the President of Uzbekistan had opened the visa requirements for certain countries, including Canadian passport holders.
But 2 days before making my trip into Uzbekistan, I read about the revision stating that the visa-free policy wasn't going to go into effect until January, 2021.
So, a Canadian citizen, I had to first get a letter of invitation into Uzbekistan, and then apply for a visa with that letter.
The letter of invitation into Uzbekistan took a simple Google search (Caravanistan), and apparently, they had an expedited service.
So I sent a copy of my passport, and the necessary documents, and paid the extra cost of making sure everything was processed quickly on a friday.
Not wanting to stay in Kyrgyzstan, I decided to return to Almaty, Kazakhstan (50+ Photos), and rent a place for 7 days, while I waited.
By Tuesday, the letter of invitation was complete, and it was time to hit up the Uzbekistan Embassy in Almaty.
I ended up walking to a hotel to print off a copy of the letter, and then walking all the way to the embassy (about 3-4 km in total of high-speed walking).
Once you arrive at the embassy, a man looks over your papers, and tells you if you need anything else.
Once you have everything he lets you through… into a tiny room, that was absolutely crammed with people.
This part was hilarious, because it was about 50+ people, all trying to give their documents to the immigration officer, without any clear indication of organization.
There was an old lady hyper-ventilation and having a panic attack, people yelling because they've been waiting in line for hours, and me being confused at how this was supposed to work.
Eventually, the immigration officer came out, and you basically have to reach out your arm over dozens of people to hand him your documents, including passport.
The immigration officer told everyone that only express-paying passports will be processed due to a lack of Visa stickers.
He then goes back into his door, and you wait. After about 30 minutes, he comes out, and gives you a piece of paper… a bank note, that you need to pay at the bank for your Visa.
So you head over the bank, about 1 km away, and wait in line to pay your bank note.
Once that's done, you head back to the immigration office, and wait for the immigration officer to come out again… at which point you hand him your paid bank note… and he disappears.
Then within 20 minutes or so, he comes back out, with your passport, and you receive a fancy sticker.
In total, I paid about $80 for an express Letter of Invitation for a 15 day stay in Uzbekistan.
Another $60 for an express Visa, and $100 for a flight from Almaty into Tashkent (all in USD).
The one thing I really recommend for the Uzbekistan Embassy in Almaty, is that they REALLY improve their organization… it felt like a massive chicken fight in a cage trying to figure out what was going on, and trying to get your papers to the immigration officer.
Anyways, let's adventure!
Where is Tashkent, Uzbekistan?
A Post Communist, And New-Age Islam
Whichever way you look, Uzbekistan is surrounded by 5 countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan.
Since 1991, one man has basically controlled Uzbekistan, under a mostly dictatorship-style government, while initiating a post-soviet reformation from absolute chaos and anarchy.
As of 2017, a new president is now in office, and is seeking to liberalize the entire country by apologizing for past mistakes, giving large economic incentives for international investments, establishing communication with presidents from other countries, and allowing the Islamic religion more room to flourish.
Within the next several years, Uzbekistan will most definitely be a prime tourism and investment destination for many foreigners.
Oh, and Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan 🙂
Conclusions for Tashkent, Uzbekistan
I typically like getting a sim card in every country I travel to, in order to maintain logistics, safety, and calculate costs.
But getting a sim card in Uzbekistan requires finding a major cellular operator… in this case, I went to the flagship UMS store (unlike other countries where you can just buy a sim card anywhere).
But you also need a registration slip from your hotel which indicates that you will stay for several weeks, and your passport.
Unfortunately, the internet speeds in Uzbekistan are absolutely horrendous, to say the least. Any chance of being a digital nomad here is shot, when you try to upload anything about 20 megabytes.
After a 4 day stay in Tashkent, I flew to Khiva, Uzbekistan, which was probably the most interesting, ancient, and archaic city I had been to in a long time!