Bukhara to Khiva by Train: My Travel Experience

This review covers my train trip from Bukhara to Urgench and Khiva in Uzbekistan.

From Bukhara to Khiva

After an amazing time in the wonderful city of Bukhara, it was time to travel deeper into Uzbekistan.

At the time I was travelling, Khiva was not yet connected by rail to the rest of the railway network of Uzbekistan.

You therefore had to take a train from Bukhara to the regional hub of Urgench, from where you could take a bus or taxi into Khiva.

Now that the Urgench-Khiva branch line is fully operational, you can take a direct train from cities across Uzbekistan such as Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara to Khiva.

However, since the railway line to Khiva is a branch line that terminates there, there are fewer train services to this renowned Uzbek tourist destination in comparison to the larger city of Urgench, which is located on the mainline.

Therefore, in some situations, it might still be more convenient to take a train to Urgench just like I did, and then switch to a taxi or bus.

kalon mosque bukhara
The Kalon Mosque in Bukhara. ©Paliparan
Mir-i-Arab Madrassa
Bukhara’s Mir-i-Arab Madrassa. ©Paliparan

Early wake-up

Although I could have taken a daytime train to Urgench, I decided against it as I had only limited days off from work and it would eat up on some valuable sightseeing time.

Instead, I chose the night train to Urgench, despite its 4am departure hour from Bukhara being far from ideal.

Still, I could in theory have almost seven hour of sleep on board the night train, and the 11am arrival in Urgench meant that I could reach Khiva by noon with an entire afternoon left to explore the city.

I went to bed early that night and set my alarm for 2.30am, allowing me to take a taxi to the station at 3am.

boutique hotel room
I would have a short night sleep in my Bukhara hotel room before heading to the station at the ungodly hour of 3am. ©Paliparan

Bukhara station

After a 20 minute taxi ride I arrived at Bukhara’s train station.

Despite the station appearing deserted from the outside, it was surprisingly bustling inside, with numerous other passengers and railroad staff.

Quite some trains call at Bukhara in the wee hours of night as they make their way east or west along the mainline.

Just before 4am, my train pulled into the station of Bukhara.

bukhara train station night
The train station of Bukhara at night. ©Paliparan

Bukhara to Urgench (Khiva) by Uzbekistan Railways night train
rain 056ЧА
Departure: 4.07am – Arrival: 11.02am
Duration: 6h55m – Distance: 236 kilometres
Price: 22 euro for a berth in Spalny Vagon

bukhara urgench khiva railway line
The Bukhara-Urgench-Khiva railway line. ©OpenStreetMap/Paliparan

Spalny vagon

For the journey from Bukhara to Urgench, I had reserved a berth in spalny vagon (SV), which denotes a 1st class compartment with two berths on an Uzbek night train.

This cost me €22 when converting the ticket price from Uzbek som to euro.

If you want sole occupancy you have to book both berths in the spalny vagon compartment, as otherwise you may end up sharing it with a stranger of the same sex.

A class lower would be kupé (similar to second class), which consists of 4 berths in a compartment, while platzkart (similar to third class) typically has 54 berths in an open-plan carriage.

When I entered my spalny vagon compartment, another passenger was already fast asleep in the second bed.

uzbek night train spalny vagon berth bukhara urgench khiva
Spalny vagon berth on an Uzbek night train. ©Paliparan

Morning on the rails

As I was exhausted from the early wake-up call and my intensive schedule of the previous few days, I fell asleep immediately.

When I woke up, I realized that I had enjoyed a solid 5 hours of sleep, which was more than I had expected.

The views from the window during the final 30 minutes of the ride to Urgench weren’t particularly spectacular, as the landscape was mostly flat.

Apart from a few irrigation canals, the landscape was also extremely arid.

bukhara urgench train scenery
View from the Bukhara-Urgench train. ©Paliparan
irrigation canal uzbekistan
Apart from the odd irrigation canal, the landscape was enormously arid. ©Paliparan

Arrival in Urgench

My train eventually arrived on time in Urgench.

Urgench is a modern city and the main transport hub of the region, as besides being an important railway junction it also has an airport with direct Uzbekistan Airways flights to Tashkent.

Indeed, many tourists visiting Uzbekistan choose to travel one-way across the country by train and then opt for a flight to return to Tashkent (or vice versa).

There would be no flying involved for me however, as after my visit to Khiva I would return to the train station of Urgench in order to take the night train back to Tashkent.

urgench station bukhara khiva night train uzbekistan
My Uzbek sleeper train has arrived at the station of Urgench. ©Paliparan

Taxi to Khiva

It was easy to find a taxi outside the railway station of Urgench and to negotiate a good fare to take me to Khiva.

For the 32-kilometre journey to Khiva, I paid approximately 4 euro.

The taxi dropped me off at the main entrance gate of the walled old town of Khiva.

Interestingly, there was some kind of wedding procession taking place in front of the gate, with some men playing their karnay, a long trumpet with a highly distinct sound.

city walls khiva uzbekistan
The taxi dropped me off in front of the impressive city walls of Khiva. ©Paliparan
khiva old walls uzbekistan
The massive walls of ancient Khiva. ©Paliparan
old town entrance gate khiva
Walking towards the main entrance gate to the old town. ©Paliparan
wedding celebration uzbekistan
A crowd gathering in front of the city walls to celebrate a wedding. ©Paliparan

gate old town
Entering the main gate of the walled old town of Khiva. ©Paliparan


Although the 4am departure hour of my train wasn’t ideal, I ended up having a comfortable journey from Bukhara to Khiva.

Since the Urgench-Khiva railway line was not yet completed when I travelled, I had to switch from a train to a taxi in Urgench, although this turned out to be fast and simple.

Nowadays you can travel by train from destinations all over Uzbekistan directly to Khiva by train and you don’t necessarily have to stop in Urgench.

Trip report index

This article is part of the ‘From Uzbekistan With Plov‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:

1. Review: Prietenia Night Train Bucharest to Chisinau
2. Chisinau Guide: A Visit to Moldova’s Capital
3. Istanbul Ataturk Airport and the Turkish Airlines Lounge
4. Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class Airbus A330
5. Tashkent Travels: A Day in the Capital of Uzbekistan
6. Tashkent to Samarkand by Uzbekistan Railways ‘Shark’ Train
7. Samarkand Visit Guide: Travelling Through Silk Road Splendour
8. Review: Afrosiyob High-Speed Train Samarkand to Bukhara
9. Bukhara: Exploring Unique Historic Sights and Timeless Charm
10. Bukhara to Khiva by Train: My Travel Experience (current chapter)
11. Khiva: Uzbekistan’s Unique Desert Oasis City
12. On a Night Train Across Uzbekistan: From Urgench to Tashkent
13. Guide: How to Travel From Tashkent to Shymkent
14. Shymkent: The Gateway to Southern Kazakhstan
15. Sukhoi Superjet: Flying Russia’s Homemade Plane

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Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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2 thoughts on “Bukhara to Khiva by Train: My Travel Experience

  • March 22, 2024 at 10:02 pm

    Could you please share the website where you bought the train tickets from Bukhara to Urgench?
    Thank you’


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