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.
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.
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.
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 to Urgench (Khiva) by Uzbekistan Railways night train
Train 056ЧА – Departure: 4.07am – Arrival: 11.02am
Duration: 6h55m – Distance: 236 kilometres
Price: 22 euro for a berth in Spalny Vagon
For the journey from Bukhara to Urgench, I had reserved a berth in spalny vagon (SV), which denotes 1st class compartments with two berths.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
** rest of the chapters to follow soon **