Backpacking in Uzbekistan: The Only Tourist in Kabbalistic Khiva

Backpacking in Uzbekistan: The Only Tourist Touring Kabbalistic Khiva

Backpacking in Uzbekistan: The Only Tourist Touring Kabbalistic Khiva

After my completely Wacaday “Timmy Mallet” journey to Nukus in Karakalpakstan (that is not a joke), I ended up in an allegedly very touristic city in Uzbekistan – Khiva, often spelt Qhiva. The weirdest thing was I was told this spot was one of the most touristic in the entire country and would be packed to the brim with German, French and Chinese whackpackers. Yes this is apparently a tourist hot spot, but I’m the only whackpacker in town. Where did it all go wrong?

Backpacking in Uzbekistan: The Only Tourist Touring Kabbalistic Khiva

Backpacking in Uzbekistan: The Only Tourist Touring Kabbalistic Khiva

After getting a car share sorted in the ugly city of Urgench, I was on route to charming Khiva and I was hotly anticipating this place. I got in touch with local entrepreneur and sweet girl Barno, who runs the excellent Khiva Atabek Bed and Breakfast. So that was my base and I had merely a day and a night in Qhiva to explore it, no thanks to a short Uzbek visa length. But this Khiva place, this tourist hotspot, where were all the tourists???

All alone in lonely, desolate Khiva

All alone in lonely, desolate Khiva

All alone in lonely, desolate Khiva

All alone in lonely, desolate Khiva

It was me, myself and I for a day backpacking the city on my own. It was odd. It felt like this place should be much more popular. I went into almost every medressa, mosque, museum and courtyard inside the Ichon Qala – the Old Town. I toured the entire old city, I’m not going to do a backpacker’s top 5 for it. I loved the city but it just felt so desolate so empty, check out my photos and you’ll see what I mean.

All alone in lonely, desolate Khiva

All alone in lonely, desolate Khiva

All alone in lonely, desolate Khiva

All alone in lonely, desolate Khiva

A local saleswoman in lonely, desolate Khiva

A local saleswoman in lonely, desolate Khiva

Where were all the tourists? Had they all jumped across the border to Turkmenistan? (I mean, it is only about 10 kilometres from the border).

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva - so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva – so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva - so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva – so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva - so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva – so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva - so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva – so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva - so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva – so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva - so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva – so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva - so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva – so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva - so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva – so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva - so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva – so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva - so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva – so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva - so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva – so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva - so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva – so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva - so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva – so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva - so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva – so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva - so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva – so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva - so lonely and desrted.

Downtown Khiva/Qhiva – so lonely and desrted.

Perhaps it’s nice not to do a whackpacker’s top 7.38 sights in Khiva. You can go there yourself and check out all this stuff. Of note, though, the West Gate, the viewpoint from the North Gate for “sunset”, the walls of the Ichon Qala and the impressive Kuhna Ark.

The West Gate

The West Gate

Viewpoint for "sunset" at the North Gate

Viewpoint for “sunset” at the North Gate

Walls of Khiva Ichon Qala

Walls of Khiva Ichon Qala

Qhiva Arc

Qhiva Arc

I had my dinner in what seemed to be the ONLY restaurant open, Rustamboy Restaurant they had Sarbast beer (Uzbek) and Patir (some kind of bread thing with beef in it).

Rustamboy Restaurant

Rustamboy Restaurant

Rustamboy Restaurant

Rustamboy Restaurant

Dinner in Qhiva at Rustamboy

Dinner in Qhiva at Rustamboy

Rustamboy Restaurant

Rustamboy Restaurant

Rustamboy Restaurant

Rustamboy Restaurant

So here’s to the ghost town of Qhiva, incredible place and so so remote and odd! Have you ever been to Qhiva? Wasn’t it a beautiful place waiting to be discovered?

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Whackpacking all alone in Khiva

Here are some videos from my time whackpacking it through lonely Khiva:

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6 thoughts on “Backpacking in Uzbekistan: The Only Tourist in Kabbalistic Khiva

  • Hello Johnny Nemanja here again. quick question again… but anyway, i was wondering that you honestly count the UK of 4 countries, then what about the 3 crown dependencies? are they countries to you as all other UK countries or are they like part of England or something? let me know 🙂 and have you been to Isle of Man? because it’s not in your website.

    If ever going to Seborga or Monaco, don’t forget to get a tourist stamp.
    -Nemanja

  • I am sure it is must be much busier here during the Summer months. At least you were able to capture a lot photos and videos of the city with no random tourists getting in the way. Otherwise, what makes Qhiva a hotspot for tourists? The fact it is a walled city and UNESCO World Heritage Site?

  • Hi Ray, yes it seemed so so odd to me that this truly epic city, a UNESCO listed site, ancient walls that hadn’t crumbled, turqoise mosaics and yet I was the only tourist there for a night and day. I was the only customer in the restaurant, the only guest in the hostel (and in any hostel) but it seemed everyone else had missed it. I don’t buy the whole time or year or weather thing as a reason for the emptiness. Surely tourists visiting Uzbekistan are here for the culture and historic buildings rather than the sunshine? But then, maybe I’m wrong – perhaps it would be busier in their summer time as they’re scared of the cold winter. Though it only snowed for 2 of my 11 days in Uzbekistan. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Nemanja, to me there is no such country as United Kingdom. Nobody says they are United Kingdomist. Nobody! I’m sure there are many more than 3 crown dependencies but yes I’d like to count Sark, Herm, Jersey, Gibraltar, Bermuda etc. all as separate countries. I’m a separatist and an extreme nationalist. If I was to make a list of every country in the world, I’d probably have about 800 countries on my list. I hate the United Nations list most of all – they’re fascists with some of their glaring omissions, FIFA do as good a job as any but still fail to recognise Kosovo, Gibraltar or Tibet. I think I’ve been to the Isle of Man as a child but I haven’t backpacked it or written about it. I’ll have to ask my parents if we did it as a summer holiday or not. It’s an easy one for me to get to anyway as my brother lives in Liverpool and my family live in Northern Ireland. Both places have regular boats to the Isle of Man. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Shaurya, I guess it’s because Uzbekistan are so strict on the visa entries that it puts tourists off. Plus as Ray said, perhaps some fickle tourists are scared of the cold weather and go to Uzbekistan for the sunshine rather than the sights, in which case they’ll summer it in while I wintered it. Safe travels. Jonny

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