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Is Uzbekistan Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Concerns

Is Uzbekistan Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Concerns

Uzbekistan is a hidden gem of a country in Central Asia that is a trip to remember for everyone who ventures there. It is becoming more and more popular among international travelers — in 2022, the country received 5.2 million international visitors.

The main draws in Uzbekistan are the beautiful natural landscapes and the fascinating towns, many of which were stops on the famous Silk Road.

Lovers of history will enjoy breathtaking Samarkand, sometimes called the “Crossroad of Cultures” due to the many civilizations that influenced the town during its time as a Silk Road outpost.

Other great things to see in Uzbekistan include the medieval city center of Bukhara, the stunning landscapes of the Nuratau Mountains, and the sad dried bed of the Aral Sea.

A trip to Uzbekistan is certain to be one to remember, but you want to ensure that you remember it for positive reasons, not because you have a negative experience there. That’s why it’s important to review safety information before traveling to a new destination.

But don’t worry — our travel experts put together this detailed travel guide to safety in Uzbekistan, including crime information. Let us be your guide!

Is Uzbekistan Safe to Visit in 2024?

Photo of the famous bazaar street in Khiva pictured with people walking around the market under a bright blue sky

Khiva/Uzbekistan:08.20.2019-The view o famous bazaar street in Khiva/Nomad1988/Shutterstock

Uzbekistan is fairly safe to visit, especially compared to its neighboring countries. However, there is some risk of violent crime, including terrorism, when you visit.

Just make sure that you are on your guard, especially in certain regions that are more dangerous. Different countries have different levels of risk assessment for Uzbekistan.

For example, the United States just tells its citizens to exercise normal precautions when visiting Uzbekistan. This is the lowest possible travel advisory level, lower than what the U.S. State Department issues for some countries you might perceive as safe such as Germany.

However, other countries are more cautious when it comes to their travel advice for Uzbekistan. New Zealand tells its citizens to exercise increased caution when visiting Uzbekistan.

There are also some regions of the country where tourists, including New Zealand citizens following their government advisory, should avoid all non-essential travel.

Common concerns countries cite in their travel advisories for Uzbekistan include:

  • Pickpocketing
  • Bag snatching
  • Theft from vehicles
  • Robbery
  • Mugging
  • Burglaries
  • Terrorism

Uzbekistan is not as politically turbulent as some of its neighboring countries, but it has had its fair share of civil unrest before.

In July 2022, there were extensive protests in the region of Karakalpakstan over the government’s plans to limit the region’s autonomy. During the protests, 18 people died and hundreds were wounded.

The president has since dropped plans to change the constitution to take away Karakalpakstan’s autonomous status, but tensions in the region continue. The region is home to the Karakalpak ethnic minority, which sometimes agitates for independence.

As more protests could break out at any moment, tourists should avoid the region if possible. Karakalpakstan is not the only region in Uzbekistan that has experienced civil unrest or political tension before.

Over a decade ago hundreds of protesters were killed in Andijan, and the region still experiences political tension. Protests can break out anywhere in Uzbekistan.

Due to the repressive nature of the Uzbek government, protests often turn violent when the police get involved. Avoid any demonstrations and leave the area immediately if you see a crowd gathering.

You don’t want to have to explain to the authorities why you got caught agitating against the government.

Uzbekistan does have border disputes with neighboring countries including Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan that sometimes erupt into violent skirmishes. These incidents rarely affect tourists, but it’s a good idea to stay aware before traveling to the region.

Crime in Uzbekistan

Mausoleum of St Daniel in Samarkand with gorgeous mountains in the background for a piece on whether or not Uzbekistan is safe to visit


Crime is one of the primary concerns for people visiting Uzbekistan. This is a regular concern for travelers going abroad as nobody wants to be the victim of a crime when they are far from home and don’t know how to fix the situation.

With Uzbekistan, the concern about crime is warranted as the crime rate is fairly elevated. Most countries mention the risk of crime in their travel advisories for tourists.

Most crime incidents that affect tourists are property crimes, but there have been violent crimes targeting foreigners in the past. The rate of most very violent crimes in Uzbekistan is low.

For example, the homicide rate according to World Bank data from 2021 is 1 incident per 100,000 people, which is fairly low. Homicide rates are used as an indicator for violent crimes because they have to be reported and are usually indicative of rates of other crimes.

According to Numbeo, the crime rate for Uzbekistan is fairly low, at 28.57 out of 100 on the crime index. The rates of most crimes are low, although respondents report a worrying rise in crime in recent years.

Although these statistics seem optimistic, it’s important to look deeper. English language statistics for Uzbekistan are not always the most accurate.

The Uzbek government does publish a quick summary of crime breakdowns in Uzbekistan in English. According to these results, 20% of crimes committed in the first six months of 2021 were fraud, easily the most common type of crime.

Fraud was followed by crimes in the economic sphere against public authorities, at 18.3%, and theft, at 16.7%. Violent crimes only made up about 5% of total crimes committed.

Plus, people are not always willing to report crimes. According to Numbeo, the only crime people consider a serious problem in Uzbekistan is corruption and bribery, showing that they don’t trust authorities and might not report incidents.

Organized crime is somewhat of a problem in Uzbekistan. The country scores a 4.97 on the Organized Crime Index’s criminality score.

Organized crime groups are primarily involved in forced labor in the cotton fields, illegal logging and mining, and the transit of heroin and synthetic drugs from Afghanistan to Europe. Criminal groups are also behind extortion and corruption.

While these problems don’t affect foreign visitors, it’s good to be aware of the crime landscape of the country that you are visiting. You also don’t want to wind up on the radar of Uzbek crime groups, for example by taking illegal drugs.


The most common crime that travelers experience in Uzbekistan is theft. Petty theft occurs in Uzbekistan in all of its forms, including pickpocketing, bag snatching, scams, smash and grab thefts, and theft from vehicles.

When they want to take valuables from people, local thieves get creative. The UK government warns about the prevalence of theft against tourists in Uzbekistan.

In its travel advice for the country, it advises that different forms of theft are commonly reported in the country. Common theft hotspots are usually crowded areas that are popular with tourists.

These include bazaars, common tourist attractions such as Registan square in Samarkand, and intercity train and bus stations. You should also be careful while on public transportation.

Basic precautions are usually enough to help protect you from thieves. Never leave your valuables unattended, even while you are eating in a restaurant or checking into a hotel lobby. Even a moment’s inattention can part you from your valuables.

Avoid flashing valuables to prevent yourself from becoming a target. Don’t advertise that you have a lot of cash on you (better yet, leave most of your money in your hotel safe and take just what you need for the day).

Put your phone or camera away after taking photos instead of keeping it out. Remember that most locals have a lower average income than foreign tourists, so your smartphone may be tempting.

There have been cases of more violent property crimes affecting tourists in Uzbekistan before. The Canadian government reports that people have been robbed by criminals posing as figures of authority, such as police officers.

Always ask to see credentials when someone stops you. Avoid walking alone at night as that is when most violent crimes occur and be suspicious if someone seems to take a lot of interest in you.


One crime that most foreign governments mention in their travel advisories for Uzbekistan is terrorism. Although this is not the most common crime affecting tourists to Uzbekistan, it is still something that you should be aware of when you travel there.

There have been deadly terrorist incidents in Uzbekistan in the past. According to the UK government page on terrorism in Uzbekistan, the most recent deadly incident was an attack at the Tajikistan-Uzbekistan border in 2019 that killed 17 people.

Daesh (or ISIS) doesn’t have as strong a presence in Uzbekistan as it does in some other country, but unfortunately it is still behind attacks such as the border assault.

Uzbekistan is home to a sizable contingent of Daesh militants returning from fighting in the Middle East, which the country is struggling to reintegrate safely. The Australian government offers advice to its citizens on how to navigate the risk of terrorism in Uzbekistan.

Be somewhat alert when you visit public places that might be terrorism targets such as government buildings or religious festivals. Follow local media and official warnings about the risk of terrorism.

While you shouldn’t let the fear of terrorism ruin your trip in Uzbekistan, it’s a good idea to have some awareness and to trust your gut if a place feels dangerous.

Avoiding Bad Areas

Non-tourist area of Khiva, one of the least safe areas to visit in Uzbekistan, pictured to show that not all areas in the country are safe to visit


Avoiding dangerous areas in Uzbekistan goes a long way towards ensuring that you return from your trip safe and sound. Don’t venture to Uzbekistan’s border areas except at designated border crossings.

Border skirmishes can occur with most neighbors, including Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic, due to ongoing conflict over border demarcations. Some areas even have landmines.

Avoid the Afghanistan border altogether as the violence in the neighboring country sometimes spills over into Uzbekistan. Avoid regions in Uzbekistan that are prone to civil unrest such as Karakalpakstan, Andijan, and the Ferghana Valley.

Things to Consider

Here are a few other tips to keep in mind when traveling to Uzbekistan:

  • Uzbekistan is in an active seismic zone. Earthquakes may occur while you are there. Read up on earthquake preparedness tips while you are in the country.
  • Foreigners need to register when staying in Uzbekistan. Hotels and guesthouses will register you, but if you are couch surfing, you need to register yourself. You will receive a slip of paper when you register which authorities might ask you for when they stop you.
  • Do not take illegal drugs. Drug laws are very strict, and penalties are severe. Plus, that lands you on the radar of local organized crime groups.
  • Insect-borne diseases such as malaria and tick-carried infections happen in Uzbekistan. Take precautions to protect yourself from bites.

Frequently Asked Questions

Neat and colorful blue walls of the Necropolis in Shakhi Zinda for a guide to whether or not it is safe to visit Uzbekistan


Here are some common questions you might want to ask if you are traveling to Uzbekistan:

Is Uzbekistan safe to travel to now?

Yes, Uzbekistan is safe to travel to now. Crime rates are as low as they’ve ever been, and the civil unrest of summer 2022 has died down.

What is not allowed in Uzbekistan?

No drugs are allowed in Uzbekistan, and penalties are severe. Criticism of the government is restricted and even foreigners are bound by local laws.

Is Uzbekistan affordable or expensive?

Uzbekistan is an affordable destination, especially for tourists from North America or Western Europe. The cost of transportation, accommodation, and food is low.

Is Samarkand safe for tourists?

Samarkand is safe for tourists and is the most popular destination in Uzbekistan. Authorities are invested in maintaining its status as a tourist destination and even have designated tourism police. However, rates of petty crime are fairly high there.

Is Uzbekistan safe for girls?

Uzbekistan is safe for female travelers due to low crime rates. However, local women often struggle against local patriarchal norms.

So, Should You Travel to Uzbekistan?

Uzbekistan is a safe destination, especially if you want to visit a place unlike any other. Like any other place, it has its problems, especially with petty theft and robberies.

Most tourists have a great time when visiting Uzbekistan and violent incidents against foreigners are rare. As long as you take basic precautions and read up on which areas to avoid, your trip to Uzbekistan should be safe!

So, with so much to see and do, what are you waiting for — get out and see the world today!