Nukus is a small town in western Uzbekistan. After two nights in Tashkent, we travelled to Nukus by train.
Uzbekistan Railways operates regular trains between Tashkent and Nukus. The distance is 1130 km and the train journey takes 17 hours.
Train journey from Tashkent to Nukus
Tashkent to Nukus is approximately 1,130 km away. Although it is possible to travel by plane, we decided to go by rail.
We will leave Tashkent at 2pm and arrive in Nukus just after 7am the next morning – a 17-hour train journey.
Buying train tickets from Tashkent to Nukus
We bought our train tickets from Tashkent to Nukus online. This time we splurged a bit and bought a deluxe class sleeping car – a two-person, air-conditioned compartment. The price per person is reasonable, as it costs around 50 USD.
Tickets were downloadable from the Uzbekistan Railways app and were also received electronically by email. The ticket has your name, carriage number and seat number printed on it. Show this to enter the Station and to board the train.
Boarding the sleeper car from Tashkent to Nukus
The train from Tashkent to Nukus departs from Tashkent South Railway Station (Tashkent yuzhniy). Our train departs at 2pm, and you should arrive at the station 30 minutes before.
After checking out of our hotel that day, we went to the supermarket in front of the station to get some food and water and then headed to the station.
There was a security guard at the entrance to the station who checks the tickets of visitors. Foreigners must have passports and tickets to enter. As soon as you enter, there is a booth to scan your luggage.
Waiting rooms are located both outdoors and indoors. We entered the station building through the small entrance shown in the image above.
Once inside the building, there was a waiting room with lots of benches and many people waiting. There is no information board about trains. Seeing that no one was going into the platform, we assumed that the train had not yet arrived at the platform.
It was around 1pm when we entered the waiting room, and after about 10 minutes a green train slowly entered the platform in front of us. This was apparently our train.
A few passengers got up and started to move off with their luggage. After going to the toilet, we also moved to the platform.
The conductor in charge stood in front of each car, so we showed our tickets and confirmed our car number before boarding. On our car, No. 7, the compartments were lined up in a long narrow aisle. We checked our seat numbers and entered our compartment.
The seats were chic in design and had a spacious table with a tissue box and tea set. One electrical plug is provided, but it was later discovered half broken and difficult to use. You can store your luggage under the seats. Mirrors on the walls and behind the door made the room feel spacious.
A tea bag and sugar cube set was placed on the table. The sugar cubes were wrapped with Uzbekistan Railways paper. There is no electricity and no air conditioning until the train departs. We had to wait for a while for the departure.
Departure from Tashkent: 2pm
Before we left, the conductor came to hand out mini bottles of drinking water. At that time, he asked us where we were going and when we replied ‘Nukus’, he said ‘ok’.
The train started moving at 2pm, on schedule. After slowly exiting the platform, the train headed through the streets of Tashkent and into the suburbs.
Gradually the air conditioning started to work and the train became more comfortable.
We had a late lunch with the food we had brought with us. The train is equipped with a hot water server, but we had to ask the conductor for cups. There may be a limited number of cups available, so if you want one, request it early!
Train journey from Tashkent to Nukus
The train left Tashkent on time and travelled from the city through the suburbs and into the countryside. The train is quite bumpy and noisy, and as we were in a two-person compartment we didn’t get the chance to mingle with many locals, but there was a young Uzbek working at the British Consulate next door who we enjoyed conversing with in English.
The train also had a dining car. I did not see a menu, but there were snacks and other food items on the counter.
Small bottles of beer were sold for 20,000 som a bottle. We had brought our own wine from the supermarket in front of Tashkent station, so it was a relief to know that alcohol was not banned on the train. We have been told off before in Thailand and Mongolia in recent years:)
There seemed to be a toilet in each carriage, and there were two in our carriage. They were Western-style toilets, with toilet paper and paper towels.
This red wine from Uzbekistan was purchased before boarding the train. It was a light wine with an alcohol content of 11 percent. In the evening, we had dinner while watching the sunset. By the way, the sunset was after 8.30pm in early July at this time.
For dinner, we had traditional Uzbek bread, cheese, olives and vegetables cut into chunks. This kind of simple food sometimes tastes better than the food ordered at restaurants.
Arrival in Nukus: 7am next day
The scheduled arrival time at Nukus was 7:07am the next day. The train arrived at Nukus almost on schedule. The train entered Nukus station quietly, there was no announcement of ‘arrival at Nukus’, nor did the conductor come to inform the passengers, who all voluntarily confirmed their arrival at Nukus and disembarked.
Sunrise at this time of year is around 5.30am, so it was already light around us. There were quite a few people on the platform, so many people must be getting off here.
We had already booked our accommodation for the day, so we decided to head for the hotel anyway although it was still early morning. While walking from the platform towards the station exit, many people called out “Taxi!”. In this country, everyone who has a car is potentially a taxi driver, so you can be approached for a ‘taxi’ just walking around town, but the area around the station was increasingly full of taxi drivers.
We tried to search for a taxi using Yandex, a taxi app we used often in Tashkent, but it did not work. We will find out later, but it seems that there is another taxi-dispatch app that is more commonly used than Yandex for this area. We had no choice but to negotiate with one of taxi drivers hanging around, who took us to a hotel five kilometres away for 20,000 som.