For a city with a long and cruel history then, Khiva now welcome tourists in a very friendly way. The city is believed to be established more than 1500 years ago. There is no exact explanation why the city is called Khiva but one theory that is interesting is that the word Khiva came from some travellers who passed the city and found water then exclaim “Khey vakh!” or “what a pleasure!”. Later then, the place where they found the water became known as Kheyvakh or now Khiva.
Khiva is divided into two area, outside the wall or Dichon-Qala where most of the population live and inside the wall or Ichon-Qala where the museum-like city that attracts tourists located. If you happen to have one day to be in Khiva, here are some best advice you can get.
Where to go?
Various picturesque spots lie in Khiva, from numbers of madrasah, palace, museum to mosque. But if you only have 24 hours in hand, Ichon-Qala, inside the wall area is the most one to visit. This Khiva’s old town provides you museum, historic building and minarets; a type of tower built near to mosques. To get here, you only need to buy entrance ticket in one of the gates. It cost about 16$ each.
Located in the centre of Ichon Qala, you will find Juma Mosque. It is said that the mosque is built in 18th century, lies in 55 x 46-meter area. What makes it beautiful is the mosque is supported by 212 carved columns which are the oldest in Central Asia. When you are here, don’t miss the chance to get the fine views over the city by climbing the 47-meter Juma Minaret. It is one of the highest places in the city. Although you have to deal with 82 dark and narrow staircases, the panorama of the old town once you reach the top will wipe that away. It costs around 2$ to enjoy Juma Minaret. If you happen to be panic in this sort of dark and narrow place, bring some light with you.
Where to stay?
Like other tourist destination, Khiva provides some options if you want to stay in the city. Most of them are in the Ichon-Qala. If you want to meet and experience locals or be on budget, homestays are available. The price is quite affordable start from 10-20 $ per person per night depends on the location and facilities you will get. If you come with tour group, there are also amount of good affordable hotel. The price is quite fair for share.
However, there are also great hotels you can consider like Orient Star Khiva. This hotel was once madrassah of Moukhammed Amin Khan. The location is pretty strategic, right by the main west gate. The great location, of course, comes with a price. Besides the location, the hotel provides some facilities such as wi-fi, mini bar and air conditioning.
What to do?
Sightseeing is a must, but there are also options activities you can do in Khiva. First, you can come to the Fashion and Traditional Dance Show. It is held in the Alloqulli Khan Madrassah. To enjoy this mostly in the high season, you have to pay 72 $ per one show or 100 $ for both shows. Or you can pay 143 $ for both show and dinner.
Watch a puppet show, the cultural heritage of Uzbekistan in Khiva Puppet Theater is also a must-do in Khiva. This tradition, puppet show, existed in Uzbekistan since the fourth century BC. The one that is in Khiva is different and unique. It shows the spirit of medieval performances from its scenery to its stories. The puppet theatre is also located in Ichon-Qala and the show is popular among locals and tourists. This activity is very affordable, for a puppet show you only need to pay around 6$ per person. You may also find other attractions here like folklore performances or national Khorezm dances.
Shopping in Khiva is a real pleasure. You may find lots of stall around the old town. Its seller will definitely attract with their English skill to make you stop by their stall and buy some goods. Here is what makes it interesting. You may bargain quite a lot and get good stuff with cheap deals. What to buy? Find colourful fabrics, ceramics, clothing to figurines as you walk along the town. Or if you want to find good carpets, search Khiva Silk Carpet Workshop. Here you will find unique design carpet, or if lucky then you can watch live carpet-making which usually take 3 months to complete. This workshop opens from Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm.
Where to eat?
Don’t miss to taste a cup of Uzbek tea. Go straight to Teahouse Farrukh to enjoy typical Uzkbek style tea with choices of colourful cushion table-bed. This tea house is slightly more expensive than other but free WiFi and cosy atmosphere are some pleasure you cannot deny. You may also try Mirzobashi Teahouse, located in the heart of the old town. This restaurant also serves up good Central Asian dishes and local specialities.
Or if you are more into coffee, Bir Gumbaz is the place. It provides homemade Uzbek coffee with Kalta Minor minaret views. In colder months like November or March, you can use its dining room inside.
Enjoy kebab in some places in Khiva like Chaixana Rustamboi, located opposite to the West gate or Tokhir-Zukhra Chaikhana which is famous for its freshly-grilled kebab and beer on tap. It is located in northwest Ichan Qala.
Eat with a view from height? Restaurants and cafes with roof-top are also available in Khiva. Look for Khorezm Art Restaurant, in front of Alakuli Khan Medresa or Terasse Café that best visit on summer evening and beautifully surrounded by madrassas and palace walls. Or you can have casual dinner in Restaurant Zarafshan and enjoy live traditional songs played by local musicians.