Alay Bazaar, also known as Oloy Bozori in the Uzbek language, is one of the oldest and largest bazaars in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
This vibrant market offers visitors a true taste of Uzbek culture and a glimpse into the daily life of the locals. With its rich history, diverse offerings, and bustling atmosphere, Alay Bazaar is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the city.
It’s rumoured that even the president of Uzbekistan sources his food here!
Alay Bazaar History
Alay Bazaar has a long and storied history dating back to the 12th century when it was a Silk Road trading route stop.
According to the Department of Tourism and Cultural Heritage of Tashkent City there are two versions of how Alay Bazaar got its name.
The first theory is that it comes from the local Oloy mountains in East Turkistan whilst the second explanation is that it comes from the Turkish word ‘Alai’, meaning soldier, since there were military settlements in the area.
Either way, it has grown into one of the most important marketplaces in Central Asia, attracting merchants and shoppers from all over the region. Today, it remains a hub of activity and a vital part of Tashkent’s cultural heritage.
‘Oloy Bozori‘ official website (only in Uzbek language).
What to Buy at Alay Bazaar
Alay Bazaar mainly sells fresh food produce and is popular for its fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese, spices, and nuts.
However, it also has a separate two-floor building selling jewelry including Uzbek gold and imported silver. Here are some of the highlights of the market:
Main Outdoor Area
The main outdoor area of Alay Bazaar is where to buy fresh local produce. The selection is vast and varied, with seasonal fruit and vegetables such as oranges, lemons, pears, and strawberries and rhubarb depending on the season.
You can also find an array of spices such as saffron, jasmine, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and coriander. This area is bustling with activity, and the vibrant colors and scents are a feast for the senses.
It’s the main area where you’ll also find the Uzbek Snickers! So named due to it’s layers of high calorie sweetness, it’s actually a very tasty and healthy snack.
It’s consists of a single dried apricot stuffed with a walnut and raisins. A box of 15 cost 65,000 UZS (around $5-6) and is well worth a try.
Meat and Dairy Centre
The meat and dairy centre is another must-visit area of Alay Bazaar. It sells local sausages, cheese, and even has a stall selling pork – a rarity in Uzbekistan where the majority of the population is Muslim.
The vendors here are friendly and whilst they may not speak English they are happy to offer samples, making it a fun and interactive shopping experience.
Imported and Luxury Goods
It’s also on the top floor of this building that you’ll find high-end groceries such as live lobster and oysters, imported coffee and cheese, and incredibly expensive chocolate.
Uzbek people have a culture of gifting expensive items on special occasions. Weddings are especially important for Uzbeks and it’s common for a future groom’s family to send expensive gifts. This eye-wateringly expensive platter of chocolates costs around $1,000.
Haggling over Prices
There is room for some haggling at Alay Bazaar, but not a huge amount. As a general rule, prices are already quite reasonable, but it is still possible to get a small discount if you are prepared to negotiate.
Some tips for haggling include acting disinterested, being prepared to walk away, and not feeling guilty. Remember, the vendors expect a little bit of negotiation, so it’s all part of the game.
How to Get to Alay Bazaar
Alay Bazaar is located in central Tashkent on Gulyamov Street. The easiest way to get there is to take the metro to Abdulla Kodiriy station, which is just a couple of minutes’ walk away.
Alternatively, you can take a Yandex taxi and type in “Oloy Bozori” to be taken directly to the market.
In conclusion, Alay Bazaar is a fascinating and vibrant destination that offers a unique insight into Uzbek culture. With its rich history, diverse offerings, and bustling atmosphere, it is a must-visit for anyone exploring Tashkent.
Whether you’re looking to buy some spices to take home, haggle for fresh fruit, or simply soak up the sights and sounds, Alay Bazaar should be a sure addition to your trip.
Visiting Tashkent? Read our guide on activities in Tashkent.