Young Pioneer Tours

Big sums of Som: Currency in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan’s currency is the Uzbek Som (UZS), and until September 2017 there were two exchange rates – the official rate and the black market rate. Unlike in neighbouring Turkmenistan though, the black market was for a long time the commonly used rate and was widely regarded as the “real rate”. There was even a website, updated live, which followed the black market rate.

The Uzbek Som

However, during early 2017, the government made a concerted effort to bring the economy back to stability, and gradually adjusted the official rate to become closer to the black market rate, essentially admitting that the black market was in fact the real rate. Then in early September 2017 they finally met at 8,000 som = US$ 1, making it officially so.


One of the things Uzbekistan’s been famous for though is the “bricks” of cash that you end up needing to pay for everything in. For a long time the largest note was 1,000 Som, which even at the time was only worth $0.25, then there was a 5,000 Som note which at the time was worth around $0.70. Uzbekistan isn’t a desperately cheap country, so you’d be regularly having to count out dozens, if not 100’s of notes. Then in early 2017 a 10,000 Som note was produced which for the first time was worth over $1. Now there’s even a 50,000, and even plans for a 100,000 Som note. So you can still end up paying for things with pretty big wads of cash, but it’s certainly not the giant bricks that we had to carry around a couple of years ago.

Want to experience Uzbekistan’s bricks for yourself? Get your e-visa and join our Uzbekistan Uncut Tour!

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