Central Asia: Uzbekistan - Hammam experience in Bukhara

By Cubie - January 21, 2016

Hammom Kunjak is an ancient Bukharan women only bathhouse. It was near Kalon Minaret but within some back alley. We followed the map and rounded this place a couple of times and not able to find this place. We asked a woman who had a stall selling souvenirs nearby and she took us here, cutting cross some pop up warehouse looking area. There was another person looking after the stall if you are worried nobody took care of the stall whilst she was away with us. :P

As you can see from the above photo, looking through the door, one can only see a rounded wall. We were like, "huh?". There are steps going underground on the right side of the door. We walked down the steps and reached a more spacious area. A woman who was sitting at a tapchan stood up and greeted us. Along the wall are lockers with wooden doors. She then brought us in to the actual bath area to show us how it look like. After our failed attempt to haggle for a cheaper price, we ended up with the same amount she first quoted us - UZS100,000 pp (~USD22). This single-handedly was our biggest expense in Bukhara.

This photo taken by the woman in hammam of us which I have cropped off...
We had been walking around since morning and had all our gears with us. We decided against leaving all our things in the locker and told her we will return later. This was way too much information but for full disclosure I was at the time of the month and was initially worried that it wasn't a good time to go for hammam. Despite my non existence Russian and Uzbek knowledge, I managed to ask the woman if I could still go for it and she said "Yes" :)
Lol, yes there is no lack of determination to try out hammam.

We went back to the B&B, shed all our stuff, packed some change of innerwear, money to pay for hammam and made our way back to Hammom Kunjak. After paying the woman, we were given a sarong to cover ourselves after removing our clothes. I kept my undies for hygiene purpose (sorry, TMI). Then we make our way to the bath area. Once we reached inside the tunnel, hot and humid air enveloped us. At this time, I was thinking, "Did I pay to do this?" It was hot enough outside! I kid you not the humid air has a very, very strong damp smell. Not nice smell at all... Maybe imagine super hot steam room with not very pleasant smell.

We were told to sit down and wait. Then we were given a rinse, then they laid the sarong on the floor and told us to lie down on it, face down. As time passed, I was getting a little used to the smell and heat (I think! Little P can vouch that I don't do well in steam room, so this is considered an achievement. Grin).

After feeling like infinity, we were told to get up and we were being washed down properly. There were a lot of scrubbing that I actually feel I looked fairer after that! Then they led us to another chamber where we were massaged and stretched. I don't mind the massaging to be longer though.. haha.

After that we went back to the lie down chamber again and, of course lie down again on the sarong. They rubbed a concoction of some herbal stuff of dates, honey and some other stuff on us and left us out to sweat for infinity again. Of course, my butt missed out on the pampering because I had my undies on. They served us with herbal drinks through out the process. The last bits were washing off the herbal mixture off us. The whole process took about an hour.

Verdict? I am not used to being naked in an open area (yes, before anyone argues, I love my onsen but this is totally different). Regardless I think it is a great and superb experience though I could do with a longer massage! Really, if you get a chance, go on and try it. :)

Side note: Sorry, these are the only photos we had. We didn't bring our cameras plus it was too dark and smoky to be captured on our ancient phone camera. (We were the last 2 by the time we were done and Hammom Kunjak was closing for the day then)

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  1. Interesting experiences you had there! I also not used to being naked in open area. That's explained why I tend to skip all public onsen in South Korean and Japan. Shy shy :P

    1. Lol - I'm not used to being naked in open area actually but I trying to tell myself that I won't see them again, even if i do they won't recognised me :p