Updated: May 2023
The Pamir Highway is the second highest international highway in the world. The main purpose of the road is to make the Tajik province of Gorno-Badachstan accessible. Although it is called a ‘highway’, the route certainly does not have the requirements of a highway. Many parts of the route consists of gravel roads and narrow mountain passes. The Pamir Highway has no official starting point, but usually Dushanbe or Khorog is taken as the first stop. The end point of the route is Osh in Kyrgyzstan. The official route goes from Khorog straight through Central Tajikistan to Murgab. However, most people take the Waghan route. This route follows the Waghan corridor, following the Panji River and the border with Afghanistan. If you take this option you will see the most spectacular landscapes and you will also get to know the traditional life of the people in the Waghan Valley.
The best time to travel to Tajikistan is from March to October. During this time, almost all roads are passable and there is also the most pleasant temperature. The climate in Tajikistan is a continental climate. Given the altitude and location of the country, you can expect extremes. Some regions of the country are subtropical. In the plains around Dushanbe and Khujand, the climate is more moderate: hot, dry summers (up to 35 degrees) and wet winters (around zero degrees). In the rest of the country, since 93% of the country is above 1000 meters, you will find a much colder climate. The Pamir has temperatures from -10 in the winter months to 30 degrees in the summer months. Of course this also depends on the region. In the areas above 3000m, the temperature will be much colder than this.
Everyone must take out travel and health insurance before leaving for Tajikistan. Whether Tajikistan is covered by your policy differs per insurance policy. In most cases this will not be a problem. If it is, we recommend that you check with one of the following international insurance companies: Global Underwriters or IATI Travel Insurance. They have different packages and you can put together exactly what works best for you.
Tajikistan is now visa-free to 52 countries, you can check here to see if you can head straight for Tajikistan without a visa.
For those who need a visa: Tajikistan has an e-visa system. This means that you have to apply for the visa at home, after which you will receive it by e-mail. You then take the printed visa with you for customs. You can apply for the visa via https://www.evisa.tj. If you’re travelling along the Pamir Highway, you have to tick the GBAO-permit. This is necessary to travel on the Pamir Highway. After the application you will receive your visa in your email.
Tajikistan uses the time zone UCT +7.
Tajikistan has no difference between summer and winter time.
The currency in Tajikistan is Somoni. You can only pay by cash. ATMs are increasingly present in Tajikistan and it is not difficult to get money. American Dollars are best exchanged at exchange offices and banks. Euros are not accepted everywhere. For the most recent exchange rate, visit www.xchange.com.
Of course it mainly depends on yourself how much you actually spend. As a guideline, we recommend approximately € 30 to € 40 per day. With this you should be able to make it. If you like to buy souvenirs, you might want to bring a bit extra. Drinks are generally around € 1, a meal costs between € 5 – € 10. Tipping local guides is always encouraged. They don’t earn much in this part of the world and it often makes a big difference to them. Of course this is according to your own preference.
We are always available to advise you when booking a flight. However, most customers prefer to book the flight themselves. Often this is cheaper in terms of price and you can pick your own preferences.
The complete electricity system in Tajikistan is 220 Volt / 50 Hz. A European plug can be used for this. So the same plugs and sockets are used as Europe. However, adapter plugs will occasionally be required. So we recommend to bring a universal plug. There is also regular power outages, so make sure to charge everything as soon as there is power in your hotel.
Internet is available at most properties in the larger towns (if it works). However, don’t expect a very fast and steady connection. In the smaller villages (such as along the Pamir Highway) there is no internet available. In general, there is also mobile coverage everywhere in Tajikistan, except if you are really between the mountains. If you want to buy a local SIM card, the local guide can help you.
Tajikistan is an Islamic country, but has a fairly liberal attitude. For example, alcohol is available and women do not have to wear a headscarf. Tajiks themselves are also very hospitable people. Compared to neighbouring Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, Tajikistan is somewhat conservative, especially in the border region with Afghanistan. Because of the isolated location is the country also less developed then Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
A few rules to keep in mind:
– Do not take photos of military, military vehicles, or military installations in use.
– Always ask permission before taking a photo.
– As a man, do not take photos of conservatively dressed women.
– Always take off your shoes when entering a mosque or house. Never show your shoe sole when you sit down.
– Don’t pass by someone who is praying.
Tajikistan is a safe country to travel in. In the past, there have been reports of Muslim extremism in the border region with Afghanistan, but since then security has been improved a lot.
Some of the measures we take on our travels are;
– If we have a long day to go, we will start on time. If we have a car breakdown, we don’t want to get stranded after dark.
– If you want, you can register at your local embassy. If you have problems on the spot, it is much easier to get in touch with the embassy on site.
In general, you can take photos freely. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:
– Always ask permission before taking a photo of a person. Don’t just take pictures of women or praying people.
– You may also not take photos of soldiers, military installations, police officers or government buildings.
Tajik dishes often have a large amount of mutton as the main ingredient. Food here is influenced by Turkish cuisine, with a lot of kebab, bread and different sauces. Plov is a regional favourite – a mixture of rice, meat, fried onions and vegetables. Other well-known dishes include steamed pumpkin, stuffed cabbage and vine leaves. Central Asian food contains a fair amount of spices, but is not spicy – cumin, cilantro, and sesame seeds are commonly used. In the summer you will find an abundance of fruits, vegetables and nuts. Tajikistan is a difficult country for vegetarians. There is little variety for them as meat is really the norm for the region. It is not possible to drink water from the tap. This is due to a bad filter system for bacteria. Alcohol is, despite the Islam, not a problem in Tajikistan. Especially wine and vodka is widely available.
In general, as a tourist you can dress just like at home (in all reasonableness of course). Make sure you have comfortable, sturdy shoes, because Tajikistan is a country with many mountains. For religious places, we advise you to wear more modest clothing (long pants and t-shirt ). In most hotels you will be able to do laundry.
Tajikistan is a developing country. Healthcare is therefore very limited. Also in terms of hygiene, the standard is much lower than in the Western world. Make sure you have enough disinfection gel, sunscreen and insect repellent.
We advise you always to the last (health) risk programs for the region where you’re going to visit. Check with your own government for the latest info about your destination.