Tajikistan Driving Guide

Tajikistan is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit

2023-08-03 ¡ 15. min

Located at the center of Central Asia, Tajikistan is a beautiful country with mountain ranges and high altitude deserts. As one of the world’s most remote countries, Tajikistan has a rich history and many unexplored places. Adventure seekers go here to discover some of the world’s hidden gems. But it is not only the geography that is interesting. Tajikistan also has a colorful past worth learning about. It is Tajikistan’s history and geography that makes it a journey worth taking.

Tajikistan is the home of the Pamir Mountains, which have vast desert plateaus and incredible lakes that are great for adventure. It is also the location of the Fedchenko glacier, known to be the longest glacier outside the polar regions. You may travel through the Pamir Highway, which historically was a big part of the "Silk Road." Tajikistan has a population of 8 million who are predominantly Sunni Muslims. The official language is Tajik, but Russian is also widely used in the country.

How Will This Guide Help You?

Traveling to Tajikistan may seem daunting for first-time visitors. However, it can be fun and exciting if you know the best places to see in the country. This guide will provide you the necessary information you need to know before traveling to Tajikistan. The guide includes general knowledge about Tajikistan, the top destinations to visit, and things to do in the country. It also has a guide for driving in Tajikistan now, the road rules, and information when renting a car.

General Information

Tajikistan is Central Asia's smallest country and has the highest elevation with its mountainous range. It includes the autonomous region of Gorno-Badakhshan, also known as Mountain Badakhshan. The capital of Tajikistan is Dushanbe, which is one of the few cities in the country. Despite being one of the poorest countries in the world, the Tajik people are accommodating and hospitable. It is effortless to find home accommodations around Tajikistan since locals will take you in.

Geographic Location

Tajikistan is landlocked between other countries in Central Asia. To the north, there is Kyrgyzstan, to the east side is China, to the south is Afghanistan, and towards the west is Uzbekistan. It is a mountain region with more than half of the territory 10,000 feet above sea level. There are a lot of places in Tajikistan that are open to exploration. Its mountainous terrain makes it difficult for humans to establish settlements.

Like all countries in Central Asia, Tajikistan is located on an active seismic belt where earthquakes are common. Many seismologists have studied earthquake activities over time. Since they happen quite often, always be careful when traveling in Tajikistan and know what to do during an earthquake. If you are driving during an earthquake, make sure to stop the car and get off the road until it has stopped.

Languages Spoken

The official language spoken throughout Tajikistan is Tajik. As the primary language, Tajik is commonly used all over the country. Uzbek is known to be the second most widely spoken language in Tajikistan. Both languages, Tajik & Uzbek, are written in the Cyrillic alphabet. Russian is also commonly used in Tajikistan, mostly for administration and business purposes.

Although locals may try to understand English, it is highly recommended to learn a few basic Russian or Tajik phrases before arriving in Tajikistan. Learning a few words in Russian or Tajik would help you tremendously when asking for guidance and directions. Learning to read the Cyrillic alphabet would also be useful when ordering in a restaurant or reading guides. But don't worry! The locals will always be willing to help you if you are having trouble.

Land Area

Tajikistan has a land area of 143,000 square kilometers, making it the smallest country in Central Asia. In comparison, Tajikistan is less than half of Italy. Despite being a small country, most of Tajikistan is uninhabited by humans due to its jagged terrain. The Tajiks have settled in deserts which they have turned into a beautiful oasis. Human settlement compromises less than half of the country, with most of Tajikistan still undiscovered.

History

Humans first settled in Tajikistan in early 6500 BC. Evidence has shown that Neolithic cave dwellers attempted to make the mountains their habitat. However, with the harsh climate conditions, only a few of them officially made it their home. The Umayyad Empire then conquered the region in the 8th Century. A part of their influence was the introduction of the Islamic religion. This heritage has survived the test of time, with most locals still practicing it.

Tajikistan was then conquered by the USSR in the 1980s and only gained its independence in 1991. Not soon after, the country fell into civil war between ethnic groups, which lasted years. Only in 1997 did the war end when a peace accord was signed. Tajikistan was finally independent and free of foreign rule.

Government

Today, Tajikistan has a republic government with two legislative houses. It used to have a Soviet constitution until this was replaced in 1994 with a new government with legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The president holds the executive authority, while the prime minister serves as the head of government. The president of Tajikistan appoints the prime minister with approval by the legislature.

Tourism

Tourism in Tajikistan has excellent potential and has increased in the last two years. It attracts adventurous tourists who seek natural attractions and cultural activities. About 41% of tourists come from Europe, with more than 50% confirming that Tajikistan is a safe destination. Although Tajikistan is relatively safe for tourists and it is uncommon for petty crimes to occur, always be alert and mindful of your surroundings and belongings.

The average cost for an eight-day trip in Tajikistan is around 3,000 USD, below the global average. Although the local currency is the Tajikistan somoni or TJS, the US Dollar is widely accepted as a form of payment by tourists. Make sure to withdraw enough cash before arriving since most ATMs are usually out of money, even in the city centers. Credit cards are uncommon in Tajikistan. You may find it hard to pay through credit cards, especially in remote parts of the country.

IDP FAQs

Driving in Tajikistan requires more than just your regular driver's license. You also need to have an International driver's permit in Tajikistan. In some parts of Tajikistan, like the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) on the Pamir Highway, you need specific permits. It's crucial to do your research and have all the necessary documents ready before you begin your trip to Tajikistan. Here are some common questions answered about obtaining the International driver's permit in Tajikistan.

Is a Local Driver’s License Valid in Tajikistan?

When driving in Tajikistan, it is not enough to just have your local driver’s license. You would need an international driver’s license for Tajikistan. Remember that the IDP is only a supplementary document for your local driver’s license. You always need to carry both IDP and your local driver’s license when driving in Tajikistan.

Can I Drive Without an IDP in Tajikistan?

You cannot drive in Tajikistan without a 1968 International Driver’s Permit (IDP). There are many checkpoints in Tajikistan, and police like to do random inspections. It is best to have your IDP, local driver’s license, and any other permit necessary ready for review at any time. Make sure also to make copies of these documents. It is recommended to show the copies instead of the originals during checkpoints and inspections.

How Long Is the IDP Valid in Tajikistan?

An international driver’s permit is valid for up to 12 months worldwide. However, Tajikistan allows foreigners to drive with their international driver’s permit and local driver’s license for up to 3 months. Other permits and documents are needed if you want to drive for a more extended period in Tajikistan. Research online what documents you would need if you plan to extend your trip to Tajikistan beyond three months. The research is necessary to avoid conflict with the police and other consequences.

Renting a Car in Tajikistan

Before you arrive in Tajikistan, it is essential to know how you will get around. It could get overwhelming and stressful if you do not plan ahead of time. There are plenty of options like hitch-hiking or taking public transportation. But these options can only take you so far. The best way to explore the country is to go driving in Tajikistan city and all of its mountainous regions.

By renting a car in Tajikistan, you have the freedom to set your own pace and drive around the country. Opting for shared taxis or going hitchhiking could take much of your time as you wait for a ride or other passengers. Hitchhiking or ride-sharing could entail hours of waiting. Renting a car would give the leeway to go on detours during your trip. You will have control over your time and schedule if you opt to drive in Tajikistan. Below is some useful information that would help you when renting a car in Tajikistan.

Car Rental Companies

Car rental companies are not that common in Tajikistan. Known car rental companies in the world cannot be found in Tajikistan. You can only see a few local companies, and some of these companies operate from Dushanbe airport. So driving in Tajikistan from the airport would be perfect if you plan to enter the country through the capital. Keep in mind that renting a car last minute upon arrival in the country could be a hassle. It is always best to reserve ahead.

The best place to rent cars would be from tour companies. Caravanistan, World Roof Tours, and Visit Alay are just some of the tour companies that offer car rentals. Indy Guide also provides listings for car rentals of locals. You must book ahead of time since most companies have minimal vehicles on hand. They may just run out since the demand is usually higher than the cars available.

Documents Required

When driving in Tajikistan, update your required documents beforehand. All foreign drivers are required to have an international driving permit. Tourists are also required to have a single entry tourist visa aside from their valid passport. Most nations can get their visa online, which would be valid for 45 days in Tajikistan. You might also need a GBAO permit for specific areas of the country, including the Pamir Highway. You may apply for this when obtaining a Tajikistan visa online.

Most tourists would plan to go driving along the famous Tajikistan road, the Pamir Highway. If you have the same tour in mind, you would need an e-visa, a GBAO permit, your local driver’s license, and an IDP. Make sure to have copies of all of these. It is best to present the duplicate copies when stopped by police and not the original. Take note that the IDP is only a translation of your local driver’s license, so you would need to have both when driving in Tajikistan locations.

Vehicle Types

Car rentals in Tajikistan are equipped and suitable for the roads in the country. Since the country is a mountainous region and most travel spots are rugged terrains, car rentals are usually 4WDs. These 4WDs come in a manual or automatic drive. Car rentals typically have enough space for your luggage or backpacks. You may ask your car rental company for add-ons they may offer like GPS and booking homestays for you.

Ultimately, the vehicle type you will hire is up to your preference. You may go for a manual or automatic drive, whichever you are more comfortable with and used to driving. A 4WD would have a better grip on the roads of Tajikistan. Some roads are impassable by cars that are not 4WDs. The best option is to rent a four-wheel-drive when in Tajikistan. Be sure to keep the vehicle clean and in good condition at all times.

Car Rental Cost

If you plan to go driving on Tajikistan roads, you have to plan how many days your trip would take. Car rentals usually have per-day rates. The average cost is 100-120 USD per day. The longer you rent the car, the lower the rental price per day would be. They may require payment for the power of attorney if you are self-driving. A power of attorney would be a one-time payment of around 80-100 USD. One power of attorney can be used for several cars.

Car rentals in Tajikistan usually come with free airport transfer, a map of Tajikistan with guidance on where to travel, and assistance for booking accommodation. Make sure to ask your car provider about these to maximize your car rental cost.

Age Requirements

Update on the minimum age for driving in Tajikistan is 17 years old. In comparison, the age for renting a car in Tajikistan is 21 years old and above. The car rental companies may require a show of documents such as a passport, local driver’s license, and an international driving permit for Tajikistan when renting a car.

Since the roads of Tajikistan may be challenging to navigate, car rental companies may prefer more experienced drivers to rent their cars. Because of this, a car rental company may charge more for drivers between the age of 21 and 25.

Car Insurance Cost

Most car rentals in Tajikistan already include car insurance in their car rental package. Make sure to ask your car provider about the car insurance inclusion when renting a car in Tajikistan. If you have rented a car without insurance, you may ask your car provider to get insurance from a private company. Car providers are usually willing to assist in getting a car insurance policy for you. The additional car insurance may cost you an extra 50-70 USD, depending on the coverage.

Although the insurance is there to cover the cost of car damages during your trip, it would take time for the car rental company to get the compensation. Even with car insurance, car providers may ask for a security deposit of around 500 USD when renting a car. The security deposit is refundable, of course, when you return the vehicle with no damages. It is best to keep the vehicle in good condition at all times.

Car Insurance Policy

Most car providers may include car insurance in their car rental payment. However, the insurance coverage can vary per car provider. Although most car insurances cover damages, some policies do not insure the components or parts of the car.

In case of damage to the car, the car rental company may opt to use the security deposit. Make sure you check the car insurance policy before driving to Tajikistan locations. If the car provider’s insurance policy is not enough, you may opt to get an additional car insurance policy for the car’s security. Additional car insurance would give you peace of mind when driving in Tajikistan.

The Road Rules in Tajikistan

Before driving in Tajikistan, map out your trip and familiarize yourself with the driving rules. Knowing the rules would help you avoid any accidents on the road. The leading causes of accidents in Tajikistan include exceeding the speed limit, being intoxicated while driving, and not observing the traffic rules. These accidents could be prevented if road safety standards are followed and if defensive driving techniques are practiced.

Important Regulations

Driving on unfamiliar roads could lead to disaster if you are unaware of the rules. It is a must to learn the road regulations of Tajikistan before driving and following them at all times. Not adhering to the road rules could lead to fines, car impound, or imprisonment in Tajikistan. It is essential to know the road rules of Tajikistan to steer clear of unwanted consequences. Below are the important regulations to keep in mind when driving on Tajikistan roads.

Drunk-Driving

Tajikistan has zero-tolerance for drinking and driving. The alcohol level limit is 0 mg, meaning not drinking a single drop of alcohol before driving and when driving in Tajikistan. There should be zero alcohol in your bloodstream when driving in Tajikistan city and out of town. You always have to keep alert on the road to avoid any kind of accidents.

Drunk-driving is often one of the leading causes of road accidents in Tajikistan. Make sure to practice defensive driving when on the road and be aware of your surroundings. Tajikistan officials won’t act kindly to drivers who drive drunk. You may find yourself locked up if you attempt drunk-driving. Best to stay clear of alcohol when driving on the roads of Tajikistan.

Seatbelt Laws

The use of seat belts is a must when driving in Tajikistan. Seat belts would ensure the safety of the driver and all passengers when on the road. The rough terrain of Tajikistan may surprise some travelers, so it is best to keep safe and secure in your car. Always wear your seatbelt when driving in Tajikistan.

Accidents are common occurrences in Tajikistan. You never know when something could happen. Wearing a seatbelt could be a lifesaver when on Tajikistan roads. If traveling with children, make sure to secure them at the rear-seat of the car. Never have a child below ten years old sit at the front seat.

Special Permits in Tajikistan

There are some areas in Tajikistan that need special permits aside from the e-visa and the GBAO permit. A GBAO permit is required when traveling in the autonomous region of Gorno-Badakhshan. The Pamir Highway is located in the GBAO region and would require the GBAO permit.

Lake Sarez, Lake Zorkul, and Tajik National Park are among the places that require additional permits. Be sure to research and secure a permit before heading out to these areas. Checkpoints and police may do random inspections and check if you have the necessary documents to enter certain places. Securing permits beforehand would help you avoid unwanted situations with authority.

If you plan a trip driving from Tajikistan to Pakistan, you may have to secure permits to cross the borders. To get to Pakistan from Tajikistan, you need to pass through Afghanistan or China. Crossing borders would entail securing border passes. So it is possible to go driving from Tajikistan to Pakistan for as long as you plan months before your trip and get the necessary documents. You would also have to check with your car provider regarding the terms for crossing borders.

General Standards

Driving standards may vary per country. It is essential to know the standards when driving in a foreign country to eliminate the risk of getting into accidents or being stopped by the police. In Tajikistan, people drive on the right side of the road with the wheel on the left side. They do not permit driving cars with the wheel on the right. If you plan to drive in Tajikistan, familiarize yourself with driving on the right side of the road first.

Cars in Tajikistan can either be automatic or manual, and car providers/rentals have both options. You should choose what you are most comfortable with when on the roads of Tajikistan. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the type of driving in Tajikistan before hitting the road. Familiarity could prevent accidents and would ensure you have a safe trip.

Speed Limits

When driving in Tajikistan, from the airport or city to whichever part of the country, you must always be aware of the road situation. Road maintenance is not typical for most of the roads outside city centers. Most roads in Tajikistan are in bad condition. It is common to find deep potholes here and there on the road. Potholes become a more common occurrence when it rains in Tajikistan. It is better to drive slower to keep safe when unfamiliar with the road situation.

Before hitting the road, keep in mind the following speed limits in Tajikistan. Not following the speed limits may cost you a ticket or even other more severe consequences. The speed limit varies in Tajikistan, depending on your location. For urban areas, the speed limit is 60 km/h. For rural roads, the speed limit goes up to 90 km/h. For highways, the speed limit is 110 km/h in Tajikistan. Always check for road signs if there is a change in the speed limit for that area,

Driving Directions

It is not common to encounter traffic in Tajikistan outside city centers. However, make sure always to follow the road rules when facing traffic. It is common for locals to drive in the wrong direction when on a one-way street. It would be best not to follow them. There is a possibility of getting caught by the police and having to pay fines. Remember that you are driving in a foreign country, and the police may not be so tolerant of you than with locals.

When driving in Tajikistan, maps are essential since there is very little to no cellular signal. The roads could get confusing for foreigners that are not familiar with the streets. For locals, this would not be a problem since they commonly travel and drive on these roads. However, a foreign driver could get lost on the streets. Make sure to watch out for road signs and directions. It would not also hurt to have a map in hand. A map could save you if you happen to get lost on the road.

Traffic Road Signs

Traffic road signs are not common in Tajikistan or may not be that visible to drivers. Even with or without the presence of road signs, always practice defensive driving. It is common for pedestrians in Tajikistan to cross the street at any point of the road without checking oncoming traffic. As a driver, you have to be careful because regardless of pedestrian negligence, the driver will be considered at fault in Tajikistan.

Only in 2018 have road signs been placed at the most dangerous road crossings in the Dushanbe capital. The road signs project was a partnership project of NGOs and the local government to minimize the fatalities of pedestrians. Statistics show that 1 out of 4 casualties are school children. The project conducted seminars for school children to have a better awareness of the road situation.

Traffic lights do not often work in Tajikistan but keep in mind that it is illegal to turn right on a red light. Some traffic lights use green arrows to indicate that the specific lanes may continue moving. When closing the border of Afghanistan, land mine warning signs are common. Although all the mines are tagged, it is best to stay clear of this area. Never attempt to pick up a mine. The mines could still be active and detonate at any time.

Right of Way

The right of way depends on and may vary for every traffic circle in Tajikistan. It is best to familiarize yourself first with the road situation before attempting to drive in Tajikistan. Make sure to always pay attention to marked turn lanes on the road. The marked turn lanes would indicate who has the right of way in a traffic circle. However, most markers may be faded since there isn’t much road maintenance in Tajikistan.

More often than not, lane markers have traffic cameras. Although these lane markers may be faded, traffic enforcers may opt to impose a fine to the driver who doesn't follow the markers. So when driving in Tajikistan, the police may take video or photos. The photos or video is just a precautionary measure for police in Tajikistan to see if drivers follow the road rules.

The legal driving age in Tajikistan is 17 years old. If you plan to drive in Tajikistan, make sure to have your valid local driver’s license with you and your international driver’s permit. Police inspections and checkpoints will usually check these documents. Always have copies of these documents as a safety precaution.

If you plan to rent a car, the minimum age requirement is 21. Car rental companies may charge higher for drivers under 25 years old. Car providers usually opt to rent out their cars to more experienced drivers, especially with the harsh road conditions in Tajikistan.

Laws on Overtaking

Overtaking could get messy in Tajikistan. Local drivers in Tajikistan do not usually check when merging onto a road. In this regard, it is best to give way and let them overtake to avoid accidents and arguments with a local. Remember always to practice defensive driving when on the road in Tajikistan. It is better to be safe and avoid unnecessary consequences.

Driving Side

In Tajikistan, you drive on the right side of the road. The wheel is on the left side of the car. It is illegal to drive a vehicle with the wheel on the right. If you are used to driving on the left side of the road, with the wheel at the right side, it is best to practice before driving on major streets of Tajikistan.

Take note that on one-way streets, locals may be driving in the opposite direction. If you encounter this, do not attempt to follow their lead. You may end up finding yourself in a challenging situation with the police. Always stick to following the road signs to avoid conflict.

Driving Etiquette in Tajikistan

It is common to encounter some problems when driving on Tajikistan roads. In these situations, it is essential to know how to handle yourself to avoid unnecessary consequences. Always remain calm and assess the situation before reacting. Listed below are some driving etiquette guidelines that could help you when caught in a sticky situation.

Car Breakdown

With the rough roads of Tajikistan, car breakdowns are common. The best thing to do in a car breakdown situation is not panic and call your car provider. They may try to fix it if there is a shop nearby, or they might send another car your way. The car rental supplier may opt to use your security deposit to help pay for the car’s damages. It is best to confirm the terms with your car provider before renting a car.

If in a remote region in Tajikistan with no access to help, you may also opt to flag down other vehicles. Tajiks will always be willing to lend a hand. Local males above the age of 15 years old in Tajikistan know the basics of car mechanics. It would not be hard to find someone who will help you when your car breaks down.

Police Stops

It is usual for the police to pull over cars and do an inspection. Occasionally, foreigners tend to catch the eye of the police in Tajikistan for official or unofficial reasons, usually to check documents or fine the driver. In any case, always have copies of your documents ready for inspection. It is recommended not to show the original documents. Most of the time, you will be able to talk your way out of it.

Police may hint at a small bribe from you during a checkpoint inspection. Bribery is common in Tajikistan. When this happens, assess the situation on what action you should take and always be polite. Keep in mind that you may expect bribery in Tajikistan, but it is still considered illegal in the country. Remember never to sign any paperwork you do not understand.

Asking Directions

Tajikistan locals are very hospitable and friendly. It would be a pleasure for them to help you with directions. However, you may have difficulty communicating the problem since most locals do not speak English. Tajik and Russian are the languages more commonly spoken in Tajikistan. Although locals may not speak English, a map in hand and a few hand gestures can solve most directional problems. However, it would be beneficial to learn a few phrases in Tajik or Russian before heading out to Tajikistan.

Checkpoints

When driving in Tajikistan, especially on the Pamir Highway, you may encounter a few checkpoints. They would usually want to check your permits, and then they will let you pass. Always have copies of your international driver’s permit and local driver’s license. You may also need other special permits like the GBAO permit. If you encounter a problem, just stay calm. More often than not, they will eventually let you go if you cannot understand each other.

Other Tips

Driving in Tajikistan can be a challenge, but it can also be a fun experience. You just have to be aware of the rules of the road and practice defensive driving. Below is the answer to the most common question asked about the most famous Tajikistan highway.

Is Pamir Highway Safe?

The Pamir highway is considered very safe. It is sporadic to hear of crime along the highway. Locals along the highway are very friendly and even offer their homes to tourists who need a place to stay for the night. Locals may even decline payment for homestays. Then there is hitchhiking on the highway. Hitchhiking is quite common along the highway, proving that it is very safe for tourists.

However, the road condition on the Pamir Highway is not the best. The highway is not well maintained or paved in a lot of areas. Deep potholes are common on both sides of the road. Tunnels along the highway, which are already in use, have never finished the construction. Driving through these tunnels is necessary but could be very dangerous. You have to be very alert when driving the Pamir Highway. It is also best to stay off the road when night falls to avoid accidents.

Driving Conditions in Tajikistan

To understand the road situation in Tajikistan, you must know the driving conditions. The roads in Tajikistan could significantly differ from the roads you are familiar with within your own home country. Understanding the driving conditions would help you mentally prepare for any problem you may encounter when driving in Tajikistan. Below is some information that could help you before you set out to drive in Tajikistan.

Accident Statistics

Car accidents are common in Tajikistan. Pedestrians are known to be the most common casualties. You have to stay alert when driving in Tajikistan because pedestrians cross on any part of the road without looking for oncoming cars. Pedestrian lanes are not typical in Tajikistan, and most pedestrians cross anywhere. Pedestrian road crossing could be dangerous if drivers go beyond the speed limit and do not focus on the road.

It is advised to do road travel during the day and stay off the road when nighttime falls. Most roads are challenging to navigate and may be impossible at night. Night travel could lead to unwanted accidents due to unreliable road and weather conditions. If you are caught at night driving in Tajikistan, resorts or homestays are the best stopovers. Always opt to stop for the night then drive again when the sun is up.

Potential dangers increase during the winter months in the mountainous areas of Tajikistan. Avalanches frequently occur during the winter season. Make sure to follow warning signals about closed mountain passes. Roads and tunnels are not well maintained and could be extra dangerous during winter. There are accidents every year on the roads and mountain passes during this time of the year. It is best to limit travel during the winter months.

Common Vehicles

The standard vehicles in Tajikistan are SUVs. These cars are 4WDs since most roads outside the city center are often only accessible by 4WDs. Car rentals often have these vehicles to best suit whatever rugged road trip tourists have in mind. You may research online for the best car option for you before driving in Tajikistan.

On the highway, it is common to find trucks. These trucks usually travel from other countries in Central Asia. The trucks pass through the Pamir Highway, which connects to other countries like China and Uzbekistan.

Toll Roads

The Dushanbe-Chanak highway was the first toll road of Tajikistan. This toll road opened on April 1, 2010. It stretches from the capital city Dushanbe to the northern part of Tajikistan, the Soghd province, ending at the border of Uzbekistan. You will most likely drive on this toll road when traveling around Tajikistan. The government is looking into more infrastructure projects through public-private partnerships.

Road Situations

Roads in Tajikistan are not well maintained. It is common to have deep potholes every so often. Make sure to stay alert to avoid them. The quality of the roads can change very quickly when driving in Tajikistan, especially the mountain roads. Most routes consist of single gravel lanes in the mountainous regions. There are risks of avalanches and landslides, especially during the spring. It is highly suggested to travel during summer when the roads are open and safer.

Tunnels are unavoidable on the Pamir highway. The construction was never fully finished and can be dangerous. Lights are non-existent inside the tunnel. You have to be very careful when passing through the tunnels. Due to the road damage inside the tunnel, most parts of the road are one way. Be cautious of oncoming traffic and construction inside the tunnels.

Fuel is very rare outside towns and is often of low quality. It is best always to fill up your tank whenever you spot a gas station. You never know when you will encounter another station. More reliable fuel is found in the city centers of Tajikistan. Although these cities may be far from the tourist spots, it is better to bring extra fuel when driving to distant locations in Tajikistan.

Driving Culture

There are many erratic drivers in Tajikistan. The speed limit is not always followed. Drivers tend to go the wrong direction, especially for one-way streets. It is common for shared taxis to swerve when picking up or dropping off passengers. Most drivers do not check traffic when merging. It can be chaotic on the roads of Tajikistan. As a foreigner driving in Tajikistan, it can be overwhelming. Always exercise defensive driving and stay alert.

Other Tips

When traveling in a country, the topmost priority of tourists is safety. Is it safe to travel to that country? Is it safe to drive in that country? Travelers often question this matter regarding Tajikistan. Read below to know how safe it is to travel in Tajikistan.

Is it Safe to Travel in Tajikistan?

Tourists are quite hesitant about traveling to Tajikistan because of the notion that it isn’t safe in the country. Quite the contrary, Tajikistan is very safe for tourists, even if you are a solo traveler. It is common to find backpackers and hitchhikers in Tajikistan. Aside from the police who may try to bribe you, locals are amiable and accommodating. They will even welcome you into their homes. You will not have a problem when you are lost on the road or need shelter in Tajikistan.

Is it Safe to Drive at Night in Tajikistan?

Driving in Tajikistan during the day can already be difficult due to the harsh road conditions. Driving at night on the unmaintained roads would be worse. Since Tajikistan is one of the most remote countries globally, many provinces do not have electricity access. There are very few homes that have generators and use them conservatively. With no lights on the road and terrible road conditions, driving at night could be hazardous. It is highly recommended not to drive at night in Tajikistan.

Things To Do in Tajikistan

After driving in Tajikistan, videos and photographs of the trip would make you want to go back. Maybe you would even consider staying for a more extended period in the country. Would you consider a long-term stay? Employment and residency are possible for foreigners who want to stay longer in Tajikistan. And although finding jobs could be difficult for foreigners in Tajikistan, there will always be opportunities.

Drive as a Tourist

Foreigners with a different zip code driving in Tajikistan are allowed to drive for as long as they have the right documents. When driving in Tajikistan, you must always have your local driver’s license and an international driver’s permit. These documents would be valid in Tajikistan for up to three months. After three months, you will have to acquire other permits to continue driving in Tajikistan.

The international driver’s permit does not replace your valid local driver’s license. The IDP only provides a translation of your local driver’s license. Remember always to carry both licenses when you are driving in Tajikistan and have extra copies. Do not forget that when traveling in Tajikistan, all tourists must have their passports and, for most foreigners, an e-visa.

Work as a Driver

There are various work opportunities in Tajikistan for drivers. The average monthly salary of a truck driver in Tajikistan usually includes housing and other benefits. The compensation could vary depending on the driving experience and skills of the driver. With the road conditions in Tajikistan, drivers must know how to maneuver and get around. The more road experience you have on the roads of Tajikistan, the higher the salary. Other driving jobs pay more than truck drivers by at least 20%.

Work as a Travel Guide

If you have explored Tajikistan and many of its wonders, then working as a travel guide could be the job for you! It will be a big plus if you know how to speak English fluently since most tourists speak this language. Local tour guides are becoming competitive in this regard by learning English. They sometimes even take dual roles as the driver and guide.

Finding travel guide work may be quite challenging because it is not usually advertised in Tajikistan. The best way to find a job is to immerse yourself in the culture and get to know the locals. Once you are familiar with the place, work opportunities could pop up.

Apply for Residency

When applying for permanent residence status in Tajikistan, you must have resided legally in the country for at least six months. If, for instance, you left the country within those six months, the count would reset again once you come back.

Tajikistan may grant permanent residence to those permitted with proof in the form of a residence permit. There are several documents needed for the application for permanent residency. If you plan to reside in Tajikistan permanently, you may inquire at the consulate offices of the Republic of Tajikistan.

Other Things to Do

There are plenty of other things to do in Tajikistan if you are planning to stay longer. Always remember to renew your visa in time before it expires. Most e-visas expire after 45 days. Take note of this and keep your documents updated.

Aside from driving jobs, there are other work opportunities in Tajikistan. The country is still developing its tourism sector, and many jobs are opening up because of this. Read below to know what other opportunities there are in Tajikistan.

What Are Other Work Opportunities in Tajikistan?

Most jobs held by foreigners are usually NGO-related. Most of these NGOs are located in the capital city of Dushanbe. If you are interested, there could be an opening in these organizations. There are also job opportunities teaching English in the few international schools in Tajikistan. Of course, it is essential to know basic Tajik and Russian to better communicate with the students.

Top Destinations in Tajikistan

There are plenty of undiscovered places in Tajikistan. Known as the “Roof of the World,” 90% of the country are mountain ranges. It is a great adventure to explore all of the natural wonders Tajikistan has to offer. And with all that natural wonder comes a vibrant history. The complexity of its terrain matches that of what the country has been through. There will always be something new to discover in Tajikistan. Learn more about the history and culture of Tajikistan when you visit some of its well-known travel destinations.

Pamir Highway

The Pamir highway is the most popular destination in Tajikistan. For tourists who love road trips, driving along the Pamir Highway is a must. The highway is one of the world’s most amazing routes. Stretching from Khorog to Osh, the Pamir Highway connects different countries in Central Asia. The Pamir Highway was built in the 1930s by the Soviets and has been used for transportation ever since. It was a part of the historical “silk road.”

Driving Directions:

  1. From Dushanbe International Airport, head east towards Titov Street, then turn right onto Titov Street.
  2. Turn right onto Ayni Street and head straight.
  3. Take the second exit onto Somoniyon Ave at the roundabout.
  4. Continue until you reach Pamir highway or M41. It will take around 3 hours to reach your destination.

Things to Do

There are many things to do and discover throughout the whole route of the Pamir Highway. There are high mountains, vast deserts, and beautiful lakes. You will never run out of places to discover along the highway. Below are some of the things worth exploring on the Pamir Highway.


1. Drive the Pamir Highway

Driving the Pamir highway is known to be a fantastic road trip. It is every road tripper's dream to travel down the road that was once a part of the “silk road.” Everywhere you look, there would be beautiful sceneries of nature. You may opt to have set destinations or choose to go on detours when driving on the road. Of course, you have to be careful of the road conditions at all times. The road gets extra challenging when winter comes.

2. Go cycling

Cycling the Pamir Highway is the ultimate dream for every cyclist. However, cycling the Pamir Highway is not for the weak-hearted. It is a very challenging road to cycle. Cycling this route would entail a lot of endurance and practice. But the views and stopovers would be worth it. Of course, taking multiple stops would not be a problem when surrounded by incredible views everywhere.

3. Spot wildlife

Mountains inhabited by wild animals surround the Pamir highway. These animals are familiar with human sounds and tend to stay away. Eagles and vultures are common sightings when driving on the road. There are different wildlife tours to take for spotting other animals like the Ibex and Marco Polo Sheeps. Snow leopards may even make an appearance during winter.

4. Hike the Fedchenko glacier

Located in the Pamir mountains, the Fedchenko glacier is an excellent adventure for hikers. The Fedchenko Glacier is the longest in Asia, stretching for over 700 square kilometers. Hiking the Fedchenko Glacier is an experience like no other. If you plan to go hiking, make sure you are well equipped. It may also be best to hike with a guide. The hike could be daunting and confusing for first-time hikers. Having a guide would ensure your safety.

5. Take photos at Karakul Lake.

Karakul lake is the largest in Tajikistan. Its name translates as “black lake.” It spans up to 33 kilometers with a depth of 236 meters. On a sunny day, the Karakul lake is crystal blue. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions along the Pamir Highway. The lake is so picturesque and the perfect location for photos. Every direction you point your camera would give you a stunning view.

Fann Mountains

Some of Tajikistan’s highest peaks are found in the Fann mountains. It soars 5,000 meters up into the sky. The Fann mountains are among the top tourist destinations in Tajikistan. It has pristine lakes, beautiful mountain peaks, and endless valleys for you to explore. The best time to visit is during the trekking season, from July to September. During these months, you can be sure the passes are open and safe. If you opt to go during winter, many of the roads may be closed.

Driving Directions:

  1. From Dushanbe International Airport, head east towards Titov Street and turn left.
  2. Continue down Titov Street onto Korgar.
  3. Take a left turn onto Saadi Sherozi Avenue.
  4. Make a right turn onto Hofiz Sherozi Avenue.
  5. Take the 3rd exit onto M34 and continue straight.
  6. Turn left on A377 and continue straight.
  7. Turn left at Ulitsa Devashtish, then turn left onto Ulitsa Boboradzhabova.
  8. Turn right onto Ulitsa Sh Rofiyeva, then continue until Panjakent, the jump-off point for the Fann Mountains.

Things to Do

The Fann Mountains offer many different adventure sights. The treks vary from easy to difficult. So you do not have to be an expert to enjoy the adventure. There is always something to do for every kind of traveler. It is also a great place to immerse yourself in the culture of Tajikistan. You will get to meet locals and even stay with them in their homes. Below are a few things you must do when touring the Fann mountains.


1. Immerse in the Tajik lifestyle

When driving in Tajikistan, resorts and guesthouses are not that common to find outside of the capital. However, the locals usually offer their homes to tourists. The Fann Mountains are the best place to experience the warm hospitality of the locals. Here you will find homestays that reflect the way of life in this remote part of the world. The families take in tourists for free. But it would be nice to give them a few Somoni for their generous hospitality.

2. Trek the peaks

For hardcore mountaineers and even just chill tourist, the Fann Mountains offers a variety of treks to suit you. If you want to take it easy and enjoy the view, some treks don’t take much effort. But if you wish to conquer great heights and sweat it out, you could also find more challenging hikes at the Fann Mountains. Whatever kind of trek you choose, the Fann Mountains’ beautiful sights would be well worth it.

3. Explore the lakes

The Fann Mountains are home to some of the world’s most beautiful lakes. There is the Marguzor Lake, the Seven Lakes, the Iskanderkul Lake, to name a few. Most of which have legends of their own and carry mystic wonder. You may ask the locals to tell you these tales when hiking the lakes of the Fann Mountains. Each lake has a different trek difficulty level. You may check online which trek would best suit you.

4. Cross the Chimtarga Pass

The Chimtarga Pass is located between two of the highest peaks in the Fann Mountains. Hiking the Chimtarga Pass is a mountaineer’s dream challenge and would take around 1-3 days to trek. You must be ready and equip with climbing and camping gear to achieve this trek.

Dushanbe City

The capital of Tajikistan is the city of Dushanbe. It boasts buildings with neo-classical designs and beautiful parks. The capital is a must-visit when visiting and driving in Tajikistan. The zip code of Dushanbe is 372. You may want to send a postcard home from here before or after your travels around Tajikistan.

Driving Directions:

  1. Head east toward Titov Street.
  2. Continue onto Ahmadi Donish Street.
  3. Make a U-turn and keep right to continue onto Nazarshoev Street.
  4. Turn right to stay on Nazarshoev Street.
  5. Turn right onto Valomatzoda Street and head to your destination in Dushanbe City.

Things to Do

As the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe is the largest and busiest city. It is the best place to relax and recover from trekking and to restock on supplies. Below are a few things you will discover about the city of Dushanbe.


1. Walk around Rudaki Park

Rudaki Park has many different flower gardens and monuments that represent a historical fact for Tajikistan. One of the most iconic monuments is that of Ismoil Somoni, who was the founder of the Samanid Dynasty and who the currency is named after. There is also the Rudaki Statue and the Parchan Pillar.

2. Admire the architecture of Kokhi Navruz

Designed to be the world’s biggest tea house, the Kokhi Navruz was built from 2009-2014. It turned into a big complex with an art gallery, movie theater, bowling alley, and much more. Its elegant beauty is unlike anything else with the meticulous, detailed designs made by around 4,000 craftsmen from all over Tajikistan.

3. Go museum hopping

Visiting the museums in Dushanbe is like going back in time. Here you will see the colorful history of Tajikistan through the artifact collections on display. One of the most exciting pieces is the 13 meter reclining Buddha in the National Museum of Antiquities. It is an original piece taken from the Ajina-Tepe Buddhist site.

Reference

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