Tajikistan is renowned for having some of the most dramatic and breathtaking mountain scenery in the world. If impressive architecture like the monument of Ismoil Somoni and Timur Malik Fortress don't leave you in awe, the turquoise waters of Lake Khoazorchashma framed by the towering Fann Mountain range surely will. Discover this and more on a Tajikistan tour at Bunnik Tours. You can book our tours online or speak to one of our friendly Travel Specialists today.
Small Group Tours
Welcome to the enchanting realm of Central Asia’s 5 Stans — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Tajikistan Facts & Tips
Did you know?
- Over 90% of Tajikistan is mountainous, above 1,000 meters above sea level
- Tajikistan is the smallest of the Central Asian nations at just over 143 thousand square kilometres, which is slightly larger than England, and it only has the population of London!
- Dushanbe in Tajik means ‘Monday’, as the village it grew from was known for the market it held every Monday
- The Pamir Mountains are known as ‘The Roof of the World’ and are over 7,000 meters above sea level. The Pamir Highway that traverses these mountains is the second-highest road in the world.
- The largest glacier outside of the Polar Regions is the Fedchenko Glacier in the Pamir Mountains, it’s 77km long!
Visas & Passports
Australian passport holders travelling to Tajikistan need a visa at this time. An eVisa must be applied for before you travel online at: https://www.evisa.tj/index.evisa.html#/
We require that your passport is valid for travel for at least six months from the date you are planning to return to Australia. Your passport must be valid to travel internationally and must be machine-readable. You also need to carry a valid return ticket on you.
Whether travelling on an Australian passport or the passport of another country, all travellers require visas for a number of countries, and it is your responsibility to secure what may be required before departing Australia. You can consult with your travel agent, but it is also recommended that you check the foreign embassy website for your respective destination as it can also provide you with useful information.
The Australian Embassy in Russiais responsible for Tajikistan:
Podkolokolny Pereulok 10a/2
Ph. +7 495 956 6070
Fax. +7 495 956 6170
The Somoni is the official currency of Tajikistan, or TJS. Notes are in denominations of 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 somani.
The recommended currency to take to Tajikistan is the US Dollar or Euro, as the Somoni is not available outside of the region. Ensure you request smaller clean notes as many places will not exchange large denominations or notes that are torn and dirty. Once there, you can exchange your US Dollars or Euros into local currency. Ensure you change a small amount into small denominations.
Advise your bank of your travel plans so that they can make a note of it, otherwise they may cancel your credit card as a safety measure due to the overseas transactions. Also make a note of the 24-hour emergency contact number of the bank or building society which issued your credit card in the unlikely event that your card is lost or stolen.
Whenever possible use ATMs when the banks are open (Mon – Fri) so that if a machine ‘eats’ your card you can then deal with it straight away. It is always advisable to carry a supply of cash in addition to your credit card. ATM’s are not widely available outside of Dushanbe, and many places outside of the capital will not accept payment via credit card.
If you don’t have US Dollars or Euro with you on arrival, we advise you to exchange some money into the local currency at the airport even if the exchange rate is not the best, this way you’ll have money to get a drink, snack or give a tip during those first few hours of arrival. Your guide will be able to advise you on the best places to exchange money.
Small change is also useful for paying for toilets while on tour which is customary in many places outside of Australia.
- The price of a cappuccino in Dushanbe is approximately USD1.30
- The price of an inexpensive lunch is approximately USD3.50
- The price of dinner in a moderate restaurant is approximately USD11.50
- The price of a beer in a local pub is approximately USD1.50
Traditional Tajik cuisine has been heavily influenced by Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Persia, plus the multitude of cultures that travelled along the Silk Road. Meat is the basis for most dishes, mostly horse, mutton/lamb, or goat (but never pork as it is a Muslim country!), with fresh herbs and vegetables. There is quite a difference between the foods available in the lower altitude areas where there is land available to cultivate, compared to the high-altitude mountainous areas where any available food has to last the long cold winters. Apricots, apples, and pears were first grown here and can be found at any local food market, along with figs, pomegranates, persimmons, and peaches (in season, of course).
Plov, or pilau, or osh, is Tajikistan’s most popular dish which is generally made with rice, shredded turnip or carrot, and meat, all ingredients are fried together in mutton fat in a qazan (wok-shaped cauldron) over an open flame. There are five main versions that can be found in Tajik cuisine, Tajik Pilau, cooked with dried fruit, peas, quince, and garlic; ugro-pilau, or pilau with noodles, pieces of meat are par-fried with onions and carrots, added to a broth, then roasted noodles are pounded to the size of rice grains and added to the broth and served with green onions; gelak palov, pilau with meatballs; Dushanbe Pilau, pilau with minced mutton; and pilau with chicken.
Bread is sacred and must not be dropped, thrown, placed upside down, or cut with a knife. Even the crumbs are collected and disposed of carefully. Often served at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a meal without some form of bread is considered incomplete! It comes in many forms, including non, a flatbread similar to naan; fatir, thin flaky flatbread cooked in oil; fatir-maska, made from fatir, puff pastry, and butter, then topped with peeled grapes or fresh melon; kulcha, fluffy flatbread; girdacha, large flatbreads cooked in the tandyr oven; katlama, puffy flat cakes made from unleavened dough rolled up and cut into slices before being deep fried; sambusa baraki, similar to samosas, these triangular pies are stuffed with mutton and spices and baked in the tandyr; and pilita, a sour dough cut into long strips and braided before being fried in fat and then covered with sugar.
Qurutob is considered the national dish, made with qurut (dried cheese balls) that are soaked in water, the water is then used as the base for the dish. Topped with pieces of fatir, then a mixture of kefir, sour cream, cottage cheese, onions, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and fresh herbs, meat is sometimes added too, but is often served on the side. Served in a tabaq plate and eaten communally by hand, it is a typical summer dish.
Important: When dining at buffets (i.e. breakfast) please refrain from taking food away with you to ‘save’ for later! If you feel that you’ll need snacks between meals, pack some dried fruit, nuts, muesli bars etc.
If you have specific food allergies and/or preferences, we highly recommend you take every precaution before your tour, including carrying a small card with your food allergy listed in each language of every country you are travelling to show to table staff when ordering. Whilst we take all dietary requirements seriously, due to the serious nature of potential allergic reactions, it is your responsibility to be as prepared as possible.
Given the terrain of Tajikistan is mostly mountainous, the weather is quite variable. Summer (June to September) temperatures in Dushanbe average in the low 30°C’s and are nice and dry, whereas winter (December & January) temperatures are down to single digits and can be quite wet. In the mountains, summer can get up to about 15°C, and winter is below -20°C, plus wind chill factor! Spring is the wettest season, with frequent rain and thunderstorms.
Want to get out and explore on your own?
Most taxis in Tajikistan are unlicenced and should be avoided at all costs. Shared minivans are available, but they only depart once full and have no set schedule. The road conditions are varied, some roads are excellent, and others are little more than gravel tracks. Local trains are currently operating but are slow. The best option is to hire a vehicle with a private driver.
So, you’d love to bring home a special souvenir from Tajikistan…
Tajikistan’s many colourful bazaar markets are the best places to purchase souvenirs or try local produce. Popular souvenirs include traditional needlework and patchwork designs on felt, cotton and wool handicrafts. A unique and beautiful traditional handcraft is the suzane, an embroidered wall hanging. Common designs you will find on a suzane include blossoming gardens, knives for protections, pomegranates for protection and birds for good luck. Do not buy gems in Tajikistan, as they require special permission to export, and any jewellery must be hallmarked as it is illegal to export unmarked jewellery or unprocessed stones/metal, even if you have a legal receipt of purchase from a store. Bargaining is expected in the bazaars but not in places like department stores where the prices are fixed and clearly marked.
- The Persian rules of Tarof govern local hospitality, a host is obliged to offer anything a guest may want, and the guest is equally obliged to refuse it! This will repeat itself a few times, if the offer is made four times, then it is genuine and can be accepted.
- Always remove shoes when entering a local home, and bring a gift for the host such as tea, fruit, or sweets when invited for dinner
- If no cutlery is available/offered, always eat with your right hand
- Given the conservative nature of Tajikistan, women will feel more comfortable wearing clothing that covers arms and legs (dresses and skirts are more respectful than pants), and men should wear trousers as shorts are not worn by locals, especially in rural areas
- Always carry a copy of your ID/documentation with you, as local law enforcement regularly stop tourists and ask for it, if asked, then demand to see their ID too and do not sign anything without getting it translated first
- Given that nearly all of the country is mountains, altitude sickness can occur.
- Public toilets, particularly in rural areas, are unlikely to supply toilet paper, so bring your own
Celebrations & Public Holidays
Tajikistan is a predominantly Muslim nation, so many of the national holidays and regional festivals are related to events in the religious lunar calendar. Many locals partake in the celebrations at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Victory Day is a national public holiday that takes place in May each year. The festival, which has been observed in Tajikistan since 1946, commemorates the Soviet Union WWII defeat of Germany, and is usually celebrated with fireworks and a military Parade.
Other national public holidays to be aware of include:
- New Year's Day
- International Women’s Day (March 8th)
- Nowruz Celebration (March 21st to 24th)
- Labour Day/May Day (May 1st)
- Victory Day (May 9th)
- Eid ul Fitr/Ramadan
- Day of National Unity (June 27th)
- Eid ul Adha
- Independence Day (September 9th)
- Constitution Day (November 6th)
The capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe is the largest city and the cultural, political and economic heart of the country. The streets of Dushanbe are home to modern and Soviet architecture, as well as a myriad of museums, statues and historical sites honouring the strong Persian influences of the city’s past. This quirky capital is a clean city, with many small streets to wander; but for many, the excitement can be found shopping in Dushanbe’s oriental bazaars and sampling the delicious local food.
Khujand is the second largest city of Tajikistan and is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia, dating back about 2,500 years to the Persian Empire. With grand buildings set against a post-card worthy mountain range; Khujand is every bit intriguing as it is scenic. Image credit: Neu Holland.
Named after Alexander the Great, this striking glacial lake with its bright hues of blue, is 4 kilometres long and can be found 2,195 metres above sea level. Regarded as one of Tajikistan’s signature sights in the Fann Mountains, it’s a popular location for multi-day hikes. The lake is surrounded by picturesque rocky peaks and on a sunny day, the crystal-clear turquoise water contrasts with the red rocks of the jagged mountain slopes. Image credit: Roderick Eime.
Is Tajikistan good for tourists?
Yes, Tajikistan is a safe place to visit. But, as we advise with all international travel, please ensure you keep your personal possessions and valuables secure.
Like anywhere in the world, it is important to be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded places such as markets and to use common sense in the larger cities as you would in any city around the world.
You should also avoid walking alone at night. The local people are friendly people and will try to make you feel welcome, so please ensure you’re respectful of their culture and customs for the best travel experience.
Is Tajikistan beautiful?
Tajikistan is known for its stunning natural landscapes and is one of the most beautiful countries in Central Asia. If you’re an adventure lover, this is the perfect destination for you. From the breathtaking scenery of the Fann Mountains, Rudaki Park and Lake Khoazorchashma to the pristine architecture at Arbob Cultural Palace, Hisor Fortress and more!
How many days are enough for Tajikistan?
We recommend at least 3 in Tajikistan to enjoy all the beautiful landscapes and discover the capital of Dushanbe. However, this is up to personal preference and whether you’re planning on visiting the neighbouring countries.
At Bunnik Tours we offer a small group tour where you will travel to the ancient city of Khujand, enjoy a picnic lunch at Lake Khoazorchashmaand tour the exciting capital, Dushanbe.
Is it cheap to travel to Tajikistan?
Tajikistan is an affordable destination to visit! If you’re looking for the best value for money, we recommend booking a Tajikistan holiday package at Bunnik Tours. You will visit the scenic Varzob Gorge, marvel at the monument of Ismoili Somoni, tour the beautiful Rudaki Park and more! You will also visit Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, starting from $15,995 per person. Airfares and tipping are included.
Are there any current travel restrictions in Tajikistan?
At Bunnik Tours, we are committed to safe travel for everyone. Visit our Book & Travel with Confidence page to find out about vaccination policies, travel restrictions and more.
How can I tour Tajikistan as a responsible traveller?
At Bunnik Tours, we believe in responsible travel and sustainable tourism. For more information, visit our Sustainable Tourism hub.
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