Travel Essentials

Here’s the ultimate travel essentials list for Tajikistan; everything from currency, tipping and clothing dress codes can be found below.

Currency

The local currency is called the Somoni (TJS) and can only be exchanged in Tajikistan.  For the latest exchange rates you can review this website www.xe.com

We recommend you take your spending money in US dollars, as many restaurants, shops and bars only accept hard currency. Trying to change traveller’s cheque or British Pounds into the local currency is difficult and is not a convenient option. Please ensure the bank notes in cash that you travel with are in good condition and we recommend you take new (post 1998), good dollar bills in small and large denominations. Large notes may attract a slightly higher exchange rate than small ones.

You can exchange money in most towns and your local guide can recommend where to change money. There are some ATM machines and credit cards can be used in five-star hotels, some large  and stores.

It is extremely difficult to change Somoni back into dollars at reasonable exchange rates, so it is advised that you spend what Somoni you have before leaving the country. Because of this we recommend that you change smaller amounts of money at any one time.

Food and Drink

As in most countries the cost of eating-out can very enormously depending on the style and type of restaurant, the number of courses chosen and whether you are in major cities or local villages and towns. The prices listed below are based on average prices in local restaurants.

  • Lunch price: £4.00
  • Dinner price: £6.00
  • Beer price: £2.00
  • Water price: £0.50

Vaccinations

Ensure you visit your travel clinic before travel for general advice on travel risks, vaccinations and malaria. There are no compulsory vaccinations for Tajikistan, but your travel clinic will probably recommend protection against typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A. For more information regarding vaccinations and travel health visit www.fitfortravel.nhs and www.masta-travel-health.com. Vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.

Language

Tajik, Russian

Time Difference

Tajikistan is 5 hours ahead of GMT.

Insurance

A valid travel insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical issues is a must. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities.

It is a good idea to photocopy all relevant documents – passport, travel, insurance policy etc., and leave one copy at home. Carry another copy with you separate from the originals.

Wi-Fi and Mobile Phone Coverage

Internet access is available in Tajikistan but is limited to the main cities and towns. The easiest internet access is by logging on to Wi-Fi hotspots available at four and five star hotels. The quality of Wi-Fi varies greatly depending on your location and often does not reach all of the hotel bedrooms. Also, in the more remote locations such as the mountainous areas, the internet will not be available.

Tajikistan mobile phone network has thorough coverage, at least in the Urban areas.

Electricity

A round two-pin plug is required to charge your phone, camera, video camera or electronic devices. The voltage in Turkmenistan is 220 volts. In some of the remote area of Turkmenistan, electricity may not be available 24 hours a day.

Clothing

Clothing made of lightweight natural fibres are best for the hot summers of Tajikistan although we advise you to pack warmer clothing including fleeces and waterproof jackets for evenings spent outside and whilst staying in local camps and accommodation. This is also the case for travels in the autumn and spring.

The Central Asia region is traditionally Muslim and therefore visitors should be considerate of this whilst packing. Please avoid wearing, in public areas, short skirts and shorts, tops that are either cut too low, have no arms or use spaghetti straps or are too tight and revealing. Women should pack a headscarf and keep it handy for planned and impromptu visits to mosques or places of religious significance. Remember to pack a swimming costume for lake, river and hot spring visits.

Footwear
Good quality, comfortable walking shoes or light boots and trainers.

Equipment

Day sack, water bottle, sunhat, sunglasses, high factor sunscreen, head scarf, torch, insect repellent, ear plugs and travel first aid kit.

Culture and Customs

Tajikistan’s culture has existed and developed over several thousand years and stems from the Persian and Afghanistan regions. In fact Persian Tajiks have been settled in what is now Tajikistan for over 3,000 years.  Approximately 90 % of the people are Muslim. Islamic culture and faith has shaped  the culture and identity of the Tajiks over the last 1,400 years and can be seen and experienced through art, festivals, food and music.

Over the centuries Tajikistan has developed and maintained strong bonds with Iran and Uzbekistan. Visiting the border areas of the country around the Pamir Mountains is like stepping back in time and   is home to a number of diverse ethnic groups.

Tajik culture truly engages the senses. Whether that’s through the clothes they wear, their music or art or the energetic horse back games and wrestling. Tajikistan is also the original home of the Tulip before it was more commonly associated with Holland.

Tipping

Tipping in Tajikistan is expected, especially from tourists.  We therefore suggest you keep a small amount of low denomination notes to hand for tips as and when required. Tipping is always discretionary and dependent on the quality of the service you receive. Below are a list of recommended tips.

  • Local full day city guide: 10 – 12 USD per day, from your group
  • Local Driver: 8 – 10 USD per day, from your group
  • Restaurants, cafes and bars automatically apply 10% service charge

Safety

As with most Central Asian and Muslim countries violent crime and harassment of tourists in Tajikistan is very low. The government does everything possible to ensure the safety of tourists. The majority of Tajiks you meet will be friendly and sincere, have great pride in their country and will welcome you with open arms. To get the most out of your visit follow the local customs and culture of the people and be mindful of dress codes in both summer and winter.

Travel Safety Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government’s travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Festivals and Holidays

Throughout Central Asia, cultural festivals and national holiday are vibrant and colourful. This is no different in Tajikistan especially when it comes to Navroz, the traditional Persian celebration of New Year / the coming of spring or Independence Day celebrating the break from the Soviet Union.  Below are our top picks

Navroz (March)

Persian New Year and the welcoming of the spring equinox. The Tajiks celebrate this festival with special national dishes such as Sumalak and Ploy. Sumalak is traditionally prepared only by women who stir the pot day and night whilst  talking, singing and dancing. There are plenty of activities too including kite flying, horseback games and wrestling. It’s definitely worth being in one of the Central Asian countries for this celebration.

Roof of the world Festival (July)

An international (Central Asian) song and dance festival celebrating the old Pamiri customs. It is held sometime in July in Khorog city.

At Chabysh  (July)

At the heart of this festival is a long distance horse race, not great for the spectator, but there are plenty of concerts, handicrafts and yurt villages to keep you entertained and elebrate the Kyrgyz culture and heritage in the Pamirs.

Sayri Guli Lola Tulip Festival (April)

Although this festival primarily celebrates the flowering of tulips it also celebrates the spring snowdrops and is held in the north of Tajikistan. This wonderfully colourful festival is hosted by different towns and features local music, dancing and singing. Tulips adorn the trees and locals make wishes through song and dance followed by evening torchlight parades.

Independence Day (September)

This is a wild celebration throughout Central Asia, celebrating independence from the Soviet Union. Street carnivals, traditional and modern music festivals and plenty of fireworks makes this a day to remember.