Getting Around Tajikistan
Somon Air (www.somonair.com) operates domestic flights between Dushanbe and Khujand.
To really appreciate the scenic beauty of Tajikistan most travellers take to the roads, journeying through epic landscapes, while adjusting to the bone-riveting drive.
Most travel on the Pamir Highway, which offers one of the best road trips in the world. The direct route from Dushanbe via Khorog and Murghab to Osh is 1,260km (783 miles), but more adventurous motorists detour via the stunning Wakhan Corridor. Routes here are more like off-road tracks than roads and can be difficult to navigate without local knowledge or a driver.
The weather in Tajikistan varies dramatically by season and region, so study weather forecasts before you set off.
Side of the roadRight
The quality of the roads in Tajikistan is very variable and can swiftly change from good to terrible. This makes driving at speed extremely hazardous and you can usually expect to hit deep potholes and bumps anywhere in the country.
The Pamir Highway was a phenomenal construction endeavour built in the 1930s but hasn’t seen much maintenance since. Heavy snowfall, intense winter cold and Chinese lorries have all taken their toll and the route is more ‘off-road’ in the high altitude and ravine sections.
There is no road classification of any relevance in Tajikistan.
Traditional car hire is almost impossible to find in Tajikistan due to the lack of car insurance schemes and the potential for car damage due to the poor road quality. A few tour operators in Dushanbe do offer car rental.
Most Tajiks don’t own a car so private taxis and shared taxis are ubiquitous in Dushanbe. Options are reduced in remote districts.
Bike hire in Dushanbe and Khujand is relatively straightforward. Bike hire shops have now also appeared in a number of towns and it is even possible to hire bikes in Murghab.
Major cities have extensive trolleybuses and bus networks, but intercity services are virtually non existent.
There is a wide variety of regulations regarding the use and driving of vehicles in Tajikistan. These range from the mandatory use of seat belts and adherence to speed limits, to the more unusual rules including maintaining the cleanliness of the vehicle when in the city.
In the event of breakdown, flag down other vehicles. Tajiks are very friendly and are willing to help, particularly in the more remote regions. You can quickly find yourself overrun with helpers.
Foreign drivers require an International Driving Permit along with their original national driving licence. Drivers should also carry a vehicle registration document, car tax receipt and proof of international insurance documents from the country of the vehicle’s origin.
Buses, trolleybuses and taxis are all great experiences. Tajikistan’s cities are all fairly small and walking is the most pleasant way to get around them.
Tajikistan’s railroad network totals just 680km (420 miles) and train travel can be unreliable. There are services running between Dushanbe and Iski-Guzar, Denov and Kulob, as well as routes between other cities.