When walking around Dushanbe, particularly Children's Park (see photo of Lenin Statue from Childrens Park in downtown Dushanbe) try to avoid any and all contact with the local police or soldiers. Being underpaid and with no consideration for others, they will often approach you and ask for money.
While in Children's Park on my last visit to Dushanbe, I was stopped by three soldiers who proceeded to ask for my documents (always carry your passport!) and tried to "fine" me on the spot for an undisclosed reason. I politely refused and pretended not to understand - a charade that last about thirty minutes - and was finally released.
Be careful! Always carry a contact name and telephone number with you of a local resident, even if it is just the telephone number for your hotel/guest house. Please, also, never give bribes, it only fuels and legitimizes this type of behavior.
Dushanbe, like all of Tajikistan, suffers from regular and lengthy power outages. Hotels and guest houses are not immune and regularly (sometimes daily) experience power outages ranging from 30 minutes to multiple hours in length.
When checking into your hotel, request candles and matches.
For me, the biggest tourist trap without doubt was Great Game Company. They charge for almost everything and are even that impudent to charge 25 USD for the short distance of 3 km from their …. Spot to the airport – just for the pleasure to ride in the car of Mr. butt-cavity Rick.
A normal taxi charges 15 Somoni = 4 USD (mid 2006), and according to Anna, these 4 USD were even too high.
If you want to read the whole story – please see my travellogue
I’ll also place this under tourist traps, so make sure you remember that you have read this here already if you end up in the warning section.
Be careful at night. We were stopped a couple of soldiers/police who demanded our documents. We played very stupid, and said we didn't have any. They marched us to the police station, but they didn't seem to want to deal with us. Then they demanded that we accompany them to our hotel (where our documents were). We walked most of the way there, but they bolted when they saw we were heading to the US and Germany embassies (near where we were staying).
Try to play dumb for as long as you can. They might just get bored and move on.
OK. If you're in Tajikistan for more than 72 hours, you'll need your OVIR stamp. We made the mistake of thinking we could get away with not getting it. We'd read a number of online reports, and even Lonely Planet seemed a little indifferent about it.
When we tried to leave the country (Dushanbe to Bishkek) we were held back by the immigration officials at the airport. We didn't speak Tajik or Russian, but thankfully there was a Dutchman there who did, who kindly helped us out.
The authorities insisted we'd broken the law, and we'd have to pay the $300 fine, in addition to getting our OVIR stamp at the local police station. Obviously we'd miss our flight too. After 30 minutes of arguing, the Dutchman arranged for us to make a payment of $100 each to the corrupt official.
Tajik police is big on checking everything for no good reason. If they find you without proper ID and a stamp from OVIR in your passport thay might just as well fine you on the spot and generally give you a hard time. Don't get caught without your papers on you. Police come as thick as hail on Dushanbe's streets.
If you see the water canal where kids are swimming, ladies are washing clothes, men are spitting and it just being a general repository of waste - then you know what's coming out of the tap. They only filter out old bicycles, prams, tree trunks and lost bumpers at the water works here. DO NOT DRINK THE TAP WATER in Dushanbe before you clean it in some way or the other. The better hotels tend to have their own water cleaning, but apart from adding the taste of clorine, they may not do wonders to the water quality either.
It is mostly a trouble free city but still it is advisable not to roam around alone after dark . Better if you have some local acqaintances.
Here police generally dont trouble for the documents nevertheless you should not be careless. Ovir Registration is must if you are staying for more than 72 hours in the city.
Many a times you can get aways by paying a few $ if you are in trouble.
Its better to drink a bottled water since tap water contains rust whcih may cause stomach upset.
The police in Dushanbe are paid about US$20 per month. Also, all positions in the police are bought, so they officers have a little shortfall to make up.
They fine cars for almost any infraction of the travel laws, but once you have some ID (preferably a company ID), and a copy of your passport and visa on you, as a foreigner you should be fine. Pretending you work for the UN/an NGO may or may not get you off the hook, so probably best not to try it in Dushanbe anyway.