Tajikistan does not have much of a regular bus service. So travelling along is best done by hiring a car and a driver. Hitchhiking is a possibility, but only where a bit of traffic can be expected. Given the not very high amount of private owned cars (more so in the Pamirs), it needs time and patience. This, as often cars are full, and the definition of a full car is different for most of the Tajiks than it is for us “westerners”. People squeeze themselves in the front and back and I was amazed that the cars are still running. But it let me contemplate about “our” protection by rules and laws and the technical inspections we have to put our cars permanently in. Employees of western Technical Inspection Agencies should better not travel to Tajikistan and the Pamirs – their whole beliefs would be falling into pieces – lol :-)
Remember to pay a contribution, also when hitchhiking!!! The people just don’t earn that much and gast stations are not around every corner!
I get many questions about car hiring to travel along the Pamir Highway. Lonely Planet has a very interesting info listed on their LP Tajikistan Bluelist : a man called Pamiri-bek. I often saw his name mentioned in LP’s TT, so he should be a reliable driver. I’ll try and contact him next time I’ll be there and will report :-)
Well, so much has been said and written about this famous flight (famous for the ones which have considered to travel to Tajikistan), that I also HAD to take it.
Similar as Dean wrote, it is a bit of a hassle to get yourself on this flight. It is said that tickets are only bookable at the airport. So, with the (20 USD charged for help, plus 25 USD charge for transport to the airport, but without giving us prior notice of the charging) help of a guy, who worked at Traveltajikistan, we went to the airport and were waiting for the sales office of Tajikistan Airlines to open. So we were sitting and waiting and sitting and waiting. Several other passengers (locals) were waiting as well. We got our names at least put on a list, a man who wrote them manually on a piece of paper (what for, don’t ask me, nothing happened anyway).
Finally, someone said, we could get “business” tickets for a bit higher price just outside of the airport at a travel agent (see photo, some metres to the right, where the arrow points to). The price difference was around 10 USD, so not at all mentionable, taking into account the waiting time.
We went and got the tickets immediately, for 240 Somoni (around 80 USD). Tickets, however, looked a bit strange (see photo).
We were told, it would depart at 8 a.m. and to be at the airport 1 ½ hour before.
Coordinates on GoogleEarth:
38°32’59,77’’ N; 68°48’58,97’’ E (ticket office)
(to be continued in next tip)
So we did, have been there at 6.30 a.m. and waited and waited again. Luckily, there is a small café at the national airport, so that we could get at least what Traveltajikistan was not able to provide us with (it was TOO early, how could we even dare to think that we would get breakfast THAT EARLY at this etablissement??).
At a point in time (7:30 a.m.), some movement got into the waiting crowd. We lined up, showed our ticket, and were told that we are not booked on this flight – heart attack ! Luckily, a nice girl who spoke English, told us, that there is another flight, at 9:40 a.m., which would be ours.
Well, we waited again, and finally, at around 9.15 a.m. it seemed that they started to prepare our flight. Well guessed, and within 20 minutes, we were sitting in the plane.
Well – very important note: sit on the right side in the plane. I must have been too dumb to understand what “right” means, I read it on Dean’s pages, but must have forgotten it…. So I sat left side, but it was still a nice flight.
The flight takes around 45 minutes, and is spectacular indeed, as the plane is surrounded by quite nice and partly snow capped peaks.
See my travelogue on "Dushanbe" for more photos
I have planned to write this for Uzbekistan, but maybe it helps here as well, if you plan to combine Uzbekistan with Tajikistan.
On my trip, I have met several travellers which went from all parts of Europe to Uzbekistan with Aeroflot, transfer flights in Moscow. They had to sit for hours and hours at Moscow airport, without visa for Russia, quite a boring thing to do. And paid more than 800 – 900 Euro.
Uzbekistan Airways has very reasonable prices from Frankfurt International Airport to Tashkent, around 500 Euro, depending on the time of travel. The flights are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, leaving FFM at 11:40 a.m., arriving in Tashkent at 8:00 p.m. Tuesdays’ flight leaves at 8:15 p.m. and arrives at 5:15 a.m. next morning.
Frankfurt Hahn Airport, the one for cheap flights, has an excellent bus connection to Frankfurt International Airport (1 hr, 30 min).
And, Frankfurt International Airport has an IC(E) train stop just in front of Terminal 1, with a lot of trains stopping here from Netherlands, Belgium, northern Germany, Italy, Austria, etc.
All in all, if you live somewhere in Europe with a good connection to Frankfurt International, why not consider this. Maybe even an option for non-Europeans ?
Hanka Impex can organize the flight tickets from Frankfurt. Their website is in German, but the son of the owner, Boris Raimicher, speaks English as well. E-Mail is given on their website.
Website of Uzbekistan Airways, for prior flight availability check:
If you have driven the Dushanbe-Khojand route by car or bus once, I am nearly certain you will contemplate taking the plane back.
The planes of Tajikistan Airlines fly frequently between Khojand and Dushanbe, so that's not a big deal, and the fare is only about USD 50, so it's doable. Easy transit, about 35-45 minutes. Compare that to 20 by car.
In Khojand the planes fly from an airport in Chkalovsk, some ways out of Khojand, maybe 25-30 minutes.
I found the Istanbul-Dushanbe flight by Turkish Airlines to be the best in terms of certainty of departing and arriving on time in Dushanbe. The flight was "only" 45 minutes late into Dushanbe. Unfortunately it is a weekly flight only. It connects very well to several flights from elsewhere in the world.
The most frequent one is the daily route Moscow-Dushanbe-Moscow by Tajikistan Airlines, Aeroflot and partners (Demodovodo Airlines), and a flight from St. Petersburg direct to Dushanbe.
I found that information about flights to and from Tajikistan is haphazard and schedules might be changed decades ago. Do not trust schedules and home pages... The flights that seem to survive the wear and tear of history are the daily link to Moscow, flights to St. Petersburg, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Dubai and to some but not all neighboring states. No flights to India, Pakistan, China, Uzbekistan or Iran found after considerable research.
Flying Bangkok/Delhi-Istanbul-Dushanbe - or similar - appears to be the best link from South/SouthEast Asia. Kabul is not an option via Delhi due to 3-day layovers in Kabul. But you may also consider flying all the way to Moscow from other places in Asia first. From Africa and even other parts of Asia and Europe, travelling via the Gulf might be an option, too. From Europe, however, flights via Moscow and St. Petersburg will be the clue to success.
The travel agency www.travelpartner.no did a good job in organising tickets.
Get a taxi to the Uzbek border from just about 1km north of the massive Lenin statue. It costs 20 somoni to the border -- just under $7US. The trip takes about 50 minutes and the border formalities are pretty straightforward.
From the border to Tashkent the taxis will quote $15US but the bus will cost just $1. When you walk out of customs, walk about 400m beyond the gate and you'll hit the highway. Tashkent is north (to the right), 90km away.
[Apologies -- there doesn't seem to be a Khojand listed in the database to add to my page so I've posted this here]
Volga taxis are available to Khojand (formerly Leninobad). The trip takes about 10 to 10.5 hours and costs 60 somoni ($20US) for one seat. The road is rough for a good part of the way but construction on the road seems to be ongoing. Leave early enough to get there before dark as the roads (and drivers!) aren't safe after dark.
Taxis leave from past the University on the right side of prospekt Rudaki.
Travel around Tajikistan is very cheap. Once Mari and I travelled for 6 hours by bus and it cost a little over a dollar. Anything that cheap is normally crowded and Tajik buses are no exception. They are however very prone to breaking down. The photo is of one of our many breakdowns. It happened in July with daily temperatures around 45 degrees. Water is very important in this situation. If you look at the picture closely you can see Mari clutching her 1.5lt bottle of water.
Dushanbe is served by international flights and there domestic airports at Khodjand, Kyliab, Penjikent, Khorog. All primary Silk Road sites are served by road transport.
You also can get to Tajikistan from Munich, Istanbul, Moscow, Almaty, Bishkek, Mashhad, Dehli, Sharja.
Prospekt Ismoili Somoni 26/1, Dushanbe, 734026, Tajikistan
Good for: Couples
str. Lev Tolstoy 9, Dushanbe, 734003, Tajikistan
Good for: Couples
22 Shotemur Ulitsa, Dushanbe, 734001, Tajikistan
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Solo