Tajikistan

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Flag of Tajikistan Tajikistan
Information
Language: Tajik
Capital: Dushanbe
Population: 7,349,145
Currency: Somoni (TJS)
Hitchability: <rating country='tj' />
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Tajikistan is a country in Central Asia. Hitchhiking is quite possible there, and Anton Krotov has called it "the most hospitable country in Central Asia". That opinion is generally shared by travelers.

As in other countries in the area, it's sometimes advisable to walk as traffic is scarce and waiting times can be very long. If you hear a car coming, you can stop walking and hitch from where you stand.

Most smaller cars are taxis, which is usually not evident until the car has already stopped for you. If it looks like the people in the car don't know each other, then be sure to ask if it is a taxi before getting in.

Truck drivers will happily drive you for free, but a lot of them will kick you out before one of the many police checkpoints. If they don't, the police make them pay a bribe for carrying a foreigner.

However, if you reach a police roadblock, you can often politely ask police to stop a car for you (mentostop).

Roads

  • Dushanbe-Ayni-Istaravshan-Khujand. This is a privately managed toll road with generally excellent asphalt. There is a section of 20 km between Ayni and Istaravshan that has no asphalt and may take up to 3 hours to cross, but this section is due to be replaced by a tunnel in September 2011.
  • Dushanbe-Qurgonteppa. This road has average asphalt and can be traversed in a little over an hour.
  • The Pamir Highway runs between Khorug through Murgab to the border crossing with Kyrgyzstan near Sary Tash. There is almost no traffic, but for that reason nearly everybody stops. Most of the vehicles are taxis, and there are very few trucks. A small payment can be expected, make it clear before you enter. Russian language is common. There are multiple roadblocks to check that you have a GBAO permit to travel in this area.

Cities

Sleeping

If there is not an official hotel in a community, you can ask at houses if you may sleep there. (If there is a hotel, they will direct you there). In smaller communities, invitations may come before you even have a chance to ask. If a family gives you a place to sleep, they will almost always feed you, but because of the poverty of the country, try to at least bring some biscuits/sweets for the kids (unlike money or other gifts, these are never refused).

Along major roads, the cafes (choyxona) and restaurants (oshxona) often allow you to sleep for free or a modest sum of e.g. US$1 if you eat dinner there.

Pitching a tent is possible almost everywhere outside city centres.

Dangers

There are landmines on both sides of the main connection road from Dushanbe to Khorug between Rogun and Kalaikum. There are further landmines in the border regions to Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and to Afghanistan. Watch for red painted boulders on the ground, as almost all mine fields already surrounded by them.

Border Crossing

  • Bor Doba-Markansu on the border with Kyrgyzstan, at the beginning of the Pamir Highway is well developed with opportunities for eating.
  • Foreigners can cross between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan only at Batken-Isfara and Sary-Tash-Murgab.
  • The border crossing at Karamyk is only for local people.
  • There is still no border crossing between Tajikistan and China open to foreigners. One must go through Kyrgyzstan.

Experiences