Home to nearly 9 million inhabitants and sitting deep within the bounds of Central Asia, the Republic of Tajikistan is not the most popular choice when it comes to tourism but perhaps this article can offer you a few reasons to visit it. Bordered by Uzbekistan, China, Afghanistan, and Kyrgyzstan, it has a rich history with countless shifts in power along the course of time. Formerly part of the Soviet Union and rocked by struggles and hardship, it is relatively peaceful nowadays – though not without problems. So, before we bring up all the main points here, let us hop right into it!
1. Human rights:
Alright, alright, we know that we have to get the elephant out of the room right away (since it is a problem that even the United Nations talks about). Yes, Tajikistan has its fair share of human rights issues as their suppression is by no means undocumented. Thus, getting in trouble within the borders of the country is by not an especially pristine idea as you might not be given a fair trial (note that this can happen even if you are, for whatever reason, innocent). Embassies can offer little help if you are to be convicted there and prison conditions are subpar, to put it mildly. If you fall into the hands of the system in any shape or form, do not expect to be treated as one would be in a western country – especially if you are an outsider. Just stick to your travel-business and do not meddle with suspicious individuals – this is the best advice that we can give you.
Throughout the stretch of Tajikistan, tipping is not part of the culture. In spite of this, it is good to know that the big cities like Dushanbe or Khujand are more and more accustomed to the notion (especially in the touristy areas like the city centres). Higher-class restaurants will keep a lookout for extra coins but even if you choose to tip, you only should do it a bit. You can even go below the global standard of 10% and still be nodded at with a smile. Bellhops and other hotel staff, however, are pretty used to it and they should be tipped at all times. Tour guides and drivers that speak English also expect a few Somoni (the local currency) for their assistance.
First and foremost: avoid the Afghan border and its immediate vicinity if you can as it is not the safest place in Tajikistan (not to mention the stray landmines that have not exploded there since who-knows-when)! Secondly, understand that salaries within the bounds of the country are quite low. Low salaries lead to corruption and corruption ultimately translates itself into more crime (or unregulated crime). Though the people there are welcoming and warm at heart, you will find that the capital city changes facets when transitioning into the night. Ladies should refrain from strolling around in the major cities alone after dusk as the chances for something happening are officially catalogued as “medium to high”. Always mind your own business and do not flash expensive equipment around. Ok, so now that we have finished sending chills up your spines, you should know that the less touristy places may be safer such as the rural areas. Do not get us wrong, this is by no means El Salvador or Honduras – it was merely a warning so that all visitors may know what awaits them in Tajikistan (wink).
4. The dressing code:
It is vital to understand that Tajikistan is an Islamic country (with over 96% of the population adhering to its rites) and thus it was only fitting that the dressing code should follow suit. Ladies should cover their shoulders, their skirts should reach below their knees, and they should under no circumstances wear cleaved tops. Though we have presented the skirt-code, you should avoid it if you can and stick to long pants. Catcalls and overly “affectionate” servicemen are not unheard of and, we repeat, you do not want to get in trouble in Tajikistan. Stay polite and blend in! The modest and conservative dressing code applies to men as well who should not wear shorts or tank tops. Islamic countries have a great rule of thumb to follow: the less skin you show, the better.
5. Mountains galore:
Did you know that more than 93% of the total land area of Tajikistan is covered by mountainous regions? So what does this mean to the tourist? Well a whole lot of outdoors fun, of course! Tajikistan is probably one of the best places in the world to visit just for the camping experience. While your friends brag about having gone island hopping in French Polynesia, you will introduce them to the concept of mountain-hopping and make them jealous (triple wink). On the serious note, though, make sure that you pack thick clothes if you decide to go the intrepid way as the weather reaches into the standards of the sub-polar and polar climate zones at certain places (depending on the altitude, of course).
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Tajikistan and what aftertaste has the country left you with? Would you travel there again were you given the chance? Hit the comment section below and be sure to tell us all about what you liked about Tajikistan and what you didn’t. Until the next time, fair trailblazer! Safe travels!