25th February 2014 Dushanbe, Tajikistan

7 reasons to visit Tajikistan

The following is a post by Shuhrat Sharipov, Communications Intern

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I have been working at the embassy for over two months on Communications and Digital Diplomacy. If you have been following UKinTajikistan’s Facebook and Twitter pages, you may have seen that we have been posting a lot about tourism lately.

I think the development of tourism in Tajikistan is essential to the country’s future, but this is not the only reason I wanted to write about reasons to visit Tajikistan.

While watching the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, I was surprised to see how many people on Twitter and Facebook had never heard about Tajikistan. I saw lots of tweets saying “What is Tajikistan”, “is it a fake country”, “why do they even exist” and even the hashtag “#madeupistan”.

Twitter-what-is-Tajikistan

Although it is sad to hear these kinds of comments about your country, it reflects an unfortunate reality – Tajikistan is not yet well-known around the world: it is a small, young country and does not get a lot of media exposure. This got me thinking of reasons for tourists to come and visit Tajikistan.

Here they are:

#1 People

Yes! You read it correctly. People are the single most important reason you should come to Tajikistan. Not mountains or nature, both of which are undeniably marvellous, nor fresh food or the quality of fruits and vegetables during spring and summertime.

I have met tourists who come here tempted by visiting the breathtaking landscapes and exploring the boundless opportunities to spend time in nature, but who instead have discovered that the heart and soul of this country consists of its people and their hospitality.

One of my foreign friends told me a story that was remarkable, even by my own standards of being Tajik. He travelled north, to Kanibadam city, and spent a night there in one Tajik family’s house. During the night, when he was about to go to sleep, he heard a knock. When he opened his door, the host was standing there with a bottle of vodka and sliced onions, determined to welcome him into the family properly. Although my friend wasn’t an avid vodka drinker, he was so impressed by this example of hospitality that he couldn’t reject the drink (or the onions!).

#2 Nature

I hope I will live to the day when the word ‘Tajikistan’ will be used as a synonym for ‘mountains’ by tour companies, because it is literally covered with them. You see mountains almost everywhere: even along the skyline of Dushanbe itself.  For a hiker, climber and other adrenaline junkies and nature enthusiasts, Tajikistan has a host of exciting activities on offer, be it trekking, kayaking, 4×4 driving, mountain climbing and more.

#3 History

Although the independent Republic of Tajikistan is just 23 years old, Tajik civilization dates back as far as 3,000 years. Major civilizations that existed in these territories, like the Sassanid Empire, Chinese Civilization, Arabic culture and religion, USSR have all have influenced Tajikistan’s national identity. There are a lot of medieval mosques and Soviet-style buildings, monuments and the remains of ancient cities throughout Tajikistan. So for enthusiasts of history and culture, Tajikistan is rich in both.

#4 Cities

Dushanbe, Khujand and Khorog might not resonate in tourists’ minds as much as London, Paris or Madrid, but there are unique and charming characteristics to many of our Tajik cities. You can always find museums, opera shows and theatres, but you can also discover traditional chai-honas (teahouses), Qalas (castles), and beautifully designed mosques and holy sanctuaries.

#5 Traditions

Tajik culture is in many ways influenced by its varied past. But as an example, the popular sport of buzkashi is claimed to have originated here, and visitors should definitely take time to watch a match while they are here (it doesn’t get more dramatic than one moment being part of a watching crowd and the next scattering in all directions as the horses and players suddenly start charging towards you). There is a lot of regional variety in terms of handicrafts and traditional artwork; Pamiri socks and Panjikent suzanis are popular gifts and souvenirs for relatives back home.

#6 Food

This one is tricky. I have met some people who love Tajik cuisine  and others who did not get along with it. If you are in the first group, you can enjoy dishes as varied as plov (similar to Persian pilaf), the ubiquitous shashlik and qurutob (a dish that consists of layered crispy bread, yoghurt, tomatoes and onion and sometimes meat).  I personally think that Tajiks prefer flavour over spiciness, but every household has its preferences so fiery dishes are still easy to come by.

#7 Prices

The cost of living in Tajikistan is very low. One click on expatistan.com will show you that living in Dushanbe (which is the most expensive place to live in Tajikistan) is 2-3 times cheaper than in other capital cities around the world. Other Tajik cities are even cheaper. The best time to enjoy Tajikistan would be summer: the markets are full of cheap fruits and vegetables, which any tourist will enjoy and appreciate.

#Bonus reason: People

Yes, I already mentioned it as the number one reason to come to Tajikistan but I cannot emphasize it enough. The only way to fully understand what I mean would be to come to Tajikistan to meet its people yourself.

So, Tajikistan might not be as well-known as Sochi now is after the Olympics and upcoming Paralympic Games. But I hope that within my lifetime, the country will be on the tourist map and that nobody on Twitter (or whatever the latest social media trend will be) thinks it is a made up country with “no reason to exist”. And I also hope that anyone reading will comment on why they would like to visit Tajikistan, and those who have already been can leave their own reasons to come and experience our country and its people.

Photo Gallery courtesy of Explore Tajikistan 

28 comments on “7 reasons to visit Tajikistan

  1. Tajiks are awesome they are so enthusiastic and beautiful. I was there for two moths and people invited me to their homes repetitively. Clubs were so Western and foods are super delicious. Love from Belgium!!!

  2. Oh my god, I do love Tajikistan so much! I was there, last year and I’ll visit it this year again. I love the language, the people, the food, the nature, the whole country!

  3. This is mandeep chhilar from india am students of tajik state medical university
    Tajikistan is tha most beautiful place for enjoying russion & urope based country very nice tajik people good transport must see opera night club royal club khalkoj russia night club royal pub people club manhuten night club dushanbe plaza club spa hayot pamir mountain khujand romit city can contact mandeepchhilarlion@gmail.com

  4. Hello, everyone! For all who want to visit Tajikistan – we have launched an electronic visa system to facilitate your visit. Please visit http://www.evisa.tj to get more detailed info and welcome to Tajikistan!

  5. When seeing the screenshot of ignorancy at the tope of the article, i felt a disheartening sadness, but the article made my day in just a minute!
    ANOTHER REASON; visiting Dushanbe during Eid-Al-Fitr (the day after fasting is over) –the hospitality is absolutely top notch, anybody could enter a random house, and he’ll be welcome with warm music and amazing food in EVERY DINGLE ROOM – not that you wouldn’t be welcome if you come any other day though ))
    Also, our new year (Navrooz) in Khorog is a scene worth being part of!!! The atmosphere is absolutely breathtaking, it’s my favourite holiday at home!
    There are just so many reasons…
    Anyway, thank you so much for this article, as a Tajik, and tbh, especially as a pamirian, i completely agree!!

  6. Dear writer, thank you so much for all that useful infos.. I’m just wondering how do I actually travel to this place from Malaysia? Is there a direct flight? Would really appreciate if you could assist on that. I’m certainly looking forward in sightseeing those mountains! It’s breathtaking!

  7. I’m from Laos ( Laos is in southeast Asia) i would like to visit tajikistan but i don’t know how and where can i get visa.

  8. Excellent post! I’m visiting Tajikistan in July and this post has made me even more excited! Thank you for writing it!

  9. Hi dear … I am planning to visit tajikistan in March 2016 for noruz festival . I am half persian and speak a bit of farsi , would it be useful ? Do I need a visa as a canadian for tajikistan ?

  10. It would be great if Tajikistan would allow UK citizens to pay for visas on arrival. I really want to visit this September but I don’t like sending my passport away for visas.

  11. Hi Everybody, I have been there for 1 year. I found Tajikistan perfect place to visit , not only for sightseeing but also for trade. The weather is superb . I am doing trade from Pakistan to Tajikistan in large scale . I consider remarkable place for trade. Anyone need any help regarding trade ,feel free to contact at pearl.trading@hotmail.com

  12. Hi- Thanks for this nice piece. I have a trip to Central Asia planned for next year. I’ll be spending a week and a half in Uzbekistan and a week in Tajikistan. I have a couple of questions. First, I have a choice between spending a day in Dushanbe at the start of my trip and a day in Khujand at the end, or just 2 days in Dushanbe and skipping Khujand. Which would you suggest? Second, I’d like to visit a village or two in the Zerefshan mountains, but my trip will be in late March. Will it be too cold then? Thanks!

    Robert

    1. Hi Robert! All depends on your preferences. March is an ideal time to visit both Dushanbe and Khujand but in Zerefshan mountains, it might be little bit cold (rainy, dirt). But if you come during Navruz celebration (March 21-24th), it might just turn out into great visit. Khujand is smaller and if you have good guide, it is possible to see most of it in one day. Dushanbe is bigger, there are more attractions, so you will need more than one day to check it out. Read some blogs or official websites like http://www.visittajikistan.tj/en/ to get better idea what to do when you arrive. Good luck!

  13. I’m an American and I went to Tajikistan just this Summer. All of these reasons to visit are so true! I loved the views, the fruit, the city, and yes: the people. I stayed with a lovely family and it was the best experience of my life. Just reading this made me want ош (plov/osh) again. Right now I have a huge suzano I got hanging in my wall. I found a shop in DC that sells them and it made me really sentimental. They were much, much more expensive than they would have been in Dushanbe. Tajikistan is cheap in a good way. I really miss it a lot and I’m already trying to find a way to go back. Great article!

  14. Dear Sir Shurat Sharipov,
    thanks very much for yr. great guest – blog /post of which I only can full agree. In fact I was also surprised by reading such a lot of positive and quite nice other comments. Congratulations. But pls . let me also add another , an eight reason why to visit Tajikistan.
    The climate : I mean if you prefer colder and fresher air just move towards the north, the mountain area. If you should like it warmer and sunny, heading south. If you want it more “balanced” – stay maybe in the area of Dushanbe.
    So everyone can see or feel , that Tajikistan has really much more to offer and this for everbody s needs or “I like it ´s “.
    Best wishes and a nice relaxed weekend, liebste Grüßle ond a scheenes Wochenendle, Ingo-Steven Wais, Stuttgart

  15. I spend more than 2 years in Tajikistan working there . lovely people, beautiful regions, land scape you can just count it.the only problem I faced with police they are real crooks

  16. I took my American husband to Tajikistan in 2010. He was thrild by our hospitality . He said that from now on every year (every summer) we will travel only to Tajikistan. We don’t have to go to Brazil, or Europe , or Canada.

  17. I am producing a film series, Earth Metal Trilogy about the mythical Land of Tajik starring Jayden Caulfield as the boy Tajik and Alison MacInnis as Princess Kyrgyzi. Alison is famous for her role as Dana Mitchell / Pink Lightspeed Ranger in the children’s TV shows “Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue” and “Power Rangers Megaforce.” The first film production is listed on IMDb.com as “Earth Metal I – Epic of Manas”

  18. Excellent post! We need more cultural exchange and eco-tourism programs that create jobs in Tajikistan. Anybody willing to sponsor such a program contact us for more information about our ideas.

  19. I m from malaysia n i went to tajikistan last summer during fasting month.. Enter from uzbek n my 1st city is khujand until my last city in murghrab.. people are so friendl,helpful n very hospitality..i feel like my home when i was there… Awesome n an amazing experience..for sure i will visit there someday

  20. I am originally from Khujand. Moved to US in 95. 2 years ago I took my husband and kids back home to show them where I come from. My husband and kids couldn’t believe the hospitality of local people. We went to my old house and our whole street wined us and dinned us. My friend welcomed us in her house and let us stay there for a week. It truly is an amazing experience. We are thinking on going back this time i want to show them the mountains. Looking forward to going back again.

  21. I haven’t been to Tajikistan yet, but I definitely believe your first (and eighth) reason. The Tajiks at my university are hands-down the most friendly, genuine nationally represented at my university. They make Tajikistan a must-see.

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