Traveling by road in Tajikistan is exhausting (due to bad roads and high altitudes), frustrating (due to frequent breakdowns, mudslides or avalanches), scary (note the Anzob “Tunnel of Death”) and exhilarating (due to the spectacular scenery).
Almost all road transport in Tajikistan drives without schedule, instead waiting for passengers and departing when full. For the long stretches, examine your driver’s face before you get in: drivers sometimes work until exhaustion, so make sure you feel safe. Also inspect your vehicle (spare tire, tire pressure, …): shit happens (often), so try to be prepared!
If you are heading for smaller settlements you will need to book a whole car if you don’t want to wait for ages for enough passengers to assemble. You can either try your bargaining luck at the taxi station or book through one of the local travel agencies who will normally give you a good deal as well. Make sure you get a 4WD vehicle if heading for the mountains: 2WD taxis tend to overestimate the off-road ability of their vehicles.
4wd vehicle types
- Pajero: Comfortable 7-seater, but make sure you don’t get in the very back seats, they are way too cramped for long journeys.
- Land Cruiser or Prado: Bit more space and comfort than the Pajero.
- UAZ: Built to last, not to please.
Prices and driving times
Prices are averages based on a seat in a full taxi, they tend to go up in July and August because of locals travelling more. Meal stops are calculated in the driving times, which are also based on averages.
Small Chinese-made vans use less fuel and are cheaper, while jeeps are faster, slightly more comfortable and more expensive. Local drivers are less expensive than tour operators. Better cars make faster trips – pick the best car you can afford. If you can find someone who is going to your destination anyway and is not a professional taxi driver, you can cut the price in half.
- Murghab – Osh: 150 somoni, 10-12h
- Murghab – Khorog: 100 – 150 somoni, 8h
- Khorog – Dushanbe: 250-300 somoni, 12-16h
- Khorog – Ishkashim: 40 somoni, 4h
- Khorog – Rostkala: 10 somoni
- Dushanbe – Khujand: 80-120 somoni, 4-5h
- Dushanbe – Kurgan-Tyube: 1,5h
- Dushanbe – Kulyab: 50 somoni
- Dushanbe – Shahrtuz: 2,5h, 30 somoni
- Dushanbe – Penjikent: 80-120 somoni, 4-5h
- Dushanbe – Tursunzade border: 20 somoni, 1,5h
- Dushanbe – Istaravshan: 100 somoni, 10h
- Istaravshan – Penjikent: 60-70 somoni, 3,5h
- Istaravshan – Khujand: 9-15 somoni, 1h
- Khujand – Penjikent: 80-100 somoni, 4-5h
- Khujand – Isfara: 20 somoni (10 somoni by bus), 2h
- Ishkashim – Langar: 50 somoni
Price updates are welcome!
To Khorog (Pamir): Jeeps and buses (mostly Pajero’s) leave from a parking lot close to the airport. Ask for ‘povorot aeroporta terminal Pamira’ or ‘Badakshanskaya avtostansiya’. If that’s too hard, say “Khorog-Khorog-Khorog”. You need to come at 6 or 7 am for best options, definitely before 8 if you want to be sure you can leave the same day. Negotiate a rate and get in – make sure to examine your vehicle for more comfort and a better driver.
It is also possible to find drivers going overnight, should you wish to do that. But chances are lower.
Khujand, Istaravshan, Penjikent (North): the terminal is at the end of Rudaki Street towards Varzob Valley. Ask your taxi driver to drop you to the Stoyanka Khujanda close to Vodonasos, Vodokanal or Cemzavod. It is the end of the trolleybus line.
Kurgan-Tyube and Kulyab (South): Transport starts from Korvon Market.
Afghan Border (Sherkhon Bandar) Transport starts from Sakhovat Market. You will have to go early in the morning at 5am to check for a shared car, or go there the day before to arrange your trip for the next day.
Tursunzade border: Taxis leave from Zarnisar Bazaar, or take a bus for half price from the main bus station. At the border, get on a minibus to Denau. From Denau you can get a shared taxi to Termez, Qarshi or direct to Samarkand.
Transport to Murghab and Dushanbe can be found on the parking lot behind the bazaar. Get there no later than 8am. They will start leaving around 10am, or maybe earlier, depending on when the seats get filled. Be sure to read our tips for the Pamir Highway.
A marshrutka to Ishkashim will cost around 8$. A shared taxi back will cost about the same.
Getting in and out of Murghab is only possible by jeep. If you want to leave and arrive on time, your best bet is to get fellow travelers together and book a 4WD (through us, for instance). Local drivers are less expensive, but it can take a long time to get going, since they need to round up scarce passengers. Shared jeeps leave from the bazaar. Come around 7am to the taxi stand and get numbers from drivers, hang around and hedge your bets.
To Osh, expect between 1 car every 2 days and 2 cars per day maximum to leave. Make sure it’s a Kyrgyz car, or in case of a Tajik car, that the driver has all necessary papers. Mornings are best, but it is not impossible to get a ride in the afternoon.
To Khorog, cars and minibuses leave almost everyday, especially in summertime. Weekends there are fewer passengers. If you want go to places in between you will have to pay the full fare or hitchhike.
Minibuses to Kanibodom for Uzbekistan, and to Isfara for Kyrgyzstan, leave from the Isfara bus station in the southeast suburbs, on the road to Chkalovsk. There are also quicker shared taxis from here to both destinations.
There are frequent minibuses and shared taxis south to Istaravshan from the old western bus station (Kamoli Khojandi) in the west of town. Shared taxis to Penjikent also leave from here when full.
For shared taxis to Dushanbe you need to take minibuses 18, 45 or 55 in the early morning from Lenina to the Chunchuk Aral bus stand in the northeastern suburbs. Minibuses to Buston-Oybek (Samarkand-Tashkent) also run from here (10 somoni).
Shared taxis run along the scenic mountain roads to Khojand and Dushanbe from the bus station, 2km east of the central bazaar.
Buses leave at around 9.30am, noon and 2.15pm for the Rudaki Mausoleum (1 hour), returning at 6am and 2.30pm. A third bus departing at 8.30am (and may-be 2.30pm) also makes a stop here before continuing 9km to Artush, for access to treks in the Fan Mountains.
Shared taxis to Dushanbe leave from the southern end of the bazaar. Cars to Penjikent are a little further south. Shared taxis to Khojand gather across from the bazaar. Marshrutkas to Khojand are cheaper and run from the main bus stand, 3km north of the centre.