For general tips on driving the Silk Road, see the driving overview page. Here we discuss the state of the roads, where to find parts, repair shops, and how to deal with customs and selling a car.
There is also more specific info to be found at driving the Pamir Highway.
Car insurance and border payments
There is an import tax. You should be paying 25$ for a 4-seater, 35$ for a bigger car. For a motorbike, import tax is 15$. At the Kyzyl-Art border, all kinds of other taxes are dreamt up: disinfection fee, road tax, … All fake. Try not tot pay.
As for car insurance, there seems to be no obligation for you to get one.
At the border, your car only gets registered for 16 days, meaning you have to extend at the border, in Dushanbe or Khorog if you need extra days. The system is not really clear to us. Registration reports welcome.
Car & motorbike rental
There is a company in Tajikistan that rent out cars for self-driving the Pamir Highway. We also have partners in Osh and Bishkek who do car rental, and you can take their cars on the Pamir Highway. You need to drive them back or have them picked up, though, which is not really an issue in the case of Osh, a little bit more in the case of Bishkek.
With Marat, we now have a reliable contact to rent dirt bikes in Dushanbe.
Roads in Tajikistan
All updates 2016. More updates welcome! For driving times, see Bus and shared taxi in Tajikistan.
- Denau – Dushanbe: Excellent road.
- Dushanbe – Kulob – Qalai-khumb: Some of the route is new tarmac, some of the route gravel road. Roadworks are ongoing. A part of the route along the Afghan border is excellent tarmac and feels like driving in Austria, but then without other traffic.
- Qalai-khumb – Ishkashim: gravel mixed with once asphalted road and some parts of the road with tarmac.
- Ishkashim – connection of Wakhan Valley Road to m41 (close to Jelondi): most of the route is off-road in gravel. Some parts asphalted. 11 hours.
- M41 from Jelondi to border with Kirgizstan: tarmac road in reasonable good condition. Some parts with a lot of potholes. A few stretches are in bad condition. This map of Pamir Highway road conditions (thank you META) is still up to date.
- Dushanbe – Khujand: good tarmac, but Anzob tunnel is still a bit hazardous (Anzob reports collected here).
- Minor roads range from bumpy to impassable by car.
In winter, many mountain passes are closed due to (danger of) avalanches or heavy snowfall. Spring is dangerous because of rockfall. The speed limit is 60km/h, everywhere, unless noted otherwise by signs.
If the police stops you, you should be able to talk your way out of it. If not, the bribe for locals is 5 somoni.
Take measures to protect your car against the bad quality fuel you will encounter on the Pamir Highway. In Dushanbe, Khujand and Isfara you can fuel up at Gazprom, which is considered to be the most reliable.
Petrol prices: 8-9 somoni in Pamir, 7-8 somoni in Dushanbe and Khujand.
Car parts, motorcycle parts and repair shops
Almost every male over the age of 15 is also a back-yard car mechanic in Tajikistan. If you know of someone doing a good job, or a shop with a lot of good spare parts in stock, please let us know.
In Dushanbe, one Dilovar got a good review early on, but overcharged and seriously broke someone else’s motorbike later.
Another Dilovar can be reached at +992-903882004. His shop is here.
We welcome more of your suggestions in the Tajikistan car mechanic forum topic.
Motorcyclists should try Andrej’s Bike Repair Shop. The shop doesn’t have any signage, but is at Sotemur 53 within a residential courtyard. The GPS mark is: N 38o 34′ 42.1″ E 68o 47′ 32.2″. Updates on motorbike magicians and spare parts are collected at the motorcycle maintenance Q&A.
Buying/selling/leaving a car/motorcycle in Tajikistan
A complicated matter. We wrote an article summing up your options buying or selling a car in Central Asia. It is also possible to just dump your car in Tajikistan: someone did this in 2016 and it was not an issue at the border, there was no electronic system in place to check he came with a car.
You can also donate your car to charity in Tajikistan.