Tajikistan Driving Advice and Car Hire Info
Driving in Tajikistan
Before planning a trip, check your Governments website for advice on travel within Tajikistan as travel advisories are sometimes in force for certain areas such as the Tajik-Kyrgyz border area and Khorog.
Tajikistan drives on the right and you need a 1968 International driving permit to drive here.
Tajikistan has around 30,000 km of roads. The main north-south route runs across the mountains between the north-western city of Khujand and Dushanbe in the central part of the country. A second main road runs east from Dushanbe to Khorog in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province (GBAO), then northeast across the mountains to Murghab and on either to the Kyrgyz city of Osh or to Kashgar, China via the Kulma border crossing. Aa number of other projects are underway to improve road links within the country.Roads outside the main towns are poorly-maintained and often only accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicles. Conditions are particularly treacherous in spring due to the risk of avalanches and landslides. Many interior roads are only open in the summer months. It is possible to drive from Dushanbe to the north via the partly lit Anzob tunnel but this road is particularly dangerous in winter due to icy conditions and if stranded you would wait a long time for help. You should only drive to Gorno-Badakhshan in daylight hours and you need a permit to drive in the region. (The Pamir Highway mentioned below passes through Gorno-Badakhshan so you will need a permit if taking that route).
Petrol stations are rare outside towns in Tajikistan so you should fill up whenever you get chance. Fuel quality can also be poor, particularly on the Pamir highway. Local vehicles are often poorly-maintained and driving standards are generally poor. Armed police or military checkpoints can make road travel outside Dushanbe difficult and as a foreigner you’re likely to attract attention .In certain parts of the country, including the Vakhsh and Rasht valleys and along the Afghan-Tajik border, landmines and cluster munitions form an additional hazard. If an area has land mine warning signs, or is marked off with red and white plastic tape, heed the warning and do not venture off the road. Tajikistan is a challenging driving location especially out of towns, at night and in winter and you should proceed with caution at all times.
One of the worlds classic roads runs through the region. Running through the Pamir Mountains, the M41, more commonly known as the Pamir Highway runs through Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan . The road was part of ancient Silk Route and the section which passes through the 4,655-meter high Ak-Baital pass in Tajikistan is the second highest main road in the world . There is some disagreement on where the road begins with varies sources stating Mazari Sharif, Afghanistan; Termiz, Uzbekistan; Dushanbe, Tajikistan; and Khorog, Tajikistan .The highway ends in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Assuming the road begins in Afghanistan,it passes northward through Termiz , then turns east after Denau, then crossing into Tajikistan. It then continues east through Dushanbe, to Khorog, crossing the Kafirnigan, Vakhsh, and Bartang Rivers, and running close to the Pakistan Border area. From there, it continues to Murghab, where it crosses the Murghab River and begins to head North. The highway then passes through the Ak-Baital pass and past Lake Karaqul at 3900 metres before crossing into Kyrgyzstan and on to Osh – around 420 Km from Murghab. The 700 Km stretch of road between Khorog and Osh is widely acclaimed as having some of the most stunning mountain scenery in Asia if not the World. The road is unpaved for long stretches and is also prone to lengthy periods of construction to repair landslides and weather damage. I have heard of travellers covering this stretch in a day but have also seen accounts of 60 hour journeys in bad weather.
For more information on Driving the Silk Road through Tajikistan, see my Classic Road Trips page.
Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.
Tajikistan Car Rental –
None of the big multinatioanl companies operate in Tajikistan, though there are local companies with outlets here, and a number operate from Dushanbe airport. If you’ve rented a car in Tajikistan I’d be interested to hear your experience.
You can also drive a car belonging to a local as long as you have legal permission from the owner. To obtain this permission, you need to go with the owner to a notary office. There is one for each district in Dushanbe.Present the owner’s passport and your passport, and ask the notary to draw up a power of attorney document (devernost). This document can be valid for any length of time up to a maximum of three years.