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Tajikistan Travel Guide

Population: 7,200,000 (2008)
Area: 143,100 sq. km. (55,250 sq. mi)
Capital: Dushanbe
Major Languages: Tajik, Russian, Uzbek
Religion: Islam (Sunni and Shi'a), Orthodox Christianity
Monetary unit: Somoni (1 Somoni = 100 Diram)
Time Zone: UTC +5

National cuisine
Traditional Tajik cuisine has much in common with Persian cuisine, and features such dishes as kabuli plov, qabili plov, shashlik and sumanak. Traditional Tajik meals start with sweet dishes such as halva and tea, and then progress to soups and meat, before finishing with plov. Plov is also locally called "Osh". All meals are accompanied by non, a type of flatbread common to Central Asia, also called lepyoshka. Other meals include Shorpa (meat and potato soup), Samsa (samosa), and laghmon (a Chinese-style noodle and meat dish). The most common beverage is green tea (choi) and sometimes kefir (drinking yoghurt) is offered.

Currency of Tajikistan
Official currency is the Somoni, which is divided into 100 Diram. Notes are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 Somoni. Coins (in Diram) of various denominations are also used.

Climate:
Extreme continental with air temperature ranging between +20oC and 0oC in January and 0oC to +30o C in June - depending on altitude. Annual rainfall varies between 150 mm and 250 mm.

Language
The official language is Tajik (Farsi) attributed to the group of Persian languages. Russian is widely spoken and English is now being taught throughout the country.

Religion
Most Tajiks belong to the Islamic faith. One important aspect of religion in the country is that most people in Gorno-Badakhshan are Shi'a, comprising 15% of all Muslims; the other 85% are Sunni. There are also small communities of Orthodox Christian and Jewish believers as well. Tajiks are known for being devoutly religious, with most holding to traditional Islamic norms of prayer and fasting, etc. This creates in the country a different social atmosphere than that of its neighbors.

Luggage
A shoulder bag with a strong strap or a small rucksack is the most practical way of carrying cameras and personal belongings during your stay. Your entire luggage should be secured with a padlock. Always make sure that all cases and bags are clearly labeled. The label should carry your name and destination details but not your home address. It is a good idea to label your luggage on the inside. This will enable airport authorities to identify your luggage should it become lost, or the labels removed. Never leave your luggage unattended at airports or train stations.
Your free airline luggage allowance is 20 kg per person, plus one additional piece of 'carry-on' hand luggage on domestic flights within Central Asia, except to Turkmenistan, where the maximum baggage allowance is 10 kg. Because you will be traveling in some areas where travel conditions are rather basic, travelers are strongly urged to restrict their luggage to one main suitcase or backpack and one carry-on overnight bag.
As recommended under CURRENCY and SECURITY, an important part of your luggage will also be your money wallet for safely carrying your travel documents.

Health
You will be traveling in areas which are largely free of major infectious diseases, so there are no official vaccination requirements for foreign visitors. However, we strongly advise you to consult your physician or Vaccination Centre for current health warnings and recommended vaccinations.
As it is practically inevitable in areas where water is high in mineral and metallic salts (as is the case with Central Asia) one should be prepared for minor gastric conditions. Consult your physician or pharmacist for recommended remedies.
Throughout the areas you will be travelling, one of the main health warnings is dehydration. At all times maintain a steady intake of non-alcoholic liquids.
Sunburn is another major problem. Bring adequate suntan lotion and a wide brimmed hat. If desired, you may also bring a supply of vitamins, throat lozenges, throat gargle to prevent basic infections, cold/flu tablets, aspirins, Band-Aids, antiseptics and antibacterial cream. Please advise us if you have any allergies or particular medical aliments which may require special attention during the trip, and if your doctor has prescribed any medication, make sure that you have sufficient supplies to last the duration of your holiday.
Important: Please, ensure that you carry in your hand luggage any medicine you may require in case your suitcase is separated from you.

Insurance
Since this type of service in Uzbekistan is still developing, it is recommended to carry insurance from company of you home country.

Security
Individual safety boxes are not always available in Uzbekistan hotels. An essential part of your luggage is a comfortable money wallet, which may be worn under your clothing. At all times you should carry your main documents (i.e. currency, traveler's checks, air tickets, passports, visas etc.) While it is highly unlikely you will encounter any physical danger, minor thefts in crowded pubic places may occur and every precaution should be taken to avoid losing anything of value.
In accordance with local laws, you will be required to hand in your passport to the hotel reception on arrival to allow registration of your passport details by the hotel. Your passport will normally be available again after a few hours. Do not forget to collect it before departure.

Photography in Tajikistan
No obstacles are presented to visitors who wish to photograph places of historical interest. Photography inside some religious monuments and in airports, railway stations or near military installations may not be allowed. If in doubt ask your local guide. Please also note that there is a fee for photography in most sightseeing places (not included in your tour price).
Film and batteries are available in major cities, but we recommend you purchase your supply before arrival, particularly if you have the latest model or a sophisticated type of camera that requires a specific type of film and/or batteries.

Drinks
Local mineral water contains a higher level of minerals than western spring or bottled water and the taste can be rather "salty" (these mineral waters are considered healthier than European spring or mineral waters).
Imported spirits and wines are available, however in some places the provenance of some spirits and wines is questionable and the prices inflated. Accordingly, you are advised to purchase your favorite alcohol duty free prior to arrival.

Shopping
Travelers in Uzbekistan will be pleasantly surprised by the interesting jewelry, clothing and local handicrafts. Books, postcards and maps are other popular souvenirs. There are restrictions on exporting carpets from the country, ask your Tour Guide for detailed up-to-date information on this matter, before purchasing one.

Psychology of bargain
In the East haggling is turned into art. While haggling, you may speak loudly and don't give a sign that you are hesitating in your triumph. No doubt, sellers never lower their price to the level of your offer, however, in most cases, you can lower the price up to 20% if you negotiate.

Incidentals
You will be responsible for covering the cost of your hotel incidentals such as phone calls, room service, mini-bar in your room and laundry. Before departing from all hotels on the tour, please ensure that you have checked with the front desk for any personal charges that the hotel may have made to your room.

Tipping
Travelers may wish to express their appreciation - a reward for extra service - to the porters, waiters, drivers and guides. The degree of appreciation may vary, and our policy is to leave this to your discretion. This is usually given individually in an envelope at the end of the tour/service.
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