Until the 1990s, Tajikistan was a part of the Soviet Union. And even if the country earned its independence in 1991, this led to numerous unpleasant incidents, namely the cruel civil war that prevented Tajikistan from progressing as it should have.
Acknowledged as the poorest and smallest country in Central Asia, it is located between China and Afghanistan, also bordering Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. No less than 93 percent of its surface accounts for breathtaking mountains, whilst also boasting the most adventurous trekking in the world, as well as one of the most compelling road trips – namely Pamir Highway, but how safe is Tajikistan for tourists?
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Tajikistan
Overall Risks in Tajikistan: MEDIUM to HIGH
Unfortunately, the safety index in Tajikistan is quite low, due to the growing threat of terrorism and crime. Expressly, in specific parts of the country, the threat of terrorism is even higher. At the same time, it is quite worrying the fact that it is common for unexplained, violent incidents to occur in the country’s capital – namely Dushanbe. And even if they are relatively low-scale, for the most part, they do occur.
The areas bordering the country also feature specific threats – especially along Uzbek, Afghan and Kyrgyz borders. In these areas, there may be unexploded mines. In regards to the crime levels, they are rated from moderate to high, depending on the time of the day. In fact, the country’s capital seems to be an entirely different place during the day as it seems during the night.
Aside from that, note that the police might not respond to complaints. Whether you are a victim of mugging, pickpocketing, or anything of the kind, there is the likelihood that the police won’t do anything in this respect. That’s due to the high level of corruption.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Tajikistan: MEDIUM to HIGH
Typically, pickpocketing and theft are the most common types of crime. And that isn’t only in Tajikistan, but also in most countries around the world. At the same time, such crimes are usually targeted towards tourists, as they might be conveyed as easy targets by locals.
During daytime, the cities in Tajikistan might seem friendly, hospitable, and make you feel welcome. Nonetheless, at night, this scenario changes dramatically, giving you a sense of unease. This is why there are no official crime figures, since many of these crimes go unnoticed.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Tajikistan?
There are given areas in which crimes are more likely to happen. This is why you should avoid walking by yourself, at nighttime, especially through Victory Park in Dushanbe, or the Children’s Park. Otherwise, you might simply increase the likelihood of being a victim.
At the same time, it pays off to be wary of your surroundings at all times, look out for suspicious behavior and avoid getting in contact with strangers.
Scam Risk in Tajikistan: MEDIUM
Corruption is a major issue in Tajikistan. This is why there is the risk of scams. And while scams are quite commonplace in all parts of the world, there are specific scams that are likely to happen in this country alone. Do consider our Tajikistan safety travel tips in this respect.
One common scam, for instance, is, being solicited a bribe at the airport. As a matter of fact, the Kyzylart border, in particular, is notorious for soliciting bribes. On top of that, the police in Dushanbe hustles a lot, and Indians and Japanese are, for the most part, targeted.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Tajikistan?
If someone unusual approaches you and asks you for money or asks you a question, it is best to get distance. Make sure you never leave your belongings unattended and you remain wary of your surroundings.
Kidnapping Risk in Tajikistan: MEDIUM to HIGH
If you’re wondering: how safe is Tajikistan for tourists, the odds are you’re also wondering about the kidnapping rates in this country.
To that end, what could there be said in this respect? Should you be worried about kidnapping? Unfortunately, there is still a risk of kidnapping in Tajikistan. In fact, specialists believe that paying ransom in exchange for releasing the prisoners is what encourages this tactic to continue and become more and more popular in this country.
While it is true that kidnapping is an issue in Tajikistan, it isn’t necessarily targeted towards tourists. Even so, this doesn’t mean you should leave your guard down.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in Tajikistan?
In order to avoid being a victim of kidnapping, you should consider reading as many Tajikistan safety travel tips. For instance, you should avoid going out at night, especially if you’re not traveling with a larger group of people.
In addition to that, you should never leave your drink unattended when you’re in a bar or restaurant, as it is quite common for criminals to add drugs to people’s drinks in order to make the kidnapping process easier to accomplish. Plus, there have been cases of sexual assault, which resulted due to the drugging of the victims.
Terrorism Risk in Tajikistan: MEDIUM to HIGH
Considering the era in which we live, each traveler questions the terrorist threat before visiting a country. And this makes sense; it’s always best to be informed. To that end, is Tajikistan safe to visit if we were to assess the terrorism risk?
The sad truth is that terrorism is a worrisome aspect in Tajikistan at the present time. Even if the threat is small, it is growing bigger and bigger with time, as there are several activist groups that operate in Tajikistan.
In addition to that, there have been cases of deliberate attacks against foreigners. For example, on the 29th of July, 2018, 7 tourists from western countries, who were cycling in the proximity of Dangara, were attacked. A car deliberately drove into them. And while the motives that triggered the attack weren’t clarified, the terrorist group behind the action – namely Daesh (formerly known as ISIL) claimed responsibility.
- How to avoid terrorism in Tajikistan?
Given the recent events that occurred in Tajikistan, it is recommended to be extremely careful and pay attention to your surroundings when cycling or hiking, especially if you are in the countryside or in a remote area.
Also, the basic safety measures should be taken – namely, avoid crowded places of prayer, of interest, and official buildings. Markets and shopping malls should also be avoided in the peak hours of the day, as terrorists are likely to carry out an attack on such locations in the moments they are very crowded.
In case something happens or you notice any sort of commotion, it is recommended to keep calm, retreat to safety, and then report what you have seen to the authorities. In case it is too late and you are already caught up in the incident, keep calm and follow any of the instructions that you are given.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Tajikistan: MEDIUM to HIGH
Is Tajikistan safe for solo women travelers? This is a sensible question any woman should ask before planning a journey to this country. And our Tajikistan safety guide aims at addressing this question, as well. Even if traveling to Tajikistan might not be as challenging as traveling to other countries, there are still some risks.
For example, you will draw unwanted attention towards yourself, considering that this is a predominantly Islamic country. At the same time, you might be a target for inappropriate comments from drivers or tour guides, which could make you feel uncomfortable and not at ease.
In addition to that, there is also the threat of terrorism, which makes this country quite unsafe, not only for solo women travelers, but also for solo men travelers.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Tajikistan?
Solo woman travelers are not safe in Tajikistan mainly because of the country’s religion – naturally, comments and/ or harassment can be avoided if you dress in a decent manner and don’t try to draw attention to yourself.
In short, while you may be greeted, so to speak, by rude comments or such, if you act like a simple tourists that just wants to explore and discover the country, you should not have any issues.
Naturally, it is recommended that you avoid remote areas, shady alleys and neighborhoods, as well as the city slums – in such locations, people are not as fond of tourists/ travelers as those living in the center of the cities.
Rape Risk in Tajikistan: MEDIUM to HIGH
According to various reports, there have been more than a couple incidents of sexual violence, sexual assault, and rape in Tajikistan. Moreover, some of these incidents have reportedly included the use of date-rape drugs and such.
Therefore, as a solo woman traveler – or even when accompanied – it is recommended that you are not alone, accept drinks from any strangers, or wander off into remote areas.
While the risks of such incidents occurring may not be actually high, the fact that the use of date-rape drugs has been confirmed makes it more likely for tourists/ travelers to be caught off guard while having fun in a club rather than outdoors – in short, you should be more careful while in a bar, pub, or night-club rather than when you are outside.
- How to avoid getting raped in Tajikistan?
As mentioned before, if you are outdoors you should stick to populated areas and avoid any shady alleys and neighborhoods – basically, stay close to where people are.
Furthermore, if you are inside a club, you must keep an eye on your drink at all times – there have been some cases around the world, with video footage as evidence, in which the aggressors managed to spike someone’s drink while it was still in their hands, taking advantage of only one moment when the victim was not paying attention.
Therefore, if you plan to drink, do to responsibly and make sure that you always know what’s happening with and around your drink.
Risks for People Traveling with Children in Tajikistan: MEDIUM to HIGH
Without a doubt, mostly every Tajikistan safety guide is likely to outline that traveling to this country with children isn’t indicated. Not only that the threat of terrorism is a major impediment, but the general feeling of uncertainty and lack of safety you experience during your visit are worth outlining.
On top of that, getting around in Tajikistan is an immense challenge. There is no such thing as a functional train system, and there are only few public buses that actually function on a schedule. Aside from that, drinking water in Tajikistan could lead to a handful of complications – which is something to be wary of when traveling there, especially with children.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
If you still want to bring your children with you, be prepared to give them your full attention – you have to always know what they eat, drink, and do. You have to never leave them unattended as they might wander off and, as we all know, they can be quite hard to find, especially in a crowd of tourists.
These being said, we recommend you pick another country to visit with your children and leave exploring Tajikistan with your group of friends, in order to put your safety on the first place.
Natural Disaster Risk in Tajikistan: MEDIUM to HIGH
Furthermore, bear in mind that Tajikistan is situated in a highly seismic area. More specifically, during 2016 and 2017, specialists monitored an increase in the number of earthquakes, which is quite worrying. And even if such incidents are small, they still affect some parts of the country, especially the east of the Badakhashan province.
At the same time, during the spring and in early summer, it is commonplace for avalanches to block the roads. Also, in late spring and summer, seasonal flooding that leads to mudslides is common. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the procedures you should follow if anything were to happen.
Transportation Risks in Tajikistan: MEDIUM to HIGH
First of all, the roads outside the main and big cities of Tajikistan are poorly-maintained and, in some cases, might be crossed only with 4-wheel drive vehicles. Moreover, the risk of landslides and avalanches increases in spring, making the roads even more dangerous to cross.
Furthermore, most vehicles for hire are usually in a poor condition, making up for basic driving standards – to make things even worse, reports state that petrol stations and similar facilities are scarce outside towns.
In this respect, it is recommended that you prepare properly for a driving trip – some roads are quite dangerous in winter, such as the one from Dushanbe to Khujand, mainly due to the icy conditions that can occur.
Moreover, there’s also an increased risk of avalanche on most roads – if you are caught in one, you are very likely to be trapped on the spot, in a remote area.
Make sure you have enough petrol, food, and water before driving off for the day, as well as available emergency communications.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Tajikistan: MEDIUM to HIGH
When it comes to night-clubs, pubs, and bars, Tajikistan is mostly safe – as long as you drink responsibly and avoid contact with strangers.
Keep in mind that there have been some cases of rapes and sexual violence that involved the use of date-rape drugs – as mentioned before, you should be extremely careful in terms of your company, the people that are around you, and your drinks.
It is best if you avoid going to such locations during the night – even if you are the type that likes partying, you should always remember the fact that you are in a foreign country.
In short, feel free to have fun, but keep an eye on your drink – you should also visit clubs and bars with the friends accompanying you in your trip or with a group of tourists, in order to ensure your safety.
Health Risks in Tajikistan
In terms of health and related facilities, hospitals are in poor conditions and scarce, especially outside the city of Dushanbe – some location are not even equipped, so to say, with medical facilities.
Moreover, there is also a shortage of basic medical supplies – in this respect, make sure you have prepared all of the medication you might need during your trip, as you might not find it in Tajikistan.
If you are traveling in summer and in the Khatlon region, be aware of the fact that there have been some reports of occasional cases of malaria – so, make sure you get vaccinated.
It is also recommended that you don’t drink tap water and be extremely careful when it comes to the preparation of your food and drinks.
List of Vaccines You Need when Traveling to Tajikistan
Before planning a visit to Tajikistan, you ought to make sure you have the recommended vaccines for a safe, stress-free journey. This is the list of recommended vaccines:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis A
- Measles, mumps, rubella
Most Dangerous Areas in Tajikistan
- Victory Park/ Children’s Park in Dushanbe
- GBOA Region
Concluding Remarks: Is Tajikistan safe to visit?
To conclude: how safe is Tajikistan for tourists? Should you attempt to plan your visit there? This is entirely up to you. There are, obviously, plentiful risks that come with the territory, as we clearly outlined beforehand, but you might still be able to enjoy an adventurous vacation to this beautiful country, granted that you take the necessary measures of precaution.
We hope that our Tajikistan safety guide has been descriptive enough in this respect. Make sure, however, you know what to expect well in advance of your journey.