Travel Budget: Tajikistan
Tajikistan is an incredible country to travel. Towering mountains to hike through and amazingly hospitable cultures that take one look at travelers and invite them in for tea. It isn’t always the most comfortable place to travel, but the sheer adventure of the experience more than makes up for any discomfort. The one key point for travelers looking to keep costs down, though: take it slow. Start with the Visa and GBAO permit. At normal speed (~5 days), this cost me $102 (for a 45 day visa, incidentally) plus another 135 Somoni ($28) to register with the OVIR once I was in the country. Need that visa in a hurry? Expect to pay an extra $100 or more.
I spent 37 days in Tajikistan (in 2012) and spent 5962 Tajik Somoni, around $33.56 per day at the exchange rate in effect then. I had been aiming for 150 Somoni ($31.25) per day, so it wasn’t too far off the mark. However, if I’d moved around less (stay just in the Pamirs or just the Fans, for example) it could have certainly been less. I did a fair amount of camping, but rather than saving money this probably cost me more as I had to rent tent/stove/sleeping bag/etcetera because at the time I was traveling too light to mess with a full load of camp gear.
The one place it might actually make sense to move quickly is on the Pamir Highway. If you’re concerned about saving money and trying to go overland from Dushanbe to Khorog to Murghab to Kyrgyzstan, heed these words: hang out until you find a shared ride for a good price and then leave immediately. Gas (benzine, primarily) is expensive anyways, so if you’re lucky enough to find a good deal on a ride make sure you take it.
One place where Tajikistan offers a pretty good value is on homestays. In the Wakhan Corridor especially, local homestays ranged from 20 – 36 Somonis ($4.15 – $7.50) per person including dinner and breakfast. Food was basic, but the experience was great and the price can’t be beat.
Note: This info may be a bit out of date as I was in country from May to June of 2012. If anybody that reads this happens to have any perspective as to how this compared to their travel expenses, I’d be happy to update it to reflect that information.