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Currently in Khojand, Tajikistan and wanting to take a taxi or something tomorrow to Dushanbe. The taxi drivers here are like vultures - I was surrounded by the horde of them at the station outside town where the border taxi guy dropped me off. I've been quoted US$40 for a ride to Dushanbe tomorrow, in a shared cab, or $100 for just me (I'd go shared) but it's in a regular car and have no way of knowing if that's good or not. Googled without much luck. I've been told you should only take a jeep, or 4wd, but everyone says different things (taxi drivers) and it's hard to know who to trust!

How it turned out - see answer at bottom, successfully made it to Dushanbe without being ripped off too badly ;)

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Can you find someone local to ask who isn't going to be (too!) biased? Maybe staff at your hotel, or chat with the staff at wherever you go for dinner? Or head to a bar and look for tourists who've come the other way! –  Gagravarr Jul 8 '11 at 14:31
    
Yeah, been asking the staff, whether I suggest bus or anything else is always met with a 'don't know'. And no other tourists spotted yet, it's not the most common stopping point in Tajikistan ;) –  Mark Mayo Jul 8 '11 at 14:36
    
Thanks for the thoughts tho! –  Mark Mayo Jul 8 '11 at 14:36
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5 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

The answer, eventually worked out as follows:

Asked several locals, got lots of blank looks. Googled, checked lonely planet, didn't get much.

Taxi driver who had quoted me US$40-$100 when he dropped me off at the hotel turned up at 6.15am and banged on the door for two hours, despite me never agreeing to it, so I figured that was a good sign it was overpriced and he was getting good money :)

I went to the NE suburb taxi rank, and asked there. Again I was surrounded by 'vultures' before getting out the car, but I played them against each other, and there was a car leaving in 5 minutes for about US$24 or so. It wasn't 4WD, but the locals were all in it so I figured it must be ok - most of the cars weren't 4WD.

On the road, I sorta wished I wasn't in a Nissan Maxima, the bumping and jolting was insane. But the story of it, the spectacular views on the two 3500m+ views and the two 'tunnels of terror' (flooded tunnels you drive through!) made it worthwhile, and we got in after 7 hours. Love random travel like that!

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Good to hear it worked out! Maybe, edit your question to include the 'how it turned out'? This answer will be at the bottom of the page and people will usually not read it. –  Jacco Jul 10 '11 at 12:03
    
Out of curiosity, how many passengers (including you) were there? That number multiplied by $24 should give future travelers a good baseline for the cost of the trip. –  ESultanik Jul 11 '11 at 11:58
    
Well I was given the front seat. Usually there are 3 in the back as well, but in this case a family with small kids made it 4 in the back. I don't know how much they paid - you always negotiate your own fare for yourself, irrespective of the others. –  Mark Mayo Jul 13 '11 at 6:50
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General rule: Don't ever trust a taxi driver.

While not answering your question, some general advice: Try asking someone who has nothing to gain from quoting you false prices. Try buying food/drinks/whatever somewhere and ask the vendor. Unfortunately, this does not always work out, because sometimes the locals just don't know. Generally travellers who are out on the road for some time are the most reliable source of information. (new arrivals generally pay way too much).

Anyhow, the cost of hiring the shared taxi all for your own should be exactly the sum of the price of the available seats. So if you are quoted $ 100 for a total taxi, that would normally seat 6 people, your single seat should never cost more than $ 16.

As for needing a 4wd? I've noticed that you only very rarely need 4wd. Normal cars can do a lot more than we think is reasonable in western countries : ) If locals take 2wd cars to get there, so can you.

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According to Google Maps, the fastest way is to take a very indirect route (avoiding the mountains) on the M-39, a journey which will take more than 10 hours (~760 km). There appears to be a much more direct route via the M-34 that goes directly over the mountains, however, Google maps does not seem to allow for routing over it. I estimate that that direct route would take about 4 hours (it is about 400 km), however, it is on much smaller roads on steep inclines that may not even be paved.

enter image description here Picture of the M-34 from from Wikipedia.

Therefore, if the taxi driver does not have a 4wd, I would assume that he is going to take you on the flat 10 hour route, in which case $100 seems reasonable. If the driver has a 4wd, however, he may be able to take you on the shorter, direct route, in which case I would expect a cheaper fare.

Edit: It looks like that quick (but longer) route actually passes through Uzbekistan, so that may not be an option.

Edit 2: There are direct flights from Khujand to Dushanbe for less than $80 (it's flight number ТД68).

Note: I've never been to Tajikistan, so this is just speculation on my part based on the maps.

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This is very indirect route. Direct route is about 341km by highway –  VMAtm Jul 8 '11 at 19:58
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I would not rely on Google maps for travel in those countries. $100 seems like a lot of mony taking in considerations that the GDP/capita is $2,000 (2010 est.) and even more so if a flight costs $80. –  Jacco Jul 8 '11 at 20:09
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I've found Google Maps to be quite unreliable in Asia. Final solution was simpler - I asked a couple of locals, but went to the taxi rank the next day and got them to bid amongst each other - ended up paying US$24. The route is the 341km way - it seems fast at firs,t but then you hit the gravel, the two 3500m+ passes, and the 'tunnels of terror' - road tunnels flooded with water. Hilarious trip, spectacular, took about 7 hours in the end :) –  Mark Mayo Jul 10 '11 at 10:25
    
@Jacco: If all of the passengers in the car paid US$24, that would be about $100 for the entire car. Granted, the locals probably negotiated a cheaper rate. But that's why I thought $100 for a private car was a reasonable deal. –  ESultanik Jul 19 '11 at 14:28
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According to all the Russian language forums I know, all people say You should not ever try to move alone (because the risk of kidnapping)! Try to form a group with other tourists, and move with them.

Other problem is the highway between Khojand (Khujand) and Dushanbe is currently under reconstruction, and there can be some traffic on it. So, maybe you will have to get the bus to the Istarawshan, and after that get a car for Dushanbe.

Try to find the bus station (Avtobusnyi vokzal - in Russian), there will be some info about intercity buses.

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What is the quoted reason for the advice to: "not ever try to move alone"? –  Jacco Jul 9 '11 at 10:27
    
@Jacco - this is not safe for last years. –  VMAtm Jul 9 '11 at 10:28
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not safe because of corrupt police? armed conflict? unstable roads? muggers? risk of car breakdown and no help around? bad/dangerous weather? mudslides? –  Jacco Jul 9 '11 at 10:33
    
@Jacco Police, mudslides, unstable roads? Why, it not safe for everyone. No. Kidnapping is a real danger for singles. –  VMAtm Jul 9 '11 at 11:55
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@Jacco Updated the answer –  VMAtm Jul 9 '11 at 12:07
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I have taken this route about 20 times. The current price for a taxi from Khujand to Dushanbe is from 120 to 150 Somoni (24 to 30 USD). The ride should take about 5 to 6 hours. Safety is more dependent on how cautious the driver is than the type of vehicle. You can find taxi drivers at "Abreshim" station (15 Somoni for a taxi ride from the Khujand Center) or from "Starry Avtovokzal", which is a 10 Somoni taxi ride from Khujand center. The drivers at Starry Avtovokzal are very aggresive.

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protected by Mark Mayo Dec 14 '13 at 15:52

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