Tajikistan may not be a country you’ve heard of, but they use the somoni as their currency. If this is the first time you heard of either the country or its currency, you can learn more about them both here.
The somoni is decimal and each one is divided into 100 diram. There are plenty of coins and banknotes available for the currency – many more, in fact, than you might be used to for other currencies.
For instance they have ten different coins, seven of which are denominated in diram and the remaining three are in somoni. The diram coins are 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 25 and 50 diram. You also have the 1, 3 and 5 somoni coins. It’s actually quite unusual to find a coin worth three of anything – normally you get a coin worth two units rather than three.
Aside from these you also have banknotes to consider, and there are plenty of these too. Unusually there are several denominated in diram. These are the 1, 5, 20 and 50 diram notes. Aside from this you have the 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 somoni notes. This makes 13 notes in total! Needless to say once you start using the currency you are likely to have a pocketful of coins and notes to get to grips with. It might take a little longer than you’d expect to get the hang of what is worth what. The idea is that the diram notes should eventually be replaced but this hasn’t happened yet.
The somoni is actually a very new currency in relation to many currencies of the world. It only came into use in 2000, towards the end of the year. Before this happened the country used the Tajikistan ruble.
It probably won’t come as a major surprise to learn that this currency is difficult to get anywhere but Tajikistan itself. This means you’ll have to find a way to get it while you are there. The best way to do this is by taking in US dollars, since this is the preferred option banks will swap for the local currency. Other currencies will in theory be accepted but you do run the risk of getting there only to find the currency you have won’t easily be exchanged. Don’t take any chances – get the US dollar and go in with that.
It also becomes more problematic when you realise credit cards are a basic no-no in this country. You won’t be able to access any cash that way, and you can’t pay with these cards either. The same applies if you’re thinking about taking in some traveller’s cheques. It has been reported that a very few outlets will take them and exchange them for you, but you may end up staying somewhere that doesn’t – and again this means you’re essentially stuck. Basically cash is the one way to pay for things here and it will be expected everywhere – even if you’re paying for a week or more of accommodation or something equally expensive.
This is easy to do if you have access to a good currency converter. Make sure you use the ISO code for the Tajikistan currency, which is TJS. Since this is a less-commonly known currency you might come across one or two converters that don’t include it as an option. This is much more likely if you use one that only sticks to the more popular currencies. If this is the case keep searching for a good one – ideally one that updates every few minutes or so for accuracy. You’ll still have to factor in any exchange rates you will be charged as a result of using the exchange service, but at least you have a starting point.
One final point to note – you may want to get an exchange rate for the US dollar to the Tajikistani somoni if this isn’t your regular currency. Since this is the one you’ll likely take with you it makes sense to find out more.
Anyone wanting to travel to this country is best off getting the latest travel information prior to going. This is easy to do if you go to the official UK government website at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/tajikistan for more up-to-date information.
At the time of writing the eastern part of Tajikistan was not advisable to travel to unless it was absolutely necessary. Obviously this advice can change at any moment depending on the situation in the country. This is why we always recommend you get the latest details and information from the government website in the UK.
Clearly there are safety issues related to events in this part of the country. However you will also want to know about the situation across the rest of the country. It is fair to say this is not the safest part of the world to travel to, at least not at present. Dushanbe, the capital city of the country, is supposed to be reasonably safe to visit, but you should never take anything for granted.
Since this is a cash society it would not be unusual to expect foreigners to carry cash on them. Muggings do occur, as do other petty crimes. Make sure you keep everything as safe as possible by dividing your cash into different pockets. This will keep most of it safe even if you are pickpocketed by someone.
In addition you should be alert whenever you order drinks, since it has been known for them to be spiked.
Tajikistan is in the central region of Asia. It is an odd-shaped country that shares borders with a number of other countries. Kyrgyzstan is to the north, while China lies to the east. Further round to the south is Afghanistan and Uzbekistan takes up its western and part of its northern border areas.
As we already known, Dushanbe is its capital city and this has a few attractions you may want to see. For example you can visit the Tajikistan National Museum. As is typically the case with national museums like this, you can learn a lot about the country in various ways. The building it is housed in is very large and very impressive from the exterior, preparing you for an interesting journey of knowledge once you venture inside. One of the biggest attractions here is a reclining Buddha that measures no less than 50 feet from end to end!
You can also visit Dushanbe Zoo if you wish. This has gone through a number of upheavals in its history, many owing to the civil war that took place in the country. It is apparently trying to restore things so that it becomes a good attraction once again.
Obviously you need to be aware of the conditions and potential hazards in each area you wish to visit in the country. There are many other delightful places to go but at the time you visit it may not be safe to do so. Make sure you always check in advance and be alert to the changing situation.
You may not think of this country as a mountainous or particularly natural place in terms of getting out and about, but you’d be wrong. Take the Pamir Mountains for example. These are huge to say the least, since they are spread across no fewer than five countries, including Tajikistan. There is a national park that takes in the mountains in the country, and it is worth seeing. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so you can see how important it is. The brown bear is just one of the animals you may see here. Elsewhere you also have the Fann Mountains, which you can trek across if you are eager to get out into nature and see everything you possibly can. Organised treks are the best and safest way to do this.
Tajikistan is not one of the best-known countries in the world, and unfortunately the state of affairs in the country makes it rather unsafe in some areas. This is a shame as it prevents many people from visiting what would otherwise be charming areas of this particular country.
Obviously your priority should be your own safety and welfare if you ever do visit Tajikistan. Make sure you are adequately prepared; even if it is safe to visit initially you may find the situation changes while you are there. Always keep abreast of the latest developments in case any of them affect you.
There are some amazing sights to be seen in the country, as we have mentioned in this article. There are many others as well. If you get the chance to see them safely, you will definitely enjoy doing so.