Mini Travel Guide: Azerbaijan

Looking for a travel guide to Azerbaijan? Click through for Azerbaijan travel tips from an expat and insights into where to go, what to do, what to eat and how to do it all safely and cheaply!

Want to travel to Azerbaijan? This Azerbaijan travel guide comes to us via lovely Colleen  who lived in Azerbaijan for three years, working as a youth development Peace Corps volunteer in Ismailli – a small town in the the Caucasus mountains.

Azerbaijan a Eurasian country of 8.7 million, bordered by Russia, Iran and the Caspian Sea. It is one of the five most developed countries among CIS members and it has a high standard of living as well as low unemployment and crime rates.  Who knew?

Looking for a travel guide to Azerbaijan? Click through for Azerbaijan travel tips from an expat and insights into where to go, what to do, what to eat and how to do it all safely and cheaply!

Must go in Azerbaijan

Xaniliq

Accessible for only a few months each year, this village is thought to be the oldest in Azerbaijan.  The people speak their own language, and have developed a unique way of building houses into the mountain sides.

Xizi-Shamix mountain pass

(Best in May)  Its necessary to rent an SUV (around 180 AZN for the weekend) but its worth the cost. Pack camping gear and pan to spend time walking through fields of wildflowers, fording rivers, meeting mountain cowboys and camping near fresh streams.

Sumqayit

While there is not one specific destination in Sumqayit-outside the abstract Dove statue on the beach, and drinking 60 qap. shots of Russian vodka in the shadow of said statue (a must!)-its worth a day trip to see, what is still considered to be the most polluted city on earth.

Looking for a travel guide to Azerbaijan? Click through for Azerbaijan travel tips from an expat and insights into where to go, what to do, what to eat and how to do it all safely and cheaply!

Must do in Azerbaijan

Carnival Rides/walking on the boulevard in Baku

This is where Azeri’s come to strut,see and be seen. Grab a cold beer at one of  the numerous cafes and people watch while enjoying a Caspian Sea breeze.

Teza Bazaar (Fresh Bazaar) 

Bring your camera and all your left over qapik-stare in awe at mountains of fruit,veggies, spices and fresh cuts of meat-vendors will compete for your attention, but don’t mind if you ask to try a piece of fruit/veggie before buying.
Looking for a travel guide to Azerbaijan? Click through for Azerbaijan travel tips from an expat and insights into where to go, what to do, what to eat and how to do it all safely and cheaply!

Must eat in Azerbaijan

Carnivore

Try one (or both) of the Kebab varieties: Lula Kebab: minced meat cooked on skewers-Lamb lula is the top choice. Or traditional Shiskabab (Chicken is the top choice)

Vegetarians

Try the lentil soup (Marajei), cooked chick peas (Nohoud) and shepherds salad (Coban Salat: cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, greens.)

A visit to Araz is not complete without a few shots of Vodka

Local fire is named: Xan and Man (yes you read that correctly!) and must be washed down by a few bites of sliced lemon. A recent 4-hour session with five people eating of all the above mentioned food rendered only 60AZN ($76 US) worth of damage.

Looking for a travel guide to Azerbaijan? Click through for Azerbaijan travel tips from an expat and insights into where to go, what to do, what to eat and how to do it all safely and cheaply!

Cultural tips for traveling in Azerbaijan

People will stare. A lot.  Mostly in the regions, but also in Baku. Also, you will stick out as a tourist and as such, you will be approached (especially if you are female traveling alone) by amorous males seeking ‘friendship’.
It’s best to just ignore the males, unless you already know some good retorts such as:
‘Be Ashamed!’ (Ay ilb osuln)
‘Where is your mom?’ (Senin Mama, hardader?)

Essential phrases (polite):
Hello (Salaam AlaayKum)
Thank you: (Sag-ol or Ay Sag-ol)
Oh My God: (Ay Allah)
My God help you (Allah komay osuln)

Looking for a travel guide to Azerbaijan? Click through for Azerbaijan travel tips from an expat and insights into where to go, what to do, what to eat and how to do it all safely and cheaply!

Travel on the cheap in Azerbaijan

Baku has a new taxi service – purple metered taxis that look like the London cabs – are generally the drivers who speak English. Otherwise you will have to negotiate a taxi, with drivers charging the unsuspecting outrageous prices.
Another good taxi service, if you or a friend has a phone is 189.  They give you the price over the phone and pick you up from where ever your location is.  This is good to remember if you happen to arrive at the airport at an ungodly hour, which often happens since flights to Baku have only recently increased to include more normal hours.
Looking for a travel guide to Azerbaijan? Click through for Azerbaijan travel tips from an expat and insights into where to go, what to do, what to eat and how to do it all safely and cheaply!

Must Bring when Traveling in Azerbaijan

Mark Elliot’s Guide to Azerbaijan-This guide literally has everything!  Whether you want to find the halved Lenin statue in Yevlax (in the middle of a field next to a car graveyard and cows) or rent a SUV for the Xizi to Shamix mountain pass-this guide is one of the most accurate available.
Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, swiss army knife(with bottle opener, scissors), water bottle, time, desire to drink more tea than you thought was humanly possible.  Cash!  Even in Baku, many places don’t take cards, so plan ahead and make sure you have cash.

Have any of you been to Azerbaijan?  Any questions for Colleen? 

P.S. 7 travel tools I won’t shut up about

photos by wikipediaNiyaz Bakılı

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7 Comments

  1. Julie Buz.

    Ooh, AWESOME! I'm supposed to be making a trip to Azerbaijan sometime next year, and this little guide came in super, super handy!

    Reply
  2. Morgan

    it looks beautiful!!

    Reply
  3. nova

    Hahaha "Where is your mom?" I'm gonna start using that one here in Canada.

    Reply
  4. iris

    This looks awesome!

    At first I thought the language was Turk-based, and then I Wikipedia'd it and found I was correct! Awesome! Of course, with a little Arabic thrown in, like even Turkish does.

    Reply
  5. Helen

    This is so exciting.
    I really want to go to Azerbaijan next year, the country is hosting the Eurovision song contest and it seems like an amazing and fun trip to make

    Reply
  6. Jacinthe Milton

    It made me thought that Azerabaijan is nice place for camping and even spend summer days. Looking forward to go there!

    Reply
  7. Murad

    Dear Iris. My name is Murad. I am from Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan language is Turkish based language. We completely understand eachother. Turkiye people is Osmanli Turkish but we are Azeri Turkish.
    I am working in Travel Agency which is specialised in Azerbaijan Tourism. We are glad to invite you to our country. If you have any question please do not hesitate to contact me. My email: murad@turizm.az, My mobile number: (+994 55 ) 640 59 07

    Reply

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