Travel to Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan is a miraculous country with its richnatural resources, ancient culture, history and people, whose lifestyle presents a unique and harmonious combination of the traditions and ceremonies of different cultures and civilizations.
Azerbaijan is a geographical name of the country. On the one hand this name is linked with the population, which lived in this region thousands of years ago and who were mostly fire-worshippers. The local people believed that fire was their God and so they worshipped the fire. “Azer” means fire. The Turkic name “Azer” was used for this territory for a long time. The word “Azerbaijan” originates from the name of an ancient Turkish tribe that resided in those territories.
Azerbaijan is one of the world’s most ancient sites, and people have lived here during every stage of the country’s historical development. There were living settlements in Azerbaijan even at the earliest stages of humankind.
Ancient headstones, manuscripts and models of carpets, preserved from the ancient ages, can provide rich information to those interested in learning more. If you wish to understand Azerbaijan, you need to look at this country and its people with a friend’s eyes.
The open-door policy carried out by the Azerbaijan government as well as the social and economic reformation and democratization of the society realized in the Republic allowed citizens of independent Azerbaijan to expand the scope of their ideas about the world and gain opportunities to visit foreign countries. The number of foreign tourists to Azerbaijan also continues to grow from day to day.
With ancient cities, palaces, fortresses, mausoleums, mosques and more, Azerbaijan is a treasure for tourists. The country is also famous for its sources of eternal fires – the atashgehs. There is a place called Yanardag (blazing mountain) in Absheron and thermal springs in some parts of Nakhichivan, Kelbejar, Masali, Lenkoran, Babadag that are both beautiful and fascinating. From the ancient times, the fire worshippers from remote places and the Indian priests came to Absheron in search of fire and finding it here. They built their main temples here in Surakhani and Ateshgah where you can still see eternal fire.
There are more than 6,000 historical monuments of architecture in the territory of Azerbaijan. The natural climatic conditions of Azerbaijan are also unique: Interestingly, nine climatic zones out of 11 exist in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan also boasts picturesque natural landscapes, monuments of culture and modern tourist complexes . The Khudat-Yalama seacoast with the woods as well as the seashores of Absheron and Lankaran offer a fine place for rest. In these places there are fine sandy beaches with balmy waters that provide a long swimming season. The most attractive areas for winter sports are Shamakhi and Gusar.
In addition, you can view and photograph many kinds of animals and birds . In particular, the Gizilagach reserve, which is home to 200 different kinds of birds of passage in the winter months, is ideal for bird-watching.
In Azerbaijan there a number of health resorts with spas to give you a boost. Most resorts with mineral spas are also the tourist centers. Nakhchivan is especially rich with mineral sources; the only deposit of medical oil in the world – Naftalan – is completely unique.
Finally, Baku and Absheron peninsula, Nakhchivan, Guba-Khachmaz, Sheki-Zagatala, Lankaran-Astara regions, historical areas of Shirvan and Ganjabasar are the most popular for tourists in Azerbaijan. The lovely nature of these places, numerous ancient relics, wonderful ethnographical variety and local crafts will leave an unforgettable impression of Azerbaijan on its guests.
Visit our web-site to get more information: www.azalusa.com
Travel Tips for Azerbaijan
English Many young people in Azerbaijan are learning to speak English, but older people tend to know Russian as their second language or even first language since it was the prestigious language in Azerbaijan during the Soviet period. You’ll find that Azeris are anxious to practice their English with native speakers and will welcome your attempts at conversation. Try to learn some useful Azeri and Russian phrases from the people you meet. Currently, phrasebooks will probably be difficult to find, but look for a few that are published in Azeri Cyrillic.
Telephones Public pay phones are available for local calls. To use them, purchase tokens from the Telephone Exchange. However, it’s usually easier just to go into a store and ask to use their phone; most store owners won’t mind. Azerbaijan does not yet have phone cards. Local Internet providers are available, and cellular phones are extremely popular. For international phone calls, you can go to a hotel or to the PTT (Post/ elephone/ elegraph) to place the call. Make sure to check the rate first since it’s extremely expensive to call out from Azerbaijan. (Rates to the U.S. are typically $6 or more per minute.) You may want to make an arrangement with a Call Back provider ahead of time. To call out, dial 8 to get a dial tone, 10 to get outside of Azerbaijan, then the country code and number.
Money Don’t bring traveler’s checks; bring cash, preferably U.S. dollars. Make sure the bills were printed after 1990 or that they have the larger “Benjamin Franklin” portrait (printed since 1993) since there has been a problem with counterfeit bills circulating in Azerbaijan, and exchanges and banks will not exchange the older bills. Safe, legal “Exchanges” exist on nearly every other street corner in Baku. Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are not yet available. Credit cards are being accepted in more and more establishments, especially in hotels and in some restaurants. It is possible to have money wired to you (and given to you in manats). Foreigners can open bank accounts at banks such as British Bank of Middle East or Azerbaijan International Bank. Checks are not used very often; most all exchanges are still on a cash basis.
Weather Baku is known as the “wind-beaten city” or Windy City. You’ll want to have a warm sweater or windbreaker handy. Bring sunglasses to protect your eyes from the wind and glare, especially if you’re out on the Caspian. The late summer is hot and humid, so bring light-textured, light-colored clothing. Women’s clothing, in general, tends to be fairly modest (except among youth). Long skirts are a favorite because of the wind. Also, bring comfortable shoes for lots of walking.
Packing These days, you can buy almost anything in Azerbaijan, for a price. In the past, you had to pack film, cassettes, batteries, everything. If you have specific needs, especially medications, you should bring them with you. It’s also helpful to have vitamins and medicines. Many people come prepared for a bout with diarrhea.
Health If you need to see a doctor, visit a practice that utilizes Western medicine. If you’re going to be in Azerbaijan for a while, register at a local medical facility, and check with them about any vaccinations that you might need. Make certain that your health insurance is valid in Azerbaijan. Medical evacuation is possible and flights leave Azerbaijan to European cities on a daily basis. Some areas of Azerbaijan, but not Baku, have malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Bring mosquito repellent to ward off mosquitoes during the summer.
Public Restrooms Although public toilets are much cleaner than they used to be, it’s best to use the more comfortable restrooms at restaurants and hotels. You’ll find it convenient to always carry Kleenex.
It never hurts to bargain for prices in the bazaars. A few goods, such as cigarettes and bottled water, have set prices. When buying food and clothing, and especially souvenirs, you may be able to negotiate.
Hotels There are not many hotels in Baku and those that exist tend to be very expensive. For example, a single room in the Hyatt runs about $300. Reservations are absolutely necessary since the hotels are often fully booked. Make sure to check and confirm the reservation before your stay. Unfortunately, there are few other options: Hostels and campsites are rare. Outside of Baku, accommodations are even scarcer.
Electricity Bring adapters for your electronic equipment and appliances. The standards for electric power (220 volts) are not the same as in United States. The plugs require two round narrow prongs. Also, make certain to bring surge protectors for your computers or appliances as electrical current can vary immensely.
Taxis A taxi ride from the airport to the main part of the city usually takes 30 minutes, and costs about $20. It’s best to arrange ahead of time to have someone to pick you up. If you need a taxi, don’t take the private cabs; use the yellow cabs instead. Bargain on the price before you agree to ride.
Taxis don’t usually have meters, so there’s some guesswork involved when paying the fare. A 15-minute ride costs about 10,000 manats ($2 U.S.); a shorter ride will cost less, but never less than 3,000 manats. Judge the distance and figure out the cost for yourself; don’t ask the driver how much to pay. Drivers are not able to make change. If you’re in a taxi and the music is so loud that it hurts your ears, kindly ask the driver to turn it down. (This also applies to smoking, something else taxi drivers are notorious for.)
Subway This is one of the cheapest ways to get around the city. The stations underground, unlike many Western cities, are quite clean and artistic. Keep in mind that the subway is quite busy at rush hour. A U.S. State Department travel advisory discourages use of the Baku Metro. This is due to two terrorist bombings that occurred on the platforms in 1993 and 1994. In 1995 a disastrous fire occurred en route due to electrical malfunctioning and resulted in the deaths of more than 300 people. So there may be risk involved, although some foreigners who live in Baku use the Metro regularly.
Traveling Make sure to get out of Baku and see the countrywide. When traveling in between cities, it’s most convenient to take a private car. Distances are never more than a few hours. Another option is the train. Private trains are cleaner, a little slow, but usually run on schedule. There are also buses in between cities; you may not want to take them if you have a lot of luggage. Hitchhiking is not common. The U.S. State Department cautions travelers to avoid travel to Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding occupied areas.