Essential information for visitors
(Prices in US$1=0.78 AZN = 0.62 GBP = 1 Euro)
- Visa is generally required by all (apart from CIS member countries). No visa upon arrival in the airport (except for Turks and Israelis) or land borders. Letter of invitation is required in most AZ embassies. Hotel booking confirmation usually is not required.
- Currency Manat US$1= 0.78 AZN =1 Euro. Stable. Roughly equals to 1 Euro (same style notes and coins, actually were designed by the same designer that made Euros). It's best to bring US$ cash or a MasterCard/Visa credit card for cash advances. ATMs widely available in Baku city centre. Outside Baku better to have cash ready. Re-exchange is not problem. Rates for USD & Euro are OK, for pound sterling are slightly poorer. Travellers' cheques are hard to cash.
- Hotel prices Baku hotels are rather expensive starting from 70-80$, typical Baku hotel $80-120, top hotels (Baku) $180-280. Hotels outside Baku are much (2-3 times) cheaper.
- Food prices Cheap local meals widely available(doner kebab 2-3 AZN), standard shashlyk meal $5 AZN.
- Drink prices Bottled water from 50-70 cents per half-litre. Draft beer from 1,5 Manat, bottled lager from 1,5-2 AZN (Xirdalan), up to 5 AZN in ex-pat bars.
- Transport prices Taxi 5-8 AZN anywhere within central Baku City. Metro is cheap and the best to get around Baku (flat fee of 0,25 cents per ride), buses cost as Metro (0.20-0,25 AZN per ride ). You can cross the country by bus (marshrutkas) or sleeper train for 5-10 AZN depending on class.
- Driving International licence advised. Major international car hire chains (Avis, Hertz, etc) available. Car hire/4WD can be arranged based on your home licence
- Time zone 4hrs ahead of GMT, 2hrs ahead of Turkey, 30 minutes ahead of Iran.
- Religion Tolerant form of Shiite Islam with animist undertones.
- Dress code Unlike most Islamic places, it's men not women who would cause a stir if they wore shorts (foreigners are generally excused). In the countryside women should also cover their legs, but in Baku fashion allows remarkably risque outfits. No need to cover hair.
- Language Azeri (Azerbaijani), Russian is also spoken widely in Baku and among older folks across the country, Turkish is useful, English is understood by very few outside Baku.
- Best seasons Spring ideal for lowlands, summer for mountains, May for the deep south. Beware - during the Annual Oil and Gas Show (usually early June), flights and Baku's better quality accommodation will be full.
- Telephone codes The international code for Azerbaijan is 994, then 12 for Baku, 50(Azercell), 55 (Bakcell) or 70 (Nar) for mobiles.
- Health factors Little to worry about. Minimal malaria risk (and limited to marshes in the south-centre where few travellers venture anyway) but carry good repellent for annoying mosquitoes. Drink bottled water.
- Safety Generally very safe and hospitable. Occasional hassle from police. Violence and crime is minimal.
- Problems Unresolved Nagomo-Karabagh war - around 15% of the territory remains occupied by Armenian forces, many refugees.
- Things to buy Caviar (125 gr can available to be taken from the country), saffron, carpets (can include your name or portrait), copperware. Export certificates often required for carpets, music instruments, old pictures.
- Shopping Most international goods are available in Baku, though would be more expensive. Outside the capital choice is very limited.