10 Tips for Indians while travelling to Baku

posted in: Azerbaijan | 32

1.Uber AZ – Transportation is cheap in Baku as Azerbaijan is a petroleum rich country. There are a lot of public transport like Metro, Bus, Airport Shuttle etc. But the most convenient mode of transport is to use Cabs and Taxis. For tourists who don’t want to bargain or think whether they overpaid the cab fare, our suggestion is to use Uber or similar taxi hailing app (Bolt, Yandex etc).

To use Uber, you need to download Uber Azerbaijan app which looks like this. You also need a local SIM to use the Uber AZ app. You can get one local SIM at the airport for 30 AZN (~ Rs.1300).

Minimum fare which we saw for Uber was 1 AZN (~Rs.42).

From airport to Baku Boulevard mall (central area) fare is 10 AZN (~ Rs.450) which is cheaper than taking a local taxi in Baku.

2.What to wear in Baku – Although Azerbaijan is an Islamic country, there is no restriction in dress code for locals or tourists. You can wear whatever makes you comfortable.

But please be respectful when you are visiting a mosque or a temple. For mosques, remember to cover your head, shoulders and knees (shoulders and knees for men).

Baku has extreme weather. It’s extremely cold during winter (Dec-Feb sees min temperature upto 1°/ 2°C) and extremely hot during summer (July/August has highest temperature of 35°/ 38° C). Being near the Caspian Sea, it is also extremely windy. Check the exact temperature before your trip and accordingly pack your clothes.

3.Indian food – There are quite a few Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi restaurants in Baku where you can get Indian food. In Nizami Street area, you will find many Indian restaurants in a row. Even if you are not able to find the exact street, just roam around near McDonalds, some people from the Indian restaurants will approach you to have a lunch/dinner in their restaurants.

4.Buy basic items from Supermarkets – This tip is applicable whenever you are visiting abroad. Always look for a supermarket or a local store to buy some ready to eat food, water and snacks. This saves you a ton of money and you get to try local fruits and vegetables at a much reasonable price. Baku has many supermarkets like Bravo, Bazar where we did most of our shopping of cookies, chips, water, nuts, beer, wine and chocolates.

5.Stay around Baku Central Area – Try to stay in Baku central area. This will make your travel a lot easier as many of the local attractions are around the central area. You will also have a good access to Baku Boulevard which has an amazing view of the Caspian Sea. You can also save money on cabs or metro by walking to the market. Night life in Baku is really good. You can visit Nizami Street very easily at night by taking a walk as well from your hotel. There are many hotels/hostels available in Baku central area (budget and high end both).

6.Travel Insurance – Although Azerbaijan travel nowhere specifies travel insurance being mandatory, we were asked at the airport to show our insurance by airline staffers and also at Indian Immigration. It is always good to have travel insurance for all of your trips anyways, in case of any medical emergencies. The fee isn’t very high and you can compare a few insurances (in Policybazar, PaisaBazar etc) and book whichever is suitable for you. So please make sure to have travel insurance for your Baku travel.  If you are a family, you can opt for a family travel insurance as well which is a bit cheaper.

7.Transit Visa Not required in Kuwait/UAE – As there are no direct flights from India to Baku, you will have to transit via some country. We took Jazeera airlines from Mumbai which goes via Kuwait. You don’t have to worry about transit visa as you won’t have to leave the transit area.

If you wish to travel via any other airline, you can go via UAE, Qatar or Istanbul starting from Delhi/Mumbai and you won’t need a transit visa anywhere.  If you want to be absolutely sure about transit visa, just check with the airline you are travelling on.

8.How much Cash to exchange – One of the most important parts of any travel is to find out how much cash is required for your travel. Although you can use your credit/debit card to pay for things almost everywhere in Baku, it is not recommended to extensively use your card to avoid high transaction charges.

We had exchanged only 200 USD(~330 AZN or Rs.15000) at the airport and thought if we need more then we would exchange in the city (most of the times exchange rates are bad at airports, but we found it quite reasonable in Baku). We could easily manage with that mount of cash during our 5 days, 4 nights stay in Baku. We did pay with our credit card in couple of places which would be around 150 AZN (~ Rs6500).

Overall, for a family of two on a budget trip, you don’t need to exchange more than 300 USD (~500 AZN or Rs.20000) for a 4 nights to cover all your costs like food, transport etc.

9.Must eat local Food and Drinks – People of Baku love their Tea and Wine. You can get the local tea (Azar cay) in almost every restaurant, do try it.

Azerbaijan is also famous for its wine. There are many wine orchards around the city where you can go for a wine tour. Even if you can’t go on a wine tour, get some local wine from any supermarket (we found the cheapest wine bottles at 3 AZN or Rs. 120).

Apart from this Azerbaijan has the best quality Pomegranates and various kinds of nuts (Cashew, Pistachio, Pecan, Hazelnut etc). You can pack these and get them as gifts for your loved ones. Azerbaijan has their own version of Doner Kebab, Shawarma and Baklava which you can also try.

10.Power Plugs in Azerbaijan – The working voltage is voltage is 220-240 in Azerbaijan. They use the 2 pin European style plugs, but the socket is different than what we have in India. Take a travel adapter for your phone/laptop which you need to charge in Azerbaijan.

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