Khorog Travel Guide + 7 Things to do in Khorog
Updated December 2023, Khorog Travel Guide + 7 Things to do in Khorog was written in January 2020
I’ve spent a lot of time in Khorog over the years, probably more than any sane non-resident anyway. It’s a perfect base between trekking trips exploring the Pamirs and it’s compact enough that you can easily walk just about anywhere in it, bar maybe that botanical garden.
Khorog is the capital of the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast and the largest town in the Pamirs. If you’re continuing on toward the Pamir Plateau (toward Murghab), Khorog is the perfect spot to recharge and restock before continuing on to wilder pastures.
For those coming from the Pamir Plateau and onwards toward Dushanbe, a couple of days break here in Khorog is usually well deserved to enjoy a few creature comforts before making the long drive to the west of Tajikistan.
In this Khorog travel guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about the town, the best things to do in Khorog, where to sleep, the best restaurants, and more.
Note that there is extensive construction happening on the Pamir Highway in summer 2023! The roadwork is happening between Qala i Khumb and Khorog and is causing major delays, so it’s adviseable to split the Dushanbe-Khorog jounrye into two days, spending a night in Qala i Khumb.
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Things To Do In Khorog
The Khorog Central Park is a nice place to spend an afternoon in the shade of the trees, There is a small carnival and even a swimming pool here in the summertime.
You’ll find the PECTA (Pamir Eco-Cultural Tourism Association) within the park, as well as the Chor Bagh Restaurant.
Every July the Roof of the World Festival is held at Khorog Central Park, which showcases music, dance, food, handicrafts, and other cultural traditions unique to the Tajik Pamirs as well as other Central Asian nations of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Western China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
If you’re trying to arrange onwards travel whether by private vehicle hire or in hopes to arrange a group to cost-share with the PECTA office is where you’ll want to head. The staff can also help you find various activities and adventures in the Pamirs.
Especially if you’re continuing onwards toward Murghab on the Pamir Highway, you’ll want to head to the Khorog Bazaar to grab any provisions, as shops and bazaars further along toward the Kyrgyz border will have less variety and be a bit more expensive.
Note that some of the bazaar (mostly fresh produce) has been relocated to the location of the new bazaar which is a bit of a walk from the center, about 1 km west of the old bazaar.
Take a hike: The 10 best treks in Tajiksitan
Khorog Regional Museum
The regional museum houses several strange artifacts, but the exhibits are displayed in Russian so I’d recommend using the camera function on Google Translate on your mobile if you want to understand a little more. Entrance to the Khorog Regional Museum is 5 TJS.
Hike Above Khorog for Aerial Views
If you’re looking for a good warm-up hike before you set out into the Pamir, look no further than this trek from the heart of Khorog to the airport. About 200 meters east of the stoplight in Khorog, walk up Boghen Road tp the north. Soon you’ll pass a cemetery from which a trail meanders up into the hills north of Khorog.
This short day hike offers sweeping views of the city from above. You can either hike back to town the same way you came up or opt to continue along the ridgeline to finish up out near the Khorog Airport. From the Khorog Airport, you can grab a marshrutka bound back for the city.
Khorog Botanical Garden
The Khorog Botanical Garden is up a hill and has great views over the town, but the garden is a bit neglected. Entrance to the botanical garden is free, but it is quite a haul out of town, so I’d recommend either taking Marshrutka #3 (2 TJS) to the lower gate and walking 30 minutes more to arrive, or to grab a taxi in town for about 12 TJS to take you all the way to the entrance.
Ismaili Jamoatkhona & Center
The newly opened Ismaili Center and Jamoatkhona on the western edge of the Central Park is worth taking the time to take a quick tour of. This center not only can accommodate up to 1,500 worshippers at a time but also serves as a community center for Ismailis of the region as well as the general population of Khorog. Several volunteers can give an excellent tour of the facilities as well (just go to the gate out from and ask!).
Unfortunately it’s no longer possible to visit the Jamoatkhona. It has been shut down (mostly) by the government and only local practitioners are allowed in to use the mosque.
Tem (Afghan) Border Market
On the Tajik side of the border at the Tem-Demogan Border Crossing between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, there is a market held on Saturdays where Afghan merchants are allowed to cross the bridge and sell food, clothing, handicrafts, and more.
Unfortunately, this border market is subject to frequent closures due to security issues on the Afghan side. I’d recommend going to the PECTA office the day prior to ask if they have any info on whether it will be open or not.
The Afghan Border Market is located about 3 km north of the Khorog Airport. Marshrutkas #1 and #3 will get you here for 2 TJS, or grab a taxi from town for about 10 TJS.
Please note that the Ishkashim Border Market in nearby Ishkashim has now been closed for the most part for a few years. It’s uncertain if or when it will re-open.
Looking for the best short hike in the Pamirs? Check out the Jizeu Trekking Guide
How To Travel To Khorog
From Dushanbe: Shared taxis depart the Badakhshanskaya Avtostansiya in Dushanbe, located somewhat behind the Hilton (formerly Sheraton) Hotel. A shared taxi will set you back about 400 TJS for a seat. (Note that in summer 2021 that shared taxis to Khorog are slightly more expensive than ones returning to Dushanbe, prices are hovering around 400 TJS to Khorog, 350 TJS to Dushanbe).
The journey typically takes anywhere from 12-18 hours (the longest I’ve endured was 20 hours). Due to the long journey I always recommend staying a night in Qala i Khumb to split the drive into two days to make it more enjoyable (the latter half the drive between Qala i Khumb and Khorog is quite pretty so it’s best to see it in the light).
If you do opt to split the drive in two days, you can head to the east end of Qala i Khumb (don’t worry the town is tiny) and find shared taxis waiting to fill up, bound for Khorog.
If you are returning from Khorog to Dushanbe, you’ll need to head to the Dushanbe shared taxi lot, just beyond the airport in Khorog located about 4 km west of town. Marshrutkas #1 and #3 head to the taxi stand or you can call a Raksh taxi by dialing 3333.
From Murghab: Head to the bazaar in Murghab in the morning to hop on a shared taxi bound for Khorog. Plan for about 120 TJS for a seat. It is best to try and arrange to get a shared taxi the day before you plan to leave, sometimes drivers will pop into guesthouses in the late afternoon looking for riders who they’ll just drop by and pick up in the morning.
The drive between Khorog and Murghab takes roughly 8 hours and usually will include a stop in Alichur for lunch.
Some of you may opt for a night in Alichur on the way to break up the drive. Alichur is a small village scattered along the highway. There isn’t much to do, but I have a soft spot for it because I’ve always found the local kids to be friendly and fun to spend an afternoon with.
Getting out of Alichur can be a little tricky, so plan that you may get stuck for a couple of days, or try your thumb along the highway to hitch the remainder of the journey to Khorog.
Others of you may be planning to include the Wakhan Valley as part of your Pamir Highway adventure coming from Murghab. If this is your plan, I highly recommend hiring a driver and 4×4 from Murghab or even in advance for the journey.
If you are continuing to Murghab after Khorog, you’ll need to head to the new Murghab taxi stand, to the east side of Khorog, just beyond the University of Central Asia campus.
From The Tajik Wakhan: As mentioned previously, some of you may be planning to explore the Wakhan Valley on your way from Murghab. As I said already, it’s easiest to have your transport hired and planned in advance. However, it’s not impossible to get here by hitching.
If you make it to the Wakhan and need to plan the rest of your journey, know that Ishakshim is going to be the easiest town in the Wakhan to get a shared taxi to Khorog. Shared taxis from Ishkashim to Khorog go for 40 TJS for a seat and most leave before 10 am. Less frequently a shared taxi will depart Langar bound for Ishkashim.
In the planning stages? Check out my 1-4 Week Tajikistan Itinerary
Where To Stay In Khorog
My go-to for Khorog is Welcome Inn, ran by the amazing Zhandiya who also started her own travel company called Unique Pamir. Zhandiya is a wealth of knowledge on the Pamirs (she literally knows everything and everyone!). A dorm bed including dinner and breakfast is 150 TJS per night for the centrally located hostel smack between the bazaar and central park. Contact Zhandiya at +992 937035393 or [email protected].
For those looking for the cheapest spot in town, the Pamir Lodge offers up dorm-style accommodation for $7 USD/night, they’ll even let you pitch your tent in the yard for cheaper. It can be a bit grungy but is a good place to meet other backpackers, you can contact them on Facebook.
Sparkly clean rooms and lovely staff will welcome you at Hotel Kivekas, located about 500 meters east of the Central Park. They offer spacious doubles that overlook the river and the breakfast here is excellent. Grab a room on Booking.com.
Another great midrange option is the LAL Hotel with traditionally decorated rooms with en suite showers and toilets. Attached to the Lal cafe and hostel mentioned above. Reserve a room on Booking.com.
Plan your onwards adventure and go explore the little-visited Shokhdara Valley as a Pamir Highway side trip
Where To Eat In Khorog
Located right on Lenin Street not too far from the Central Park, Cafe Luni whips up some pretty good coffees and serves up lovely pastries, cakes, and other treats. I’m a big fan of the sambusa they usually have on hand also (usually chicken or potato) which makes for the perfect lunch or afternoon snack.
World Cuisine is a newer addition to Khorog and offers up a smattering of dishes from an array of countries around the world. The Sicilian pizza is pretty decent and came recommended by a couple of local friends. Located on Lenin Street upstairs from Tcell and just across from Welcome Inn.
If you’ve been kicking around the Pamirs for a bit and are looking for a bit of spice (you know you missed it), the food at Delhi Darbar will be a welcomed change. Expect to pay about 30 TJS for a curry. Located on Azizbek Street.
Lal Cafe makes a pretty decent pizza, considering you’re not only in Tajikistan but the Pamirs. Expect to pay 30-60 TJS for a pizza, depending on toppings. Lal Cafe is attached to Lal Hotel on Azizbek Street.
Parinen, which is located near the new bazaar features a lovely courtyard with outdoor dining as well as indoor seating. The shashlik here is excellent.
Located in the Khorog Center Park where you can sit perched above the river. It’s the perfect spot to have a beer in the evening. Dishes range from about 15-45 TJS.
Off To Mughab Next? Check out the Murghab Travel Guide
Getting Out Of Khorog
To Dushanbe: Shared taxis bound for Dushanbe leave in the mornings from a lot west of town next to the Khorog Airport. Expect a seat to set you back 350 TJS.
To Murghab & Other Destinations Along The Gunt Valley: Shared taxis that depart toward Murghab and other destinations en route along the Gunt Valley can be found in a lot on the east side of the city (they used to depart from the bazaar). They either leave just east of the University of Central Asia campus or a little futher out of down from the village of Bidurd. Grab a taxi or marshrutka #1 to the shared taxi stand in the morning to find a departing car.
Expect to pay around 150 TJS for a seat to Murghab, prices can vary between 15-100 TJS for other destinations on the way. For those planning to do the Bachor Mountain Lakes Trek, you’ll need to get dropped at Shazud (about 50 TJS), and from there charter a 4WD to take you to Bachor (plan to haggle, price should be somewhere between 100-150 TJS, I settled for 120 TJS on my visit).
To The Tajik Wakhan: From the lot at the new Khorog Bazaar located just east of the Khorog Airport, you will find the shared taxis departing for destinations in the Wakhan Valley.
A shared taxi to Ishkashim will cost about 50 TJS and take about 3 hours, while shared taxis to Langar on the far side of the Wakhan take about 7 hours and cost about 125 TJS.
To The Bartang Valley: Head to the lot located at the new Khorog Bazaar just east of the Khorog Airport (just like for Wakhan-bound taxis). Drivers will likely begin asking you where you’re going and point you toward the cluster of vehicles making the journey to the Bartang Valley destinations waiting to fill up.
Most days you should be able to hop on a shared taxi to Rushan and the bridge for Jizeu, but other destinations further up the Bartang Valley may leave you waiting for a few days in Khorog before a car departs. Prices vary depending on how far your destination is. Rushan can cost as little as 15 TJS in a marshrutka. Read more about the Bartang Valley here.
To Shokhdara Valley: The Shokhdara Valley isn’t commonly visited by foreigners, but typically there are several marshrutka connecting Khorog and Roshtaqala for about 20 TJS per seat. Sometimes one will depart of destinations further up the Shokhdara Valley such as Jawshanguz (not everyday) at a cost of around 80 TJS. The lot for Shokhdara Valley is located on the opposite side of the river by turning right once over the bridge and just a short distace down the road. Marshrutka #3 can take you here.
To The Afghan Wakhan: Head to the same lot where the Wakhan shared taxis depart from. Ask to be dropped at the Ishkashim border bridge (about 3 km before Ishkashim). Cost and time is the same as Ishkashim bound taxis. See photos from the Afghan Wakhan here. Note that in summer 2023, the only corssing open to foreigners between Tajikistan and Afghanistan is Panji Poyan-Shirkhan Bandar just south of Dushanbe.
Have Any Questions About Visiting Khorog Or About Any Of The Things To Do In Khorog Mentioned Above?
Ask your Khorog travel questions in the comments section below.