Azerbaijan attracts a number of visitors every year to explore the ruins of antiquity and historical monuments, UNESCO heritage sites, magnificent medieval fortresses and modern designer buildings.
But here is the question: is it really safe in Azerbaijan for a traveler?
As a matter of fact, Azerbaijan is one of the safest countries in the world. According to safety map provided by International SOS, a travel security services company, Azerbaijan is among low security risk countries to travel.
Let’s dive deeper and have an insider’s look into safety in this country.
GENERAL SAFETY RISK: Low
The crime situation in Azerbaijan is not higher than in Western or Central Europe. It is absolutely safe to carry expensive equipment with you, to drink alcohol in public and private spaces or to walk at midnight. Azeribaijanis are very hospitable, especially to tourists.
There are no significant security risks in Azerbaijan . Officially, Azerbaijan is a secular state. Although most of the population identifies as Muslims, they are neither practicing nor strong adherents of religion. In Azerbaijani cities and villages the Christian churches, Jewish sinagogues coexist with mosques, and there is absolutely no religious tension. Terrorist attacks are very rare, although UK government states the opposite. The biggest caution is not to travel Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is occupied by Armenian forces.
The country tries to take care of the tourists and their safety to the maximum. The police are tourist-friendly, and their functions include not only providing assistance, but also explaining the peculiarities of the Azerbaijani society.
Tourists of any race, skin color, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation can and should feel safe, because Azerbaijan is a very tolerant state. However, there have been several discriminative cases against Arab ethnicities and different races recently.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: Moderate
Everywhere you travel, stay cautious against thieves and pickpockets.
SCAMS RISK: High
Taxi drivers can charge you more than usual for the ride, so negotiate everything in advance. Book your taxi online, over phone (taxi *189 is considered as one of the best) or use Uber/Taxify.
The airport taxi could be another bad experience if you are not aware how much it should cost. Make sure you agree on the price before hopping on.
When purchasing a souvenir at a local shop, where you can bargain, please do bargain! Otherwise, you will be ripped off. Start with the half price of the offer and continue from there. You might end up with the price that is even lower than half.
Restaurants. That’s like everywhere else in the world. Make sure you see the menu and the prices before you order. Once you get your bill, check your orders carefully and if something is added/charged more than it was mentioned in the menu, ask the waiter to make corrections.
TRANSPORTATION SAFETY RISK: High
Depending on the areas where you are traveling, the transportation can be either great or awful experience. Generally, in central areas, the drivers of Baku Bus are usually professional. In suburbs, the drivers can drive at hazardous speeds. If you feel yourself in risky situation, get off the transportation immediately.
Despite the fact that the roads have strict rules of the road, Azerbaijanis very often violate them. It is definitely a challenging experience for visitors arriving with their own vehicles to adapt to such a movement in the country. As before, stay vigilant and be extra cautious.
NATURAL DISASTER RISK: Low
Generally, when swimming in the waters of Caspian Sea, stay away from dangerous rip currents.
In summer, temperature can rise above + 35 ° C (+95 F), so make sure to wear protective caps and sunglasses if you are in Azerbaijan from June till August. In the hottest season, it’s recommended not to be out from 1PM to 4PM.
RISK FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS: Low
You can fully enjoy the journey with a minimum level of precaution. Walking late in the evening and at night is usually safe.
- Ambulance: 103
- Firefighters: 101
- Police: 102
- Time service: 106
- City service: 109
Tourists in Azerbaijan have the right to freely photograph and videotape wherever they want to, except for the metro. Filming in the subway will require a special permit. A traveler who wants to take a picture of a stranger must ask permission to do so.
Plain tap water has to be boiled before drinking.
Azerbaijani people are quite relentless in commenting the way people dress. However, as we are hospitable towards other cultures, tourists can dress according to their own preferences. Western woman will be mostly perceived as ‘available for sex’ by locals, especially if the woman is dressed lightly. Keep your head up and move on, you have all the rights to dress comfortably.
When visiting religious sites, make sure to dress accordingly. In mosques, women should cover their head with a scarf.