Khujand Travel Guide + 14 Things to do in Khujand
Updated July 2021, Khujand Travel Guide + 14 Things to do in Khujand was originally written in December 2017
Leninabad sat protected by the Fann Mountains from much of the fighting that ensued during the 1990s Tajik Civil War that ravaged much of Tajikistan. In 1991 the name of the city was officially changed back to Khujand, but Khujand doesn’t much bear the same scars as many other Tajik towns and cities, owing to its isolation from much of the rest of the country during the war.
Khujand is officially the second-largest city in the country behind Dushanbe with a handful of sites that can be seen in a day or two. The city has enjoyed a long history along the ancient Silk Road on the banks of the Syr Darya River, in the Tajik Fergana Valley. Read on in this Khujand Travel Guide to learn about the 14 best things to do in Khujand, where to stay, and how to get there.
Start here: The Ultimate Tajikistan Travel Guide
Things To Do In Khujand
Panjshanbe Bazaar is the best place in town to pick up, well, anything. Panjshanbe means ‘Thursday’ in Tajik and is one of the largest bazaars in all of Central Asia, built in 1964. If you happen to be in Khujand on a Thursday make sure to pay a visit as that’s the busiest and best day for the bazaar. It’s decorated in pink and lime green with massive archway entrances in a grand Soviet-era-meets-Arabian-Nights style.
Masjid i Jami Mosque & Madrasa
This is the Friday Mosque of Khujand, located right next to the Sheikh Musil ad Din Mausoleum and Panjshanbe Bazaar. The Masjid i Jami Mosque & Madrasa date back to the 16th century.
Sheikh Musil ad Din Mausoleum
Look for the giant teal iridescent dome next to Panjshanbe Bazaar, it’s impossible to miss. This is the Sheikh Musil ad Din Complex, which dates back to 1394. Built as a tomb to the 12th century poet and miracle maker Sheikh Musil ad Din, who hailed from Khujand. The original tomb was built in the 12th century, only to be razed by the Mongols and later rebuilt in 1394.
This is a traditionally designed brick mausoleum, bar the uber-modern shiny dome on top. The older minaret of the two on the complex grounds dates back to 1865. The grounds around the mausoleum is a great place to meet locals as you’ll find many people milling about and kids playing in the area.
Going to the Fergana Valley city of Istaravshan too? Read the Istaravshan Travel Guide to plan your visit
Citadel & Kamoli Khujandi Park
Khujand’s Citadel dates back to the 10th century and was built upon the original settlement of Alexander the Great as he marched through the Fergana Valley. A portion of the citadel is still used by the Tajik Army, but much of the eastern wall has been rebuilt.
The modern Kamoli Khujandi Park attaches onto the north side of the Citadel with the Citadel itself housing the Historical Museum of Sughd in the southeast corner, the Archaeological Museum in the restored eastern part of the Citadel, and the Kamoli Khujandi House Museum sits outside the western side of the Citadel.
Kamoli Khujandi House Museum
Kamoli Khujandi is considered to be one of the 14th century’s greatest romantic poets. He was born in Khujand but later in life moved to Tabriz, Iran where he died. The Kamoli Khujandi House Museum displays what wealthier homes, such as that of Kamoli Khujandi in the 14th century would have looked like.
The small Archaeological Museum has several ancient pieces on display and old plans showing the original citadel.
Historical Museum Of Sughd
Located in the southeast corner of the Citadel the Historical Museum of Sughd, displays several exhibits from around the Sughd Region, some dating back to the times of Alexander the Great.
Kamoli Khujandi Mausoleum
At the heart of Kamoli Khujandi Park sits a Mausoleum and statue dedicated to Kamoli Khujandi. The intricate work on the mausoleum is worth getting an up-close view of.
Zeravshan Tourism Development Association
If you have questions about traveling in the northwest of Tajikistan, including the Tajik Fergana Valley, Fann Mountains, Yagnob Valley, and Zeravshan Valley this is the place to go. Located inside Kamoli Khujandi Park next to the Citadel.
Kamoli Khujandi Theatre
Just south of the citadel sits the Kamoli Khujandi Theatre, inside are countless photos of various shows that have taken place at the theatre. I was shown around the theatre by a local who starred in many shows here. The day I was there a small craft bazaar was taking place inside.
Ismoil Somoni Park
On the opposite side of the Syr Darya River from the Citadel is Ismoil Somoni Park, dedicated to the Samanid ruler himself. One of the most interesting attractions of the park is the mosaic work depicting Tajik scenes.
Largest Lenin Statue In Central Asia & Victory Park
Lenin once stood over the heart of Khujand but has since moved out to a suburb on the other side of the Syr Darya River in Victory Park. The only notable reason to visit the park is to get a view of the largest Lenin Statue left standing in Central Asia.
WWII Monument & Eternal Flame
It wouldn’t be a post-Soviet city if there wasn’t a WWII Memorial & Eternal Flame. The Memorial is near Panjshanbe Bazaar. Nearly 300,000 Tajiks fought for the Soviet Union during WWII.
Off to Dushanbe before or after Khujand? Check out my Dushanbe Travel Guide for more
Where To Sleep In Khujand
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Where to Eat in Khujand
Zaytun: Located on the north side of the Syr Darya River. Zaytun serves up a good variety of Tajik and Central Asian dishes. The Javari is a must-try as you won’t find it outside of Khujand- a soup made from a locally grown pulse (called Javari as well) with mung beans, carrots, onions, and beef.
Cafe Ravshan: A Khujand favorite that’s been around since the late 90s serving up the usual Tajik and Central Asian fare. Conveniently located near Kamoli Khujandi Park and the Citadel.
How To Travel To Khujand
By Plane: There are daily flights to and from Dushanbe and several Russian cities and Khujand. The airport is located about 16 km away in Buston (formerly Chkalovsk).
By Minibus/Shared Taxi: There are three bus stations in Khujand, Isfara Avtostanitsa, Yova Bus Station, and Abreshim Bus Station. At Isfara Avtostanitsa you’ll find minibusses and shared taxis departing to Isfara to cross the border toward Osh, Kyrgyzstan. At Yova Bus Station you’ll find minibusses and shared taxis departing for Dushanbe and Panjakent. At Abreshim Bus Station you will find shared taxis and minibusses to Konibodum and to Buston for those headed to the Oybek border crossing to get to Tashkent.
Things to do Around Khujand
Istiklol (formerly Taboshar)
Located just a short 40 minute drive to the north, the small town of Istiklol (formerly Taboshar) makes for an unusual half-day trip from Khujand.
In the 1930s, Taboshar was the largest uranium mining site in all of the Soviet Union, inhabited mostly by ethnic Germans who had been brought there, though the mine ceased operations in the early 1990s. These Germans were mostly prisoners of war (WWII) or German-Russians who were sent to build the town and work the uranium mines. Although most of the Germans that once inhabited Taboshar no longer live here (the population was 20,000 at its zenith and is now only 10,000), their architectural legacy lives on through a series of German-style stone houses found around the town.
A short walk (or drive) from the eerily quiet town of Istiklol will bring you to the ruins of the defunct Taboshar Uranium Mine, complete with a radioactive reservoir, open uranium pits, and even old machinery. It’s definitely an interesting sight to behold, especially for those that have never visited a uranium mine. Surely it’s not the safest place to visit for an extended period given the radioactivity and all, but a short visit for a look at the reservoir and mining operation is probably okay (I still haven’t grown a second head since my visit).
To get to Istiklol, head to the Abreshim Bus Station and ask for the Istiklol (locals seem to call it Taboshar still) shared taxi. The shared taxi should cost around 25 TJS per seat and will drop you off at the main square along Prospekt Istiklol on the southern side of town (this is also where you’ll find return shared taxis).
If you are on a time crunch and don’t want to wait around for a shared taxi to fill up on the way there or back you can easily hire a taxi from Khujand for a return trip to Istiklol. Plan to pay about 150-200 TJS for the car, including waiting time.
Akhkon (Buloq) Salt Falt
Did you know just a couple of hours outside of Khujand there’s a decent-sized salt flat? Well, neither did I, that is until a local friend let me in on the secret.Think like a baby Salar de Uyuni without the crowds and with a healing mud bath.
The Akhkon Namak Koni (Akhkon Salt Mine) is located about a 90 minute drive to the northeast of Khujand, making a unique day trip from the city. Similar to the much more famed Salar de Uyuni of Bolivia, Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah, and the Etosha Pan of Namibia, the Akhkon Salt Flat was once a saline lake that evaporated long ago, leaving behind a blindingly white field of salt.
An unusual feature of the Akhkon Salt Flats is the healing black mud below the salted crust surface that attracts locals from all around the Sughd Province. It’s believed that the mud can cure a number of ailments, many of which afflict the skin. For mud treatments, there’s a men’s and a women’s side, both are located on the northeast edge of the salt flat, conveniently separated by a narrow spine of mountains.
To get to the Akhkon Salt Flats you can look for an Asht or Buloq bound shared taxi or marshrutka from the Abreshim Bus Station and hop off at the turn-off for Akhkon (you can’t miss the giant sign with ‘Ахкон’ written on it), and walk the remainder of the way in. Alternatively, you can easily hire a car from Khujand to bring you there and back. On summer and early fall weekends you can probably hitch a ride from the city as it’s a common location to go relax.
Visiting Uzbekistan too? Plan your trip with my two week Uzbekistan & Tajikistan itinerary
Safety & Health
In general Khujand and the whole of Tajikistan is a safe country to visit. Apply common sense that you would anywhere else. Here are a few things to be mindful of:
- The most likely thing to put a damper on your travel in Khujand and Tajikistan is food poisoning. Try to eat in places where there are lots of other people. Also, try to stick to hot and fresh food if you can. At worst, pack Imodium and a broad spectrum antibiotic to help get you through a bout with food poisoning or a bug.
- Walking around at night should be fine (I’ve done it plenty of times and alone). However, it is advisable to avoid nightclubs as a solo female to avoid any harassment.
- Tap water is generally not safe to drink.
- Petty theft does happen, but it isn’t the norm. Be aware that pickpockets could operate in busy places like bazaars.
- Law enforcement can be corrupt. I have not personally been asked for even so much as a bribe or even threatened by police, border patrol, checkpoint officers or so on. At most I’ve had them hassle me a bit for a missing stamp on my e-visa (never experienced this before), and be flirty with me at GBAO checkpoints and other border points. It is best to carry a passport copy around with you so in the event you are asked by law enforcement for ID while walking around you can hand that over rather than your physical passport. If the police ask to see your ID demand to see theirs first to make sure it’s not a scam.
- In the event of an emergency or you are a victim of crime, it is recommended to contact your embassy before contacting the police.
- Get a travel insurance plan just in case you do get sick or injured. While Khujand has some of the better healthcare options in the country, Tajikistan is not well equipped for serious illnesses or injuries. For more serious ailments you’ll likely need to leave the country and possibly the Central Asia region for treatment.
Have Any Questions About This Khujand Travel Guide Or Any Of The Things To Do In Khujand Mentioned Above?
Ask your Khujand travel questions in the comments section below. I recommend getting a copy of Bradt Tajikistan to help you plan your visit to Khujand and beyond.