LOCAL TIPS

About Baku

Once was a small town (as large as the Old City) on the shore of the Caspian Sea, Baku is now the capital of Azerbaijan and the largest city in South Caucasus. Sometimes it’s been labelled as “New Dubai” or “the City Built by Oil”. Baku offers beautifully contrasting, perhaps, contradicting experiences stemming from the background of Oriental Medieval, Tsarist Russian, Soviet and Modern Independent periods. It’s also a peaceful home for diverse ethnic and religious groups.

Check Baku’s official tourism portal: Baku Tourism Information Center

Where to Stay?

Baku has a lot of space for incoming tourists and traveller even during peak months. But the issue is that they are mostly 4 or 5 star hotels in Baku which is not the first preference of middle class or budget travellers. However, there is a recent trend of budget hotels and hostels emerging every day in city centre. This allows travellers to find a decent place to stay for moderate prices. This ongoing tendency establishes hosting culture and friendly environment for tourist gradually. Therefore you should keep your expectation low when staying at those mid-range hotels and hostels

For hotel&hostels, have look at booking.com or Lonely Planet’s selections.

Food

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Azerbaijani Cuisine: Shah pilov, uch-baji dolma, lavangi. Photo credit: http://www.trend.az

Azerbaijani cuisine is heavily typified by the ingredients of beef, lamb and pastry. But you can still enjoy fresh and light food varieties, too. Azerbaijani cuisine is not based on quick cookery. Foods that are uniquely Azerbaijani may take an hour to prepare, which would require you ordering food you want to eat in advance at the same time reserving a seat. To name some of national food that you’d like are pilaf, dolma, lavangi and of course kebabs:

kabab
Kebab. Photo credit: http://www.sufrem.az/
dolma
Dolma. Photo credit: http://www.azernews.az

Baku is also a cosmopolitan city and most of the restaurants and cafes in Baku downtown offer European and Asian cuisines along with Azerbaijani. If you cannot make you mind, always remember that there is McDonald’s right in the city centre or you may like eating in the world’s biggest KFC nearby the Central Train Station.

Drinking

Despite the fact that Azerbaijan is Muslim majority country, alcohol consumption is allowed. And you can purchase any type of alcohol from markets. However Azerbaijan is one of the least alcohol consuming countries in Europe, it makes up to the-top-ten-list in Muslim World.
Devaluation of the local currency hit the prices to cause inflation. But still the nightlife is not that expensive in Baku. Local beer, Khirdalan, costs around 2-3 AZN pub to pub. However, the prices will be around 4-6 AZN in those luxury places.
You can find out pub and cafes with nice atmosphere and vibes in walking distance from city centre, Fountains Square. Əbdülkərim Əlizadə and Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev streets are famous for their English and Irish pubs. Islam Safarli street is becoming an alternative pub and cafe street recently. Those are not just new pub-and-cafe markets but also a new kind of culture emerging under roofs of those underground places.

Use following platforms to access information about cafes and restaurants:
http://www.citylife.az
http://www.azrestoran.az

Souvenir and Gifts: What to Buy?

No wonder like all tourists and traveller you also want to buy souvenir or gifts to take home for family and friends from Baku. But you might have difficulty to decide what to buy that reflects the best of local culture and tradition.

Also note that bargaining is an essential part of buying those souvenirs and gifts in shops of Baku. You should always remember that prices differ from shop to shop. Therefore you are better try couple of shops to get some sort of favourable deal if you are not good at bargaining.

Icherisheher (Old City) is full of those souvenir and gift shops and just wandering along the streets of the Old City will take you there randomly.
Just couple of ideas for gifts and souvenirs:

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Azerbaijani Kelaghayi (headscarf). Photo credit: http://www.trend.az
8895d4599b40ab8688786f0ddbc818289ad74023
Crude oil painting ‘neft painting’. Photo credit: http://www.regionplus.az
ceramics
Ceramics. Photo credit. http://www.craft.az

Events

It could be quite a struggle to involve in events taking place in Baku. The most important events that are observed with large masses and crowds are the New Year Eve and Novruz Holiday.
Novruz Holiday is the one you would definitely want to attend if you are interested in local traditions, cultures and food. People start festivities of Novruz a month prior to actual date which is March 21.
Besides, there are lot more parties, concerts and all other kind of events taking place throughout years
Aside from these traditional events, Tallinn’s always busy. Parties and concerts are aplenty and the city has plenty of funky venues catering to the more alternative crowd.

http://www.citylife.az – Events in Baku

Useful phone numbers:

Taxi reservation Call
189Taxi 189
Estet Pigmalion (taxi reservation) 130
London taxi *9000
Public Services
State Migration Service 919
Long distance telephone communications 107
Exact Time 106
In case of emergency
Emergencies Ministry 112
Fire Service 101
Police 102
Ambulance 103
Ambulance (specialised therapeutic center) 110
First aid in case of car accidents 113
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