Baku – All You Need To Know!
So, as you all know that I went on a vacation to Azerbaijan and Georgia recently, this post is all you need to know before to go to these two countries!
Starting from Baku where we spent three days; at City Walls Hotel in Baku old city. The old city is beautiful!! The thousands of years old bricked walls and bricked roads, and those labyrinthine alleyways would just make you wanna walk
You will find restaurants, wine tastings and coffee shops in every corner of old city. The city never sleeps! The lights are always on, old women will be found chatting arond street corners and men playing poker. The days are even more beautiful when the streets are full of tourists and locals, it feels like a festival !
We loved the locals, they were so welcoming, always ready to help! We never had to ask anyone to help because whenever someone saw we were confused they came over and asked. One time we were going to cross a road and a guy who overheard told us about the underground crossing, another time we were waiting for Uber and were having trouble with the driver over phone since he couldn’t understand English, a local came over and spoke to the driver on our behalf. We never asked! If the locals know that you are from Pakistan, they would treat you even better, because they love Pakistan army for the services it rendered during Baku’s war against Armenia. They have massive respect for Pakistanis.
We stayed in the The city walls Hotel that was a four story building with multiple rooms on each floor and no elevator. Due to some trouble with their Air Conditioner, they let us live in the apartment that was right next to the building. The apartment was fully equipped, gorgeous, tidy and very cozy!
I’m dividing our stay in days so one can easily find what we did on each day of our trip. But I’m mentioning some interesting facts about Baku, it’s everything you need to know before going there.
I would like to mention here that we didn’t hire any tour guide, we decided to explore on our own and at our own pace.
Uber is the best option for traveling, it’s very convenient and reasonable ! The taxi drivers charge a lot otherwise. It used to take us only 3-5 manaat for coming back to old city from any location within Baku. Taxis charge double triple !
However, for traveling outside the city, you must call this guy! He speaks perfect English and is quite reasonable !
There is a Baku Boulevard, and The side opposite is a Baku’s shopping Hub. There are stores of all High end brands like Gucci, Armani, Valentino, etc. All of them are fake ! It’s all China, first copies of those brands. If you want to buy you have to negotiate just like we negotiate with a Pathan shopkeeper in Pakistan.
Don’t forget to try Xama, it’s a sour cream/ cream cheese spread that people eat in breakfasts. It’s so delicious and fulfilling.
Must visit Gobustan mud volcanos ? They are on outskirts of the city but are a wonder!
Never try to cross the road. Baku traffic is very unorganized. But they have underground road routes to cross the roads. There’s no speed limit throughout the city, most cars don’t even have a seat belt! The driver who drove us from airport to hotel the first day was literally flying but he was on 60s in his car meter. And there was so seat belt in back seats.
Always buy SIM cards from airport. Since there are so many unauthorized dealers so airport shops are the safest option.
Baku has free WiFi through out the city ! It works great, you just need a local number and you are good !
The taxi guys will always ask for more than they agreed to. So of course Uber is much better. But rest of all these things, you have to look out for!
A fruit vendor gave us 5 manaat instead of 45 manaats since we were dealing with Ahsans tantrums we couldn’t focus on how much we got. Though we got the money back when we confronted but still one needs to be careful.
I’m sure it happens everywhere in the world with tourists, so it didn’t make me dislike Baku! I still love it!
If you are traveling in train, make sure to take a picture of everything in cabin and show the staff, they might accuse you of theft later. We didn’t take a train ride because we preferred Uber and walk. But some people had an uncomfortable experience being asked back for stuff that wasn’t even in there in the first place. And of course not knowing the language plays a huge role in creating misunderstandings.
The last Uber we took from hotel to airport, the drive didn’t have change so we gave him cash and he went away and brought change. We almost thought he had left with the cash. But he came back while we were still at immigration queue. The staff was very friendly especially because we were from Pakistan. The airport is very small.
The grocery stores are called markets, in case you need to buy something.
Baku city is bursting with gorgeous architecture and glamorous sea! The mini Venice is a sweet little place in Baku boulevard.
There’s something stabdoffish about the city. At the same time you will find a rolls Royce and Bentley rustling on the road and you will also find Laada on that same road! You will find People wearing designer clothes, designer bags, which of course most are fake, but the city overall looks extremely luxurious, feel like it’s swarming with millionaire whereas it’s not.
The average salary of a local is very low. The city is well decorated, clean and every nook and corner oozes glamour. But there’s a sad side of the city too where you will find narrow dim streets, not so glamorous, but still clean.
People of Baku are so well dressed and beautiful! Literally, you would fall in love with the vibe that surrounds the city. Though we left for Georgia after three days but our hearts were still in Baku.
Baku is a must visit place!