Traveling from Dubai to Azerbaijan: Through this post I have you covered whether you want travel tips, information about visa, which hotels to stay or places to eat.
Geography and Weather: It’s called the land of fire. And within its 86,000 square kilometers, it experiences 9 out of 11 existing climate zones, different geographies and some interesting natural phenomenon like the mud volcanoes, fire mountain (Yanar Dag inBaku) and snow slopes (Gabala). Mar-Apr is the monsoon season and you can encounter rainfalls during this period. Places like mud volcanoes cannot be accessed during monsoons as the access area becomes slushy and thus difficult to reach.
It is an oil economy and there is a lot of oil found very close to the surface. Small drilling machines can be seen all over the place to extract oil.
Visa and travel:
Traveling from Dubai to Azerbaijan, UAE residents have visa on arrival for US$26. Make sure to check the validity for both your passport and the residence visa as you need to have 6 months validity for the residency visa and 4 months validity for the passport to be able to get visa on arrival.
On arrival, it takes around 30mins to get the visa as there are self-visa kiosks.
For any country passport, you will first need to register the passport and then come to the self-visa kiosks. There are usually 2-3 airport personnel there to help with the whole process.
If you don’t have validity, you can apply for e-visa online and in the urgent visa request, you are granted visa within 3hrs (irrespective of the day and time of the day).
Within the city of Baku, you can either walk or use Uber. For Uber, make sure to add an international credit card in the payment options in case you don’t already. The distances in Baku are really small and you can reach most of the places within 10-15mins. Heavy traffic is restricted to few places and its best to walk along those. For going from one city to another or internal travel within Azerbaijan, you can hire cabs with drivers. Typically charged at USD 90 per day, if you finalize the itinerary with them beforehand, they’ll ensure you cover all you planned to see. Most of them do NOT act like formal tourist guides but may still guide in an informal way.
Communication and Data:
We did not take a local SIM for a change and instead had roaming data on phone. Most of the restaurants offered free Wifi and the hotel had a high speed WiFi as well.
Navigating the unmarked roads may be a challenge when traveling from Dubai to Azerbaijan. Within Azerbaijan as you step out of Baku, road signage is not common, however Google maps work perfectly fine across all of Azerbaijan.
Where and what to eat:
In Baku, you can easily find restaurants serving vegetarian food. If you like to try some of the local delicacies like kete, qutab, pakhlava etc. See this post to know more about food options and what to try in Azerbaijan.
Where to Stay:
Some of the properties which were in our consideration set were Fairmont in the Flame Towers, Hilton and Pullman Hotel Baku. All the hotels had similar amenities (Spa, Pool, fitness center etc). Hilton claimed to have a kids club as well and the reason we chose Hilton was due to both the kids club and a 5 day stay package they offered. Unfortunately when we reached we were told they don’t operate the kids club and activity center at all times which was quite a downer. Personally, this was the second time, we were a bit taken aback by Hilton’s level of service. I suppose we both were spoilt having stayed at a lot of Taj properties in India and its really difficult to match Taj’s service levels anywhere in the world.
Shopping Areas and Ganclik Mall:
In case you figure out you haven’t packed appropriately, and you need to buy clothes, jackets etc for the cold or almost anything else, this is the place you can go to. As per the locals this is the biggest shopping mall and has most of the basic shops like Zara, Mango, GoSports etc so you are covered for any basic clothing and accessories you need at same or cheaper prices than UAE. From our hotel it was just about 10mins by cab.