Secret Tourist Spots of Southern Tajikistan: Sarband

The city of Sarband, formerly known as Kalininobod, is only 90 minutes from Dushanbe in the southern province of Khatlon. Very few people visit the area around Sarband, whether foreign and local tourists. But they should visit this area, as it is an “undiscovered” location with few tourists and many, many activities for visitors to enjoy.


The grass beach, a 5 to 10 minute drive from the centre of Sarband city.

If you are looking for an all-inclusive luxury lake resort close to Dushanbe, and you have the extra money to spend, you should go to Norak (Nurek). But if you are looking for something “rougher” and more adventurous, you should come to Sarband. What can you do here? Here are the highlights:

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Visit the Golovnaya Dam. Note: up-close photos prohibited, the security guards will ask you – when standing on the dam – to only take photos in the direction away from the dam.


Go hiking in the Red Hills, which start right at the edge of town, just across the Golovnaya Dam.

Mount Khojamaston

Hike up to the top of Mount Khoja Maston, and get an amazing view of the Vakhsh Valley. The hike starts after a 15 minute drive north of Sarband on the road across the Golovnaya dam.

Red Hills

Looking for an easier and closer hike? Just go across the train bridge from Sarband and climb a nearby hilltop.


Looking for an even easier hike? Go for a walk on the reservoir lake behind the dam


Want to cool down after your hike? There are many swimming spots on the lake.

Sarband swimming 2

Water temperature? Usually cold.


Don’t like swimming? Water too cold? Take a boat ride around the lake.


Looking for a secret urban spot? Walk around Sarband city and find all sorts of interesting things.


You can start your exploring in the centre of Sarband, right in front of the Lenin statue.

Sarband Hills

It’s easy to get around, despite the large river, the lake and the many canals. This is the Sarband train bridge, one of many bridges in the area you can walk across.


If you want a great spot to relax in, you will find many quiet and beautiful places all around the Sarband area. This is the same bridge as above.

If you are looking for a picnic, you can bring your own food, or buy them in the local bazaar. And if you want to go to a restaurant, Sarband is a town of about 15,000 people, and has plenty of restaurants – notably a few fish specialty restaurants.

Is there anything else to do in the area? Yes. If you have transportation you can easily get to these places (click links below for more information):

Best time to visit? For swimming, June to September. For hiking, anytime except the three-month height of summer (mid-June to mid-September). Of course, if it snows it’s not the best time to visit, but it does snow far less than Dushanbe. However, many of the photos below were taken during the first half of February. So a winter visit is fine with the right weather.

For more photos of Sarband, view these tiles. Click any photo for a larger slideshow view:

So, how do you get to Sarband? If you have a car or driver, just drive straight south from Dushanbe to Qurghonteppa. Right at the Qurghonteppa ‘vokzal’ (car/bus station) at the northern edge of the city, there is a split in the road, with the road on the left going east to Sarband. It’s really quite easy. Don’t have a car? Take a shared taxi from the south-east corner of the Sakhovat bazaar in southern Dushanbe. Last time I travelled this route it was about 10-15 Somoni to Qurghonteppa. You can get dropped off at the Qurghonteppa vokzal or the old central bazaar and take a shared taxi to Sarband (but it should be quicker from the vokzal). Need better directions? I will update the Sarband section with a detailed map sometime during spring 2016. For now, check out our map advice here.


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This website is part of a tourist development project by the Sworde-Teppa English and Education Centre.

Questions? Contact me here: Christian.Bleuer at gmail.