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Traveling via train is one of my favorite things, not just because I hate flying, but also because
- it’s way more environmentally friendly (trains release up to 90% fewer carbon emissions than a plane!)
- I get so much more done on the train
- cuts all the hassle and stress of airport security, etc.
The Baku to Tbilisi train was my first ever overnight train experience, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I thoroughly enjoyed my 8-hour train ride from Kandy to Ella in Sri Lanka, so I was feeling a little more confident about this 13-hour journey. Furthermore, the overnight train was a sleeper train which means you can lie flat throughout the trip.
Here is the information I have gathered while planning my own Baku to Tbilisi train journey.
Baku – Tbilisi Train Overview
The train between Baku and Tbilisi travels in both directions. The overnight train 37 runs daily from Tbilisi to Baku, while overnight train 38 runs daily in the opposite direction.
Train 37: Tbilisi to Baku
Train 37 departs Station Square, Tbilisi at 8.35pm, crosses the Azerbaijan border roughly around 11pm, and arrives into Baku station at 8.50am the next morning. The journey takes roughly 12 hours 15 mins and spans across a total distance of 551km. Tickets cost 35-84 GEL ($12-30 USD) depending on the cabin you choose.
Train 38: Baku to Tbilisi
Train 38 departs Baku Station at 8.40pm, crosses the border around 5.25am, and arrives into Tbilisi’s Station Square at 8.55am the next morning. The journey takes roughly the same amount of time as Train 37, and tickets cost 22-56 AZN ($12-32 USD), again depending on which cabin class you choose.
Baku to Tbilisi Cabin Classes & Fares
There are three different cabin classes on the Baku to Tbilisi train, all of them air-conditioned sleeper cabins.
|Class||Layout||Cost (Tbilisi to Baku)||Cost (Baku to Tbilisi)|
|1st class (spalny vagon)||2-bed sleepers||91 GEL||56.71 AZN|
|2nd class (kupé)||4-berth sleepers||52 GEL||33.41 AZN|
|3rd class (platskartny)||Open-plan sleeper||35 GEL||22.8 AZN|
How to buy tickets for the Baku to Tbilisi train
It’s easy to purchase train tickets online for the Baku to Tbilisi journey. You can do this via the Azerbaijan Railways website. Just select From “Baku-Pass” and To “Tbilisi-Pass”. You can select your seats and pay by credit card. But you will still have to exchange your order confirmation for physical tickets at the train station.
Unfortunately, for the journey in the opposite direction, tickets have to be bought physically at the train station itself.
Baku to Tbilisi train: My Experience
After watching YouTube videos on the train journey, and reading countless blogs, we chose the 1st class cabins for our journey. Since we were not seasoned train travelers, we weren’t sure what to expect, so we opted for the most comfortable option, which turned out to be a very wise decision.
The train departs Baku Station at 8.40pm, so we arrived at the station about an hour earlier to pick up our physical tickets and have dinner. We got to the platform around 8.35pm, where a ticket lady was standing at the train doors checking tickets and passports. Do take note of the relevant visa requirements as you will be crossing borders on this journey.
Once we got on to the train, we were pleasantly surprised by how spacious our cabin was. We had enough space for two large spinner suitcases that fit nicely under our seats. We were provided with two pillows, a quilt and a mattress topper each. Shortly after our train left the station, the train attendant brought us fresh sheets and a towel. All this is already included in the price of your ticket. The only downsides were that the toilet can get a little stinky throughout the journey (as it is to be expected), and there is no WiFi onboard.
I found the train ride to be extremely comfortable, comfortable enough to sleep, even for someone like me who usually has a hard time sleeping unless in absolutely optimal conditions. The train does stop a few times in the night, sometimes to an abrupt stop but did not bother me much. The best part was watching the sunrise and the sky change colors. You will probably be awake at this time anyway as this is the time the border crossing happens, and the immigration officers come on board.
Azerbaijan – Georgia Border Crossing
We heard many accounts of the border crossing to be somewhat “scary” and “intimidating”, especially due to the tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, so we were a little anxious about this.
At around 5am, the train attendants knocked on our doors to wake us up to get ready for the border control. Thankfully, there is no disembarkation – everything is done on board, which makes it extremely convenient, especially when it’s 5 in the morning and you’ve probably still got crust on your eyes. First, you will stop at the Azeri border where they will collect your passports for inspection and then return it to you when you’re done.
Once that was done, our passports were returned and we were on our way to the Georgian border. The Georgian officers came on board, collected our passports and declaration forms and left. Shortly after, we were called into a separate room where they asked for our names, took a picture, and sent us on our way. No questioning, no dramas, whatsoever.
A little while later, an officer came into our cabins and asked us if we were carrying anything illegal. He enquired about us and how we knew each other, and then asked if we were carrying any guns, to which we found hilarious since we were clearly just two female Asian tourists who would probably have no idea how to operate a gun even if we came across one. What a sense of humor these Georgian people have.
All in all, we found the whole process very easy and stress-free. Perhaps it was because we were leaving Azerbaijan and entering Georgia, which had no conflict with Armenia. The situation might be different traveling in the reverse direction when you are entering Azerbaijan from Georgia.
Baku to Tbilisi Train Packing List
We felt we did not need anything in particular during the journey, as the facilities provided are already rather comprehensive. There is no dining on board, though you probably won’t be requiring as you will be traveling through the night, and arriving just in time for breakfast. They do however serve tea and coffee. I would recommend bringing some snacks if you like having something to much on during your journey.
Besides that, if you get a little restless like me, I always have my trusty MacBook with me and a good set of earphones to help me pass the time. I also carry my Kindle with me all the time, though I have to admit I hardly have the time for it!
Do you like train rides? Or are you planning to take the train ride between Baku and Tbilisi? Drop me a comment below!
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