World Borders: How to Get From Azerbaijan to Georgia (Balaken to Lagodekhi)

world borders leaving azerbaijan for georgia

World Borders: Leaving Azerbaijan for Georgia.

Having spent 10 epic days in Azerbaijan, it was time to head back to Georgia. We were heading early morning, north west from the city of Seki (Sheki) and aiming to be in Sighnaghi in Georgia by the afternoon. Here’s an overview of our journey which saw us use the Balaken to Lagodekhi crossing – a guide on how to get from Azerbaijan to Georgia overland, using buses and taxis. Part by part to make things easier for you, and this shows my journey, yours may of course be completely different!

seki zaqatala

Our shared mini-bus/marshrutky from Seki to Zaqatala.

Seki to Zaqatala, Azerbaijan

The day began in Seki at 8am. We left our hostel (Karavansaray – recommended) and took a local taxi for 1 Manat to Seki bus station. That much is easy – hail one down in the street and bargain with them. Most locals pay 1 Manat for a local taxi. They’re normally Ladas.

seki taxi

Early morning taxi from our hostel (Karavansaray) to Seki bus station.

Booking the Seki to Zaqatala Bus

We opted for the 9am Seki to Zaqatala mini-bus/marshrutky, which costs 1.7 Manats per person. Just tell the ticket booth attendant Zaqatala and they’ll understand. In Seki, nobody speaks English nor have they heard of it.

azerbaijan bus tickets

Our bus tickets.

You can also go straight to Balaken, which is closer to the border but oddly this costs more, so you’re better to split your journey into two separate buses and journeys. Buy the tickets from the ticket booth on arrival at Seki bus station. Payment in Azerbaijani Manat only.

bus station seki azerbaijan

Seki Bus Station, Azerbaijan.

Seki bus azerbaijan

The local bus from Seki to Zaqatala in Azerbaijan!

seki minibus

Tea in hand ready to board. 8.55 am.

The bus left on time, was full and we were off! I had grabbed a cup of tea for the journey (filled my flask up). We arrived in Zaqatala about 1 and a half hours later.

seki zaqatala azerbaijan

The road from Seki to Zaqatala, Azerbaijan.

Zaqatala

If you want to explore Zaqatala, you have time of course. We wanted to head straight to the border and back to Georgia. As well as this, we had our big backpacks on. In terms of sightseeing, there’s a Russian Fortress, an Old Town Square and this is the hazelnut capital of Azerbaijan so try the local nuts!

zagatala sign

Arrival in Zaqatala, Azerbaijan.

We didn’t linger long in Zaqatala – about 40 minutes at the most and most of that was waiting for the mini-bus to fill up. It leaves when it’s full – you’ll get used to this when you’re backpacking in Azerbaijan.

zaqatala azerbaijan

Downtown Zaqatala – walnut capital of Azerbaijan.

Zaqatala to Balaken

On arrival at Zaqatala a load of taxi drivers will approach you. Avoid them and walk on – to the main bus station. If you get stuck ask for Avto Vagzal, once there you board another mini-bus/marshrutky for Balaken. There is unlikely to be any other backpackers about. Again the bus should be around 1-2 Manats (subject to change of course).

zaqatala azerbaijan flag

Proud Azerbaijan flag in Zaqatala.

The journey from Zaqatala to Balaken is fairly quick. I cannot remember exactly to be honest, but less than 45 minutes for sure. The roads are decent enough.

zaqatala balaken bus

Boarding the second Marshrutky from Zaqatala to Balaken.

Balaken

Balaken is still a few miles from the border and you will be dropped off in the city centre. Share a taxi and bargain it down. We paid 2.80 Manats for our taxi. The ride is short – I’m thinking about 10 minutes. Again, sightseeing in Balaken is also an option for you but we missed it and moved on, to head back to Georgia! We were in Balaken city centre for all of three minutes.

lada balaken to border

In the Lada from Balaken to the border!

world borders azerbaijan georgia

In the Lada from Balaken to the border!

Leaving Azerbaijan at Balaken

The departure from Azerbaijan north west of Balaken is smooth. You see the massive exit gate/arch and head along the security path on the right hand side. Passport stamped on exit and your bag will be checked. That’s it. You’ve now left Azerbaijan. The entire process took about 10 minutes – no paperwork required.

balaken exit azerbaijan

World Borders: Leaving Azerbaijan after 10 days, at Balaken exit point.

azerbaijan georgia border jonny blairs travel blog

World Borders: On the path from Azerbaijan to Georgia north of Balaken.

The Bridge Between Azerbaijan and Georgia

This is the cool touristy part!! Sneak a few photos on the border bridge which overlooks some spectacular scenery. Behind you, Azerbaijan. In front of you, Georgia.

georgia azerbaijan bridge

Crossing the actual border from Azerbaijan to Georgia – on the bridge.

georgia azerbaijan border

World Borders: Walking across the border back into Georgia.

goodbye azerbaijan at the bridge

The bridge itself – looking back at Azerbaijan.

georgia from azerbaijan

The picturesque mountain area at the Azerbaijan to Georgia border.

Arrival into Georgia Near Lagodekhi

Your passport will be stamped as saying Lagodekhi on it, but that’s a few kilometres away. You’ll just be stamped in if you have an EU passport, or even a Hong Kong one. No visas needed for lots of nationalities. Check in advance. The arrival procedure takes about 5 minutes maximum. By 12.30 pm we were on our way to Sighnaghi. A very smooth and fast border crossing despite the language barriers.

balaken departure stamp

Departure stamp from Azerbaijan at Balaken.

arrival in lagodekhi georgia

Arrival stamp at Lagodekhi in Georgia.

Lagodekhi and onwards

You have a few options from here, either stay in the city or move on. Most people seem to head to Telavi or Tbilisi but we decided to head to Sighnaghi. It was only marginally cheaper to get a Marshrutky than a shared taxi so we took the shared taxi option for once and it worked out well. I’ll be writing more about Georgia over the next few months, here’s a photo from Sighnaghi (also termed “city of love”)

jonny blair backpacking sighnaghi

Backpacking in Sighnaghi, Georgia!

You’re now in Georgia!

My Videos from Crossing the Border from Azerbaijan into Georgia:

How to get from Azerbaijan to Georgia – the border bridge

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About Jonny Blair

I'm Jonny Blair, a travelling Northern Irishman. Since leaving my hometown a decade ago I have managed to visit over 100 countries and over 600 towns or cities across all 7 continents. Along the way I have worked in countless jobs! Join my journey on Don't Stop Living - a lifestyle of travel as I provide you with tips and inspiration to live your travel dreams! Safe travels! Follow me on Jonny Blair Google Plus
This entry was posted in Azerbaijan, Balaken, Central Asia/Middle East, Georgia, Lagodekhi, Seki, World Borders, X tips. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to World Borders: How to Get From Azerbaijan to Georgia (Balaken to Lagodekhi)

  1. Pingback: The City of Love: Backpacking in Sighnaghi, Georgia

  2. Rafael says:

    Absolutely excellent report!!!!

  3. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Rafael, thanks for the comment, safe travels. Jonny

  4. gautam says:

    Hi Jonny,

    An Interesting read and experience I must admit
    We do plan a trip to both countries in October…………..It would be great if you could share some details on how to go from Tbilisi to Baku, as most websites and blogs have majorly details for the other way around, or if you have any address or number for a cabbie who could take us

    Thanks and Travel safe

    Regards,

    Gautam

  5. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Gautam, I visited both those cities as well and I got a night train from Tbilisi to Baku – they are safe and cheap and run a fee nights every week. Safe travels. Jonny

  6. gautam says:

    Hi Johnny,

    Any update on the bus journey please…Id prefer to do the bus journey or even a private taxi
    Where can i get the details for a bus or cabbie and approx how much would it be ?
    kiwitaxi says USD 149 from Tbilisi to Baku for a Private cab, but i reckon i can get that for half fro what ive read….though must admit that some details are over a year old and may need some revision.

    Pls do suggest.

    Cheers

    Gautam

  7. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Gautam, We did it by train, by far it was the best way to come the opposite way. Book a train from Tbilisi to Baku, they run every few nights. I don’t think buses are an option, maybe some shared Marshrutkas but I don’t have any information on them, as for shared taxis – too dear (we got a good deal with a driver for a short journey from Lagodekhi to Sighnaghi, but from Tbilisi to Baku would take at least 10 hours by land vehicle, so the train seems the best option to me. safe travels. Jonny

  8. gautam says:

    Great….Thanks for the info mate
    Cheers and have fun

    Regards,

    Gautam

  9. Ana says:

    Hi Jonny, entering Azerbaijan from Lagodekhi (I know you did it reverse), do you know if bags are checked thoroughly? Or just a quick look? Thanks a lot!

  10. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Anna,

    I don’t think there are any bag checks at those borders, but just make sure you have nothing dodgy anyway to be sure. Good luck and safe travels. Jonny

  11. Ana says:

    Hi Jonny, thanks for your reply, it’s just that I read your bags were checked at the border while leaving Azerbaijan to Georgia, so I thought they also checked them entering Azerbaijan from Georgia…since we will have the stamp of Armenia in our passports (we have been there some days ago, and our return flight is from Baku, so we definitely have to get into the country, I wouldn’t like any incidents to happen! Thank you!

  12. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Ana, in that case, they will check you as they don’t like Armenians. Make sure you don’t have a Nagorno Karabakh stamp and deny all knowledge of knowing about it or they won’t let you in. To save hassle, get the night train from Tbilisi to Baku, that’s what we did. No bag checks at all on there. Safe travels. Jonny

  13. Ana says:

    Thanks a lot again Jonny. We really wanted to visit Sheki on the way to Baku, that’s why we preferred the road option. We will see how to manage it, in any case no stamp of NK 😉
    All the best!
    Maddalena

  14. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Ana, that’s great, hope the trip goes well without any issues. Safe travels. Jonny

  15. Ana says:

    Hi Jonny, just to confirm everything went smooth but I can confirm that yes, they are not happy at all when they see the Armenia stamp on your passport (I guess after April things have gone more sour), and they ask you exactly what you have visited in Armenia, before asking directly if you’ve been to NK. They x-ray your luggage. I met a man in Azerbaijan afterwards who reported he had either to drink on the spot, or have confiscated, a bottle of Armenian brandy (not sure if he was at the same border or another) before entering Azerbaijan.
    So, yes, I would recommend visiting Azerbaijan before Armenia, not sure though if Armenians take it easy when they see an Azerbaijan stamp.
    Thank you!
    All the best

  16. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Ana, thanks for the update. This is great advice thanks, yes or use a different passport for each stamp is also something I recommend. Safe travels. Jonny

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