Turkmenistan is an eclectic country that oozes history and quirkiness, with warm inhabitants who enjoying extending a welcoming hand to visitors (even if the government is somewhat less effusive). Visit this eccentric nation to forge a path across windswept deserts and jagged mountains, through aromatic spice bazaars, along the ancient Silk Road, all the while encountering the distinctive faces of Central Asia.
Turkmenistan Tours & Travel
All our Turkmenistan trips
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At a glance
- Trips Available:
- Capital city:
- Ashgabat (population 695,000)
- 5.1 million
- Turkmen, Russian, Uzbek
- Time zone:
- (GMT+05:00) Ekaterinburg
- Type B (American 3-pin) Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth)
- Dialing code:
Best time to visit Turkmenistan
With a dry, subtropical desert climate, Turkmenistan earns the rank as Central Asia's hottest country. Spring (April-June) and autumn (September-November) are the ideal times to visit, as this is when weather conditions are the most comfortable. During summer - particularly July and August - the mercury can tip up to 50 degrees Celsius on a regular basis, while winters can get very cold, down to freezing in some parts of the north.
Geography and environment
Top 5 Things Banned by Saparmurat Niyazov
Listening to car radios, lip-synching and recorded music were all prohibited as he believed they stifled the natural creative talents of Turkmen.
2. TV Newswomen Wearing Make-up
Banned in 2004, because he believed Turkmen women were beautiful enough already without make-up. (Although, some reports claim this was actually because he was struggling to tell the difference between the male and female newsreaders!)
3. Gold Teeth
Banned in April 2004 - instead Niyazov decreed the youth of Turkmenistan should chew on bones to preserve their teeth, in the same way dogs do.
4. Opera, Ballet and the Circus
Banned in 2001 for being unnecessary and 'decidedly un-Turkmen-like'.
5. Dogs in Ashgabat
Banished from the streets of the capital as a result of their 'unappealing odour'.
FAQs on Turkmenistan
Bottle of imported beer = 5-6 TMT
Simple lunch = 15-20 TMT
Dinner in an inexpensive restaurant = 35-45 TMT
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 12 Memorial Day
Feb 19 National Flag Day
Mar 8 International Women's Day
Mar 21 Novruz Bairam (Turkmen New Year)
May 8 Heroes' Day
May 9 Victory Day
May 18 Constitution Day
Aug 8 Oraza Bayram (End of Ramadan)
Oct 6 Remembrance Day (Anniversary of the 1948 Earthquake)
Oct 15 Kurban Bayram (Feast of Sacrifice)
Oct 27 Independence Day
Dec 12 Neutrality Day
Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/Turkmenistan/public-holidays
LETTERS OF INVITATION (LOI)
All visitors to Turkmenistan require a visa. You will need a Letter of Invitation (LOI) in order to apply for your visa.
How and where apply for your Turkmenistan visa will depend on how you enter the country.
VISA ON ARRIVAL - LAND:
Travellers arriving in Turkmenistan overland on a WESTBOUND itinerary can obtain their visas at the land border on arrival. Please indicate this as the place where you will apply for your visa on the The Visa Machine LOI form. Costs will depend on your nationality (currently US$55-$85) and payment must be in cash. There is also usually a tax imposed on land arrivals of approx US$14.
VISA ON ARRIVAL - AIR
Travellers arriving into Saparmurat Turkmenbashy International Airport can obtain their visa on arrival at the airport. You will require a printed copy of your LOI that includes your exact flight details in order to board your flight so please ensure you supply this information to The Visa Machine. Costs will depend on your nationality (currently approx US$85) and payment must be in cash.
In all other circumstances you must obtain your visa from an embassy before your travel and must indicate specifically where you will apply on the The Visa Machine LOI form. On arrival in Turkmenistan you will be required to fill out an immigration card which must be kept for your entire journey. Turkmenistan embassies where you may be able to apply for your visa include: Beijing, London, Istanbul, Tashkent, Almaty, Washington, Berlin, Paris. The following website may have useful information and traveller reports about applying for visas at these and other embassies: www.caravanistan.com
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
You will need to apply for a Single Entry Tourist Visa (G)
Name(s) of Host/Sponsor/Contact:
Magtymguly Avenue 108-13, 14
+993 12 352914
Address in Turkmenistan:
Ak Altyn Hotel
141/1 Magtymguly ave
+993 12 363700
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
* Letter of Invitation (LOI)
* Photocopy of your passport
* Passport size photo (up to 4)
* Please check with the embassy for any other specific requirements
WARNING - TRAVELLING IN OCTOBER:
Independence Day in Turkmenistan is on October 27th. The government usually imposes restrictions on the issuance of the LOIs and visas during the month of September for all those travelling to Turkmenistan in October. If you are planning to travel to Turkmenistan in October please ensure your visa application is submitted well in advance. The visa process for Iran and countries in Central Asia can be quite complicated and time consuming. We highly recommend that you use the services of a qualified visa agent for the process. Your booking agent can advise of a reputable service.
Health and Safety
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
Turkmenistan Travel Tips
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for Turkmenistan
1. Be considerate of Turkmenistan's customs, traditions, religion and culture.
2. Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered, especially when entering places of worship.
3. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.
4. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
5. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!
6. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
7. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
8. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
9. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
10. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.
|Love me Turkmenistan||Nicolas Righetti|
|Turkmenistan Bradt Travel Guide||Paul Brummell|
|Chai Budesh? Anyone for Tea?: A Peace Corps Memoir of Turkmenistan||Joan Heron|
|Unknown Sands||John Kropf|
|Ghost Wars||Steve Coll|