Turkmenistan

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

uzbekistan_samarkand_meet-the-local

Tashkent to Ashgabat

15 days from
USD $2,060.00*
CAD $2,128.44*
AUD $2,179.86*
EUR €1,574.92*
GBP £1,304.50*
NZD $2,586.46*
ZAR R19,842.24*
CHF FR1,867.98*

Asia Tours. Travel Central Asia’s famous silk route and visit Turkmenistan’s desert landscapes, Uzbekistan’s futuristic...

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Nomadic Yurt tent, Kyrgyzstan

Bishkek to Ashgabat

30 days from
USD $3,780.00*
CAD $3,897.87*
AUD $3,994.95*
EUR €2,887.16*
GBP £2,391.25*
NZD $4,739.45*
ZAR R36,360.80*
CHF FR3,423.24*

Asia Travel. Follow the silk road through Central Asia and travel to Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan. See...

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Ashgabat to Bishkek

30 days from
USD $3,395.00*
CAD $3,507.87*
AUD $3,594.95*
EUR €2,592.16*
GBP £2,151.25*
NZD $4,264.45*
ZAR R32,710.80*
CHF FR3,083.24*

Follow the silk road through Central Asia and travel to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. See Kyrgyz Mountains and travel to...

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Bukhara Palace, Uzbekistan

Ashgabat to Tashkent

15 days from
USD $1,965.00*
CAD $2,028.44*
AUD $2,079.86*
EUR €1,499.92*
GBP £1,244.50*
NZD $2,466.46*
ZAR R18,922.24*
CHF FR1,782.98*

Travel Central Asia’s famous silk route and visit Turkmenistan’s desert landscapes, Uzbekistan’s futuristic Ashgabat,...

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turkey istanbul blue mosque temple village city

Beijing to Istanbul

96 days from
USD $11,665.00*
CAD $12,054.76*
AUD $12,367.37*
EUR €8,908.69*
GBP £7,402.75*
NZD $14,662.07*
ZAR R112,552.08*
CHF FR10,606.45*

Travel to Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkey. See the Great Wall of China and Istanbul’s Blue Mosque. Travel to Baku and...

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Turkmenistan Highlights

About Turkmenistan

At a glance

Trips Available:
5
Capital city:
Ashgabat (population 695,000)
Population:
5.1 million
Language:
Turkmen, Russian, Uzbek
Currency:
TMT
Time zone:
(GMT+05:00) Ekaterinburg
Electricity:
Type B (American 3-pin) Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth)
Dialing code:
+993

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.

turkmenistan weather map chart

Geography and environment

Karakum Desert, Turkmenistan
Over 80% of Turkmenistan's land mass is covered by the Karakum Desert, which stretches from west to east for 880 km. Consequently, the landscape is dominated by undulating sandy desert dunes, with low mountains to the south and south-east, and the Caspian Sea running the length of the western fringe. Turkmenistan shares borders with Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the east, Afghanistan to the southeast and Iran to the south.

Top Picks

No dogs allowed in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Top 5 Things Banned by Saparmurat Niyazov

1. Music

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

Although tipping isn't customary in Turkmenistan, establishments in tourist areas like Maputo are increasingly accepting (and expecting) tips. A tip of 10% in restaurants and cafes should suffice, although it's not entirely necessary. With many service workers receiving low wages, tipping waiters, porters and drivers is considered generous.
The government strictly controls internet access and internet cafes have all been shut down.
Roaming agreements are in place with some international phone companies, however mobile phone coverage is mostly limited to Ashgabat. Remember to activate global roaming with your service provider before leaving home.
Turkmenistan has a mix of squat toilets and flushable toilets. As a developing nation, expect to adjust to different levels of sanitation. Always carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitiser as these are rarely provided.
Soft drink = 3-4 TMT
Bottle of imported beer = 5-6 TMT
Simple lunch = 15-20 TMT
Dinner in an inexpensive restaurant = 35-45 TMT
Tap water isn't considered safe for tourists to drink and you should also be careful when eating salads and other uncooked foods that may have been washed in water, avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit before eating. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Ask your leader and accommodation provider for local advice on where drinking water can be accessed.
Credit card usage - including cash advances - is only available in Ashgabat, and even then, mostly in hotels. Large hotels, restaurants and tourist service providers generally accept credit cards, but expect smaller operators and shops to accept cash only.
ATMs are difficult to find, even in Ashgabat. If travelling through rural and remote areas, be aware that there will be no ATM access.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 1 New Year's Day
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
TURKMENISTAN (DRAGOMAN OVERLAND):

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.

OTHER:
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:
Ayan Travel
Magtymguly Avenue 108-13, 14
Ashgabat
+993 12 352914

Address in Turkmenistan:
Ak Altyn Hotel
141/1 Magtymguly ave
Ashgabat 744000
+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 Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

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.

Water bottle

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.

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
Love me TurkmenistanNicolas Righetti
Turkmenistan Bradt Travel GuidePaul Brummell
Chai Budesh? Anyone for Tea?: A Peace Corps Memoir of TurkmenistanJoan Heron
Unknown SandsJohn Kropf
Ghost WarsSteve Coll