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.
All travellers to Turkmenistan require a visa. A Letter of Invitation (LOI) is also required before you can apply for the visa. We recommend all travellers plan to receive a Visa on Arrival at either the airport or land border, depending on your itinerary. Please follow the instructions below to have your LOI for visa on arrival issued before you travel.
To apply for your LOI we require the following:
- clear, colour scan of the photo page of your passport
- digital copy of a colour passport photo (not a scan of a printed photo)
- Turkmen LOI Application form (please contact your booking agent)
After submitting these documents to your booking agent our local partners will process your LOI. This service is included in your trip cost. We advise that you apply for your LOI no later than 3 months before your trip to allow time for processing. Turkmenistan LOIs are processed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Turkmenistan and usually take around 4 weeks to be processed, with up to 6 weeks in peak travel season not uncommon. We strongly suggest submitting all documents no later than 2 months before arrival in order to allow sufficient time for processing.
- Independent travel in Turkmenistan is not permitted and your visa will only be valid for as long as tour services (including accommodation, guides, transport etc) are provided.
- Make sure you have a print out of your LOI before boarding your flight or leaving for your trip.
- You will need to complete a migration card and pay a US$12 migration fee ($10 fee plus $2 admin charge) on arrival in Turkmenistan.
- You will need 2 printed passport photos for your leader to submit to the migration office after your arrival in country.
- A number of medications containing tramadol, morphine, opiates or any other similar constituent component are banned in Turkmenistan and are considered narcotic drugs. Do not bring any medications containing these drugs into the country.
Tipping isn't customary in Turkmenistan.
Internet access is available in all large towns at state-run internet cafes. Free wi-fi is sometimes available, although may be also be charged in some places. All internet access is via the state-run domain so emails may be monitored and many websites (including social media like Facebook and Twitter) are blocked.
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. Most ATMs are only of use to locals and do not accept foreign cards.
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
Please note these dates are for 2017. For a current list of public holidays in Turkmenistan go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/turkmenistan/public-holidays
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.
In Turkmenistan, we stay in locally run accommodation including guesthouses, smaller-scale hotels and homestays in an effort to support the local economies. We also visit locally-run restaurants and markets where travellers will have opportunities to support local businesses and purchase handicrafts created by local artisans.