Turkmenistan travel guide

Turkmenistan Tourism | Turkmenistan Guide

You're Going to Love Turkmenistan

A seldom traveled wonder in the middle of Central Asia, Turkmenistan has many mysteries and traditions waiting to be discovered.

Having once been a key hub along the Silk Road trade network, the country is now known for its bewildering Black Sand Desert and gas craters.

The streets of the capital Ashgabat are lined with white marble buildings, while towns along the Caspian Sea coastline are ideal for relaxation.

What to do in Turkmenistan

1. Visit Darcaza Gas Crater

Known as the Gates of Hell, the gas reserve has been alight since 1971 and looks like something straight out of a movie set.

2. Step Inside Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque

The spectacular mosque has a mausoleum that houses the body of ex-President Saparmurat Niyazov and a large domed hall that can host up to 10,000 people.

3. Learn at the Halk Hakydasy Memorial Complex

A museum traces the effects of the 1948 earthquake that crumbled Ashgabat as well as the service of fighters during World War II.

4. Gaze at Yangykala Canyon

Undulating rock walls climb as high as 330 ft and display red, yellow, and pink tones. The formations were created by waves underneath the Paratethys Sea millions of years ago.

5. See Konye-Urgench

The ancient city was once inhabited by the Achaemenid Empire and has incredible architecture, such as the Turabek-Khanum Mausoleum featuring mosaic artwork.

1. Visit Darcaza Gas Crater

Known as the Gates of Hell, the gas reserve has been alight since 1971 and looks like something straight out of a movie set.

2. Step Inside Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque

The spectacular mosque has a mausoleum that houses the body of ex-President Saparmurat Niyazov and a large domed hall that can host up to 10,000 people.

3. Learn at the Halk Hakydasy Memorial Complex

A museum traces the effects of the 1948 earthquake that crumbled Ashgabat as well as the service of fighters during World War II.

4. Gaze at Yangykala Canyon

Undulating rock walls climb as high as 330 ft and display red, yellow, and pink tones. The formations were created by waves underneath the Paratethys Sea millions of years ago.

5. See Konye-Urgench

The ancient city was once inhabited by the Achaemenid Empire and has incredible architecture, such as the Turabek-Khanum Mausoleum featuring mosaic artwork.

When to visit Turkmenistan

It's best to avoid the sweltering summer months. Instead, the periods between late March and May as well as September and November are ideal. Temperatures will hover between 77-90°F with little rain apart from March and April.

How to Get to Turkmenistan

Entry requirements

All foreigners must obtain a visa to enter Turkmenistan at their country of origin. Visitors should have a clear itinerary for the entire trip including accommodation and exit point. The cost of visas varies with different nationalities and an additional 50 TMT (14 USD) entry card must be purchased.

Plane

Nonstop flights are operated by Turkmenistan Airlines from cities such as London, Saint Petersburg, Beijing, Dubai, and Frankfurt to Ashgabat Airport. International carriers, such as Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, and flydubai, also service the country. An Economy ticket from Istanbul can be purchased for around 1084-1294 TMT (310-370 USD).

Car

Border crossings are possible from Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Iran but not Kazakhstan. Comprehensive liability insurance for the driven vehicle must be presented at the border checkpoint. An additional vehicle fee of roughly 525 TMT (150 USD) is charged and extensive screening times are common.

Boat

Irregular ferries operate between Baku in Azerbaijan and Turkmenbashi. The journeys take approximately 17h and cost around 315 TMT (90 USD).

Entry requirements

All foreigners must obtain a visa to enter Turkmenistan at their country of origin. Visitors should have a clear itinerary for the entire trip including accommodation and exit point. The cost of visas varies with different nationalities and an additional 50 TMT (14 USD) entry card must be purchased.

Plane

Nonstop flights are operated by Turkmenistan Airlines from cities such as London, Saint Petersburg, Beijing, Dubai, and Frankfurt to Ashgabat Airport. International carriers, such as Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, and flydubai, also service the country. An Economy ticket from Istanbul can be purchased for around 1084-1294 TMT (310-370 USD).

Car

Border crossings are possible from Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Iran but not Kazakhstan. Comprehensive liability insurance for the driven vehicle must be presented at the border checkpoint. An additional vehicle fee of roughly 525 TMT (150 USD) is charged and extensive screening times are common.

Boat

Irregular ferries operate between Baku in Azerbaijan and Turkmenbashi. The journeys take approximately 17h and cost around 315 TMT (90 USD).

Popular airports in Turkmenistan

Popular airlines serving Turkmenistan

Turkish Airlines
Good (2,235 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (2,113 reviews)
China Southern
Excellent (34 reviews)
flydubai
Good (72 reviews)
Turkmenistan Airlines
Excellent (2 reviews)
S7 Airlines
Excellent (2 reviews)
Belavia
Excellent (1 reviews)

Where to stay in Turkmenistan

Hotels are easily accessible in most cities and the "Miracle Mile" outside of Ashgabat is well-known for having luxurious options. Bed and breakfast lodgings are possible along the Caspian Sea coastline. All accommodation incurs a tourist tax per night.

Where to stay in popular areas of Turkmenistan

How to Get Around Turkmenistan

Public Transportation

Public buses are the most common option within cities, and one-way trips cost approximately 0.30 TMT (0.10 USD). Major cities have multiple routes, though maps clearly displaying them can be hard to find. Bus stops do, however, clearly outline where the services on that route travel to.

Trains

The railways are quite old, and travel times can be long. Sleeper trains connect Ashgabat to Dashoguz (12h 30min), Turkmenbashi (14h), Mary (6h 30min), Serhetabat (16h), Turkmenabat (11h 30min), and Konye-Urgench (15h).

Bus

Minibuses and larger modern vehicles can be caught between most cities and towns, with single fare trips priced between around 17.50-35 TMT (5-10 USD).

Car

To travel outside of Ashgabat, it's compulsory to have a guide and thus renting a personal driver rather than a car is more popular.

Plane

Turkmenistan Airlines offers flights from the capital to Turkmenbashi, Mary, Turkmenabat, Dashoguz, and Balkanabat for approximately 560 TMT (160 USD).

Public Transportation

Public buses are the most common option within cities, and one-way trips cost approximately 0.30 TMT (0.10 USD). Major cities have multiple routes, though maps clearly displaying them can be hard to find. Bus stops do, however, clearly outline where the services on that route travel to.

Trains

The railways are quite old, and travel times can be long. Sleeper trains connect Ashgabat to Dashoguz (12h 30min), Turkmenbashi (14h), Mary (6h 30min), Serhetabat (16h), Turkmenabat (11h 30min), and Konye-Urgench (15h).

Bus

Minibuses and larger modern vehicles can be caught between most cities and towns, with single fare trips priced between around 17.50-35 TMT (5-10 USD).

Car

To travel outside of Ashgabat, it's compulsory to have a guide and thus renting a personal driver rather than a car is more popular.

Plane

Turkmenistan Airlines offers flights from the capital to Turkmenbashi, Mary, Turkmenabat, Dashoguz, and Balkanabat for approximately 560 TMT (160 USD).

The Cost of Living in Turkmenistan

A sit-down meal at a mid-range restaurant costs around 75-100 TMT (21-29 USD) per person. Credit cards are only accepted in a small number of hotels and restaurants, plus it's beneficial to carry a combination of the local currency and US dollars in cash. Only exchange what you intend to use as it is difficult to exchange TMT back to USD.