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Country info
Square area:
488,100 km2
5.8 million
Manat (m)
Turkmen, Russian, Uzbek
Muslim, Eastern Orthodox minority
Presidential republic (authocratic)
Rare speakers
Safety level
Turkmenistan is very safe with very rare incidents of violent crime. Occurrences of pickpocketing, mugging and property theft are virtually nonexistent.

Central Asian heritage splashed with a reformist post-Soviet mindset: that is Turkmenistan, one of the world’s most intriguing countries. Ever since parting with Russia in 1991, tremendous efforts have been put into reinventing its identity. The poster face of this change, the capital of Ashgabat, features futuristic architecture loaded with gold and marble. Still, the capital remains in stark contrast to how most Turkmen people live. 

Two-thirds of Karakum desert, Turkmenistan is as uncharted as it is secretive. Travel in Turkmenistan is a heavily controlled ordeal and special permits are required to access most parts of the country. But past the limitations, Turkmenistan is a country which beams with the glory of a former Silk Road stop; its nature abounds in unique sites, and the welcome of the Turkmen people is as warm as the temperatures. 

  • Explore the grandeur of Ashgabat, the Guinness record holder for most marble used. 
  • Camp in the Karakum desert and admire the fiery Darvaza Gas Craters at night. 
  • Venture to the remote Yangykala Canyon, a surreal landscape of gargantuan rocks colored in pink, white and yellow.
  • Admire the mosques, but note the colorful animist shrines where locals stop to leave gifts for good luck.
  • Picture the Silk Road caravans at the archeological site of Merv or the UNESCO-listed Konye-Urgench. 





Perfect For

Even though they have been oppressed for hundreds of years, Turkmen culture is nomadic and they have proudly guarded and cherished their traditions and lifestyle.


Capture the white grandiosity of Ashgabat, or go a step further to explore the deserted parts of the country. The beauty of Turkmenistan is nothing but surreal and jaw-dropping.


Developed under the influence of its unique history, Turkmen cuisine is diverse, but quite simple when it comes to ingredients and cooking methods.


Darvaza is a gas field collapsed into a cavern. Still burning since 1972! One of the must see places of our planet!


Itinerary ideas

Your adventure begins in Dashoguz, capital of the northern region of Turkmenistan. Your chauffeur will drive you to your hotel to settle in and enjoy your first evening at leisure, or exploring the town.
Head to the UNESCO Heritage Site Kunya-Urgench. Explore the area and proceed to Darvaza ('door to hell') crater via Karakum desert. View of molten lava and nomadic night is a perfect closure of the day.
Drive deep into the desert. Drive over the dunes and takyrs of the Karakum Desert until you reach Damla. Flat roof houses, long nomadic tradition and yurts characterize this rigid yet charming area.
Set off across the desert and in the afternoon you will arrive to the white marble city of Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. En route, make a short stop in Yerbent to refresh in this tradition-meets-urbanism desert settlement.
Off to Mary, a historical city in the Karakum Desert. Traveling along one of the Silk Road routes, stop in the ancient city of Bagabad to visit the ruins of Seyit Jamal-ad-Din Mosque known as 'the house of beauty'.
Visit Gonur Depe, once the capital of Margush. This fascinating area will take you thousands of years back in the past. You will have an opportunity to admire some of the greatest settlements of the Bronze Age.
Before returning to Ashgabat, visit an amazing UNESCO Heritage Site, Merv. Visit the Seljuk mausoleums of Sultan Sanjar and Muhammad ibn Zaid, as well as many other long-standing monuments.
Today is reserved for visitng the famous sites of Ashgabat, such as the recognizable Arch of Neutrality., the biggest mosque in the country, and the fortress of Old Nisa. Enjoy the outstanding view from the top of the Kopet-Dag Mountains.
Enjoy some time at leisure before meeting with your chauffeur for a private transfer to Ashgabat Airport for your outbound flight.
Explore Turkmenistan the right way; by exploring its historical towns, vast dessert and superb architecture. It is considered as one of the most awe-inspiring countries in the world for a reason.
Upon your arrival, you will be welcomed by your chauffeur and transferred to your hotel. Settle in and relax for the rest of the evening.
Fly off to Dashoguz. First stop is nearby Kunya-Urgench where a World Heritage Site is located. Among other great sites, visit one of the country's symbols - the mausoleum of Sultan Tekesh, recognizable by the specific turquoise dome.
On your way to the Karakum Desert, visit the ruins of Izmukshir Fortress, the birth place and a mausoleum of Abu al-Kasim az-Zamakhshari - a great Turkmen figure and medieval Muslim scholar.
Waking up near the Darvaza crater makes for a memorable morning! Head back to the capital. En route, you will have an opportunity to see more volcanic craters filled with boiling water or evaporating gas.
A short flight to Mary, a city on the Murgab River. You will visit the ancient suburb of Merv which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once an important part of the Silk Road, in this area great parts of mausoleums and fort ruins can be found.
Today explore the capital of Ashgabat. Feel the vibe of Tolkuchka Market, see the Akhal-Tekke horses, dip in the hot water of Kov-Ata cave and take a cable car ride to enjoy the sunset from the Kopetdag Mountains.
Enjoy some time at leisure before meeting with your chauffeur for a private transfer to Ashgabat Airport for your outbound flight.
Among many other things, Turkmenistan is home to an impressive gas crater called Darvaza. During this tour you will have a chance to wake up to it and get an exclusive look from up-close.
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What to Expect

From true 5* hotels to overnight in a yurt next to Darvaza crater, Turkmenistan offers a wide range of properties for travelers. While not the most affordable country on the planet, the quality of accommodation is surprisingly beyond expectations. There are no chain hotels in Turkmenistan.
Ýyldyz Hotel in Ashgabat

• Splurge at Ýyldyz in Ashgabat, one of the finest hotels in the country
• A great variety of hotels in Ashgabat based on value and location
• Selection of properties at Awaza on the Caspian Sea
Yurt accommodation at selected locations
From April to June, bright sunshine and cool temperatures combine to create the perfect conditions for travel. From September to November the fierce summer heat cools down and the weather is still ideal for exploring. Turkmenistan winters are no joke! There is a variety of unique festivals celebrated in the country, most of them reserved for locals only.
Ashgabat year-round temperatures

• September through October and April through June are the best periods for travel
• Turkmenistan is a country of extreme winter and summer temperatures
• Turkmen Horse Festival at the end of April, celebrating a horse breed Akhal-Teke which is the national symbol of the country
Internet is generally available in all larger towns at state-run internet cafes. Free WiFi is available at upscale hotels, although you may be also charged for it in some properties. All internet access is via a state-run domain and due to high level of censorship, emails are likely to be monitored while social media cannot be accessed at all.
Turkmenistan SIM card

• Country code: +993
• TM-Cell (Altyn Asyr) is the only mobile network operator
• Consider a roaming SIM card, like Russian MegaFon
• Most VPNs and all social media are blocked
• Plug types are C and F (European); standard voltage is 230V and it operates on 50Hz
The dishes of Turkmenistan are typical of the region. Plov, manti, shurpa, samsa, and other are all the typical dishes cooked at local homes but also served in the restaurants. Chegdermeh is one of the few original Turkmen dishes. In the former Soviet Union, Turkmenistan was well-known for the exceptional quality of its melons. Rarely exported today, the tasty treat can be found locally only.
Fresh baked samsa

• Typical Central Asian cuisine
• Try local dishes for an authentic experience
• There is a solid selection of restaurants in Ashgabat
• Camp cooking at Darwaza crater
• Tipping is not required, but appreciated; round up the bill
Positioned on the historical Silk Road trading route, trading is part of Turkmenistan's culture, as well as bargaining. Ashgabat's centrally-located Gulistan market offers variety of souvenirs and a then some more. Tolkuchka is best for buying world-famous Bukhara rugs.
A street in Ashgabat

Khalats as traditional Turkmen clothing
• Turkmen sheepskin hat is something worth bringing back home, especially if you are from a colder area
• Bargaining is a part of centuries-old tradition so don't be embarrassed to try lower down the initial market price
This Muslim nation has been re-inventing their identity ever since the independence. It is deeply traditional when it comes to arranged marriages, customs and the way of life outside the capital city. Turkmen are actually very nice and friendly once you get to know them. Ashgabat is a place like no other - the sharp contrast of marble buildings is quite intense!
Typical family in the country side

• The locals are welcoming and friendly toward foreigners
• Lot of history is being re-interpreted
• There is an existing cult of the president
• In the countryside, locals will happily pose for your pictures
• While in Ashgabat, ask for permission before taking pictures
Turkmenistan is a safe country to travel in, with very low incidents of violent crime. Occurrences of pickpocketing, mugging and property theft are rare. Smoking is heavily regulated – if in doubt, smoke only where locals do since there could be serious penalties for smoking outside of designated areas. Exercise of common sense is always recommended.
At the edge at the Darvaza crater

• Crime against foreigners is very rare
• Avoid discussing politics as, by some accounts, secret service is monitoring all travelers
• Avoid smoking in non-designated areas
• Most of the roads outside the cities are in bad condition
• Tap water is not safe to drink
All our transfers are always fully private with a driver and guide accompanying. SUV vehicles are the only choice as most of the roads outside the capital city are in poor condition. It is also recommended to have a local driver and guide due to strict regulations. For local transportation there are shared taxis, buses and trains.
On the streets of Ashgabat

• Driving side: right
• The main international airport is Ashgabat Airport (ASB)
• Private car with a driver and guide is the best combination to explore
• Local trains are comfortable but slow
• Local flights for easy exploring other areas of the country
• Ferry from Turkmenbashi to Baku in Azerbaijan

What to pack

Turkmenistan is a fascinating country, so we included interesting reading choices, photography gear suggestions and clothing essentials. It is a country of climate extremes, depending on the season, so pack accordingly.

In The Media

Turkmenistan's Capital - Ashgabat
World's Strangest City
10 Wacky Things About Turkmenistan
Unespected Perspective of Turkmenistan
"Door to Hell" in Turkmenistan
Burning Gas Crater in Darvaza
Deserts, Cities and Villages of Turkmenistan
Darvaza crater, Kow ata cave, Yangykala canyon
Carpet Making Art in Turkmenistan
Production of traditional Turkmen carpets
Rafet El Roman - Kalbine Sürgün Feat. Ezo
Popular music in Turkmenistan
Turkmen for beginners
Useful phrases in Turkmen language

Best to combine with

All Central Asian 'stans make a great combination, and Iran is just next door for an easy border crossing to Ashgabat

One of the most unique cultures with 5000 years of tradition of art, architecture, poetry...

The neighboring 'stan is one of the most wonderful of all Central Asian countries, safe and easy to visit with numerous unique sites of the Silk Road.

Overnight crossing over Caspian sea or a short flight away, Azerbaijan is a rare treat.  

Quirks for the Curious

There is no place like it in the world; wide boulevards, marble skyscrapers, unique and strange monuments, and an eerie lack of people during the day. Make sure you take one day for monuments sightseeing only. There is a big number of them all over the town and they are quite compelling. Don't miss the world's largest enclosed ferris wheel and the Monument to Neutrality. Basically, wherever you turn, there will be something unusual and unexpected. Ashgabat is a real treat.
Vanishing Worlds Vanishing Worlds Vanishing Worlds
One of the reasons to travel to Turkmenistan is often a visit to the Darvaza crater located in a desert some three hours north of the capital. It is as impressive as one imagines, plus the hissing sound you hear as if you were standing next to a giant stove. Well, that's pretty much what it is. However, since 1971 when it first started burning, today the flames are slowly fading indicating that this wonder will not exist forever.
Vanishing Worlds Vanishing Worlds Vanishing Worlds

  Vanishing Worlds