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Turkmenistan

TURKMENISTAN TRAVEL GUIDE

Turkmenistan is a country in Central Asia bordered by the Caspian Sea and largely covered by the Karakum Desert. It’s known for archaeological ruins including those at Nisa and Merv, major stops along the ancient trade route the Silk Road. Ashgabat, the capital, was rebuilt in Soviet-style in the mid-20th century and is filled with grand monuments honouring former president Saparmurat Niyazov.

 

Turkmenistan is a very unusual regime. The government is in firm control of nearly everything. Officially tourism is welcomed, but the requirement for expensive guided tours may discourage visitors. The presence of police and military personnel which will watch your every move and prohibit photographing of even mundane objects, make Turkmenistan the least friendly of the Stans.

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TURKMENISTAN QUICK FACTS

  • Capital: Ashgabat
  • Currency: Turkmen manat (TMT)
  • Area: 488,100 km²
  • Population: 5,851 million (2018)
  • Language: Turkmen 72%, Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, Kazakh 7%
  • Religion: Muslim 89%, Eastern Orthodox 9%, unknown 2%

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TURKMENISTAN PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

  • 12 January, Memorial Day
  • 19 February, Flag Day
  • 8 March, Turkmen Women’s Day
  • 20/21 March, Nowruz
  • 9 May, Victory Day
  • 18 May, Day of Revival, Unity, and the Poetry of Magtymguly
  • 6 October, Earthquake Commemoration Day (1948)
  • 27 October, Independence Day

12 December, Neutrality Day

Also, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

FESTIVALS IN TURKMENISTAN

Turkmenistan

BEST TIME TO VISIT TURKMENISTAN

Turkmenistan has a continental desert climate, which means that it has hot summers and cold winters. The seasons in Turkmenistan are:

  • Spring (March to May) - The weather starts to warm up in the spring, with temperatures ranging from 10 to 20 degrees Celsius. It can be a good time to visit if you want to see the country's deserts and mountains without the extreme heat of the summer.
  • Summer (June to August) - Summers in Turkmenistan can be very hot, with temperatures reaching up to 40 degrees Celsius. It's not the best time to visit if you're not comfortable with extreme heat.
  • Autumn (September to November) - Autumn is a good time to visit Turkmenistan as the weather is mild and the landscape is colorful.
  • Winter (December to February) - Winters in Turkmenistan can be cold, with temperatures dropping below freezing. The country can be quite dry during this time, and it's not the best time to visit if you're not comfortable with cold weather.

It's always good to check the weather forecast for the specific dates of your trip and plan accordingly.

 

The best time to visit Turkmenistan is generally from April to October, when the weather is warm and dry. The summer months can be quite hot, with temperatures reaching up to 40 degrees Celsius. Winter can be cold, with temperatures dropping below freezing, and it can also be quite dry. It's best to check the weather forecast for the specific dates of your trip and plan accordingly.

TURKMENISTAN WEATHER SYNOPSIS

Turkmenistan experiences a continental climate. Winter months can be extremely cold and by contrast, July and August are boiling hot, particularly in the desert regions. Ashgabat can soar to well over 40°C in July and drop to -5°C in winter. You might catch a shower in early May or November, but Turkmenistan is typically very dry. Nights in the desert can be chilly, so be prepared with extra layers if you’re camping.

Turkmenistan

TURKMENISTAN TOURIST SEASONS

Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists. 

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Peak Season

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SPORT & ACTIVITIES

SNOW SPORT IN TURKMENISTAN

HIKING & CYCLING IN TURKMENISTAN

The best time to enjoy outdoor activities in Turkmenistan is from March to May and again from September to November, when the temperatures are somewhat more moderate. The winter months can be extremely cold and in contrast, July and August are boiling hot, particularly in the desert regions.

BEACH OPTIONS IN TURKMENISTAN

Despite its location on the Caspian Sea, Turkmenistan is not a beach holiday destination!

SURFING IN TURKMENISTAN

KITESURF IN TURKMENISTAN

Kitesurfing spot details and weather

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TRAVEL SAFETY IN TURKMENISTAN

Always consider the current safety risk of each destination and do not travel without travel / medical insurance

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HEALTH RISKS IN TURKMENISTAN

Be aware of possible health risks in 

Turkmenistan

Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.

Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.

Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.

Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.

For the latest travel health notices and recommended precautions click

TURKMENISTAN TRAVEL COSTS

The cost of travel to Turkmenistan can vary depending on your travel style and the time of year you visit. However, in general, the country is not known for being a budget-friendly destination. Some estimated costs include:

  • Accommodation: Prices for budget hotels start at around $20 per night, while more luxury options can cost $100 or more per night.
  • Food: A meal at a local restaurant can cost around $5-10, while a more upscale meal can cost $20 or more.
  • Transportation: Public transportation within the country is relatively cheap, with bus and train fares costing around $1-2 per ride. Taxis are also relatively inexpensive, with short rides costing around $5-10.
  • Visas: Tourist visas are required for most visitors to Turkmenistan, and the cost can range from $40-160 depending on the type of visa and the length of stay.
  • Activities: Entrance fees to attractions and activities can vary, but a visit to the famous "Door to Hell" gas crater costs around $4-5, $10-15 for a guided tour of Ashgabat, the capital city.

It's important to note that prices for goods and services in Turkmenistan may be higher than in other countries due to the country's isolation and lack of competition. It's also important to note that the country's currency, the Turkmenistan manat, is not readily available outside the country, and the US dollar is widely accepted.

 

Also, it's good to have a budget plan in mind and to have enough cash on hand to cover your expenses while traveling to Turkmenistan.

TURKMENISTAN TRAVEL TIPS

Here are some travel tips for visiting Turkmenistan:

  • Get a visa before you go: Tourist visas are required for most visitors to Turkmenistan and can be difficult to obtain once you're in the country. Make sure to apply well in advance of your trip.
  • Bring cash: Turkmenistan's currency, the manat, is not widely available outside the country, and many places may only accept cash. Make sure to have enough US dollars on hand to cover your expenses.
  • Be aware of the dress code: Turkmenistan is a conservative country, and it's important to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites. Women should avoid shorts and revealing tops, and men should avoid wearing shorts.
  • Be respectful of local customs: Turkmenistan is a traditional society and it's important to be respectful of local customs and traditions. Avoid public displays of affection, and be mindful of how you behave in public.
  • Be prepared for the heat: Summers in Turkmenistan can be extremely hot, so make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and stay hydrated.
  • Research before you go: Turkmenistan is a relatively closed country and information can be hard to come by. Research your destination and plan your itinerary in advance to make the most of your trip.
  • Be aware of the restrictions: Turkmenistan is a country with high level of censorship and control over the information and communication. Internet access is limited and carefully monitored, and social media and news websites are blocked.
  • Hire a guide: Hiring a guide can be a good idea in Turkmenistan, as they will be able to help you navigate the country's complex bureaucracy and navigate the language barriers.
  • Be prepared to pay bribes: Unfortunately, corruption is quite common in Turkmenistan, so be prepared to pay bribes to get things done.
  • Be prepared for the lack of tourism infrastructure: Turkmenistan is not a well-trodden tourist destination, and you should be prepared for a lack of tourism infrastructure in some areas.

SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF TURKMENISTAN

Turkmenistan is a large country located in Central Asia, and it is divided into five main regions. These regions are:

  • Ashgabat: This is the capital city of Turkmenistan and is known for its Soviet-era architecture, grandiose monuments, and impressive government buildings. Some of the highlights of Ashgabat include the white marble Presidential Palace, the Arch of Neutrality, and the National Museum of Turkmenistan.
  • The Karakum Desert: This is the largest desert in Turkmenistan and covers over 70% of the country. The desert is known for its vast expanses of sand dunes and the "Door to Hell" gas crater, which is a burning natural gas field. This is a popular destination for camel trekking, hot-air ballooning, and 4x4 tours.
  • The Caspian Sea Coast: The Caspian Sea is located in the west of Turkmenistan and it is a popular destination for beach vacations. The coast is also known for its fishing and bird watching opportunities.
  • The Kopet Dag Mountains: These mountains are located in the southeast of Turkmenistan and are known for their natural beauty and outdoor activities such as hiking and rock climbing. The region is also home to several ancient fortresses, including the medieval fortress of Nisa.
  • The Krasnovodsk and Cheleken Peninsulas: These peninsulas are located in the west of the country and are known for their natural beauty and wildlife. The region is home to several nature reserves, including the Krasnovodsk reserve and the Cheleken reserve. The peninsulas are also a popular destination for bird-watching.

It's important to keep in mind that Turkmenistan is a relatively closed country and some regions may be difficult to access for tourists. It's always good to check the latest travel advice from your government and to plan your itinerary in advance.

Turkmenistan is a country with a rich culture and history, and there are many things to see and do when visiting. Here are some of the best things to see and do when visiting Turkmenistan:

  • Visit Ashgabat: The capital city of Ashgabat is known for its Soviet-era architecture, grandiose monuments, and impressive government buildings. Some of the highlights include the white marble Presidential Palace, the Arch of Neutrality, and the National Museum of Turkmenistan.
  • Explore the Karakum Desert: The Karakum Desert is the largest desert in Turkmenistan and covers over 70% of the country. It's a popular destination for camel trekking, hot-air ballooning, and 4x4 tours, and for visiting the famous "Door to Hell" gas crater, a burning natural gas field.
  • Visit the ancient city of Merv: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the oldest and most important cities of the Silk Road. It is an archaeological site with many ruins of ancient cities, such as Erk Kala, Gyz Gala and Sultan Kala.
  • See the Ertugrul Gazi Mosque: This mosque is located in the city of Turkmenabat, in the eastern part of the country, and is known for its intricate tilework and beautiful architecture. It is one of the largest mosque in Central Asia.
  • Visit the Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque: This mosque is located in the city of Türkmenabat and is one of the largest mosque in Central Asia and it is known for its stunning architecture and intricate tilework.
  • Visit the Krasnovodsk and Cheleken Peninsulas: These peninsulas are located in the west of the country and are known for their natural beauty and wildlife. The region is home to several nature reserves, including the Krasnovodsk reserve and the Cheleken reserve. The peninsulas are also a popular destination for bird-watching.
  • See the ancient city of Nisa: The ancient city of Nisa is located in the Kopet Dag Mountains and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was the capital of the Parthian Empire and it is home to several ancient fortresses, including the medieval fortress of Nisa.
  • Visit the Turkmen Carpet Museum: This museum is located in Ashgabat and is dedicated to the traditional art of Turkmen carpet-making. It houses a large collection of traditional carpets from various regions of Turkmenistan.
  • Visit the Turkmen Horse Breeding Farm: Turkmenistan is known for its beautiful Akhal-Teke horses, and there are several horse breeding farms around the country where visitors can learn about the history and breeding of these horses and even take a horseback ride.

It's important to keep in mind that Turkmenistan is a relatively closed country and some regions may be difficult to access for tourists, so it's always good to check the latest travel advice from your government and to plan your itinerary in advance.

Turkmenistan

WHAT TO EAT IN TURKMENISTAN

Turkmen cuisine is a blend of various cultures, including Central Asian, Russian, and Turkish. Here are some traditional dishes that you should try when visiting Turkmenistan:

  • Plov (pilaf): This is a traditional dish made of rice, meat, and vegetables. It is a popular dish in Central Asia and variations can be found in many countries in the region.
  • Shashlyk: This is a skewered meat dish, similar to shish kebab, and is popular throughout Central Asia. It can be made with beef, mutton, or chicken.
  • Dovga: This is a traditional yogurt soup that is often served as a breakfast dish. It is made with yogurt, rice, and various herbs and spices.
  • Manty: These are steamed dumplings filled with meat or vegetables. They can be served with a variety of sauces and are a popular dish in Central Asia.
  • Ash: This is a traditional soup that can be made with meat, vegetables, and grains. It is often served as a main course.
  • Turkmen bread (non): This is a traditional round bread that is often served with meals. It is usually made with flour, water, and yeast and can be either plain or filled with various ingredients.
  • Turkmen sweet: Turkmen cuisine is known for its sweet dishes, such as "shir-chai" which is a sweet tea made with milk and sugar, "pishme" which is a sweet pastry filled with nuts, and "gosh-e-shirin" which is a sweet pastry made with wheat flour, butter and sugar.

You will also find some international cuisine in Ashgabat, but the options are quite limited, and prices are often quite high. Keep in mind that alcohol consumption is not widely accepted in Turkmenistan, and there are few places where you can find it.

 

It's always good to try local food when traveling to a new place, but be aware of your food allergies and dietary restrictions before trying new dishes.

LGBTQ IN TURKMENISTAN

Turkmenistan

WHERE TO STAY IN TURKMENISTAN

When visiting Turkmenistan for the first time, it's a good idea to stay in the capital city of Ashgabat. This city is the main transportation hub of the country and has the most developed tourism infrastructure.

Ashgabat has a variety of accommodation options, from budget hotels to luxury resorts. Some of the best options include:

  • Budget hotels: There are several budget hotels in Ashgabat that offer basic amenities at affordable prices. They are a good option for travelers on a tight budget.
  • Mid-range hotels: These hotels offer more amenities than budget hotels and are often located in the city center. They are a good option for travelers who want a comfortable stay without breaking the bank.
  • Luxury hotels: There are also a few luxury hotels in Ashgabat that offer top-notch amenities and services. They are a good option for travelers who are looking for a more upscale experience.

It's always good to check online reviews and compare prices before booking a hotel. Keep in mind that accommodation options in Turkmenistan can be limited and prices may be higher than in other countries. It's also worth noting that Ashgabat is known for its grandiose architecture, and there are many hotels with impressive views and decor.

 

If you plan to visit other parts of the country, it's a good idea to check the availability of accommodation options in advance and book them in advance. Especially if you plan to visit remote areas, options may be very limited.

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