Darvaza Gas Crater

The Darvaza gas crater, also known as the Door to Hell or Gates of Hell, is a natural gas field collapsed into a cavern near Darvaza.
Photo by Ybrayym Esenov

TURKMENISTAN

Asia

Turkmenistan Travel Information

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Key facts

Capital:

Ashgabat (Ashkhabad)

Location:

Central Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Kazakhstan

Currency:

Turkmenistani manat (TMM)

Area:

488,100 sq km

Population:

5,579,889 (July 2021 est.)

Languages:

Turkmen (official) 72%, Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, other 7%

Religion:

Muslim 93%, Christian 6.4%, Buddhist <1%, folk religion <1%, Jewish <1%, other <1%, unspecified <1% (2020 est.)

TimeZone:

UTC+5

Tel Code:

+993

Weather

Climate

Turkmenistan has a dry, continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. The country experiences very little precipitation, with most of the rain falling in the spring and early summer. The temperature in the summer can reach up to 40°C (104°F) while in the winter the temperature can drop to below -20°C (-4°F) in some regions. The southern regions of Turkmenistan tend to be slightly milder than the northern regions.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Turkmenistan is in the spring (April - May) and fall (September - October) when the weather is mild and pleasant, and the desert landscapes are at their most colorful. These seasons are also the best time for outdoor activities such as hiking and hot air balloon rides. The summer months can be very hot, making it difficult to enjoy outdoor activities, and the winter months can be very cold. Keep in mind that during the month of Ramadan, it can be challenging to find places to eat and drink during the day as most of the restaurants will be closed.

Transportation

Air

Turkmenistan has two main airports, Ashgabat International Airport and Turkmenbashi International Airport, both of which are connected to several major cities in the region and in Europe. Turkmenistan Airlines is the main airline operating in the country, but there are also a few other airlines that offer flights to and from Turkmenistan.

Bus

Buses are the most common form of transportation within the country and connect most of the major cities and towns. The buses are generally reliable and inexpensive but can be overcrowded and not very comfortable.

Train

Trains are another option for transportation within the country, connecting some of the major cities and towns. The trains are generally reliable but can be slow.

Taxis

Taxis are widely available in the major cities and towns, but prices can vary greatly depending on the location and the driver. It's best to agree on a price before starting the journey, or use a taxi service that uses meters or fixed prices.

Car Rental

Car rental is possible but not very common in Turkmenistan, as it is difficult to find car rental companies and the road conditions can be challenging. If you plan to rent a car, it's best to have a valid international driver's license and be familiar with the local road rules and conditions.

Accommodation

Hotels

Turkmenistan has a range of hotel options, from budget-friendly options to luxury hotels. The capital city of Ashgabat has the most options for accommodation, but there are also hotels in other major cities and towns, such as Mary and Turkmenbashi. Many of the hotels are government-owned and have been built in recent years, and may not be as modern as some of the western standards.

Guesthouses

Guesthouses are a good alternative to hotels and can be found in most of the major cities and towns. These accommodation options are typically run by local families and provide a more authentic experience of Turkmen culture and hospitality. Prices are usually lower than hotels, and you may be able to negotiate a better rate if you're staying for multiple nights.

Homestays

Homestays are another alternative to traditional hotels and can be a great way to experience local culture and hospitality. These accommodation options are typically run by local families, who open their homes to travelers. Homestays can be found in most of the major cities and towns, and prices are usually lower than hotels.

Camping

Camping is possible in Turkmenistan, but it's not a common option for accommodation and facilities are very limited. It's important to note that it is not allowed to camp in the desert without permission from the government and a guided tour. If you plan to camp, it's best to bring your own equipment and supplies.

Money

Money Tips for Travel

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans to avoid any potential issues with international transactions.
  • Bring a mix of cash, credit, and debit cards--and possibly a travel money card.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.
  • Make sure to have a backup option for accessing money in case your primary method doesn't work.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • NEVER accept currency conversion at ATMs! Always get your home bank to convert at much better rates.
  • Think about getting a Wise or other travel debit card; these can provide much better rates and some free ATM withdrawals.

ATM and Credit Cards

  • Research the availability of ATMs and credit card acceptance at your destination before you depart.
  • Keep your ATM card in a safe place and be mindful of your surroundings when using it.
  • Try to stick to using ATMs that are affiliated with major banks.
  • Keep your credit card information safe and secure, and be aware of potential scams.
  • Make sure your cards have the necessary security features, such as chip and pin.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.

Exchange Rates

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • Be careful of places that may offer to exchange money at rates that seem too good to be true.

Mobile

When traveling, getting mobile access is very important these days. If you are working remotely, wanting to update social media, or need to access your banks SMS authentication messages having a reliable service is a must. At WhereNext we recommend:

eSIM

Services such as those offered by our partner, Airalo, allow you to easily order and install an eSIM for different countries or regions that you are traveling in.

Dual SIM phone

If you have a phone that supports dual SIM's then you can get a SIM on arrival for each country, this is probably better done at a telco store rather than at the airport.

Extend your home plan

Depending on where you live and your mobile service provider you may be able to extend your plan to cover mobile roaming at reasonable rates.

Keep your primary SIM

With the amount of accounts we all have that require two factor authentication via SMS, keeping a constant number for these accounts is a must.

Community

There are several online communities and platforms that you can use to meet people while traveling, both for making new friends or for networking professionally. Some popular options include:

Facebook groups

There are many Facebook groups dedicated to connecting people while traveling, from expat groups and travel communities to groups specific to certain cities or regions of the country. You can search for groups based on your interests or location and connect with others who share similar interests.

Meetup

Meetup is a platform that allows you to find groups of people that share your interests in your local area. There are Meetup groups all around the world, and they cover a wide range of topics, such as language exchange, sports, and cultural activities.

Internations

Internations is a social network for people who live or work abroad. It has a large community of expats and organizes regular events, activities and gatherings that allow members to connect and socialize.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a platform that connects travelers with local hosts, who offer free accommodation and a chance to experience the local culture. It's a great way to meet locals and make friends!

Reddit

Reddit has a large community, and there are several subreddits dedicated to connecting expats and travelers. You can use it to ask questions, get advice, and connect with others who are also living or traveling in the country.

Linkedin

LinkedIn is primarily a professional network, but you can also use it to connect with people who work in the same industry or have similar backgrounds. It can be useful to connect with people before you arrive and establish a few professional contacts to help you get started.

At WhereNext, we use Nomad List as a global community and then research more local ones for our destination. These are just a few examples of online communities you can use to meet people; please suggest any others that you think are appropriate for this destination.

Insurance

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It covers a wide range of needs--even some you might not expect!

Medical Coverage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses if you become ill or injured while traveling. This can include coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, and emergency medical transportation. It's also a good idea to ensure that your travel insurance covers COVID-19 related illness and delays!

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

Travel insurance can provide coverage if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to unexpected events such as illness, weather, or travel bans. It can also provide coverage if your trip is delayed or if your travel provider goes out of business.

Lost or Stolen Luggage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost or stolen luggage, as well as personal items such as passports and electronic devices.

Emergency Assistance and Evacuation

Many travel insurance plans offer emergency assistance services, such as providing information on local hospitals and doctors, assistance with replacing lost or stolen documents, and help with arranging transportation in the event of an emergency. At WhereNext we have partnered with Global Rescue for evacuation services, which are highly recommended if you are undertaking dangerous activities or are travelling to dangerous parts of the world.

Liability coverage

Travel insurance can also provide liability coverage in case you cause an accident or harm someone while you are traveling.

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It can help cover the costs of medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, and more. It's always a good idea to review the coverage and compare the different options available before making a decision. At WhereNext we both use and have partnered with Safety Wing for general travel insurance.

Entry Requirements

Here are some general travel tips regarding entry requirements that apply across all countries:

Passport

Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in the country you are visiting. Some countries will not allow you to enter if your passport is set to expire within a certain period of time.

Visa

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if you need a visa. Some countries require a visa for entry, while others do not. Make sure to apply for a visa well in advance of your trip as the process can take several weeks. Check the latest Visa requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Health Requirements and COVID-19 Rules

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if there are any health requirements for entry. Some countries require vaccinations or proof of medical insurance. Check the latest health requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Travel Insurance

Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially if you are traveling internationally. Travel insurance can cover you in the event of trip cancellation, medical emergencies, and other unexpected events. Our travel insurance partner is SafetyWing. For dangerous activities and/or countries consider a rescue service like those offered by our partner, Global Rescue.

Customs

Be familiar with the customs and laws of the country you are visiting. Some countries have strict laws regarding drug possession, alcohol consumption, and dress codes.

Currency

Check the currency exchange rate and make sure you have enough local currency for your trip. Some countries may not accept credit cards or travelers cheques, so it is always good to have some cash on hand. At WhereNext we recommend use a Wise debit card, which provides low cost currency conversions and ATM withdrawals.

Research the country

Research about the culture, customs and laws of the country you are visiting. It will help you to understand the place more and also prepare you better for the trip.

Contact Information

Make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passport. Also, leave a copy of your itinerary and contact information with a friend or family member at home.

COVID Status

I am vaccinated 
Turkmenistan Closed
Test
Not required
Quarantine
Not required

Check Visa Requirements

      Things to Do

      Turkmenistan, a country located in Central Asia, is a unique destination that offers a rich blend of history, culture and natural beauty. From the magnificent ancient cities to the fascinating traditional nomadic lifestyle, Turkmenistan is a land of contrasts that will leave you mesmerized. It is home to a diverse array of activities and attractions, making it a great destination for adventure-seekers, culture enthusiasts, and history buffs. Here are the top 10 things to do in Turkmenistan:

      1. Explore Ashgabat

      Ashgabat is the capital of Turkmenistan and is a modern city with a mix of Soviet-era architecture and grandiose, marble-clad buildings. It is home to a number of iconic landmarks, such as the Independence Monument, the Arch of Neutrality and the Presidential Palace, that are worth visiting.

      2. Visit Nisa

      Nisa is an ancient city that was once the capital of the Parthian Empire. The ruins of Nisa are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offer a glimpse into the past, with well-preserved fortifications, palaces and temples.

      3. See the Darvaza Gas Crater

      The Darvaza gas crater, also known as the "Door to Hell", is a natural gas field that has been burning continuously since 1971. The site is a unique and surreal spectacle that is not to be missed.

      4. Experience the Kow-Ata Underground Lake

      The Kow-Ata underground lake is a natural wonder located in a limestone cave. The lake is known for its warm, mineral-rich water that is said to have healing properties.

      5. Visit the Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque

      The Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque is one of the largest mosques in Central Asia and is a stunning example of Turkmen architecture. The mosque is adorned with intricate tilework and can accommodate up to 10,000 worshippers.

      6. Explore the Yangykala Canyon

      The Yangykala Canyon is a stunning natural formation located in the Karakum Desert. The canyon offers breathtaking views of the surrounding desert and is a great spot for hiking and photography.

      7. Visit the Turkmen Carpet Museum

      The Turkmen Carpet Museum is located in Ashgabat and is home to a large collection of traditional Turkmen carpets. The museum offers a fascinating insight into the history and culture of Turkmenistan.

      8. Explore the ruins of Merv

      Merv is an ancient city that was once one of the most important cities on the Silk Road. The ruins of Merv are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offer a glimpse into the past, with well-preserved fortifications, palaces and temples.

      9. Visit the Turkmen Horse Breeding Farm

      Turkmenistan is known for its love and pride of horses, and visiting a horse breeding farm is a great way to learn about the country's equestrian culture. You can watch the training of the famous Akhal-Teke horses and even take a horseback ride through the countryside.

      10. Take a hot air balloon ride over the Karakum Desert

      The Karakum Desert is the largest desert in Turkmenistan and offers a unique and stunning landscape. Taking a hot air balloon ride over the desert is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that allows you to see the beauty of the desert from a bird's eye view.

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