Ultimate Guide to Gap Year Travel: Tips,...
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.)
Things to Do
1. Visit the Ancient City of Merv
Explore the ruins of the ancient city of Merv, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Marvel at the well-preserved structures that date back to the 6th century BC and learn about the rich history of the Silk Road.
2. Take a Tour of Ashgabat
Discover the capital city of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat. Admire its unique architectural style, including the world's largest indoor ferris wheel and the white marble buildings that fill the city. Visit the Turkmen Carpet Museum to learn about the traditional art of carpet weaving.
3. Explore the Darvaza Gas Crater
Witness the 'Door to Hell' at the Darvaza Gas Crater. This natural gas field has been burning for decades, creating a surreal and mesmerizing sight. Camp under the starry sky near the crater and observe the fiery glow.
4. Visit the National Museum of Turkmenistan
Immerse yourself in the history and culture of Turkmenistan at the National Museum. Browse through its extensive collection of artifacts, including ancient jewelry, traditional costumes, and archaeological discoveries.
5. Take a Camel Trek in the Karakum Desert
Embark on a camel trekking adventure in the Karakum Desert. Experience the vast expanse of sand dunes and enjoy the tranquility of the desert landscape. Spend the night in a traditional yurt and witness a breathtaking sunset.
6. Visit the Ancient City of Nisa
Explore the ruins of the ancient Parthian city of Nisa, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Marvel at the ancient buildings and learn about the rich history of the Parthian Empire.
7. Hike in the Kopetdag Mountains
Embark on a hiking adventure in the picturesque Kopetdag Mountains. Enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, encounter diverse flora and fauna, and experience the tranquility of nature.
8. Visit the Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque
Explore the grand Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque in the city of Gypjak. Admire its stunning architecture, intricate decorations, and peaceful atmosphere. Take a moment for reflection and prayer.
9. Discover the Yangykala Canyons
Marvel at the vibrant and otherworldly landscapes of the Yangykala Canyons. Admire the colorful rock formations, carved by millions of years of geological processes. Capture stunning photos of this natural wonder.
10. Visit the Ancient City of Gonur Depe
Explore the ancient city of Gonur Depe, an archaeological site that dates back to the Bronze Age. Discover the remains of ancient structures and artifacts that provide insights into the early civilizations of Central Asia.
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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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
- The official currency of Turkmenistan is the Turkmenistan manat (TMT).
Cash And Cards
- Credit cards are generally accepted in major hotels, restaurants, and shops, but it is recommended to carry cash for smaller establishments.
- It is advisable to carry small denominations of cash, as it can be difficult to get change for larger bills.
- ATMs are available in major cities and tourist areas.
- It is recommended to withdraw cash in the local currency to avoid currency conversion fees.
- Tipping is not common in Turkmenistan, but it is appreciated for exceptional service.
- When tipping, it is customary to round up the bill or leave a small amount of change.
Cost Of Living
- The cost of living in Turkmenistan is relatively low compared to Western countries.
- Accommodation, transportation, and food are generally affordable.
- Be cautious of street vendors or individuals offering deals that seem too good to be true.
- It is advisable to only exchange money at authorized exchange offices or banks to avoid scams.