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Best Places to visit in Turkmenistan:

Unveiling Turkmenistan: A Journey Through Ancient Wonders and Modern Marvels

Places to visit in Turkmenistan
Courtesy: tf

Nestled in the heart of Central Asia, Turkmenistan is a land of enigmatic landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and futuristic cities that captivate the imagination. Despite being a lesser-known travel destination, this country offers a tapestry of experiences waiting to be explored. Join us as we embark on a virtual journey to uncover the top places to visit in Turkmenistan, where ancient history and modern innovation seamlessly intertwine.

In Isolation – Turkmenistan

Map of Turkmenistan and Bordering Countries:

Courtesy: wm

Countries Bordering Turkmenistan:

Turkmenistan is bordered by 4 countries: 

  1. Kazakhstan to the northwest
  2. Uzbekistan to the north and east
  3. Afghanistan to the southeast
  4. Iran to the south
  5. Caspian Sea to the west

Map Showing Turkmenistan Location in Asia:

Courtesy: om

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Our Top Places to visit in Turkmenistan:

1. Ashgabat – The City of Marble:

Courtesy: wp

Begin your adventure in the dazzling capital city of Ashgabat, often referred to as the “City of Marble.” Adorned with opulent architecture and impressive monuments, this modern metropolis stands as a testament to Turkmenistan’s ambition.

Marvel at the golden domes of the Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque, the futuristic buildings lining the streets, and the pristine parks that offer a serene contrast to the bustling urban life.

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Unveiling Ashgabat, Turkmenistan: A Journey Through the City of Marble and Mystery
İnci Şehir Aşkabat | Merjen şäher Aşgabat | (In Turkish). Translates to – ‘Pearl City Ashgabat | Merjen Säher Ashgabat’

2. Darvaza Gas Crater – The Gates of Hell:

Courtesy: dm

Venture into the desert to witness one of the world’s most mesmerizing natural phenomena – the Darvaza Gas Crater, also known as the “Door to Hell.” This flaming crater, perpetually burning since the 1970s, is an otherworldly sight that will leave you in awe. Camping under the starlit desert sky near the fiery pit is an experience that’s truly unforgettable.

[4K Drone] Darvaza Gas Crater (The Door to Hell) Turkmenistan
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Turkmenistan Vlog: Gates of Hell

3. Merv – Where Ancient Ruins Whisper Stories:

Courtesy: tg

Explore the historical site of Merv, a UNESCO World Heritage site that once served as a major trading hub along the Silk Road. The archaeological ruins of ancient cities, fortresses, and mausoleums offer a glimpse into the past glory of this once-thriving oasis.

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Ancient Merv in Mary, Turkmenistan
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4. Konye-Urgench/Köneürgench – Echoes of the Past:

Courtesy: zt

Journey to Kunya-Urgench (Köneürgench), another UNESCO-listed treasure that captures the essence of Turkmenistan’s Silk Road heritage. Discover stunning architecture like the mausoleum of Turabek Khanum, the Kutlug-Timur Minaret, and the distinctive portal of the Najmeddin Kubra Mausoleum.

Jis Per Nazar Daali Wo Bhi WALI Huwa | HAZRAT NAJMUDDIN KUBRA: Founder of Kubrawi and Firdausi Order
Uzbek Turkmen border crossing–Nukus (Khojayli)-Konye-Urgench

5. Avaza – The Seaside Sanctuary:

Courtesy: av

For a relaxing escape, head to Avaza, a modern beach resort town along the Caspian Sea. With its pristine beaches, luxurious hotels, and a range of water sports, Avaza offers a tranquil contrast to the country’s historical sites.

Courtesy: bb
Courtesy: sb
Avaza – Türkmenistan
Avaza Turizm Bölgesinde Yaz Sezonu Açıldı (In Turkish) Translates to – ‘Summer Season Opened in Avaza Tourism Region’
Аваза Каспийское Море Туркменистан 2020 – Красноводск Туркменбаши (In Russian) Translates to – ‘Avaza Caspian Sea Turkmenistan 2020 – Krasnovodsk Turkmenbashi’

6. Yangykala Canyons – A Painter’s Palette:

Courtesy: at

Nature lovers will be enchanted by the dramatic beauty of the Yangykala Canyons. These multicolored rock formations resemble a vivid artist’s palette, offering an awe-inspiring display of hues that change with the shifting sunlight. Capture breathtaking vistas and take in the serene desolation of this unique natural wonder.


7. Nokhur Village – Timeless Nomadic Traditions:

Nokhur Cemetery – Courtesy: db

Escape the urban hustle and venture to Nokhur Village, nestled among the Kopet Dag Mountains. Here, you’ll experience the traditions and lifestyle of the Turkmen people, who have preserved their nomadic way of life for generations. Engage with locals, explore their unique homes, and immerse yourself in their warm hospitality.

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Turkmenistan (Nokhur-Nohur Village 2) Part 16
Nohur. Türkmenistan (in Turkish)
Gyzykly gezelenç #2 | Trip to Nokhur ⛰️ (in Turkish)

Did we mention the food? EAT!

Courtesy: cn

Turkmenistan’s cuisine is a reflection of its nomadic heritage and cultural influences. Rooted in Central Asian traditions, the country’s food is a blend of hearty flavors and simple ingredients.

One of the staples is pilaf, known as “palaw” in Turkmenistan, a fragrant rice dish often paired with succulent meats, vegetables, and dried fruits. Another iconic dish is “manty,” steamed dumplings stuffed with spiced meat or pumpkin. These dishes embody the essence of Turkmen hospitality and are often shared in gatherings and celebrations.

The local bread, “çörek,” is a ubiquitous accompaniment, baked to perfection in clay ovens. As you explore the markets and eateries, you’ll discover the rich tapestry of Turkmenistan’s culinary culture, where traditional recipes and flavors have stood the test of time.

Turkmenistan Food (Pilaf-Pilav) Part 6
Ishleki – National Dish of Turkmenistan (day 33 / 195)
Spending $20 at a Turkmenistan Market

Courtesy: cn

Important Things to Know Before Traveling to Turkmenistan

Traveling to Turkmenistan offers a unique opportunity to explore a lesser-known destination with a rich history and distinct cultural landscape. However, due to the country’s specific regulations and customs, it’s essential to be well-prepared for your journey. Here are some important things to know before traveling to Turkmenistan:

1. Visa Requirements and Letter of Invitation:
Obtaining a visa for Turkmenistan can be complex. Most travelers need a visa, and obtaining one often requires a letter of invitation. This can be arranged through a tour company or a local sponsor. It’s recommended to start the visa application process well in advance of your travel dates.

2. Restricted Internet and Media:
Internet access in Turkmenistan is limited, and some websites and social media platforms might be inaccessible. Be prepared for restricted internet connectivity and refrain from engaging in political discussions or posting sensitive content online.

3. Currency and Cash:
The official currency is the Turkmenistan Manat (TMT). Credit cards are not widely accepted, especially outside major cities. It’s advisable to carry enough cash, both local currency and US dollars or euros, for your expenses.

4. Photography Restrictions:
Photography of government buildings, military installations, and certain public areas is restricted. Always ask for permission before taking photos of people, and be cautious about taking pictures of sensitive locations.

5. Cultural Sensitivity:
Turkmenistan has a conservative culture, and visitors should dress modestly, especially in religious sites and government buildings. Public displays of affection should be avoided, and it’s essential to be respectful of local customs and traditions.

6. Restricted Items:
Certain items, including satellite phones and GPS devices, might be restricted or require permits. It’s advisable to check with local authorities or your tour operator before bringing such items into the country.

7. Communication and Language:
While the official language is Turkmen, Russian is also widely spoken, especially in urban areas. English is not commonly spoken, so having basic Russian or Turkmen phrases can be helpful for communication.

8. Health and Hygiene:
Check with your healthcare provider for recommended vaccinations before traveling to Turkmenistan. Drink bottled or purified water, and take precautions to protect yourself from mosquito-borne illnesses.

9. Respect for Leadership and Monuments:
Turkmenistan’s leaders and monuments are highly revered. Show respect when discussing or in the presence of images of the President and avoid any form of disrespect or criticism.

10. Local Customs and Etiquette:
Greet locals with a polite “Salam aleykum” (peace be upon you). Be courteous, patient, and mindful of the local way of life. Learning about Turkmen culture, traditions, and history will enhance your travel experience.

Remember that Turkmenistan’s unique political and cultural landscape necessitates thorough research and adherence to local regulations. Engaging with a reputable tour operator can help navigate the complexities and ensure a safe and enriching journey through this fascinating country.

Turkmenistan Vital Statistics

Turkmenistan, a Central Asian country with a rich history and distinct culture, is characterized by a set of vital statistics that provide insights into its demographics, geography, and economic landscape. Here are some key Turkmenistan vital statistics:

1. Area:
Turkmenistan covers an area of approximately 488,100 square kilometers (188,500 square miles), making it the 52nd largest country in the world.

2. Population:
As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, Turkmenistan’s population was estimated to be around 6 million people. The population density is relatively low due to the vast desert landscapes.

3. Capital:
The capital city of Turkmenistan is Ashgabat, known for its futuristic architecture, grand monuments, and gleaming white marble buildings.

4. Official Language:
The official language of Turkmenistan is Turkmen. Russian is also widely spoken, especially in urban areas.

5. Religion:
Islam is the dominant religion in Turkmenistan, with the majority of the population adhering to Sunni Islam. The country also has a history of Sufi mysticism.

6. Government:
Turkmenistan is a presidential republic with a single-party political system. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow has been the President since 2007.

7. Economy:
Turkmenistan’s economy is primarily driven by natural gas exports, making it one of the world’s largest natural gas producers. The country has been working to diversify its economy, focusing on sectors like agriculture, textiles, and construction.

8. Currency:
The official currency of Turkmenistan is the Turkmenistan Manat (TMT). Cash transactions are common, and credit cards are not widely accepted, especially in rural areas.

9. Geography:
Turkmenistan is characterized by diverse landscapes, including vast deserts, mountains, and the Caspian Sea coastline. The Karakum Desert, one of the world’s largest sand deserts, occupies a significant portion of the country.

10. Natural Resources:
Turkmenistan is rich in natural resources, with natural gas being a major export commodity. The country also has deposits of oil, sulfur, salt, and various minerals.

11. UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
Turkmenistan is home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the ancient city of Merv and the Parthian Fortresses of Nisa, showcasing the country’s historical significance.

12. Transportation:
Transportation in Turkmenistan primarily relies on road networks and domestic flights. The country has been investing in improving its transportation infrastructure in recent years.

Please note that these vital statistics are based on information available as of September 2021. For the most up-to-date data and information about Turkmenistan, it’s recommended to refer to reliable sources such as government reports and international organizations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Frequently Asked Questions On Both Our Best Places to visit in Turkmenistan and Traveling to Turkmenistan in General

FAQ About Traveling to Turkmenistan:

Traveling to TurkmenistanFrequently Asked Questions are

1. Is Turkmenistan a safe country for travelers?
Turkmenistan is generally considered safe for travelers. The country has strict laws and regulations, and it’s important to follow them to ensure a smooth and trouble-free experience. Exercise common-sense precautions, be respectful of local customs, and stay informed about any travel advisories.

2. How can I obtain a visa to travel to Turkmenistan?
Travelers to Turkmenistan usually need a visa to enter. The application process can be complex, so it’s recommended to apply through a tour company or a local sponsor. Consult the Turkmen embassy or consulate in your home country for the most accurate and up-to-date information on visa requirements.

3. What’s the best time to visit Turkmenistan?
The best time to visit Turkmenistan is during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) when the weather is mild. Summers can be extremely hot, while winters can be chilly, especially in the desert regions.

4. What’s the local currency in Turkmenistan?
The official currency of Turkmenistan is the Turkmenistan Manat (TMT). Cash transactions are common, especially outside major cities, so it’s advisable to carry local currency. Credit cards are not widely accepted, so having cash on hand is essential.

5. What languages are spoken in Turkmenistan?
The official language of Turkmenistan is Turkmen. Russian is also widely spoken, especially in urban areas. English is not as commonly spoken, so having a basic understanding of Russian or Turkmen phrases can be helpful.

6. Can I use mobile phones and the internet in Turkmenistan?
While mobile networks and the internet are available, they are subject to government restrictions. International SIM cards might not work in Turkmenistan, so it’s recommended to purchase a local SIM card if necessary.

7. What are the main modes of transportation within Turkmenistan?
Transport options in Turkmenistan include buses, taxis, and domestic flights between major cities. Trains are also available and offer a unique travel experience, allowing you to interact with locals.

8. What are some cultural considerations for travelers in Turkmenistan?
Turkmenistan has a conservative culture. Dress modestly, especially in religious sites and government buildings. It’s polite to ask for permission before taking photos of people, and be respectful of local customs and traditions.

9. Are there any restrictions on photography in Turkmenistan?
Photography in Turkmenistan can be restricted, especially around government buildings and military installations. Always ask for permission before taking photos of people, and be cautious when photographing public places.

10. How can I respect the local customs and traditions while traveling in Turkmenistan?
Respect the local culture by dressing modestly, avoiding public displays of affection, and being polite in your interactions. Be aware that criticism of the government or sensitive topics can be considered disrespectful and might have legal consequences.

Remember that these FAQs provide general information and guidelines. Turkmenistan’s unique political and cultural landscape requires thorough research and preparation before traveling. Be sure to stay informed and respectful of local laws and customs to ensure a rewarding and trouble-free travel experience.

FAQ About Places to Visit in Turkmenistan

Places to Visit in TurkmenistanFrequently Asked Questions are

1. What are the top destinations to visit in Turkmenistan?
Turkmenistan offers a range of unique and intriguing destinations. The must-visit places include Ashgabat, Darvaza Gas Crater (Door to Hell), Merv, Nisa, and the Yangykala Canyons.

2. What makes Ashgabat a significant city to explore?
Ashgabat, the capital city, is known for its futuristic architecture, grand monuments, and gleaming white marble buildings. Explore Independence Park, visit the Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque, and witness the impressive Arch of Neutrality.

3. What is the Darvaza Gas Crater, and why is it popular among travelers?
The Darvaza Gas Crater, also known as the “Door to Hell,” is a natural gas field that has been burning for decades. Its fiery spectacle against the night sky attracts adventurers seeking an otherworldly experience.

4. Why is Merv a historically significant destination?
Merv, an ancient Silk Road city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore its well-preserved ruins, including the Great Kyz Kala and Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum, and immerse yourself in the rich history of the Silk Road.

5. What is Nisa, and why is it worth visiting?
Nisa is an ancient Parthian city located near Ashgabat. It offers archaeological ruins that provide insights into the region’s historical past, including impressive fortress walls and the Royal Parthian Cemetery.

6. What can I expect at the Yangykala Canyons?
The Yangykala Canyons are a natural wonder, with their vibrant hues and stunning formations. Explore the surreal landscapes of these canyons, which resemble a painting come to life.

7. Is it possible to explore the Karakum Desert?
Yes, the Karakum Desert offers unique opportunities for adventure. In addition to the Darvaza Gas Crater, you can experience desert safaris, camel treks, and cultural interactions with local communities.

8. How can I travel between these destinations in Turkmenistan?
Turkmenistan has a developing transportation network. You can travel between cities by train, domestic flights, or guided tours. Local transportation includes buses, taxis, and shared minibusses (marshrutkas).

9. Are there any cultural considerations for travelers in Turkmenistan?
Turkmenistan has a conservative culture. Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or government buildings. Always ask for permission before taking photos of people, and be respectful of local customs and traditions.

10. How can I ensure a smooth travel experience in Turkmenistan?
Research and planning are essential. Check visa requirements, consult with your embassy, and gather information about transportation options, accommodations, and cultural norms. Engaging with local tour operators can also help you navigate the country effectively.

Remember that these FAQs provide general information and guidelines. For the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding your travel plans to Turkmenistan, it’s recommended to research thoroughly and prepare for an enriching journey through this unique and lesser-explored destination.

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Our Top Places to Visit in Turkmenistan – Final Thoughts:

Turkmenistan beckons adventurers with its enigmatic landscapes, rich history, and a glimpse into a culture that thrives amidst an ever-changing world.

From the gleaming modernity of Ashgabat to the ancient echoes of Merv and Konye-Urgench, and the surreal allure of the Darvaza Gas Crater and Yangykala Canyons, this Central Asian jewel offers a rare and unforgettable travel experience.

As you wander through its historic sites and natural wonders, you’ll find that Turkmenistan’s mystery is matched only by its undeniable charm. So, pack your bags and let this captivating destination unveil its secrets as you embark on an extraordinary journey through the heart of Central Asia.

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Our Best Places to visit in Turkmenistan – By David John

Best Places to visit in Turkmenistan: Cover Image by kt

Places to visit in Turkmenistan: flickr images licensed under CC BY 2.0

Additional images: adobe, colourbox, istock, pexels, shutterstock, unsplash  unless otherwise stated.

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