It was once home to the biggest city in the world, now it’s a shy country hiding its treasures from the world.
For those eager to discover a truly unglimpsed world, Turkmenistan barely features in Western travel promo. Yet this cagey country has enough natural wonders, architectural ruins and glittering cities to compete with the best. Most famous are the ruins at Merv, the one-time greatest metropolis in the world, a Silk Road oasis in the vast cruel desert. Turkmenistan’s natural beauty is not all sand and mountain, but includes an underground lake and volcanic crater – the latter known as the Door to Hell. If Turkmenistan is a little known destination, one thing is for sure – it’s not for lack of attractions.
Turkmenistan travel highlights
Take a cable car over Ashgabat
The ride to the Kopet Dag Mountains reveals incredible views of this sparkling white and gold capital.
See a fallen empire at Old Nisa
Aside from the ruins at the Silk Road city of Merv, Old Nisa is another one of Turkmenistan’s ancient capitals.
Go for an underground swim at Kow-Ata
The Kow-Ata cave shelters an underground late, perfect for cooling off from the desert heat.
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Turkmenistan travel FAQs
TURKMENISTAN (DRAGOMAN OVERLAND) 2014/15
LETTERS OF INVITATION (LOI)
All visitors to Turkmenistan require a visa. You will need a Letter of Invitation (LOI) in order to apply for your visa.
Dragoman will apply for the letter of invitation on your behalf. In order to do this we need you to complete the Visa support form found here http://dragoman.thevisamachine.com/visa-support. Once you have completed this form we will need you to email the supporting documents to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name in the subject of the email followed by 'Dragoman LOI'.
Please complete the Visa Support form as soon as possible after booking. Any delays in returning this form, along with
the associated documents, will have a knock on effect to the amount of time you have in applying for the actual visa. Once a letter of support / Letter of Invitation has been authorised a copy will be sent to you. You can then begin the
process of applying for your visa.
*If you decide to obtain your visa in a different location, a new letter of invitation will be required
which will delay you obtaining your visa therefore it is vital that you are clear on where you will obtain your visa.
*From time to time some visa applications are rejected by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan or incorrect dates given for travel. If this happens, Dragoman will contact you as soon as it is known and we will help you arrange alternative travel plans. Unfortunately Dragoman Overseas Travel cannot be held responsible if your visa application is refused.
How and where apply for your Turkmenistan visa will depend on how you enter the country.
VISA ON ARRIVAL - LAND:
Travellers arriving in Turkmenistan overland on a WESTBOUND itinerary can obtain their visas at the land border on arrival. Please indicate this as the place where you will apply for your visa on the The Visa Machine LOI form. Costs will depend on your nationality (currently US$55-$85) and payment must be in cash. A tax is also payable at the border of approx $14 USD pp. You will need to fill out an immigration card upon entering. Please make sure you keep this card for the entire journey.
VISA ON ARRIVAL - AIR
If you are flying into Ashgabat you can obtain your visa on arrival at Saparmurat Turkmenbashy International Airport.
This will cost approximately US$ 85. A printed copy of your approved Invitation letter will be required at the check-in
desk for your flight to Ashgabat as proof of visa authorisation. Dragoman will once again apply for this on your behalf
but please note, Dragoman will require exact details of your intended arrival date and flight details before we can start
In all other circumstances you must obtain your visa from an embassy before your travel and must indicate specifically where you will apply on the The Visa Machine LOI form. On arrival in Turkmenistan you will be required to fill out an immigration card which must be kept for your entire journey. Turkmenistan embassies where you may be able to apply for your visa include: Beijing, London, Istanbul, Tashkent, Almaty, Washington, Berlin, Paris. The following website may have useful information and traveller reports about applying for visas at these and other embassies: www.caravanistan.com
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
You will need to apply for a Single Entry Tourist Visa (G)
Name(s) of Host/Sponsor/Contact:
Magtymguly Avenue 108-13, 14
+993 12 352914
Address in Turkmenistan:
Ak Altyn Hotel
141/1 Magtymguly ave
+993 12 363700
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
* Letter of Invitation (LOI)
* Photocopy of your passport
* Passport size photo (up to 4)
* Please check with the embassy for any other specific requirements
WARNING - TRAVELLING IN OCTOBER:
Independence Day in Turkmenistan is on October 27th. The government usually imposes restrictions on the issuance of the Letters of Invitation (and therefore visas) during the month of September for all those travelling to Turkmenistan
in October. Dragoman must therefore have all the requested information and a copy of a passport in August as applications made after this date may not be granted.
Tipping is becoming more common in Turkmenistan and is often expected of tourists, particularly in Maputo. You may like to add about 10% to your bill at restaurants, and leave a some spare change for drivers, porters and wait staff.
You won’t be able to access the internet in Turkmenistan due to government regulations.
Depending on who your provider is, you may be able to active global roaming and use your mobile phone in Ashgabat. Check with your provider before departing if you wish to use your mobile phone.
Turkmenistan has both Western-style toilets and squat toilets, depending on where you go. Soap and toilet paper aren’t always provided so you may like to carry some with you.
- Soft drink = 3-4 TMT
- Bottle of imported beer = 5-6 TMT
- Simple lunch = 15-20 TMT
- Dinner in an inexpensive restaurant = 35-45 TMT
Drinking tap water is not considered safe in Turkmenistan. Similarly, exercise caution when eating uncooked foods that have been washed in water. It’s best to avoid having ice in your drink and peel fruit before eating it.
For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water and bring a bottle or canteen with you. Ask your leader where you can access filters to refill your supply, or carry your own purification tablets with you.
You may be able to use your credit card at some hotels and restaurants in Ashgabat, but prepare to pay cash when making purchases from most local businesses.
ATMs are rare in Turkmenistan.
Yes. All peregrine passengers are required to purchase travel insurance prior to their trip. Your insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day.
For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/Turkmenistan/public-holidays