Where: Ashgabat, Kow Ata, Nokhur, Darvaza, Turkmenbashi, Yangykala Canyon
Transport: Airlines, Car
Who: Two travelers
Currency: Turkmenistan Manat (TMM), U.S. Dollar (USD)
Considered to be the North Korea of Central Asia for its autocratic and authoritarian government ran by one family, Turkmenistan is bordered by Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Iran and Afghanistan. It’s a totalitarian theme park and the least visited countries in Central Asia because of the strict entry rules. I visited Turkmenistan in 2023 for five days along with another traveler.
|Turkmenistan highlights on Instagram
All the details on this trip are also available on my Instagram profile’s highlights section. Just click on the link above, and look for the ‘Turkmenistan’ under highlights. There are three sections, so start with ‘Turkmenistan 1’ and follow through.
You can also click here to access this highlight directly.
The only way to travel to Turkmenistan as a tourist is going on tour with a licensed operator. There are quite a few out there, but we booked a tour with Travel Notoria (website: www.travelnotoria.com). The costs for the tour depends on the number of days, people, and activities you select.
They will arrange for a ‘letter of invitation’ (LOI) from the Turkmen government which will allow you to board the plane, and enter the country. Upon arrival, you will get a visa stamped in your passport by showing the LOI.
We got a driver and a guide throughout our trip. I would highly recommend Travel Notoria as your tour company for their amazing communication, arrangements and competitive tour price.
Very few airlines fly to Turkmenistan, and I had booked my flight from Istanbul (IST) to Ashgabat (ASB) on Turkish Airlines (TK 320) arriving at 2:10am.
Cash or card?
Although all the expenses are mostly covered by the tour company, you can ask for cash from them. Do NOT withdraw cash from ATMs or official sources at airport. The official exchange rate is 1 USD = 3.50 TMM. But the unofficial rate at the time of writing was 18 TMM. So make sure to get local currency from your tour operator.
Your credit cards (Visa or MasterCard) may work in big hotels, but almost every business do not accept cards. Additionally, paying by credit card will incur official exchange rate – for example, a coffee costs TMM 30 which officially is $8.60, but at the unofficial rate it’s $1.60.
Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate of USD 1 = TMM 3.50 at the time of publishing. Each cost is for one adult. Note that the expenses do not include international flights to and from Turkmenistan.
|Tour cost||$1,170.00||Per person. Total cost of the tour for 5 days including accommodation, domestic flights (ASB-KRW-ASB), breakfast and lunch for all days.|
|Total Costs||$1,170.00||Per person|
|Overall Costs||$1,170.00||Per person|
Planning & Information
Tips, info & details of planning.
Day 1 – NEXT »
Arriving in Ashgabat and visiting horse farm, Kow Ata and Nokhur.
Day 2 – NEXT »
Travel from Ashgabat to Darvaza Gas Crater.