Choose your Tour – Build your itinerary
Before traveling to Turkmenistan, choose the desired route and the main sights that you would like to visit, and AYAN Travel team will help you with the alternatives of the best route and tour program. See the travel styles on our website.
Visa Services / Letters of invitation (LOI)
Visa Services / Letters of Invitation (LOI) All travelers to Turkmenistan require a visa. Visa documentation by the Turkmen Authorities requires at least 14 business days for processing. AYAN Travel can provide you with an invitation/visa support letter (essential to obtain a visa). Obtaining official government approval of the invitation letter usually takes 14-20 business days. Additionally, we request that you book services with AYAN Travel. The relevant amount is payable to us in advance. Credit cards are not acceptable.
To obtain LOI our clients are required
- To confirm tour itinerary (with travel dates, ports of entry/departure, and detailed sightseeing)
- To complete the application form (we send the application form to your email address)
- To provide a colored scan of the passport (photo page with all details and photo must be clearly visible), preferably in PDF format
- To provide a scan of a colored passport-type photo (5 cm x 6 cm), preferably in JPEG, JPG, or PNG format
With an e-mailed copy of the invitation letter, you can apply for your Turkmen visa at any Embassy/or Consulate of Turkmenistan worldwide by yourself. Some Embassies can issue visas by mail using courier services at your cost. If no time to get the visa at TM Embassy/Consulate in advance you can also obtain the visa at Ashgabat International Airport or at most land borders on arrival (visa fees are different and depend on nationality; payable in USD cash only (at the borders on arrival).
The Letter of Invitation will give you 1 month’s corridor with a single entry. Contact our office for any changes 10 days prior to your trip date.
Travelers should report their final travel dates and route to our office. While you are in Turkmenistan, you need to obtain Registration. We will handle this for you and you should report to our office within three working days of your arrival in Turkmenistan.
Services Included and Not Included
- Visa support (Letter of Invitation)
- English-speaking tour guide (or other)
- A/C Transportation
- Hotel accommodation
- Camping gear in desert overnights
- Meals in remote desert tours, like Darvaza
- Entrance fees to sites
- Water along the way
- Visa cost $50-$100 (depending on nationality)
- Migration fee $14
- PCR test cost $37 upon arrival
- Additional services in the hotel
- Meals not included in the program
- Soft drinks and alcohol
- Camera fees (photos/video recording)
- Certificates, tax payment for handmade crafts and souvenirs
- Any charges not mentioned on the itinerary
- Tips to the guide (recommended)
- H/B and F/B (optional)
- Domestic flights
How to get to Turkmenistan (by air; by car/land borders; by ferryboat)
You can get to Turkmenistan by any means of transport except for the train. Trains do not run to
Turkmenistan. The fastest and most convenient option is a flight to Ashgabat. You can go to
Turkmenistan by car or from across the land borders of Iran, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.
In addition to cars and planes, there is an original option to get to Turkmenistan – to sail on a ferry from
Baku (Azerbaijan). However, this is an option for brave and desperate travelers, since the ferry does not
have a fixed schedule, and the crossing time is from 12 to 24 hours.
Land borders with Iran:
- Frap/Alap, Bukhara
- Sea Port “Turkmenbashi”
Documents (+copy)/ Medical Prescriptions
Travelers are allowed to bring prescription drugs for their use (carry your prescriptions with you). Morphine, Сodeine, Tramadol, Temazepam, or any other similar ingredients contained in medicines are prohibited from being imported into Turkmenistan.
Upon arrival and departure from Turkmenistan, you are requested to fill out a Customs Declaration in duplicate. You should declare the exact amount of foreign currency you are taking in/out of the country as well as all electronic items carried (cameras, telephones, computers, etc) and valuable souvenirs bought before or during your trip (especially rugs and handicrafts). You should keep one copy of the stamped declaration for exit or onward travel within the CIS in order to facilitate smooth customs procedures throughout your trip. Note that the declaration will only be accepted in A5 Format printed on the front and back.
Upon entering the country, a tourist receives an immigration card, in which it is necessary to mark the place of residence and pay 2 US dollars per day. If the traveler receives a visa to Turkmenistan on arrival, then he needs to pay an immigration tax of 14 US dollars. Each foreigner arriving in Turkmenistan is required to register with the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan within three working days, not counting the day of entry into the country.
Travelers who have arrived in our country are required to complete the registration procedure within 3 working days at the capital’s Department of Tourism of the Ministry of Culture or the regional institutions of the Ministry. Ayan Travel is responsible for providing documentary support and registration. An exception is provided only if the period of stay does not exceed 3 days.
For successful registration, you must provide (usually tourists leave their passports at the reception and our team member will collect them for registration and return it to hotel reception):
- 2 passport-size photos
- tourist voucher.
Planes, trains, buses, minibuses, and taxis, represent the internal transport of Turkmenistan. It is most convenient to cover long distances on the wings of Turkmenistan Airlines and other local carriers: many flights daily connect Ashgabat with Dashoguz, Mary, Turkmenabad, and Turkmenbashi.
By train, you can get from the capital to Turkmenbashi, Mary, Dashoguz, and Turkmenabad.
Traditionally your tour package will include transportation according to the number of travelers and routes. We provide buses (25-45 seats) for big groups, minibusses for smaller groups (10-12 seats), minivans for 3-4 pax, and sedans for individuals. On off-roads we provide 4×4/4WD vehicles. All our vehicles are air-conditioned.
In Turkmenistan, most hotels are concentrated in the largest cities of the country – Ashgabat, Dashoguz, Turkmenabad, and Turkmenbashi.
In Ashgabat, you can stay in well-equipped 4- and 5-star hotels with conference rooms, swimming pools, saunas, fitness centers, bars, and restaurants. The capital of the country also attracts many business tourists – and all conditions have been created for them.
Breakfast is included in the cost of living in hotels of this level; everything else is for an additional fee.
There are also nice 3* and 4* hotels available outside Ashgabat and other large cities of Turkmenistan.
Accommodation in guesthouses where you can see the local way of life is practically inaccessible. The only way to feel the ethnic flavor is to spend the night in a yurt or tent near the Darvaza gas crater or other villages. In addition, it is worth noting that there are no hotels in Kunya-Urgench, tourists stay in the hotels of Dashoguz (100 km), and they go to ancient Merv from the hotels of the city of Mary (40 km).
The Turkmen national cuisine is prevailed by meat – preference is given to lamb, beef, less often poultry, and fish.
In addition, Turkmen cuisine is rich in recipes for flour products, such as fitchi, somsa, chebureks, ishlekli, tamdyrlama, etc. Vegetables, due to the climate and the nomadic lifestyle of the ancestors, occupy a small place on the Turkmen table, but in the season they are consumed fresh, in various salads.
Due to the large number of sunny days, Turkmenistan is famous for its gourds. Juicy sweet melons and watermelons will be great desserts in the summer.
Good and safe restaurant fare is available throughout the capital and at some restaurants in the larger cities.
Note: We recommend travelers carry medicines for food poisoning and indigestion. New countries, new bacteria.
Every tourist after a trip wants to take “a piece of the country” with him, so looking at souvenirs, will remind the warm memories.
For a great shopping experience, we recommend you visit the following bazaars and shopping malls where you can find authentic and unique goods and souvenirs.
- Altyn Asyr Bazaar (Jump Market; Sunday Bazaar), previously called “the Tolkuchka Bazaar – translated as “Push Bazaar”. The reason it used to be called “the Push Bazaar” is that on weekends the marketplace was packed with people who come for trade.
This is the first largest market in Ashgabat, built in the form of a carpet gel (decorative emblem). The market is divided into 4 sectors. On the shelves of this bazaar, you can buy items of national color – national men’s and women’s costumes, painted scarves, head ornaments, amulets and jewelry, textiles and fabrics, including the pride of Turkmens – a special type of fabric – Keteni. In addition, there is a great variety of dried fruits and nuts, especially famous Turkmen dried melon; Turkmen national musical instruments – dutars, gopuz, and drums.
- Gülistan Bazaar (former Russian Bazaar)
One of the oldest market place in Ashgabat. In this area, at the end of the 19th century, there was a center of trade and artisans. The name “Russian” came from the fact that Russians lived and traded in that territory after Tsarist Russia occupied the area.
Today it is an excellent choice for buying souvenirs from a trip to Turkmenistan, Turkmen textiles, and jeans. Jeans for many brands are sewn in Turkmenistan, but here you can buy them at low prices.
• Carpets – There are several carpet shops in Ashgabat and other cities of Turkmenistan. In the shops of the State Joint-Stock Corporation «Turkmenhaly», you can purchase high-quality, certified carpets and carpet products in cash and by bank transfer. Ask for the certificate (required at the customs on exiting Turkmenistan) when buying carpets.
• Jewelry workshops – in the Zümmeret shopping center you can buy top-quality handmade jewelry with all the necessary certificates.
• Showrooms – in Berkarar Shopping Center and Ashgabat Mall, you should visit the showrooms of modern Turkmen designers, in particular, Däp, as well as showrooms that sell handmade scarves, Tukmen souvenir shops that feature dolls made from pumpkin shoots.
Being the southernmost region of the former Soviet Union, Turkmenistan has by far the highest temperatures in Central Asia, but owing to the low humidity even in summer, this can be bearable. In the south the climate is also slightly less continental than in the north and temperatures seldom drop below -5°C. Northern areas on the Uzbek border and Khorezm (Dashoguz) can become very cold in winter with temperatures dropping below -10°C. The best months for moderate temperatures are April, May, and June for beautiful blossoming deserts and mountains. Due to the harvest season, September and October are great for an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Turkmenistan is a very safe place for travelers. Nevertheless, all foreigners should carry their passports with a valid visa at all times. Like anywhere else in Central Asia, while traveling overland and at airports & railway stations you may become subject to routine police registration checks. Please expect that you should not take any pictures at police controls, customs facilities, airports, railway stations, and bridges.
Medical & Health
Several clinics in Ashgabat can conduct consultations and/or operations performed by specialists. Travelers are advised to take medical insurance. No vaccinations are obligatory, although Hepatitis vaccinations are recommendable.
Turkmen manat (TM) is used in the country. TM comes in 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500 manat bills and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 tenge (cent) coins. Most hotels in Ashgabat accept credit cards such as VISA or MASTER. Travelers are advised to take only new, clean U.S. dollar bills (2006 and newer) with them. Except at the relevant borders exchange rates for other currencies such as Pound Sterling or Euro are not favourable. Official exchange offices have opened up at markets, airports, train stations, hotels, and numerous other places throughout Turkmenistan to provide unobstructed manat/dollar exchange availability.
Rugs & Jewellery
In order to take Turkmen rugs or jewelry out of the country you need to present an official receipt and registration form from the State or Hotel shop where you bought the items to customs officials. Items purchased otherwise (such as those bought at the formerly known “Tolkuchka Bazaar”) are subject to a documentation procedure that requires our assistance and takes at least one full working day. Many antique souvenirs, especially silver, and items dating back as little as 20 years are entirely restricted from export.
Turkmenistan is a Muslim country and it is advisable to wear long-sleeved clothes for both men and women especially when visiting pilgrimage sites or mosques. Nevertheless, women are not expected to wear headscarves (let alone veils), but a head covering and sunglasses (bring a spare pair!) become essential during summer. When trekking high boots are preferable to sandals as protection from snakes, spiders, and the sun. On off-road trips bring a light scarf to protect from dust and bring dust-proof bags for your cameras. Bottled water and soft drinks are freely available throughout the country and you should drink as much as possible to avoid dehydration. In rural areas check the seal on plastic bottle lids to ensure the bottles have not been refilled and do not drink tap water unless boiled. As a rule carry toilet paper, wet napkins, and a small flashlight for some of the less attractive toilet facilities and preferably use the countryside on overland trips.
Good and safe restaurant fare is available throughout the capital and at some restaurants in the larger cities. Otherwise, it is preferable to eat cooked food (as is local custom) and to avoid unpeeled fruit and vegetables. Hepatitis A&B immunizations and plenty of mineral and vitamin substitutes are strongly advised. As a rule carry toilet paper, wet napkins, and a small flashlight for some of the less attractive toilet facilities and preferably use the countryside on overland trips. Most foodstuffs and toiletry are available in Ashgabat and a few basic items throughout the country.
The only mobile phone network (local “Altyn Asyr” – www.tmcell.tm) works throughout most urban and a number of rural areas. International GSM systems do not work in Turkmenistan. Long-distance calls are available from the better hotels, some private homes, and at the post/telegraph office. Public phones are scarce throughout the country and are not usually suitable for international calls. There are several internet cafes in the capital.
- Smoking is forbidden in all public areas, including the streets. However, you can find some restaurants and cafes where smoking is allowed
- Don’t take photos of state departments; ask for permission when taking pictures of people
- Don’t drink alcohol in public areas
- Don’t drink tap water
- Public displays of romantic affection are not allowed, even for husband and wife. It is considered extremely indecent to kiss in public, to hug – the maximum you can walk holding hands
Communication with locals (languages are spoken/”Basic phrases”)
|Goodbye||Sag Bol [sag bol]|
|How are you?||Nähili? [neaili] Gowumy? [goumii]|
|Thanks||Sag Bol [sagh bol]|
|Welcome||Hoş geldiňiz [hosh gheldiniz]|
|Do you speak English?||Siz Iňlisçe gepleýärsiňizmi?/ [siz inlische ghepleyanizmi]|
|I don’t understand||Düşünemok [dushunemok]|
|One / Ten 1/10||Bir / On [bir/on]|
|Two / Twenty 2/20||Iki / Ýigrimi [iki/ yigrimi]|
|Three / Thirty 3/30||Üc / Otuz [uch / otuz]|
|Four / Forty 4/40||Dört / Kyrk [deort / kirk]|
|Five / Fifty 5/50||Bäş/ Elli [bash/ elli]|
|Six / Sixty 6/60||Alty / Altmyş [alty/altmish]|
|Seven / Seventy 7/70||Ýedi / Ýetmiş [yedi/yetmish]|
|Eight / Eighty 8/80||Sekiz / Segsen [sekiz/ sekhsen]|
|Nine / Ninety 9/90||Dokuz / Togsan [dokhuz/ togsan]|
|Hundred 100||Ýüz [yuz]|
|Thousand 1000||Müň [mun]|
|Where are you from||Siz nireden? [siz nireden]|
|I am from …||Men ….-dan [men …-dan]|
|Where is …||… nirede yerleshyar? [nirede yerleshyar]|
|What is this?||Bu näme? [shakher]|
|How many pieces?||Näçe sany? [nache sani]|
|What’s this||Bu näme? [boo name]|
|Show me, please||Görkeziň [georkezin]|
|How much||Näçe [neache]|
|Coffee / Milk||Kofe / Süýt [kofe / seuyt]|
|Appetizer||Iştä açar [ishte achar]|
|Main Course||Gyzgyn Nahary [gyzgyn nahar]|
|Garnish / Side dish||Garnier [garnir]|
|Enjoy your meal||Noş bolsun! [nosh bolsun]|