WOOCS 2.1.6

Turkmenistan

The desert country of Turkmenistan is underexplored yet underappreciated. Filled with remarkable sights and unique experiences, Turkmenistan is like nowhere else on Earth. Join Odyssey Traveller as we take you on a journey through this extraordinary country.

The need to know

Touring Turkmenistan

Getting around

Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Buses and minibuses, which are commonplace and inexpensive, are generally the best option for getting around Turkmenistan. Bear in mind though that minibuses can get crowded. Train services are also available, though are generally quite slow.

Accommodation

In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.

Tour guides

Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.

Geography, Environment, & Weather

Turkmenistan covers a total area of 488,100 square kilometres. Much of Turkmenistan is dominated by the flat Garagum Desert, which composes about 70 percent of Turkmenistan’s surface area. The Köýtendag mountain range rise up in the south-central border with Iran, where earthquakes are quite common.

Turkmenistan has an arid continental climate, with hot summers and cold winters. Depending on when you intend to travel, check the weather reports and dress accordingly.

World heritage sites

There are 3 properties in Turkmenistan listed on the World Heritage List, with a further 8 sites listed on the Tentative List. You can view the listed properties here: (https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/tm). Turkmenistan’ listed properties include:

Kunya-Urgench, which contains numerous medieval monuments and buildings
Parthian Fortresses of Nisa, the physical legacy of the once mighty Parthian empire
Ancient Merv, one of oldest and best-preserved oasis cities of the old Silk Road in Central Asia.

Festivals & Events

The regional flavours of Central Asia manifest themselves in popular dishes such as pilaf (rice cooked with shredded meat, carrots and onions), and manty (meat dumplings). The former Russian presence in Turkmenistan also left its mark on Turkmenistan’s cuisine, with borscht (sour vegetable soup) another popular dish in Turkmenistan. Meat, particularly mutton, is highly prized in Turkmenistan, with dishes such as shaslik (skewered meat grilled over charcoal) integral to the Turkmenistani dining experience.

Like many other Central Asian countries, tea is widely popular in Turkmenistan, and form a central part of socialising in the country. Kefir, a thick yoghurt drink made from milk and fermented kefir grains, is often served with breakfast, while vodka is the country’s most popular alcoholic drink.

Reading list

Turkmenistan: Adventures on the Silk Road, by Simon Proudman
Unknown Sands: Journeys Around the World’s Most Isolated Country, by John W. Kropf
Tribal Nation: The Making of Soviet Turkmenistan, by Adrienne Lynn Edgar
Love me Turkménistan, by Nicolas Righetti

Eating & Drinking

The regional flavours of Central Asia manifest themselves in popular dishes such as pilaf (rice cooked with shredded meat, carrots and onions), and manty (meat dumplings). The former Russian presence in Turkmenistan also left its mark on Turkmenistan’s cuisine, with borscht (sour vegetable soup) another popular dish in Turkmenistan. Meat, particularly mutton, is highly prized in Turkmenistan, with dishes such as shaslik (skewered meat grilled over charcoal) integral to the Turkmenistani dining experience.

Like many other Central Asian countries, tea is widely popular in Turkmenistan, and form a central part of socialising in the country. Kefir, a thick yoghurt drink made from milk and fermented kefir grains, is often served with breakfast, while vodka is the country’s most popular alcoholic drink.

Health & Safety

Generally speaking, Turkmenistan is safe to travel in, though always exercise common sense while travelling. However, it is advised that you avoid travelling to the Turkmenistan/Afghanistan borderline due to ongoing instability in that area. Also bear in mind that all foreign citizens are required to pay a tourist charge for each day of their stay in Turkmenistan.

Electrical Supply

Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. The electricity supply in Turkmenistan runs at 220V and 50Hz. Turkmenistan uses the Type C and Type F electric plug types, so make sure you have the right travel adaptor with you.

Crafted Tours for Mature World Travellers

Turkmenistan Tours

Mizdakhan Cemetery, Nukus, Uzbekistan
Pre-guaranteed

This Odyssey is designed for the adventurous traveller, a traveller who is prepared for a range of accommodation styles, for walking excursions and some long travel days in 3 Central Asian countries. The program combines experiences with great scenery, ancient and modern histories, family visits and lifestyles that differ dramatically.

27 days
Asia and the Orient
Level 2 - Moderate

FAQs

Responsible travel tips for Turkmenistan

  • Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although some locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
  • Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
  • Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
  • Before departing, make sure you have a number of lekë in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.
  • When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
  • Before departing, make sure you have a number of manat in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.

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