Turkmenistan Travel Guide: All you need to know to visit Turkmenistan in 2024
Welcome to Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan is a landlocked nation in Central Asia. It is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the east and northeast, Afghanistan to the southeast end, and Iran to its south, with the Caspian Sea to the west. The country has a population of approximately 6 million people and is the capital, and largest city, Ashgabat.

Geography: The country has an area of approximately 488,100 square kilometers, with the Karakum Desert covering over 80% of its land area. Extensive dunes and rocky terrain characterize the desert, and the Kopet Dag Mountains run along the southwestern border. Turkmenistan has a varied climate, with hot summers, cold winters, and limited rainfall. Despite its arid landscape, the country has diverse flora and fauna, including desert vegetation and animal species such as wild cats, wolves, and gazelles. The country’s geography has played a significant role in its history, culture, and economy, with natural gas and other mineral resources being critical drivers of growth and development.

Climate: Turkmenistan has a continental desert climate characterized by hot summers and cold winters. The country receives limited rainfall, particularly in the southern and eastern regions, and is prone to droughts. Summer temperatures in Turkmenistan can reach up to 50°C (122°F), particularly in the Karakum Desert, which covers over 80% of the country’s land area. Winter temperatures can drop below freezing, particularly in the northern and eastern regions of the nation. The Kopet Dag Mountains, which run along the southwestern border, experience cooler temperatures and more precipitation than the surrounding desert regions. Overall, the climate of Turkmenistan is harsh and arid, with limited vegetation and wildlife adapted to survive in desert conditions.

Language: Turkmen is the formal language of Turkmenistan, spoken by most of the population. It is a Turkic language, part of the Altaic language family, and closely related to other Turkic languages such as Turkish, Azerbaijani, and Uzbek. Russian is also widely spoken, particularly among older generations and in urban areas, and is often used in official and business settings. There are also small communities of speakers of other languages, such as Uzbek and Kazakh, particularly in border regions.

Economy: Turkmenistan’s economy is primarily based on its vast reserves of natural gas, which account for most of the country’s exports and government revenues. The country is one of the world’s leading natural gas producers and has sought to develop its energy sector through international partnerships and investments. Other key industries in Turkmenistan include agriculture, particularly cotton production, and the mining sector, which produces minerals such as sulfur, iodine, and salt. However, the country’s economy remains heavily dependent on its energy exports, and efforts to diversify the economy have been limited. The government of Turkmenistan has also placed strict controls on foreign investment and private enterprise, leading to a relatively closed and centralized economy. The country has faced economic challenges in recent years, mainly due to declining global energy prices and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Culture: Turkmenistan has a unique culture that reflects its history and traditions. The country is known for its colorful traditional dress, often embroidered with intricate designs. The Akhal-Teke horse, which is native to Turkmenistan, is also highly valued and is considered to be one of the most gorgeous horse breeds in the world. The country is also home to several historical sites, including the ancient city of Merv and the Kunya-Urgench ruins, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Government: Turkmenistan is a presidential republic where the President serves as both the head of state and head of government. The President is elected for a maximum of two terms of five years each and has broad powers over the country’s political and economic affairs. The country’s unicameral legislature, the Mejlis, is primarily controlled by the ruling Democratic Party of Turkmenistan and has limited powers. The judiciary is not independent, and the government has been criticized for lacking respect for human rights and political freedoms.

Tourism: Turkmenistan has a developing tourism industry, focusing on cultural and historical attractions such as ancient cities, mosques, and mausoleums. Merv, located in eastern Turkmenistan, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to several well-preserved old structures, including the Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum and the Kyz Kala fortress. Ashgabat’s capital city also features several notable attractions, including the Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque and the Arch of Neutrality. The state is known for its natural beauty, including the Karakum Desert and the Kopet Dag Mountains. However, tourism in Turkmenistan still needs to be improved due to the country’s closed political system and limited infrastructure. The government has sought to promote tourism through initiatives such as visa-free travel for specific nationalities and the building of new hotels and resorts. The industry still needs to be developed compared to other countries in the region.

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Indian citizens require a visa to enter Turkmenistan. However, Indian citizens can apply for an e-Visa for tourism or business purposes.

The Turkmenistan e-Visa for Indian citizens is valid for 90 days from the date of issuance. The Visa allows a single entry into Turkmenistan and a stay of up to 30 days.

The documents required to apply for a Turkmenistan e-Visa for Indian citizens include the following:

  • A valid passport.
  • A recent passport-size photograph.
  • A copy of the travel itinerary or hotel reservation.

Additional documents may be needed based on the purpose of travel.

The processing time for a Turkmenistan e-Visa for Indian citizens is typically around five business days. However, the processing time may vary based on the application volume and other factors.

The cost of a Turkmenistan e-Visa for Indian citizens varies based on the travel purpose and the stay duration. The visa fee for a tourism e-Visa is USD 53, while the business e-Visa fee is USD 93. Additional fees may apply for processing and service charges.

Turkmenistan travel checklist

  1. Research the country: Before your trip, it’s a good idea to read up on the country’s history, culture, customs, and laws. It will help you understand and appreciate the country and avoid unintentional offenses.
  2. Plan your itinerary: Turkmenistan is a large country with many exciting sights and attractions. Plan your itinerary to make the most of your time in the country. Consider hiring a local guide or driver to help you navigate the country.
  3. Stay hydrated: Turkmenistan has a hot and dry climate, so staying hydrated is essential. Carry a reusable water bottle with you, and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  4. Respect local customs: Turkmenistan has a strong cultural and religious identity, so it’s essential to respect local businesses and dress appropriately.
  5. Currency: Turkmenistan’s currency is the Turkmenistan Manat. It’s advisable to carry some US dollars, which can be exchanged for Manats in Turkmenistan.