Turkmenistan

Discover ancient Silk Road cities, welcoming locals and the infamous 'Doorway to Hell' View All Turkmenistan Holidays

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Marianne Grimshaw
Turkmenistan Travel Specialist

Often overlooked by visitors to the region, this reclusive Central Asian state is slowly emerging as a must-see destination. Turkmenistan holidays are perfect for travellers wanting to discover the history around the Silk Road, the ancient trade route which linked China and Europe. From the inviting capital, Ashgabat, to the vast Karakum Desert and ancient Silk Road cities, the Turkmenistan holidays are filled with the warmth and welcome of the local peoples, many of whom still live a semi-nomadic lifestyle.

Visiting Ashgabat, there’s no escaping the grandiose monuments to former President Niyazov. A tour of the capital explores the vast squares and lavish palaces from the viewing platform of the Arch of Neutrality – complete with a golden statue of the president – and experience the bustling Tolkuchka bazaar, where locals in traditional dress haggle for camels and cars.

But Turkmenistan holidays really gather momentum as soon as they head into the boundless Karakum Desert. Here adventure awaits active travellers: camp by flaming gas craters, visit semi-nomadic villages and spend the night in a yurt. Visitors also have the opportunity to discover ancient cities which provided important stopping points and trading posts along the old Silk Road, with the minarets and mausoleums still towering in Konye Urgench and the ruins of the oasis town of Merv easily accessible.

Holiday Types


Group Tours
Group Tours
Join a small group of like-minded travellers and travel on a fully-guided group tour.
Railway Holidays
Railway Holidays
When it comes to epic trips, sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination.
Tailor-Made
Tailor-Made
Let us know your travel requirements and we will individually design your perfect trip.
Map

Ashgabat
Top Destination
Ashgabat
In the late 1940s Ashgabat all-but disappeared following an earthquake providing a blank canvas for its rebuilding, initially in utilitarian Soviet style and, following independence, something exceedingly more lavish. Extravagant buildings of marble and gold have been built using Turkmenistan’s oil income, resulting in a vision which is more like Las Vegas than Moscow.
Darvaza
Top Destination
Darvaza
Known locally as the ‘Door to Hell’, the Darvaza Gas Crater is a natural gas field which collapsed into an underground cave. In the early 1970s it was set alight so as to burn off any excess gas which was supposed to be complete in a matter of days, but continues burning today. It is an impressive site, best viewed at night so arrange a stay camping near by.
Merv
Top Destination
Merv
Merv was once one of the greatest cities of the Islamic world until being visited by the sons of Genghis Khan who all-but destroyed it and wiped out its population. The site is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the most important historical site in the country and across the site you will see remains dating back as far as 250BC.
Turkmenbashi
Top Destination
Turkmenbashi
On the shores of the Caspian Sea, Turkmenbashi marks the end of Central Asia and the start of the Caucasus, and boasts a diverse population of Turkmen, Azeri, Turkish and Russian cultures. A large number of Japanese POWs were interred here after WWII and you will often find Japanese tourists paying their respects at the memorial dedicated to them near the airport.
Konye-Urgench
Marianne Grimshaw's Recommendation
Konye-Urgench
Once the centre of the Islamic world, Konye-Urgench in Northern Turkmenistan is not the bustling centre it might have been but retains some fascinating sites dating back to the days of its former glory, such as the Turabeg Khanym Complix, Sayid Ahmed Mausoleum and the Gutlug Timur Minaret.

Popular Destinations in Turkmenistan

1
   Ashgabat
2
   Darvaza
3
   Merv
4
   Turkmenbashi



Specialist Recommendations

1
   Konye-Urgench


Regent Turkmenistan Specialist


Marianne Grimshaw
This insular country has been ruled since independence by dictators who do their best to keep the eyes of the world on the what they want them to see. Building statues and monuments to themselves and writing a code for all Turkmen to live by they have created a bizarre and strange world. Travellers will find to a nation hidden away, filled with archaeological sites charting the ancient silk road and mediaeval minarets standing alone in the desert. Travellers often miss out on the natural sites which are also in abundance with the Koytendag Plateau dinosaur footprints, the pink and orange hues of the Yangikala Canyons and the Kopet Dag Mountains. One not to be missed is the Darvaza gas crater burning in the desert.

Marianne's Tips
1
The Darvaza Crater is iconic - for an epic experience, camp overnight nearby and watch the flames in the dark.
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For a Central Asia holiday with a twist, perhaps opt to travel by rail and enjoy an epic journey through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
3
For ancient history, set off for Gonur Depe archaeological site to explore Bronze Age excavations.




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