TRAVEL INFORMATION – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. How to travel to Turkmenistan?

2. How to get visa to Turkmenistan?

3. How to apply for visa invitation to Turkmenistan?

4. Where can I obtain visa to Turkmenistan?

5. Arrival and visa registration in Turkmenistan.

6. The main land crossing points in Turkmenistan.

7. Customs control in Turkmenistan.

8. Security in Turkmenistan.

9. What is the climate & time in Turkmenistan?

10. What is the Turkmenistan currency?

11. Where can I exchange money?

12. Can I pay by credit card?

13. What language do people speak?

14. Health precautions and vaccinations.

1. How to Travel to Turkmenistan?

Every tourist can travel to Turkmenistan having their visas or visa invitation by air, rail, boat or road.

By air

International carriers flying into Ashgabat include Lufthansa, Fly Dubai, S7 Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Turkish airlines that fly 3 and 5 times a week, almost every day respectively.

The national Turkmenistan airlines fly to London, Frankfurt and Istanbul at slightly more competitive rates. Further there are direct connections to Paris, Moscow, Sank-Petersburg, Minsk, Alma Ata, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Birmingham, Delhi, Amritsar and Bangkok make now easy to reach Turkmenistan from every country of the world.

For passenger flights Turkmenistan Airlines utilizes airplanes only Boeing 717, 737 and 757.

Local flights are reasonable and have a good safety record on their frequent scheduled flights between Ashgabat and Turkmenistan's regional centres.

Please e-mail us at: tours@turkmen-travel.com for updated Turkmenistan Airline schedules.

By rail

There are supposedly three international trains a week on the routings between Moscow, Tashkent and Almaty crossing the periphery of Turkmenistan and Turkmenabat (Chardjou) and Dashogus (Tashauz) twice.

The local Transcaspian railway crosses the entire south of Turkmenistan from the Caspian to Turkmenabat (Chardjou) where you can connect / change to Moscow or Tashkent. Despite the opening of the Sarags railway crossing into Northern Iran, potentially linking Central Asia with Istanbul, no passenger through service is available as yet and one has to cross the Iranian border by taxi or bus. The railway network runs fairly well and most trains have reasonable standards.

By boat

Turkmenistan can be accessed by boat across the Caspian year-round, the main connection being a daily car & railway ferry between Baku and Turkmenbashi (Krasnovodsk), without any passenger railway link though. Unfortunately the Azeri-run ferry has no regular schedule and passenger tickets in the regions of 50-100 USD are not cheap. Further there is a weekly Russian ferry to Astrakhan, in the Volga region, also without any reliable schedule.

By road

Most International Bus services have been suspended; officially there still remians a twice daily bus-service between Ashgabat and Mashad, but there are no ticket offices or reliable schedule. Nevertheless - Shared Taxis and Minibuses are reasonable to / from and in-between all borders, with services usually starting at the nearest corresponding railway or bus-station. Frequent both urban and domestic Bus and Minibus services run reasonably well and are cheap, nevertheless - again - there are only few scheduled departures.

Private vehicle - Hefty fees and long lasting procedures are applicable for entry by private vehicles into Turkmenistan which depending on the routing and vehicle vary from 70 to 200 USD. Other than that, with the exception of the infamous Darvaza - Kunya Urgench road, the highways are reasonably well maintained by Central Asian standards, but most international road maps have to be taken with a pinch of salt. Nevertheless, with its border with Iran, Turkmenistan is Central Asia's transport hub with good roads all the way through to the Persian Gulf and Europe.

2. How to get visa to Turkmenistan?

Tourist entry visa to Turkmenistan can be issued to foreign citizens by diplomatic representatives or consular establishments of Turkmenistan in the foreign states, and also in Consular department of the International airport in Ashgabat on the basis of visa support (visa invitation or letter of invitation - LOI).  Visa invitation is issued by the State Migration Service of Turkmenistan at request of our Turkmen-Travel Agency within 15 working days term.

3. How to apply for visa invitation to Turkmenistan?

Every tourist planning to travel to Turkmenistan can apply by e-mail: tours@turkmen-travel.com the following documents and information a minimum of one month in advance of their travel or more if possible:

1. Good quality colored passport photocopy. Passport must be valid at least 6 (six) months prior to travel.

2. Good quality colored photo 3x4 size on white background for each person requiring a visa.

3. Education and name of educational institution

4. Speciality (qualification as in Diploma)

5. Marital Status

6. Job title & Company

7. Address of residence (domicile)

8. Previous visits to Turkmenistan (periods, purpose of visit)

9. Confirmed itinerary & stay period in the country

10. Hotel category* of your choice,

On receipt of your completed form and documents, we will submit your application to the State Migration Service of Turkmenistan. Once your travel is approved by State Migration Service of Turkmenistan, we will contact you with further instructions and email you the Visa Invitation Letter.

4. Where can I obtain visa to Turkmenistan?

Once you have your visa invitation letter you can then either:

• Visit your local Turkmenistan Embassy with a copy of your visa invitation letter to get a visa stamped in your passport. This can take up to 7 working days.

• Obtain your visa on arrival. You can travel to Turkmenistan with your visa invitation letter and obtain a visa on arrival at the airport of Ashgabat or at border check points ‘Howdan’, ‘Sarahs’, ” ‘Farap’, ‘Dashoguz’, ‘Kunya Urgench’, ‘Turkmenbashy’.

Your Passport must be valid until at least 3 months after your exit date from Turkmenistan and must have at least one blank visa page.

5. Arrival and visa registration requirements in Turkmenistan

Immigration fee - Upon arrival at the border every visitor will be required to pay an Immigration Fee, currently 12 USD, For each entry. Please make sure you have this amount in cash as there is no cash point or exchange office available at the Immigration Desk.

Visa registration - Tourist visa holders should be registered at the State Tourism Registration Office (business visa holders are registered at the State Migration Service) within 3 days as you arrive in Turkmenistan. Registration service is included in our tour packages; to take care of you registration we will need your passport at the beginning of the tour and return it after registration procedures that take no longer than 12 hours.

6. The main land crossing points in Turkmenistan:

With Uzbekistan

•    Between Farap and Alat. The main route between Turkmenabat and Bukhara.

•    Between Dashoguz and Shavat. The main route between Urgench, Khiva and Dashoguz.

•    Between Konye-Urgench and Hodjeyli.The main route between Koneurgench and Nukus.

With Kazakhstan

•    North of Garabogaz on the Caspian coast. An isolated border post. Travel arrangements need careful pre-planning.

With Iran

•    At Gudurolum, convenient for the Mausoleum of Gonbad-I Qabus.

•    Between Howdan and Badjigiran. The main route between Ashgabat and Mashhad.

•    At Serakhs. Alternative route to Mashhad via Iranian Sarakhs.

With Afghanistan

•    Between Serhetabat and Torgundi. The main route between Mary and Herat.

•    At Imamnazar. Links Atamurat with Andkhoy.

Turkmenistan's border crossings are generally open from around 09.00 - 18.00, but there is some variation both between crossings and seasonally, and you should plan to get to the Turkmen side of the border in good time. Crossing procedures can be lengthy.

When you apply for your Turkmen visa, you will have to mention which border crossing you hope to use. You may or may not get this border crossing. The entry/exit points are usually printed on the visa itself.

7. Customs control in Turkmenistan

On entering the country, tourists should complete a customs declaration form that must be retained until departure. This allows the import of articles intended for personal use, including currency and valuables which must be registered on the declaration form. It is advisable when shopping to ask for a certificate from the shop, which states that goods have been paid for in hard currency. Presentation of such certificates should speed up customs formalities.

Duty Free: The following goods may be imported into Turkmenistan by tourists aged 17 and older without incurring customs duty:

2 packs of cigarettes; 1.5 litres of alcohol or 2 litres of wine (passengers aged 21 and over); a reasonable quantity of perfume for personal use.

Prohibited imports: Military weapons and ammunition, narcotics, pornography, poisons, printed, audio and video materials and other information sources containing information that can do harm and damage to economic and political interests of Turkmenistan, its national security, health and morality of population.

Prohibited exports: Same as prohibited imports, as well as lottery tickets, carpets without export certificate, works of art and antiques (unless permission has been granted by the Ministry of Culture) and furs.

Import regulations in Turkmenistan are subject to change at short notice, and travellers should contact the embassy before departure for up-to-date information.

How to export Turkmen carpets?

Permission from the Ministry of Culture is required to export carpets or other objects of art. Carpets produced before 1975 may not be exported at all. Export certificates for carpets are issued by the Museum of Turkmen Carpets, which seals the carpets and issues the export certificate, after the appropriate fee has been paid in manat currency (the amount depends on the size of the carpets).

8. Security in Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan is a very safe place for travellers. Nevertheless, all foreigners should carry their passport with the valid visa at all the times. Like anywhere else in Central Asia, while travelling overland and at airports & railway stations you may become subject to routine police registration checks. Please respect that you should not take any pictures at police controls, customs facilities, airports, railway stations and bridges.

9. What is the climate & time in Turkmenistan?

Turkmenistan has an arid desert climate with extreme summer heat and subfreezing winter temperatures. Turkmenistan enjoys dry, continental climate, with very hot summer (rarely below 35◦C and sometimes up to 45◦C in the south east regions of the Karakum desert. Turkmenistan enjoys 250 days of sun. In the south of Turkmenistan the climate is also slightly continental than in the north and temperature seldom drops below -5◦C. Northern areas on the Uzbek border and Khorezm (Dashoguz) can become very cold in winter with temperatures dropping below  -20◦C.

The best months for moderate temperatures are April and May for beautiful blossoming deserts and mountains. June-July and August are perfect to enjoy September and October are great for an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetable due to the harvest season. There is snow in the north and above 1000m. in the mountains in January and February.

TIME - UTC + 5 hours (Universal Time Coordinated). By way of comparison: Frankfurt is +1 hour in winter and +2 hour in summer, meaning that the time difference between Frankfurt and Ashgabat is four hours in winter and tree hour in summer.

10. What is the Turkmenistan currency?

Turkmenistan national currency is Turkmen manat. It was introduced on November 1, 1993. In 2009 there was held denomination of the national currency, replacing old manat on a ratio of 5000 old manats=1 new manat. All old notes and coins had the image of the former president Saparmurat Niyazov. On new bills you will find images of prominent Turkmen people and architectural monuments. Banknotes are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 manats. One manat is equal to 100 tenge.

11. Where can I exchange money?

You can exchange USD for Turkmen manats at banks and exchange offices in major hotels, trade centers, airports and railway stations. It is recommended to bring in the country banknotes issued in or after 1996.

12. Can I pay by credit card?

Usually five-star hotels accept credit cards. Only in Ashgabat you can use MasterCard, AMEX or Visa Cards to cash US dollars.

13. What language do people speak?

National language is Turkmen. Russian is widely used as a second language. While the post-independence generation is increasingly speaking other foreign languages such as English, French and Turkish, you will still find it rewarding to travel and communicate with the assistance of a translator/guide.

14. Health precautions and vaccinations

It is essential to observe the same health precautions in Turkmenistan as for any country. One should not drink tap water. Hence, hot tea, coffee and bottled drinks are safe to consume. It’s also advisable to avoid meat – fish or poultry which have not been well cooked, unwashed fruits, raw vegetables and non-pasteurized dairy products. It is recommended to buy all food products in the local supermarkets. Travelers are advised to take medical insurance.

For tourists planning to stay in Turkmenistan for less than 2 weeks there are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Turkmenistan. It's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to Turkmenistan. The general vaccination against Diphtheria,Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also a hepatitis A vaccination is recommended and when travelling longer than 2 weeks also typhoid. Persons planning to stay in Turkmenistan for more than 3 months need to present HIV certificate from a doctor. Other possible health issues include diarrhea and other general travellers' diseases like motion sickness. Watch what you eat and drink and in case you get it, drink plenty of fluids (to prevent dehydration) and bring ORS.

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