Backpacking in Turkmenistan

Backpacking in Turkmenistan offers an extraordinary adventure amidst a land of ancient civilizations and stunning landscapes. Nestled in Central Asia, Turkmenistan is a country rich in cultural heritage and natural wonders, making it an ideal destination for intrepid travelers seeking unique experiences.

Historically, backpacking in Turkmenistan was unheard of due to its previous status as a closed country under Soviet rule. However, since gaining independence in 1991, Turkmenistan has gradually opened up to tourism, welcoming backpackers eager to explore its hidden gems. Today, backpacking has become increasingly popular, as it allows visitors to uncover Turkmenistan’s untouched beauty while immersing themselves in its diverse traditions and customs.

One captivating aspect of backpacking in Turkmenistan is the opportunity to witness the surreal beauty of the Darvaza Gas Crater. Known as the “Door to Hell,” this natural gas crater has been burning for over four decades, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. Backpackers can camp near the crater, gazing at the flames illuminating the night sky, an experience that combines adventure and awe-inspiring natural phenomena.

Moreover, Turkmenistan boasts the ancient city of Merv, which was once a vital hub along the ancient Silk Road. This UNESCO World Heritage Site houses remarkable archaeological remains, including the remnants of ancient cities, fortresses, and mausoleums. Backpackers can traverse the sprawling ruins, marvel at the architectural prowess of past civilizations, and delve into the layers of history that shaped Turkmenistan.

As backpacking gains momentum in Turkmenistan, it is noteworthy to mention that the country encourages sustainable travel practices. With the aim of preserving its pristine landscapes and cultural heritage, the government has implemented initiatives to promote responsible tourism. Engaging in eco-friendly activities, such as supporting local communities and respecting the natural environment, allows backpackers to contribute positively to Turkmenistan’s future while enjoying its abundant treasures.

However, backpacking in Turkmenistan presents some challenges. The country’s visa restrictions require careful planning, as obtaining a visa can be a lengthy and bureaucratic process. Additionally, the lack of developed infrastructure in certain regions may pose logistical difficulties for backpackers seeking off-the-beaten-path adventures. Nonetheless, these challenges are often outweighed by the rewards of exploring Turkmenistan’s untamed landscapes and experiencing its one-of-a-kind cultural heritage.

Backpacking in Turkmenistan unveils a land brimming with history, natural wonders, and the warmth of its people. From breathtaking desert vistas to ancient cities steeped in tales of the past, this Central Asian gem beckons adventurous spirits seeking a unique and off-the-grid journey. Whether witnessing the eternal flames of the Darvaza Gas Crater or exploring the remnants of the Silk Road, backpackers are sure to be captivated by Turkmenistan’s allure.

Backpacking in Turkmenistan
Backpacking in Turkmenistan

What are the advantages of backpacking in Turkmenistan?

Backpacking in Turkmenistan refers to the act of traveling on a budget while exploring this fascinating Central Asian country. It offers an opportunity for adventurous travelers to immerse themselves in the local culture, visit historical landmarks, and explore diverse landscapes. From the ancient ruins of Merv to the majestic Karakum Desert, Turkmenistan is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by backpackers. In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the advantages of backpacking in Turkmenistan, including its rich history, vibrant culture, stunning natural beauty, and unique experiences not found elsewhere.

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: An Expedition into Hidden Gems

Backpacking in Turkmenistan offers an extraordinary adventure through a land filled with rich history, surreal landscapes, and captivating culture. Nestled in the heart of Central Asia, this off-the-beaten-track destination promises backpackers an immersive experience like no other. From ancient ruins to the vast deserts and the warm hospitality of its people, Turkmenistan is a hidden gem waiting to be explored.

Visa and Travel Information

Before embarking on your backpacking journey to Turkmenistan, it is vital to understand the country’s visa regulations. Turkmenistan requires all visitors, except citizens of select countries, to obtain a visa in advance. The process can be complex and time-consuming, so it is advisable to start the application well in advance of your intended travel date. Furthermore, it is crucial to note that independent travel is restricted in some areas, and hiring an authorized guide is mandatory in those regions.

Exploring Ashgabat: The White Marble City

The capital city, Ashgabat, serves as an ideal starting point for backpackers keen to delve into Turkmenistan’s wonders. Known as the “White Marble City,” Ashgabat is a visually striking metropolis adorned with impressive architecture and futuristic structures. World Guinness records are aplenty in this city – from the world’s largest indoor Ferris wheel to the largest collection of white marble buildings. Exploring the city’s grandiose monuments, such as the Independence Monument and the Roman-inspired Arch of Neutrality, provide a glimpse into Turkmenistan’s desire to make a mark on the world stage.

Historical Marvels: Kunya-Urgench and Merv

For history enthusiasts, Turkmenistan offers two UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are not to be missed. Kunya-Urgench, located in the north, was once a thriving center of Islamic culture and home to ancient mausoleums, mosques, and minarets. The hauntingly beautiful ruins showcase the architectural brilliance of the bygone Seljuk era and provide an insight into Turkmenistan’s rich heritage.

Further south lies the ancient city of Merv, once one of the world’s largest cities and a crucial stop on the Silk Road. The UNESCO-preserved site encompasses five walled cities, showcasing remnants from various civilizations that once flourished here. Walking among the ruins, visitors can envision the city’s former glory and imagine the countless travelers who passed through these streets.

The Enigmatic Darvaza Gas Crater

No backpacking journey through Turkmenistan would be complete without a visit to the Darvaza Gas Crater, famously known as the “Door to Hell.” Located in the heart of the Karakum Desert, this fiery pit has been burning for over four decades. It was the result of a Soviet drilling accident, and today it provides an otherworldly spectacle. Camping near the crater under the starry sky is an unforgettable experience, as the flames from the crater illuminate the night.

Rewinding in Avaza: Turkmenistan’s Resort Town

After an adventurous exploration, backpackers can unwind in the coastal town of Avaza, often referred to as “Turkmenistan’s Awaza.” This meticulously planned resort town on the Caspian Sea boasts luxurious hotels, pristine beaches, and a wide array of recreational activities. From water sports to cultural performances, Avaza offers a tranquil retreat for travelers seeking relaxation after traversing the rugged terrains and absorbing the country’s unique culture.

Embark on a Journey to Turkmenistan

Backpacking in Turkmenistan allows travelers to venture into a land full of surprises, where ancient history and modern aspirations coexist. From exploring architectural marvels in Ashgabat to roaming through ancient cities and witnessing the mesmerizing landscapes, this Central Asian nation provides an adventure unlike any other. So, pack your bags, immerse yourself in Turkmenistan’s captivating offerings, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

According to the World Tourism Organization, Turkmenistan experienced an average annual growth rate of 7.6% in international tourist arrivals between 2010 and 2019.

FAQs for Backpacking in Turkmenistan

Q1: Is it safe to go backpacking in Turkmenistan?

A1: Yes, Turkmenistan is considered generally safe for backpackers. However, it is always advisable to take common safety precautions by staying aware of your surroundings and following local laws and regulations.

Q2: Do I need a visa to visit Turkmenistan?

A2: Yes, most travelers will require a visa to enter Turkmenistan. It is recommended to obtain a visa before your trip, as obtaining one on arrival can be challenging.

Q3: What is the best time to go backpacking in Turkmenistan?

A3: The best time to visit Turkmenistan for backpacking is during spring (April to May) and autumn (September to October) when the weather is mild and comfortable for outdoor activities.

Q4: Are there any restrictions on photography in Turkmenistan?

A4: Yes, photography restrictions are in place in Turkmenistan, especially when it comes to sensitive government buildings, military installations, and airports. It is always better to ask for permission before taking photographs.

Q5: What is the local currency in Turkmenistan?

A5: The local currency of Turkmenistan is the Turkmenistan manat (TMT). It is advisable to carry some cash in local currency, as credit cards and ATMs may not be widely available.

Q6: Can I drink tap water in Turkmenistan?

A6: It is recommended to avoid drinking tap water in Turkmenistan. Stick to bottled water, which is readily available in most places.

Q7: What are the must-visit destinations for backpackers in Turkmenistan?

A7: Some must-visit destinations for backpackers in Turkmenistan include the ancient city of Merv, the Darvaza Gas Crater, Ashgabat – the capital city, and the Yangykala Canyons.

Q8: Are there any specific dress codes to follow while backpacking in Turkmenistan?

A8: While there are no strict dress codes, it is advisable to dress modestly and respect the local culture. Revealing clothing may be seen as disrespectful in certain areas.

Q9: Can I use my mobile phone in Turkmenistan?

A9: Yes, you can use your mobile phone in Turkmenistan. However, it is recommended to check with your service provider for international roaming rates and options.

Q10: How can I communicate with the locals in Turkmenistan if I don’t speak the language?

A10: English is not widely spoken in Turkmenistan, but you can try using simple travel phrases or carrying a translation app to communicate with the locals. Learning a few basic words in Turkmen or Russian can also be helpful.


In conclusion, backpacking in Turkmenistan offers a unique and captivating experience for adventurous travelers. The country boasts a rich cultural heritage, breathtaking landscapes, and a warm and welcoming people. From exploring ancient cities like Merv and Nisa to marveling at the beauty of the Karakum Desert, there is no shortage of sights to see and activities to engage in.

Additionally, Turkmenistan’s transportation system and accommodation options have improved significantly in recent years, making it more accessible for backpackers. The country’s efficient and affordable train network allows travelers to easily navigate between cities, while guesthouses and budget-friendly hostels provide comfortable and affordable accommodations.

However, it is important to note that Turkmenistan still has some challenges for backpackers, such as obtaining a visa, limited English signage, and restrictions on independent travel in certain regions. Nonetheless, with adequate planning and preparation, these obstacles can be overcome.

Overall, backpacking in Turkmenistan offers a unique and rewarding adventure for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience. With its stunning landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality, Turkmenistan is a hidden gem that is waiting to be explored by intrepid travelers. So grab your backpack and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through this fascinating Central Asian country.

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