Turkmenistan 2014 

overland turkmenistan


  • Days: 5 days
  • Period: beginning of June 2014
  • Weather:  Overall it was very hot (between 35 - 40 degrees) with blue skies. Only one day it was cloudy and in the night we had rain. 


General information:

  • Currency: Manat (DTM)

  • Internet: Available but you have to indentify with your passport as the state controlls everything here.

  • ATM's: There should be one in a big hotel, but we have not seen any. We changed USD in the big mall.

  • Creditcards: not accepted

  • Safety: Turkmenistan is quite safe as the regime is controlling everything and police is all over. Still we met many people on the street who had too much alcohol. 


Prices (June 2014)

  • Value Money: $1 = 2,85 Manat and €1 = 3,85 Manat. Euro's and Dollars can both be changed. Dollars are preferred.  The exchange rates are fixed rates throughout the whole country.

  • Fuel: diesel is 0,52 Manat (about € 0,13) per liter. We had no problem finding gas stations in Ashgabat (no diesel in the city center) and there is only one in Konye-Urgench. In the Karakum desert fuel stations are few and hard to find.  

  • Camping: There are no places to camp. Bush camping is the only option which is for free.

  • Prices: Turkmenistan is not expensive except for the prices in the big malls in Ashgabat 

  • Bread: 1 bread costs 1 Manat  



  • valid = 5 days transit visa. A transit visa allows you to travel without a guide and allows you to stay with locals. A transit visa will only be granted if you already have your onward visa in your passport. Visa dates as well as points of entry and exit are fixed. 

  • We obtained our visa in Iran. Applied in Tehran and picked it up in Mashad. On the internet you will find people who asked the Iranier Vali (from Vali's homestay in Mashad) for help but this is not necessary. Just go to the embassy and you can pick it up. When you apply you need a form (you can get it at the embassy), a color copy of your passport, a color copy of your onward visa and a hand written letter with the visa request. This letter must contain your details (name, birth date and passport number), the type of visa you need, the visa dates and points of entry and exit and if you want to collect it in another city than requested you must also state where. You also need a passphoto for your application form (may only be glued). Hand over the whole set of documents and ready. You can keep your passport and payment is done at the embassy where you collect your visa. Collecting your visa in Mashad goes as quickly. Just go to the embassy with the same set of documents (so make sure you make double copies), hand over your passport and the money and 10 minutes later you have your visa. According to Tehran approval for the visa only takes 5 days. In reality however we met quite a lot of travellers whose visa was not ready after 5 days. As we travelled on after Tehran we arrived in Mashad 2 weeks later. By that time our approval was there.

  • see here for example of visa request letter
  • For Dutch as well as many other nationalities price per person for the visa is USD 55,- (UK = USD 85,-)


Border crossing

  • Entry: at the Howdan border post coming from Bajgiran in Iran. Border is open from 8 am. Getting in took 3 hours which seems to be pretty fast. Sometimes it can take much longer. Getting at the border you first must go to passport control who will send you to the bank where you must pay USD 11,- each. Then go back with the receipt to the passport control and have you passport stamped. The passenger then has to go through the terminal and the driver has to take the car for inspection to the pit. Before inspection however you have to go through customs and many other offices. We have no idea how and what but the people are nice and will guide you. In total we paid USD 165 (for customs, insurance, fuel compensation etc) and got many papers with a lot of stamps and signatures. Make sure you keep all the docuements especially the green one on which also your route is described. You have to hand it over when you leave the country. After the paperwork is done the customs will search the car. This is done very well. When all is OK you can go. Just make sure you do not stop between the border and the first police stop (between 20-30 km). Also taking pictures here is not allowed.  Exchange: At Bajgiran, the last village in Iran, you can change manat. Just go to the gate and you will find a few man or ask at the supermarkt in town.

  • Exit: at Konye-Urgench on the border with Uzbekistan. Leaving Turkmenistan is without costs. You have to a couple of desks, hand over some of the papers you got when you entered, then your vehicle is checked again and off you go. Exchange: At the border to Uzbekistan there is no option to exchange money. Coming from Turkmenistan you'd better have you money spent because on the black market in Nukus, the do not like to change Manat. If you insist they do but the rate is very bad (only about 50%)



  • On the transit route from Iran - Ashgabat - Darvaza - Konye-Urgench - Uzbekistan - all roads are tarmac; sometimes very good quality, sometimes very bumpy with some potholes. That is when you follow the long way round passing Dazoguz. This road is about 140 km longer than the one that goes from the turn off to Dazoguz straight to Konye-Urgench. This road however feels like the road to hell. It is a terrible road (one of the worst we ever had). In many places there is almost no tarmac left anymore and these last 80km took us about 5 hours. If we would have known we would have taken the long way round. 
  • Track to Darvaza crater: The track to the gas crater should only be done by 4x4. Although the track is not difficult there are a few passages where the sand is quite deep. On your way in this is not so much of a problem because the worst sandy parts are down hill. On you way out however you will have to drive the sandy slope up hill. We almost got stuck and needed low gear to get out. 


Highlights or not

  • Ashgabat: a spotlessly clean white marbled city with some good very modern malls. After more than 2 months on the road it was nice to shop here and the city itself is great to drive through and see all the nice buildings. It looks however like disneyland because compared to the rest of the country it feels unreal. Be careful when taking pictures here because officially this is not allowed. Another ridiculous rule: your car must be clean and if not they have the right to give you a fine. Cleaning it on the streets however is forbidden. Be aware that the police is almost on every corner

  • Tolkucha bazaar: Costs = Free. About 20 minutes outside Ashgabat is the once famous Tolkucha bazaar. It is just a pitty that they moved it to a new location in a brand new building. The authentic silk route atmosphere is no where to be found. The bazaar is open on Saturday, Sunday and Thursday morning. Taking pictures in de bazaar is not appreciated and we were told to stop making them.Coming from Iran the bazaar will be disappointing.
  • Horse back riding: Price 40 USD per hour per person. In Geok Dere you will find the Alaja Farm. Here they breed the famous Akhal Teke horses and you can hire one to make a ride through the Kopet Dag mountains. We really liked this trip and you can spend the night on the farm as well (which is for free).

  • Darvaza gas crater: In reality the crater is smaller than we imagined but seeing flames and hearing the gas roaring is impressive especially at night. When sleeping near the crater make sure you are not too close because of the toxic gas. 

  • Unesco sites in Konye-Urgench: Nice place to wander around. We would not go here especially for these sites but when you are here anyway they are worth a look.  Costs: around 12 Manat per person and about 5 Manat for the camera.  



Grid: Lat/Lon hddd°mm.mmm"

TM-BAZAAR -N38°02.431 E58°25.334
Tolkuchka Bazaar

TM-CAMP01 - N37°57.124 E58°21.916
Camping at parking of Ak Altyn hotel in Ashgabat. Secure and no costs. Only toilet no shower

TM-CAMP02 - N38°03.360 E58°00.613
Camping at Alaja Farm in Geodeke. We did hore riding here and slept on the farm. No costs for camping. Only toilet.

TM-CAMP03 - N40°14.917 E58°26.705
Bushcamp at Darwaza gas crater, nice spot. No facilities

TM-CAMP04 - N42°19.534 E59°08.919
Bushcamp near museum at Konye-Urgench. Toilet at the museum, no shower.

TM-CRATER1 - N40°02.699 E58°25.678
Gas crater with water

TM-CRATER2 - N40°10.100 E58°24.612
Gas crater with mud

TM-CRATER3 - N40°15.150 E58°26.374
Darwaza fire crater

TM-FUEL - N38°01.843 E58°24.502
Diesel in Ashgabat

TM-FUEL1 - N42°16.578 E59°07.982
Konye Urgench. Diesel at last gas station before border Uzbekistan.

TM-JUNCT01 - N38°03.517 E58°01.007
Junction to Alaja Farm

TM-JUNCT02 - N40°11.668 E58°24.790
Junction to fire crater

TM-KONYE - N42°19.992 E59°09.003
Market at Konye Urgench

TM-MALL - N37°54.860 E58°22.818
Yimpas, shopping mall in Ashgabat. Many western products

TM-MARKET - N37°54.869 E58°22.942
Sowda market. Sells bier and water

TM-MONUMEN - N37°52.792 E58°23.006
Independance monument in Ashgabat

TM-URGENCH - N42°18.642 E59°08.212
Unesco site Old Urgench