Best of Turkmenistan Tour

Highlights of Turkmenistan

Experience the cultural & natural highlights of Turkmenistan



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Group size: Max 12

Countries: Turkmenistan


  • Ashgabat
  • Merv
  • Darvaza
  • Yangykala
  • Ashgabat

Themes: Cultural Tours

Kalpak Travel would like to introduce you to Turkmenistan – a fascinating country like no other. In one week we take you to the country’s most interesting historical, natural and architectural highlights: You will visit the marble city of Ashgabat, the ancient ruins at Merv, camp next to the burning gas crater known as “Gate of Hell”, visit Yangykala Canyon and go swimming in a luxury beach resort on the Caspian Sea. Turkmenistan is a country full of amazing contrasts and on this tour, you will see them all.


  • Ashgabat – The City of White Marble and World Records
  • Ancient ruins at Merv and Konye-Urgench – UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Visit the stud farm of Akhal Teke horses, the pride of the Turkmen Nation
  • Stay at a yurt camp beside burning gas crater at Darvaza, the “Gate of Hell”
  • Visit Turkmenbashi at the Caspian Sea and overnight in beach resort Avaza
  • Explore the stunning Yangykala Canyon
  • Only on the April departure: Join festivities around “Turkmen Horse Day” in Ashgabat


Ashgabat in Turkmenistan

Early morning arrival in Ashgabat via Istanbul (Turkish Airlines). Complete arrival formalities. Private transfer to the hotel. Immediate check-in at the hotel on arrival. Rest and breakfast at hotel.

In the afternoon we will have the orientation tour of the city. We will explore most striking structures of the city. We will stop at such impressive buildings as the Monument of Independence (resembling a white-marble “Eiffel Tower” located in a beautiful park), a rocket-like Arch of Neutrality, “Palace of Happiness” (the official name for the wedding registration office) shaped like a 3D octagon star, the National Memory complex consisting of an eternal fire rising up to the skies and the Earthquake Memorial (topped by a sculpture of a large bull holding the Earth on its horns). As the sun sets in the evening, we will drive past numerous impressive monuments to enjoy unrealistic views of the “white city” and its extraordinary buildings, shining brightly in the dark.

Please note: If you like, you may visit Tolkuchka Sunday market in the first half of the day (most active on Sundays but also functioning on Thursdays and Saturdays).

Hotel Divan 5* or similar.

Old Nisa in Turkmenistan

Breakfast at hotel. We start our touring today with the visit of the ruins of Old Nisa (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the earliest of the Parthian Empire capitals. Erected on the top an irregular pentagon hill at the foot of the Kopet-Dag Mountains, in atmospheric outskirts of the city, Old Nisa is a beautiful landmark. 14 ha in size, the fort accommodates two semi-excavated complexes of the Parthian period (III c. BC – III c. AD), designated as royal residence and temple complex. Abandoned at the end of the Parthian period, Old Nisa conveyed its functions to New Nisa, another archaeological site located a couple of kilometers to the west, an important medieval Silk Road city. After sightseeing at Old Nisa we proceed to Kipchak village to visit a complex of the biggest mosque in Turkmenistan and the family mausoleum of the first President, Turkmenbashi. Then we return to Ashgabat to visit the National Museum of History (more than 327.000 objects on a display) and observe an exclusive collection of ancient artifacts from different historical and archeological sites of Turkmenistan, such as Old Nisa, Ancient Merv and others.

In the afternoon, fly to Mary by T5-131 at 5:55 PM – 8:35 PM (flight times are subject to change). On arrival, transfer to hotel.

Hotel Margush 3* or similar

Merv in Turkmenistan

After breakfast, we drive towards Bayram-Ali, the contemporary re-incarnation of and humble suburb of the glorious Ancient Merv (UNESCO World Heritage Site). One of the major archaeological sites of Central Asia, Merv played an important part in the development of the Silk Road for more than 2 000 years. Within the limits of the archaeological park, which is 1200 ha, we will have a chance to observe all constituent parts of the “wandering city”. A series of adjacent cities, which can be roughly divided into the ancient (Erk Kala and Gyaur Kala), the medieval (Sultan Kala with its suburbs), and post-medieval (Abdulla-Khan Kala and Bayram-Ali-Khan Kala), appeared in the course of time as a token of the natural progress of the city from initial stages of its existence to a more advanced level. Besides remnants of the cities of Merv, we will visit the VI-IX cc. AD forts of Big and Little Kyz-Kalas, excellent examples of the so-called corrugated Koshks; the splendid XII c. mausoleums of Sultan Sanjar and Muhammed ibn-Zeyd, demonstrating exquisite Seljuk period brickwork and architectural décor. After sightseeing, we head back to Mary to visit local History Museum, presenting a wide array of archaeological finds (dating back to the III mill. BC through the late XIX century) from both Ancient Merv and Bronze Age sites of the Margush country as well as interesting ethnographic displays reconstructing the scenes of daily life of the Turkmen population and other minorities of the Murghab oasis. Then we fly back to Ashgabat T5-132 at 7:35 PM – 8:15 PM (flight times are subject to change). On arrival in Ashgabat, transfer to hotel.

Hotel Divan 5* or similar

Darvaza in Turkmenistan

Today morning we will travel 12 kilometres east of Ashgabat towards modern Anau, to visit a former medieval city of Bagabad, featuring the citadel of an important Timurid-period centre and the ruins of the Seyit Jemaleddin mosque, which is referred to in many historical sources as “house of beauty”. Many centuries ago (around the 5th mill. BC) this area accommodated the population of early Central Asian farmers who developed the world-famous Anau culture, evidences of which were discovered and extracted during archaeological researches throughout the XX century. Near Anau we will visit a private stud farm, home of the famous Akhal-Tekke horses. Welcome tea. The Akhal-Tekke breed is one of the oldest in existence and is well known for elegance, swiftness, and stamina. Having finished our photo session with the horses, we return to Ashgabat.

In the afternoon, we will travel inland through the Kara Kum desert (280 km/4-5 hrs) with its moving sands and sparse vegetation of saksaul, acacia and kandym bushes. Arriving at the border between the northern and southern regions of Turkmenistan we turn off the main road for an exciting eight-kilometre desert drive. The drive over, we find ourselves a couple of hundred metres away from the Darvaza flaming crater. At daylight, it seems more of an ordinary whole in the ground slightly smoked by fire. We go for a walk around the crater, while our barbecue dinner is being prepared. By the time we notice the smell of a fire-cooked dinner, the simple whole of the crater turns into what may seem a front door of hell, a fire temple or any other mysteriously spectacular place that a romantic’s imagination may associate with fire. We finish the day tasting delicious nomadic food, pondering over the meaning of life in the serene atmosphere of beautiful evening sky and flickering lights of the “eternal” fire. Dinner and overnight in the yurt camp.

Yurt Camp with shared bathroom facilities

Konya Urgench in Turkmenistan

After breakfast, we continue our northward trip towards Konye-Urgench (UNESCO World Heritage Site), a former capital of the medieval Khorezmshah empire (230 km/4-5 hrs). On arrival in Konye-Urgench we will have a chance to take a close look at outstanding monuments of the medieval Khorezm. We will visit the 14 century mausoleum of Turabek Hanum, one of the best living examples of the architecture of its period; minaret of Kutlug Timur, a former highest minaret of Central Asia that used to form a part of the main cathedral mosque of the city; mausoleum of Sultan Tekesh, a beautiful 12 century mausoleum with one of the earliest portals of the east and a unique cone of a dome; Kyrk-Mollah mound, the fabled al-Mamun’s Academy of Sciences; and mausoleum of Il-Arslan, a tiny precursor of unique Khorezmian mausoleums with a pyramidal cone as its dome. Having finished sightseeing, we drive to Dashoguz (100 km/1.5 hrs).

Hotel Dashoguz 3* or similar

Awaza building in a shape of a Turkmen flag

Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to the airport for flight to Turkmenbashi by T5-235 at 11:40 AM – 12:50 PM (flight times are subject to change). Free time at leisure to enjoy the blue of the Caspian sea. If weather permits, it would be possible to swim in the sea, take 1 hour cruise along the shoreline on a boat (subject to availability), visit city market in Turkmenbashi or just take a walk through the city.

Hotel Bagtyar 3* or similar

Yangykala Canyons in Turkmenistan

After breakfast drive east to the so-called Yangikala canyons (180 km/4 hrs). We will spend about an hour here to explore the land of the red canyons, enjoying the “Martian” scenery around. Then we continue further north (30 km/1 hr) and, diving into the precipice of the Kara-Bogaz gulf, discover the sparkling Yangysuw canyons. Picnic lunch. Having travelled from the fiery red of the Mars to the blinding snow-white of the moon we take a farewell glance at the canyons and set back off towards the Caspian shore, crossing boundless empty steppes of this region. Enjoy this evening at the luxury of the hotel and the blue of the “Khazar” sea.

Hotel Bagtyar 3* or similar

Ashgabat city

Early in the morning transfer to the airport for our flight to Ashgabat T5-242 at 8:40 AM – 9:40 AM (flight times are subject to change). Check in at hotel after 12:00. Afternoon free time for rest, to shop for souvenirs, visit any of the museums if willing and packing up for departure home.

Please note: On April departure we can join the celebrations of the “Turkmen Horse Day” today, which takes place on the last Sunday in April.

Hotel Divan 5* or similar

departure passport with stamps

Early morning transfer to the airport for departure home by Turkish airlines via Istanbul.

Please note: If you prefer to fly to Almaty, you can take the evening flight to Ashgabat on day 7 and take the morning flight on day 8 (Thursday) to Almaty.


Airplane, Minivan, Jeep
Full Board - 8 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 7 Dinners
Hotel 4*/5* (7 nights, incl. early check in on day 1), Tent (1 night), Yurt (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ashgabat – City Tour
  • Ruins of Ancient Merv
  • Yangykala Canyons
  • Local oriental market in Ashgabat and Turkmenbashi
  • Relaxing at the beach resort Awaza
  • Camping next to burning gas crater at Darvaza
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dates & price

You can choose to join a small group on a guaranteed departure or book a private tour on the date of your choice
Total trip price





Single supplement available for $500

Deposit: $500

21 Apr 2024
29 Apr 2024
+ Available
3 Oct 2024
11 Oct 2024
+ Available
Price includes
  • All transfers by minibus/ 4WD cars according to the itinerary, as well as your airport transfers
  • Accommodation based on double room sharing, incl. early check-in on Day 1
  • English-speaking local tour guide accompanying the group
  • All entrance tickets as per the itinerary
  • Economy class plane tickets for the flights Ashgabat-Mary, Mary-Ashgabat, Dashoguz-Turkmenbashi, Turkmenbashi-Ashgabat
  • Full board (breakfasts, lunches, dinners)
  • Visa support invitation letter and registration
Price does not include
  • International airfares
  • Visa fees (c. 100 USD per person, payable on arrival at the border)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Hotel charges for additional services
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses, e.g. souvenirs
  • Tips for guides and drivers

Important notes

  • Travel insurance is required for this tour. You are free to choose any insurance company.
  • The maximum group size is 12 people
  • A USD 500 per person deposit is required at the time of booking, and the balance is due 15 days prior to departure. Terms & Conditions:
  • One local English-speaking tour leader will accompany the group for the whole trip
  • You can opt to book the whole itinerary as a private tour. We can also arrange extra nights before or after the trip, and suggest private tour extensions in Turkmenistan or neighboring countries.
  • We are happy to suggest flights to get to Ashgabat: please contact us.
  • This trip works well with the flights Almaty-Ashgabat-Almaty. You can combine the tour with a trip to Kazakhstan.
  • See our books recommendation on Central Asia & the Silk Road
  • Read more about food in Central Asia



The Turkmen currency is called the Manat. In Ashgabat, you may find ATMs that accept international payment cards. VneshEkonomBank for example accepts Visa credit cards. However, most ATMs accept only local cards issued by Turkmen banks. Credit cards may be accepted in a few high-end hotels, but most stores and restaurants do not accept any cards. We recommend bringing all money in cash, in new USD banknotes of denominations of at least 20 USD. They will be easy to exchange. An emergency fund of around 500 USD in cash is always good to have during guided trips to Central Asia.


Turkmenistan is a safe country and most trips are trouble-free. There is a visible police presence and most citizens are law-abiding. That said, you are advised to wear a money belt, watch your belongings, steer clear of dark streets at night and avoid taking rides in unofficial taxis alone. Your safety is our first priority at Kalpak Travel; we know and regularly assess all our Turkmen partners and we closely monitor political events.


Citizens of every country in the world need a visa to enter Turkmenistan. As soon as you book a tour, we will ask you to provide some additional information to apply on your behalf for a letter of invitation. If the Ministry of Foreign Affairs approves your application, we will send you a letter of invitation. With this letter, you will be able to purchase the visa on arrival at Ashgabat Airport or at the land border.
As soon as we receive the deposit payment for your tour, we will confirm your booking and send you an email with important pre-departure information. Please read it carefully as it contains important information on customs regulations for Turkmenistan.


The climate of Turkmenistan is continental and dry and the best seasons to visit are Spring and Autumn, from mid-April until early June and then again from September until early November. Autumn is drier than Spring, but even in Spring chances are high you can enjoy the bluest sky you have ever seen. Autumn is also the time when the country goes to harvest, meaning markets are full of fresh fruit and vegetables. If you don’t mind the dry heat of 40° Celsius, sometimes more, summer is the best time to go. There are few tourists and the sun is shining every single day. If you are considering visiting Turkmenistan in winter you will practically have the country all to yourself. We recommend you go in November or December when daytime temperatures are still around 10° Celsius and the often chilly winds of January & February have not yet begun to make their presence felt.


Do not drink water, unless it is bottled, filtered, or boiled. Do not use tap water for brushing your teeth or making ice either. Do not eat ice cream. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled. If you follow these basic rules, you are likely to avoid any health issues like traveler’s diarrhea. Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, and Tetanus are recommended vaccinations for Turkmenistan. Ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. Medical services in Turkmenistan are basic at best.

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