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Your trip

When is the best time to plan your visit to Turkmenistan?

The best time to visit Turkmenistan is in the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November). The temperature is usually around 25 degrees. If you go in the summer months, you can expect temperatures between 30 to 40 degrees. In winter it is usually between 0 and 10 degrees. Most of the country has a desert climate. This means that it can be warm during the day but can also cool down considerably in the evening.

Do I need insurance for my trip to Turkmenistan?

Everyone must take out travel and health insurance before leaving for Turkmenistan. Whether Turkmenistan is covered by your policy differs per insurance policy. In most cases this will not be a problem. If not, we recommend that you check with one of the following international insurance companies: Global Underwriters or IATI Travel Insurance. They have different packages and you can put together exactly what works best for you.

Do I need a visa for Turkmenistan?

You can choose between two types of visa for your trip to Turkmenistan. A tourist visa and a transit visa.

For a tourist visa need you a Letter of Invitation ( LOI) which is  issued by the Turkmen government. The LOI is the most difficult part of the entire visa process. The LOI is issued in Ashgabat, but the process often takes a long time and does not always give the desired result. Basically, anyone can get an LOI, but it can happen to you to be rejected for unknown reasons. An explanation is never given. What often helps is submitting the application as early as possible. The sooner the better. However, we can never give any guarantees, so we always advise people to only book the flight once the LOI has been received. If you have received the LOI you can travel to Turkmenistan. On arrival you can then collect your visa at the ‘Wiza’ desk (with the printed letter). The visa costs between $ 85 and $ 100, which you also have to pay on the spot, just like the immigration tax. You can do this at the ‘bank’ desk. It is also possible to arrange your visa at the embassy. You can go to the embassy in Belgium for instance. However, upon arrival in Turkmenistan, you will still have to pay the $ 14 immigration tax. 

If you are passing through Turkmenistan, you can use the transit visa. For this, you must contact your nearest Turkmen embassy.

Usually you can request a visa 3 months before departure, in which you must be able to present documents that clearly indicate that you only want to stay a few days and that you are transiting between different countries. It usually takes a few weeks to prepare the application at the embassy. 

What is the time zone in Turkmenistan?

Turkmenistan uses the time zone UCT +5.
Turkmenistan has no difference between summer and winter time.

How can I pay and how much will I spend in Turkmenistan?

In Turkmenistan they pay with the Turkmen Manat. You can only pay with cash. Credit cards will not be accepted and debit cards are not possible to use. Euros are generally accepted at banks and exchange offices. However, it is better to bring American Dollars. These are accepted everywhere and easily exchanged. There is also a black market to exchange money, sometimes you get a better exchange rate there. The guide can help you with this. For the most recent exchange rate, visit www.xchange.com.

Of course it mainly depends on yourself how much you actually spend, but as a guideline we suggest approximately € 20 to € 30 per day. With this you should be able to make it. If you like to buy souvenirs, you better bring something extra. Local, traditional hats can cost up to € 50, handmade ceramics are usually between € 20 and € 30. Similar prices are available for posters, books, etc. Drinks are generally around € 1, a meal between € 5 – € 10. 

It is useful to remember that there is a $ 2 (per day, per person ) tourist tax. The guide will help you pay for this. Tipping local guides is always encouraged. They don’t earn much in this part of the world and it often makes a big difference to them. Of course this is according to your own preference.

Do I have to arrange my international flight to Turkmenistan myself?

We are always available to advise you when booking a flight. However, most customers prefer to book the flight themselves. Often this is cheaper in terms of price and you can pick your own preferences. 

Practical information

What is the voltage and which plug should I use in Turkmenistan?

The complete electricity system in Turkmenistan is 220 Volt / 50 Hz. Unfortunately, a European plug cannot be used for this. It is therefore useful to bring a universal adapter. There is also regular power outages, so make sure to charge everything as soon as there is power in your hotel. 

Is there internet access and can I make calls in Turkmenistan?

There is internet available in the hotel ‘s in Ashgabat. However, don’t rely on this too much, because sometimes it is also unavailable for weeks. In addition, well-known websites such as Facebook are blocked. Outside of Ashgabat there is almost no internet. The mobile network is also very unreliable. Some people have coverage and some will not be able to connect to the local providers. It is not possible to buy a local SIM card. If you want to call, it is best to call the hotel reception.

Local culture

What are the local customs in Turkmenistan?

Turkmenistan is an Islamic country, but it is less strict than most countries of the Middle East. This means that alcohol is served and that you do not have to wear a headscarf as a woman. In Ashgabat, as a tourist, you are quite free to move around. Outside the city, however, you should always be accompanied by a local guide.

A few rules to keep in mind:
– The guides work for the Turkmen government. Therefore, respect the local rules and do not criticise the local norms and values. Generally, the guide is here to give you a fantastic time in Turkmenistan. You are therefore encouraged to interact with them. For them it is also often an introduction to other cultures.
– Turkmenistan is a country of rules. This means that sometimes the rules can suddenly be changed by the president. For example, it may be that alcohol is suddenly prohibited or that certain places are temporarily closed. This is the nature of traveling to Turkmenistan and we ask you to look at these kinds of developments with an open mind.
– Normally, you can take everything with you to Turkmenistan. Cameras, phones and laptops are no problem. Just don’t take too much tobacco with you. It is forbidden to bring anti-government texts / books or pornographic material.
– Always take off your shoes when entering a mosque or house. Never show your shoe sole when you sit down.
– Don’t walk in front of someone who is praying.

Is it safe in Turkmenistan?

Turkmenistan is a safe country. As long as you behave and follow local rules, virtually nothing can happen. If the situation changes, the tour will be adjusted on the spot. Of course we want to give everyone the best possible tour; however, the guide always has the final say regarding changes to the tour schedule.

If you want, you can register at your local embassy. If you have problems on the spot, it is much easier to get in touch with the embassy on site.

Can I take pictures in Turkmenistan?

In general, you can take photos freely in Turkmenistan. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.

– Always ask permission before taking a photo of a person.
– Do not take photos of military, military installations, police officers or government buildings.

Food and drinks in Turkmenistan

Food is taken very seriously by Turkmen  and is therefore a very important part of everyday life. Since Turkmenistan is an Islamic country, the dishes also have a lot of Islamic influences. The influence of Turkey and the Middle East is also big. Sheep, cow, camel and goat are most commonly eaten. Furthermore, meat is often supplemented with bread, rice and fruit. It is not possible to drink water from the tap in Turkmenistan. This is due to a bad filter system for bacteria.

Regulations on alcohol and tobacco change very often in Turkmenistan. You can smoke freely in few places, so be careful with this. In addition, cigarettes are difficult to get and if you can get them they are often very expensive. Legislation on alcohol also changes frequently. Sometimes it is allowed to drink alcohol, sometimes it is not. In general, you can get it in hotels and restaurants, but it is not very cheap. 

What should I wear in Turkmenistan?

Turkmenistan is relatively conservative compared to other old Soviet countries. Men never wear shorts and women wear long skirts. However, it is not a requirement. In general, as a tourist you can dress just like at home (in all reasonableness of course). Make sure you wear comfortable shoes, because you usually walk a lot. In most hotels you will be able to do laundry.

Health and hygiene

Turkmenistan is a developing country. Health care is less well developed than in the Western world. Also in terms of hygiene, the standard is much lower than in the Western world. Make sure you have enough disinfection gel, sunscreen and insect repellent.
 
We advise you always to the last (health) risk programs for the region where you’re going to visit. Check with your own government for the latest info about your destination.

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