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Best & Fun Things To Do & Places To Visit In Turkmenistan

Best & Fun Things To Do & Places To Visit In Turkmenistan

Arch of Neutrality

Arch of Neutrality, Turkmenistan

Arch of Neutrality, Turkmenistan / Stefan Krasowski / Flickr

Saparmurat Niyazov’s regime prohibited gold teeth because he found them offensive, but the Turkmenistan dictator loved gold monuments of himself.

Since becoming Turkmenistan’s president in 1992, he transformed the country into a shrine to himself, making Mao look humble. 

Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, was chosen as the location for the centerpiece.

Niyazov was depicted as a gold statue on the Arch of Neutrality, which stood 75 meters tall and rotated every hour to ensure that his image was never out of view.

The marble-covered monument, whose construction cost more than $12 million, was built as a sign of respect for his official policy of neutrality in 1998.

The statue was dismantled and reassembled at a park in the suburbs of Ashgabat in 2010 after being removed.

The landmark is still accessible for tourists to visit. You can purchase tickets to ride the elevators up to the top for panoramic views of the city.

Address: Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Ashgabat

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan / Peretz Partensky / Flickr

Be astonished by the beauty of the country’s marble city.

In 1948, a terrible earthquake killed at least 10,000 people in Ashgabat, which was the capital of Turkmenistan.

Citizens in Ashgabat still have a day of mourning and a memorial to remember this tragedy. 

However, the most moving thing they have done is turn their city into a state-of-the-art metropolis.

They cover the city with a lot of white marble palaces, fountains, and wide boulevards.

Take a trip to Altyn Asyr Bazaar, one of the biggest marketplaces in the whole of Central Asia.

You must also see the Gulistan Trade Center, also known as the Russian Bazaar when you’re in Turkmenistan’s capital.

You can eat the best Turkmen food, like gaynatma, chorba, and govurma; dograma soups.

Don’t miss trying govurdak fried meat dishes; gutapi stuffed flatbread; smoked or grilled Caspian Sea sturgeon; and ishlekli meat pies.

There is so much to witness and enjoy in the stunning capital of Turkmenistan!

Address: Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Badkyz Nature Reserve

Treat your eyes to stunning views of nature at this destination in Turkmenistan!

Badkyz is among the most beautiful natural settings in Turkmenistan. 

It is located in the northwestern part of Serhetabat, on the eastern edge of the Kopet Dag Mountains, and spans an area of nearly 90,000 hectares.

 It is widely considered among the most amazing sights in all of Turkmenistan.

An undulating plateau makes up the majority of the reserve. 

The western portion of this plateau is home to the greatest concentration of pistachio trees in all of Central Asia. 

Pistachio trees have relatively small stems from which a crown of branches radiates out in all directions.

It is possible to find pistachio trees in the reserve that are seven hundred years old.

However, there are groves of pistachio trees that were planted relatively recently. 

The orderly rows of trees can identify these groves.

This hilly area is particularly stunning in the spring when it is covered in a profusion of blooms, such as poppies and tulips, in both red and yellow.

Recharge your batteries and see what Turkmenistan’s nature has to offer!

Address: Western Turkmenistan

Dinosaur Plateau 

Are you also one of those people who is fascinated by dinosaurs? If yes, this destination in Turkmenistan will deepen your curiosity!

The Dinosaur Plateau, located in the eastern part of Turkmenistan, is home to the world’s largest preservation of dinosaur footprints and is an incredible sight to see.

A limestone slab on the western side of the Koytendag Range is approximately the size of four soccer fields.

The site is filled with the footprints of three different types of dinosaurs: tyrannosaurus, megalosaurus, and iguanodon.

Six fossilized footprints appear to be those of a human wearing shoe size 43, which astounded the scientific community when it was discovered. 

The longest fossilized trails stretch for a few hundred meters, and their discovery surprised the scientific community.

The enormous and puzzling prints found on the Dinosaur Plateau remain the subject of considerable speculation from both professionals and amateurs.

It is an absolute must that you pay a visit to this world wonder while you are in Turkmenistan.

 Address: Koytendag District, Lebap Province, Turkmenistan

Gates of Hell

Gates of Hell, Turkmenistan

Gates of Hell, Turkmenistan / Dunk 🐝 / Flickr

“Gate” in Turkmen, Darvaza was a desert settlement that had long been neglected until lately.

A gas cavern containing toxic gases was discovered in 1971 by geologists and their equipment, which they chose to burn off so it would not leak.

A few days after the locals were told that the flames would die down, the Darvaza Gas Crater continued to blaze uncontrolled. 

It was decided to move the people, and the scary name “Door to Hell” was given to the harmless crater.

One of Turkmenistan’s most enigmatic landmarks was unearthed by chance. 

At first glance, it appears to be nothing more than a deep 20-meter crater in the ground.

However, as you get closer, you’ll see thousands of flames, a few of which rise to a height of 16 meters.

For those who have never seen Darvaza Gas Crater, the peculiar red glow can be seen clearly from a distance.

Turkmenistan’s Darvaza is one of the many fascinating oddities you should not miss while exploring the country.

Address: Derweze, Turkmenistan

Geok-Tepe Fortress

If Turkmenistan’s history fascinates you, this fortress is waiting for you to explore.

The Russians built the Geok-Tepe Fortress in 1869 on the coast of the Caspian Sea.

It was used as an outpost for the armies transferring to Central Asia.

Goek-Tepe Fortress is part of Turkmenistan Tours because it was once a Turkmen fortress in the garden of Ahal, which is close to Ashgabat.

The name of the fortress comes from the Russian translation of the Turkmen name “Gokdepe,” which means “Blue Hill.” 

In Turkmen, “gok” means “blue,” and “deep” means “hills.”

Goek-Tepe Fortress is among the great areas to see in Ashgabat, but it also has a horrible history. 

In August 1879, Russians tried to take over the fortress for the first time, but Turkmen defenders won the battle.

In December of 1880, General Mikhail Skobelev led 6,000 Russians in an attack on Goek-Tepe. 

The battle of Geok Tepe occurred 23 days later. On January 12, 1881, Russian forces broke through the wall by setting off a mine in a hole in the wall.

Be sure to include this destination at the top of your Turkmenistan itinerary!

Address: Gökdepe District, Turkmenistan

Giant Ruhnama

A big monument to a strange book that Turkmenistan’s longtime dictator wrote

The Turkmen president has been in power for a long time, and there is a cult of personality around him in the Ruhnama. 

In 2001, he authored the Ruhnama, or The Book of the Soul, as a spiritual guide for the Turkmen people and to try to make the country more “Turkmen.”

The Ruhnama is a strange mix of moral ideals, fairytales, religious rules, and rewritten history. 

In 2001, the first volume came out, and three years later, in 2004, the second volume came out.

The cult of personality of Niyazov has led to a lot of strange things, like the Giant Ruhnama. 

This has made Ashgabat among the most politically strange places in the world, with golden monuments of the dictator and no “non-Turkmen” things like theaters.

So far, Niyazov seems to be the only author who is proud enough of his work to build a huge monument to it.

See the enormous book of the famed dictator as you explore Turkmenistan’s capital.

Address: Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Hasardag Reserve

A dose of nature is what every traveler in Turkmenistan needs.

Within the boundaries of the Balkan Vilayat is the Sünt-Hasardag Nature Reserve. 

The unique and stunning flora and fauna of Kopedaga are to be preserved in their natural state thanks to the reserve’s efforts.

A significant number of plant species have their origins in Ireland and the Mediterranean. 

The evolution of the plants and the climate both played a role in the development of plants native to Central Asia, which helped to decorate the nature reserve. 

There are more than 1266 distinct types of plant species.

The reserve is regarded as among the sites where wild relatives of cultivated crops thrive. 

Here, wild relatives of wild apples, figs, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, pistachios, and cherries can grow in abundance.

The unusual animals that live in the reserve There are numerous kinds of lepidopteran insects that call this place home.

 In addition to this, there is assistance for the leopard population as well as other wild creatures.

See the wonders of nature in this magnificent nature reserve in Turkmenistan!

Address: Balkan Province, Turkmenistan

Independence Monument of Turkmenistan

Independence Monument of Turkmenistan, Turkmenistan

Independence Monument of Turkmenistan, Turkmenistan / Dan Lundberg / Flickr

A lavish memorial in Turkmenistan to independence that was not easily won.

Turkmenistan’s Independence Monument is among the biggest and most expensive of its kind anywhere on the globe. 

The monument is in the center of a verdant park with many fountains and pools. It is spread out over a territory of over 80,000 m2.

The main part of the monument is surrounded by 27 statues of Turkmen heroes that look fun. 

A golden monument to Turkmenistan’s longtime dictator, Niyazov, stands majestically in front of what looks like a dome with a stunning minaret-like tower.

The tower is also gold and has an observation deck at the top.

In the dome below is a strangely named museum called the Museum of Turkmen Values.

The Turkmen independence movement and Niyazov are at the center of the large monument. 

The monument seems to be a proud reminder of hard-won independence.

You must not miss seeing this controversial monument as you explore Turkmenistan!

Address: Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Köw Ata Underground Lake

Köw Ata Underground Lake, Turkmenistan

Köw Ata Underground Lake, Turkmenistan / Hotel Kaesong / Flickr

It can be difficult to locate a spot for a nice dip in Turkmenistan, a landlocked country that is 80 percent desert.

The Caspian Sea, the world’s biggest lake, is accessible to the landlocked country, but it is a long drive from Ashgabat, the capital city. 

The country’s second-best swimming hole, situated over 200 feet below, is preferred by the majority of residents of the capital region.

The 235-foot-long lake is situated in the enchanting Bakharden Cave, which is accessible by a large metal staircase. 

The smell of the cave comes from sulfur, which is one of the minerals and salts in the warm water inside the cave.

As a result, Köw Ata Underground Lake is Turkmenistan’s only access to a relaxing thermal spa.

In addition to being a thermal treatment and swimming destination, the cave is a natural monument designed to safeguard Central Asia’s biggest recorded colony of bats. 

Whether or not this makes for a more enjoyable swim is a personal choice.

Beat the Turkmen heat in this enchantingly deep lake in Turkmenistan!

Address: Gokdepe, Turkmenistan

Kyrk Gyz Cave

Witness one of the most unusual caves in Turkmenistan.

The Kyrk Gyz Cave may be found in the Kontendag Mountains by a dirt path.

Inside the cave, there is something that at first glance appears to be familiar, but which gradually reveals itself to be utterly strange.

There are a lot of stalactites on the ceiling of the cavern. A closer look reveals that the stalactites are made of fabric.

Anyone who can successfully toss a cloth-wrapped pie onto the cave’s roof is said by the locals to have been granted a wish.

According to local mythology, the Kyrk Gyz Cave, or “Forty Girls’ Cave,” is named after a group of 40 girls who sought refuge from robbers in the area.

 It is reported that an old woman’s tomb is placed in front of the cave where the 40 girls were fed after they entered the cave.

They pleaded to the Gods for guidance when the robbers discovered them and showed them a way out of the caverns. 

However, it’s unclear how that story relates to hanging mud-stained textile stripes from the cave’s roof.

If you are fascinated by the cave’s story, then see the cave’s unique beauty!

Address: Koytendag, Turkmenistan

Merv

Merv, Turkmenistan

Merv, Turkmenistan / Peretz Partensky / Flickr

Merv was an oasis town in Turkmenistan in the past that has helped put the country on the map today.

Even though no one knows where it came from, it was first cited in the Avesta between 800 and 600 BC. 

After the Arabs took over in the eighth century, Merv, once the capital of the Parthian Empire, became a center for literature.

In the 11th century, when the Seljuks were in charge, Merv’s architecture caught up to that of Constantinople and Baghdad. 

Unfortunately, the Mongols destroyed it two hundred years later. Later, the city was rebuilt by Tamerlane’s son. 

Today, the ruins of Merv, called Gyaur-Kala, Erk-Kala, Abdullakhan-Kala, Sultan-Kala, and Bairamalikhan-Kala, show how the city changed over five different times.

The dome of the Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum is famous for being made of two thin shells of brick. 

Other finds from Merv, now a world heritage site, can be seen at the history museum in neighboring Mary.

Walk through Turkmen history in this historical Turkmenistan spot!

Address: Merv, Turkmenistan

Nokhur Cemetery

Nokhur Cemetery, Turkmenistan

Nokhur Cemetery, Turkmenistan / Hans Birger Nilsen / Flickr

If going to unusual places is your thing, then this spot is something you can’t miss on your Turkmen journey.

Goat horns adorn the gravestones at this cemetery in Turkmenistan. 

Nearly every burial in the remote town of Nokhur has a wooden post decorated with a mountain goat’s horns.

In folklore, goat horns are said to protect the departed from evil spirits and secure their safe journey to paradise. 

Mountain goat skulls are not only found at the local cemetery but they may also be found on the doorways of some of the buildings there.

Mountain goats are revered by the Nokhuris, a local mountain tribe, for their tenacity and fortitude. 

Despite their devotion to Islam, the Nokhuris regard mountain goats as sacred animals.

Visitors are asked not to enter the cemetery at any point in time. 

Outside the fence, you can still pay homage to the horned tombs in silence and reverence.

If you are looking for a unique place to see in Turkmenistan, this place must make it to the top of your list.

Address: Nokhur, Turkmenistan

Old Nisa

Near Ashgabat, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Nisa is a repurposed Parthian fortification that is a must-see if you are curious about Turkmenistan history. 

Old Nisa, known as Mitridarkert during ancient times, was a peculiarly formed fortress complex. 

The complex’s walls reached a width of up to 9 meters at the base and were reinforced with 43 rectangle-shaped towers.

The architecture that can be seen in Old Nisa is a wonderful expression of ancient Roman, Greek, and eastern influence, and there is no other building in Central Asia that can compare to it. 

At one time, the temples and palaces of Old Nisa, which also contained wineries and an imperial treasury, were previously used to host festivities honoring venerable Parthian monarchs.

Even though only a portion of Nisa’s magnificence has been preserved to the present day, the city’s vaulted walls, superb brick plan, and cutting-edge architectural techniques continue to astonish tourists.

You need to see the grandness of this destination as you wander the interesting country of Turkmenistan!

Address: Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Saparmurat Hajji Mosque

Regardless of your faith, the grandness of this religious attraction in Turkmenistan will astound you.

The very first President of Turkmenistan ordered the building of the Saparmurat Hajji Mosque in the location of the old Geok Tepe fortress.

In that way, it serves as a remembrance of the Turkmen who died in the tragic struggle of 1881. 

After that, the mosque became a sort of national emblem for the country’s struggles. It was on the back of one of Turkmenistan’s 10,000 manat bills until 2005 when a new series of bills came out.

The Saparmurat Hajji Mosque is about 20 miles from Ashgabat, the capital city of Turkmenistan. 

Even though the mosque is accessible to the public, it doesn’t seem to get many visitors and isn’t used as a usual place of worship.

On the grounds of the mosque is a museum about the Battle of Geok Tepe, which you can access for just a few dollars.

Pay your respects and see the stunning architecture of this mosque in Turkmenistan!

Address: Gokdepe, Turkmenistan

The Walk of Health

An unusual mountain trail was developed to optimize the wellness of Turkmen residents.

The Walk of Health is among Niyazov’s most bizarre ideas as the country’s dictatorial leader. 

In the middle of the flat plains of the Kopet Dag Mountains, a concrete stairway has been constructed with the goal of improving local residents’ health.

Two separate walks make up the “Walk of Health.” The first one is 8 kilometers long, while the second one is 37 kilometers long. 

As soon as it was completed, Niyazov issued an order requiring all cabinet ministers, parliament members, and civil officials to make the entire extended trip at least once each year thereafter.

During the walk, Niyazov was present to see his crew begin, and afterward, he went in his helicopter towards the final stage to congratulate them on their perfect completion. 

It’s ironic, isn’t it?

When in Turkmenistan, this is the place to go for a long and challenging walk!

Address: Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Turkmenbashi’s Land of Fairy Tales

Turkmenistan’s own kind of Disneyland, as imagined by an eccentric ruler.

54 attractions spread over a hundred acres at a projected cost of $50,000,000, debuting in 2006. 

Visitors may note some oddities in the park’s attractions, such as a Ferris wheel, a log ride, and a miniature roller coaster.

The islands are ruled by T-rex in the cold caverns, an imitation British pub in disrepair, and an enormous concrete Gila monster. However, the park’s animal sights are even more disturbing.

A cobra pokes its deadly head out from the grass. A leopard watches over a herd of deer. Two bunnies the size of a person await your arrival.

You may also catch a group of wolves lurking in the shadows behind an antelope herd.

Repairs are needed at the amusement park, although it is still available to the public. If you tell a cab driver you want to travel to “Turkmenbashi Disneyland,” they’ll get it.

Address: Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Wedding Palace

Wedding Palace, Turkmenistan

Wedding Palace, Turkmenistan / John Pavelka / Flickr

If you were to get tied down in Ashgabat, the White Marble City, you would do it in this strange building that looks like a disco ball.

Turkmenistan’s capital city, Ashgabat, is made of white marble and is full of strange buildings and statues that don’t make sense.

The Wedding Palace, a government structure in the city, has a huge disco ball globe locked in geometric shapes on top. 

This is one of the strangest sights in the city. The “Shamchyrag,” the largest room in the building, is situated at the center of the big globe.

Couples who want to get married in the Wedding Palace must have their picture taken in front of a painting of the President of Turkmenistan. 

This is something that only the Wedding Palace has.

You can go inside the monument, but you could also look at its unusual design from the outside. 

Stop by at night when it’s lit up with different colors of lights.

Address: Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Yangikala Canyon

It is an absolutely breathtaking and fascinating destination you must see in Turkmenistan.

This canyon, which was formerly a seabed, is today marked by astonishingly sheer cliffs that have been formed by strong winds and torrential rains. 

On its whole, Yangikala is comprised of a single enormous and peculiar rock structure, the “dead drops,” from which some areas fall some hundred meters.

Come and see how the rocks transform their appearance according to the time of day and the amount of light that hits them. 

After the sun sets, the colors change to a flaming red tint, where the canyon got its title of “Fire Fortress.” The hues are bright white during the midday sun.

The Yangikala Canyon is a fascinating place that is ideal for activities like hiking, off-roading, camping, and silent thinking.

Even though going to Yangikala is among the most unforgettable things you can do in Turkmenistan, visitors will not typically find it included in conventional tour packages for Turkmenistan.

Therefore, you will need to make a special arrangement in order to travel to this place straight out of a fairy tale.

Address: Yangykala-Schlucht, Turkmenistan

Yangisuw Canyon

When you see the brightly colored canyons of Yangisuw, you’ll understand why this area of deep valleys is thought to be among the fascinating spots in Turkmenistan.

It is well-known for the spectacular white, green, and red formations of limestone that rise from the sands of the desert. 

The remains of a massive coastline and seabed from the prehistorical Sea of Parathetys can be found in these derivations. 

Copper, phosphorus, vitriol, granite, and salt are the minerals that give the rocks their colors.

Due to the national significance of Yangisuw Canyon, it is prohibited to mine these natural banks. 

As a result, it is safe for you to take a picture against the backdrop of the natural hues.

This bizarre scenery is stunning at any moment of the day, but the vistas at sunrise and sunset are especially breathtaking.

You must see with your own set of eyes the wonderful creation of nature in this Turkmenistan destination!

Address: Kyzylkum Desert, Turkmenistan