Exploring Tourism in Turkmenistan
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Turkmenistan Popular Places to Visit


Lying on the banks of the mighty Amu-Darya, between the Karakum desert and the fertile plains of Uzbekistan, sprawling Turkmenabat sits at a crossroads of cultures. Turkmenistan's second city, Turkmenabat (pop. 200,000) is, however, a sleepier, impoverished distant cousin of Ashgabat rather than an energetic sibling rival to the capital. On its streets you’ll hear as much Uzbek as Turkmen and


The peaceful town of Tagtabazar lies 215km south of Mary on the road to Afghanistan. It is the principal settlement of a small oasis of the Murgab River, close to the Afghan border. A border post signals the restricted zone: you cannot travel beyond here without a permit covering Tagtabazar or Serhetabat districts, as required. On the fringe of the

Bronze Age Margiana (gonur)

The Merv Oasis was an important centre for human settlement long before Achaemenian times. A remarkable Bronze Age civilisation existed here, known variously as Margush, meaning 'lowland', or by the Greek name ot Margiana, along the Murgab River in what is called the Margiana Oasis. The greatest of these ancient settlements, currently being excavated around Gonur Depe (Gonur Hill; admission

Dayahatin Caravanserai

This Silk Road caravanserai stands on the ancient route between Amul and Khorezm and dates to around the 12th century (give or take a couple of hundred years), just off the main road 170km to the north of Turkmenabat. To find the place, which is not signposted, turn onto the track heading riverwards a few metres south of the Halkabat

Koytendag Mountain And Nature Reserve

This place is home to the highest mountains in Turkmenistan, the deepest lakes, the longest and weird caves and the most majestic natural waterfall in the country. There are curative hydrosulfide springs and the biggest in Central Asia grove of rare Zizyphus trees disinfecting the environment. Moreover, one can walk along the bridge of time as long as one hundred

Karakum Desert

The Karakum desert is a sun-scorched expanse of dunes and sparse vegetation in the centre of Turkmenistan. It’s Central Asia’s hottest desert but manages to support a handful of settlements, including the oasis town of Yerbent, 160km north of Ashgabat. A ramshackle collection of homes, battered trucks, yurts and the occasional camel, Jerbent is being slowly consumed by the desert

Western Turkmenistan

The westernmost region of Turkmenistan has a feel quite unlike the rest of the country. The reach of the Kara Kum Canal extends only to a small area in the eastern part of Balkan Region, which largely lacks the irrigated cotton and wheat fields typical of rural Turkmenistan further east. Camels amble across arid dunesc derricks and 'nodding donkeys' testify


The southern flank of the Khorezm Oasis, to the south of Dashoguz, is an agricultural area with several interesting monuments. The district was named Tagta ('Wooden Plank') until 2002, when President Niyazov, visiting Dashoguz, asked local officials whether any of them could tell him why the district bore such an unusual name. All kept silent, and Niyazov therefore proposed renaming


Continuing on the road south beyond Shirvan Kala, you immediately cross the Deryalyk Collector, a deep channel which takes run-off water from the irrigated fields to the Sarygamysh Lake. Turn right at the crossroads reached after another couple of kilometres, to join the road heading lakewards. A checkpoint signals the Druzhba ('Friendship') Collector, another channel taking irrigation waters to the


Around 28km from Dashoguz, you pass through a gate into Boldumsaz District, this gate too offering you a cheery English-language 'welcome'. Two kilometres further on, to the north of the road and clearly visible from it, the fortress of Boldumsaz makes a square plateau, standing proud above the surrounding fields. Some historians identify this place with the medieval town of