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Turkmenistan Explorer: Ashgabat, Mary & Turkmenbashi

It is often said that Turkmenistan is the most mysterious and underrated of all the ‘stans’ that make-up the rarely-visited Central Asian region. With this action-packed tour, you’ll see the best of what this fascinating country has to offer: from the monuments and museums of the capital, Ashgabat, to the ruins of Merv and Mary - not forgetting the spectacular Mausoleums in Kunya-Urgench - once home to the biggest Muslim empire of the late 12th/early 13th century, this eight-day adventure of Turkmenistan will leave a lasting impression. After a final excursion to the stunning yet remote eastern city of Turkmenbashi on the Caspian Sea, you’ll return to Ashgabat yearning for more.

Highlights   Pricing
  • Explore all the must-see monuments, museums and markets of Turkmenistan’s fascinating capital city, Ashgabat
  • Journey up to the ancient fortress of Old Nisa, situated in the foothills of the atmospheric Kopet-Dag Mountains
  • Tour the vast UNESCO World Heritage Site at Merv, containing some of the most important archaeological ruins in Central Asia
  • Spend the day in Kunya-Urgench, once the glorious capital of the medieval Khorezmshah Empire and home to the biggest Muslim empire of the late 12th/early 13th century
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Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1

The morning of your first day in Turkmenistan will be spent transferring to your four-star hotel and meeting your friendly driver, who will be with you throughout this eight-day tour. Sightseeing starts in the later part of the morning with a visit to the famous Independence Monument and Neutrality Square. After lunch, there’s time to explore the rest of the fascinating city, including a trip to the popular Carpet Museum.

Day 2

Kick-off your second day in Turkmenistan with a trip to the impressive Old Nisa fortress, situated in the foothills of the atmospheric Kopet-Dag Mountains. The site is earliest of the Parthian Empire capitals and is spread over an area of 14 hectares. On the way back to Ashgabat, stop-off at Kipchak village to see the biggest mosque in Turkmenistan and the family mausoleum of the first President. Catch an afternoon flight to the historical city of Mary and check in to your three-star hotel.

Day 3

Enjoy breakfast at your hotel in Mary before journeying 16 miles out of town to Merv, a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site home to some of the most important archaeological ruins in Central Asia. Merv played an important part in the development of the Silk Road, and your guide will take you around the 1200-hectare historical park that is spread across the area. After a full day’s sightseeing, there’s time to visit the local history museum in Mary which presents Museum a wide array of archaeological finds dating back to 3000 BC.

Day 4

Depart your hotel on the morning of this fourth day for the northeastern city of Gonur Depe, the former capital of the Margush country. The picturesque drive takes you past fields, through local villages and over the sparse Turkmenistan desert, eventually ending up at an important archaeological site, known to be a center of a Bronze Age civilization in the country. It’s then back to Mary to catch an afternoon flight to the capital, Ashgabat, where you’ll check in to your four star hotel for the night.

Day 5

Day five is set aside for a day trip to Kunya-Urgench, a current UNESCO World Heritage Site once the glorious capital of the medieval Khorezmshah Empire and home to the biggest Muslim empire of the late 12th/early 13th century. Depart your hotel for an early morning flight to Dashoguz and then make the short overland trip to Kunya-Urgench, where you’ll spend the best part of the day exploring with your own guide. Private transportation and a short return flight will take you back to your hotel in the capital this evening.

Day 6

Take a quick visit to the Russian Bazaar after breakfast and then make your way to the airport again; today you’ll be heading to Turkmenbashi, a remote Turkmenistan city situated right on the stunning Caspian Sea. On arrival, you’ll be transferred to your four-star hotel and have the rest of the evening to relax or explore the surrounding area.

Day 7

This penultimate day on your tour of Turkmenistan will be spent getting to know this quaint eastern city, as well neighboring Avaza. You’ll visit the coastal region and take a short cruise along the canal through Avaza. In the city of Turkmenbashi, there’s a chance to see the local bazaar, Russian Orthodox Church, visit Local Lore Museum, war memorial and the cemetery of the World War II Japanese prisoners. In the evening, catch a flight back to Ashgabat and check in to your hotel for your last night.

Day 8

Take one final leisurely breakfast at your hotel, for today you’ll be saying goodbye to Turkmenistan after more than a week of adventure. Check out and transfer to the international airport via private transportation. Catch your onwards flight to your next destination of choice.


Suggested Accommodations

Ak Altyn Hotel, Grand Turkmen Hotel

Ak Altyn Hotel

Ak Altyn Hotel is a modern four-star hotel located just outside Ashgabat city center in some more tranquil, leafy surroundings, whilst all the main tourist attractions of the Turkmenistan capital can be reached in just a few minutes. This 10-storey hotel was recently refurbished, and the 100 well-appointed guestrooms here all include air conditioning, satellite TV, international telephones, a mini-bar, in-room safes and elegant en-suite bathrooms. Ak Altyn Hotel also has its own large restaurant which serves up a buffet breakfast spread every morning, as well as an on-site swimming pool, bar, conference room, sauna and salon. Popular attractions nearby include the Independence Monument and the National Museum, both of which can be reached on foot or via a cheap taxi ride.


Grand Turkmen Hotel

The five-star Grand Turkmen Hotel is one of the most luxurious and famous hotels in Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat, and is located right in the heart of this bustling city. Rooms here come with all the facilities you’d expect with any five-star hotel, and guests can also enjoy the added convenience of having on-site cooking facilities, various dining options, an elegant swimming pool and a fitness suite, massage and sauna room. From the comfort of the hotel, some of the city’s standout attractions, including Independence Monument and the National Museum, are just a short walk or drive away, and the immediate area is full of lively restaurants, bars and cafes. The Grand Turkmen Hotel also caters for a wide range of tastes at its large all-day restaurant which serves up Asian, European and international flavours. There’s also an on-site casino and disco for some entertainment after the sun goes down over Ashgabat.

Dayanch Hotel, Margush Hotel

Dayanch Hotel

Recently opened in 2011, the comfortable and modern Dayanch Hotel is easily accessed by car from the airport in Mary, Turkmenistan. The rooms sleep two, four, and eight people and all come with private bathrooms and the usual mod-cons. If guests have time to kill, there are enough activities at the Dayanch Hotel to keep everyone occupied for the day, with a sauna, bar, restaurant, and a cute little cafe with tables set inside colorful yurts (traditional tents). The hotel is located in the rural area of Sakarchaga and guests can find plenty of amenities such as local cafes and bars in the nearby area. There’s also several nearby households willing to open their doors for visitors to take a peek into their live craft workshops.


Margush Hotel

This three-star hotel is one of the most popular places to stay in the oasis city of Mary, which is situated in the Karakum Desert, on the Murghab River. Close to the ancient and famous ‘Murgab’ site, Margush Hotel offers 28 spacious guestrooms, all of which are relatively modern with this hotel only having opened in 2004. What really makes this hotel special is its interior design, such as the impressive white marble at the entrance and pastel tones featured throughout the rooms giving reference to the surrounding desert terrain of Turkmenistan. The hotel also boasts an excellent swimming pool, an all day restaurant serving local and international food, as well as a bar and fitness center.

Uzboy Hotel (Dashoguz)

Uzboy Hotel (Dashoguz)

Renovated in 2009, the two-star Uzboy Hotel is a basic yet convenient stop-off for tourists travelling through the Dashoguz region of Turkmenistan. Some of the most important historical monuments in the country are located nearby, such as the architecturally-impressive Kunya-Urgench, Butentau and scattered ruins of ancient settlements. Uzboy hotel offers a range of comfortable guestrooms, with basic amenities included such as en-suite bathrooms, furniture and air conditioning/heating. Elsewhere, guests can enjoy Uzboy’s on-site bar and restaurant and shop that sells local souvenirs and crafts. There is also an indoor swimming pool and a beauty salon open for all guests. There is Wi-Fi available throughout the hotel at a small extra cost.

Charlak Hotel , Turkmenbashy Hotel

Charlak Hotel

Charlak Hotel is a modern four-star hotel, popular with business guests and travelers making their way through the Turkmenbashi region of Turkmenistan. Meaning ‘seagull’ in local dialect (a reference to the nearby Caspian Sea), Charlak Hotel features a refreshing blue and white theme throughout, with generous helpings of glass and marble found across the lobby, dining venues and range of 80 guestrooms. All rooms feature en-suite bathrooms with large bathtubs, telephones, satellite TV, writing desk, a fully-stocked mini-bar, a safe, and each comes with its own private balcony overlooking the sea or city. As well as high-standard rooms, the hotel also features an all-day restaurant, bar, disco, gym, swimming pool, fitness room, tennis court, billiard room, gift shop and currency exchange office.  


Turkmenbashy Hotel

This comfortable three-star hotel presents an ideal stop-off for guests travelling to this historic city next to the Caspian Sea. Built in 2001, this was the first luxury hotel to open in the region. Each of the 90 guestrooms at the Turkmenbashy Hotel come with a whole host of modern conveniences that one would expect with any quality hotel, including ultra-comfy beds, satellite television and air conditioning as standard. Guests have two different outdoor swimming pools and one indoor to choose from, and the hotel also boasts its own restaurant, bar, fitness room, sauna, disco, gift shop, billiards room, beauty salon and massage room. The towering structure has an impressive design from the outside, and is set against a stunning backdrop with mountains in the background and the Caspian Sea just in front of the hotel’s entrance.

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