To this day, Turkmenistan, a country rich in unique culture and fascinating history, has remained one of the most mysterious regions Central Asia. Little is known about this vast desert country, and this tailored seven-day tour is your chance to uncover a true hidden gem. Starting in the capital of Ashgabat, you’ll delve deep into the Turkmenistan’s long-reaching history with visits to the ancient city of Mary, as well as seeing the mausoleums – sometimes glistening, sometimes in ruins - of Kunya-Urgench. The atmospheric Karakum Desert is not to be missed either, and you’ll journey through this sparse land via jeep, passing rugged mountains, bubbling geysers and hidden caves, all before you end up back in the ever-developing capital of Ashgabat.
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After an early morning arrival in the Turkmenistan capital, you’ll have time to check into your five-star hotel and meet your guide before embarking on some sightseeing for the rest of the day, with trips to Neutrality Square and the National Museum. In the evening, head south to the Kopetdag Mountains via cable car ride and see a stunning view across the white marble capital city as the sun sets.
Catch an early flight to the northern city of Dashoguz, ready for a full-day tour of this historic region. A short onwards drive will take you to Kunya-Urgench (Old Urgench), a current World Heritage Site and former capital and of the Khorezmshah Empire. Here, you will explore the 15th-century mausoleum of Turabeg Khanum, the minaret of Kutlug Temur (the highest of its type in Central Asia) as well as the iconic turquoise dome of the mausoleum of Sultan Tekesh. Transfer back to Dashoguz in the evening for dinner of your choice at the hotel or nearby.
A 6-7 hour drive deep into the Karakum Desert awaits on the third morning of your trip, and there’s a chance to visit the mysterious Izmukshir on the way, an ancient mausoleum of Abulkasim az-Zamakhshari. After hitting the highway again, you’ll cross a thrilling five-mile off-road route, just a few 100 meters away from a flaming crater at one point. End the day in memorable way, sampling delicious nomadic food in front of a campfire before bedding down for the night in a tent.
Wake up in the stunning Karakum Desert near Darvaza before packing your things and heading back to the capital, Ashgabat (around 4 hours' drive). The four-hour drive back will present the opportunity to see some more craters in this volcanic region, bubbling with hot water and natural gas produced underground. After arriving back in Ashgabat, you’ll have the rest of the day to yourself to enjoy in the luxurious hotel or rest of the city at your leisure.
A day trip to the ancient and historically significant city of Mary is on the day’s agenda, and to get there you’ll take a short morning flight and then drive onwards. Before exploring Mary, there’s an opportunity to see the ancient suburb of Merv, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your tour guide will take you around the 1200-hectare historical park, visiting the fascinating archeological ruins of this once key stronghold on the ancient Silk Road, including forts, mausoleums and village remains. After a full day of adventure around both Merv and the major city of Mary, you’ll catch a short 40-minute flight back to Ashgabat from the newly-built airport in Mary, then check back into your five-star hotel in the capital.
This final full day of your tour of Turkmenistan will be spent in the capital, with your tour guide showing you around the popular Tolkuchka Market, as well as the beautiful Geok Depe mosque (about 30 miles from Ashgabat) and a nearby farm to see the legendary Akhal-Tekke horses. In the afternoon, there’s time to head underground to the cave of Kov-Ata (56 miles from Ashgabat) where you’ll get a chance to take a dip in the hot water. On the way back to Ashgabat, stop-off at Kipchak, the largest mosque complex in Turkmenistan, before returning for dinner at your hotel and resting before your trip home the following day.
Fill up at the hotel’s buffet breakfast before checking out of the hotel and making your way to the international airport of Ashgabat via private transportation. It’s time to say goodbye to your unforgettable week-long tour of Turkmenistan and catch your onwards flight home via Istanbul.
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.
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.
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.
With only 350 inhabitants and not a hotel in sight, the only way to stay in the tiny Turkmen village of Darvaza is to camp, spending the night under the stars in a tent and sleeping bag. Located in the middle of the Karakum Desert, this tiny settlement is famous for its ‘Door to Hell’, a natural field of gas that has burnt bright ever since it was lit by Soviet petroleum engineers in 1971. The crater is situated close to the village of Darvaza where you’ll be staying and has a diameter of 230 feet and drops about 70 feet into the earth below. Due to the incredible isolation of this attraction, as well as the nearby village, the best and only way to spend the night here is in tents. You will be supplied your own and helped to set up the campsite, as well as given a soft mattress and sleeping bag to ensure a comfortable - as well as memorable - stay.
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.
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.