Example Itinerary

Classic Turkmenistan

Duration
5 days / 4 nights
Price Per Person
From $3,100
Destinations
Turkmenistan

To this day, Turkmenistan, a country rich in culture and fascinating history, has remained one of the most mysterious regions in Central Asia. Across its vast desert landscape are scattered oasis cities which have been at the crossroads of civilizations for centuries. This five-day journey through Turkmenistan, one of the least visited countries in the world, is your chance to discover both its charms and quirks, the old and the new. Starting in the capital of Ashgabat, see how modern day Turkmenistan has recreated its image into a pristine city of white marble. Then delve deep into the country’s long-reaching history with visits to the ancient city of Merv, as well as seeing the mausoleums – sometimes glistening, sometimes in ruins - of Kunya-Urgench. The indomitable Karakum Desert is not to be missed either: journey through this sun-scorched sandy expanse via jeep, passing rugged mountains, bubbling geysers and hidden caves, on your way to the Door to Hell, an ever-burning fiery pit in the middle of nowhere. Turkmenistan is a unique hidden-gem destination and this journey is one you will remember in the times to come.

This itinerary is an example. It’s designed to inspire you and provide you with thoughtfully curated ideas. You can choose to do this exact itinerary or completely personalize it. All trips are 100% bespoke.

Highlights

  • The Marble Capital: Unlike any other in the country or region, Ashgabat is a sight to behold: lavish white marble monoliths, gilded domes, wide stark streets, fountains and neon-lit monuments bedeck this proud capital city reborn after independence.
  • Kunya-Urgench: A masterpiece of Islamic architecture of its era, the Mausoleum of Turabeg Khanym in the ancient town of Urgench is not to be missed.
  • Door To Hell: A perpetually burning giant hole in the ground in the middle of a desert, it is no wonder the surreal Darvaza Crater was dubbed the 'Door to Hell' and is one of the world's most unique sights.
  • Oasis in the Karakum Desert: The UNESCO-designated ancient city of Merv was one of the oldest oasis cities on the Silk Road, a mirage-like outcrop of sun-bleached buildings in the arid desert landscape.

Day-by-Day

Day 1

Ashgabat »

After an early morning arrival in Ashgabat, the Turkmenistan capital, you’ll be transferred to your hotel and have time to rest and refresh. In the afternoon, go on a city tour with your private guide. After independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, funded by vast oil wealth, Ashgabat was remade into a city of pristine white marble and superlatives. The city holds the Guinness Book of Records title for highest concentration of white-marble buildings, as well as the having the world's largest fountain, the largest mural of a star, the largest image of a Turkmen carpet, and on and on. As you drive down the impeccably clean wide avenues, flanked with grand marble buildings and palaces topped with gilded domes, take in the quirky and curious sights. Stop at the Monument of Neutrality and the Turkmen Carpet Museum. Ashgabat is a showcase of Turkmenistan's modern image, and will be your comfortable base over the next few days as you discover more of the country and its fascinating past.

Hotel Options

Day 2

Ashgabat »

After a leisurely morning, embark into the Karakum desert and set course for the Door to Hell. Break up the drive with a stop at a local village where you can meet the Turkic people over a cup of tea and learn about their rural lifestyle in the desert. A final five-mile off-road route takes you to Darvaza Crater, arriving just as the sun is setting in the distance. The flaming crater is most magnificent when the day turns to dark. This fiery pit has been continuously burning for over 40 years, much longer than intended by local scientists who had originally lit the crater on fire hoping to burn away the dangerous natural gas. Take in this surreal sight as you enjoy a fitting BBQ dinner crater-side before heading back to Ashgabat.

Ashgabat

Day 3

Ashgabat »

Today explore the outskirts of the capital. Visit the Altyn Asyr market, Turkmenistan's largest market with 2,155 shops and best known for its quality carpets. The original legendary Tolkuchka Bazaar and its chaotic charm was demolished and rebuilt in the same white and orderly fashion as the rest of the city. Then visit the beautiful Geok Depe mosque and a nearby farm to see the famed Akhal-Teke horses. One of the oldest domesticated horse breeds, originating in the Karakum desert, the Akhal-Teke has a striking elegant appearance with a slim greyhound-like build and metallic sheen coat. While at the farm, get a hands-on lesson in traditional bread making. Then, explore the ruins of the ancient royal settlement of Nisa, a UNESCO-designated site. Finally, 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.

Day 4

Ashgabat »

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), an UNESCO World Heritage Site and former capital of the Khorezmshah Empire. Sitting upon two trade routes, the prosperous city was the heart of the Islamic World in the 13th century and had even surpassed Bukhara's splendor. Here, you will explore the historic remains of the once-great city, including 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 for an evening flight back to Ashgabat.

Ashgabat

Day 5

Departure

Today it is onward to your final destination. Fly to the city of Mary in the Karakum desert. Head just west of Mary to the ruins of the ancient city of Merv. The dusty ruins, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, belie the city's majesty as a once lush metropolis and shining oasis in the desert. In its heyday, Merv was a cultural capital, rich with commercial and intellectual assets. Merv's prosperity and growth was due to the waters of the Murghab river which were channeled into reservoirs and canals, as well as its position along the Silk Road. Its famed exports were quality textiles and much-loved sweet melons. Meander around the 1200-hectare historical park, examining the fascinating archeological ruins of this once key stronghold on the ancient Silk Road, including forts, mausoleums and village remains. At the end of the day, it is time to end your journey through Turmenistan. Head towards the nearby border to cross into Uzbekistan or back to the airport for your flight onward.

Terms & Conditions

Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation, transfers, car/driver, English-speaking guide, activities and entrance fees, breakfasts and some casual lunches while touring. Flights and optional special activities will be quoted separately. Most personal expenses, including dinners, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and gratuities can be paid on the spot while traveling. Prices may vary depending on season, choice of accommodation and other factors.

Why Remote Lands?

Exclusively Asia

With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.

With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.

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