If you’ve heard of the Central Asian country of Turkmenistan, then you probably also know that it is notorious for having a difficult-to-obtain visa and that tourists are routinely rejected for no good reason.
Fear not – travel to Turkmenistan is actually not as difficult as the rumours would have you believe. We talk you through how you can arrange a Turkmenistan tour.
Book your Turkmenistan tour through a licensed operator
Not unlike North Korea, it’s necessary to book onto a tour with a licensed operator. In
Turkmenistan’s case, this means a company that is registered with the Turkmen Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Luckily for you, we fit the bill!
Get your Letter of Invitation
The LOI (letter of invitation) is the most important thing needed to get a visa – once this valuable document is acquired, getting a visa is pretty much a fait accompli. We will send you an LOI application form after you’ve booked a tour with us. Once we’ve received this, we can apply for your LOI. Please note that the LOI process is lengthy and intensive, and should ideally be initiated at least three months before the start of your
tour. The rejection rate for LOIs is a little higher than for most other countries, which is why it’s essential that we apply sooner rather than later. Due to our contacts in Turkmenistan, our rejection rate is actually lower than the industry standard, so booking with us is your best bet!
Get your Turkmenistan visa
As noted, once you’ve got the LOI, the heavy lifting is taken care of. You can simply get your visa on arrival, or else get it from the nearest Turkmen embassy/consulate.
The visa costs around USD 100, whether obtained on arrival or ahead of time. You must also pay a $14 immigration fee when entering the country.
What should I wear in Turkmenistan?
Turkmenistan is a fairly conservative country, but they are broadminded enough to
understand that Westerners do not typically dress like them. With that in mind, it’s
generally acceptable to dress as you like.
Turkmenistan has a hot, dry desert climate, although it can get quite chilly between
November and February. With that in mind pack appropriate clothes for the season, and make sure to include some sturdy footwear – there’s a fair amount of hiking on a typical tour to the country.
How much can I expect to spend in Turkmenistan?
Excluding souvenirs – which can run anywhere from $20 (USD) to $50 – expect to spend around $20-30 a day on essentials such as meals and drinks. A bottle of water costs around 10 cents, and a typical meal around $5. Expect to pay around $1 for a beer.
The Turkmen currency is the manat, which is artificially pegged at 3.5 manat to 1 US dollar.
What laws should I be aware of in Turkmenistan?
Turkmenistan has some interesting laws that are not immediately intuitive, so it’s best to know about them before you travel there. Firstly, it’s illegal to publicly smoke in Turkmenistan. It’s still possible to smoke, but discretion is required. You can also bring no more than two packs of cigarettes in with you. It might be a good idea to bring these packs even if you don’t smoke, to offer to locals as gifts. Secondly, there are very strict lèse-majesté laws in place regarding both the current and previous leader of Turkmenistan. Do not say anything negative about either of them during
your time in the country. You can bring pretty much anything into Turkmenistan beyond obviously illegal items, pornography, literature that’s critical of the Turkmen leaders/government, and drones.