Turkmenistan is a unique country in Central Asia with a rich cultural heritage and diverse landscapes. While it is less known as a tourist destination, there are still plenty of interesting things to do and see. Here are 20 things to do in Turkmenistan:

  1. Ashgabat: Explore the modern and futuristic capital city known for its impressive white marble buildings and monuments.
  2. Akhal-Teke Horses: Witness the famous Akhal-Teke horses, a unique and beautiful breed native to Turkmenistan.
  3. Darvaza Gas Crater (Door to Hell): Visit this otherworldly gas crater, which has been burning for decades and is a mesmerizing sight at night.
  4. Nisa Ancient City: Discover the historical site of Nisa, an ancient Parthian city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  5. Kow-Ata Underground Lake: Take a dip in the warm, mineral-rich waters of this underground lake.
  6. Independence Monument: Admire the grandiose monument in Ashgabat, dedicated to Turkmenistan’s independence.
  7. Ancient Merv: Explore the ancient city of Merv, once one of the world’s largest cities and another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  8. Turkmen Carpet Museum: Learn about the traditional art of Turkmen carpet weaving and see exquisite examples.
  9. Geok Tepe: Visit the site of the Battle of Geok Tepe, an important event in Turkmen history.
  10. Ertugrul Gazi Mosque: Marvel at the stunning architecture of this mosque, inspired by the famous Turkish TV series.
  11. Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque: Visit the largest mosque in Central Asia, a beautiful example of Islamic architecture.
  12. Yangykala Canyon: Enjoy the breathtaking views of the colorful cliffs and canyons in this unique natural formation.
  13. Anau Mosque: Discover the ancient ruins of this historic mosque near Ashgabat.
  14. Koytendag Mountains: Explore the beautiful landscapes of the Koytendag Mountains and its diverse flora and fauna.
  15. Turkmenistan National Museum: Learn about Turkmenistan’s history, culture, and art at this informative museum.
  16. Dayahatyn Caravanserai: Visit this historical caravanserai, a stopover point for merchants on the ancient Silk Road.
  17. Kopetdag Mountains: Go hiking or enjoy nature in the Kopetdag Mountain range.
  18. Serdar Horse Stables: Experience Turkmen horse culture and enjoy horseback riding in the countryside.
  19. Turkmenbashi Port: Take a stroll along the Caspian Sea coast in the city of Turkmenbashi.
  20. Experience Turkmen Culture: Engage with locals, try traditional Turkmen cuisine, and experience their warm hospitality.

Turkmenistan is a landlocked country located in Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan to the northwest, Uzbekistan to the north and east, Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the south, and the Caspian Sea to the west. Covering an area of about 488,100 square kilometers (188,500 square miles), Turkmenistan’s landscape comprises vast deserts, fertile oases, and rugged mountains, making it a country of diverse geography and natural beauty.

History and Cultural Heritage: Turkmenistan has a rich history that dates back to ancient times, with evidence of human habitation dating back thousands of years. The region has been a crossroads for various civilizations and has seen the rise and fall of powerful empires, including the Parthians, Persians, Arabs, and Mongols.

During the medieval era, Turkmenistan played a significant role in the legendary Silk Road trade route, facilitating cultural exchange and commerce between the East and West. The Turkmen people have historically been nomadic pastoralists, known for their horse-breeding skills and intricately woven carpets.

Independence and Modern Turkmenistan: In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Turkmenistan came under Russian control and later became part of the Soviet Union. It gained independence in 1991 following the dissolution of the USSR. The country’s first president, Saparmurat Niyazov, led Turkmenistan from independence until his death in 2006, after which Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow assumed the presidency.

Political System and Governance: Turkmenistan has a presidential system of governance, with the president serving as both the head of state and the head of government. The political system is characterized by a dominant ruling party, and political opposition is limited. The country has been criticized for its human rights record and lack of political freedoms.

Economy and Natural Resources: Turkmenistan’s economy heavily relies on its vast reserves of natural gas, making it one of the world’s leading gas producers. The country also possesses significant reserves of oil and other minerals. However, the economy remains highly dependent on the energy sector, which exposes it to fluctuations in global oil and gas prices.

In recent years, Turkmenistan has made efforts to diversify its economy by promoting industries such as textiles, agriculture, and construction. Additionally, the government has been investing in infrastructure projects and the development of tourism.

Architectural Marvels and Landmarks: Turkmenistan boasts several architectural marvels, reflecting its historical and cultural heritage. The city of Merv, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, showcases the remains of an ancient Silk Road city and includes the impressive Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum. In the capital city, Ashgabat, modern structures such as the Independence Monument and the futuristic-looking National Museum stand alongside golden-domed mosques and traditional buildings.

The “Door to Hell,” also known as the Darvaza Gas Crater, is a unique natural phenomenon that attracts tourists from around the world. This fiery crater has been burning continuously since 1971 when it was accidentally set on fire during a drilling operation.

Cultural Traditions and Festivals: The Turkmen people have a rich cultural heritage, with traditional music, dance, and crafts playing significant roles in their society. Traditional Turkmen music often features the dutar, a two-stringed musical instrument, and the epic poems of Gorogly, narrated by bards.

Major festivals celebrated in Turkmenistan include Nowruz, the Persian New Year, which marks the arrival of spring and is celebrated with vibrant festivities and rituals.

Language and Religion: The official language of Turkmenistan is Turkmen, a Turkic language with Persian and Arabic influences. Russian is also widely spoken, and English is gaining popularity as the country seeks to promote international communication and tourism.

Islam is the dominant religion in Turkmenistan, with Sunni Islam being the predominant branch. The practice of religion is generally tolerated, but the government maintains strict control over religious activities.

Challenges and Opportunities: Turkmenistan faces several challenges, including economic diversification, human rights issues, and limited political freedoms. The country’s heavy dependence on the energy sector makes it vulnerable to fluctuations in global commodity prices.

However, Turkmenistan also possesses immense potential for growth and development. Its strategic location between Europe and Asia, rich cultural heritage, and abundant natural resources offer opportunities for further economic diversification and increased regional cooperation.

Tourism Potential: Despite its historical and natural attractions, Turkmenistan remains relatively undiscovered by tourists. The country’s government has taken steps to develop tourism infrastructure and promote Turkmenistan as a unique destination, attracting travelers interested in history, culture, and adventure.

In conclusion, Turkmenistan is a nation with a fascinating past, a diverse cultural heritage, and breathtaking landscapes. As it navigates the challenges of the modern world, the country’s rich history, architectural wonders, and natural beauty offer immense potential for a brighter future. With careful planning and sustainable development, Turkmenistan can open its doors to the world and share its remarkable treasures with global travelers.