Ashgabat's historical appellation is The City of Love but nowadays its modern nickname, The City of White Marble will seem vastly more appropriate. Turkmenbashi, the prior president of Turkmenistan, transformed the city from a relatively drab Soviet capital to a city of pure white marble buildings, many containing some rather overbearing symbolism (the Ministry of World Affairs building is a perfect illustration). Short of Pyongyang, Ashgabat is probably the best example of what happens when a city gets redesigned according to the vision of exactly one man, and most visitors will find themselves at first awestruck and then severely confused given the sheer similarity of most of the buildings.
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Ashgabat has a typical continental climate. Summers are extremely hot and winters are rather cold.
- Turkmenistan Airlines operates international flights from Abu Dhabi/United Arab Emirates on Fri and Sun, from Almaty/Kazakhstan on Sat, from Amritsar/India on Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat and Sun, from Birmingham/United Kingdom on Thu, Fri and Sun, from Delhi/India on Sat and Sun, from Dubai/United Arab Emirates on Tue, from Frankfurt/Germany on Tue, Sat and Sun, from Istanbul/Turkey on Mon, Tue, Wed and Sat, from Kiev/Ukraine on Sat, from London/United Kingdom on Tue and Sat, from Moscow/Russia from Mon to Sat and from Tashkent/Uzbekistan on Tue. International flights are operated by B-737 or B-757 aircraft. (2009)
Turkmenistan Airlines has offices in Moscow, London, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Karachi, Abu Dhabi, Delhi, Bangkok, Almaty, Minsk and Kiev.
- Turkish Airlines has flights from Istanbul/Turkey leaving Istanbul on Wed, Fri and Sun, arriving in Ashgabat next morning.
- China Southern Airlines has flights from China .
Trains leave Turkmenbashi every second day at 7.30 pm and arrive in Ashgabat at 5.20 am next morning or daily at 4.05 pm, arriving in Ashgabat at 5.50 am next morning.
Trains leave Turkmenabad at 6 pm and Mary at 0.25 am daily and arrive in Ashgabat at 8.20 am next morning, Another train leaves Turkmenabad at 9.55 pm and Mary at 2.50 am every second day, arriving in Ashgabat at 9.35 am next morning. There is a day train leaving Turkmenabad at 4.20 am and Mary at 10.23 am, arriving in Ashgabat at 6.35 pm.
Distances to Ashgabat: Almaty in Kazakhstan 2120 km, Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan 1870 km, Tashkent in Uzbekistan 1290 km, Samarkand in Uzbekistan 1000 km, Shakrisyabz in Uzbekistan 1100 km, Turkmenabad 590 km, Mary 350 km, Mashhad in Iran 270 km, Dashoguz 650 km.
"Taxi", by which everyone means hitchhiking is probably the best way to get around Ashgabat. Simply hold out your arm at a downward angle with two fingers extended, and a car (usually a Lada) will stop. Say where you are going. If they nod, get in, otherwise they will go on and you have to wait for the next car. Expect payment to be about $2 per person. Note that hitchhiking is an entirely safe mode of transport in Turkmenistan—everyone uses it.
There are also official taxis which can be easily found in front of the arrivals hall of the airport and close to the railway station. They are safer but more expensive.
Ashgabat has a very extensive and convenient bus system. The main public transport hub is Teke Bazaar. From that place any location within the city or in its environs can be easily reached. In the modern part of the city there are air-conditioned bus stops with detailed maps of routes of every bus line departing from a stop. The cost of a single ride is 0.20 TMT. The price should be paid by every passenger to the basket located close to driver's seat while getting off the bus. Alternatively a multi-ride should be presented to the driver.
- National Museum, Archabil sayoli 30 (in front of the Kopet Dag), ☎ +993 12 454954. 9am to 5pm. Hall 1 is dedicated to post-independence Turkmenistan, Hall 2 (upstairs) has a focus on ancient history with exhibits from Bronze Age sites and artefacts from Margiana. Halls 3 shows artefacts found at the Parthian site of Nisa. In Hall 4 a model of the medieval Merv, dioramas from Konye Urgench and Anau and the beautiful Merv vase are exhibited. Hall 5 and 6 display collections of weapons, musical instruments, silver jewellery and female dress. In Hall 7 (downstairs) a 20 m x 13 m carpet is exhibited. US$10, camerra US$1.
- Museum of Fine Arts (west of the Palace of Justice), ☎ +993 12 351566. Wed to Mon 9am to 6pm. The Central Hall has a large picture of President Niyazov Abundance of the Harvest. In the Independence Hall the heroic figures of the nation (Oguz Han, Togrul Beg, Alp Arslan and the poet Seydi) are shown. The museum also contains a reconstruction of the dragen freeze of the mosque of Arnau and exhibitions of Turkmen paintings before and after 1950. The first floor is devoted to Russian paintings from the 19th century and to European paintings, including minor works by Tiepolo and Poussin. US$ 10.
- Turkmen Carpet Museum, 5 Georogly köcesi, ☎ +993 12 398879. Mon to Fri 10am to 1pm., 2 to 6 pm. The museum houses antique carpets of the 18th and 19th centuries and modern carpets from all parts of the country. There is a nearly 200 square meters carpet which was intended as curtain of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, but proved too heavy. The pride of the museum is the largest hand-woven carpet in the world, as certified by the Guinness Book of Records. It covers 300 square meters and was woven by 40 carpet makers on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Turkmenistan's independence. 12000M.
- Museum of Turkmen National Values (inside the Independence Monument), ☎ +993 12 451954. 9am to 12,30 pm, 2 to 5,30 pm, daily. In the first floor, the Museum houses displays of silver jewellery for women and horses, and replicas of the golden bull- and wolf-head sculptures from Altyn Depe. US$ 10, 25000M for photographs.
- Turkmenistan Independence Monument (take bus 16 or 34 from the city center). The most important monument of Ashgabat in located in the southern part of Turkmenistan Independence Park, which covers an area 2 km long and 1 km wide. The area around the Independence Monument contains monuments of famous people of Turkmen history: the founder of the Seljuk dynasty Seljuk Beg, the founder of the Turkmen people Oguz Han, the Turkmen poet Magtymguly, the Seljuk leader Sultan Sanjar, the Turkmen warrior Georoglythe Seljuk rulers Alp Arslan and Malik Shah, the 18th century leader of the Ahal Tekkes Keymir Kor, the poets Zelilli and Sydi, the leader of the White Sheep confederation Uzyn Hasan, the father of the founder of the Ottoman Empire Ertogul Gazy, the Turkmen commander and poet Bairam Han, the poets Molianepes and Mataji, the Turkmen leader Gara Yusup, the Seljuk ruler Togrul Beg, the spiritual leader Gorkut Ata and the poet Kemine.
- Ashgabat Flagpole (in front of the National Museum). The former tallest freestanding flagpole in the world.
- Tolkuchka Bazaar (8 km north of Ashgabad, past the airport). Satt, Sun 8am to 2pm. one of Central Asia's most colourful bazaars,
- Turkmenbashi Cableway, Kopet Dag (south of the National Museum). 9am to 10pm. Cable car, opened in 2006, climbing up to 1290 meters, offering spectacular views over the city with the desert in the background 1000M.
- Mollanepes Drama Theatre, Magtymguly sayoli 79, ☎ +993 12 357463. Wes to Sat 7pm. US$ 0,25.
- Magtymguly Theatre, Shevchenko köcesi, ☎ +993 12 350564. Fri to Sun 7pm. Turkmen musical performances
- Pushkin Russian Theatre, Magtymguly sayoli 142, ☎ +993 12 3654193. Sat, SUn 7pm. US$ 0,25.
The Yimpas Shopping Center, Turkmenbashi sayoli 75, 9am to 11pm, is the largest modern shopping centre (it is pronounced "Yimpash" and should be known by anyone who stops to give you a lift) and has a western-like supermarket where you can buy all necessary stuff like food, drink, soap, toothbrush, cosmetics etc. Probably the only one in the whole city. The shopping center has a nice food court in the second floor where you can get all kinds of kebabs for reasonable prices. You can also rent pool tables, play table tennis or go bowling there, or use the internet café.
- Tolkuchka Bazaar: 8 km north of Ashgabad, past the airport, Sat, Sun 8am to 2pm, also Thu morning at a smaller scale. Buy a telpek (sheepskin) for US$ 10 to 15, a khalat (red and yellow striped robe for men) for US$ 15 or a typical red carpet for US$ 150 to 250. Be aware that you also need an export certificate, which you can get at the 'expert commission' behind the Carpet Museum, Görogly köcesi 5.
- Carpet Shop, Görogly köcesi 5, east of the Carpet Museum, run by the government.
- Gulistan market (Russian bazaar), ul. M. Kosaev (opposite Grand Turkmen Hotel). 9AM. Centrally located universal market: fruit, vegetables, handcrafts, clothing. 8PM.
- Asuda Nusay, Alishera Navoi Köcesi 54a, ☎ +993 12 352288. speciality: sturgeon from the Caspian Sea
- Altyn Jam, Magtymgily sayoli 101, ☎ +993 12 396850. European dishes and sweets
- Hotel Nissa, ☎ +993 12 22-10-25, fax: +993 12 22-10-23, e-mail: email@example.com. Atabaeva Street, 18B, Apparently owned by family of Saparmurat Niyazov, this is a four-star hotel with air conditioning, swimming pool, pool bar, sauna, Turkish sauna, gym, jacuzzi. This is about the "best" quality hotel you'll find in Ashgabat (think somewhat run-down and a bit overpriced for its features), about a 10 minute walk from the war memorial and book shop. The restaurant has decent Italian food. Expect to come across lots of foreign workers, and women of dubious persuasion at the hotel bar. Some English is, however, spoken.
- Hotel President, Новоарчабильское шоссе 54, Tel: +993 (12) 400000, Fax 993 (12) 40 00 41 and 993 (12) 40 02 22, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Hotel Grand Turkmen (Гостиница "Грант Туркмен Отель"), ul. Georogly 7 (ул. Героглы, 7), 744000 Ашхабад, Tel: +993 12 51-05-55; Fax +993 12 511251, E-mail: email@example.com
- Hotel Ak Altyn, Magtumguly ave 141/1, Tel: +993 12 36 37 00 and +993 12 363701, Fax +993 12 363543 and +993 12 36 34 94, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. $75 per night, Visa accepted (MasterCard is not). Contains offices of the British Embassy and American Information Centre, so it's a good place to stay if you find yourself needing assistance. Supposed to have WiFi but is so slow it's effectively useless, internet available in telecom building less than a block away though.
- Hotel Ahal, ☎ +993 12 48 87 37, fax: +993 12 48 01 92, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Hotel Nebitchi, ☎ +993 12 489360, fax: +993 12 489312.
- Dovranov Homestay, Garaja Burunov (old: Krupskaya), or 1997 st. No: 36 (Close to '1st Children Hopital'), ☎ +993 12 92-71-78. Homestay where you'll stay with the big family. $10,- for B&B + Dinner. Daughter Jennet speaks English.
Internet cafes are available at some locations around town. Price is 6 TMT per hour. Yimpas Shopping Center Great Turkman Hotel Russian Market Sofitel, aka Oguz Kent, Features free wifi in lobby and bar.
- Aeroflot, Turkmenistan Söwda merkazi, Magtymguly sayoli 73, ☎ +993 12 398792.
- Aerosovit Ukrainian Airlines, Turkmenistan Söwda merkazi, Magtymguly sayoli 73, ☎ +993 12 350164.
- Armavia, Turkmenbasi sayoli 15, ☎ +993 12 390548.
- British Airways, Grand Turkmen Hotel, Görogly köcesi 71, ☎ +993 12 510799.
- Iranian Airlines, Magtymguly sayoli 71, ☎ +993 12 510641.
- Lufthansa, http://www.lufthansa.com (Main concourse, Saparmurat Turkmenbash Airport), ☎ +993 12 510684, +993 12 510331.
- Pakistan InternationalAirlines, Magtymguly sayoli 71, ☎ +993 12 511838.
- Turkish Airlines, Magtymguly sayoli 73, ☎ +993 12 5161666, +993 12 512219.
- Turkmenistan Airlines, Magtymguly sayoli 82, ☎ +993 12 352643, +993 12 394271.
- Uzbekistan Havo Yullari/Uzbekistan Airways, Main Concourse, Saparmurat Turkmenbashi Airport, ☎ +993 12 378203.
- Belavia, st. 2028 (Govshudova) 50/2, 4 th Floor, ☎ +993 12 92 64 09.
Dial 01 for the fire brigade, 02 for police, 03 for ambulance. Be aware that the operators will speak Turkmen and Russian only.
Embassies and Consulates
- Afghanistan, Garashsyzlyk köcesi, Berzengi, ☎ +993 12 480757, fax: +993 12 480726. Mon to Fri 9am to 5pm.
- Armenia, Ingenernaya köcesi 37, ☎ +993 12 354418, +993 12 395542, fax: +993 12 395538, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mon to Fri 10-12 am.
- Azerbaijan, 2062 köcesi 44, ☎ +993 12 364608, fax: +993 12 3646510, e-mail: email@example.com. Mon to Fri 9am to 1pm, 2 to 6 pm.
- Belarus, Maxim Gorki köcesi 81, ☎ +993 12 331183, fax: +993 12 331185. Tue to Fri 3 to 6 pm.
- China, Kuvvat Hotel, Berzengi, ☎ +993 12 488105, fax: +993 12 481813. Tue to Fri 3 to 6 pm.
- France, Ak ALtyn Hotel, third floor, ☎ +993 12 363550, +993 12 363468, fax: +993 12 363546. Mon to Fri 9am to 1pm, 3 to 5pm.
- Georgia, Azadi köcesi 139a, ☎ +993 12 330828, fax: +993 12 330248. Mon to Fri 9am to 6pm.
- Germany, Al Alty Hotel, first floor, Magtumguly Avenue, ☎ +993 12 363515, +993 12 363517, fax: +993 12 363522, e-mail: or firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Mon to Fri 9 to 12 am.
- India, Emeryal Business Center, 1 Yunus Emre köcesi, mir 2/1, ☎ +993 12 456153, fax: +993 12 456156.
- Iran, Tehran köcesi 3, ☎ +993 12 350236, fax: +993 12 350565. Mon to Fri 8.30 to 12 am.
- Japan, Paytagi Offic Building, Parahat District, ☎ +993 12 477081, fax: +993 12 477083.
- Kazakhstan, Garaszylik sayoli 11-13, International Ustay Compound, Berzengi, ☎ +993 12 480468, fax: +993 12 480468. Tue, Thu and Fri 9 to 12am, 5 to 6 pm.
- Kyrgyzstan, Görogly köcesi 14, ☎ +993 12 392064. Mon to Fri 10 to 12 am, 4 to 6 pm.
- Netherlands, Tehran köcesi 17, ☎ +993 12 346700, fax: +993 12 344252. Mon to Fri 9am to 6pm.
- Pakistan, Garashszlyk köcesi 4/1, ☎ +993 12 482128, +993 12 482129, fax: +993 12 482130, e-mail: email@example.com. Mon to Fri 9-12 am.
- Poland, Azadi köcesi 14, ☎ +993 12 274035, fax: +993 12 274035.
- Romania, K.Burunov köcesi 43A, ☎ +993 12 347655, fax: +993 12 347620.
- Russia, Turkmenbashi sayoli 11, ☎ +993 12 335957, +993 12 391505, fax: +993 12 398466, e-mail: Emb_Rus@online.tm.
- Saudi Arabia, Emperyal Business Center, Yunus Emre köcesi 1, ☎ +993 12 454963, fax: +993 12 454970.
- Tajikistan, Gorgoly köcesi 14, ☎ +993 12 480163, fax: +993 12 481877, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mon to Fri 9am to 1pm, 3 to 5 pm.
- Turkey, Shevchenko köcesi 9, ☎ +993 12 354118, fax: +993 12 391914, e-mail: Askabat.email@example.com.
- Ukraine, Azadi köcesi 49, ☎ +993 12 391874, fax: +993 12 391028, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- United Arab Emirates, Kalifa center, Turkembashi sayoli 124, ☎ +993 12 456915, fax: +993 12 456916.
- United Kingdom, Ak Altyn Hotel third floor, ☎ +993 12 363462, +993 12 363463, +993 12 363464. Mon to Fri 9am to 5pm.
- United States, ☎ +993 12 35 00 45, fax: +993 12 39 26 14, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Uzbekistan, Turkmenbashy sayoli 124, ☎ +993 12 342419, fax: +993 12 342337. Mon, Wed, Fri 10am to 1pm.
- Central Hospital, Emre köcesi 1, phone 450303 or 450331. Foreigners have to pay for their medical treatment.
- International Medical Center, Berzegi, phone 519006 or 519008.
- Lechebnii Hospital, Shevchenko sayoli, phone 390877.
- Dr.Arslan Nepesow, Turkembashi köcesi 124, phone 425250
- OVIR (State Service for the Registration of Foreign Citizens), 2011 köcesi 57, phone +993 12 391337, 9 to 12 am, 2 to 5 pm. All persons entering Turkmenistan on a tourist or business visa have to register within three working days. You need three passport photos and your entry card. In most cases the tour operator that invited you will organise this for you. Persons holding transit visa are not required to register.
- Nissa, 15 km West of Ashgabat, settlement dating back to the 2nd cent BC
- Geok Depe, 50 km West of Ashgabat, site of the final battle between troops of Turmen and tsarist troops in 1881/84, Saparmurat Hags Mosque, erected by President Turkmenbashi
- Bakharden, 100 km West of Ashgabat, near the Kopet Dag mountains, cave with the Köw Ata Lake with hot thermal water, however, smelling of sulphur, a favorite place for excursion for people of Ashgabat at weekends.
- Nokhur, 150 km from Ashgabar in South Western Turkmenistan in the valleys of the Kopet Dag mountains. The people of Nokhur claim to be direct descendants of Macedonian warriors of Alexander the Great's times,
- Anau, 15 km South East of Ashgabat
- Altyn Depe is a settlement of the Eneolithic and Bronze Ages. It has been extensively excavated during the Soviet period. The settlement has specialised potter's quarters, evidence of a differentiation of the living quarters according to the wealth of their inhabitants and a monumental cult complex. During excavations a small golden head of a wolf and a bull were found. According to the Russian archaeologist V.M.Masson, the cult complex was dedicated to the Moon Good as in Mesopotamia. The site was abandoned in the middle of the second millennium BC.
Train 24 to Turkmenbashi leaves Ashgabat every second day at 8.40 pm and arrives at Turkmenbashi at 6.55 am next morning. Train 606 leaves Ashgabat daily at 8.10 pm, arriving in Turkmenbashi at 9.15 am next morning.
Trains to Turkmenabat and Mary leave Ashabat at 7.40 daily, arriving at Mary at 5 pm and at Turkmenabat at 11 pm. Train 195 leaves Ashabat daily at 5.20 pm and arrives at Turkmenabat at 7.35 am next morning. Train 21 leaves Ashabat every second day at 10.10 pm, ans arrives at Mary at 5.25 and at Turkmenabat at 9.40 next morning.
Ashgabat is probably the best place to hire someone to take you to Darvaza. Note that the trip requires going off-road and is probably best not left to you average lada.