October 5 - October 12 2024

Turkmenistan Tour (October): Ashgabat, Darvaza Gas Crater & Beyond

An amazing Turkmenistan
adventure!

Spend 7 nights in Central Asia’s least visited country! Visit Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s
white marble fantasy capital, see the bizarre Darvaza Gas Crater, and explore the coast
of the glorious Caspian!

From 2400 USD per person

Please apply by 1st September, 2024.

Turkmenistan Tour (October): Ashgabat, Darvaza Gas Crater & Beyond

An amazing Turkmenistan
adventure!

Spend 7 nights in Central Asia’s least visited country! Visit
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s white marble fantasy capital, see
the bizarre Darvaza Gas Crater, and explore the coast of the
glorious Caspian!

From 2400 USD per person

This tour is managed by...

Rich Beal

Rich Beal is our International Tours Manager.

Rich is one of our most experienced tour leaders. He has led tours worldwide since 2004, specialising in Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the surrounding area. Currently living in Mongolia, he leads multiple specialised trips annually and has over 20 years of experience running and designing tours of the region. 

  • Overall

    Join Koryo Tours this October for our Turkmenistan tour as the adventures continue. Turkmenistan is Central Asia’s least visited country.

    This means it may be a bit difficult to access and travel around, but it certainly doesn’t have any less to offer!

    Join Koryo Tours as we explore the beautiful capital city Ashgabat, camp over at the famous Darvaza Gas Crater, otherwise known as ‘the Gates of Hell’, and be dazzled by the colorful desert canyons to the Caspian Coast.

    As we journey through the country we will see the serious and the sublime, the freaky and the frivolous.

    Join us on this amazing adventure that we simply do better than anyone else. Koryo Tours has been working in Turkmenistan for over a decade. Over this time, we’ve built this special experience through dozens of visits and the best local contacts and relationships.

    Our Turkmenistan tours are unrivaled in quality, experience, and fun!

    We look forward to sharing it with you in Turkmenistan!

    This tour will be led by one of our most experienced tour leaders, Rich Beal. Rich has led tours all over the world since 2004 and has been leading tours to Turkmenistan for a decade.

    Rich is also an expert in other Central Asian countries where he has been leading tours for much longer! He is incredibly knowledgeable about the area and a great storyteller. Ask Rich and he will tell you plenty of fascinating travel anecdotes from his many adventures!

    If dates don’t suit you, check out our Turkmenistan tour in May, or contact us to organize a private tour.

    Scroll down for an overview of the Turkmenistan Tour highlights, tour itinerary, transport options, Turkmenistan visa information, and extra add-ons.

    Highlights

    • Ashgabat | Marvel at the World's largest collection of marble buildings. Like 'Pyongyang meets Las Vegas'!
    • Darvaza Gas Crater | Also known as the 'Gates of Hell' it is a wonderfully hypnotic sight. It is one of the strangest and most spectacular things you will possibly ever get to see!
    • Caspian Sea Resort at Awaza | The most unusual holiday resort you will ever go to!
  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 9
    1. October 5 | Saturday

      Arrival in Ashgabat

      • For those who arrived in Turkmenistan earlier, there will be an optional walking tour around Ashgabat this afternoon. We'll see some architecture, local markets, and a slice of local life.
      Flights to Ashgabat
      • Arrive at Ashgabad International Airport (ASB) from a handful of international destinations.
         
      • Airport pickups will be arranged wherever you fly in from.
      Welcome group dinner
      • We start our tour with a group dinner of some excellent local food, coordination, and a briefing session, before the adventure ahead!
         

      Accommodation | Olympia Hotel, Ashgabat

      Built for the 2017 Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games, this well-located and modern hotel allows access to malls, shops, and restaurants and provides guests with quality facilities in a fascinating part of the city. Should the heat of the day prove too much, you can quench your thirst in the rooftop bar or take a plunge in the swimming pool.

      Included Meals | Dinner

    2. October 6 | Sunday

      Ashgabat City Tour

      • Tolkuchka Bazaar | The nation's largest market, built outside the city and home to various sections selling household goods, clothes, the famous Turkmen carpets, camels, other animals, and much more!
         
      • Ashgabat Hippodrome | Sunday is a day at the races, with the sacred Ahal-Teke horses in full display.
         
      • Cooking course | For today's lunch, we attend a local restaurant which gives us a tutorial and the opportunity to bake some local Turkmen pies. If it's not for you, don't worry, you'll be able to relax whilst your meal is cooked for you.
      Afternoon city tour of Ashgabat
      • Independence Park and Independence Monument | Constructed to celebrate the independence of Turkmenistan on the 27th of October 1991.
         
      • Monument of Neutrality | From Independence to Neutrality, we go! Our next visit is the Monument of Neutrality built in 1998; a gold statue of Turkmenbashi tops this impressive structure.
         
      • Earthquake Monument and Museum | We hope you’re not too tired of statues just yet as we have a few more to go! Next up, is the Earthquake Monument and Museum.

      A grim reminder of the terrible earthquake that struck Ashgabat in 1948, killing 110,00 people and leveling the city. Both are tastefully presented and very educational.

      • Free evening for a night out in the city.

      Accommodation | Olympia Hotel, Ashgabat

      Included Meals | Breakfast, Lunch

    3. October 7 | Monday

      Bokhurdag and Darvaza Gas Crater

      • Desert adventure! We head off in a fleet of 4x4 vehicles into the deep desert today.
      Bokhurdag
      • Our first stop is the small desert village of Bokhurdag. It is here that we stop to sample the local cuisine and learn a little more about living outside the bright lights of Turkmenistan’s flamboyant capital.
      Desert Trip (Mining History)
      • Once our journey resumes, we’ll continue stopping as we travel to see other examples of the desert’s mining history, visiting two other craters (one filled with water, the other with mud). A perfect pretext for the great Darvaza Gas Crater.
      Darvaza Gas Crater
      • Finally, we arrive at the stunning and unforgettable Darvaza Gas Crater in the center of the country and the scene of a 40-year-old industrial accident that ended with a giant flaming pit burning to this day. A hypnotic sight and one of the strangest and most spectacular things you can possibly see.
         
      • We camp tonight beside the crater as it is best seen at night.
         
      • Our accommodation provides us with the best opportunity to see the burning bit from sunset to sunrise.
         
      • Dinner will be cooked on the spot.

      Accommodation | Camping at the Darvaza Gas Crater

      Camping in the desert with tents, sleeping bags, and roll mats provided. We will also provide tents based on your rooming options.

      Included Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    4. October 8 | Tuesday

      Ashgabat

      • We return to Ashgabat, driving through the morning with a stop at the Basmachi Revolutionary Monument. It was built here as this area was a Basmachi stronghold during the 1920s. The Basmachi were an Islamic group fighting the occupying Soviet forces.
      Free time in Ashgabat at your leisure
      • Once back in the capital the rest of the day is yours to do with as you please.
         
      • You can explore, relax, shop, or take a side trip.
         
      • Drivers are available for hire.
         
      • We and our local guides can give advice on the spot.

      Accommodation | Olympia Hotel, Ashgabat

      Included Meals | Breakfast

    5. October 9 | Wednesday

      Nisa Fortress and Kow Ata Underground Lake

      Nisa Fortress
      • A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Fortress of Nisa was the former capital of the mighty Parthian Empire in ancient times.
         
      • We will also visit a stud farm where Ahal-Teke horses are bread. This Turkmen horse breed is considered a heavenly and sacred beast in Turkmenistan. The farm visit will show you why. You can also have a ride on one of the horses if you like.
      Kow-Ata Underground Lake
      • We drive on to the bizarre Kow-Ata Underground Lake | A Sulphur-heated lake 100 meters deep underground. Take a swim, explore the cave, and then have lunch at a shashlik restaurant on the spot.
         
      • We will drive in our 4x4 fleet to the remote city of Balkanabad, this sleepy town is easily explored on foot in a couple of hours of free time before dinner and overnight in a hotel shaped like a giant yurt.

      Accommodation | Hotel Niebitchi, Balkanabat

      Yurt-shaped curiosity in the center of town, well situated for wandering around and exploring.

      Included Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    6. October 10 | Thursday

      Yangykala Canyon and Turkmenbashi

      • We drive to the stunning Yangykala Canyon, known as the ‘Turkmen Grand Canyon’. A little-known but an absolutely beautiful area with shifting colors in the rocks, amazing formations, and some wonderful photos to be taken.
         
      • Through the afternoon, we make our way across the country, stopping at scenic areas, pilgrimage sites, and so on.
         
      • By the evening we will reach the Caspian sea city of Turkmenbashi and the bizarre ‘touristic zone’ of Awaza. This place has to be seen to be believed and we will have a look around the hotel-covered peninsula before checking in for a relaxing evening at the coast.

      Accommodation | Serder Hotel

      A comfortable beachside option. You can also upgrade to the Yelken Yacht Club, the finest establishment in Awaza. Contact us for more details!

      Included Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    7. October 11 | Friday

      Awaza and Turkmenbashi

      Awaza
      • A free morning to relax at the coastal resort of Awaza.
         
      • Try swimming (although the Caspian is a cold sea) or some watersports, wandering around, or even sleeping in!
         
      • Late morning we will take a boat ride down a canal stretching the length of the Awaza area, and see the different architectural styles of the buildings here, all of which have sprung up in the last few years.
      Turkmenbashi
      • We will drive to the city of Turkmenbashi for lunch.
         
      • It is the oldest city in the country and was once settled by Russians during their invasion from across the sea during the late Great Game.
         
      • City tour of Turkmenbashi | We will visit the local bazaar, pre-Soviet railway station, Oil Workers’ Square, various monuments, and even a cemetery for Japanese POWs who were brought here to labor after their capture at the end of WWII, and never got home again.
         
      • Flight back to Ashgabat for the final dinner of the tour, It's time for goodbyes and the last night out, if you’ve got the energy!

      Accommodation | Olympia Hotel, Ashgabat

      Included Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    8. October 12 | Saturday

      Departure
      • Airport transfers are provided to Ashgabat International Airport (ASB) for everyone regardless of the time of flight or where they are flying.

      Included Meals | Breakfast

      End of Tour

      OR

      Optional Mary and Margush Extension (+600 EUR)

      Mary and Margush
      • Flight from Ashgabat to Mary International Airport (MYP) on Turkmenistan Airlines flight T5^127 at 6:20.
         
      • Arrival to Mary at 7:00.
         
      • Mary is in the center of the country and the nearest city to the ancient Silk Road metropolis of Merv.
         
      • Gonur-Deppe (Margush) is another ancient city in this area with some lovely extent architectural features.
         
      • Back to Mary City and explore this modern town, mix with the locals, and go to parks, bars, etc as you like. A sleepy area with welcoming and friendly locals.

      Accommodation | 

      Included Meals | Breakfast

    9. October 13 | Sunday

      Optional Mary and Margush Extension

      Ancient Merv
      • Excursion to Ancient Merv, probably the most important city in the world at certain times of its history.
         
      • At this place, you will learn a great deal about the history of Central Asia, the rise and fall of dynasties and cities, the Silk Road, and human civilization in this part of the world in general.
         
      • This vast area is roamed by animals, explorers, extant buildings, and ruins all contributing to a sense of the dynamism of the ancient Silk Road.
      Return to Ashgabat
      • Fly back to Ashgabat for a final rest or night out before departure on Turkmenistan Airlines flight T5^130 departing at 19:30.
         
      • Flight arrival to Ashgabat International Airport (ASB) at 20:10.
         
      • Please let us know if you wish to book an extra night in Ashgabat.

      Included Meals | Breakfast

      End of Tour Extension

  • Extras

    • Upgrade to your own room in Turkmenistan

      The default rooming option for this tour is shared hotel room or tent (one night). Each hotel room on tour has two separate beds. If you'd like a room to yourself then you can upgrade for an extra $50 USD per night

  • What is / is not included?

    INCLUDED

    • English-speaking local guide
    • Koryo Tours tour leader
    • Accommodation
    • Meals as indicated on the itinerary
    • All transportation in the country including internal flights, and airport transfers
    • All included sightseeing
    • All taxes, and entrance fees to protected areas

    NOT INCLUDED

    • Optional single supplement ($55 USD per night)
    • Optional extension to Merv ($600 USD)
    • Visa issuing fee ($50-$150 USD depending on nationality)
    • Extra nights at the hotel in Ashgabat ($120 USD)
    • International flights to and from Turkmenistan not included
    • Optional return flights from Beijing to Ashgabat cost approximately $1000 USD, while return flights from London LGW to Ashgabat cost approximately $1040 USD
  • Notes

    How To Apply

    Simply click on the application button listed with this tour and fill out the online form. Upload a passport copy and photo (or send it to us by email) and you can consider yourself booked on this adventure!

    For any questions or comments about this trip get in touch with Rich Beal at [email protected].

    We ask for applications to be completed a minimum of one month in advance of the tour, ideally six weeks or more if possible.

    Please note that you must apply at least 4 weeks before the tour departure date as the Letter of Invitation (LOI) that we need to obtain in order to facilitate the visa can take several days to be issued by the Turkmenistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    Please also indicate where you plan to join the tour from and where you are headed after the tour. We can offer advice on this. Drop us a line to discuss.

    We also require a deposit to be paid at this time as we start taking on administrative costs as well as an obligation to pay for the visa invitation as soon as we send off an application.

    We ask for a deposit of 50% of the tour fee.


    Turkmenistan Visa

    Please note that for this tour you are required to pay the fee for the issuance of the visa yourself.

    Koryo Tours will provide you with a Letter of Invitation (LOI) which acts as a guarantee of a visa and the actual issuance of the visa itself is a matter of procedure from this point on.

    Due to the extended amount of time that it takes to have a visa authorized and sent to an Embassy of Turkmenistan, it is much simpler to collect the visa on arrival at Ashgabat Airport or any other point of entry to the country.

    The fee payable on arrival varies according to your nationality. It ranges between $50-$150 USD.

    Visa on arrival is payable in cash only.

    The visa is stamped in your passport and is the same as it would be if issued at a Turkmen Embassy.

    If you would prefer to have it issued at the Turkmenistan Embassy in your home country or have any questions at all about the visa process, please contact us early!

    The LOI will be issued to coordinate as closely as possible with the tour dates.

    If you need extra days at each end of your journey, please do let us know in advance of your application.

    To read in detail about the Turkmenistan visa-issuing process and its complexities, please read our blog post on Turkmen visas here.


    Flights to Turkmenistan

    If you are joining the tour from somewhere other than Beijing and buying a ticket via our offices we email the e-ticket voucher to you. If anyone else is joining the tour from your place of departure we will inform you so that you can meet up on the way to join the tour.

    If you are purchasing your own flight ticket via alternate airlines or agents we need these flight details as soon as possible.

    It is entirely possible to join the tour by flying in from other destinations. We can also accommodate people joining the tour after entering by land or sea.

    A range of exit methods are available to those joining this tour.


    Cancellation and Refunds

    The deposit is non-refundable if the tourist cancels himself.

    If however, we cannot arrange visas or for whatever reason, it is not possible to travel at the specified time and you cannot make rescheduled dates, a full refund will be made.

    Should the client wish to cancel after the visa application has been made, charges imposed on us will be paid out of the 50% deposit with the balance being returned to the client.

    If you have paid in full we will return 50% plus the balance of what is left after the cancellation fee we pay to our partners in Turkmenistan.

    If you book and cancel a plane ticket through us, we charge only the airline’s cancellation fee.

    In all cases, we return as much as we can and we do not take a fee for client's cancellation.

    Please be sure that you will definitely be joining the tour when you send all application details.

    Please note that we can not accept any liability for delayed flights and any issues associated with times in relation to Letters of Invitations.

Please apply by 1st September, 2024.

[email protected] | + 86 10 6416 7544
Room A409, Jucai Building. No. 76 Caoyuan Hutong.
Dongcheng District, Beijing, 100027, PR China

中国北京市东城区草园胡同76号聚才大厦A 座409 室,
邮编:100027
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