August 09, 2014

6500 Tourists a year

That is how many tourist visas were issued in 2012 for Turkmenistan. Tourism is not viewed as important by the government, and with the vast sums being earned in oil and gas, this view will probably not change.

It is a hard ,and expensive country to visit, although incredibly worthwhile if you persist. The visa application process takes time, and then there still can be problems entering the country. And to further encourage tourists, the Turkmenistan government demands you have, and pay for, a guide with you at all times if you are going to stay longer than a couple of days.

Not surprisingly there are considerable misunderstandings over how tourists should be treated. I asked my guide could I photograph all buildings and people, including army/police, aware that older guide books said these were prohibited. The reply was “Yes, No problem”.

Passing the Presidential palace I asked to slow down to take a photo of the massive white edifice, “Not allowed” the driver shouted and sped up. Later, at the independence monument I was taking this photo of the soldiers standing guard. As soon as my camera was out we were jumped upon by other soldiers waving their arms and pointing at my camera. I managed to take only the one photo above.

Read more about Turkmenistan in this just released guide book by Far Flung Places. The second edition of the Amazon best selling first edition with increased coverage of all major cities, and updated listings. Detailed information of the cities and attractions with maps and invaluable contact information. Learn how to travel around and find the best places to visit, stay and eat. Available in paperback from all good booksellers. Buy it now from and from

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