Turkmenistan – practically

Visa

Applying in Tehran, I just had to hand in a handwritten note with my data, the entry and exit points and dates. In Mashhad, where I got my visa, I had to give one visa form with a photo and one photocopy of my passport and the Uzbek visa (in colour). You pay for the visa when you get it, not when you apply (55$).

Border crossings

Iran – Turkmenistan: (Sarakhs) You need to pay 14$ and fill the custom form. You also need to unpack your bags. The border officers confirmed my route with me and warned me that if I go to other places, I will be fined. You also need to enter the doctor’s office and he fills a document but doesn’t really examine you.

Turkemnistan – Uzbekistan: (Farab) You need to unpack your bags again and fill another custom declaration. I also had to show the photos on my camera.

The transit visa is only 5-day-long which doesn’t give you many opportunities to get to know the country better. It’s just a cycling race. I had time to learn that:

– People are nice and hospitable.

– You can communicate in Russian. Young people speak English.

– There are no dogs but plenty of other animals including wild camels.

– I didn’t see any ATMs but maybe they exist.

– Shops are well supplied.

– Wi-Fi was unavailable in a big hotel in Mary and they say it’s the same everywhere although people use the Internet.

– The road through the steppe between Sarakhs and the main road to Mary is in bad condition which means a lot of mud and swamp all around after the rain.

– M37 until Zahmat is in good condition. The rest, through the Karakum desert to Turkmenabad, is bad again.

– In Turkmenabad there’s a new bridge across Amu-Darya so there’s no problem with crossing the river.

– There are many chaihanas along the way where you can eat and rest.

– In the desert (between Zahmat and Turkmenabad) there are four chaihanas and some random villages so there’s some life there too.

– Turkmen women wear beautiful and colourful, traditional clothes.

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