Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

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Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Make no mistake about it – Turkmenistan is totally worth the trip. It has a truly stunnigating capital city – Ashgabat. This is really the city of the future. It is a city full of crazy, cool and architecturally marvellous buildings and structures. As Turkmenistan is a right wing, one party military dictatorship, the streets are clean, everyone has a job and the country is rich. Visas can be hard to get and indeed this was the final country of the former Soviet Union states that I would backpack to. The first was Russia, the second was Belarus – both back in 2007. In 2018, I was finally here to explore this magnificent city of white marble and gold. Despite housing 650,000 people, most of the time the wide boulevards and main sights in Ashgabat are empty and bereft of people. It is a truly weird and unusual city, often compared to Pyongyang in North Korea.

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Staying at the Swanky Bagt Koshgi Hotel and Wedding Palace in Ashgabat

I loved my time here. We stayed in the Wedding Palace Hotel and also had a few other trips around Turkmenistan, including to Merv, Mary, Darvaza, Dizar-Bekir, Konye-Urgench, Anew, Jerbent and Ruhubelent. But this post is all about the capital city – what a place. It’s simply amazing and full of crazy buildings! I won;t go into great detail on each of these sights, but try and check these out when you are backpacking in Turkmenistan.

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

1.Ruhnama Statue Book
By law, everyone in Turkmenistan must read Ruhnama. It’s the national book and was written by President Niyazov. If you read it 100 times, you are guaranteed to get into heaven. Head to the huge book statue in the central park.

The Ruhnama Statue Book

2.Arch of Neutrality
There are just so many of these wacaday buildings in Ashgabat that they can get confused with one another, especially on the maps. As Pawel and I backpacked through the city we were trying to figure out which monument is which. The Arch of Neutrality is an unmistakable gem. It looks like a spaceship! This crazy building allows a view of the city, we headed to the top. It was amazing!

Arch of Neutrality in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Arch of Neutrality in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Arch of Neutrality in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Arch of Neutrality in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Arch of Neutrality in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Arch of Neutrality in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Arch of Neutrality in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

3.The Ferris Wheel
Another work of sublime art in a building is this crazy indoor Ferris Wheel. We decided not to pay the price for a ride.

The Ferris Wheel

4.Bagt Koshgi Hotel – The Wedding Palace
Bagt Koshgi Hotel – The Wedding Palace was where I slept here in Ashgabat and it is probably the craziest and coolest looking hotel building I have ever stayed in.

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Staying at the Swanky Bagt Koshgi Hotel and Wedding Palace in Ashgabat

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Staying at the Swanky Bagt Koshgi Hotel and Wedding Palace in Ashgabat

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Staying at the Swanky Bagt Koshgi Hotel and Wedding Palace in Ashgabat

My cosy room at the Bagt Koshgi Hotel and Wedding Palace in Ashgabat Turkmenistan

5.The National Football Stadium
As a football geek and veteran of over 501 football matches, I simply had to see the national stadium. Amazingly, there was a groundsman here who opened the door and let me in to see the pitch and stadium. I loved the green and white seats.

The National Football Stadium Ashgabat Turkmenistan

The National Football Stadium Ashgabat Turkmenistan

The National Football Stadium Ashgabat Turkmenistan

The National Football Stadium Ashgabat Turkmenistan

6.Museum of Turkmen Values
This museum sits in a park near Independence Square and loads of locals come to talk to us and pose for photos. They had never seen foreigners before. Here there is also another golden statue of Saparmyrat Türkmenbaşy the Great, in front of the huge Museum of Turkmen Values building.

Museum of Turkmen Values

Museum of Turkmen Values

Museum of Turkmen Values

Museum of Turkmen Values

Museum of Turkmen Values

Museum of Turkmen Values

7.The Vagina Hotel
OK so officially it is not called the Vagina Hotel, but to Pawel and I, this crazy hotel (which was empty and just 5 minutes walk from our hotel).

The Vagina Hotel, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

The Vagina Hotel, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

The Vagina Hotel, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

The Vagina Hotel, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

8.The Palace of Turkmenbashi
You are not supposed to take photos of The Palace of Turkmenbashi and I respected this. however many exist online, so I have included one of those here.

The Palace of Turkmenbashi

The Palace of Turkmenbashi

9.The National Archives
This series of buildings was at the back of Independence Park. Again, it was very empty.

The National Archives, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

10.Olympic Village
Turkmenistan has never hosted the Olympics but yet it has an Olympic Village as it once hosted the Asian Games. It’s still used for multiple sports and at night is lit up.

Olympic Village, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Olympic Village, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

11.Ashgabat International Airport
Put simply this has to be the swankiest and cleanest airport I have ever been in. It is a magnificent white and green structure, so clean, so pure, so pristine. I have to also add that the immigration, check in and departures all ran very smoothly.

The swanky Ashgabat International Airport

The swanky Ashgabat International Airport

The swanky Ashgabat International Airport

The swanky Ashgabat International Airport

The swanky Ashgabat International Airport

The swanky Ashgabat International Airport

The swanky Ashgabat International Airport

12.Statue of Lenin
The Soviet Union’s former communist leader Lenin is remembered with his own statue in a square.

Statue of Lenin, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Statue of Lenin, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Statue of Lenin, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

13.Wacaday Building: Minara Restaurant
We didn’t eat at the Minara Restaurant but we entered this truly wacaday building on our walk around the city. It looks like a spaceship!

Wacaday Building: Minara Restaurant

13.Wacaday Building: Minara Restaurant

13.Wacaday Building: Minara Restaurant

14.The National Museum
Again, photos weren’t allowed in the National Museum unless you pay something ridiculous like $10 US for the privilege. So I decided not to take any. It’s a guided tour and you are followed at all times. We got lots of photos outside it and in the lobby.

The National Museum, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

The National Museum, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

The National Museum, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

The National Museum, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

The National Museum, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

The National Museum, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

15.Berkhera Shopping Centre
I headed with my Polish friend Pawel for food and some shopping at the swanky new Berkhera Shopping Centre.

Lunch at Berkhera Shopping Centre

Lunch at Berkhera Shopping Centre

Lunch at Berkhera Shopping Centre

Lunch at Berkhera Shopping Centre

Be aware that getting a visa for Turkmenistan is tricky, so I recommend going through Silk Road Explore who were my operator of choice. The visa is strict and you are recommended to fly in and fly out. This covers you in the case of needing to claim delayed flight compensation or any issues that may have occurred. My trip to Turkmenistan was arranged about a month in advance (you MUST do this to get the visa) and I got my 6 day tourist visa on arrival at Ashgabat International Airport. Here are some more photos from my time touring Ashgabat, the capital city.

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Backpacking in Turkmenistan: Top 15 Sights in Magnificent Ashgabat, City of the Future

Here are the details for booking a tour of Turkmenistan:

International Agent – Silk Road Explore
28 Minbulakskiy Lane, 720042,
Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic
+996 550 914 408
info@silkroadexplore.com
https://silkroadexplore.com/destinations/turkmenistan/

Local Agent – Owadan Tourism
207 Oguzkhan Street Office 335
744027 Ashgabat
TURKMENISTAN
Telephone – +993 12957673, +993 12957681
info@owadan.net (for agents and operators)
sales@owadan.net (for backpackers and independent travellers)
http://www.owadan.net/

Here are some videos I made in Ashgabat:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZC543YWKnAM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qD-hwZbGAJ4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KW6a35Btt98
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcPIO41aAv8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QFIDTMh-gg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1u2yHChWsXs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpV0f7Y9xI4&t=27s
Join 15,017 Monthly Readers! If you enjoyed this article and LOVE travel and SAVING money, get e-mail updates from Don’t Stop Living – a lifestyle of travel! (It’s Free) 😉 Jonny

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