Sometimes, we’re so interested in going to a new place, but we “chicken out” because we’re not exactly sure what to do there. We don’t know what would be interesting or fun, and we don’t even feel like taking the time to research because it can get a bit overwhelming. And, often it’s the less popular tourist destinations that people shy away from because they don’t know where to begin in their research. But, for Turkmenistan, problem solved: here are a few things that are definitely worth seeing when visiting this beautiful, desert country.
First, head to Ashgabat, the capital city that is growing in size and developing in architectural merit. Its city center is enjoyable to walk through, despite its low population. Some people would find that refreshing!
Then, perhaps go horseback riding in the hills of the Kopet-Dag Mountains on an Akhal-Teke horse. These horses are one of Turkmenistan’s treasures!
The Ruhy Mosque is another beautiful tourist site. It used to be the largest mosque in Central Asia, but not longer. Still, it is no less the impressive. It can seat around 20,000 people for worship. It was built by Turkmenbashi, the former President of Turkmenistan.
Why not go for a swim 200 feet under the ground? The Kow Ata is an underground lake that lies beneath the Kopet-Dag Mountains, and it is a lovely and unexpected way to spend the day in Turkmenistan. The water is warm, and be forewarned: it will have a bit of a sulfur smell!
And, probably the most famous site in this Silk Road country is entitled, The Gates of Hell. It is a crater that resulted from a gas deposit and has been burning since 1971. It is located in Derweze, and there are transportation options available (including camels) as well as camping options once you arrive at the site. It is a landmark from a history of oil extraction as well as a reminder of Soviet control.
The weather in Turkmenistan is a bit unusual, with high desert temperatures in the summer and potential snowfall in the winter! Neither of this are ideal for the holiday tourist, so a good time of year to visit Turkmenistan is between April and June, when the weather is a bit more moderate with less bothersome rain intrusions. There are plenty of more interesting places to see and things to do in this Central Asian country, but these are a few of the highlights. Once you arrive, you can meet other travelers and speak to the locals about great sites to visit and things to experience. Sometimes, it’s the things that are less popular that turn out to be the most beautiful.