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Visas, Airport, Currency

Passports must be valid for 6 months after departure from Turkmenistan.Visas must be obtained by most foreign nationals before arrival in the country. A letter of invitation issued by a business or tour operator & approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is normally required before the visa will be issued. Entry into the country is usually by air at Ashgabat. There are several approved land border crossings from Kazakhstan, Iran & Uzbekistan. Visas may be obtained at the airport of Ashgabat as well if they have a valid letter of invitation stamped by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Because of frequent changes in visa policy, it is advisable to contact with the local Embassy of Turkmenistan before travel for the most current information.


Flight time to Ashgabat from London is approximately 6 hours. Turkmenistan Airlines is the national carrier although their schedules are prone to change. They currently fly once a week from Birmingham. Other carriers include British Airways (Tel: 0345 222 111), Lufthansa (Tel: 0171 603 0747), Turkish Airlines (Tel: 0171 766 9300) & Iran Air (Tel: 0171 409 0971). The airport is approximately 4km (2.5 miles) north of the city centre. Compared with the other Central Asian republics, it is modern, clean, well organised & friendly.
Turkmenistan Airlines flies two times a week from London and three times a week from Birmingham, the type of aircraft is Boeing. Turkmenistan Airlines has flights to Abu-Dhabi, Birmingham, London, Frankfurt, Karachi, Delhi, Istanbul, Mashad and many other CIS countries.

Turkmenistan Airlines in London. (Tel: 0181 563 05 65, Fax: 0181 748 98 66). Useful telephones in Ashgabat: (993 12) Airport Information Desk (Tel: 51 00 18, 51 00 19), International Ticket Office (Tel: 39 42 71), Turkmenistan Airlines (Tel: 51 11 57), British Airways (Tel: 51 17 99, ), Turkish airlines(Tel: 51 16 66, 51 22 19), Lufthansa (Tel: 51 06 84, 51 06 94), Pakistani International Airlines (Tel: 51 18 38), Iran Air (Tel: 51 06 42). British Embassy (Tel: 51 08 61), US Embassy (Tel: 35 00 41).


Local buses operate into the centre of town but it is better to take a taxi. Some hotels can arrange transfers in clean, comfortable cars when advance reservations are made. Taxi fares are negotiable & since many arriving passengers will not have the local currency most drivers are more than willing to accept US dollars. The price will depend on your negotiating skill & the type of car they have, Ladas being less expensive than new foreign imports, but expect to pay between $5 & $15. Drivers generally speak little or no English but most recognise the names of the hotels. It is not possible to hire self-drive cars.Local buses operate into the centre of town but it is better to take a taxi, because buses are filled to capacity. Ladas being less expensive than new foreign imports, but expect to pay between $5 & $7. It is advisable to write down the address of the destination in Cyrillic script.


Leave your travellers cheques at home & your credit cards may not help either: many hotels advertise that they take cards but this is not always the case in reality; check when you book. Inflation is high & the local currency, the Manat, is being devalued almost daily making the country keen to generate foreign currency. This means that the US dollar is king & cash is what is wanted.

Notes should be post-1990, in good condition & not torn or written on.One dollar is currently equivalent to about 20.000 Manat in the black market as compared to the official rate of 5.200. The exact amount of foreign currency must be declared on arrival.