With broad desert, wide avenues, and some historical and natural sites, the Central Asian country of Turkmenistan is an unparalleled country which to this day remains is in seclusion. Due to its strict visa regulations, it receives way less tourism, which on the flip side is a treasure trove for those who come here and find themselves literally alone with just few citizens around (Turkmenistan has the least population among the Central Asian countries). Whether you're visiting the modern streets of Ashgabat, ruins of ancient Merv, the vast and unchanging Karakum Desert, or the ghost resort town of Awaza, you'll find yourself surrounded by little to no crowd.
With an area of 488,100 sq km, it is world's 52nd largest country, slightly bigger than the state of California. Karakum Desert covers nearly 80% of the country, and the central part of the country is dominated by the Turan Depression. The Kopet Dag Range which is 650 km long and runs between Turkmenistan and Iran along the southeast border of Caspian Sea form the mountainous part of the country. Foothills, sandy slopes, plateaus, and ravines characterize the Kopet Dag region. It is a landlocked country bordering Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Iran, and Afghanistan from all sides, and forming the longest border with Caspian Sea which is nearly 1,786 km.
On the history front, the country, like its neighbors, was located along the Great Silk Road route which facilitated trade between the eastern and western civilization. Cities like Merv were major caravanserai spots and became major trading centers. The ruins of the ancient city are now a significant archaeological and tourist site which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Turkmenistan culture is slightly different and peculiar from the traditions and culture of the neighboring states. Turkmen are predominantly Sunni Muslim, but like the nomad tribe, adhere to it rather loosely and the culture is a mix of pre-Islamic animist spirituality and modern Islamic beliefs.
Turkmenistan is bustling with rich cultural heritage which are more than a millennia old. Although can't be called a nomadic lifestyle, the citizens still lead a lffestyle far from modern and are grouped according to clan or tribe. They're more than open to tourists to let them know of their culture.
With sites like Merv and Konye Ugench, you'll have unparallel historical sightseeing experience in Turkmenistan. The monuments and ruins are more than 1,000 years old which will unequivocally take you back in time.
The mountain ranges which run through Turkmenistan are perfect for taking hiking or trekking trips to. The vast Karakum desert also provides good desert camping spots. Other adventure sport opportunities are rather limited.
The capital city of the country which has the highest number of marble-clad buildings in the world.
Gateway to the ancient site of Merv.
Known as the "Heart of Islam"
Village located in the Kopet Dag Mountains.
Famous for the continuously burning gas crater.