Turkmenistan Travel Notes

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Australian Embassy in Moscow

Australia does not have government representation in Turkmenistan, all consular assistance is provided by the Embassy in Moscow

Podkolokolny Pereulok 10a/2,
Moscow, Russia
Tel  +7 (495) 956 6070
Fax +7 (495) 956 6170
[email protected]
www.russia.embassy.gov.au

Smartraveller

The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers.
www.smartraveller.gov.au

Time Zones

Turkmenistan is on Greenwich Mean Time +5 time making them 5 hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time. Turkmenistan does not operate daylight savings. To obtain the current local time and date in cities and countries in all time zones.
www.worldtimeserver.com

Voltages and Plugs

Turkmenistan use 220 volts. Plugs are of the two-round-pronged European type.
www.korjo.com/Adaptor-Guide

Currency

To obtain the most up-to-date exchange rate you may wish to visit
www.xe.com/currencyconverter

The official currency in Turkmenistan is the Manat. The Manat is divided into 100 tenne.

Manat notes come in denominations of 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 and Manat 2 and 1 in coins
Tenne coins come in denominations of 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1

 

Credit Cards and ATM machines

Credit cards are accepted by a few luxury hotels in Ashgabat but at no other places, and you’d be ill advised to rely on them anywhere.

ATMs are NOT readily available.  Cash advances on credit cards are only available in Ashgabat at banks and, if you’re lucky, at the few functioning ATMs taking international cards. We DO NOT recommend their use and for this reason we are suggesting travelling with cash – as below. Remember that if your cash is lost or stolen it is unlikely that it will be covered by insurance or, you will find that there is a limited amount that you can claim.

Please note that using a credit card in foreign countries usually requires a new “chip-and-pin” credit card with an embedded microchip and an associated PIN number (the PIN is specific to each credit card). If you have questions about using your credit card in a foreign country, please contact your bank prior to departure from Australia. Check with your credit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.

Cash

Foreign currency is not accepted. Turkmenistan remains a cash-based society. Exchange offices are everywhere. US dollars remain the currency of choice for Turkmenistan, and it’s best to bring a variety of smaller denominations (US$50 would be the highest). Notes need to be new and in good condition to be accepted.

Travelers Cheques are NO longer accepted.

Telephone & Communication

Mobile telephones
Mobile telephones work in Turkmenistan and coverage is reasonable in Ashgabat however not good upon leaving the capital.  Check with your local provider that your phone can switch on ‘Global Roaming’ and that your provider has coverage in the places you are visiting. International calls are often expensive, as is checking your message bank as calls have to be routed through Australia.

Should you choose to purchase a local sim card please check with your local provider prior to departure to make sure your phone is unlocked and will accept another sim card.

Internet
Internet access is unreliable however is now available in all big towns through state-run internet cafes. Prices are standardised, and you’ll need to leave your passport with the administrator while using a computer. As all internet access is via the state-run www.online.tm, bear in mind that out-going emails may be monitored and many websites (mainly news and politics sites, but also Facebook and Twitter) are blocked.

Business Hours in Uzbekistan

Offices & Banks  09.30 – 17.30 Monday to Friday. (lunch break from 14.00 – 15.00)
Shops 09.00 – 18.00 Monday to Friday. Bazaars open at dawn

Personal Safety
  • We recommend you drink only bottled water. Tap water is not recommended.
  • We strongly recommend the use of a money belt to keep your cash, cards and travel documents safe. This should be kept under your clothes at all times. This is a precaution that should be taken anywhere due to the difficulties that can be experienced in trying to replace stolen items.
  • Take photocopies of all important documents (passport, credit cards, airline tickets, insurance) and keep one copy securely in your luggage and leave another copy at home. Carry spare passport photo’s.
  • It is generally helpful to take a business card from the hotel you are staying at. This can assist hugely if you get lost. If you also have a key card for your hotel, make sure you keep these two cards separate or you run the risk of allowing a thief access to your room
  • Take extra care in crowded places and try not to ‘advertise’ the fact that you may be carrying valuables by having something like an expensive camera over your shoulder. Put it in your bag or under your coat. And men, try to avoid keeping your wallet in your hip pocket.
What to Pack

Clothing (general)
The time of the year you visit this destination will dictate the type of clothing it is appropriate to bring. It would always be advisable to take a rain coat or a water proof windbreaker. For daytime activities, we suggest a wardrobe that is versatile, casual and comfortable. It is recommended that “layered” clothing might offer the best comfort in a variety of conditions. Always expect the weather to be changeable.

Beyond the normal wardrobe we suggest

  • Day pack- The site visits often involve walking on cobbled streets and uneven ground, up numerous steps and may be of reasonable duration.  You will want to have your hands free to hold rails or steady yourself as applicable and we recommend you carry a day pack for your ancillary items:  camera, torch, waterproof, sunhat, sun cream, bottled water (provided), sunglasses etc
  • comfortable walking shoes are very important (Hiking boots not required),  sandals or open shoes are only suitable for evening
  • sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat
  • alarm clock or phone alarm
  • plastic bags: for wet clothes and dirty shoes
  • penknife and/or cork screw (remember to pack in check-in luggage)
  • travel torch – this is essential!
  • insect repellent
  • folding umbrella and/or waterproof, windproof jacket
  • fleece or pullover:  It can be cold in the mornings / evenings
  • shampoo and soap – you cannot rely on these being in your room
  • toilet paper, wetwipes and  hand sanitiser (see note below – Toilets)
  • travel detergent and universal plug
  • camera:  Please take all necessary equipment/spares with you as there are limited options to purchase additional supplies while on tour
  • ladies should have a scarf with them at all times in case it is required to cover shoulders or head when entering religious sites
  • extra prescription eyeglasses (if required)
  • Pens, pencils and writing material
  • Novel/s (you can swap them with other tour members)
  • Bubble wrap, useful for packing breakables should you do some shopping
  • Small medical kit – you may wish to include antiseptic cream, antibiotics (check with your doctor and refer to note above), medicine for pain or fever eg Panadol or Aspirin  (nothing with codeine however), anti diarrhoea & anti-nausea tablets, mild laxatives, motion sickness medication (if applicable), insect repellent, anti itch cream, cough drops, oral rehydration salts.

Recommended dress code
Women
Remember that you will be travelling in a Muslim country. You should not display too much of your body. Do not wear shorts, if wearing skirts they should be long. At all times you should have your arms covered. By following these guidelines, you will not only feel more relaxed in a conservative environment but you will also keep cooler.

Men
Dress codes are more relaxed for men than women but shorts and sleeveless tops are considered inappropriate, especially in more conservative areas and religious buildings.  Men can, however, wear short-sleeved tops into mosques and do not need to cover their hair.  Long trousers allowing for both mild and cool weather, do not bring shorts.

Toilets:   Once you have left your hotel, the toilets will be a mixture of Squat & European, with very little or no toilet paper supplied.  There is also no soap provided.

Travelling with Medication

  • Talk to your doctor or a travel medicine specialist and discuss both the prescription and over the counter medicines that you will need to take with you; take only those for personal use.
  • Carry a letter from your doctor with your prescription medicines. The letter should include the name of the medicine, how much you are taking  and state that the medicine is for your personal use and specify medical condition.
  • All medicines should be kept in their original container displaying your name and dosage requirements, and carried in hand luggage to prevent their loss.
  • It is important that any first aid kit that you wish to bring DOES NOT INCLUDE ANY medications containing tramadol, codeine, morphine, opiates or any other similar constituent component that may be considered as narcotic drug or psychotropic agent. All such medications (in any form and quantity) have been prohibited from import to Turkmenistan or transfer across the country’s territory – the fact the traveller may have a written and authorised prescription from a licensed doctor WILL NOT COUNT. Discovery of any of the above mentioned agents can be considered as smuggling of narcotic drugs and may result in very serious problems both for the person that carries them and for the ground operator, including detention.

Because a prescription from your doctor here cannot be filled overseas, and familiar over the counter medicines may not be available in foreign countries, it is also important to carry an adequate supply for the entire trip plus some extra in case of travel disruption or delay.  For further clarification please email appropriate Consulate or Embassy  [email protected].

Eating and Drinking Precautions

You are advised to:

  • drink only bottled water
  • peel all fruits and vegetables, stay away from salads
  • avoid under cooked meat or reheated food
  • avoid eating unpasteurized dairy products,including ice cream unless a labeled brand and most food sold in the streets
  • never use ice unless you know it has been made from safe water (this includes luxury hotels)
  • clean your teeth in bottled water

Travellers need to be stricter with their personal hygiene habits when travelling in developing countries than when they are at home in a ‘safer’ environment. A simple and effective way of decreasing the ingestion of unwanted organisms is to use hand sanitiser frequently.

Additional packing tips pertaining to Food and Drinks

We recommend you consider taking the following with you:

  • Small travel jug (these usually come with plastic mugs) or infuser. (There may be no tea/coffee making facilities in the hotel rooms).
  • Instant coffee, tea bags, sugar (or sugar substitute) or powdered or tube milk; ROBERT TIMMS coffee bags are an excellent choice. They are light, and you can have good coffee for breakfast by taking your bags into the breakfast room and asking for a pot of boiling water!
  • Instant soup, biscuits and other dry snack food (if the local cuisine gets too much on certain days!)
  • You can store biscuits in zip lock bags or tupperware containers. You may also wish to think about bringing a tube of  vegemite or the like to put on your biscuits. Powerbars, muesli bars & nuts make great snacks for afternoon or morning tea. It can be quite difficult to find this kind of snack food or sweet treats on this tour.
Etiquette
  • No attempt should be made to photograph anything remotely connected with the armed forces or in the vicinity of defence installations. It is also important to note that no public buildings should be photographed. Many people do not like being photographed. Always ask before photographing someone, they may try to obtain money from you.
  • Smoking is banned in all public spaces – this means anywhere outside, however in classic Central Asia style at most indoor venues – restaurants, cafes etc, you can puff away with abandon.
  • Handshaking is the normal form of greeting between men.
  • As this is a Muslim country, foreign women should dress modestly, especially in the rural areas, and cultivate a certain coolness of manner. Women can dress in normal western-style modest clothing, although female visitors should not wear short skirts (they must be long, almost to the ground) or shorts.
  • You must carry a scarf with you at all times – preferably cotton for comfort in the heat and not silk as they tend to slip off. You will find it easiest to start the day with the scarf around your neck ready to lift up and down as required as there are often a number of visits to religious buildings each day. A scarf a metre or so in length will be the easiest to manage.
  • Due to the nature of the terrain covered on this tour you will find it most comfortable to wear trousers during the day. This also applies to managing toilet facilities where squat toilets are common.
  • Men should wear long trousers only.

Tipping is expected in restaurants, coffee shops, taxi’s etc – the expected amount is 10%

Clothing (Churches, Mosques and Monasteries)
Although ‘foreigners’ do not have to adhere to a strict dress rules, women should wear a head & shoulder covering (ie a scarf) at all religious sites. T shirts are permitted apparel however they must cover your shoulders (No singlet type T shirts). Men cannot wear shorts and must remember to remove their hats in religious buildings. In churches it is polite to stand around the edges of the building, rather than in the centre. It is acceptable for foreigners to light candles.

 

Duty Free

Banned imports: Prohibited imports include firearms, ammunition, illegal drugs, photographs and printed matter directed against the country and live animals (without a special permit).  Restricted items include plants and endangered species. You should only import medicines for personal use.

Banned exports: Precious metals, stones, furs, arms and ammunition, antiquities and art objects (subject to duty and special permit from the Ministry of Culture). When buying items that may be more than 50 years old, ask for a certificate stating the age of the item(s) or when buying rugs please check with the local guide to see if these can be exported.

Useful websites

Turkmenistan Tourism
www.turkmenistan.gov.tm

Climate

We suggest that prior to departure you check the weather forecast for the most up-to-date information.
www.worldweatheronline.com or www.weather-finder.com 

The climate in Uzbekistan differs according to region.

Average minimum/maximum Temperatures (˚C)

City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Ashgabat -2/8 0/11 5/16 11/24 16/30 21/36 24/38 22/37 16/32 10/24 4/16 0/10
Mary  -1/9 1/12 6/18 12/26 16/31 21/37 23/38 21/37 15/32 9/25 4/18 1/11