Yough Pioneer Tours

Sample Itineraries – Independent Tours

In this section, you will find two tours, in a short and a long version, to help you know what can be done during your stay in Turkmenistan. Please note that those are starting points and prices for reference, the tours can then be entirely customized, to your convenience.

Sample Tour 1: Essential Turkmenistan

Short Version (7 nights, 8 days)

Day 1: Airport – Ashgabat

  • Meet at the airport in the afternoon or evening and transfer to the hotel.

Day 2: Tolkuchka Bazaar- Ashgabat

  • In the morning, drive out of Ashgabat to the Tolkuchka Bazaar.
  • On the way back to Ashgabat, visit Ertogrul Ghazi mosque, history museum, Nisa, Turkmenbashy spiritual mosque and mausoleum in Kipchak.
  • Return to Ashgabat and continue sightseeing: Visit Independence park and the monument of the Ruhnama (which unfortunately doesn’t open any more, but is still an amazing and unique monument), Tower of Neutrality, The Wheel of Englightenment (which if it’s open you can take a ride on, but is often closed), and the other monuments.
  • After sunset, drive to the Palace of Happiness (Wedding Palace), where you can take panoramic photos of Ashgabat. Continue to the amusement park in First Park.
  • Return in hotel late in the evening.

Day 3: Ashgabat- Nokhur, 175 km

  • Visit the shopping centers and bazaars in Ashgabat for souvenir shopping (Russian bazaar, Impash, Berkarar). Visit bookstores of the town, including the university bookshop where you can find some excellent books written about and by the president, posters, postcards, badges etc. Visit souvenir and rugs shops.
  • Drive to Kov Ata cave lake on the outskirts of Ashgabat.
  • After enjoying a swim in the lake, continue driving to the Kopet Dag mountains.
  • Arrive in Nohur village and stay at local home.

Day 4: Nokhur – Balkanabat, 290 km

  • Enjoy exploring the mountains.
  • Drive to Balkanabat, stopping en-route at Parau Bibi pilgrimage and Mollakara salt lake beach.
  • Arrive in Balkanabat and spend the night there.

Day 5: Balkanabat- Yangy Kala- Turkmenbashy- Avaza, 350 km

  • Drive to Yangy Kala canyons, stopping along the way at different viewpoints.
  • Visit Gozli Ata pilgrimage.
  • Drive to Avaza Caspian Sea resort.
  • Drive around Avaza and spend the night in one of the hotels there.

Day 6: Turkmenbashy- Ashgabat- Darvaza, FLT + drive 257 km

  • Morning flight to Ashgabat.
  • In the afternoon, drive to Darvaza.
  • Start to visit gas craters along the route (first full of water, second – with mud at the bottom, in both gas can be seen bubbling through it).
  • Leave the road and follow desert trails to arrive at The Gates of Hell. See the fiery crater after sunset.
  • Camp in the desert near the crater.

Day 7: Darvaza- Ashgabat, drive 257 km

  • Return to Ashgabat.
  • Arrive in Ashgabat and have some free time in the afternoon.

Day 8: Ashgabat- airport

  • Free time in Ashgabat.
  • Airport transfer according to your flight time.

Sample Prices (get in touch for an exact quote):

Number of guests
Price per guest (USD)
1 $2095
2-3 $1495
4 and more $1445

Included:

  • Letter of invitation, registration
  • Local flight tickets Turkmenbashy – Ashgabat
  • Bottled water every day
  • Accommodation in twin rooms as below:
Hotel (Star Rating)
Number of nights/city
AkAltin (****) 3/ Ashgabat
Nebitchi (***) 1/ Balkanabat
Serdar (*****) 1/ Avaza
Camping 1/ Darvaza
Homestay 1/ Nokhur

Excluded:

  • Visa for Turkmenistan (currently $85 at the airport on arrival)
  • Arrival tax at the airport (currently $12, paid at the airport on arrival)
  • Meals ($195 per person if you’d like to include lunch and dinner every day)
  • Local Escort English speaking guide ($555 per group if you’d like to include this, otherwise you will be guided by a driver-guide who may not be able to speak english)
  • Entrance tickets at History museum (former National history museum) $20 per ticket, Nisa $8 per ticket, Kov Ata cave lake $10 per ticket – this can be paid at the sites directly

Long version (9 nights, 10 days)

The long version of the sample tour 1 is the same as the short version, although it also includes an extension to the ancient city of Merv, containing a full day there

Day 1: Airport – Ashgabat

  • Meet at the airport in the afternoon or evening and transfer to the hotel.

Day 2: Tolkuchka Bazaar- Ashgabat

  • In the morning, drive out of Ashgabat to the Tolkuchka Bazaar.
  • On the way back to Ashgabat, visit Ertogrul Ghazi mosque, history museum, Nisa, Turkmenbashy spiritual mosque and mausoleum in Kipchak.
  • Return to Ashgabat and continue sightseeing: Visit Independence park and the monument of the Ruhnama (which unfortunately doesn’t open any more, but is still an amazing and unique monument), Tower of Neutrality, The Wheel of Englightenment (which if it’s open you can take a ride on, but is often closed), and the other monuments.
  • After sunset, drive to the Palace of Happiness (Wedding Palace), where you can take panoramic photos of Ashgabat. Continue to the amusement park in First Park.
  • Return in hotel late in the evening.

Day 3: Ashgabat- Nokhur, 175 km

  • Visit the shopping centers and bazaars in Ashgabat for souvenir shopping (Russian bazaar, Impash, Berkarar). Visit bookstores of the town, including the university bookshop where you can find some excellent books written about and by the president, posters, postcards, badges etc. Visit souvenir and rugs shops.
  • Drive to Kov Ata cave lake on the outskirts of Ashgabat.
  • After enjoying a swim in the lake, continue driving to the Kopet Dag mountains.
  • Arrive in Nohur village and stay at local home.

Day 4: Nokhur – Balkanabat, 290 km

  • Enjoy exploring the mountains.
  • Drive to Balkanabat, stopping en-route at Parau Bibi pilgrimage and Mollakara salt lake beach.
  • Arrive in Balkanabat and spend the night there.

Day 5: Balkanabat- Yangy Kala- Turkmenbashy- Avaza, 350 km

  • Drive to Yangy Kala canyons, stopping along the way at different viewpoints.
  • Visit Gozli Ata pilgrimage.
  • Drive to Avaza Caspian Sea resort.
  • Drive around Avaza and spend the night in one of the hotels there.

Day 6: Turkmenbashy- Ashgabat- Darvaza, FLT + drive 257 km

  • Morning flight to Ashgabat.
  • In the afternoon, drive to Darvaza.
  • Start to visit gas craters along the route (first full of water, second – with mud at the bottom, in both gas can be seen bubbling through it).
  • Leave the road and follow desert trails to arrive at The Gates of Hell. See the fiery crater after sunset.
  • Camp in the desert near the crater.

Day 7: Darvaza- Ashgabat, drive 257 km

  • Return to Ashgabat.
  • Arrive in Ashgabat and have some free time in the afternoon.

Day 8

  • After arrival to Ashgabat catch the afternoon train to Mary, arriving at around 22:00.
  • Spend the night in Mary.

Day 9

  • Visit Merv.
  • Return to Mary.
  • Catch the late afternoon flight to Ashgabat.

Day 10

  • Transfer to the airport as per flight time.

Sample Prices (get in touch for an exact quote):

Number of guests
Price per guest (USD)
1 $2490
2-3 $1890
4 and more $1840

Included:

  • Train tickets Ashgabat- Mary
  • Flight ticket Mary- Ashgabat
  • Twin accommodation at Yrsgal or Margush hotel
  • Local English speaking guide for excursions in Merv and Mary
  • Car service in Merv/ Mary

Excluded:

  • Visa for Turkmenistan (currently $85 at the airport on arrival)
  • Arrival tax at the airport (currently $12, paid at the airport on arrival)
  • Meals ($195 per person if you’d like to include lunch and dinner every day)
  • Local Escort English speaking guide for day 1 to day 7 ($555 per group if you’d like to include this, otherwise you will be guided by a driver-guide who may not be able to speak english)
  • Entrance tickets at History museum (former National history museum) $20 per ticket, Nisa $8 per ticket, Kov Ata cave lake $10 per ticket – this can be paid at the sites directly

Sample Tour 2: Grand Turkmen Tour

Our grand Turkmen tour is one of YPT’s most popular scheduled group tours but we understand that for some people, the dates just don’t work out so well or that they might wish more privacy or independence. That is why we offer you an independent version of our classic hit.

Short Version (6 nights, 7 days)

Day 1 – Ashgabat

  • Meet your local guides at Ashgabat International Airport.
  • Driving tour of Ashgabat’s main sites including Independence Park and Independence Monument, the Monument to the Constitution, the Arch of Neutrality, Lenin Park, Ertogrul Ghazi Mosque and the Alem Centre which is the complex that is home to the Wheel of Enlightenment, the largest indoor ferris wheel. And YES, for just $1 you can even take a ride!
  • Stop for lunch at Berkarar Shopping Centre, where you can go ice-skating, play in the games centre, ride a miniature double-decker bus, and even have a cappuccino in a hipster face (don’t get your hopes up too much about the cappuccino, it is still from a machine which has a “cappuccino” button).
  • Visit the university bookshop where you can find books written by and about the president, Ashgabat and Turkmenistan in English. They also have postcards and posters, and if you’re lucky they might even have a copy of the Ruhnama, the book written by Turkmenbashy.
  • Visit Anau on the eastern outskirts of Ashgabat and see the remains of Anau Fortress and Sheikh Jemaladdin Mosque which was destroyed in the 1948 earthquake.
  • Return to Ashgabat.
  • Night tour of Ashgabat. With the white marble buildings lit up by brightly coloured neon lights, Ashgabat is a truly spectacular place after dark.
  • We’ll make a stop at the Palace of Happiness in the foothills of the Kopetdag Mountains, from where you can get a fantastic panorama of the whole city.
  • And another stop at the Altyn Asyr Sowda Merkezi, a new shopping centre in Independence Park which is in the shape of a pyramid, and the outside of which is covered in fountains and colourful lights. From the restaurant and viewing deck you’ll get 360 degree views of the city lights, whilst enjoying a nice cold draught beer.
  • Dinner and drinks at a local pub in Old Ashgabat which serves shashlicks, kebabs and local draught beer. Approximately $8 pp.
  • Spend the night at the Ak Altyn Hotel.

Day 2 – Turkmenbashy

  • Drive to the outskirts of Ashgabat to Nisa, a UNESCO site which was once the capital of the Parthian Empire.
  • Next you’ll visit Kipchak to see the resplendent Turkmenbashy Mosque, where Turkmenbashy is buried beside his mother, father and two brothers in their white marble mausoleum.
  • Continue on to Kow Ata. This natural underground thermal spring is said to have many medical attributes, but is also used by locals as a swimming hole and makes for a very fun and relaxing swim. Admission included.
  • After a revitalising swim in the lake, we’ll enjoy lunch at one of the shashlik restaurants just outside the entrance to the cave. Approximately $3-6 pp.
  • Drive 175km north west into the Kopetdag mountains to Nokhur, a traditional tribal village.
  • Visit Nokhur Cemetery where each grave is adorned with the horns of a mountain goat.
  • Relax in the mountains and learn about the culture of the Nokhuris.
  • Dinner (included) and overnight in a homestay.

Day 3 – Avaza/Turkmenbashi

  • Drive 450 km west to Avaza.
  • We’ll stop for lunch along the way at a local chaykhana. Approximately $2-5 pp.
  • Arrive in Avaza and have a driving tour of the beach resort. Although the facilities are extravagant and the buildings futuristic, the town is somehow best described as a ghost town.
  • Dinner in one of the glamorous hotels of Avaza. Approximately $10-12 pp.
  • After dinner, we’ll take a walk along the coast of the Caspian Sea.
  • Overnight in Turkmenbashy, a ten minute drive from Avaza.

Day 4 – Turkmenbashy

  • Yangykala Canyon. Many Turkmens don’t even know that this place exists, but once you’ve been there you’ll start calling the Grand Canyon the “Pretty Good Canyon”. In 4×4’s, we’ll drive over the canyon walls, through the canyon itself, and up the other side, to an excellent vantage point from where you will be able to see all the shapes and colours of this spectacular natural phenomenon.
  • We will take a packed lunch with us so we can enjoy it at the canyons. You can either buy yourself something at the bazaar on the way, or we can organise a cooked lunch for $10 pp.
  • Return to Turkmenbashy.
  • Dinner at the hotel. Approximately $8-10 pp.

Day 5 – Darvaza

  • Return to Ashgabat on Turkmenistan Airlines.
  • Lunch at the Russian bazaar, where you can also buy some snacks, drinks and dinner for camping.
  • Drive 250km to Darvaza (The Gates of Hell) in 4WD’s.
  • Visit two other craters – one full of mud, one full of water.
  • Traverse the sand dunes of the Karakum Desert to get to Darvaza.
  • Watch the sunset over the fiery crater and experience dusk turn to dark at this breathtaking site.
  • Set up tents near the Gates of Hell and camp near the fiery crater.

Day 6 – Ashgabat

  • Drive back towards Ashgabat, stopping at Tolkuchka Bazaar on the way, where you’ll be able to buy lunch, with some time to explore the largest bazaar in Central Asia (by floor size).
  • Arrive in Ashgabat.
  • Free time in the afternoon.
  • Spend the night at the Ak Altyn Hotel.

Day 7 – Merv/Turkmenabat

Group A

  • Transfers to airport according to flight times.
  • END OF TOUR

Short Version (7 days, 6 nights )Sample Pricing:

Number of guests
Price per guest (USD)
1 $1750
2-5 $1560
6-8 $1350

Including:

  • Letter of Invitation and registration
  • A/C bus, 4×4’s, train tickets and domestic flights according to itinerary
  • Entrance fees to Kow Ata and Nisa
  • Accommodation according to itinerary in twin/double share (except in the homestay)
  • Dinner in Nokhur
  • Bottled water each day
  • Breakfast every day at the accommodation
  • Dinner at the homestay in Nokhur

Excluding:

  • Visa (currently $85 for most nationalities on arrival at Ashgabat airport)
  • Immigration tax at the airport ($14 paid on arrival)
  • Local English speaking guide (can be added for $590 per group for the whole tour. If this is not added, the guest will be escorted by a driver-guide not completely fluent in english)
  • Western YPT guide
  • Meals other than those stipulated (allow up to $10 per meal)
  • Single supplement for accommodation (For groups of more than 1, $195 per person) (not available in the homestay)
  • Photo/video fees at sites (not at all sites, but usually around $2-10 depending on the site)
  • Tips for guides (not obligatory, and up to your personal discretion)
  • Any other personal expenses such as souvenirs and drinks

Long Version (11 nights, 12 days)

Day 1 – Ashgabat

  • Meet your local and YPT guides at Ashgabat International Airport.
  • Driving tour of Ashgabat’s main sites including Independence Park and Independence Monument, the Monument to the Constitution, the Arch of Neutrality, Lenin Park, Ertogrul Ghazi Mosque and the Alem Centre which is the complex that is home to the Wheel of Enlightenment, the largest indoor ferris wheel. And YES, for just $1 you can even take a ride!
  • Stop for lunch at Berkarar Shopping Centre, where you can go ice-skating, play in the games centre, ride a miniature double-decker bus, and even have a cappuccino in a hipster face (don’t get your hopes up too much about the cappuccino, it is still from a machine which has a “cappuccino” button).
  • Visit the university bookshop where you can find books written by and about the president, Ashgabat and Turkmenistan in English. They also have postcards and posters, and if you’re lucky they might even have a copy of the Ruhnama, the book written by Turkmenbashy.
  • Visit Anau on the eastern outskirts of Ashgabat and see the remains of Anau Fortress and Sheikh Jemaladdin Mosque which was destroyed in the 1948 earthquake.
  • Return to Ashgabat.
  • Night tour of Ashgabat. With the white marble buildings lit up by brightly coloured neon lights, Ashgabat is a truly spectacular place after dark.
  • We’ll make a stop at the Palace of Happiness in the foothills of the Kopetdag Mountains, from where you can get a fantastic panorama of the whole city.
  • And another stop at the Altyn Asyr Sowda Merkezi, a new shopping centre in Independence Park which is in the shape of a pyramid, and the outside of which is covered in fountains and colourful lights. From the restaurant and viewing deck you’ll get 360 degree views of the city lights, whilst enjoying a nice cold draught beer.
  • Dinner and drinks at a local pub in Old Ashgabat which serves shashlicks, kebabs and local draught beer. Approximately $8 pp.
  • Spend the night at the Ak Altyn Hotel.

Day 2 – Turkmenbashy

  • Drive to the outskirts of Ashgabat to Nisa, a UNESCO site which was once the capital of the Parthian Empire.
  • Next you’ll visit Kipchak to see the resplendent Turkmenbashy Mosque, where Turkmenbashy is buried beside his mother, father and two brothers in their white marble mausoleum.
  • Continue on to Kow Ata. This natural underground thermal spring is said to have many medical attributes, but is also used by locals as a swimming hole and makes for a very fun and relaxing swim. Admission included.
  • After a revitalising swim in the lake, we’ll enjoy lunch at one of the shashlik restaurants just outside the entrance to the cave. Approximately $3-6 pp.
  • Drive 175km north west into the Kopetdag mountains to Nokhur, a traditional tribal village.
  • Visit Nokhur Cemetery where each grave is adorned with the horns of a mountain goat.
  • Relax in the mountains and learn about the culture of the Nokhuris.
  • Dinner (included) and overnight in a homestay.

Day 3 – Avaza/Turkmenbashi

  • Drive 450 km west to Avaza.
  • We’ll stop for lunch along the way at a local chaykhana. Approximately $2-5 pp.
  • Arrive in Avaza and have a driving tour of the beach resort. Although the facilities are extravagant and the buildings futuristic, the town is somehow best described as a ghost town.
  • Dinner in one of the glamorous hotels of Avaza. Approximately $10-12 pp.
  • After dinner, we’ll take a walk along the coast of the Caspian Sea.
  • Overnight in Turkmenbashy, a ten minute drive from Avaza.

Day 4 – Turkmenbashy

  • Yangykala Canyon. Many Turkmens don’t even know that this place exists, but once you’ve been there you’ll start calling the Grand Canyon the “Pretty Good Canyon”. In 4×4’s, we’ll drive over the canyon walls, through the canyon itself, and up the other side, to an excellent vantage point from where you will be able to see all the shapes and colours of this spectacular natural phenomenon.
  • We will take a packed lunch with us so we can enjoy it at the canyons. You can either buy yourself something at the bazaar on the way, or we can organise a cooked lunch for $10 pp.
  • Return to Turkmenbashy.
  • Dinner at the hotel. Approximately $8-10 pp.

Day 5 – Darvaza

  • Return to Ashgabat on Turkmenistan Airlines.
  • Lunch at the Russian bazaar, where you can also buy some snacks, drinks and dinner for camping.
  • Drive 250km to Darvaza (The Gates of Hell) in 4WD’s.
  • Visit two other craters – one full of mud, one full of water.
  • Traverse the sand dunes of the Karakum Desert to get to Darvaza.
  • Watch the sunset over the fiery crater and experience dusk turn to dark at this breathtaking site.
  • Set up tents near the Gates of Hell and camp near the fiery crater.

Day 6 – Ashgabat

  • Drive back towards Ashgabat, stopping at Tolkuchka Bazaar on the way, where you’ll be able to buy lunch, with some time to explore the largest bazaar in Central Asia (by floor size).
  • Arrive in Ashgabat.
  • Catch the train to Mary, arriving at around 10pm.
  • Overnight in Mary

Day 7 – Merv/Turkmenabat

  • Drive to Merv, which is just half an hour’s drive from the modern city of Mary and now a UNESCO world heritage listed site. Merv is the oldest and best preserved ancient oasis city along the Silk Road, and at one point during the 12th Century was possibly even the largest city in the world.
  • Spend the morning exploring the shrines, temples, towers, city walls, fortresses, castles and mausoleums, the most notable of which is that of Sultan Sandzhar Dar-al-Akhir which reaches forty metres into the sky, topped by an almost completely intact brick dome.
  • Leaving Merv, drive towards Turkmenabat, stopping along the way to admire and take photos of the Karakum Desert.
  • Arrive in Turkmenabat.

Day 8 –Kugitang

  • Drive into the Koytendag mountains.
  • Stop along the way at Astana Baba mausoleum, Alamberdar mausoleum.
  • Stop in  the small town of Atamyrat, where we’ll have lunch at a local chaykhana. More than likely you’ll be spotted by some locals who’ve never seen a tourist before and end up with some good company over lunch.
  • Spend the night at a lodge in Kugitang.

Day 9 –  Kugitan

  • Continue exploring the Koytendag mountains, climbing through gorges, swimming in waterfalls and most excitingly – get a goat massage.
  • Cross Amudarya river and drive along Kugitang mountains.
  • Return to the lodge in Kugitang.

Day 10 –Kugitan

  • Walk up onto the Dinosaur Plateau, the largest repository of dinosaur footprints in the world. Discovered in 1980, the limestone slab that sits at a 20 degree angle on the side of the mountain, is covered in pre-historic footprints ranging from 20-70cm in size. Although scientifically explained as this, one local legend tells us that the plateau was a place where white elephants gathered to perform sacred dances, and another tells us that the footprints are those of battle elephants brought by Alexander the Great.
  • Continue on to Kyrk Gyz Cave. This cave is covered in a peculiar layer of stalactites, which are in fact cloth rags dangling from the ceiling. Legend has it that anyone who can fling a mud pie with a cloth attached to it, and make it stick, will have a wish come true.
  • Return to the lodge in Kugitang.

Day 11 – Turkmenabat

  • Drive back to Turkmenabat.
  • Fly back to Ashgabat and spend the night at the Ak Altyn Hotel.

Day 12 Ashgabat

  • Airport transfers according to flight times.

Long Version (11 nights, 12 days )Sample Pricing:

Number of guests
Price per guest (USD)
1 $2800
2-3 $2150
6-8 $2060

Including:

  • Letter of Invitation and registration
  • A/C bus, 4×4’s, train tickets and domestic flights according to itinerary
  • Entrance fees to Kow Ata and Nisa and Merv
  • Accommodation according to itinerary in twin/double share (except in the homestay)
  • Dinner in Nokhur
  • Bottled water each day
  • Breakfast every day at the accommodation
  • Dinner at the homestay in Nokhur

Excluding:

  • Visa (currently $85 for most nationalities on arrival at Ashgabat airport)
  • Immigration tax at the airport ($14 paid on arrival)
  • Local English speaking guide ($1020 per group for the whole tour. If this is not added, the guest will be escorted by a driver-guide not completely fluent in english)
  • Western YPT guide
  • Meals other than those stipulated (allow up to $10 per meal)
  • Single supplement for accommodation (For groups of more than 1, $335 per person) (not available in the homestay)
  • Photo/video fees at sites (not at all sites, but usually around $2-10 depending on the site)
  • Tips for guides (not obligatory, and up to your personal discretion)
  • Any other personal expenses such as souvenirs and drinks
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