Driving in Turkmenistan

For general tips on how to deal with the police,the local driving style, some basic driver’s Russian as well as GPS files with fuel stations and places to stop over, see the driving overview page. Here we discuss the state of the roads, where to find parts, repair shops, and how to deal with transporting, customs and selling a car.

Turkmenistan roads

You might want to invest in a good road map of Turkmenistan before you leave.

camel-road-turkmenistan

A camel on the road – by peretzp

Traffic is generally not too busy; especially if you just came from Iran, it will be a pleasant surprise.

The roads are in a bad state. Reconstruction is on the way, but for now, only the bridges are in place. Except very bumpy potholed roads everywhere except in the major cities. Turkmenbashi – Balkanabat is ok though, as is the road from Ashgabat to the Iranian border.

Ashgabat to Dashoguz has paved road in very good condition for the first half starting from Ashgabat. The second part is a rough sandy desert road, with a lot of road works. If you want to see the gas crater, you need to go 5 km of the main road through a heap of sand. A 4 hour ride from the capital. You will probably need a gps to find it if you’re going without a guide.

A 4WD is not necessary unless you want to drive into the desert (i.e. to the crater or Yangikala canyon). The locals drive Ladas, Opels and Toyota Corollas, there aren’t so many 4x4s.

And keep your car clean! Especially in Ashgabat police is very strict on dirty cars: head to the car wash before you enter the city unless you want to be frequently stopped by the police.

Insurance, border payments and police checks

At the border you will be paying a sizeable amount of money: fuel compensation, road tax, obligated insurance, immigration card and entry tax. The amount changes depending on your vehicle: 150$ for a 4WD Toyota, 255$ for a Land Rover, up to several hundred dollars for a minivan.

When leaving the country there is often another 20$ customs fee.

Police checkpoints are frequent on the road. Drive slow when approaching. You will probably be pulled over, but will be allowed to pass through after showing your documents.

You are allowed to drive 50 km/h in towns and cities, 100 km/h on intercity roads. Police check for speed on the edge of towns, but rarely in between cities. Few road signs.

Pontoon bridge

Between Turkmenabat and the border lies a pontoon bridge over the Amu Darya. Locals go for 1 manat, foreigners pay US$42.00 (+20Manat processing fee). There is no point arguing, there is no other option, and the bridge closes at 6pm. Additionally, there is at times a huge traffic jam near the bridge, so come on time.

Border crossing reports

August 2013, Turkmenbashi: 7 hours with one car!

June 2013, Turkmenbashi: After getting off the boat, it took 7 hours to get through customs with 7 cars. 13 stamps were needed. Turkish truckers ahead of us made the process slower than usual.

Fuel price

Prices for fuel are really low in Turkmenistan. You paid your fuel compensation tax at the border to make up for your bargain at the pump, though.

Diesel is 0,6 manat/liter, petrol 0,7 manat/liter. (2014)

All petrol stations are 24 hours. There is no self service. Not all pump stations carry diesel, but every decent-sized city will have a few pumps carrying diesel fuel. You cannot fill jerry cans or containers at the pump.

All stations are monitored with CCTV.

Petrol stations sell petrol. If you want to buy motor oil, fluids or coolant, you need to find an automagazin.

Car parts, motorcycle parts and mechanics

We cannot recommend anyone yet. If you know of a reliable mechanic anywhere in Turkmenistan, please let us know in the comments!

Selling/leaving a car/motorcycle in Turkmenistan

Probably the best place to sell a car in Central Asia is Kyrgyzstan. There is a big market for second-hand cars from Lithuania in Kyrgyzstan, implying that import duties are the lowest here. Selling your car or motorcycle in Turkmenistan… sounds like an adventure!

Comments

  1. inci says

    Hi there,
    We’ll be entering Turkmenistan from Baku on a boat, hopefully mid June.
    We intend to drive to Ashgabat then the road straight up north to cross into Uzbekistan than Kyrgyzstan.
    Can I have latest news about border, custom and road condition.
    Is it safe to camp also.
    thanks
    inci

  2. mbglo says

    According to a custom official I hitched a ride with in Turkmenistan, there are no import tax on cars to Turkmenistan. One caveat though, a car has to be new to be imported into Turkmenistan.

  3. mohammad says

    hello

    could you please advice me about the violent speed camera in Turkmenistan. and CCTV in and out of the city.
    thanks
    mohammad

    • says

      The only place you will find police is inside and on the outskirts of towns. Moderate your speed there. If there are checkpoints in between cities, you will see them from far away.

  4. SM says

    Just a comment–I’m in Ashgabat now–just drove here from Mary (ok, was driven here from Mary :) I’ve been doing fieldwork near Mary (ancient Merv archaeological park). Although the good roads/highways in and around Ashgabat seem to be developing, the Ashgabat-Mary road is deteriorating terribly. All the renovation focus seems to be around Ashgabat–but that’s it. Partially because the shift of political focus (the last president Niyazov frequently traveled to Mary–the current pres has very little interest)

  5. Anonymous says

    Hello! Do you know the price of petrol per liter in Turkmenistan now? Would appreciate all the help! :)

    Thank you!

  6. says

    Hello, Does anyone know if a special permit is needs these days to get to Konye Urgench in your own car?
    We’ll be entering turkmenistan from baku on a boat, hopefully at the end of next week.
    We have a 5 day transit visa and intend to drive to Ashgabat then the road straight up north to cross into Uzbekistan close to khiva (don’t have the map next to me, sorry).
    I recently read something about needing special permits for up there, but have haven’t found any info on th web yet.
    Can anyone help ? Surfing via a iPhone can be very tiresome!

    Thanks!
    Helen

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