On entering Turkmenistan you have to pay 14$ entry tax, to be paid in dollars only. The borders are usually closed for lunch. Take about 2 hours to cross any border. Note that Turkmenistan has a habit of closing its borders unilaterally around election time and around National Flag Day (February 19th).
If coming by car, count on a bit more than 100$ for the different entry taxes.
People should keep an eye on their valuables, especially when self-driving. Mongol Rally teams have reported getting robbed by the Turkmen border patrol guards. Somebody lost an iPhone and another team lost $4000 cash.
Note that you can bring in a maximum number of cigarettes into Turkmenistan: 2 sealed packs, or 40 cigarettes, and another open packet with maximum 17 cigarettes. Some reports indicate no one is counting, while others have reported the opposite. It is worth taking cigarettes as gifts even if you do not smoke, as a pack of cigarettes now costs around 70 manat in Turkmenistan; serious money for locals.
Like in Uzbekistan, reports from Turkmenistan have started coming in of people being searched and detained for illegal medication: painkillers, anxiety blockers and sleeping pills. It is best not to have them if you can avoid it – especially codeine.
Turkmenistan – Kazakhstan border crossing
Remote border crossing into Western Kazakhstan on the (very bad on both sides) Zhanaozen-Turkmenbashi road. There is no public transport available, and taxis can be expensive: 6000 tenge to Zhanaozen, 45$ to Turkmenbashi. Take 3,5 hours for 180 km on the Turkmen side. Expect a long wait on either side of the border when driving, it’s still quite busy. A 4WD is preferred.
Turkmenbashi to Garabogaz/Bekdash: pure desert. There is a hotel in the main square next to the beach should you wish to stay overnight. Shared taxi to the border from Garabogaz: 10$, 1 hour drive Without transport, you can walk to the Kazakh side of the border, some 3km. Very hot in summer. You can buy water and some shitty food at the border. The first 50 km of road are really bad, then it gets slightly better. Hitchhiking this road is possible, but might take some time, and perseverance to wait for someone willing to take you for free.
Turkmenistan – Uzbekistan border crossings
Farap – Alat
Connecting Bukhara with Turkmenabat. Opens at 8.30 am, closes at 6 pm. Lunch break between 12:30 and 13:30. Shared taxis are available on both sides of the border. Updates posted in the Farap – Alat forum topic.
On the Uzbek side, money exchange services with very bad rates are available. There’s also an office where you can buy vehicle insurance. On the Turkmen side, there are no services. To cross the distance between the border posts, you need to get in a minivan twice, once for 1 manat, another time for 1$.
UZ -> TM: A taxi to the border from Bukhara costs 100 000 sum, or you can take a marshrutka to Alat for 15 000 som from here, where you need to negotiate with the taxi mafia for the final marshrutka price. Taxis cannot drive up to the gate, and you need to take a marshrutka for the last kilometer (1000 sum).
Between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan there is a long hot walk, about 1.5km – no transport. On the Turkmen side it’s another 1.5 km taxi ride (1 manat, try to keep your $ away if you do not have manat) to where vehicles are allowed to pick up people. From there to Turkmenabat, a taxi costs 5$, a seat in a shared taxi 1$.
TM -> UZ: It’s about 1 hour from Turkmenabat to the border. The pontoon bridge that used to cause delays is gone. If you don’t want to spend the night in Turkmenabat, you can sleep at the border (some pay, others manage for free). You can cross when the border opens at 9 and be in Bukhara well before noon.
A taxi to Bukhara from the border will cost around 25$ for the whole car (you can share this with others). Or you can take a marshrutka to Alat, and continue from there.
One backpacker in 2018 reports: To exit Turkmenistan, I needed to pay 19 USD “processing fee”, only payable in USD. Other travelers do not report paying anything.
Shavat – Dashoguz
Connecting Khiva and Urgench with Dashoguz. Border opens 9-18. There is an obligatory 1$ shuttle in the no man’s land between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Updates welcome here.
UZ -> TM: There is no cheap way to get from Khiva to the border, it costs 15-20$ for the car. On the Turkmen side, shared taxis run between the border and Dashoguz: 5 manat (1$) is a good price.
TM -> UZ: From the border, a taxi to Khiva can be had for $10 for the whole car, but you need to patience if you want to drive down the price. Taxi drivers start at 30$ and are tough negotiators.
Hojayli – Konye-Urgench
UZ -> TM: Shared taxis are available from Nukus, and once across the border, to Konye-Urgench.
TM -> UZ: A short taxi ride from Konye-Urgench to the border costs 1$. Once across the border it’s a half-hour drive to Nukus by shared taxi (10$).
Bilateral crossing open only for Uzbek and Turkmen citizens. It’s located between Qarshi (UZB) and Atamurat (TRM).
Druzhba – Gazadzhak
Small, little-known border post near Khiva. Not enough information available, but it counts as an international border crossing.
Turkmenistan – Iran border crossings
Sarakhs – Saraghs
Opening hours of the border are 8 am to 3 pm. Exchange from rials to dollars is available on the Iranian side but the rate is bad. Updates and questions in the Sarakhs forum topic.
IR -> TM: Mashad to Sarakhs is about 3 hours by road or train. The train is pretty empty so no need to book in advance. Taxi driver Rafi Khankhajeh comes recommended (0098 (0) 937 213 76 69 or 933 434 74 88). There‘s a small shop in front of the gate, your last chance to buy cheap cigarettes and change rials to dollars (or maybe even manat). Rate is not good, but not a total ripoff.
No transport goes right across the border, so once through the immigration on the Iranian side get a shuttle (about IR4000) to the Turkmen Immigration post. From there, once immigration formalities are complete, buses and shared taxis (max. 15$/seat) run occasionally to Mary (2 to 4 hours). Transport links are random though, and definitely slow later in the afternoon, so come early.
Gaudan – Bajgiran
Has reopened after closing in summer 2016. Post and read updates here. Open 8am-4pm (7.30 – 15.30 Iranian time). Slow: count 1-3 hours to clear the border. They take your fingerprints here on the Turkmen side.
Money changing facilities are available on the Iranian border for a reasonable rate.
Iran -> TM: By public transport it’s 1,5 hour from Quchan to Bajgiran (every 2h from 6.30am, 8$). From Bajgiran to the border it’s only about a kilometer up the hill and you can walk this, or your taxi might drop you off straight at the border. On the Turkmen side, it’s 3$ to go from the border to Ashgabat by taxi, or 1$ for a bus to the suburbs of Ashgabat. From there you can get a taxi or another bus.
TM -> Iran: Take a taxi from Ashgabat to the pre-border point (~30 manat). There your passports are checked and you are put on a bus for another 30km to the border (10 manat). Once cleared, take a transport from the border to Bajgiran village (2$). From there, there may or may not be a bus to Mashad (20$, 4h, confirmation needed). Most people seem to get shared taxis to Quchan, from where there is a bus to Mashhad. A taxi directly to Mashad costs 30$.
Lotfabad – Artyk
Reports collected in the Lotfabad-Artyk forum thread.
IR -> TM: By car, it’s best not to come on Thursdays and Fridays (Iranian weekend), as the whole border will be half-closed. The process is confusing, and it might take time to get a stamp on your CDP on the Iranian side. “Helpers” charge a lot of money and are known to lie. One scam is saying that your carnet is only good for 5 days in Iran, any extra days will cost you $10 per day.
The latest report indicates no GPS was outfitted in the car on this border.
By public transport: from “Iran khodro taxi stoyanka in Mashad”, a shared taxi to the Artyk border costs 15 manat. Crossing the border involves hopping on a mandatory bus shuttle, 3 manat.
A share taxi from the border/Loftabad to the nearest town of Dargaz should cost 80,000 rial. From Dargaz, there are direct buses to Mashhad taking around 4 hours and costing 120,000 rial.
Gudri-Olum – Incheboron (Etrek – Gorgan)
If you are planning to visit the mausoleum of Gonbad-I Qubus, this is convenient. Reports and questions in the Gudurolum forum thread.
There is now a daily train from Gorgan to the border at Incheboron, and once a week Turkmen railways has a train between Etrek and Bereket, from where you could catch another train to either Turkmenbashi or Ashgabat. You have to somehow manage the 20 km from the border to Etrek train station (in Gyzyletrek). Schedule wise this could probably work in a single day, in the other direction as well. In addition there should be a bus from Etrek to Serdar.
The border opens from early morning until 16.30. Quite chaotic. The road between Serdar and Etrek is very bad.
Turkmenistan – Afghanistan border crossings
Torghundi (Tawraghudi ) – Serkhetabat (Kushka)
The main border between Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, on the road to Herat. Reported closed for tourists by the Brussels embassy in January 2018; we presume due to Taliban activity. Locals polled in June 2018 however claim it is open. Updates welcome in the Torghundi forum thread.
The road is perfect asphalt, but in the winter, it may be closed because of snowfall.
In case it reopens: a shared taxi from Herat to the border cost anywhere between 200 afghanis and 30$ in 2011, depending on haggling skills. From the border to Herat, it is unsure if transport will be waiting for you (mixed traveler reports), but maybe the border guards will take care of you. On the Turkmen side, it should be no problem to find a shared taxi heading to Mary, if you are on a transit visa.
Imam Nazar – Aqina
A remote border crossing near Andkhoy that sees little traffic. It was open for foreigners in 2011, but we haven’t had any reports since to confirm. The road is a dirt track that will require a 4WD and good preparation.
There is no settlement on either side of the border, so you will likely continue straight to Atamyrat (previously Kerki) or Andkhoy, if you find transport quickly. There is no public transport going to the border.